Paying off Debt

This post has been moved to our Fairman blog. 


DIY: Laundry Detergent

So I have been asking around, doing a lot of research and finally attempted to make my own laundry detergent last night.

I decided to try powder, and after looking at a bunch of similar recipes I decided to try this one. Everything can be found in the detergent aisle except the Baking Soda which is in the cooking aisle. 

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax

1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean- (This is optional but I went by her recommendation and added it to this batch.)

2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap- I had to use  6 (5.5 oz) bars of Fels Naptha.

1 (4 lb) Boxes of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

1 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener (This is optional and adds a very subtle fragrance to the clothes)

You only use 2 TBSP per full load!!!

So the longest part was grating the Fels Naptha bars. Glad I’ll only have to do this about once a year. Other than that it’s just the mixing which is a little dusty. This picture shows one bar and what that bar looks like when it’s grated. I also used my hands to ‘crush’ it up smaller, but it dissolves easily in water.

Get a 5 gallon bucket & lid for storage. I called around and Sherwin Williams thankfully price-matched Home Depot’s cheaper price. This batch will fill up a little over half of the bucket.

This cost me $33 (plus the bucket for $2.79, also no sales tax in OR). This cost me a few more dollars than the website claimed, but I decided to pay for convince of getting it all in my neighborhood vs. driving around to save about $5 and waste time/gas.  This should last us anywhere from 12-18 months, which is about $2-3 per month for laundry detergent… awesome. I put yesterday’s date on the lid so when we run out I know how long it actually took us to use it.

When you use the Purex Crystals, you can reuse the bottle. The cap has 3 lines on the side and the middle line is exactly 2 TBSP.

I did one load last night and although the jury’s still out I’m pleased with it. I guess time will tell.

I would read through the original post for some tips on how to do this, it was really helpful for me as I was making a go at it.


I’ve done a few loads now and still LOVE this recipe. It smells fabulous (after wash/dry it’s just a faint scent).  I’ll try and remember to update after a few months of use!

***update 1/8/14***
It’s now been a year and a half and I still have half of the batch left.  This has been a great recipe for us! The only thing I’ll change next time is to put a trash bag into the bucket before filling with detergent to preserve moisture. It gets a little dried out/clumpy.

***update 1/16/14***
This past week the detergent got put to the true test, washing vomit out of clothes. Not just a little but all-over-you soaked in vomit. Clothes are good as new.


So we’re making progress in the eating department.

We stocked up on healthier options, and I started trying to make some of the recipes I’ve found online .

Zupan’s always have meat of sorts on sale, so I’ve been starting to get my meat there, about $10 or less for the week, and cutting our meat portion in half.

One night for dinner I chopped up mushrooms and mixed them in with 9% lean grass fed beef, so it was 1/3 mushrooms and 2/3 meat. Delish.

Last night we had pork, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. Had you told my childhood, teenager, or early adult self that I would enjoy brussesls sprouts so much I would have laughed in your face. We had some really yummy ones on our honeymoon though and it truly is all about the way it’s cooked.

I also got bran to put in baked goods such as pizza crusts etc.

I got date sugar as a sugar replacement.

And I’ve been using almond and coconut milk in everything except cereal.

I also tried making these goodies last night. They were a hit at work.

So we’re making progress, and easing ourselves into new foods and new flavors. It’s going to be a challenge, and cooking is exhausting, but I’m trying to think of it as an adventure to not get easily disappointment or be tempted to make something that isn’t as healthy. And the hubs has been pretty surprised at how good everything’s tasted…. for the most part. 😀

Short Term Resolutions

The last few years I haven’t really made new years resolutions, because history shows I set myself up to fail. This year I didn’t even think about resolutions or feel guilty about not setting one, but there are some things my husband and I hope to accomplish this year.
So we make short term goals.

For the next two weeks (except the two double dates we have planned) we don’t want to eat out.  The most difficult part is planing meals to pack for lunch. Working retail you always have weird hours for your meals. We just spent a week on the East Coast so our kitchen was empty. We went to Trader Joe’s, dropped $150 to restock our fridge and cupboards. Planned out some meals, and made dinner.
One night down.. success. 
13 more days to go. 

#11 Rescue discarded treasures

This day’s challenge is to go on a ‘treasure hunt’ for buried treasures (at goodwill, thrift stores, etc). It’s kind of a difficult subject to comment on though, as I look around my room and apartment and very few things were brought into my possession as a ‘new’ item.

New is always great, but I’ve always been a sucker for something old and used and making it better if necessary.

Finding treasure in the over looked and discarded. 

Beyond the simplicity of items, this is definitely something that holds true in many areas of our lives.

#8 Reduce your spending

What do you spend your money on.
Today I spent money on…..

Getting dressed, those clothes cost money. The shower and hair and make up cost money. The incense I burned while getting ready cost money. The rent, water, electricity, and insurance that is invested in my apartment. The computer I own and the songs I listened on on iTunes, that I downloaded from the internet that cost money. My car I drove in, the CD I bought at the concert I went to the night before, the gas, insurance and maintenance, Starbucks Breakfast, and my cell phone I talked to my mom on, and updated twitter by. And this was only by 8:45am!!!!!  I’ll spare you the rest.

Compared to most of my friends, I’m ridiculously aware and usually tend to be on the side of frugal… except when I really want a Persian rug that was made for me. But look at how much money goes into my life, I am always spending money, even if indirectly. And I take it all for granted. Everything costs [somebody] something. And even in trying to simplify your life, it still comes with a cost.

And even though more affordable than most, Nashville is a HARD city to save money in, because everything costs money, and everyone spends money, and a lot of people spend their family’s money, and it’s just HARD to do the freebies. And those $5-10 ventures that are available on a nightly basis, well… they add up!  According to the Business Journal, Nashville is ranked one of the top spenders in America! “The average Nashville household spends more freely that San Franciscans. More than Washington, D.C., residents. More than New Yorkers.” (Read more: Analysis: Nashvillians among nation’s biggest spenders – Nashville Business Journal: ). Yikes!

I don’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with spending money that you have. Read that again. There’s nothing wrong with spending money that you have, we cant take our money to the grave, but neither our possessions. And if we aren’t living within our means are we really able to enjoy the freedom that comes with being a good steward?

I’m no pro, I’m not a financial adviser, and I do not claim to be. But thankfully my dad and some other people in my life have taught me valuable lessons and been great examples that I try to watch and live by. It’s not easy, and I’m not great or even good at it. But I try to get better each day. I’m learning.

Tithe 10%, first and foremost
-Save 10%, emergencies always happen, try to have 3months of your financial obligations in savings just in case
-Spend 10% on others, or 10% of your time/talent.
Pay your bills first

-If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out
-If you can’t afford to insure it, you can’t afford to have it
Pay for it in full, you don’t want to be making payments longer than you have the product
-(as stated in a prior blog) leave the store, you will come back if you want it
-Spend money in local ways, putting money BACK into our local economy, (see 350project)

-SAY NO NOW, SO YOU CAN SAY YES LATER (and this is so true in other areas of life as well).

Anyways, those are basics that I try to keep in mind. they aren’t necessarily “rules” but good reminders, or guidelines to spend within, with allowing room for flexibility. Splurging when able; treat yourself and keep your friends and sanity, but have self control. It’s hard to say no, especially when you’re on a tighter budget than others. But I’ve learned that if you are willing not to unnecessarily spend money, or are working within a budget, many others are too. And if you save up a little, you can say yes to better things and enjoy them more because they are a treat! It’s a matter of perspective, aye?

I don’t want to be ‘wealthy’ by any means, but I want to be financially free so that I can have a more simple and fulfilling [Christ/others focused] life, rather than just the weary obligations of paying off stupid debts.  It sucks now, esp paying off school loans from a private college. But as my dad says.. how do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time

Lord, help me to be a better steward of my time and money. 

#6 Enjoy what you have

There was this Persian rug.

It was perfect. It was as though the rug maker thought about me the entire time they were making it. I spotted it across the store and spent a good hour weighing the pros and cons of this big purchase. I had decided that yes, even though this was a big purchase, I could not leave the store without it.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that this was not a typical Leslie moment. My idea of splurging is usually $20-30. And even then I usually talk myself out of the purchase by the time it comes to actually paying for it. So this Persian rug really was perfect. My uncle Vic has told me many times, that if you like something leave it in the store; you will always go back go get it if you really want it. I try to follow this rule and most of the time it works, but this rug… I just didn’t want someone else to get it! It was MINE! It was made for ME!

So I called my dad. My dad is where my logical side and my frugal side comes from, we speak the same language. I knew if it wasn’t meant to be he’d talk me out of it. And he did… eventually. I tried explaining to him over and over again all the reasons WHY this rug just HAD to go home with me. What it boiled down to was that even though I had the money, there were so many other things that I could use it for, like school loans, that just keep coming each month like clock work. He also tried to console me in the fact that there will always be another rug. (But not this one, this perfect beautiful rug…). Usually after still wanting something at this point I would have returned for the purchase, but I know next time I will not be strong enough to say no.

I feel so selfish wanting something material so badly. It’s silly really. I mean, money isn’t eternal, but neither is a rug.

I didn’t grow up in a family with a lot of money, but we were provided for way far and above the essential needs of life. We were never in need, even if we were too selfish to stop wanting. There were a lot of hand-me-downs, a lot of garage sales, a lot of casseroles and leftovers, and a lot of lessons about love, loyalty, grace, forgiveness, gratitude, stewardship and blessing. I may not have everything our society tells me I need to be happy, but I am blessed, and so thankful for what I do have, and the family and friends that love even my worst self.

Today’s simplicity: Learn to differentiate between needs and wants. Instead of thinking about what you don’t have, thank God for what you do have.

Lord, never let me fail to see the many, many blessings I have and daily take for granted. Help me to better enjoy the substance of life and extend myself as a blessing as so many wonderful people have done for me.