"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
-Abraham Lincoln

Turkey Cookies for Turkey Day!

We've been baking!  The kids' home school group is having a harvest party in honor of Thanksgiving and we were asked to bring the cookies.   We thought about just plain Jane chocolate chip or simple frosted sugar cookies but then I decided to do a little searching for something a bit more "special".   In my hunt I came across these cute little turkey cookies from Pillsbury.   We made two substitutions to the original idea, we used a family sugar cookie recipe instead of slice and bake cookie dough and we used homemade chocolate icing instead of store bought.  Even though our decorating didn't turn out quite as neat and tidy as the original the kids had a blast helping to decorate them and gave rave reviews on the taste from the couple of cookies they sampled.  All in all I'd say it was a success. 

On the learning front we've been studying the Pilgrims and early colonial period of American history.  We've read The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern.

And we're reading The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty. 

 The kids have been busy coloring turkeys and listing all the things they are thankful for this year.  They've had a lot of fun learning about Thanksgiving this week but I think we are all ready for the holiday break. 

Because the Laundry Won't Do Itself...

Today was laundry detergent making day at our house.  I make a powdered detergent.  The process is quick and painless, taking me only a couple of minutes to make up the batch.  This simple, homemade detergent gets our heavily soiled, farm-family laundry clean with only about 2 Tblsp. per load.

What you'll need:
1 c. of Borax
1 c. of Super Washing Soda (you can usually find this at the larger grocery stores like Meijer or Walmart near the Borax.  If you don't find it there you can sometimes get it at swimming pool supply stores or you can get it online at Amazon)
1 bar of soap like Fels Naptha, Zote or Ivory
1 grater (I recommend keeping one separate just for this purpose)
1 airtight container (we use an old coffee can with a tight fitting lid)

That's Arm and Hammer's Super Washing Soda in the picture, don't confuse it with baking soda. They are not the same thing.

Once you've gathered your supplies there are all of four steps left to homemade laundry detergent.  Step 1: Grate your soap.  Step 2: Add your washing soda.  Step 3: Add your Borax.  Step 4: Replace lid and shake it up, baby!   There is an optional step 5: You can add a few drops of essential fragrance oil if you like.  I use a "fresh linen" scented fragrance oil on occasion but you can add any scent you'd like. 

The cost of making my own detergent breaks down like this:
The Borax costs me $3.29 for a 76oz. box= $0.34 per batch
The Super Washing Soda costs the same, $3.29, for a 55oz. box=$0.48 per batch
A three pack of Ivory soap costs $1.69.=$0.56 per batch

The grand total there ends up being about $1.38 for a batch.  I use the full 2 Tbsp. per load and get about 32 loads of laundry out of one batch detergent.  That puts me in at a crazy $0.04 per load of laundry! 
Compare that to the Dynamo I used to buy before I started to make my own.  For a 32 load bottle of Dynamo, I would normally pay about $9.87 at the grocery store.  That's already $8.49 more than for the same number of loads with my homemade detergent.  With the Dynamo the cost per load of laundry was about $0.31, more than six times the cost per load with the homemade detergent!
If I add the extra cost of essential fragrance oil to the mix I end up with a cost of about $1.47 per batch and still around $0.04 to $0.05 per load of laundry.  No matter how you slice it, I'm saving a considerable amount of money for a small amount of effort.  Definitely worth it.