Sep 3, 2012

EASY Homemade Fabric Softener!

Sep
3
2012
Monday

Something happened to us a few weeks ago that hadn’t happened in YEARS… we ran out of laundry detergent. I know, I know, the cardinal sin for a couponer. And to top it all off, we were pretty backed up on laundry and couldn’t put it off much longer. (And I was out of soap nuts as well, which I love using!)

Ryan was at work and I asked him if he could pick up a small container of laundry detergent on his way home to get us by until I could stock up on a good sale.

He swung by Walmart on his way home (we are very limited on our options where we live) and grabbed, what he thought, was the best price on laundry detergent. Over half off per load from the next least expensive option. He set it on top of the washing machine when he got home and I started to pour it into the washing machine only to see that the brand name was DOWNY. Now I’ve been buying laundry detergent for years, and I know that when I see Downy that it’s NOT laundry detergent. But I don’t think Ryan has EVER had to buy laundry detergent (maybe in college? Although I doubt it!) Even though we share the laundry duties most of the time, I’m always the one that buys it.

They really should make the “Fabric Softener” words a little bigger, don’t you think?  It’s almost like they are trying to deceive us!  (The only place it mentions “Fabric Softener” is those TINY blue words on the right at the bottom of the bottle).

We both had a good laugh about it and it reminded me that I hadn’t shared with you guys how I make my own fabric softener!

I don’t think I have EVER bought fabric softener because I just use vinegar. Yep, distilled white vinegar makes AWESOME fabric softener (and, in case you’re wondering, it’s one of the few items that I buy the store brand for most of the time).

I’m fine with just using vinegar on its own, and I’ve never had an issue with my clothes smelling like vinegar when they come out of the wash. Plus, for those of you who live in an area with hard water, you can also add in about 1/2 cup of baking soda with your clothes to soften the water (and your clothes) as well!  Just be sure to put the vinegar in the RINSE section (or rinse cycle) and the baking soda in WITH the clothes at the beginning.  They DO NOT go in together, just in case you forgot about all of the volcano science experiments from elementary school.

But if you would like to add a little fragrance to your homemade fabric softener, you can add some hair conditioner in with the vinegar.  Yes, HAIR CONDITIONER!!

If you’re just going to use vinegar then just pour anywhere from 1/4 – 3/4 cup (depending on the size of your washing machine and how large your load is) into your fabric softener section of where you put your laundry detergent (or put it into the rinse cycle if your washing machine doesn’t have that option).

If you would like to have more of a “fabric softener” consistency and smell then use the following recipe instead:

EASY Homemade Fabric Softener!
Author:
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a container. It will take a while to get them all mixed well.
  2. Pour into a container that you can pour from, or just funnel it into your old fabric softener container.
  3. Use just like you would regular fabric softener!


For those of us who go through shampoo much faster than we do conditioner, this gives us a great use for all of the extra bottles of conditioner that we likely have in our stockpiles!  :)

Related posts:

 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Apr 30, 2012

How To Have A LEGO Birthday Party For Under $100!

Apr
30
2012
Monday

Lego Birthday Party Ideas



Those of you who are following us on Facebook know that a couple of weekends ago we had a LEGO Birthday party for our 7 year old boy! We typically don’t do the themed parties… in the past, birthday parties have just been an excuse to have a bunch of families we know over and hang out together! But he REALLY wanted a LEGO party this year with just a handful of his friends.

And you know, I really think they would’ve been happy with just cupcakes and Lego Star Wars on the Wii. I had to DRAG the boys away from Lego Star Wars to play the games that I had planned for them, lol!! So, if you do have a LEGO party, and you have a Wii… that game of LEGO Star Wars just might be worth buying because it will entertain them for at least half of the party time! :)

So here’s what we did from start to finish, along with the price breakdown for each item:

1. Invitations

I had everyone’s email address that we were going to invite, so I just sent out email invitations instead of mailing them! It’s easy to make an invitation that you can email out to friends with a free photo editing program like Pixlr.com!  You can make your own LEGO letters for the invitation from this LEGO letters website (use the color changer in your photo editing software to make it match your invitations.)  Feel free to download the blank template here and then you can use the photo editing program to add in your information!

Also, Keri from One Mama’s Daily Drama used the template above to create a LEGO figure coloring page.  You can download that here!

(If you’re looking to purchase invitations to mail out in the mail, check out these super cute LEGO Birthday Party Invitations that you can buy!  Plus Expressions Paperie offers some great coupon codes from time to time so be sure to sign up for their email list too if you plan on buying something in the near future!)

Price: FREE

2. Food

Pizza from Target for 8 little boys? It was only $4! I did splurge on the Honest Kids Organic Juice at around $3.50 for the package.

Price: $7.50

3. Plates & Decorations

We didn’t need cups because we had the juice pouches so we only had to get the plates which were $1.99 at Party City for the 8-pack.

Price: $1.99

We bought 12 balloons (only 11 made it to the party though) and tied them to yellow cones that we had in the garage. I also got the big HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEGO Star Wars sign to hang up in the room.

Oh, and a big bowl of LEGOs in the middle of the table for them to build with (FREE!)  :)

Price – $12 for balloons, $5.99 for the sign

(Yes, we mixed regular LEGOS and LEGO Star Wars stuff and none of the boys seemed to mind!)

4. Cake

OH MY GOODNESS the cupcakes were amazing!!! And yes, those are fondant LEGOS, and yes, they are AWESOME (it’s marshmallow fondant, not typical nasty fondant and it is DIVINE!)

The cupcakes were made from this White Cake Recipe, this Buttercream Frosting Recipe (except with all butter since I’m not a shortening fan), and this Marshmallow Fondant Recipe!

One more picture?  Yes, those are charger plates from our Christmas collection and one of them is on top of an upside down bowl!  Do you think the boys noticed?  NOPE!

Price: around $13.00 for everything you need for the cake! (A friend of mine had the candy mold, but if you don’t have it then it’s $12.99 for the lego ice cube tray/candy mold that you need to make the fondant legos.)

5. Entertainment

Well, like I said earlier, the boys would’ve been more than happy to play LEGO Star Wars the entire time, but I had planned games for them so I forced them away from the Wii!

Game #1: Guess The # Of LEGOs

This was a super easy one and they loved it! I got one of my small jar containers from the pantry, emptied it into a ziploc (it was storing baking powder) and filled it up with LEGOs. Then I had the boys guess how many were in there! No one got close (there were 237 and the highest they guessed was 110), but they still had fun!

Game #2: Pin the shark in the water!

This was an impulse buy at Party City, but I’m glad we got it. The boys had fun playing it and I just didn’t have the time to cut out a full lego figure from construction paper to play pin the head on the LEGO guy. (Price of this one was $4.99).

Game #3: LEGO Relay Game!

The boys had a blast with this one! I divided them up into two teams (they had to pick either a red lego or a blue lego from a bag to determine which team they were on) and lined them up. There were two bowls at each end of the yard… an empty bowl by the team, and a bowl full of legos in their color on the other side. They had to run across the yard and put one lego at a time on a spoon and run back and put it in their bowl and then pass the spoon on to the next player. Once the last person was finished then the first person ran again. They did this until one of the teams got all of the LEGOs in their bowl! They probably could’ve played this a couple more times, but we were running short on time since they had played LEGO Star Wars for so long earlier!

Game #4: Team Build!

I wasn’t quite sure how this one would work out. I had seen it on Pinterest and thought it was a great idea so I decided to try it and the boys loved it!! You get a bunch of random LEGO pieces and put them into a bag. Pass the bag around the group and each kid takes out one of the LEGOs and puts it on the flat LEGO board. It’s kind of like the game where you start a story and each person has to build onto the story as you go along… except with LEGOs! The boys were very proud of their creation (and all of them enjoyed it… from the 4 year old up through the 10 year old!)

6. Party Favors

I wanted each boy to be able to take home his own LEGO figure from the party, and I was worried this was going to be one of the most expensive items of all. Each LEGO person at the LEGO store is $3.33, so times 9 boys (because even though there were only 8 boys, you have to buy them in groups of 3 at the LEGO store) is $29.97 plus tax. So instead I got two of the LEGO City Police Minifigure Collections at Target for $8.99 each. Each of the boxes came with 4 guys, so it was perfect! And the boys really enjoyed putting them together too (I’m sure the pieces didn’t end up going with the right characters, but everyone was happy with what they made!)

I also got them LEGO Star Wars pencils, pencil sharpeners, and notepads – around $9 total.

Plus the party bags (the treat sacks) which were $2.99 for an 8 pack.

Total for party favors: $29.97 (for EVERYTHING… which was as much as the 9 LEGO men would’ve started to begin with!)

7. The Piñata

The Piñata was another impulse buy but it was such a hit with the boys! The only problem was that it didn’t hold together very well and ended up busting after only a few kids had had their swing at it (anyone know how to reinforce a Piñata?). That was okay though because the candy falling from it more than made up for the breakage! And there really is no reason to stuff a Piñata FULL of candy if you’re not having a big party. We only got about $6 worth of candy and it was plenty for all 8 boys.

{UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who let me know what those strings are for! ;) }

Total cost: $15 for the Piñata + $6 for the candy = $21

If I had it to do over again I wouldn’t have bought the extra party favors which would’ve shaved $9 off the cost, and I would’ve prepared a little more beforehand and made our own Happy Birthday sign to shave off another $5.99.

GRAND TOTAL: $96.44!

Definitely under my ideal party price of $100, and if I wouldn’t have gotten the extra party favors and happy birthday sign it would’ve only been $81.45!

We’ve had parties at the park with just hot dogs, chips, drinks, and cake that cost more than this (because you have to feed EVERYONE, not just the kids) so I was very very happy with the final price of everything!

And ALL of the boys (from age 4 up to age 10) had a blast!

I would love to hear your LEGO party ideas too!!  Where do you shave off extra costs on birthday parties?  

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Nov 8, 2011

How To Get White Heat Marks Out Of Wood Furniture {Survival Tip Tuesday}

Nov
8
2011
Tuesday

We got an AWESOME deal on our dining room table 7 years ago. It was a wood table that sat 10 people, came with 8 chairs, and looked great too! All for around $400 at a used furniture store.

Four kids and lots of dinners later, the table has a *few* extra imperfections.

Like huge white spots in the middle.

Apparently these white spots are from putting things that are too hot directly on the wood. I’m not sure exactly why it happens (anyone know?), but I DO know how to get rid of it thanks to google!!

Here’s how to get rid of them in 4 easy steps:

1. Clean the piece of furniture.

2. Wet a clean thick cloth or piece of material.  (If you don’t want to wet it, you can use the steam setting on your iron).

3. Place the cloth over the spot.

4. Turn your clothes iron onto one of the medium settings and go back and forth on the cloth for around 20-30 seconds. DO NOT just leave it in one place.

Remove the cloth and the spot should be gone! At least, it was for me!!  It looks like in the picture that there’s a white ring around an area, but it ONLY shows up with the camera (you can’t see it when you look at the table).

This post is part of the Survival Tip Tuesday series!

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Nov 1, 2011

How To Get Scratches Out Of DVDs/CDs: Bananas? Toothpaste? Wax? Which Methods Really Work?

Nov
1
2011
Tuesday



I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but for us, little kids = scratched DVDs.  I know, we should be better about keeping them out of their reach, and we did REALLY good on this with the first two kids.

But now we have 4 kids.  And lots of scratched DVDs.

So last night I had finally had enough of trying to find a DVD that actually would play all the way through, and I bought a $7.88 container of CD/DVD scratch remover at Walmart.

And it really did help with the DVD I used it on (Little Einsteins).  It wouldn’t play more than a couple of minutes before I used the scratch remover, but we put it in after using it and it played ALL the way through without an issue!  WOOHOO!

But I noticed something when I opened up the $7.88 (SMALL) bottle of scratch remover.  It smelled suspiciously JUST like car wax.

So I did something that I should’ve done before I went to Walmart to buy the scratch remover.  I googled it!

And oh my, you come up with all kinds of crazy ideas when you google something.  Using a banana?  Toothpaste?  LOL!  Sure, why not?

So I looked through our garage, kitchen, and bathroom to see what we had in there and this is what I found:


A banana, toothpaste (the paste, not the gel), armor all, car wax, and scratch out.

And I tried them all!  Here are the directions I used for each:

Banana: Cut off a piece of ripe banana and rub the banana around the DVD (or CD) in a circular motion.  Then rub the inside of the banana peel around the DVD in a circular motion.  Finally, buff (again, in a circular motion) with a dry cotton towel.

Toothpaste: Squeeze a small amount of PASTE toothpaste onto the DVD.  Rub it in pretty well and let sit for around 5 minutes.  Wash the toothpaste off the DVD and then spray with window cleaner and buff in a circular motion with a cotton towel.  Let dry.

Armor All, Car Wax, & Scratch Out: Apply to the DVD and rub it in in a circular motion with a cotton towel.  Let sit for at least 5 minutes.  Buff off in a circular motion with a dry towel.

At first I tried them on different DVDs, and looked at the results.  Several of the DVDs looked MUCH better.  The only DVD that DIDN’T at least look better was the one that I used the banana on.

The banana pretty much did nothing.  Actually, it might have made even MORE scratches on the DVD.  Goes to show that you can’t just trust Youtube!

I had used the banana on the worst of the DVDs which was our ABC signs Signing Time DVD.  ALL of our kids have been obsessed with Signing Time since they were toddlers, and the ABC signs one was especially well-worn.

So since I had used the banana on the worst one (and it made it worse), I thought I’d use the Signing Time DVD to work my way through the other methods.

The toothpaste did okay.  I could tell that there were fewer scratches on the DVD, but there were still a bunch of skips when I tried to play it.

The armor all made absolutely no difference.

Then I tried the car wax and there was a huge (HUGE) difference!  We could play through the letter D on the DVD (that’s where it always would stick).  I was thrilled!  But later in the DVD (around half way through) it started skipping again.

So on to the Kit Scratch Out.  I rubbed it in, let it sit for around 5 minutes, and then buffed it out with a cotton cloth.

And the DVD played ALL THE WAY THROUGH!  First the first time in years.

The Kit Scratch Out is around the same price as the “official” DVD/CD scratch remover, but has 3 1/2 times MORE product in it!  And you likely have some sitting in the garage somewhere!

I would love to hear your experience with getting rid of scratches on your DVDs or CDs!  Are there any other methods that I didn’t cover?

Disclaimer: This is only my experience.  Others may have a different experience when using these products or others.  Surviving The Stores makes no guarantees, either written or implied, that any particular methods will work to get scratches out of CDs or DVDs.  Always consult a professional before attempting pretty much anything.  :)

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Apr 26, 2011

How To Survive A Layoff {Survival Tip Tuesday}

Apr
26
2011
Tuesday

Survival Tip Tuesday
Many of you might remember my post last year about Ryan losing his job. It was definitely a tough adjustment at for us, since Surviving The Stores was nowhere close to the point of being able to support us full-time.

THANKFULLY we had both been taught about living below our means in order to put as much money into savings as we possibly can.

We had been putting money into savings thinking it was unlikely that we would actually need it one day, but I’m SOOO glad that we listened to the advice of those who had already walked through many years of life and who knew through experience why saving up for unexpected circumstances is so important!

Over the past year as I’ve watched tweets on Twitter, looked through Facebook status updates, and talked to friends, it seems that layoffs are now just a part of life.

Even those who thought they would always have job security in their field are facing cut-backs in their sector.

We’ve been there… and it can be a very scary place.

This morning, I read a post by my friend Connie over at Smockity Frocks. Her husband got laid off right before Easter weekend this year and they are putting together a plan of action on how to survive this time (with EIGHT kids) without losing their home.

Connie is starting a new series over at Smockity Frocks on How To Survive A Layoff. If any of you have gone through a layoff, are going through a layoff, or could go through a layoff (that would be pretty much everyone, right?) I definitely encourage you to read through her post today and consider signing up for her email newsletter to keep up with the weekly series.

What about you all? What tips would you give someone who is facing a layoff?

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Mar 16, 2010

How to Find a Local Produce Co-op

Mar
16
2010
Tuesday

Survival Tip Tuesday
After my Meals With My Deals post a couple of weeks ago I got tons of questions on how to find a local produce co-op.

A produce co-op is a great way to minimize your produce costs since most of the time you can get a pretty substantial discount for buying in bulk.

Farmer's MarketHere are a few steps you can take to get involved with a local produce co-op:

1. Check out LocalHarvest.org to see if there is already a co-op going on in your area. They have a great listing of the Co-ops, Farms, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), and Farmer’s Markets in areas all over the country.

2. If you can’t find one, start your own! Ask around your local mom’s group, church, community message boards, etc… and see what the interest level is. Then talk to your local farmers or vendors at your Farmer’s Market and ask them what kind of discount you can get for buying in bulk.

3. Once you have a price per person figured out, spread the word and set up a rotation to pick up the produce from the farm or Farmer’s Market. Typically, the more people you have in the co-op the better the prices will be, the more variety you will be able to get, and the less YOU will have to be the pick-up person.

Since I know there are a lot of North Texas readers here, I also wanted to let you guys know about a GREAT opportunity for an Azure co-op here in North Texas. The more I read about Azure the more excited I get. Azure sells tons of bulk organic and natural foods online, and if you are lucky enough to have one of their co-ops near you then you can get the products at very discounted prices. I was looking around their page yesterday and saw organic apples for only $1/pound!

They are currently trying to gauge the interest level to see if there is enough interest for them to bring the co-op here to North Texas (it’s a very very very large co-op). If you are interested in learning more or joining the co-op, please email Diane at “penningtonfam AT yahoo DOT com” (replacing the AT and DOT with a @ and .) :)

I really hope that we can get this awesome organic co-op here in the North Texas area!

What suggestions do you guys have for starting a co-op? Any pitfalls to avoid? Have you had success with a co-op before?

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."