Homemade Laundry Detergent

Over the past few years, my husband and I have avidly been trying to look for areas in our home where we could cut costs by doing things ourselves and giving up convenience purchases. We’ve also noticed that the extra effort pays off, in that we’ve been able to cut out a lot of chemicals and other harmful substances. This past week I finally convinced my husband to take the plunge into homemade laundry detergent. He was skeptical since it was a powdered detergent, and also worried that it wouldn’t be able to cut through the dirt and grime of our four, very active boys. The results; however, were remarkable. Clean, clean clothes, including underwear, and soiled towels!  This recipe only costs about 5 cents per load as compared to about 20 cents with store bought detergents I’ve purchased at sale prices. Even better, this is entirely HE washer safe! All that’s required to be HE safe, is a detergent that’s low-suds. Think about it…they use less water so it makes complete sense that they would need a low suds detergent. It’s nothing else. Don’t get caught in the same trap we were initially, and continue to pay the ridiculous prices for ‘special’ detergent. It’s just another gimmick to get you, the consumer, to spend more money.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Laundry Detergent in a glass mason jar with a yellow ribbon tide around it

  • 1 bar fels naptha, or zote
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda

Directions

  1. Grate your bar of laundry soap (fels naptha or zote) as finely as possible.
  2. Put grated soap into a storage container. Add in borax and washing soda.
  3. Stir until evenly combined, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1 tbsp per load of laundry. 2 tbsp for heavily soiled loads.

BLT Mac And Cheese

I found this recipe several years ago, perusing magazines in a waiting room. It’s a Betty Crocker recipe, and it’s delicious. My family loves macaroni and cheese. They love it from a box, they love it from scratch, they even love it with cut up hotdogs in it. I figured, given their love of the classic side dish they’d happily eat as a meal any time, any day, that this could either be a beautiful thing or a risky gamble. This recipe had me at BLT. I love them. Mostly, I love them because I love,love, love tomatoes. So naturally, I dove in and made this meal the same night I had come across it’s recipe. Since then it’s become a staple and a regular meal appearing on our monthly rotations. The flavors blend spectacularly! Even the rest of the family, literally everyone else, who all detest tomatoes about as strongly as I love them, ate every bite.

BLT Mac N Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: BLT Mac N Cheese

If you’ve tried this BLT MAC N CHEESE, or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTERESTFACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!

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BLT Mac & Cheese

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Casserole, Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Calories: 1339kcal

Ingredients

  • 32 oz Velveeta cheese cubed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 cups skim milk
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar shredded
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 bag 9 oz, fresh spinach
  • 1 lb bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup plain or Italian style, panko bread crumbs*

Instructions

  • In a dutch oven, or other large pot, add butter, milk, and cubed cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a whisk, until melted and evenly combined.
  • Cook macaroni in boiling salted water 3 minutes less than indicated on the box in the directions. Drain.
  • Pour the drained macaroni in with the cheese sauce. Mix well.
  • Stir in the shredded cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.
  • Transfer to a 15×10 inch (4 quart) baking dish. Cover with foil.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 minutes.
  • Uncover. Spread bacon and bread crumbs evenly over the top.
  • Bake 5 minutes longer or until the top is lightly browned.
  • Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Notes

*To ensure nice browned, crisped breadcrumbs you can toss the breadcrumbs in 1-2 tbsp of melted butter before adding to the casserole.

Nutrition

Calories: 1339kcal | Carbohydrates: 111g | Protein: 68g | Fat: 68g | Saturated Fat: 34g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 3369mg | Potassium: 1289mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 2873IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 1372mg | Iron: 3mg

Baby Cereal Pancakes

A healthy breakfast or snack, these easy Baby Cereal Pancakes make use of common baby foods that often end up going to waste. They’re a perfect first food, or finger food, for hungry babies & toddlers. Something you can feel good about serving, and something they’ll love eating!

Baby Cereal Pancakes on a rectangular white platter with bananas in the background

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Homemade Gak

How many others remember Nickelodeon, both their TV shows and their products, vividly from their childhood? Gak was one of my favorites. I vividly remember the ‘fart’ noises it made when squished, and the way my parents cringed at the thought. It stretched, it squished, it oozed. Remembering all the fun I had had as a child, I really enjoy bringing some of these toys back for my own kids to play with and enjoy today. Being a mother to 4 boys, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with any toy, or substance, that emits any noise slightly resembling flatulence. I found this recipe from Lil Luna. My boys, young and old, literally spent hours playing with the stretchy, gooey gelatinous substance. Even my teenager traded the iPod in for some good old-fashioned hands on fun with something ‘yuck’. I’m especially fond of any toys, activities, or crafts that get all four playing together. They actually cooperated, shared, and just got to enjoy each other’s company. Our first batch was yellow, but yours can be any color your heart desires. Mix and match your food coloring. Experiment, but most of all have fun!

Homemade Gak

4 Sons 'R' Us: yellow Homemade Gak being pulled upwards from a clear tub

  • 2, 4 oz, bottles of Elmer’s Glue
  • 1 tsp borax
  • water
  • food coloring

Directions

  1. Empty both bottles of glue into a bowl. 
  2. Fill bottles with warm water, recap, shake, and then empty into the bowl.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring. Stir and set aside.
  4. To another bowl, add 1/2 cup of warm water. Add in the borax and stir until dissolved.
  5. Pour the borax mixture into the glue bowl.
  6. Begin by stirring with a spoon. Once it becomes super stringy, begin mixing and squishing by hand. It should be pretty gelatinous by this point.
  7. Let the kids play with it for a few minutes and it will become the perfect gooey consistency.

Even better, when you’re done, your Gak can be stored for play at a later date.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Gak

Homemade Cold Medicine

Ever feel a cold creeping up and need to knock it out before it has a chance to take hold? This homemade cold medicine can nip it in the bud.

Designed to tackle coughs, congestion, and a sore throat, it surpasses anything I’ve ever gotten from the store and it’s my go-to recipe when someone in my house starts feeling sick.

Even better, I don’t have to wonder is it safe? Is this actually the proper dosage?  How many hours has it been? What is 2% of “asdlkjasdklh” for?

All four major ingredients are known for their different healing and therapeutic properties. When combined they’re a cold-kicking powerhouse.

I always keep some on hand stored in the fridge, especially during the winter months when my kids are more prone to catch something.

Give it a try for yourself next time you or your loved ones have got the tell-tale signs you’re coming down with a cold.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Cold Medicine in a small wide mouthed glass jar with a silver colored spoon

If you’ve tried this HOMEMADE COLD MEDICINE, or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTERESTFACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!

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Homemade Cold Medicine

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp raw honey local is best*

Instructions

  • In a small jar, combine vinegar and water.
  • Dissolve cayenne and ginger into the liquids.
  • Add honey.
  • Shake well.

Notes

Dosage: Adults should take 1 tbsp as needed. I give my kids** 1/2 tbsp as needed for cough/congestion.
*Some research suggests that consuming local raw honey can help allergy sufferers find some relief. Raw (unprocessed) honey still contains enzymes and pollen. Local honey contains pollen from plants in your vicinity that you're constantly exposed to and that might be causing or triggering your allergies. Essentially, ingesting the local pollen, in small doses, over a prolonged period of time would act as a natural vaccine.
**WARNING: Children under 12 months of age should NEVER consumer honey, raw or processed, as there is a risk of Child Botulism (bacterial illness). Further, honey is acidic and the practice of keeping it sitting in the mouth for prolonged periods of time may erode dental enamel.

 

Simple Sensory Bags

Sensory play is a wonderful opportunity for young children to explore the world around them using their five senses while also honing their fine motor skills. My boys have always been very touch and texture oriented, and sensory bags have been a wonderful way to encourage them. Below are two examples of some of the sensory bags I’ve made for them to play with. It’s so neat to watch their little fingers as the discover how the different items in the bag feel, and watch their little fingers work to move them around. I always find myself wondering what they’re thinking and what conclusions they could be drawing during play as they become engrossed in the activity. Sensory bags are a wonderful quiet time activity. Perfect for tummy time, or anytime I need to get a little one to sit still, but still need to keep them engaged. The possibilities on themes is endless. Get creative, play with it, and see what kind of sensory bags you can come up with. Or just copy these.

Simple Sensory Bags

simple sensory ziplocking bag filled with green goop various red buttons and frog figurines

Frog Pond

  • quart size, ziplock freezer bag
  • aloe vera gel
  • frog figures, I found an 8 pack at the dollar store
  • assorted buttons
  • 4-6 decorative glass beads
  • duck-tape

simple ziplocking sensory bag with blue goop and plastic star & heart pieces and various sized black buttons

Princess

  • quart size, ziplock freezer bag
  • hair gel
  • princess party favors (any type as long as there’s no sharp edges to puncture the bag)
  • assorted buttons
  • 4-6 decorative glass beads
  • duck tape

Directions

  1.  Squirt gel into bag until desired fullness is reached. Remember the bag sill has to zip and the edges be duck-taped without being so full it will pop when played with, about 1 1/4 cup of gel should be sufficient.
  2. Add in trinkets of your choosing.
  3. Compress bag gently to remove any trapped air and seal tightly.
  4. Duck tape all outer edges of the bag to make sturdier and guard against leaks.
  5. Use as a tummy time mat or lap activity and let the little ones explore and enjoy.

Easy Edible Finger Paint

Last month I found an entire box of boxes of vanilla pudding marked down to pennies at the grocery store. I purchased it knowing I would find multiple uses for it later. Plus, I realized it would have been almost mean not to take it off their hands since they were practically giving it away. One day, my 3 year old was begging me to ‘paint’, but I was out of actual finger paint with no intentions of going to the store that day. I remembered someone telling me about making a safe edible finger paint from Greek yogurt and food coloring, and thought why not? Instead of Greek yogurt, the pudding served as the paint base. This recipe and activity was a success; kid tested and baby approved! It dried just like normal paint. It almost resembles a water color painting. It’s great for kids of all ages, even age appropriate infants since it’s perfectly safe to consume, yummy even, when they stick their hands in their mouth. What toddler wouldn’t be amazed to have the activity also be the snack?

Easy Edible Finger Paint

edible finger paint in glass baby food jars

  •  1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • food coloring

Directions

  1. Prepare pudding according to the package directions.
  2. If you’re trying for several different colors, separate the pudding into several bowls or containers.
  3. Add in drops of food coloring until desired color is reached.
  4. Paint on white paper.
  5. Let artwork dry. Voila!