The Crazy Suburban Mom: 7 random things around my house

Friday, April 23, 2010

7 random things around my house

 I've had all these random things I've wanted to write about but none of them were full posts so I thought I'd put them together.

1. I make my own laundry soap, a lot. I haven't had any issues with things getting clean and my laundry smells really nice. It's also much softer than when I use commercial soaps without having to use softeners.  And no static in the dryer either.  I haven't found a downside to using this recipe. 

2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (grated fine)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

optional - 1 cup of oxyclean powder. (I do add this)

If you can't find the ingredients (or don't have a food processor - Like me - to grate the soap) you can visit Soaps Gone Buy and she offers this kit:

(picture from Soaps Gone Buy)

Mix everything and store in a fabulous vintage 50's airtight container.   Okay, most of that was editorial wishful thinking; mine's in ugly plastic.  Ergo, no picture.

Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per load.

Read that again!

Table. Spoon.

You're not using cups here it's a tablespoon or two and you really can use just one for a small not too dirty load.

I hear Zote bar soap works really well, smells divine and in a pinch you can use it as catfish bait ...and no, I'm not kidding it's sold as that all over eBay but I've yet to find it anywhere that doesn't charge more for shipping that for the bar of soap.

2. I have a Dyson vacuum.

Considering I had $12 to spend on my web design it  seems odd that I spent so much on a vacuum but I've gone through a lot of vacuums and after a year they all turn into pieces of humming performance art.

They suck.  Basically.

Okay, well they don't suck so much any more, that's the problem.  I don't know why but my vacuums work much like the secret messages on the old Mission Impossible shows where after a specific time they self-destruct.

That's the reason I didn't really want to buy the Dyson but I've bought two vacuums that cost more.  A Rainbow and a Filter Queen; both were door to door wonders that didn't so much work out for me. They weren't awful but didn't suit me either... 


If I had one Dyson issue it's that the hoses and tubes and stuff on my Dyson Slim aren't quite large enough for the craptasmic array of debris laying around on my floor but that's really my problem not my Dyson's.  And it does call itself slim...  So I guess in closing I'd say if you have fat debris laying around and expect the Dyson to pick it up get a regular model or be prepared to get to know the very nice people on the Help Line.  And customer service is great at helping me take it apart when I get guitar picks stuck in some hose somewhere.

 3.  I keep Brillo Pads in baggies in my freezer.


When I have a caked on, schumtzy pan and need a steel wool pad, it bugs me because I almost never have enough caked on, schumtzy pans at one time to use up the whole pad and all the soap.

If I leave it on the sink waiting for the next pan , it rusts and I have to throw it out anyway (and than clean the rust off the sink). If I saved up the gunky pots and pans, I'd be forever looking at a festering science experiment in my sink. If I just pitch the pad after each use, I'm forever buying them

Now when I have to use one...I use it, rinse it, put it in a baggie, and than put it in the freezer for the next time. I've found I can use them 4...maybe 5 times before they are buh-bye, all gone.

As a frugal aside here...

If you really want to be frugal - especially if you recycle your aluminum foil and have some clean pre-used specimens around - grab your hard to clean pot and a wad of foil and have at it. The wad of foil works as well as an SOS pad on burned on food. And grills, for that matter. (Of course, not non-stick... but you knew that, right?)

4.  Another thing that costs more than my web design...


I have this Zicam around all the time.  First sign of a tickle in my throat and I'm taking it, I'm taking it now.  Probably picked something up on vacation... Normally I don't leave the house so there isn't so much picking of things up in my living room but on vacation there were people. Around. Me. Shiver....

And yes I know some people have had issues with Zicam - I haven't.  I really use it whenever I'm getting a cold and many times I don't get one...

 5. I love Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt...


It's the best stuff on popcorn ever and I love it on steak heading for a grill.   I use it on lots of stuff instead of regular salt.  Krazy Salt was started by this woman:


From the website:  Jane's story began in a modest kitchen in a small apartment in Overbrook, PA. She was a rosie-cheeked grandmother-type who was busily mixing batches of salt, pepper, herbs and a few secret ingredients. She wanted to make her cooking go a little faster and make gifts for friends and relatives. Her energy and zest for life helped her turn her hobby into an international food sensation.

She's got lots of other products  now but c'mon...Look at that picture of Jane.  How can you not love a woman with a bird on her head who started a business when she was over 60?

6.  A rice cooker.

I make rice in a rice cooker. If you don't have one you're missing something great. While I have a lot of appliances out on my back porch that I was sure I needed when I got them but are now waiting to go to Goodwill... my rice cooker I use all the time.

See, I cook a lot or rice at one time then divide it up in zip-loc bags. Squeeze the air out, freeze them flat and than turn they vertical. Vertically? Well you know what I mean... The bags of rice standing like sentries take up hardly any room in my freezer, keeps great and I always have rice to serve. 

I'm not sure of the brand I have but it was the one Martin Yan was pitching and it even came with a picture of Martin Yan on it. When I got it a few years ago my son and his friend thought that was the best thing about my rice cooker and had a ridiculous amount of fun with the picture of Martin Yan, blackening a tooth and posting it as one of their Facebook profile pictures.

Boys, right? If I could only get them to use their powers for good....

In any case rice cookers are one of those bulky hard to store appliances that actually are worth making room for.  I wish I had one of those 21st century models from Zojirushi  because they have so many functions they make having and storing the unit an even better deal...  To me anyway.   But they are not cheap - It's a get what you pay for thing...

7.   Amazon's Kindle for the iPhone or iTouch...

I wish I had an iPhone (I have AT&T and actually do like it, they've done right by me...) now that I have the iTouch - Live and learn as they say....   I have maybe 5 songs; all way uncool but what I have are other things. Cool things.  Apps.  Books...  Stuff.   Did you know if you have an iTouch or Phone or iPad (Oh, man I wish I was writing to say I had one of these around my house...) you can get Amazon's Kindle book reader free?

kindle copy

You can.


I know, right?

I really love it and the ebooks are cheaper (air quotes around that word, please) and take up no space in my house.  Now, I gotta pause here from my love of the Kindle and ask, why are ebooks not scads cheaper than paper books?

In the past publishers have said that shipping, the cost of paper, ink, the returns of unsold books and all manner of blah blah blah and fa la la lo these many years since the printing press was discovered has been responsible for the price of books being so high and yet the ebook editions don't cost much (10-15% ) less than paper copies.

Now they are saying my standing aghast at the prices shows my lack of understanding of the real cost's to publish and that the book is only the final cost in a long line of costs.

Well, they shut me right up and thanks for pointing out how very, very stupid I am because shoot, to me it sounded like they were either lying the first time or the second time so damn, glad they pointed out my very, very flawed error.  Now I can see why eBooks can only be 10% less than a book requiring ink and paper.. and truck travel to warehouses and storage and returns and all that stuff that physical books require.

Hells-bells why aren't they charging more for eBooks?  I think Judge Judy should work this one out for me because I can hear her say... What is it she says I love so much?  Oh right.  Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining. That's even the title of one of her books (here) interestingly it's not available as an eBook.

...not that I'm saying that fits here...  

Just saying' I love when she says that...

I'm thinking that when someone comes up with a way to beam a book directly into my head before the writer even writes it maybe than the price will go down.  Than again maybe not. 

Um, a bit off track there.

I really do love the Kindle though.  It wirelessly downloads the books and I've yet to find a book that didn't have some sort of sample I could download free to look over. I really like that feature.  The samples vary - not all are helpful - some are a list of chapters which is frankly stupid and not helpful at all but many are a chapter or two which is great.

*And in case anyone's wondering - No, these companies don't know me*


mama-face 4/23/10, 10:57 AM  

No idea you could make your own laundry soap...guess I never really thought about it. I'm assuming it works well?

I am the murderer of vacuums...even a dyson. I don't know what I do, but it is true.

The Crazy Suburban Mom 4/23/10, 11:10 AM  

Mama-Face - I love that laundry detergent I really do. Some people have asked me if whites get gray after a while but I really haven't found that to be true. I've been using it for more than a year - not constantly but for months at a time. Maybe its because I add the optional ingredient...dunno. But I have found it better - and I'm not kidding - than the stuff I buy. It softens the water because of the two powered ingredients, or maybe just one of them - wish I was a chemist sometimes and its got really good cleaning power because of the fels bar soap which has been around for ages. You can find the fels in a lot of grocery stores in the laundry (or soap) aisle. But not all of them. I like the citrusy smell of fels...

As to dyson - there are only a few things you shouldnt pick up with it one is drywall dust and one is anything wet - there may be more but those are the few I know of. At one point I thought I'd killed the dyson and called them...they walked me through taking apart the machine and low and behold something was in it... besides having to clean the filter and something getting stuck it works well all the other times. Ive found if it doesnt something is lodged in there that has to come out or the filter is dirty.

@eloh 4/23/10, 11:13 AM  

1. Laundry Soap... since I live in the poverty pocket of America... I can still buy castile soap... but then it was replaced with Zote... which looks like a humungus chuck of bubble gum and it is hard to keep myself from biting it. I have been stressing for months of what I could possibly have that you would like to get in the mail...

2. I too have a number of vacuums whose dead bodys are secreted around my property... murdered before their time. I can't afford a Dyson, but I am currently poisoning a second hand Kirby.

3. I've been doing the soap pads in the freezer trick for a while, I also have to store the new ones in an airtight container due to the deep south's humidity. An excellent bit of knowledge.

4&5.. okay.

6. Will it do steamed rice? I really miss steamed rice like is used in the dishes in the Far East.

7. Information that helps as one has been asked for in the family.

8. I loved this post. You should tage it "Helpful hints".

Vonlipi 4/23/10, 11:23 AM  

I love that kind of post! I am crazy for Jane's mixed up salt! I found it in Maine a couple of year ago and have been using it ever since!

My vaccum is not dead yet and it was affordable too. A Sears brand vaccum. It works much better than the 2 Electrolux (mucho dinero) I killed since 1990.

Maureen 4/23/10, 1:16 PM  

I thought I was alone in the vaccuum killing department! It's a love hate relationship. Perhaps if I were a little gentler...

How cool that you make your soap! I want to try - if I can get all the ingredients in one place. I know my grocery store does carry washing soda - I've had to go elsewhere.

Freezing Brillo pads is a new one on me! Makes sense though. Smart cookie!

Mom Mayhem says: 4/23/10, 1:39 PM  

Interesting- All of it!
I didn't know you could make your own laundry soap.
It seems I also go through vacuums quite a bit -Probably need to get a new one soon.
Didn't know about the Krazy Salt -Sounds good. And yes got to love a lady with a bird on her head-Krazy bird lady ;)
And now I know that if I were to look in your freezer there'd be bags of rice and Brillo pads -LOL! But, I understand about solving the issues and being frugal :)

The Crazy Suburban Mom 4/23/10, 1:49 PM  

Eloh - I would think rice in a rice cooker is exactly like the rice you're talking about because most rice in asian countries (and restaurants) if at all possible from what I've read... is cooked in a rice cooker. Its in almost every kitchen. the rice comes out perfect every time and I think it is more of a streaming process. As to the zote - omg. You can get it? is all I have to say...Ive looked all over locally and I'm pretty sure its somewhere in NJ, I mean it's not unknown but I havent run across is myself in the last year! So wow, yeah and if you want to that would be totally fab!

Vonlipi -eveyones got a vacuum issue huh?? Im thinking they must make them all to dissolve.

Maureen ... You should be able to find the stuff, for sure you can order it and if you can't find the exact soap there are substitutes you can use.

Moms Mayhem - I can't believe its not only me with the vacuum thing - omg. I swear I thought it was!

Babes Mami 4/23/10, 3:52 PM  

I have been wondering about this make your own detergent thing so perfect timing!

Also, I once bought a shop vac to use as a vacuum bc I had gone through so many. We are investing in a Dyson as soon as we get an extra check.

1950's_atomic_ranch_house 4/23/10, 4:18 PM  

Oh yeah, when it comes to book scams, try going to college. They force you to buy new books every quarter when last quarters is still fine. But noooo they don't make money that way.

And because it's a college TEXT book, they charge 4x-8x what a book usually cost *rolling eyes*

Lin 4/23/10, 9:28 PM  

I wore out vacuum cleaners every 3 or 4 months. Literally. I wore them out. The wheels would fall off, the motor would burn out, or the hose would fall apart. I spent more money on cheap vacuums than I did on my Oreck. I love my Oreck more than my family, I swear. I would do ads for them for free if they asked.

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