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Homegrown Hopes

Homemade Laundry Detergent

 Caitlin Ethridgelaundry post infographic

Life is full of mysteries. Why is the sky blue? What do they put in hot dogs? How the heck does a family of three produce so much dirty laundry?!

I just don't understand it. I always thought that once we got past the days of cloth diapers and spit-up, the laundry would be much more manageable. But the basket piled high and shoved in the back of my closet that's been awaiting folding for a week says otherwise.

Don't judge ...

So much laundry means that we blow through some detergent around these parts. Not only is that a hefty chunk of change, that is chemicals on our clothing all day long. Unless you like to run around in your birthday suit ... whatever floats your boat, man. But since I have to leave my house and see people, it's clothes for this ol' gal.

Dustin and I don't have sensitive skin or any skin irritations, but once little man came along I wanted my home and family to be as natural as possible.

 my little man

I tried a few different recipes for natural laundry detergent before I landed on this one. We've been using it for almost three years and still love it.

1 box borax
1 box washing soda
1 box baking soda
3 bars Fels Naptha soap-grated

laundry ingredients pic

Combine all ingredients and mix well, then store in an an air tight container.

 bare laundry ingredients

Could that be any more simple? We have used this in both front- and top-loading washers and our high efficiency with no issues. Plus, I only use one small (2 tablespoon) scoop per load!

Our clothes are clean and fresh, and our wallet is happy! Plus, one batch lasts us about four months, and I wash at least a load a day. Now, I don't always fold that load ... until nobody can find their undies and I'm forced to be a grown up again.

Have you ever made your own laundry detergent? Share your tips and recipes in the comments section below!


 laundry pail deal

How cute is this detergent container?! It would be the perfect way to store your goods and add a little style to your laundry room. It also includes the scoop and 4 mesh bags: 2 for delicates and 2 for other laundry. PLUS it's on sale! Originally $49.99 but you only pay $29. Jump on this deal while it lasts y'all!

Our Big Buy: The Orchard Project

Caitlin Ethridgeorchard project infographic 
A few months back we did something big.

Really big for us.

So big, that I have no idea why I'm just now getting around to sharing with you guys.

Last fall we made a grand (because I've now reached my limit for the word "big") purchase. We bought 14(ish) acres of completely undeveloped land.

orchard project-cree
We didn't do much with it over the winter besides clear trails, so I guess that's why I didn't feel the need to share. But now that the days are longer and the weather is warming up, my mind is reeling with the prospects of this beautiful piece of land.

sun land picture

The plan is to build our "forever" home there in the not-so-distant future, but for now, my focus is on a project that I'm ecstatic about. I've always dreamed of having a little orchard of my own. We've planted a few fruit trees and berry bushes at our current home, but have never really gone "all out" because we know that we don't plan to be here forever.

So when we purchased the new property, I started dreaming about walking out my back door and picking fresh apples for a dutch baby pancake or peaches for a cobbler. I know, most people fantasize about the house they will build, and I'm sure I will, but for now, my homesteader heart says "orchards and gardens".

apples in hand

There was already a small clearing on one side of the property that Dustin cultivated as a food plot for hunting last fall. We decided to expand it since it's on a higher elevation with good air flow, and because there is a slight slope with good soil drainage.

We have started to spend all of our free time pushing trees down with the tractor, dragging brush, and stoking the fire.

stoking the fire

creek driving tractor

Since the wood was green and we have had wet weather, our fire needed a little encouragement, without spending our entire month's gas bill on diesel fuel to stoke it. So, the Ethridge brothers exercised a little redneck ingenuity and used the leaf blower to force oxygen into the base of the fire.

leaf blower fire

It still amazes me how these boys can be so fascinated by fire. They were like a couple of kids watching a firework show. They always find a way to make even mundane chores fun.

making chores fun

We still have a small patch of pines left to clear so that our little orchard will get more sun, then we will use the tractor to smooth the clearing and plant away!

We have transplanted a few fruit trees from our current house, and bought more from our Cooperative Extension fruit sale a few weeks ago. So far we have apple, peach, and paw paw trees, plus something crazy called a fruit salad tree. It's peach, nectarine, plum, and apricot trees grafted together, and I couldn't help myself when I saw it on the order form!

fruit tree bud

We still have to move the blueberries that we planted last year and our grape vines, but I think we will wait until the fall.

It feels so good to invest in our future. I know that we will be so thankful that we took the time to create an orchard that will produce fruit and berries for our family for years to come. After moving around several times our first few years of marriage, it's an amazing feeling to finally put down some roots.

running on land

— Caitlin