Why I stopped making my own laundry liquid

making own laundry liquid

A few years back, I started making my own laundry liquid. Inspired by writers such as Rhonda Hetzel who showed me a new and more self-sufficient way of living, I learnt that the expensive commercial washing powders and liquids I had been using might be causing some of our mild skin problems and affecting the environment. And I was tired of feeling my hands stinging slightly each time I came in contact with the liquid or powders.

After some months of experimenting with homemade laundry powder with good results in our top loader, I decided to try the liquid. I followed the instructions on this post, which are also available in Rhonda’s inspiring and informative book. Soon I had several months worth of laundry liquid, made for just a few dollars! I felt proud of my efforts and the results. I had joined the ranks of frugal ‘simple living mamas’ at last! Life could only get better from here on in.

making laundry liquid

For a few years I kept making the laundry liquid, producing those bottles of frothy liquid, and feeling that sense of satisfaction each time I loaded the machine. But over time, I began to notice some things that didn’t make me so happy:

  • My washing wasn’t so white as it used to be. Rhonda had prepared me for this, and at first it didn’t bother me, but over time the whites in my summer wardrobe became greyer and dingy. I could have used some oxygen bleach along with the liquid, but that was an extra step I wasn’t prepared to do each time I washed.
  • The equipment needed to make the liquid (large bucket, large funnel, saucepan, stirrers and 8 x 2l milk bottles) took up so much room in my tiny laundry, and I really felt it in recent times, while trying to declutter the house.
  • The hassle of making it every few months (trips back and forth from laundry to kitchen to backyard, measuring powders in the kitchen, needing a second person to funnel the liquid into the bottles etc) made me procrastinate – sometimes I would revert to buying a commercial product because it was too wet/hot or I was too lazy/busy to make a fresh batch.

I realised that what was supposed to be simple was feeling anything but that.

And finally, the last couple of batches of liquid I made just didn’t work properly. In fact, I had to throw a whole batch out when the liquid solidified to the point of not pouring out of the bottle! With my collection of recycled milk bottles sitting full of white gunk in the bin, I made the decision that enough was enough, no more making laundry liquid for me at this time. (However I do believe that if I had persisted and been a little more careful I could have gone back to making great liquid as I did early on. At the time it wasn’t an option to start a fresh, we needed another 6 empty milk bottles first).

These days I select an environmentally friendly but not too expensive liquid at the supermarket. I’ve created more space in the laundry by removing the equipment I’d been storing and the multitude of full or empty bottles, and I’m convinced it was a good decision for us at this time in our life.

Have you ever found something supposed to be simple actually made life more complicated?

Let the hospitality begin!

family lunch table

I’ve been plugging away at the decluttering.

1300 items have been ticked off and removed from the house, via the bin, the op shop, and the post office.

And now, at last, there is space.

On the weekend we hosted 15 family members for a big birthday lunch. For the first time, there was not too much stuff to move out of the living room or kitchen. For the first time, we could actually seat 19 people in the room, using what tables and chairs we had (or could borrow). And for the first time, there was not too much to put back in the living room after they left (even less after I did a bit more decluttering and organising the following day!).

Our eldest daughter has finally started to study upstairs in her room, rather than at the dining table, at least now while she has major exams, so that has helped enormously to keep our surfaces clear, also, in this busy room.

Since then, I’ve been enjoying our open and decluttered space so much. It was the perfect space to recover from a cold in these last few days, and to enjoy the winter sunshine streaming in.

As I sat nursing my cold, I started to read and dream again about offering hospitality. It all seems so much easier with clear space. Space to sit, to cook, to think, to plan, and free time to do it all in. I’d love to offer hospitality to anyone, even if it’s just a cup of tea. Neighbours, friends of friends, kids, strangers, anyone.  That’s my dream. That’s what’s been motivating me to declutter more this time than ever before, and goodness knows I’ve tried before.

Because people are more important than things.

I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to understand that.

Letting Go

There are lessons in letting go and major benefits along the way – Courtney Carver of Be More With Less

Ah, the letting go. Where the rubber really hits the road.

Once you’re motivated, it’s easy enough to ditch the junk, the broken, the redundant and unattractive bits and pieces that have stayed in your home too long.

But what if you’ve done that and your home is still cluttered? That’s where I am at, I think. I’ve been decluttering for years, but I still look around and see too many items in each space. A lot of these are things I like, but there’s just too many of them. My eyes dance from one thing to the next, my mind jumping chaotically from one unrealised intention to another …

“I should …”

“I never … ”

“But …”

… leaving me with no rest and sucking  my energy from me.

But Courtney’s post reminds me of the possibility that giving up possessions may seem sacrificial at the time, but could have repercussions I haven’t even imagined. That magic might happen when I take that extra step of giving up things that are ‘perfectly good’ but taking up space.

After all, it works for trees, doesn’t it? By letting go of their autumn leaves, they leave room for the magic of new growth and beauty to emerge each spring.


What is the purpose of our home?

bench

I’ve been thinking about why I want to cut down on our belongings. And I’ve realised that it comes down to the purpose of our home, and the specific purpose (or purposes) of each room.

I want our home to be a place of welcome, love, work and rest. A place where we can each express ourselves and enjoy the pursuits we love; and a place where we can invite others in to enjoy the warmth.

As for fulfilling the purpose of each room …

When I walk into the living room I want to relax, and chat.

When I walk into the kitchen, I want to cook.

When I walk into the dining area, I want to eat, and chat some more.

When I walk into our bedroom, I want to sleep, or get dressed.

When I walk into my craftroom, I want to create, and relax.

When I walk into the study, I want to make music, or use the computer.

When I walk into the laundry, I want to clean.

And although that all seems quite self-centred,and self-satisfying, (and possibly there’s a little too much relaxing?? But I am a phlegmatic, after all!) … What I’m really saying is …

I don’t want to have to move stuff out of the way before I start doing what that room was intended for.

We might as well not have all these rooms, if they can’t be used for the purpose they were intended.

I don’t want my energy and resolve drained before I even get started cooking, or relaxing, or creating.

We’ve been going great guns this weekend, tidying out my husband’s workshop, and have chucked out hundreds of items. We’re up to 900 items decluttered since January. That feels good, and I know I’ve decluttered a lot from inside the house recently, also. But this week I’m going to try this new way of thinking. As I walk into each room I’ll make a mental note of just what it is that is stopping me fulfilling the room’s purpose immediately. I expect that in each room I’ll find the same problem – a lack of a clear surface. So then I’ll take action, which no doubt will include more decluttering, and perhaps also some tidying and organising to improve the room’s function.

I really like this post about the purpose of our homes, also. Nester asks some great questions here.

What are the purposes of the rooms in your home?

What’s in the way?


Photo taken last April, when I worked for a month on keeping the kitchen bench tidy.

Open space dreaming

In this post, Joshua Becker draws our attention to the growing body of statistics regarding our accumulation of stuff. Can you believe that “there are 300,000 items in the average American home”? At first that number shocked me, until I thought about my own home, the books, the craft items, the collections, the hardware supplies … no, it’s not surprising.

Having recently been helping my mother-in-law downsize her home, I am all too conscious of the number of items that can accumulate over a period of years, and remain for various reasons. Months into downsizing, the valuable and the useful has been given or repurposed, and this weekend hopefully much of the rest, the detritus of years, will be sold at a garage sale. And even then, there will be more to be collected by a charity. And this from a couple who downsized first from the family home 16 years ago, and who considered themselves frugal, organised and rarely enticed by the latest and greatest!

Dealing with that stuff has helped me to see material possessions differently. This morning I walked around a department store, looking for a new heater. Who buys all this stuff? Brides-to-be? Gift-givers? Mostly people like me, I’m guessing, who don’t need it, but like it, who have too much disposable income, and who find it convenient to forget their mortgage momentarily in favour of the pleasure of owning something new.

Which brings me back to where we are. Living in a house with too much stuff. This year, I’m using Rachel’s chart to tally my efforts of decluttering 2015 items in 2015. Each item (or group of items) decluttered earns a square crossed out. It’s the middle of May, but I’ve only decluttered about 650 items. A hundred of them were just this week. I’ve got a long way to go. Each part of the house has had one or more passes over it, the real junk has gone. I feel a sense of achievement as I tick off each square on the chart. But now things get harder. What do I like but not need? What can I voluntarily give up to make space?

Because I’ve realised that space is what I crave the most. Clear, empty, open, full-of-promise space.

That, and time not spent organising and decluttering. Freedom to invite someone over on a whim. Space for playing and creating. Headspace for for more meaningful pursuits and what I really believe in. Time to go out without feeling like I should be at home, decluttering.

I’d love to finish the 2015 challenge, and more. Because I can’t help feeling that a better life is waiting beyond.

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Photo taken on our recent holiday at Lake Wallis, one of my favourite spots in the world, because of the open space and the stillness.

Edited to add: after writing this post I decluttered 82 unnecessary items from our garden shed! Woohoo!