Tag Archives: DIY

DIY laundry detergent saves, cleans and brightens (my day!)

Our recent successful DIY test kitchen experiments left me yearning to try my hand out at any/all DIY experiments. More specifically, I wanted to try out some homemade cleaning products, and laundry detergent seemed like the logical next step. After all my BFF has had success with this for the past six months.

Stacey is pretty much my idol so of course I ventured a pass at it, especially after I recently was able to watch her in action. Turns out that it’s super easy and very inexpensive. Stacey has two very energetic children, one of which goes through wardrobe changes like a diva about to go onto a stage. So you can imagine how she goes through laundry! She told me that she’s only had to refill her detergent once in the past three months. Considering the cost of a single bottle of Meyer’s detergent ($17.98) that lasted less than three months, I was convinced.

I was ready to try it out for myself. Turns out the instructions are super easy, and compared to what it normally costs for a good, store-bought detergent why not try this simple recipe out?

(Effin Artist disclaimer: We had to go to Walmart for the products. I’m still not over it. As we walked in The Bride started mumbling about Walmart’s terrible reputation, their assault on small business, their terrible wages, so I knew we were on the same page. But we are also on the same budget, and many of these products aren’t so easy to find. I’m not saying this to ease my conscience. It’s a full-blown confession. In the future we will consider a better place to shop and perhaps less commercialized ingredients, but the budget being what it is and the timing and… I’ll shut up and go be shamed in the corner and let the Bride get back to her post.)

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You will need the following items, which can be found in the laundry aisle:

  • One 4lb. 12 oz. box of Borax
  • Three bars of Fels-Naptha soap. You can use any soap of your choice.
  • One 4lb. box of arm & hammer baking soda.
  • One box of arm & hammer super washing soda
  • 4 lbs. of Oxy Clean
  • Laundry softener crystals for scent (i.e. Downy Unstoppables). This last item is optional. I personally, like to add them because it gives the laundry detergent a nice scent.
  • A large 4 gallon, or 5 gallon glass container (or other type container to store the mixed detergent).

Approximate cost for all of these ingredients will set you back about $33 dollars. But, considering that you only need 2-3 tablespoons for each load, this will last awhile. Reread above about my BFF’s diva child daily wardrobe change.

Directions:

Laundry Detergent 1

Start with grating (using the small-sized grate) your bars of soap into a bowl.

Laundry Detergent 2
Dump the soap into your container.

Laundry Detergent 5
Followed by all of your other items.

Mix all ingredients together, and then add to your detergent container as needed.

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It really is this easy. Now, my BFF chooses to layer and mix the ingredients a little at a time, because dumping it all in at one time can make it quite heavy. I chose to go ahead and dump it all in and then mixed it all together with a really big heavy spoon. Mix however you please.  Give it a try. It’s a savings that I think is worthy of this mention.

News from the Test Kitchen: Hummus

I am trying to cut sugar out of my diet. After cutting alcohol out of my diet less than a year ago, this strikes me as cruel. But I also want to make significant health changes, so this is part of the bargain. I’m told there will be a payoff down the line. Hmmnph. Better be, is all I can say, like six-pack abs… that would be nice.

Anyway, I’m also trying to cut out any (all) processed foods. That part is hard for me because I’m addicted to potato chips. And not just the plain ones, but the ones with all of the chemically produced flavors. In fact the more flavored the better. Boy does this all suck. As I write about it, I get even more bummed out.

So, I have been trying to come up with a snack that is healthy and guilt-free. I thought about how much I love humus. Recently when we shopped in a well-known grocery store chain I reached for the hummus to study the ingredients. There’s that pesky soybean oil again! After much research we decided to try our hand at homemade hummus. Turns out that our version is incredibly tasty (I think I actually  like it better than the store-bought variety), and we think it is way more healthy. We didn’t have tahini, but we discovered that tahini is basically sesame seeds and sesame oil formed together to make a paste. My hubby said it’s like making peanut butter.

This is so good dipped in sliced vegetables and apples that I have finally found my substitute for my unhealthy, overly processed potato chips. Last night snacking vegetables dipped in humus I actually enjoyed it! Almost as much as sugar… almost, almost as much potato chips!

Of course, the hubby made this, not me. So here’s his recipe. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz of garbanzo beans (dried or canned… I prefer dried, which means soak them ahead of time).
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (reserve the second at the end for taste).
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sesame or sunflower oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (reserve last one at end for desired consistency)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika, more at the end for dusting

Directions:

  1. If using dried beans soak them overnight and then cook them enough to warm through. Reserve their water. Rinse to cool.
  2. If using a can, reserve liquid, toss into a pan and warm through, about six to eight minutes. Rinse in cold water to cool.
  3. Peel the husks. There’s a lot of talk about this on the Internet chatter. Frankly, it’s not that hard to peel them. you just slide them off.

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I wonder about this extra step. I wonder if grandmother’s seventy years ago bothered with it. I also wonder if I’m depriving the eventual finished product of added fiber and nutrients. I’ll look into these but for now I peel them because we wanted the smooth texture.

4. Set the beans aside. Chop the seeds with a cleaver along with the garlic to give it all a good mashing. Add to the food processor (or blender).

5. Add the sunflower or sesame oil, spices and lemon to the mash and whirl it.

6. Add the beans and blend for a minute. Add in the olive oil and a tablespoon of the reserved liquid. Blend for 30 seconds, check taste and texture. Add more reserved liquid and blend another 30 seconds. Repeat as needed until it is very smooth and cohesive.

7. Transfer to a container and refrigerate.

News from the Test Kitchen: Whole food mayo you can trust

From the test kitchen artistry heights of croissants and chocolate we dropped this week into the everyday existence of the mundane. In so doing we added to our list of things we simply won’t buy anymore from the store.

The previous list included pasta sauce and peanut butter and barbecue sauce and salsa and (most of the time) beans.  The Bride has been experimenting with different bath and beauty products, but it remains to be seen if she’s fully committed or if soon she’ll return to Sephora with her credit card burning in her wallet.

But as we goofed around with several products in the test kitchen, the Bride herself gave the seal of approval to these projects.

“We will never buy this from a store again,” she said delightfully.

In fact, she forbade me from writing about them (which I am sort of breaking here. The jar on the right pictured above is a sneak preview of the Bride’s claimed blog territory. Stay tuned).These items took very little time and were significantly better than the store-bought variety. I’ll mention only one: mayonnaise.

Mayo was the Bride’s idea. I don’t have it much, so I don’t pay it much attention. But when visiting her parents, she looked at the label of a jar of Best Foods. The ingredients she couldn’t pronounce freaked her out, not to mention the soy bean products. So we gave it a shot. Pictured below is about half-way into the process:

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Our recipe included just five ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.

Put the eggs, vinegar, lemon juice and salt (start with a little and add a little more later if needed to taste) in a blender and give it a whirl.

Then with the top open as it blends, add in the first cup of oil. Blend for about a minute. Add in part of the second cup, blend another minute.

Stop to check taste and thickness. If needed add a bit more salt and the rest of the oil. It will emulsify into the perfect texture as you check it and blend. Ours took a total of the two cups and about three minutes blending. We only used a higher speed for about 10 seconds at the end.

Mayo has a bad reputation because it’s high in fat, which has never fully recovered from the industrialized food lobby’s demonization of fat to make billions of “low-fat” products that not only made us fatter, but killed many. So many of us who grew up thinking “I can’t believe it’s not butter” was good for us have to be reprogrammed. Mayo became “Miracle Whip” and egg whites became healthy even though so much of what’s best for us is in the discarded yellows.

Mayo, made from home and used with moderation, can be used without guilt. The ingredients are all healthy, there is no hidden crap from processed foods and the taste far exceeds Best Foods.

Add this to the list of “never again” buying at a store.

We recommend that the eggs you use in this recipe be as farm fresh, and organic as you can possibly get. It’s worth the added cost!

After the gamut of beauty promises, a DIY scrub that works

if you spend any time perusing the Effinartists.com website, you’ll know the hubby and I have adopted this attitude of reduce, reuse, recycle — and restore… that’s important… — whenever we can. This runs the gamut of furniture, art, food, so many things, what the hubby calls “hoof-to-head” wholeness, wellness and a lot of other “ness” stuff he’s constantly prattling on about.

Well, near and dear to my heart lies any and all things beauty. I am a self-prescribed beauty product whore (that seems harsh, so let’s just say, junkie). In my heyday I could be swayed very easily on any beauty product scheme and fad. Latest science tells us that this little know berry grown in the remote valleys in France holds the key to the fountain of youth (I fell for it many times). I was Alice in Wonderland falling prey to “drink this, and you will grow.” “Eat this, and you will shrink.” “Use this and stay young forever!”

It didn’t matter the cost, I fell for it. The more costly, the better I swore it worked. What a dummy.

I’ve had a change of heart. I’ve adopted a new lifestyle, one that I’m proud of, one that continues to grow daily, so my beauty philosophies have grown right along with it. My growing awareness started with dabbling into homemade body scrubs. You know the ones. You can buy them at your favorite department store for $20, $30, some even 50 bucks! I’ve no-so-quickly learned to spend even $10 on one of these store bought ones seems ridiculous. You can make it from home with natural ingredients for pennies. Why wouldn’t you give it a shot? You control what you put on your skin, and take satisfaction that you made it yourself. Be proud in your womanhood. I sure am!

The experimentation process has been challenged at times. It remains a work in progress. A fun one, though. With continuous change through trial and error, I’ve so far tried many variations on beauty scrubs: Epsom Salts, Sea salts, brown sugar, white sugar coupled with Almond oil, grape seed oil, olive oil, coconut oil along with your favorite essential oil (I’ve tried lavender, lemongrass, and sandalwood so far..) you name it I’ve slathered it over my body all in the name of experimentation.

Here are my experiences so far:

  • Epsom salts. I prefer to use a combination of Epsom salt with sea salt. For some reason my sensitive skin doesn’t seem to handle well pure Epsom salts. I love Epsom salt for its natural ability to detoxify the body, and it’s great for muscle soreness. But again, I like the combination of Epsom and sea salt in my scrub.
  • Brown Sugar is messy. I decided that I most likely will not use brown sugar in my scrubs any longer. It turns your water (if you are taking a bath, which I so often do) a nice brown color, and leaves your nice white towels a little dingy. Plus, I decided I wasn’t thrilled with the smell. Just my oh so humble opinion.
  • Coconut Oil in a scrub. So, coconut oil smells so yummy but in a scrub? Well I don’t think I’ll use it again. It’s solidified, and it’s darn hard to get it into its liquid phase as you bathe or shower. I read where some just allowed the steam from their bath/shower to liquefy the oil. I tried this, but my pruney fingers felt numb at the end of my waiting game. I don’t think I’ll use it again.

I will continue to be the guinea pig, but for now, I’m using the following basic recipe:

  • ½ cup sea salt
  • ½ cup Epsom salts
  • ½ cup grape seed (or almond) oil
  • a few drops of Lavender essential oil

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First combine the salts in a large bowl, and then add the oil. A few drops of your essential oil and you are done. You can tweak it to your liking. Prefer a more solid scrub? Use less oil. The nice thing is that with this basic recipe you can do no harm. I like to keep it in a pretty glass jar to display in my bath. Just one natural item that continues to make me feel like the queen that the hubby tells me I am in my humble home.

Peanut Butter revisted: a must-do DIY staple

A while back I spent a week in the test kitchen focused on peanut butter, but I mostly skimmed past it in on the blog, lost in the fury of the Croissonut Craze that turned my family email chain into a WWE tussle we’re still recovering from. It wasn’t pretty, I’ll tell you that. Nevertheless a deserving winner arose from the abyss and enjoyed a sweet package of Croissonut goodness for her efforts.

Now that that’s over (for now- stay tuned for Valentine Cronuts) let’s revisit the peanut butter testing, which turned out to be a true keeper. I have simply realized I will never buy peanut butter again.

There are few things I just won’t buy, period. Spaghetti sauce. Won’t happen. Salsa, nope. Beans are starting to move toward that list, but in a crunch I’d probably break down and buy a can. As much as I love my pasta, I’ll buy some for convenience.

Peanut butter has now joined that list. I see absolutely no earthly reason to ever buy it again. We ran out the other day — no small thing because I eat peanut butter on everything. But rather than dash out and buy a jar to tide me over, I went through my test kitchen supplies and found a tupperware container of peanuts. Ten minutes later I had peanut butter. The cost is easily half that of a store-bought jar, more so of the really good peanut butters.  As I explained before the recipe can’t get any easier. Here it is again:

Get peanuts, toss em in a food processor and whirl the heck out of them for six minutes. Done.

You can get a bit creative and I have, slowly working toward my own concoction that will forever be EFFinArtist Peanut Butter. But you’d be a dolt to ever try to buy it from me as you can and SHOULD make your own, and it will be every bit as good as mine or Adams or Skippy or any other jar you can buy.

If there are better things in life than a Effin Artist brownie dunked in a jar of Effin Artist peanut butter, I don’t what it is, at least not right now (as I wipe the gooey brownie flecked peaut butter from my keyboard). What’s that you say about weight loss? We’ll revist that in another post, thank you very much.

There’s no excuse. Make yourself some peanut butter today. You’ll thank me.