Simply Getting By

Simplifying my life & taking back control of my choices, possessions, lifestyle, and nourishment in order to salvage my finances, the environment, and my sanity.

Cheap & Easy Compost Bin November 11, 2008

Filed under: diy,garden,green — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 9:25 pm

It seems like our compost pile always ends up getting spread out and hard to manage, and then given up on because it turns into a hard to manage eyesore. For several years, I’ve been saying we “should” get a bin or turner, but always ended up looking at fancy pre-made deals that were fairly expensive and still pretty ugly.

I’m sort of cheating right now by using an old Rubbermaid tote with a bunch of holes drilled in it as a mini worm bin. It works pretty good, and does look better, but is pretty small for the amount we really will be composting [we typically garden about 1/10 an acre, and are slowly adding fruit trees and other edible plants to the yard, and we have a big yard with trees all around, so there are lots of leaves and grass clippings, plus trimmings from the kitchen].

I’ve decided the best solution for this is going to be to build a 3-bin compost bin out of old shipping pallets. I found a good site with photos and directions for this here, and a plan for building the 3 bin type here, if anybody is interested.

The finished project should look something like this ,
but lined up 3 wide, like in this drawing .


Homemade Laundry Soap & Fabric Softeners October 3, 2008

Filed under: diy,frugal,homemaking — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 4:21 pm

I finally broke down and made some homemade laundry soap last week.

I’d seen recipes online for a while, but was hesitant to use them because most were liquid/gels and looked sort of gloopy and messy [I don’t even like commercial liquid detergents].

I found a recipe for a powdered laundry soap, made from the same ingredients, minus the water, and thought it looked good. I’ve done 3 loads of laundry since, using homemade fabric softener as well, and the clothes are coming out clean and good-smelling, so I consider it a success.

The homemade soap powder recipe I used was:

2 parts [3 cups total] SOAP I used 1 bar Octagon & 1 bar Ivory, because I couldn’t find Fels Naptha or Zote
1 part [1 1/2 cups] *Washing Soda
– Couldn’t find this either, made by heating baking soda for 2 hours @ 375°
1 part [1 1/2 cups] Borax

Several people have tried similar recipes with baking soda, and it does not work. They are different chemically. You can make a washing soda by heating baking soda in the oven for an hour or two at 350-400°, but do not use this for other household uses afterwards. It is still best to find and buy “Super Washing Soda” [Arm & Hammer brand] in the laundry aisle or online.

This is so easy to make – grate the soap on the fine side of a cheese grater, then powder and mix together in the food processer, and just add to water to do your washing.

I also added 2 scoops [about 3 Tbsp] of generic Oxyclean, and some leftover Tide detergent [maybe 1/2 – 3/4 cup]. I’ve been using 1 heaping Tbsp for most laundry, and 2 Tbsp for the dirty stuff, and this is working great, even in our cold water washer.

I had trouble finding some of the ingredients at Wal-Mart & Food Lion , but sells a kit with everything included, or you should be able to shop around and find it all locally.

I also added a homemade liquid fabric softener made from vinegar, baking soda, and water. The recipe I used for this was:

2 cups white vinegar
2 cups baking soda
4 cups water

Mix the vinegar and baking soda in with 1/2 the water each & add the soda/water very slowly to the vinegar water, giving time for it to fizz up and then die down before adding more [use a very large container, to allow room for the foam]. When it’s settled down, por into an airtight container, and use 1/2 to 1 cup per load. I poured mine back into a fabric softener bottle, with about 1/2 an inch of softener in the bottle to add scent, and am just adding a cap full to the laundry.

Another fabric softener recipe is:

2 cups hair conditioner [one regular size bottle is almost 2 cups – close enough]
3 cups white vinegar
6 cups water

Mix these together and use as you would store-bought softener. You can also put this in a spray bottle or baby wipe container and use to soak or spray and saturate a clean rag or squares of flannel, then toss it in the dryer with your laundry for easy homemade dryer sheets. [Several homemade sheets can be left soaking in the container, ready to use, or just use the spray bottle to saturate a new rag/cloth each time you dry them].


Front Table Decorations September 25, 2008

Filed under: diy,homemaking — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 3:34 am

This table is one of the first things you see from our front door. I thought it looked plain, and I wanted some of those cinnamon scented pinecones, so I came up with some decorations.

The top photos are before & after. The bottom shows the supplies I bought to put it together.

Total cost- under $16
Wicker basket $2 on sale @ Dollar General
Ribbon $1 per spool @ Dollar General
Table Runner $3 @ Dollar General
Scented Pinecones $3.33 @ Rose’s
Mini Flower Arrangements $2 [$1 each] @ Rose’s
Coffee Cups $2 [$1 each]
Candles $2 [$1 each]