Thursday, June 16, 2011

News Flash- New Car!

This last weekend was an exciting one at the Ratliff's! I kicked it off on Friday by my making my own laundry soap, we got a new car on Saturday, and Sunday our toilet exploded (I don't think I've ever been happier we rented!! We called the emergency maintenance, sat tight, and they came and fixed it!).

I used to drive a 2002 Sebring. Her name was Lola (L-O-L-A Lola, Lo-lo-lo-lo Lola) I loved that car, it was so fun to drive, and was a symbol of my independence. It was the most expensive thing I had ever bought, and I was so proud that paid for it with my own money! There was just one problem: it was a girl car. Poor Steve hated getting in and out of it, and having a two door car just wasn't working for us anymore. 

We had been saving for a few months, and decided that this was the weekend! We did a lot of research before and decided that a Ford Fusion would be the best decision for us, then we found three dealerships that had car that met our needs. I was really nervous to go to a car dealership, I wanted to make a good, sensible decision and not fall in love with the first shiny thing I saw. We only ended up going to two places, the first place offered us a really good deal, but we still wanted to see what else was out there. As soon as I got into the second car, I knew I wanted it. It had all the features I wanted, plus a lot more. But it was just out of our price range. Luckily Steve was a champ at bargaining, and he got them to give us $2800 for my car (we were only expecting $1500)! With that and our down payment, we only had to finance about a third of the car's worth.

I thought I would feel a little sad driving away from good ol' Lola, but I wasn't at all. That new car smell wiped away any sadness I might have felt. I am so fickle!! 

I'm still figuring out how to use all the features, but I am loving it! We haven't decided on a name, so if you have a suggestion, let me know!
2010 Fusion
Our, as yet, unnamed 2010 Ford Fusion- if you enlarge this picture, you can see Steve making a funny face in the drivers seat. He is such a ham!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Tried it Tuesday- Laundry Soap

I was talking to a friend from church, and she mentioned that she made her own laundry soap. She was kind enough to teach me how!

You will need:
2 cups of Borax
2 cups of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
1 bar of Zote or Fels-Naptha or Dr. Bronner's Soap bar (these are all concentrated bars of cleaning soap, I found Zote at the local Mexican grocery)

 1. Take the bar of soap and grate it all up using a cheese grater. The finer you grate it the quicker it will melt. It will look like coconut, but resist the urge to eat it!!

Grated Soap

2. Place it in a large sauce pan and add 4 cups of water. Cook on medium heat until it melts. This was the longest part of the process, it took about 20 minutes.
Melting the Soap
 3. Put the Borax and Washing Soda in a big plastic tote or 5 gallon bucket. Mix with 2 gallons of HOT water (just hot from the tap, it doesn't need to be boiling). DO NOT use cold water, it will make the Borax hard as a rock!

4. Stir until dissolved. You can use an electric mixer to do this, but we just used wire whisks. It only took about 5 minutes with the two of us mixing.
 5. Add the melted soap to the bucket. Stir until it becomes a thick jelly.
Homemade Laundry Soap
6. Add 1 1/2 gallons of more water to the mixture, and mix it again until it is fully blended. You can add essential oils at this point, if you wanted your soap to be scented. I don't really care, so I skipped this step.

7. Pour into plastic bottles. It makes about 4-5 gallons. I put mine in a big tupperware, and have a special measuring cup to scoop it out with. My friend put hers into empty milk jugs, which I think would make it a lot easier to store and to pour out.

It's a pretty strong soap, (my hands were very dry after mixing and pouring it) so you don't need to use a lot. I use 1/4 cup for regular loads, and 1/2 cup for heavy loads. I have done three loads with it (one white, one colored, and one towels) and I can't tell a difference between that and the store bought stuff.

The cost:
Borax: $2.50- will make three batches, so $0.83 per batch
Washing soda- $2.50- also makes three batches, $0.83 again
Zote- $1.00

Total Cost: $2.66, and if I'm figuring correctly, it should last over six months! I did make the initial investment of buying the tupperware ($9.00) but that was a one time cost.

Saves money, doesn't take very long, and helps us be more self reliant! What's not to love??

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Keeping It Real

I've read a few articles recently about Facebook depression, a new condition that is affecting many people, mostly teens. Basically, people are looking at other's on Facebook, and seeing all the awesome things that everyone else is doing, feeling that they are not measuring up, and then getting depressed about it. The problem is, people usually post only positive things that are happening. No one posts a picture of the week long flu they had or how they sit at home on weeknights wishing they had someone to talk to (of course, there are people who do that, but they usually make me feel uncomfortable and I de-friend them) or how they feel trapped by the ever mounting pile of laundry.

I also think that's easy to do with blogs. I read approximately 1,437,821 blogs every day, and usually people post great things that happen to them, pictures of their adorable house/child/cupcake/outfits. Which is the point of a blog, really, to share awesomeness. But it's so easy to compare the best of someone else's life (and probably photo-shopped pictures!) with the worst (un-photo-shopped picture) of your own, you know??

Not that I would advocate looking for the bad in anyone, but it is important to remember that no one is perfect, and that everyone has something that they would like to change. So really, the best policy is to not compare yourself at all, to find the best in everyone, including yourself, and take what you can from everyone. Don't forget to count your blessings!!

(Thanks to Abby from My Yellow Sandbox for this reminder. Also, an awesome place to get hair tutorials!!)