Saturday, February 27, 2010

Making laundry soap?

I started trying to save money a while ago. I started visiting those sites that talk about being frugal. Some of the ideas are just gross or scary. I will NOT go without deodorant to save a buck. I WILL wash my hair every time I take a shower! Some suggestions are just gross. But I have learned some useful things. Like how to make my own laundry detergent. Z has psoriasis so could only use the expensive free and clear, hypoallergenic laundry detergent. As if that stuff isn't expensive enough they charge extra to leave stuff out! It was killing me. So I learned how to make my own. It is easy and cheap. I spend on average about a little more than $20 a YEAR to make detergent. I make a powder because the liquid is just a pain to make and maintain. The powder only takes about two minutes to make. I was making large batches at once but quickly learned that humidity is the enemy. I live in Florida and my laundry soap was getting clumpy. I didn't like it. So small batches but, like I said, only about two minutes to make. This stuff has no effect on anyone's skin and I have been using it in my high efficiency machine for a long time. BTW, high efficiency detergent simply has less of the sudsing agent in the soap. Since my soap doesn't sud I can use it my machine. I totally asked when we were buying the machine. I would have chosen a different machine if I had to buy special expensive soap for it. Here is the recipe:
1 cup borax
1 cup sodium carbonate
1/2 cup laundry booster

Mix and store in air tight container. Use 1 tablespoon per load. 2 if it is really dirty.

See....easy peasy! Borax can be found in the laundry aisle. It has a mule on the box. DO NOT mistake sodium carbonate for sodium BIcarbonate (baking soda). They are not the same thing!! Sodium carbonate can sometimes be found in the laundry aisle called Washing Soda. If your local store doesn't have that....go to the pool supplies. It is called Ph Plus there. Just make sure the container says 100% sodium carbonate. Laundry booster is something like Oxy Clean. Though I use the Sun brand because it has no scents in it. And besides...why does laundry soap need scent? We just use fabric softner to make it smell good anyway. LOL... You can also use vinegar in place of fabric softner. It does the same job but won't smell as great. I also use vinegar to clean my machine once a month. If you have a front loader, you are supposed to use a product called Afresh (?) to clean the machine. I use about a cup of vinegar. It does the same thing for a fraction of the cost!

Friday, February 26, 2010

I am going to walk it off!

Turning 30 wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. 31, however, smacked me in the face. I realized I was getting older. I was out of shape, smoking, couldn't run, not really eating healthy, the list goes on. I came to the realization that I needed to start doing something NOW. Time won't wait for me to get off my tush so I had to get started. My first goal was to quit smoking. I did that on January 13, 2007. Three years smoke free! GO ME!! Then I decided that I drank entirely too much Pepsi. So I switched to Coke. LOL...doesn't sound like much but it really worked. I am down to 1, maybe 2, sodas a day now. I drink water. Can you believe it? Not out of the tap. The tap water here is gross so we bought a Brita filter. It takes the nasty out of the water. Then, I started eating healthier. I started my journey of weight loss last year. I was doing great right up until I found out I was pregnant. I then decided that losing weight while pregnant was a bad idea so I gained it instead. LOL...I didn't gain much and actually weigh less now than when I got pregnant. But I still have all that 'I quit smoking and Boyfriend is a great cook' weight on me. So I need to lose about 20 pounds. That will get me to a healthy BMI according to my Wii Fit. Exercising is very challenging when you have a baby that likes to be held. But she slept in a bowling alley yesterday. I had Boyfriend move the treadmill to the living room so I can use it when she naps. I googled the distance from my house to the resort I am staying at in Walt Disney World next May. It is 457 miles from my driveway to the resort. So I will be walking the weight off and 457 miles is my goal. So far, I have a half mile down! Only 456.5 miles left to go. This should be interesting. Here's hoping I can stay motivated. If you are trying to lose weight, what keeps you motivated?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Disappearing Egg Shell Experiment

We homeschool Z for a few reasons, one of which is the schools in our area. One of the middle schools has a NO FAIL policy! So if you are in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade you don't actually have to do anything. They will pass you no matter what. So since Boyfriend's job is here and I am not working right now, we are thinking of possibly homeschooling O when she is old enough for school. I scour the internet for free resources. There are tons out there. You just have to weed through a lot to get the good stuff. I have started collecting things for when O will be old enough. I grab anything I think I might be able to use in the future. Here is a science experiment that could be fun for anyone! Remember when you were a kid and you made the chicken bone rubbery? Same thing only with a boiled egg.
Disappearing Egg Shell
What you will need:
1 hard boiled egg
1 jar with lid
white vinegar
1. place the hard boiled egg into the jar
2. fill the jar with white vinegar
3. screw the lid on and let the egg sit for 3 days.
4. after 3 days the eggshell will be gone leaving a thin white membrane. The egg will look and feel like rubber!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Crib for Olivia

Last April, on April Fool's Day, we got the shock of our lives. Boyfriend had been told he would never have children. HA! Olivia is now two and half months old. We had no plans for anymore children. Z is 13. Yep, you read that right. A teenager and a newborn! I am pretty sure at this point I might have a few sanity issues. That being said, I had to buy all new baby gear. We chose a crib at Sears. We got the Dorel Crib/Changing Table combo in Cherry. The cost was around $250. Now, I never thought I would need a changing table. I didn't have one with Z and he survived. But I have to say I love having one! This crib will convert into a toddler/day bed and then a headboard and foot board later down the road. The changing table detaches! Most of the combo models we looked at did not detach. This was a selling point for me. The front has three drawers and the back side has three shelves. They are holding diaper changing supplies right now but will turn into book shelves as she grows! I fell in love with this crib and was super excited when Boyfriends mom bought it for us! I also fell in love with another crib that was super cute but was over $600 ON SALE!!! Are you kidding me? I instantly fell out of love when I saw that price tag. LOL But I do love the Dorel. The only downside, and I knew about it before we bought it, is that the changing table is an odd size. It is VERY hard to find a changing table pad to fit it. So, buyer beware. Now that is not too hard to solve! I am cheap. I am ok with it and admit it. Here is what we did. Boyfriends mom and I went to Walmart. They sell these foam pads in the craft section. We bought some, measured it out. We glued a total of four sections together. It was the way it was shaped and cut but there are two layers of padding to make sure she had plenty of padding. We used a fabric glue that you can wash. We then bought some fabric and made a cover for the foam. She also made a colorful cover that matches the room/bedding. That changing pad cost us less than $10 to make.
Olivia's Bed

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Disney's Value Resorts, A review

My first trip to Disney World was in 1978. I have no memories of that trip. My second trip was in 2001. I took my son when he was 5. That trip began the obsession with going back. We stayed onsite at Disney's All Star Sports Resort. I have been a total of 8 times now. Today I wanted to talk about the value resorts. Here is a link to some pictures and a list of the amenities: We have stayed at three of the four value resorts. There are three All Star resorts, Music, Movies, and Sports. The other value resort is Pop Century. The only one I haven't stayed at is Movies. The values are just that, a value. Rates start at $82 a night, depending on the time of year you chose to go. Sports was great. Good food and good atmosphere. If your family are big sports fans you will love the over-sized theme of this resort. We did not care for Music. I have only stayed there once and it was only for a weekend trip. We got a great rate and this was the only value available. We are not a musical family, none of us plays an instrument, so the theme just didn't work for us. We love Pop Century. The food is great. The theme is fantastic. Pop doesn't share buses with any other resort. We never waited very long for a bus at any of the values though. The rooms at the values are small but you can make it work. I just tend to over-pack for any trip. The pools are just a basic pool. They don't have water slides. But we liked the pools at Pop best. In our opinion, the value resorts are a great value. A small price to stay on property and you still get all the benefits of a resort guest!
There are plenty of great deals out there right now! Email me at for a quote.
For a limited time...Value resort vacation with flight, hotel, and tickets starting at just $97 per person per night. Five-day advance purchase required
Prices are per person, per night based on quad occupancy and do not include a $3.70 federal excise tax per takeoff and landing, airport taxes of up to $18 roundtrip per person, and a federal September 11th Security Fee of up to $10 roundtrip per person. Some blackout dates apply, must be booked by March 27, 2010. Travel dates until August 13, 2010.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bread Recipes

A few years ago high fructose corn syrup started getting a lot of press. The more I read about it, the less I liked it. Don't get me wrong. I am a firm believer that nothing is bad for you as long as it is eaten in moderation. See, I just justified the cake I have in the fridge! It is a talent I have. (see Wednesdays justification for another Disney trip) Back on topic: High fructose corn syrup is in just about everything! That is not in moderation. The body processes it differently than natural sugars. Diabetes is a serious concern in my family so it is something that caught my attention. In my quest to limit the amount of HFCS that my family is taking in, I started out making my own bread. It really isn't that hard to do. I messed up a few batches but it happens. I have messed a few dinners too. Didn't stop me from making dinner! So here are two of my favorite bread recipes. The Soft as Wonder Bread is really good. But we really really like the Soft Sandwich Rolls. I just follow the directions but rise and bake in a bread pan. Very good!
Soft As Wonder Bread:
1 cup water (room temp)
1 tsp salt
3 tblsp margarine
1 tblsp honey
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered milk (not skim)
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast
add ingredients in the order given to your bread machine. Select dough cycle. Shape into a loaf and place in a loaf pan. Let rise in a warm place for about 40 mins until it has doubled in size. Bake on center rack at 350 for 25-30 mins. cool one a rack before slicing.

Do not cool in the pan! It makes for a very wet loaf of bread. To tell if your bread is done, thump it with your thumb. If it sounds hollow then it is done.

The Soft Sandwich Rolls recipe I grabbed from King Arthur Flour's website. Here is the link to the recipe:
I hope I have inspired you to try making your own bread. Or if you already do, feel free to share a recipe with us!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I mentioned on Saturday that I am all about saving money. And I am, though I also know my limits. I am very very bad at coupons. My sister rocks the whole coupon thing. I clip them, then leave them at home. I know I should be better. Most coupons don't work for me though. I make everything I can. Bread, pasta, hot pockets, pizza, biscuits, english muffins, cookies, all from scratch. It takes 20 minutes to make brownies from a box or from scratch. And scratch tastes better. Plus I can control what goes in it. We buy meat at the butcher. If you have one near, you should drop in one day and ask questions. We pay $150 and get enough meat, a variety, to last almost two months for the three of us.
I have recently started re-purposing things around the house. I buy ice cream in the gallon size buckets. These are great for Legos, barbie accessories, laundry soap, they have a ton of uses. Mayfield had a square container the other day. I got way to excited about the container and not the fact that I would have ice cream once again. It was just sad. We buy the big containers of shampoo and conditioner, the ones with the pump. I turned one into a hand soap dispenser the other day. It is a little large but it works and cost me nothing. Did you know you can make the foam soap yourself? Just buy the soap once so you have the pump. They have a different pump than other soap dispensers. Then just buy the regular refill soap. Fill your foam soap container a quarter of the way with soap. Fill the rest of the way with water. Shake well. You have just make foamy soap! Now doesn't it just KILL you to know you have been spending all that money on water?
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Homeschool and Disney???

We home school my 13 year old son. Z has ADHD and high functioning autism. Part of his autism had manifested itself in anxiety. The public school district here is horrible. We tried private Catholic school. He did ok but was having organizational problems. Very common for kids like him. Then eighth grade started to roll around. He started to have more and more anxiety problems and they tend to stem from being around large groups. He loved school but just wasn't able to handle being around the many kids and all the stuff that comes with changing classes and middle school. So, two days before school started we made the decision to home school. There is nothing like making last minute decisions. He takes some classes online through a virtual school and some classes we do. For a foreign language he decided to take Japanese. Crazy, I know. His goal is to be a video game designer for Nintendo. He needs to be able to talk to them so he is learning Japanese. These lessons are also free. Check them out at There are whole bunch of free language lessons. Free just happens to be my favorite price.
Sorry, I ramble. Anyway, I was playing around on my favorite Disney board, DisBoards. Someone mentions that they are trying to organize a YES trip. OMG!!! Disney does special classes for kids! How did I miss this? I know about Home School Days in January. But any time of year you can organize these classes. You just need 10 participating students. They have classes from K thru 12. How cool is that? Just another reason for me to go back to Disney. And now it is justified as educational. I am thinking of trying to organize a group for May 2011. That is when I am planning our next trip down.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday Review

I said in Monday's post that I make almost everything at home. I wasn't kidding. I am all about saving money. When Boyfriend and I decided that I would stay home, we lost about a third of our income. Most of it was discretionary but we did have to learn to not spend so much money. We are blessed that he has a very secure job with the Navy as a civilian. One of the things I wanted to learn to make was bread. I have a rule about kitchen toys. I will not buy the big expensive ones until I know that I will use them. I started out making bread by hand. Kneading dough makes for great arm muscles. Once I proved to myself that I was going to make the bread on a regular basis, I got a bread machine to make my life easier. Actually, Boyfriends mom bought it for me for Christmas. She got me a Sunbeam machine from Walmart. It runs around $50 at my local store. This is it: I have to tell, I love this machine! It makes making bread so easy. I do not use it to its full potential. You can make cakes and jams in this thing. I actually stopped baking my bread in it. The bread tasted really good coming out of the machine but we had a few issues with it. First was the size. The bread comes out very tall. Two slices was too big for a sandwich and one slice cut in half was not big enough. The second issue was that the paddle used for mixing and kneading was still in there leaving a whole in the bottom of the bread. So I use the machine to make the dough then bake in the oven in a bread pan. We make all sorts of doughs in this machine. We make most of our pizzas at home now too since you can make the dough in the machine. It is the best of both worlds!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday is Travel Day!!

Like I said in my first post, I am a travel agent. I love love love traveling. I am a firm believer in vacations. It gets the family together and away from the everyday nonsense that is life. There are no classes to attend, no sports events, no cleaning, no paying bills, and no grocery shopping. When I go on vacation I want nothing but fun. That is one of the reasons I love going to Disney. Once I am at my resort, we park the truck and don't drive again until it is time to go home. I prefer having the dining plan so I don't have to think about how much the food costs too. This way everything is prepaid and I only need money for souvenirs! I have two travel deals for today:

First, is Disney: Disney World has 25% to 45% off rooms now thru August 14th. It must be booked by March 27th. For a room only reservation, you only need a deposit equal to one nights stay. You can also turn this into a package deal by adding tickets and/or the dining plan. The deposit then becomes $200.
They have also extended the free gift card offer:
Book a 6-day, 5-night non-discounted room and ticket package at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and get a free Disney Gift Card for stays most nights 2/15 — 3/27 and 4/11 — 8/14.
  • Value resorts: $300 Disney Gift Card
  • Moderate resort: $500 Disney Gift Card
  • Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa resort: $750 Disney Gift Card

This discount must be booked by 3/27/10. All discounts are subject to availability, certain restrictions apply. Blackout dates may apply.
The next one I have is Princess Cruise Line. This offer must be booked by Friday, February 19th.
3 ways to save on Canada & New England
and Summer Caribbean vacations!

1Fares from $75 per day
• 7-day Caribbean cruises from just $449*
• 9-day Caribbean cruises from just $749*
• 10-day Canada & New England cruises from $1,199*
• 14-day Canada & New England land & sea vacations from $1,999*

2Up to $100 Cash Back per Stateroom**
• Up to $50 on 7- to 9- day sailings
• Up to $100 on 10- to 14-day sailings

3Free balcony upgrades^
• Enjoy balcony accommodations at oceanview fares!
If you are interested in either of these deals, contact me at

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I am brand new to this whole blogging thing. My sister got me started. Her and a friend were so kind as to design this for me. Aren't they so nice! I decided to blog about what I know. So on Mondays I will post a new recipe. We are not fancy eaters here. I hate seafood. I have not been very adventurous in the past but I am learning to try new things. Actually, at the age of 33 I am finding that I have missed out on a lot of good food over the years. I am also relatively frugal. I make most things at home and find my recipes for free around the internet. We do tend to tweak recipes to our liking though. Today I am making waffles to freeze. I will use homemade Bisquick. It is so easy to make you won't believe you have been buying this stuff!

2 cups homemade bisquick
1 1/3 cups milk
1 egg
2 tbl vegetable oil
dash of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Preheat waffle iron. When the iron is hot, spray liberally with non-stick spray. Pour some batter on the iron making sure that all the bumps are covered. Cook for about 5 mins. They are done when they are golden brown.

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix well. Store in airtight container. Lasts for 6 months.

I make really large batches at once. Then I lay them on cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid I vacuum seal them. If you try to vacuum seal them before they are frozen, you squish them beyond recognition and they NEVER get their shape back. Learn from my mistakes! You could put them in zipper bags but they tend to get freezer burnt over time. When you or one of the kids wants a waffle, just pop it in the toaster. Hot, fresh, yummy, and you know what is in it!
Hi. My name is Angela. I have two children and a wonderful boyfriend. We live in Florida, homeschool, and love going to Disney. My son, Z, is 13 and my daughter, O, is 2 months. In fact, I love going to Disney so much and enjoy planning trips that I decided to become a travel agent. Even better, I got my Disney certification!! They even sent me a certificate and my very own graduation ears. You would think with 8 trips to Disney World I would have purchased a pair of ears by now. It has been my goal to go to Disney every year. It is a lofty goal. I make it about once every other year. Unless we buy annual passes. Then we go a few times. So I started working at home for a company called Fairytale Journeys ( as a home based travel agent. First off, a good travel agent is worth their weight in gold. Second, they cost you NOTHING to book through them. So always a good idea to use one. If you have any travel plans feel free to contact me at
I started with my Disney obsession in 1990. I watched The Little Mermaid for the first time. I fell in love with all things Disney. My first trip to Disney World I was only 2 and have no memories from. I took Z for his first trip when he was 5. We stayed on site at the All Star Sports. We had a blast. We did the cha-cha with Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House. And he met his hero, Buzz Lightyear! There is nothing like seeing the magic of Disney through the eyes of a child. On that trip I knew we would be back again and again. I just had to find a way!