This blog started as letters to my daughter to chronicle our family's hands-on journey to reduce our ecological impact. Through conversations, compost, fabric, and small baby steps, these letters reflect our evolution into something more healthy, local, aware, and community-centered.
This liquid laundry detergent is simple and can reuse the same laundry detergent container repeatedly, as opposed to purchasing more plastic that has been shipped hundreds of miles. I love this recipe and use the same amount of soap as with the store-bought soaps, though it needs a good shake before each use.
Add soap flakes to saucepan with water. Stir over med-low heat until melted. Fill a 1 gallon jug half full with hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda, and borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover, and let sit overnight to thicken. Shake before each use. Optionally, add a few drops of essential oil. Use 1 oz. per load in a front-loading washing machine.
Today was my first attempt at vanilla extract. Homemade vanilla extract is simply delicious and I can't wait to have my own to use in the kitchen. It has taken me about a month to round up the vanilla beans and vodka. I found a simple recipe that called for two cups of vodka and six (cut-in-half) vanilla beans placed in a glass jar in a dark space for eight weeks. When it comes to recipes, I need something simple to concoct while balancing the needs of my two young children. It took me a few minutes to cut the beans in half, add them to the vodka, put it all in the cupboard with a label, and to mark the date on the calendar eight weeks from now.
When the time has arrived to use the vanilla extract, I will fill some small dark glass bottles I have on hand (from all those prenatal vitamins), label them nicely, and share with friends. The recipe suggests adding a bean to each completed jar, then simply topping off the vodka each time the extract is down to half a jar. ("I like to put a vanilla bean in each bottle. This way the extract will keep gaining in flavor and you can tell them that by adding a little vodka when it is halfway used up will replenish your supply of vanilla. It will dilute it for a while but it will regain strength quickly.") This is the gift that keeps on giving. You may want to mention that you can reuse this jar instead of your friend sending it on to recycling. You could include a recipe for vanilla also, so your friends can make their own. This vanilla extract already smells so delicious!
vanilla beans, vodka, and a glass jar
storing in a cool dark place for at least eight weeks