Handmade Dishwasher Detergent Powder *Thrifty Thursday*

This is especially for Elaine (and anyone else who likes to save some mulla)!  I found this toot on my absolutely most favorite website craftster.com This is a great recipe and is more cost-effective if you use vinegar in the rinse cycle and citric acid from a brewery store or can be ordered online…we have slaters here in Lancaster if your from around these parts.


  • 2/3 cup borax
  • 2/3 cup washing soda
  • 1/3 cup citric acid (in the form of unsweetened lemonade koolaid powder packets, 12 ct)
  • 1/3 cup sea salt (or coarse kosher salt)
  • Bucket/container (at least 1 quart in size)

Basically you want a 2 to 1 ratio for everything, where as the 2 is borax and washing soda, and the 1 is citric acid and salt. So if you wanted to do a full cup of borax and washing soda, you would need 1/2 cups of citric acid and salt.
I basically based my measurements above using the 2:1 depending on how much powder were in the 12 koolaid packets that I had.
Which turned out to be roughly 1/3rd of a cup
Then I measured out the 2/3rd cups of Washing Soda and Borax

Then I measured the 1/3rd cup of sea salt (i did not have coarse kosher salt around, but i will use that instead in the future because it is cheaper; The reason for the salt is it basically helps to attack the crud and loosen it up on your dishes)
I tossed everything in this multi purpose quart container with lid that i bought from the hardware store, put the lid on it and shook it all about. lol In case you can’t see in this picture, this made approximately 14 ounces of dishwasher detergent powder, which at the recommended 1 tablespoon per load = 28 loads of dishes. What a serious bargain!

I then tested this on a full load of dishes…

I then put half a tablespoon in the “pre-wash” compartment, and half a tablespoon in the main compartment (the one that closes with a lid)
And let it go on the “pots and pans” cycle which is the longest wash cycle on my dishwasher.

About an hour or two later…………

Nice clean dishes with no foggy glasses!

And there you have it kids. You’re No longer a slave to the “man” (sorta)!

So here is the breakdown in cost:

  • Palmolive® eco+ gel 75 ounce detergent – $3.79 – 28 loads = $0.14 per load
  • Jabs Homemade powder 32 ounce detergent – $2.33 – 50 loads = $0.05 per load

Here are the cost savings for my homemade rinse agent that goes along with this recipe:

  • FINISH® JET-DRY® Rinse Agent 4.22 ounce solution – $3.99 – 1 fill = $3.99 per fill
  • White Vinegar as a Rinse Agent 1 gallon solution – $1.79 – 1 fill = $0.06 per fill



November 4, 2010 at 1:11 pm 1 comment

Homemade Vanilla Extract *Toot Tuesday*

With the holidays quickly aproaching, many of us will do a ton of baking. I love it when I can make some of my own ingredients and save a some money in the process. What a better way to save some major dough than to make your own homemade vanilla extract. Make enough, and you could be passing it out as gifts to friends and family! 

By following this simple recipe, you will make your own homemade pure vanilla extract for less than the cost of the store bought imitation.

Making homemade vanilla extract easy and cost effective.

What you’ll need


  • 1 – 750ml bottle of Vodka, rum, or any liquor 80+ proof (80 proof = 40% alcohol)
  • 12 – vanilla beans


  • Cutting board
  • A sharp knife 
  • A funnel for pouring vodka between bottles (optional but recommended)
  • Bottles for storing the vanilla (I suggest glass bottles)

How to do it

Using the funnel, remove approximately 1/2 cup of vodka from each bottle to make room for the vanilla beans.  Using your cutting board and knife, slice each vanilla bean lengthwise along one entire side of the bean.  Place the beans in the vodka bottle, replace the lid, and shake.  Store the vanilla for 2-3 months in a cool, dark room. (Hurry and get started to use for those holiday gifts and dishes) I have made it in less time and used it, it may not be as strong so double the vanilla use.

Shake the vanilla once/week to agitate the beans and speed the extraction process.

How much you will save

Savings depend on quantity.  I made 76 ounces using 3 – 750ml bottles of vodka and 1/4lb of vanilla beans, which provided the following savings:

Store bought cost

One 2 ounce bottle of store brand pure vanilla extract cost $4.99.  Total cost = $2.50/ounce.

Homemade cost

3 bottles of vodka (“a fifth” or 750ml) cost $10 each for  a total of $30.  750ml x 3 = 2250ml which is equivalent to 76 ounces.  1/4lb of vanilla beans (approximately 36 beans) is equivalent to 4 ounces and cost $10.    Based on these calculations, 76 ounces of pure vanilla extract cost $40.  Total cost = $0.50/ounce.  Imitation vanilla cost approximately $1.00/ounce.  This reveals that homemade vanilla extract is 5 times cheaper than store bought pure vanilla and twice as cheap as imitation vanilla.

Pictures of our homemade vanilla project

When we began

When we finished

How things look after one week of storage

Based on the ease and savings of this project, making homemade vanilla extract is a great way to save money and increase freedom.

Where to buy your vanilla beans

Thanks for Trent of The Simple Dollar for pointing me to the Vanilla Products USA eBay store.  I purchased 1/4lb of Organic Grade A Tahitian beans for $6.99 plus S&H (at time of writing.)  The beans are not certified organic by the USDA, but are claimed to be grown without any chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Where to buy your glass bottles

Either use glass bottles you already have laying around your house or purchase them from somewhere cheap.  I will probably purchase these 4 ounce glass bottles, fill them, and give them away as Christmas gifts.

*IMPORTANT CHEAP TRICK!!! Do not throw away those vanilla beans when your vanilla extract is finished!!! Re-use them in the next bottle!! They are good for about 6-7 years….YES, YEARS!!  of use!! Now talk about a major savings…

Giving credit where credit is due… this tutorial came from an awesome blog http://diynatural.com/homemade-vanilla-extract/ who has some more recipes and thrifty living recipes…check him out!

November 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm Leave a comment

Take the HANDMADE Pledge!!!

I absolutely LOVE making things. I’m the kind of person that walks into a store and just won’t buy something because, I just know, I can make it with less money. sometimes that’s good, sometimes not so good. Whats funny is my kids have become the same way. They inspect something, look all over it and say “hey mom, I can make one of these”! My heart leaps when they do that. I know I have passed down my desire to be more self sufficient. 

I also love books, ok…It’s an addiction, I admit it! “Hello, my name is Amy and the last time I read a book was 20 minutes ago”. Thank goodness there isn’t such a group! Book stores are like crack dealers for me… “I must stay on budget, I must stay on budget” becomes my mantra when I walk through the doors.  What does my love of books and making things have to do with one another you ask? Well… not only do I make most, if not all of, of the gifts that we give over Christmas. I also have plenty of resources to get ideas. So coming in November I’m going to start “Toot Tuesdays”.  I’ll put up a tutorial on how to make one of the gifts that I’ll be giving this year. I may even have a contest to win one if time allows. I’ve taken the “Handmade Pledge” will you? Work your way up…If you can’t make everything, or buy all handmade then set a goal of 50% handmade. You will be happy with the results, and you will be helping to support us and not China! Not to mention the mulla you will save. A good site to start if you want to buy handmade is etsy.com

October 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm Leave a comment

The Holidays are coming…the holidays are coming

The HOLIDAYS are coming…be afraid, be very afraid! Why do people get so crazy over the holidays? I think it’s the “mob mentality”.  We all do as the “mob” does. It takes a wakeup to break away from the mob and do as YOU want to do.   I love getting up @ 3am on black friday. I love being with the people, waiting in the lines, joking, sharing coffee’s, laughing. I go for the good deals but it does make me sick when the same person I was just laughing with acts totally out of character for an inanimate object made in China! If I get a good deal than yay for me, if not…oh well! It was fun to hang out with people I don’t know and do something different. In all honesty though, I have to remind myself of who I am and my beliefs when I’m in that crowd. Do you get stressed during the holidays? Maybe we should all take a step back and remember what it is that’s important in our lives. Remind yourself, pray, meditate on keeping first things first. We love to have family traditions, nothing major just fun little things we do. We also try to add a new tradition a few years or if one doesn’t work very well, we scrap it. When the boys were little we would take a stack of magazines and make “if money were no object” cards. We would make a card for each person and cut out pics of items we would want to give the other person. We always had fun with it. They always showed how much we really knew each other. We don’t go overboard with “things” during Christmas, instead we love each other and try to give of ourselves. It takes a focused, calm heart to not follow the mob during this time of year. 

Cheapo tip: Vista print is giving away free photo calendars. These are great gifts! Go to   FREE photo calendar from VistaPrint

October 26, 2010 at 8:30 pm Leave a comment

High heels…

Have you ever walked with high heels on a muddy road? That is the way this week has been. Difficult and messy.  My husband and I had the biggest fight that we have ever been in, I said goodbye to a very dear Aunt, and held the hand of a close friend while she experienced the very sudden loss of her friend.

 This week has given me some very hefty reminders that stress is all around us. How we deal with it is going to depend upon how we have educated ourselves and our beliefs. For me personally, I love the Lord. That is how I cope, not perfectly though.  When we are aware of what we are going through, we know a little better of how to deal with it. Letting ourselves experience feelings that come with life changing events instead of bucking them is a good way to start. This week has brought up some things I don’t normally think about. Have you ever experienced a life threatening, emergency situation? I have, and thankfully had just completed CPR classes a few weeks before it happened. Sure, I freaked out first because it was my 1-year-old son(at the time)…But then my training kicked in and I knew, that I knew, what to do. Which made all the difference in the world! I should go back and be re-certified just to refresh myself. If you haven’t been certified, please do it now! Most hospitals offer these classes. Call a fireman if you don’t know where to go in your town. I don’t think my son would be here today if it weren’t for that training.

The  next thing this week has brought up for me is funeral costs… I know, I may seem morbid to some but we plan for big expenses…why don’t more of us plan for our deaths? It will happen. Why don’t we prepare a little. Life insurance is helpful, but not a stopping point. I have seen far too many times where people have no idea what they are dealing with and, in grief, walk into funeral parlors and walk out with a 5k$ bill or much higher. The people who work at these funeral parlors are salesman, plain and simple. They are there to sell you stuff. Educate yourself. Shop around before you’re in that unaware grief state from the loss of a loved one. I have been talking to people, reading, and researching the internet to find out as much as I can. A good site is www.funerals.org and if you live in Central Ohio http://www.funeralsohio.org/ . We will all deal with the death of a loved one at some point. Educate yourself today.

Another tip this week is to get counseling. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone, we all need it. Not only should we surround ourselves with loving friends and family but sometimes we need a little more. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If money is an issue, churches usually have someone. A pastor or clergy can be helpful. There are many counselers that will work on a sliding base fee. Look around, find someone.

Surround yourself with things you love…that make you smile. For me, it’s the outdoors. I went hiking this week and noticed that the green was being choked out by hues of browns and golds. I couldn’t contain a smile if I wanted to. Just as chaos and stress is all around us, so is the love of our creator.

September 11, 2010 at 3:39 pm 2 comments

Finally, my first post!

You should be proud, very proud of me! I am. After 4 months of telling myself to put up this blog, I have finally done it.  Hold back your applause, I’ll blush 🙂

I wanted to put up this blog for a few reasons… all selfish of course! No really, we live very cheap lives.  I thought I would share some of my cheapness.  After all, my user name on Ebay is “ms.cheapo” and I’m not into false advertising.

everyone needs one!

The tightwad gazette is an indispensable guide with a plethora of ideas to cut back and live on less. Another reason I wanted to start this blog is just to let it out! All of the craziness of parenting, teenagers (ugg), homeschooling, living with an unemployed husband (ugg x2), running a business, working part-time…I could go on, but it gives me a headache just thinking about juggling it all, and believe me, the balls do drop sometimes.  Thank God for who he is…and who I am not. I need to, many times a day, give it all over to him….then tredge on. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for everyone and everything that He has put into my life…I wouldn’t have it any other way! 

Abby getting upset that her potholder isn't as easy as she had hoped

Another reason for this blog is that I wanted to share some of the creativity that comes from my wonderful family… Yes, I am a proud mama bear! If someone was to talk behind our backs I would hope they could describe us in 2 words. Loving, and creative. The two most important motivations in our lives. Lets face it, we are all in this journey called life but if we don’t know what motivates our actions then we will always be wondering who we are.

Josh joshin around...he is such a funny kid!

ok…now that you know, let’s get to the good stuff! I’ll be sharing recipes, patterns, tutorials, funny musings, and whatever else comes on this blog. I hope it makes you laugh, inspire and inform you. I want to hear from you too, or else I may feel lonely 😦

Cheapness #1 

We make our own soap…all kinds, but the one that has probably saved us the most green is the laundry detergent. I am a Tide fanatic so it really took me some time to even think about changing detergents. I can honestly say this competes with Tide and I am very happy with the results. We got this recipe from the Duggers website (the family that has 18 or so kids??) We also have a front loading machine, so it does work in both types of machines. Here is the recipe:

Nat making laundry detergent

4  Cups – hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

– Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

*Arm & Hammer “Super Washing Soda” – is usually with the detergents in the grocery store..we get ours at Kroger. Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent – We find our Fels-Naptha soap bars @ Giant Eagle in the soap isle.

Nat filling the bucket of soap

We have been using this recipe for a few years and love it!  With a cost of less than $7 a year, how could we not???

September 1, 2010 at 10:36 am 2 comments

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