Saturday, July 12, 2014

An Update To My Zote Soap Laundry Detergent

Today I'm doing an update to a previous post.  More than a year ago I wrote how I make my own laundry detergent using Zote soap.

This method works great, but Zote soap is a little difficult to grind fine enough.  It is a very soft bar soap so it sticks to the grater or blender blades.  It has to be ground up with the borax and washing soda to keep it from getting sticky. Once incorporated, it stays as dry as any powdered laundry detergent.

Recently a friend of mine (Barb I.) sent me a link for another method for making detergent.  It is the same recipe I use for powdered detergent, but this process is easier for me. Here is the link that prompted this blog post.  It gives complete specific instructions.  She uses Fels Naptha soap which works very well too.  Zote needs a little more water to get smooth and creamy.

The first thing I did was cut the pink Zote into cubes.  I put the cubes into 2 one quart jars.

Then I filled the jars with hot water and let them sit for several hours.  Actually I let them sit overnight.  This softens the soap cubes even more.

For those who don't know this, some blender blades fit on a mason jar.  I learned this from reading an article about making your own smoothies without buying a fancy Magic Bullet.  It works with the regular mouth jar (shown on the left).

Then add the borax and washing soda (1 cup of each total) and blend.   It makes a soft fluffy soap that dissolves in the washer.  You can leave the soap in the jar and use it that way.  If you don't have a blender blade that fits on a jar, then you will have to transfer the soap into your blender.  It works fine but the creamy soap isn't easy to get out of the blender jar.  I did one of each and much prefer the method that stays in the jar.

The only secret is DO NOT PUT SOAP IN SOAP DISPENSER.  PUT SOAP DIRECTLY IN THE TUB.  I have a front loading washing machine, and I put 1Tablespoon of fluffy soap directly on the clothes.

The finished product looks like fruit fluff.

I love the smell of this soap and it cleans very well.  Next time I will only make a half batch.  One quart jar of this soap lasts my family a very long time using only 1 Tablespoon at a time.  I hope you like it too.  I still use the soap nuts but switch off using this.  White clothes get clean with the soap nuts but they seem a little dingy and need brightning up.  The Zote soap does that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Lucky Day (I hope)

The day is still young, but it may be my lucky day.  For what, I have no idea.  I can't win the lottery because I never have bought a ticket in my life.  My theory for life is that you never ever get something for nothing.  I won't find a great deal on something because I don't plan on shopping today.  Maybe it will be a simple thing like not choking or not falling down the stairs.  My dream luck would be seeing the beautiful Whooping Cranes hanging out in the area.  If I could look out and see one, that would be like hitting the lottery for me.  By the way, the 2014 class of baby cranes arrived yesterday.  There will be seven of them training with the ultralight aircraft about three miles from our house.  Four of the year old cranes from last years class have been spotted in the marsh near the training ground.  Keep your fingers crossed they will venture this way. 

The reason for my optimism is that I just went outside to fill the hummingbird feeders.  In the short trip from my door to the feeders, I found 5 four leaf clovers.  Yup, I said FIVE.  I don't pick them anymore because I want others to find them.  I just take pictures.

This is number 1

#2 and #3

#4 and #5

As you can see, we can't grown grass but we can grow clover.  Maybe that is why it is easy for me to see them.  I wrote about finding four and five leaf clovers in a previous blog.  Maybe my luck will come in doing something more exciting than this little sport of finding clover.  I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Impossible Pie

This week I made a pie that I hadn't made for a very long time.  My husband isn't crazy about coconut so I didn't make it much for us, but my mom made it very often.  My sister reminded me of this fact a few weeks ago.  I dug around in my old recipes and found it.  It is very easy to make so I imagine that is why mom made it so often.  I asked Dad if he remembered it.  He said "No".  I couldn't believe it.  Then I realized that mom made her main meal at noon like they did in the olden days.  Dad would come home from work for "noon dinner" as they called it.  They turned on their favorite soap opera called  "All My Children" and both of them watched as they ate.  Dad would get so wrapped up in the story, he probably didn't even know what he was eating.  This is basically a custard pie that makes it's own crust. 

Impossible Pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flaked or shredded coconut

Blend all the ingredients for 1 minute.  I used the immersion blender.

Pour into a greased 10 inch pie plate.

Bake 40-50 minutes until the middle is set.  Check with a toothpick.  If you like, you can sprinkle a little nutmeg on top.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Growing A Mango Tree

Some of you who read my blog may think I like gardening.  I love other peoples gardens.  I love to look at beautiful flowers and plantings, but the actual process of gardening for myself is low on my list of favorite things to do.  I don't like to sweat or get my hands dirty.   I plant plants that take care of themselves.  However, I do love to propagate plants.  Whenever I prune or trim, it is very difficult for me to throw away the stems.  Many of my plants have started out as a stick or small starter plant.  That brings me to my story for today.  Last Mother's Day, my oldest daughter stopped by in the late afternoon with her family.  They had spent the early part of the day with my son in laws mother.  When they came into the house, they brought some trash from the car that needed to go into the garbage.  They had an overripe mango that I separated out to go into the compost.  As I looked at the fruit, I wondered if I could start a plant from the seed.  I took off the fleshy part and put it in the compost.  Then I took the large flat pit and tried to break it open.  It was really tough and I couldn't do it.  I thought if I planted it, as is, it would probably never germinate or it would rot.  I decided to wrap it in wet paper towels and put it in a plastic baggie.

I put this bag in a dark place for about two weeks or more.

I put the mango pit wrapped in moist toweling away for several weeks, I can't remember exactly how long.  I would check it once in a while to make sure the toweling was damp and look for sprouting.  One day I noticed a small sprout peeking out of the pit.

The pit has softened up and this sprout appeared.

This really is a sprout.  It looks kind of creepy.  It looks like a hairy creature with a leg sticking up.

Inside the pit was a bean type seed starting to sprout.

The mango pit had softened up, and I could remove the seed very easily.  There was a clear covering around the bean.  I tossed the casing, covering and planted the seed.

The pit opened like a clam shell.

I found an old hanging pot, covered the seed with soil and set the planted seed outside.  I pretty much forgot about it.  It was two months ago that I put the mango pit into the plastic bag.  Now it looks like this. 

It will probably turn into a nice house plant for a while.  We can't grow mango trees outside in Wisconsin because the winters are too harsh.  Another problem I see is that they can grow to fifty feet tall  plus who knows what kind of mutant fruit it may produce.  It was fun to see the propagating process and will be interesting to see how big it gets before winter.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Michigan Lily In Wisconsin

We have a very unusual lily plant.  The first time I saw it, it was growing in my great grandmother's garden.  It looked like a tiger lily but it grew on a very tall straight plant.  She died many years ago but we still own the house.  In order to keep the house in the family, we bought it.  That was a gigantic mistake, but I won't go into detail about that in this blog.  All I will say is that property values have fallen, and we have a renter who has made matters even worse.  No matter how much care or lack of care, these plants survived.   I never had a chance to ask anyone what the plant was called.  When we moved to our home, I dug up some of the plants.  They have done very well here but I still didn't know what they were called.  After an internet search, I believe they are called a Michigan Lily.

These lilies are over six feet tall this year.

Close up of the bloom

Unusual placement of the leaves

When the blooms first come out, they are straight.  Then they curl backward.