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Homemade Laundry Soap

This is super easy and fun to make. It lasted over a year for our family of five and a friend who was living with us. You can use it full strength on your stains as a stain remover. Let us know what you think!

Picture of laundry soap recipe

 Ingredients:


1 (5 1/2 OZ) Bar of Laundry Soap (I use Castille Soap, but my neighbor uses Fels Naptha)
1 Cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (not Baking Soda)
1/2 Cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
50 Drops Grapefruit Seed Extract
Essential oil you like (optional)

Related Article: How To Save Money On Fabric Softener

Directions:

Fill a 5-gallon bucket half full of hot water. Grate the bar soap into a pot and add 4 cups water. Heat on the stove until completely dissolves the soap. Then pour into the bucket. Add the dry ingredients to the bucket and stir until everything is dissolved.  Fill up the bucket the rest of the way with warm water and stir. Let it sit overnight. If it thickens break it up and stir it around. Use a funnel to get it into the bottles with less mess. You may have to shake it every time you use it but I have not had this problem.  This is so so so so cheap and works really well.  I have a front loader and use only a tiny bit per load.

Related Article: Easy Alternative For Fabric Softener

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All American Roundup



I love Independence day, probably about as much as Christmas! I love the food, the music, the fireworks, BBQ's, time with friends and family, and call me cheesy but I love the colors! Red, White & Blue. I have outfits for every day of the week leading up to this holiday (and yes they all involve those colors. Some even have stars & stripes on them, what? I told you I love it!)


Every year we have a big BBQ (Think Thanksgiving but tell the turkey to wait its turn and add Mr. Cottage's top secret BBQ Sauce- we take our BBQ very seriously), sometimes friends join us other times it's just our family, but we always have a great time. Usually, while everyone else is asleep you can find at least two of our family around the neighborhood hunting out summer blackberries in the woods until our hands are stained purple and our arms are scratched up from an overzealous attempt at a very large berry that simply could not be left behind. If we're lucky no one has fallen in a patch of them and its only starting to get hot. We trudge home baskets full telling the members of our family that happen to have sticky fingers for berries that can't eat them until they've been washed and baked. Yeah, that rule goes right out the window.


You should see some of the strange looks we've gotten, dressed in tall boots, long shirts and pants saved for excursions like this (usually said pants are soaked to our knees because of the dew) trudging down the street with an assortment of buckets, bags and baskets, while "normal" people set out towels, or run to the store for that last minute item they forgot. But hey we're a "balanced" family- or crazy, one or the two and if you asked the neighbors they would probably lean toward the latter. Unless bribed with blackberry crisp... It's delicious!  You know you want some!


Later Mr. Cottage fires up the grill as we prepare side dishes (the ones that weren't complete the night before) And we crank up our favorite patriotic CD (hey it blocks out the horrendous voice on the neighbor's radio bleating out something about a bar, a broken heart or a mother-in-law. Come on! It's the 4th, not mother-in-law day!

Through the day we fluctuate between pool, occasional dance offs (hey the swing music was calling! And when that horn section starts playing how do you say no??) badminton, and croquet (usually right here is where we end up with the sunburn we will triumph for the next week. But when your in the middle of an "intense" game of Marco Polo who has time to dry off and reapply sunscreen! We usually BBQ for lunch and dinner and then all gather on the front steps to watch Mr. Cottage's 4th of July firework show. He loves it - much to Mrs. Cottage's horror and sometimes the rest of us. Like the time the tube holding one of the ones that go up really high and explode tipped and hit the grass. Good thing we had had a wet week. After that one we were done for the year until the memory could fade enough that he was no longer in the dog house. haha! Yeah guess again.


We have an unofficial challenge in our neighborhood of who got the best fireworks. I especially like to sit and watch everyone else's fireworks before we let our own off. Hey its a free show and I love fireworks as much as my dad. And when the air is thick with the smell of them its time for bed- and aloe.


We wanted to share some of our favorite Independence Day recipes with you! Ready?


All American Apple Pie

Dough:
(You will need to make two of these)
1 1/4 Flour
1/2 Teaspoon sea salt ground fine
1/3 Cup Organic Butter
3-4 Tablespoons Cold Water
Mix flour and salt in medium bowl cut in butter until combined. Add ice water, mic until thick. Make a disk out of the dough an refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Filling:
6 Cups Organic Apples Peeled Cooked and Sliced thinly.
1 Cup Organic Raw Sugar
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Flour
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Organic Butter
In a sauce pan add apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and Tapioca flour. Cook on between medium and low until the apples are cooked stirring often.

Roll out the pie dough and cover bottom of a pie pan (I always use my great grandmothers pie pan). Gently poke the crust in a few places. If you want you can go ahead and cook it for a few minutes. Add the apple mixture, and piece of butter around the top. Roll out your second pie crust (if you are going to do anything fancy now would be the time to do it. You can slice it in long strips for a latis work, take a small cookie cutter to it or just make 4 simply slits), place the dough on top of your pie and press edges with a work. Put the pie on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 20 -25 minutes or until golden brown.



All American Burger

Ground pork 
Ground Grassfed beef
Pickles 
BBQ Sauce (of your choice)
Pepper Jack Cheese 
Lettuce
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Himalayan Pink Salt
Mayonnaise 
Uncured Bacon

Buns:
1 1/8 Cup Water
3/4 Tbsp Organic Raw Sugar 
1 1/2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (melted) 
1 1/4 Teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt
3 Cups Organic Flour
2 Teaspoons Dry Yeast
Chopped  canned jalapeno peppers, we used what would probably be 2 peppers but do this to your taste
Red Pepper flakes approx 1/2 tsp or to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheese (we used organic cheddar) 

Put the water, sugar and oil in the bread machine. Follow with flour, salt and yeast. You can either set the bread machine to "French" or "dough" (I use dough that way I can take it out and shape it into a round loaf or a plain loaf or baguettes)

 Choose the dough setting on your bread machine.  Dice up several Jalapenos and put them in your dough.  Add in 1/2 cup of your favorite cheese.   Here you have to choose if you want rolls (or hamburger buns) or a loaf, etc.  After you shape it into the desired shape leave to rise in a warm draft free 
place until it looks like it has doubled in size. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Meat: 
Mix ground pork & beef, add salt, garlic, & onion powder and chopped Pepper Jack. Don't over work the meat, cook on the grill until meat is done. Melt another piece of cheese on top

Burger: 
Spread mayonnaise on the buns, pour a tablespoon or two of BBQ sauce on top. Place burger patty on the bottom bun, top with bacon, lettuce, and the top bun. Secure with a tooth pick.



Texas Cheese Fries

1 bag organic frozen fries
Organic Cheese (We use cheddar or Mexican Cheese mix)
Salt & Pepper
Refined Coconut Oil
Himalayan Pink Salt
4-5 slices of Uncured Bacon

Pour oil in a frying pan, add enough frozen fries to cover the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and flip. When coated and slightly thawed dump onto a cookie sheet. Continue until bag is empty. Place in the oven and follow the cooking instructions on the back of the bag. Meanwhile cook the bacon until crispy pull out and chop. When the fries are finished take them out of the oven and taste test one, if needed add more salt. Cover with cheese and bacon, put cookie sheet back in the oven until cheese is melted.


4th Of July Taco Salad 
Ingredients:
1 Pound Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef 
9 -10 Organic Black Olives (Cut in fourths)
1 Organic Tomato (Chopped)
Organic Blue Corn Chips 
1 Container Organic Sour-Cream
1/2 A Block of Jalapeno Jack Cheese (Shredded) 
1/2 A Head Of Organic Lettuce (Chopped)

Seasonings:
Mrs. Dash Chipotle Seasoning
Himalayan Pink Salt or Celtic Sea Salt
Paprika 
Cayenne Pepper 
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder

Supplies: 
Pan 
9 x13 Baking Dish
Ziplock bag

Cook the ground beef until brown, (don't over cook) season with Mrs. Dash Chipotle Seasoning, Salt, Cayenne pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder,paprika to taste. Let cool. Place a layer of chips at the bottom of you baking dish. Chop up salad and add on top of your chips. Strain your ground beef well, then add on top of your salad. Put Sour-Cream in a ziplock bag and cut off the end. Use it like and icing bag and pipe in white stripes across your salad. Then add tomatoes for red stripes. Put olives in a square (like the blue part on the flag). Pipe Sour-Cream in small drops in small circles. Add chips around the edges of the pan. Add cheese on top of the chips. 


Berry Trifle
1 Angel Food Cake 
1 Half Container Fresh Strawberries 
1 Container of Fresh Blackberries 
Wipped-cream


Cut up angel food cake and strawberries. Layer Cake, berries, blackberries and whipped-cream. Top off with berries and whipped-cream.


Angel Food Cake 

1 1/2 Cups Powdered Organic Sugar 
1 Cup Organic Sifted Pastry Flour
1 1/2 Cups Free Range Egg Whites (11-12 Large Eggs)
1 1/2 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar 
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Organic Sugar 
1/4 Teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt

Sift together powdered sugar and flour together twice. In a large bowl beat egg whites, cream of tartar, Vanilla and salt until you get soft peaks. Slowly add organic sugar about two tablespoons at a time until stiff peaks appear. Place one quarter of flour mixture back in your sifter and sift over eggs. Fold in by hand gently. Repeat this for the rest of the mix. Pour into an ungreased bunt pan. Bake on your lowest rake at 350 degrees about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert pan. Cool completely. Serves 12. 

Whipped-cream

1 Small Container Organic Heavy Cream 
Stevia Drops (to taste)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Take beaters and bowl and put it in the freezer until cold. Put Stevia drops into the cream to taste. Put it in bowl and beat on high until stiff peaks appear. 


Ranchero Bread

1 1/8 Cup Water
3/4 Tbsp Organic Raw Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (melted)
1 1/4 Teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt
3 Cups Organic Flour
2 Teaspoons Dry Yeast
Chopped  canned jalapeno peppers, we used what would probably be 2 peppers but do this to your taste
Red Pepper flakes approx 1/2 tsp or to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheese (we used organic cheddar)

Bread Machine Way:

Put the water, sugar and oil in the bread machine. Follow with flour, salt and yeast. You can either set the bread machine to "French" or "dough" (I use dough that way I can take it out and shape it into a round loaf or a plain loaf or baguettes)

 Choose the dough setting on your bread machine.  Dice up several Jalapenos and put them in your dough.  Add in 1/2 cup of your favorite cheese.   Here you have to choose if you want rolls (or hamburger buns) or a loaf, etc.  After you shape it into the desired shape leave to rise in a warm draft free
place until it looks like it has doubled in size. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.



Blackberry Crisp
5-6 cups blackberries
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup Organic flour
1/2 cup oats
8 tablespoons organic butter
Pour berries in a casserole, sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice. In a bowl mix oats & flour cut in butter until crumbly. Cover top of berries. Back at 350 until top is golden.


Stars & Bar Kabobs 
Watermelon
Cantelope

Take a star cookie cutter and cut watermelon. Slice cantelope wedges so the look sort of like bars. Use a long tooth pick and run it through the fruit.

Serve on a fun platter.

Lessons From The Farm - Find Your Spot And Bloom


Spring! It is a time of new beginnings, new life.  A time to get your hands dirty and to end the day with sun in your hair and the smell of growing things.  To enjoy the beauty of flowers after the bleakness of winter.  Every flower blooming where it is planted, unique, beautiful, in the exact place God meant for it to be.


Blooming where you are planted- it is so easy to get caught up in where you want to be in six months, a year, twelve that we forgot to bloom where we have been planted.  We forget to do what we were meant to do.  God has a purpose for our lives... we have been called and there is a job we need to fulfill.  Our pastor used to tell us to get into "our spot".  "Don't worry about what Aunt Sukie is doing over there in her spot but worry about what you are doing in your spot."  Before we can move on to greater things, greater blessings, sometimes we just need to bloom where we are planted.  Don't worry if your stem seems small, if the roses are in rare form to your left, if the lillies are displayed in all their glory around to your right.  Do not envy them, but do what you are meant to do right where you are.  Spread those petals and let your light so shine, and before you know it the seeds of faith and love will spring up all around you, and you will find yourself right where you are supposed to be. Right where He wants us to be.

Strawberry Preserve



Canning is a big part of our summer here at the Cottage and we always do it as a family. We all cram into our kitchen (which always seems tiny during the summer) . Some of my favorite summer memories happened in the kitchen with a boiling pot and bowls of anything from tomatoes to peaches.


One year we were canning apples and Brianna woke up and came down to the kitchen, we had a big stock pot full of apples ready to be canned. Brianna happened to not see it and long story short she and her Winnie the Pooh PJ's ended up sitting in the pot... It was so funny! This is one of our favorite preserve recipe. I don't normally like strawberries unless they are fresh, but this is so good!


2 Pounds (4 Cups) Fresh or Frozen Strawberries 
4 Cups Raw Sugar 
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice


Remove stems and slice strawberries. Combine berries, sugar and lemon juice. Let stand until it gets really juicy (about 10 minutes). Slowly bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly almost to gelling point. As the mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking, Remove from heat, if needed skim foam of the top. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars.


Leave 1/4 inch head-space. Put on two piece lids (these usually come with the jars from the store) or reusable lids. Process for 15 Minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove to a place they can cool safely with out damaging anything (we use several thicknesses of towels on the counter).


Make sure the jars are not touching. Once cool label & date and store in a place where they are not in direct sunlight. And enjoy!

Keeping Turkeys


Ok, I LOVE turkeys! Seriously they are so sweet and cute and little- well little for awhile. They are so sweet and loving and they "need" you.


We had them one very cold spring and it was too cold to be outside.  Mrs. Cottage let them stay in the living room in a tote. They would trill a gentle peep peep peep when they saw her.  But if we would walk away the peep peep peep got louder and more panic stricken each time.  Then when we walked back to them they would trill the gentle peep peep peep.  They were so adorable!


When they grew up they still were sweet and gentle, just a bit bigger...


And bigger.  

This is the male turkey as it is doing it's gobble, gobble gobble and it makes the snood (the long piece of skin on its snout grow longer and it's face turns blue.  It will puff itself up and hold out his wings to look bigger.  Then it will slowly prance around.


Turkeys don't have the best eye sight and they are heavy.  See this little uh, er big lady standing on Mr. Cottage's hand.  OUCH! She is over 50#


They are really fun to raise and are a pretty easy animal to keep.  Just make sure you keep an eye on their feet.  Sometimes they can get infections.  We keep lots of straw or shavings down to keep their feet in good shape. 



They are very curious and love to have their photos taken.


Here are the boys looking to impress all of the ladies in the pen. Who am I kidding? They were talking to my mom.  She would come out and talk to them and they would turn blue in the face and spread out their feathers like this. 


Love these guys!  Any questions?  Shoot us the question and we will do our best to answer them.  

Cottage Charm Part 9 - Treat Others Homes As You Want Your's Treated

This can be a hard one because it seems many children today don't treat their own homes with respect, so why should it be any different elsewhere. My adopted grandpa used to love to have children come to visit  him, but unfortunately the joy faded away as the sweet children got there and proceeded to tear the house apart. They would break lamps, electronics, books and furniture. It was like the locusts descending on a well tended crops and leaving chaos in its wake.

I remember helping him clean up the messes and not understanding why they thought it was ok to climb all over furnishings, run in the house and cause general mayhem. 

 Lets begin that someones home is not a playground. We do not run, climb, or scream in it but treat it with respect. If things are old or new, shabby or fine makes no difference. We never speak with outside voices like we would at the playground but talk quietly as you would at the museum, or at church. We walk not run around, because in running we could break the persons things or knock someone down. 

Unless someone gives you permission to, do not touch their electronics or books or other items. We can enjoy beautiful things without touching them, look with our eyes and see beautiful things but do not touch them with your hands. 

Unless told otherwise keep all food items in the kitchen. Never assume it is ok to take food and drinks in the living room or bedrooms of someone else's home. If you do spill something, clean it up quickly to avoid it staining on carpet or furniture. Never play with outdoor toys inside or play rough outside games inside the home. 

How pleased your hosts will be at your great manners and how happy they will be when you come again to visit.


To My Hero



To my hero. Thank you for every second Thank you for always putting us first. For serving your country, And instilling in me my love for my country. For leading by example. For being excited with me when I succeeded and holding my hand when I failed. For allowing me to fail.



For praying for me.






 For treating my friends like members of the family. you spent with me. For teaching me to fish, For giving me your love of travel (thankful I grew out of are we there yet),





 For playing basketball, soccer, hide and seek, badminton, croquet and so many other games with me. For flipping my socks inside out when I couldn't stand the feel of the seam




 .

 For letting us swim with dolphins. For bandaging skinned elbows and knees. For carrying me to bed when I fell asleep in yours. Thank you for asking me in that slightly annoying way of yours if I wanted to go to the E.R. after I get hurt (even if I always say NO!). 




You have taught me so much over the years "Charming". Thanks for every laugh, every shoulder cried on, every hug, every butterfly kiss, and allowing me to fly to the moon on your shoulders. For encouraging me to chase my dreams where ever they lead but more importantly thank you for teaching me to love Him with all my heart.


 I love you so much. 

Keeping Faith In The Chaos

There are times when life is going well, great... it's as smooth as a calm lake. 

Everything is perfect. It couldn't get any better, and then there are times like these... 




We had been trying to adopt a baby and found out that the young lady that was pregnant decided she didn't want to be pregnant anymore so she got an abortion.  We were all heart broken. We prayed for this young lady and her child and they were like family in our hearts.  The abortion went badly and the girl had to be rushed to the hospital for surgery.  They said she would never have children again.  Our hearts broke for her and the baby.



Weeks later a friend called us with another woman that was pregnant and needing a loving family for the baby.  Needless to say, it was a bad situation and she was forced into an abortion.



Mr. and Mrs. Cottage were driving to take Grandma Cottage to a doctor's appointment and we were hit by a lady as we sat at a red light. She never even slowed down.  We had decided at the last minute not to go with them and if we would have gone we would have been hurt very badly. Grandma broke her back and Mrs. Cottage hurt her hip, shoulder and got really bad whiplash. Months of physical therapy and pain. 

One night we woke up to the sound of water dripping. With further investigations, we found that one of the upstairs toilets had overflown in the night and water was pouring out of the fan/light fixture in the living room ceiling all over the brand new coffee table.  The end result was the bathroom, shower, and spare bathroom flooring, the ceiling in the living room ceiling and flooring all had to be replaced. 

A couple days later we also had to rip the drywall out on one wall in the living room because a pipe burst. 


The house sounded like a massive plane was parked in the living room which kind of looked like a lab from a SciFi movie or a crime scene. Big sheets of plastic cover every entrance and in the center of the room, huge dehumidifiers hummed like engines on a plane. It was miserable!!! especially when the AC went out leaving us in the heat of sweltering southern summer.  It was over 100 degrees F. by day and the machines put off more heat.  Becuase of the AC and the noise we were all piled into one room all day for a week... 7 days have never stretched longer than that week. 

Five out of seven days a week Mrs. Cottage and Grandma had to go to physical therapy. The only nice part of this was the building (and car) had AC. 


There were days I just laid on the pallet on the floor and cried begging for it please stop as I listened to worship music. And like a wave, it finally let us come up for a breath. And I found my faith had never been stronger.  



Mrs. Cottage had us write messages of faith and bible verses on the 2x4s.  Words of faith and protection.  If nothing more than to remind us of our faith and reinforce that in our own hearts. 

Influenster Nurture VoxBox




A company called Influenster chose our blog to be its voice by trying products that they send us and giving our opinion- we were so amazed to hear we were chosen and excited when we received the package -we have never Vlogged before an we were so nervous! But here is our first one.



Okay, if you didn't catch it the short amount of time I stayed in from of the camera before running for the hills one of the products are RedVines Candy - These were okay. We don't eat candy here and I have never eaten licorice before.


Next was Oreida Easy Fries- we don't normally eat fried foods we try to eat more naturally and avoid additives like hydrogenated oil and things like that. But when you are in a hurry well they would be a tasty option in a pinch!


The next product was Uncle Ben's - We got the brown rice an quinoa. We don't normally buy mixes like this but it was good. The flavor was tasty and I liked the texture. It was good in our dish


They also sent us Attitude Shampoo. Brianna and Mr. Cottage tried it out and they love it! It made their hair super soft and shinny. It does not have much of a smell, but they loved the fact that it is a more natural choice with out the dangerous chemicals (Seriously who wants some of the stuff they put in shampoo in their hair?) Thumbs up target!


The next item they sent us is Blue Lizard sunscreen. The cap turns blue when exposed to UV light which is a great reminder to re-apply it. We really liked this product! It comes in several varieties including sport & sensitive and they are offering our readers a 10% off coupon code D10INFLUENCE on orders over $35 (good until 8-31-15)


Next we have Skinfix, its a diaper rash balm. We don't have any babies in the Cottage anymore but we used it on a couple bug bites and a rash. Its creamy and goes on easily, It is a nut free formula. It made the bite stop itching and the rash didn't burn or itch with it (normal everything makes it worst!) on. It is not heavily scented. Our only concern is that it contains soy oil in it as members of our family have a soy allergy. 


The last item was Dramamine Natural Non Drowsy. This is made with ginger which is a natural anti nausea agent. Mrs. Cottage loved this because she gets motion sickness when on water. She would get sick on a 900' frigate in port tied to a dock (She married a sailor). Nuff said? Maybe next time we are on vacation we can go whale watching now!