Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wax On, Yank Off

I have three sisters.  You have met my oldest sister through her homemade cough syrup, and you have met my youngest sister through her amazing ability to pull hideous faces, but today I am going to introduce you to the second oldest.  Lets call her Andromeda because she took on the 'beautiful princess' roll in our family.

Andromeda is a fashionista.  She is the type of person that can walk into a Good Will store with $5 and come out looking runway ready.

Now, imagine this type of fashion sense in a teenage girl.  Looking good was her top priority back then and as much as I love her , I would have gladly sacrificed her to the Kraken when we were teenagers.   I'm sure the feeling was mutual since she was stuck with a fashion disaster as a sister.  I was a late bloomer..... a really late bloomer. I didn't care how I looked for a good chunk of my teenage years.  Andromeda once told me that my wardrobe looked like it came from a truck stop gas station. It was a pretty accurate description.

Being seen in public with me was very hard on Andromeda and she did everything she could to try and help me out.  She tried gifts, bribes, embarrassment, anything.  One year for Christmas she gave me an eyebrow waxing kit and I immediately put it in the back of my closet.

Several years later, when I actually started to care about my appearance, I found that waxing kit and decided to give it a try.  The instructions were long gone but I figured I could wing it.  How hard could it be to melt the wax, put it on my eyebrows and pull......

The results were about what you would think, horribly uneven eyebrows covered in 1st degree burns. Needless to say I have avoided waxing ever since.

There is a pin that I keep seeing about homemade hair wax.  At first I ignored it, but darn it if that little pin didn't wear me down.  After it popped up on my pinterest feed for the millionth time I decided to give in and try it out.

Hair Removal Wax with Honey and Sugar (This link will take you to a youtube video that is very helpful)
 You Will Need:
For Eyebrows
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp water
non stretchy cotton fabric cut into small pieces
Popsicle stick.

For Legs
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice

mix everything together and put it in the microwave. Monitor it every 15 seconds. Around 20 seconds your mixture will start to bubble.  Take it out immediately and let it cool for 10 minutes.  (for bigger batches heat it on the stove.) Using the Popsicle stick, apply a thin layer of the mixture onto your eyebrows. Place the fabric strip onto the wax and smooth it down with your fingers stroking in the directions of your hair growth. Hold your skin tight with one hand and quickly pull off the fabric in the opposite direction that the hair grows. 

I followed the instructions exactly due to fear of burning myself again, and started with my eyebrows. I mixed my ingredients and put it in the microwave.

 It took about 25 seconds for it to start bubbling. I took it out and stirred it again.  It was very thick.

After it cooled for 10 min I got my Popsicle stick and.... chickened out.  So I stirred it again while trying to pump myself up, brought the Popsicle stick to my eyebrow and...... nope.  It took several tries before I had the guts to apply the honey.  It didn't burn at all, phew!
 I put the fabric over the honey, pulled my skin tight and yanked as fast as I could...... huh, shouldn't that have hurt?  I was expecting a lot of pain, but nope.  It just stung a little.  Pulling a band aid off is more painful then that was.
 The Verdict: My eye brows are pretty blond so it's hard to see the hair on the fabric, but every little hair came out, even the little fuzzy ones that I didn't realize were there.

 I quickly did the rest of my eyebrow, then the other one, and loved how quick and easy and effective it was. Now it was time to get really daring and try my legs.

I mixed all the ingredients and stuck it in the microwave.  This time it took a few minutes until it was bubbling. Since it's winter, my legs were already prepped.  They were nice and hairy and ready to go. 
I slathered on the wax, put on my fabric and gave it a yank. 

The Verdict: Nothing! Not one hair came off. I tried again, and again, and again.  Nothing!  After about 7 attempts all I had to show for my hard work was a red leg and a huge sticky mess all over the bathtub.  My hands were so sticky that I felt like the scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation when Clark is sticking to everything, the magazine, the lamp, his wife's hair. 

I was really surprised that it worked so well on my eyebrows but not on my legs, but the ingredients are different between the eyebrow mixture and the leg mixture so that could be why.  I was tempted to make a big batch of the eyebrow wax to try on my legs, but then I looked around at the mess.  I had no desire to scrub myself clean just to make more wax and get all sticky again.  I may revisit this in the future though. 

I know I will never have the fashion sense that Andromeda has, but I have come a long way since my truck stop wardrobe days. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Be Gone Diaper Pail Stink

I'm a bit of an organized freak.  I love charts and labels.  When I was expecting my first child I put together a questionnaire about baby products and sent it to everyone I knew who had a child in the last 5 years.  I then organized all the information I received into a template.

People made fun of me.... a lot.  But when it was time to start buying baby products, it was a breeze.  I knew exactly what products were must haves and what where not necessary. I knew what brands to look for and what to avoid.  Everything that I bought I have not regretted.

Plus, all those people who made fun of me absolutely loved to fill out the questionnaire.  Give a women a chance to tell you about newborns and the things needed for them and she will promptly neglect her children and tell you all she knows. 

Anyways..... when I was getting all the information about the diaper pails one of the things that several people said was "it doesn't matter what brand you get, eventually every diaper pail will have a permanent smell."

We have had our diaper pail for about 2 1/2 years and this summer it started to smell. Oh boy did it smell!  It smelled awful and was starting to consume the entire upstairs.   

One day I went upstairs and was blasted in the face by the odor.  I went to the diaper pail expecting to see it open. To my surprise it was closed but what I did see horrified me.  It was surrounded by little flies.

It was like I had just walked into some cliche cartoon. All it needed was the green stink lines coming up from it.

Each of those black dots I circled, is a fly.   

Of course I promptly jumped into my research mode to try and find the best way to get rid of the smells in a diaper pail.

Here is what I found; As time goes on the stench slowly seeps into the plastic that the pails are made of.  Trying to use any sort of cleaning product can make it worse. The chemicals react with the smell and will either not work at all or make the smell stronger.

Your only option is to mask the smell with some sort of odor fighting product and according to several people, kitty litter is the best option.

So I decided to try three different odor masking  products. I placed each one in the bottom of the diaper pail and marked the days until I could smell the diapers again. 

Baking Soda (of course)
Kitty Litter Deodorizer
Pet Air Freshener

 I started with the Baking Soda because to me that is the obvious solution.  I grabbed one of those fridge and freezer fresh boxes and tore off the sides.  I placed it in the bottom and started the countdown.

 The Verdict: A few hours later I went back upstairs and my nose did a little happy dance because the smell was gone.  It was completely gone!!!!  Oh Baking Soda, is there anything you can't do? 1 week later I went to get my daughter up from her nap and my nose crinkled. I quickly took her to the changing table and stripped her down.  Her diaper was clean.  The diaper pail stink was already back.  1 week. The smell was gone only 1 week!  Baking Soda, you have let me down, you are fired and I am now taking resumes for a replacement.

Several websites I read talked about using kitty litter to mask the smell of diaper pails.  They say you should look for a kitty litter that has carbon in it.  I went to a local pet store and when I hit the kitty litter aisle I realized that it would take me forever to read all the labels. I found an employee and told her what I was looking for and why.  She quickly handed me a bottle and told me several people buy this for the same thing. It only cost about $3

I poured the whole thing into an old nylon and placed it in the bottom of my diaper pail.  I then started another countdown.
The Verdict: This one had a very strong perfume odor that was almost worse then the poop smell.  It was pretty strong and eye watering.  When the diaper pail was opened the perfume smell would mingle with the diaper pail smell and it was enough to make me run for the hills.  Literally, I would toss the diaper in the pail then grab my daughter and run.  Fortunately, as time went on the perfume smell eased up and it continued to mask the diaper pail smell.  About once a week the diaper pail smell would creep back, but I would just give the nylon a shake and the kitty litter would continue to mask the smell.  This lasted 32 days before the diaper smell took over again.  However, each time I shook the nylon, some kitty litter dust would come out and make a lovely mess. That's exactly what I wanted to spend my time cleaning, smelly sand.

This brings us to my final attempt.  I wanted something to mask the smell for a long time but not leave a gross mess like the kitty litter did.

I saw this in the pet aisle and decided to give it a shot.  

The Verdict: This also had a perfume smell to it, but it was pretty mild. I had to be near the diaper pail to smell it.  It didn't mask the smell completely like the baking soda did, but it masked it enough that it was worth the $4.  This little disk made it 16 days before it gave up, but it put up a good fight.

The Overall Verdict: Clearly that Citrus Magic is the best choice of the three.  It didn't last as long as I hoped it would but it was easy to use and didn't have a cheap dollar store perfume smell.  So, if your diaper pail smell is taking over and you aren't planning on having it much longer, then this is a great way to help mask the smell.  But if you plan on having that diaper pail for a few more years, then it will probably be cheaper to just buy a new one.  And your nose will thank you for it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Basic Laundry Detergent

Whenever I talk to people about DIY projects and how much I enjoy them, one of the first questions I get is "do you make your own laundry detergent?"

Laundry detergent is one of the most popular DIY right now.  My guess is because of the savings.  A bottle of Tide can cost close to $20 and will give you about 90 loads.  Even though there are many ways to make your own detergent, it usually costs a few dollars to get the same amount of loads.  Some people claim they can do 150 loads of laundry for $2.

Making your own laundry detergent has become so popular that some Walmart's have jumped on the band wagon and are making displays using the basic ingredients for homemade laundry detergent.

But where to start?!?!  There are countless ways to make your own detergent and a plethora of variations.   Which ones are the best?  Which ones aren't worth the hassle?  Have no fear, your own personal guinea pig is here. I've been testing a few and will continue to test many more and will share my opinion with each one.

Today lets start with a basic and more popular type of laundry detergent. This one requires three basic ingredietns.  All of them can be found in the laundry detergent section of any store.  While there are many variations of how to combine the ingredients and the amount to use, you will basically get the same results. And at this point I have said basic basically 100 times so I should probably use all my money I'm saving on laundry dtergent to buy a basic Thasarouse.

The process I used is below but you can find another similar process here , and here is the recipe the Dugger's from TLC use.

Liquid Laundry Detergent
You will need:
1 bar of soap (any kind you want)
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of washing soda
a big pot ( that holds more than 2 gallons)
a grater
a funnel
a long spoon
2 empty gallon jugs/containers

Grate your bar of soap into your pot. Fill one gallon jug and pour water into pot with grated soap. Cook until the grated soap dissolves. Add the Borax and washing soda. Bring to a boil. It will coagulate.Turn off the heat. Add 1 gallon of cold water. Stir well.Pour 1 gallon of your detergent into each container. Now you have 2 gallons of homemade laundry detergent.  I use 1/2 cup per load.

If you have a food processor or a good blender I highly recommend using that to chop up your soap.  Grating it by hand with a cheese grater is very time consuming and not very fun for your fingers.  Cut your soap into small squares, place it in your food processor and within a couple of minutes you will have grated soap.

For my first batch of laundry detergent I used a Fels-Naptha soap bar.  Within a week my poor husband was sporting a lovely rash on his legs.  I looked on the back of the Fels-Naptha wrapper and had a good laugh

Did you catch that?  A bar of soap with the sole purpose of cleaning your clothes can cause skin irritations with prolonged contact.  I understand that there is a rinse cycle and that the soap should all be rinsed away but it isn't.

Here is a fun fact for you, this comes from my mother-in-law who taught clothing and textiles at a large University for 30 years.  Laundry detergent is never fully rinsed off your clothes.  There will always be a residue, so you don't have to use as much laundry detergent as the container says because there is already some on your clothes.

Anyways, I threw away my batch with the Fels-Neptha and started over using Ivory soap.  I poured it into an old All laundry detergent container because it had a nice easy dispenser. 

The Verdict:  My clothes smelled and felt really clean and they didn't have any sort of residue on them that I could see. The last few loads weren't as clean though.  The detergent kept separating so I had to shake the container before each use, but clearly I didn't shake good enough because I had mostly water for the last few loads. 

I liked the gel consistency, I don't have a particular reason why, I just liked it. How is that for a helpful opinion!?!

After about 5 uses, the spout on my dispenser and the cup started to get a gross build up.  The only way to avoid this was to clean them both really well after each use. 
 Overall it was great at getting the laundry clean but it is a bit high maintanace.  I got annoyed that i had to shake it everytime (i'm really glad I had a container with a handle, it made the shaking easier)  and that it caused such a build up on the dispensers.  Call me lazy, or maybe i'm the high maintance one, but I like thigns that don't cause extra work. 

So one down, a plethora more to go (any Three Amigo fans out there, or is my use of plethora just confusing people?)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Polish Up Old Cookie Sheets

I'm not a fan of baking.  Spending time and money on something that is going to enhance my love handles is not my idea of a good time. But I did notice a few weeks ago that my baking sheets were starting to look a bit gross and the idea of using them for any sort of baking made me gag. 

Cookie Sheet Cleaner
You will need:
Baking Soda 
Hydrogen Peroxide

Directions: Sprinkle baking soda onto your cookie sheet.  Pour on enough hydrogen peroxide to get the baking soda wet then sprinkle more baking soda on top of that.  Let it sit several hours then wipe off. 

I found the cookie sheet with the most damage and got my baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

I sprinkled on enough baking soda to cover a section of the pan, then I poured on enough hydrogen peroxide to make the baking soda wet.

I poured more baking soda over it until I had a nice mud pie consistency going.   I put the baking sheet aside and went about my daily routine of pretending to be a Transformer for one child while simultaneously pretending to be a patient in the hospital for the other child.  How is that for multi-tasking!?!

About 4 hours later I came back to check on my cookie sheet.

The Verdict: Some of the gunky build up did come off, but it required a lot of scrubbing.  The original poster said she didn't have to scrub at all and I was really hoping that would be the case for me.  I wondered if it was the type of pan or the type of build up I had so I decided to try again on a new specimen.

After digging through my cupboards I found this beauty.  Doesn't that make you want to have a cupcake right now?  Seriously, how gross is that!!!! I tried to think of the last time I used this thing and I'm pretty sure I made muffins about 2 years ago. It's been collecting rust ever since.

I found a spot on my muffin tin and proceeded to put in the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.  After it sat for about 4 hours I came back to check on it.

 The Verdict: I rinsed the muffin tin and was pretty surprised at how much better it looked.  The rust was still there, but all the greasy build up had come off with no scrubbing.

So this DIY does work, but depending on what you are using it on you may have to scrub.  And the good news for me?  I now have a new project of trying to get rid of the rust on this muffin tin.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Final Attempt To Get Long Hair

After my disastrous attempt to grow my hair with apple cider vinegar, and the disgusting attempt with potatoes, I was really hoping that the "third times a charm" saying would apply to my final attempt to grow my hair faster.

Use Onion Water for That Fab Long Hair
You might not think that onions can be used for anything except cooking, but that’s definitely not the case. Boil some onions in water and use the water on your hair — no lie! It’ll make it grow super fast and it’ll give it an awesome sheen that everyone will be jealous of! 

Of course I was not surprised at how vague the instructions are.  Why am I still going to this website?!?!? How much of the onion water should I put on?  How long do I leave it in my hair? Do I put it on wet or dry hair? These are questions that should be addressed when telling someone to pour left over produce water in their hair.

So I did the best I could with the little information I had. I chopped up an onion and boiled it in about 3 cups of water for about 10 minutes.

 Once the water had cooled off, I poured it into a container.  I had a lot of onion water and I was really hoping it would last a while.  I didn't want to boil an onion every time I washed my hair. 

For the next month I used the onion water every time I washed my hair.  I would shampoo and condition like I always do then I would squirt the onion water onto my hair and massage it into my scalp.  I left it on for a few minutes then rinsed it out with warm water.

The Verdict: The first thing i noticed was how soft my hair was. I am a hair twirler by nature and having my hair abnormally soft did not help that habit.  It was really hard to keep my finger away from my hair.   I never did notice a "sheen" to my hair like the website promised but I guess Charlie and Martin were busy. Ba dum bum.

I left the container of onion water in my shower and it lasted anywhere from 7-10 days.  It just depended on how much water I used to boil the onion in and how much I put on my hair.  I kept thinking it might start to mold sitting in my shower, but it never did.  The smell would get a little stronger the longer it sat in the bottle but the smell never stuck to my hair and of course that was a huge relief. I really didn't want to walk around smelling like a pizza place.

But did it work? You betcha!!!!!
Shocked?  So was I. 

Every month, for the last 4 months, I have measured the same three areas on my head.  And every month my hair has grown 3/4 inch.  At the end of the month using onion water my hair had grown 1 inch.  1/4 of an inch isn't a lot of growth, but it's something.

Unfortunately for my hair it's not over,  I have more fun and exciting things to test on my hair. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Oven Cleaner

My preferred method of cleaning my oven consists of two steps
1) push that magical button that says self cleaning
2) 24 hours later wipe up the left over ashes

 You can see it's pretty difficult and time consuming for me *insert serious sarcasm*

But I read on the Internet (so it must be true) that using the self cleaning option takes years off your oven.  Years off my oven?  Does that mean it will turn into a wood burning stove? ba dum bum

So I thought I would try a new cleaning method and hoped it wouldn't require to much effort

Non-Toxic Homemade Oven Cleaner
  • 1 Tbsp borax
  • 1/2 c. vinegar
  • 1/8 c. dish soap
  • 1 c. boiling water
Combine everything in a spray bottle and shake well.  Sprinkle the inside of your oven with baking soda. Spray a thick layer of the oven cleaner all around your oven. Thick, thick layer. Sprinkle with baking soda. Leave overnight, and scrub out in the morning with a hot, wet rag.

 A word to the wise..... or the not thinking clearly.  Boiling water melts plastic, don't pour boiling water into a plastic spray bottle, unless you want to throw that bottle away and spend the next 10 minutes digging through every cupboard in your house trying to find a new one.

Eventually I had my ingredients and I had my messy oven

I sprinkled on the baking soda then I sprayed and sprayed and sprayed some more.  It bubbled a little bit, but that was to be expected. 

 I poured some more baking soda on top of the liquid, shut the oven door and crawled into bed. 

The next morning I grabbed a rag, soaked it with hot water and started to scrub.

The Verdict: Wow! Look at that shine spot.  My rag got a little bit dirty, that was it.  Pretty disappointing.  Oh well, time to use my magical self cleaning button.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Scratch On, Scratch Off

Several years ago my mom and I were transferring a car from Utah to North Carolina.  We were listening to a book on tape about positive thinking when I as pulled over for speeding. We were only 6 hours into our drive so you can imagine my frustration.

As the police officer took my information back to his car I started to wallow in self pity. The book was still playing in the background so I said to my mom, "It's time to test the theory of this book.  That cop is not going to give me a ticket.  He is going to see my North Carolina drivers license and the Utah plates on this car and he is going to have pity on me because we have we a very long drive ahead of us." (These are not the droids you are looking for)

The cop came back, asked a few questions about why we were taking the car to NC then he said "I just did the same drive a few months back. It's a long drive.  I'll let you go with a warning but make sure you slow down." HA! Jedi mind tricks do work!

If only that positive thinking would work on my kids "you will potty train yourself and not have any accidents."

When I saw a pin about making your own scratch off card I implemented this same type of positive thinking the whole time I was working on them.

Being able to make your own scratch off?!?!?  There are so many things you can do with that. Door prizes, Fathers Day cards, games for a kids birthday party etc and etc. I wanted them to work so badly that I kept repeating in my head "it will work" while making them. 

The original poster has cute templates for Valentine's Day cards that you can turn into scratch offs.

1. Acrylic Paint (I used silver, but any color can be used)
2. Dish Soap
3. Pen
4. Small paint brush
5. Card printed on card stock
6. White crayon
1. PRINT: Print card design on card stock (see my designs below which can be downloaded).
2. WRITE MESSAGE: In the hearts that will be scratched off, write sweet things for your Valentine with a pen. In my case I offered small acts of service, but it can be creative. Warning: Before you move onto the next step make sure the ink is COMPLETELY dry. A thin Sharpie may work best, but not necessary.
3. CRAYON: Cover message, and where ever the scratch-off area will be, completely with a white crayon. 
4. MIX PAINT: Mix two parts acrylic paint with one part liquid dish washing soap. You don't need a lot a little bit goes a long way!
5. PAINT: Paint mixture over the area that you covered with the crayon. You will need to be very liberal with your your application, as the wax from the crayon will act as a repellent. I applied very thick amounts of paint on in a dabbing motion. You can also repeat this process once it has dried.  If the paint appears bumpy or uneven don't worry because when it dries it will be perfectly smooth. 
6. DRY: Due to the thickness of the paint and the fact that the paint can't be absorbed in the paper, the valentine will need to dry for about 1 hour before it is completely dry. 
7. SCRATCH: Provide a penny for your Valentine to scratch off their personalized message that is just for them. 
So I grabbed my materials while chanting my mantra "it will work," and started the process.  I used a colored pencil and a pen to see if it mattered what you write with and to try two different colors on. I wish I could tell you why that DIY in colored pencil is off in it's own world, but I have no idea why I wrote it there and not by the others.  I then scribbled over them with white crayon, making sure the completely cover the area.

Using a medicine dropper I put 2 parts of paint to 1 part of the soap.  Then I realized that this was time consuming and way to precise.  So when I went to mix the next color I just let drops fall from the bottle and it mixed up just fine.

 I mixed my colors then dabbed them on. The crayon didn't fight the paint as much as I thought it would, but dabbing was a lot easier then strokes.  I let them dry then dabbed more paint on. 

The Verdict: After three coats of paint it still looked like this.  Not a very successful scratch off if you can see the words. 

I refused to think that this was a bust and decided to try again with black and add more layers with blue. 

The Verdict: EUREKA!!!! It's sloppy looking and it didn't dry smooth like the original poster said it would, but that black paint covered the words.  The blue didn't though, It didn't matter how many coats of paint I put on, the ink kept showing through.  

I grabbed a paper clip (all of my coins have mysteriously disappeared ever since my 2 year old learned what money is. I expect to find a stash some day since no coins have appeared in her diaper) and scratched away. The paint came right off and it worked great.  The colored pencil smeared a bit and faded so pen is the way to go.  

Once again my positive thinking pays off.  The force is strong in this one.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Makeup Brush Cleaner

When I bought my first make up brush from a department store the lady at the counter told me to just wash it with mild soap and warm water every few weeks.  I have been doing this ever since and it seemed to work just fine. But of course I can't resist testing a new method when I see one.

It was another one of those pins that gives you all the details on the pin itself and when I clicked on it I was directed to spam. So here is the information from the pin.

Makeup Brush Cleaner
How to properly clean your makeup brushes. A tablespoon of white vinegar in a cup of hot water, and a 20 minute soak, followed by a hot, then cold rinse and pat dry will do it. Disinfects, dissolves grease/makeup, leaves no film, and inexpensive.

I grabbed my brushes that are now kept under lock and key since my two year old insists they are her paint brushes, then grabbed 4 individual glasses so i could see how much makeup came off of each one

Not wanting to miss a chance to see how well this method actually works, I grabbed the brush that gets the most use and washed it with soap and water (my normal routine) until the water ran clear.

I put the brushes in their glasses then went off to enjoy a wonderful game of 'house' with my kids.  This is a game that my son invented a few months ago.  My kids put me to bed then they go to 'meetings' while I 'sleep'.  They are usually in their 'meetings' for about 10 minutes then come back and tell me it's morning time.  10 whole minutes where I get to lay down kid free with zero guilt because in their minds I'm still playing with them.

About 20 min later I came back and the glasses looked exactly the same as the photo above.  So I grabbed each brush and swirled it around and tapped it on the bottom of the glass.  All sorts of disgustingness came out. When no more brown liquid came squirting out of the brushes I rinsed them in hot then cold water and set them out to dry.

The Verdict: This is another amazing DIYer.  I think it's fairly obvious which brushes I use the most.  

What really amazed me is how much makeup came out of the one that I thought was clean from the soap and water scrub I gave it right before. 
My brushes dried just fine and they work great.  It is like they are brand new.