About Me

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Portland, Oregon, United States

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Lesson in Life.

1991: I am ten. I was in 5th grade and we had all just come back from after lunch recess.  My 5th grade teacher was standing in front of the class with one of my schoolmates Lainey Thompson.  Mrs. Galbreath said she needs a volunteer and we will probably miss social studies and possibly math. I hate math. My hand shoots up!

"Ok, Susan, you can help." She picked me! I was so happy. For two seconds and then the doom set in.

She informs me that Lainey has left her retainer on her lunch tray and threw the whole lot away.  I had just volunteered to help her dig through the dumpster to look for it. I don't remember a lot of things from 5th grade. I remember Mrs. Galbreath showing us a tampon during sex ed (horrified!) the principal making me cry (douche) Mom making the principal very sorry for making me cry (Supermom!) and looking for that retainer.

We went down to the cafeteria and the lunch ladies gave us plastic aprons and gloves and then opened the front of the dumpster so we could start digging through the trash bags.  I don't remember what lunch was, but I do remember it was chocolate milk day. I could tell Lainey felt bad, but she was getting no sympathy from me. This was disgusting.

We both just stood there outside the dumpster waiting for the other one to climb in.  She kept saying things like "This isn't so bad. We will find it in no time!"  I wasn't convinced. Finally she gingerly climbed in there and started to open the bags. I was mortified. What if someone sees me?  I thought about just swinging that door closed with her in it and walking home. But she looked so sad and pathetic in there I finally caved in and started to help look.

It was an effort in futility though because everything was drenched in thick, mucusy chocolate milk. I thought I found it every 30 seconds. Nope, orange peel.  Nope, yogurt top. Nope, something unidentifiable.

After an hour of digging in 95 degree heat with the chocolate milk starting to turn, I had had enough. There is only so much dry heaving one can do before you think "I didn't throw my retainer away. Why am I here?" I told Lainey I was done.  And here's the kicker.  She gave up then as well, so we never even found that stupid retainer.

Lesson: Never volunteer for anything. Ever.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Homemade dishwasher detergent.

I have slowly been starting to make my own household cleaning supplies.  It is quite a bit cheaper and is much safer and healthier to have in your house.

I'm not going to preach to you about the dangers of having commercial products, that are filled with chemicals and toxins, in your home.  I am just going to show how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own cleaning supplies.  It only takes a few minutes to do most of them and once you assemble the dream team (my name for the staples needed to make almost any of them) it is quite cost effective.

Today is dishwaster detergent. This is my favorite because it takes three minutes to make and does a fantastic job. I got the recipe here.  I did modify it a little as citric acid can be a little spendy and half the amount still works great.


1 cup Borax.
1 cup Washing Soda.
1/2 cup salt.
1/4 cup citric acid.

The recipe called for kosher salt and I used canning salt, but I don't think it really makes a difference. Use the salt you have.

Borax you can find anywhere.  I have found it at Target, Bimart, Walmart and even my local Lamb's Thriftway. The Washing Soda was a little harder.  The only place I can find it locally is Walmart, but I haven't really tried that hard. It just wasn't at Target, Bimart or Thriftway. You can also find it online, obviously. The citric acid will be in the canning aisle.  It comes in a container that holds a little more than a cup and is about 4 bucks. You can also use Fruit Fresh if you can't find citric acid. I have also found it in bulk (pay by ounce/pound) so check your health food store section and see if they have it.

The first rule is: You need to keep everything completely dry. It's not really the first rule, it's the only rule. I store my detergent in a large mason jar, but I wash it a few days before and let it dry completely.  The first batch I made clumped up really bad.  It was like one solid mass which I had to chip away every time I ran the dishwasher. It made me mad inside my head. But... My second batch is loose and wonderful.

All you really have to do is dump everything into a large mixing bowl and stir it together.  I break up any clumps from the borax and washing soda with my potato masher.

You use one tablespoon in the inner door and if the dishes are super dirty I use 1-2 teaspoons in the outer door. I use an old coffee scoop which is one tablespoon.

It works really well and smells like nothing. No chlorine or perfumes which is kinda gross when you think that you actually eat off those dishes and ingest that garbage.

Another great tip is using white vinegar instead of a rinse agent if your machine has a spot for it. I never used a rinse agent before because I'm cheap and didn't see the purpose. But vinegar is cheap so give it a try.

If you don't have mason jars, just store in an airtight container.  Just make sure it is clean and dry.  Let me know if you make it and what you think.