1) I love slow cookers, cooking and baking. I bake my own bread; I'm working my way through The Cake Book by Tish Boyle and have actually managed to make my own notes. Amazing because I never write my notes for any recipe I try out, relying instead on my completely reliable long term memory. This is fine when I've made the recipe a million times, but not so fine when it's my completely unreliable short term memory.
2) I do A LOT of laundry and I have a sister who is occasionally more knowledgable about certain things than I am. Usually, I am but in this case my sister actually found something that I'd never even considered for some reason, especially because this particular thing is right up my alley.
My ideas on #1 can fill several posts on their own so I won't address that here except to say that I just made slow cooker lasagna. It was just the same as making oven lasagna down to layering and the order things are layered. The only difference was how to cook it. I used the slow cooker because I have shit to do and I don't have time to get it all ready to go and then stand there and have to deal with the oven. I have to make recipes that require more than 40 min total (prep and cook time) bkc (before kid craziness) or akb (after kids bedtime). I will, if it works out, prep things ahead of time, etc. But the thing that works for me, that I will remember to do, is to make double for the meal and freeze half for another day. Everyone knows that lasagna and many sauces taste better a day or two later anyway.
My thoughts about #2 are that this idea is SUPER AWESOME. First of all, it's not my idea. It's floating around on the internet and if you search for "make a year's worth of laundry detergent" you will find two different but essentially the same methods for making your own 1 year worth of laundry detergent. You will find instructions for to make 1 year of liquid laundry detergent and 1 year of powder detergent. The one I looked at was the powder because it's better for the drum of your washer to use powder. You can use either recipe for HE washers.
1 Year Worth of Powder Detergent
1 Year Worth of Liquid Detergent that I haven't attempted yet and will be in a separate blog post.
Notes about the powder instructions:
It only says that it's for a family of four and the post is about a year old. I figured the instructions are for a single load for about 10 loads per week (about average for a family of 4 that have 1 or none small children) using current prices. Prices might vary depending on where and when you will get the items to make it and how diligent you are at bargain hunting. I'm pretty lazy but I don't mind a little leg work.
Using vinegar instead of "normal" fabric softeners is easy for me because I already have a ton of it in the house because I use it for almost everything. With washers, it's good for cleaning the washer and the hoses. It's also better because it actually removes the odors from clothing, including odors from smoking. The other fabric softeners along with regular detergents just cover all that up with their own fragrance.
Ok, so I spent a little time doing the pricing. This price list is for the average family of 4 that includes linens and sports laundry. We are a family of 5, 3 of whom are kids 4 and under so we have many extra loads due to anything you can think of. These calculations also assume that every load is 1 regular load using the exact amount recommended per the instructions for each item for the current method of laundry that I use. The instructions for the DIY laundry detergent is what is made ignoring the manufacturer's load recommendations per item.
These prices are using current January 2013 pricing from Amazon, Costco, dollar stores, and Safeway:
This is what I would normally buy for 520 loads. I try not to think about the fact that I do more than an average of 520 loads per year because the price for 520 loads per year already stresses me out a little.
My way:ALL fragrance/dye free detergent 96 loads 15.50 = 83.9
Tide Boost fragrance/dye free 20 pack 11$ = 286
Oxiclean chlorine free/fragrance free 220 loads 27.33= 64.6
576$ per year for 520 loads
Ok, I don't like that amount in the slightest. If we used the regular old fragranced dyed stuff, it would be less expensive, but not by much. Just imagine if you add in dry cleaning costs if you regularly take things to the dry cleaner and brand name dryer sheets if you use them... etc.
Below is the amount using the instructions and items minus the Purex because I don't use fabric softener and when I do I use white vinegar:
5.5 oz laundry bar 1.5 loads 7.56$
55oz washing soda 13 loads 9.97$
13.5lb bag baking soda 27 loads 16.79$
22 oz oxygen cleaner from dollar store 4$
$186 (with the vinegar) dollars for 520 loads of laundry vs. about $576 (using vinegar)per year for 520 loads
My sister would like to add: Wear a dust mask and some gloves. Microwave the soap (chop it up and zap it for 3 min) and rub it in your hands to turn it to powder. The dust mask is because the whole process of handling and mixing all that powder creates a lot of dust. She also says, "I have found, so far, that there is no scent. I'm sure if you use more of the Pyrex crystals you would get more scent or possibly if you don't microwave the soap. The comments in the blog talk about it 'smelling so good' but those are people who used a food processor or grater."
I don't know, I think if you have a sensitive nose or have migraines or both that you would notice because I know I would.
Peace, Love and Chicken Grease.