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Thursday, August 25, 2011

'No poo' update

Its been about 16 weeks since I stopped washing my hair. Most sites about going 'no poo' that I have read state that it takes around 6 weeks for your hair to regulate its oil supply. For me it took a little longer, but that doesn't mean that I had greasy, lank hair for that whole time- rather it was days of 'ponytail hair'.

I started out at first just rinsing with water every day and massaging my scalp, but I found that I ended up with dandruff. A month ago, I found that if I do a weekly baking soda and cider vinegar wash, my hair ends up looking even better and with little or no dandruff.

I'm glad I started, as its so nice not having to buy shampoo or conditioner and I don't have to worry about the chemicals I'm putting on my skin.

HERE is the link to our original post back in May and below is my baking soda/cider vinegar routine, inspired by the Instructables post here

Baking Soda Wash:
1-2TB Baking soda
Add 1 cup water.
Apply the mixture to your hair- particularly at the roots, and massage in.
Rinse thoroughly

Cider Vinegar rinse:
1-2TB apple cider vinegar (I dont tend to measure, I just slosh it in)
Add 1 cup water
Work it in the same way as the baking soda and rinse completely.

Healthy hair for the both of us!

Monday, August 22, 2011

DIY Laundry Detergent: Costs compared

One of my major reasons for making your own laundry detergent was cost; but how does it really compare?  Prices vary so I've looked around and taken a rough average (eg. Ecostore was around $9 at PacN'Save but around $12 at Countdown so my average is $11). Hopefully the calculations are pretty accurate, if you spot any mistakes let us know in the comments.

The Competition:
Ecostore Laundry Liquid Ultra Concentrate: 28 washes per litre (35.7ml), $11 per litre. = $0.39 per 35.7ml wash

Earthwise Ultra Laundry Liquid: 37 washes per 750mL  (49.5 washes per litre), $7 per 750mL ($9.33 per litre).= $0.18 per 20.2ml wash

Persil Small & Mighty Cold Water: 14 washes per 475mL (29.5 washes per litre), $7 per 475mL ($14.74 per litre). 14.74/29.5= $0.50 per 33.9ml wash

Budget Laundry Detergent: 1/4 cup (60ml) per wash (16 washes per litre), $4.45 per 2 litres ($2.23 per litre). 2.23/16= $0.14c per 62.5ml wash

I would have loved to do some other brands (such as Dynamo as we used to use it) but they didn't have number of loads or usage in mls on the bottle. I would have had to buy and measure out to find out the necessary data (which I wasn't prepared to do, sorry folks!). Anyway out of the products I surveyed, Budget was the cheapest, followed by Earthwise, with Ecostore coming in third. But how did the homemade stuff stack up?

Homemade laundry detergent
50 g Borax - $0.80 (500g: $8 Soapcraft)
½ cup washing soda (130g weighed on our kitchen scales) - $0.54 (1kg washing soda: $4.19 at Foodtown)
7.5litres of water - Free*
20 drops essential oil - $0.41** (12ml eucalyptus oil: $5 Soapcraft)
½ bar grated sunlight soap - $0.39 (500G (pack of 4) $3.14 at Foodtown ($0.78/bar)
½ bar grated dr bronners castille soap = $5 (140g bar $9.99 at greengoddess)

½ cup of laundry detergent per wash = 125ml per wash.
7500ml / 125ml = 60 washes

Total cost to make: $1.73 no essential oil, $2.14 with essential oil, $6.34 with castille soap and no essential oil, $6.75 with castille soap and essential oil

$0.02 per wash without the essential oil and $0.03 per wash with essential oil. $0.10 per wash with castille soap but no essential oil, and $0.11 with castille soap and essential oil. 

So ridiculously cheap with sunlight soap and merely very cheap with fair trade castille soap. I suppose we haven't factored in the 'labour cost' but in reality, it doesn't take us much time to make anyway. And we use recycled milk bottles to put it in, so no cost there. We used sunlight soap the first time because $10 seemed like a stupid price for one bar of soap and we weren't sure the recipe would be as good as shop bought products, but after doing the calculations we will definitely use the good stuff next time!

So even ignoring the ecological benefits (which I'm not sure how I would even start to calculate) making your own laundry detergent definitely makes sense.

*Well, not actually free unless you collect rainwater but we don't know how to calculate the cost of this!
**We have gone with the general rule of thumb (and found on various places on the net) as 20drop/ml. Though technically this rule is for water, it gives us an approximate costing of the oil.
***obviously these numbers had to be viscously rounded to get numbers that makes sense in $ terms. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pie from scratch

I love to cook. Well, I love to bake. I do like to make pie though, but being a fairly lazy cook, I tend to use store-bought pastry.

Last time we went to the supermarket, Kel went and read all of the ingredients in the store bought pastries... There's a surprising amount of stuff that goes into a fairly simple product. Palm oil being one such ingredient and we aren't buying anything with this ingredient in (unless I've been lazy and just not looked before I've bought it...).
A few days ago, I wanted to make a steak pie. This time I made my own pastry and it was amazing. I'm not kidding- the pastry was everything you would want it to be- light, but not too flaky and delicious. Cheap to make too. And easy. Just flour, butter, salt and water.

So today, I will share the recipe for pastry AND steak and cheese pie. The pie recipe was written especially for a non cook friend.

Savoury short pastry:
2 cups flour
125g butter (more if you want a flakier pastry)
1/4 tsp salt
cold water

Sift flour and salt together. Cut in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. NB the butter needs to be cold. Mix to a stiff dough with a little cold water. Roll out lightly and try not to handle it more than necessary. It should make around 360g of pastry.

Steak and cheese pie:
500gm steak
Savoury pastry- enough to line a pie dish and make a lid- unless you top it with mashed potato.
Cheese- whatever type you like
Beef stock- the dry kind- oxo cubes are great
Salt, Pepper and herbs – to taste (we tend to use oregano and thyme)
Cornflour – this is a thickening agent

  • Cut up the steak into cubes. Smaller pieces cook faster and are easier to eat, but make sure they aren’t too small, as they might break apart Add a little oil to a frying pan (not too shallow) and brown the steak (until browned all over, but not burnt). Best to brown it over a high heat for a few minutes and then lower the heat to a low temp, so that the meat can simmer.
  • Mix up 2 cups of stock. Add to the steak and let simmer for around 30 mins. The liquid will still be quite watery, but that’s ok. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • While the steak is simmering, turn the oven on to 180° C and make sure the tray is about half way down- too high and the top of the pie will burn.
  • If your pastry isn’t pre-rolled, roll it out quite thin. Line the dish with one piece of pastry to make the crust- use your fingers to mould to the dish, even if it means folding over edges etc. make sure there is some excess around the sides so that the pastry lid can stick to the base and seal in the filling. Also roll out the lid at the same time. Blind bake the base in the oven for 10 mins
  • Add 1 tablespoon of cornflour to a little cold water (needs to be cold or it wont work) and stir until a paste. Add to the simmering steak mixture. Stir and stir and stir until you feel that its starting to thicken- it should pretty much straight away. If it doesn’t thicken within a few mins, add another cornflour mix until you get a better consistency. It will thicken very slightly in the oven, but I would rather have it a bit thick than too thin or the filling will fall out when you cut it.
  • Once the crust has cooled, remove the blind baking stuff and fill the crust with the steak mixture. You need to remember to keep some pastry crust free to stick the lid onto it. Cut up slices of cheese and layer on top. You just need enough to cover the steak. Fold over the excess pastry on the sides- this will make things a bit prettier and easier to seal. Brush this pastry with a little milk to make it stick Place the lid on top of the pie. If theres a bit too much lid, fold over the edges toward the middle, and if you are awesome, you could even add a bit of cheese to it before you fold them over as an incredible stuffed crust thingy.
  • Brush the whole top with milk (or an eggwash if that takes your fancy)- makes it more crispy, and stab a few times (gently) with a fork so that the whole pie doesn’t explode in a ball of meaty goodness.
  • Bake for about 30 mins or really until its golden brown- the inside is cooked anyway, so its all good.
So as Julia Child would say (can you tell I've been reading her book?) Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

DIY Dishwasher Powder

We don't have a dishwasher, but Wendyl Nissen has tested this recipe and we trust her. Commercial dishwasher powder is unbelievably toxic so if you have little ones around then you should really give this a try. The recipe can be found on Wendyl Nissen's newletter (I hasn't made it on to her website yet) or get it right here:

Amazing Dishwasher Powder
I've finally been able to test the recipe I have given out before which was sent to me by a reader. It's quite fantastic. I've adjusted it slightly but you'll love it and can be safe in the knowledge that it is cheaper and less toxic than the commercial ones. This does have a little borax in it which is toxic in high doses, but shouldn't be swallowed so do keep this in your old dishwasher powder bottle with a child preventing screw cap on it.

½ cup of borax 
½ cup soda ash (this is powdered washing soda, not the crystals. Try Trade Me or
¼ cup of citric acid
½ cup salt (not iodised))
10 drops of lemon essential oil 
Place all in a plastic container and shake.
Use 1 Tbsp per load. Use white vinegar in the rinse compartment.

Let us know how it works.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Much ado about poop

Having a child makes one much more familiar with the human experience. You learn a lot about life, living and poop.

We have learnt a lot about poop over the past year but only learnt just how to remove it from the carpet last week. Clearly we needed more practise and so had to repeat the process again a few days ago.

Fresh air and a little sun is apparently quite good for nappy rash, but not so great if no one is watching what they're doing...

So, just in case you are interested, here is what we did to clean it up...

* We removed as much of the solid stuff as we could- using toilet paper and flushed it down the loo

* We sloshed down some white vinegar and blotted it dry (and scrubbed a little. Hopefully that helped?)

* We sprayed on some water to remove the vinegar and used a towel to dry it.

Still a bit of a stain though. Does anyone have any better methods they'd care to share?