The Zarb Homestead

Living natural and healthy on a simple budget

I couldn’t imagine the feeling November 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sheena @ 7:49 am



How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent (HE Washer Safe)

I am frugal by choice. I like to save money by making things we use everyday. This way, we can use the money we save to splurge on things that we enjoy in life.  One of the things I make is our laundry detergent. I honestly do not have any idea why we have so much laundry to do in the first place. It is just the husband and I living here and we have no human children, just our fur babies. I would say I do at least 2-3 loads/day. When I started writing this blog it was about noon and I had already done 2 loads of laundry. I know that will not be it for the day, because when my husband gets home from hunting I will have plenty more.

Maybe the problem is me. I will admit that I tend to wash anything and everything that will fit into my washer. That means rugs, shower curtains, floor mats,comforters, pillows, dog beds, etc.  If it fits, it ships gets washed. I am sure this stems from my fear of my house stinking. You know when you walk into someones house and it has its own odor? For example, if a home has pets living inside, people smoke inside, or they cook a lot it can have its own smell. Our house is older home and I fear it may develop its own scent. I know, it is an odd fear to have but still there is nothing wrong with having cleanly washed things, right?

I have had many people ask me for the recipe and I could have sworn I blogged it previously but I could not find the post. So, here it is with easy to follow directions and pictures. It is so simple, just 3 ingredients, and easy to do you will wish you have tried it sooner.

To start off, we need a bar of soap. The soap I use is called Fels Naptha.  It is an old-fashioned type of soap usually found in the laundry aisle.

You may use Ivory soap. It will work just fine but I have tried both and I feel that Fels Naptha is better at stain removal than Ivory. I purchased mine at Kroger for $1/bar.


Next, you will need to grate the soap where it can be easily melted in boiling water. This is the hardest part of the whole recipe and it doesn’t take too long.

Tip: You can use a food processor to do the job but the soap will not be as fine.


Add 12 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the soap and stir contiguously until all the soap is dissolved.


Once the soap is dissolved, stir in 1 cup of Borax and 1 Cup of Washing Soda.

Please note: Washing soda should not confused with baking soda.  They are not the same thing.  Washing soda is sodium carbonate and baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.

The brand I use is Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.  I have no trouble finding it and the Borax in the laundry section at my local Kroger.


Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

Tip: Place a wooden spoon over the pot to help it from boiling over.


Many people use a 5 gallon bucket to store it in, not me. I think it looks a bit trashy sitting in the laundry room floor. I use a Tupperware like clear container. Since it about 1/2 the size of the 5 gallon bucket, I use only 1/2 cup vs the 1 cup that the original recipe called for. Fill it 1/2 full with warm water and pour your hot mixture in. Stir and add more water until the mixture reaches the top.


You may add your own “smelly good” oils to the mix. I use 1 oz of Tea Tree oil because I have sensitive skin and love the smell.

This is an optional step and can be left out. Your soap will still smell great.


Let it sit overnight.

It will become a slimy gloppy substance, like a watery gel once it has settled. Mix the gel until it becomes a thick liquid. I have read different methods of doing this. Some people using a drill with a mixer attachment or a hand held kitchen mixer. Me, I use my hands. I feel childish, but it is fun breaking up the slim as it slides in-between your fingers.

As you can see, I even have laundry going in the background 🙂


Transfer the soap into empty laundry bottles. A large kitchen spoon works well. My soap mixture is never perfectly smooth, it always has lumps.Once it is in the bottles, I go to shaking as hard as I can. It is like DIY “shake weights.”  That helps break the lumps up even better but still there are going to be some.

I shake the bottle every time before I use it. This makes sure it is mixed well because the liquid can settle and separate while sitting on the shelf.


The soap is a low sudsing soap; if you don’t see suds, that is ok.  The suds are not what does the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap thus this is prefect for HE washers.

How much am I saving?

This recipe cost me about $1.21 to make and will wash about 128 loads.That is less than a penny/load!

I normally only have to make this twice a year. When I run out all I have to buy is another bar of soap. There is still plenty Washing Soda and Broax left for about 4 more batches. Super cheap to make and can save loads of cash. I have been making this for over 2 years now and it washes just as well, if not better, as Tide does. I have even compared the 2 side by side like they do on TV. This is a good way to be green and save some green. Enjoy your soap making.


You + Me = Us Through The Years November 21, 2012

This Thanksgiving will be #9 for the hubby and I. It is strange how time flies by and gets away from you in a blink of an eye. It seems like yesterday we were going on our first date and being all bubbly eyed at each other. I was organizing my photos and thought it would be nice to put together a time-line of the “us.” A lot of has happened and changed since it all began in 2004. Hairstyles and colors gone bad along with different clothing styles. I giggles a bit at some of them. Well, here is a walk down memory lane.


Our first date after talking for 2 months 🙂 This was taken in the parking garage in West Town Mall. We went to see a movie but I couldn’t tell you what it was.


We both love the outdoors and here we are camping in the Smoky Mountains


After 2 years of dating we decided to get our own place together. This is us in downtown Knoxville watching Boomsday.


We were cruising to Mexico and the Cayman Island this year. This was my first time out of the country and my first cruise.


We had so much fun, we were off to Mexico, again! This was the year we purchased our first home together.


Here is my brother-in-law and us enjoying our “new” boat


Never skied before or been on a plane. I had a mild nervous break down on the plane and found out that I am not that coordinated to ski but we still had a great time.


7 years down the road we finally say “I do!”


Still happily together as we were in 2004


Project 365: Week 46 November 20, 2012

Filed under: Project 365 — Sheena @ 10:35 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


First time I saw Jupiter and her moons

imagePhil trying to stay warm while looking at the stars


My Father-in-Law got all the girls a rose at dinner at Barleys


Someone stole my pillows


Bye Bye Twinkies


Made pumpkin puree from a baking a pumpkin



Oh boy, here we go again


How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Pie – No Can Involved November 17, 2012


I thought that I was making a pumpkin pie from starch was when I didn’t purchase one in a box. Canned pumpkin is easy to buy and to make pies from but why not use a fresh pumpkin. I had 5 small to large pumpkins I purchased from my friends grandmother. Her brothers grows them and she sells them for cheap and I mean cheap. I think I paid between 50 cents to $1.50 per pumpkin. I didn’t crave them on Halloween and since pumpkins can last up to 6 months once picked from the vine, I decided to make good use of them and eat them.

For the pie you will need some of the following. I got this recipe from and added some of my special touch.


  • Large knife
  • Spoon
  • Large bowl
  • 1 large (10 inch) deep-dish pie plate
  • 2 large baking pans at least 2″ deep


  • Pumpkin (Small to Medium)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups of pumpkin puree
  • 1.5 cans of evaporated milk – make your own from nonfat dried milk and make it twice as concentrated as the directions on the box call for.

Alright, let get to cooking!

-Wash the pumpkins outside

-Cut in half

-Scoop out the seeds


-Preheat oven at 375 F degrees

-Place in baking dish meat side down. Add 1 cup of water dish to help steam and cook the pumpkin.

-Bake for 1.5 hours


I also tried some in the crockpot and it worked out just as well


– You can test to see if it is done by sticking it with a fork. It should be soft.


– Let cool then use the spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin

– You can blend it in a blender for a smooth texture


Mix all ingredients and place into a pie crust. Cook at 425 F degrees for 15 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 F degrees for 50-60 minutes. Let cool, then eat. Yummy!


Stargazing in Cades Cove November 15, 2012

We, the husband and I, are members of the Smoky Mountain Astronomical Society and we held our annual star party and picnic in Cades Cove last Saturday. For non-local readers, Cades Cove is 6,800 acres nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains. Most people visit Cades Cove to observe the wildlife such as white-tailed deer, black bears, raccoons, turkeys, woodchucks, and other animals. This is a great place for a star party because people can gaze at the star-studded sky without the obstruction of artificial light as you would have in the city.

We set up our telescopes in the first field on the right as you enter loop. The parks rangers allow us drive our vehicles on to the field and unload our supplies and then park along the side. It is pretty neat because our club are the only ones the park ever allowed to drive on that field plus when we leave we are allowed to drive backwards in the loop, pretty neat. We arrived at 3:00 and setup about 3:30 pm. All the members brought food or items for the picnic. About 5:00 pm we finished our club things and calmly waited for the visitors to arrive. The sun set at 5:30 that day and that was when the visitors started gathering in the field.

There were a total of 9 telescopes, including mine, setup in a circle. We were all given an object to locate in the sky and explain to the people what they were looking at as they made their way around. I was assigned the double cluster. Great, right? I know what you’re thinking as well as I was. What and where is the double cluster. After some investigation, I found that these two clusters of stars are located at about the same distance from the sun, 7,000 light-years, and are about the same age, 10 million years. I still didn’t know where it was in the sky or how to find it. People were starting to line up to see my scope and I didn’t have anything to show them. I was getting a bit frustrated after 20 minutes with no luck. I went and got another more knowledgeable member to help me out. Finally, I could show and tell over 300 people what they were looking at. That was a bit stressful.

We really enjoyed ourselves but it was a bit cold once the sun went down. Thank goodness we took hand warmers with us. I think the rangers counted 355 visitors that night. Last year we had over 800 people but that star party was also earlier in the year and when the leaves were starting to change. I think I liked having the smaller crowd. I would have been more stressed if there were 800 people waiting on me 😉



Project 365: Week 45 November 11, 2012


Plugged in my 3 year old heater and it didn’t work. Called up Honeywell and they told me to ship the old one to them and they would ship me a new one. Total cost $10. Too bad the new one was also broken.


Casting my Vote for the President


Wednesday was our date night


The ice rink is almost ready in Market Square


Decided to finally pull this bad boy out and figure out how to use it.


My Cat Mr. Black, I can never get a good picture of him because he blends into everything.


Bundling up with my Smart Wool socks for my Star Party. It was a cold night!