How to cook the perfect holiday turkey in only one hour.

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This is not a joke, nor an exaggeration. Indeed, it is a promise. A gift to you, from the bottom of my heart. Because you CAN cook the perfect turkey in one hour, and transform your Thanksgiving experience forever. Believe me, you and your guests deserve it. Not only is it perfectly juicy, tender, and flavorful every time… but the skin is crisp and gorgeous, too. It’s everything you want your bird to be… in a fraction of the time.

cook a perfect turkey in one hour

I’ve been cooking turkeys this way for a few years now, ever since my high school bestie posted her father-in-law, Ron’s, youtube instructional… and I’m never going back. Nor are the friends and family that I’ve turned onto this style. Why in gobble’s name should anyone slave over a bird for hours on end, basting and fussing and checking temperatures… when you could be kicking back with a glass (or three) of wine and good conversation and family and friends?!?

So without further ado, I present to you… Ron’s One-Hour Turkey. Beloved by all who dare to try it themselves – satisfying dinner guests with minimal effort and maximum reward!

And to make it even easier for you, here’s a handy dandy link for the Granite Ware Covered Oval Roaster you’ll need. I got mine at Target, but Amazon Prime is even easier!

Welcome to the good life, friends.

(…and stay tuned, folks, because coming up soon is my famous, epic, thanksgiving feast layer cake recipe! I’m full of delicious inspiration and holiday cheer!) 


Five minute, four ingredient, no-knead bread for your mouth

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Friends, I am dead serious. I am here to share with you the no-knead bread baking secret that will change your life forever. Never again will you buy a store-manufactured boule, made with god knows what extra ingredients and preservatives.

All it takes is four simple ingredients, and about 5 minutes of “hands-on” work time… and for a mere fraction of the cost of store-bought loaves, you’ll be drowning in the intoxication of freshly baked, home made bread that will have you questioning: “why buy, when I can bake?”

Your friends will envy you. Your spouse and children will worship you. You will rise to legendary domestic goddess status among all who come dine at your home or receive a loaf as a gift. It’s crusty. It’s chewy. It’s delicious.

Prepare, people. There is no going back from here.

Granted, there is a lot of down time. So, patience is necessary. But trust me, while there may be 10 or so steps to follow, the effort you’ll actually put in is so minimal, you’ll be shocked at how foolproof and simple the process is.

five minute, four ingredient, no-knead bread

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups unbleached white flour (I use high quality flours like Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur, or Trader Joes private label (which is exactly Bob’s Red Mill, at a fraction of the cost.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast (Food 4 Less has the best deal in town)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water

What you do:

  1. Gently mix together your flour and salt in a decently-sized bowl. I use a Le Crueset
  2. Mix your yeast into the water, and add the yeasted water to your dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated with a wooden spoon. Your dough will look a hot, shaggy mess, but it will become clear that it’s done all the “coming together” it’s going to do.
  3. ***The above steps should take about 2.5 minutes total***
  4. Cover your mixing bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and leave in a secure place on a counter top, preferably where the temperature is stable, for the next 12-18 (or more) hours. After 12-18ish hours have passed, your dough will have risen at least by double, and be sort of bubbly and smell amazingly yeasty-fermenty-bready. (that’s a technical term.)
  5. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface

no-knead bread

  1. Fold the dough over on itself a couple of times, gently pressing it down each time to remove excess air bubbles. Cover with the plastic wrap and let sit about 15 minutes *This step is optional. If you’re pressed for time, just skip this step and go straight to step 7. Your bread may just be a bit “airier” if you skip it. Still delish.*
  2. With wet hands (which, rather than floured hands, helps preserve the flour/water balance) fold the edges of the dough inward to the center, helping the dough find its way into a ball-shape with a smooth upper surface. Plop it into a parchment-lined 9-10″ bowl, (or wooden Banneton Basket, if you’re a baller like me). Cover, and let sit for 2 more hours.
  3. 30 minutes before your dough is done resting, pre-heat your oven with your cooking vessel in it to 450 degrees. I get my best results using a Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven and Casserole Cooker (which is super affordable), but you can use a Le Creuset, pyrex, or similar heavy, covered if you prefer. Preheating your vessel is crucial, so don’t forget.
  4. Once the dough is ready, lift the parchment paper with the dough in it, and place it into your dutch oven. (If you’re not using parchment, just plop the dough in, naked.) Give it a jiggle so the dough relaxes into the base of the vessel.
  5. Cover, and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and allow it to continue for 15-20 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it’s golden and crusty, and the bread has a bit of a hollow sound when you gently tap or knock on it.

Then voila! You’re done! Gently lift the bread out of the pot, so it stops cooking, and try and patiently let it cool enough to handle before cutting into it. Then slice it up, and savor that warm, fresh-baked flavor and crusty, chewy texture. Good luck not eating the whole loaf right there and then! But while you do, practice your humblest expressions of thanks, in anticipation of all the praise you will soon be receiving from your loved ones!

 

Bread copy

 


Epic Thanksgiving Feast Layer Cake

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I’m so thrilled to see so many of you sharing the One-Hour Turkey post with your families and friends on Facebook! Thank you! I can’t wait to hear about your life-altering experiences with it. But, if that one blew your minds… hang onto your hats! This one takes the cake! (pun heartily intended.)

What’s better than a thanksgiving feast, I ask you? WELL, A THANKSGIVING FEAST IN ONE EPIC LAYER CAKE FORMAT, FRIENDS! I got the inspiration from a series of posts on “meat cakes” over at Vegansaurus back in 2010 (in a past life long ago… when I was a (gasp) vegan). Culinarily curious gal that I am, I felt compelled to take up the challenge and put my vegan cooking skills to the test of tests by making as much of it from scratch as possible… from the faux turkey base to the mashed potato icing and cranberry sauce topping. Mind you, this could easily be made carnivore-style. Just swap in real turkey, butter, and cream as you please! Mmmmm.

how to make a thanksgiving feast layer cake
With Turkey Day right around the corner, I thought I’d bring this post back from the BAB archives, for those of you still looking for that “blow them away” holiday table treat. I have to say, making it was much simpler than it seems (bonus!), and I still consider it the masterpiece of my culinary endeavors thus far. (You’ll have to bear with the shoddy photo quality. I was but a wee blogger back then!)


It’s an entire holiday dinner in one meal: “turkey”, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing. For a lover of sweet and savory together, this business rocked my palate’s world. And everyone, even my most carnivorous of friends, was transfixed by the beast. They thought it was a regular cake, until I sliced it open and displayed it’s hidden magic! Everyone embraced it, vegan or not, and they gobbled it up like they were the (very very hungry) turkeys. And oh yeah baby, it was even better the next day.

how to make a holiday feast layer cake
I started with a base of homemade “turkey” seitan, for the meat part. Seitan is a protein-rich meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten powder… and though it may seem intimidating, its super easy peasy lemon squeezy to make. After a “meh” test run with one recipe I found, my bestie directed me to Ellen DeGeneres’ recipe… and holy gobblesworth, it was DELISH!

The big “trick” to making it successfully is to freeze between layers, which allows it to “set” and makes for easy spreading with the softer components like the potatoes and sauce. For the turkey and stuffing, I filled them each into a round pie pan, packed them down, and froze them for about an hour before layering, which created the right shape and size to begin with.
I also planned ahead to stack them in a way that makes sense, considering their textures. Turkey on the bottom because its sturdy and pre-shaped from the pie pan, then I slathered that with mashed potatoes. Once that had set in the freezer, I turned out the pre-frozen stuffing from the pie pan on top, and slathered that with sweet potato puree. Once that was set, it was easy to layer on the cranberry sauce. Then another layer of turkey, then sweet potatoes, another pan of stuffing, and the icing of mashed potatoes once more. I “piped” out a border to hold in the cranberry sauce topping, using a ziploc bag with a corner snipped off, which really added to the “cake” effect. I know, it sounds m-fing crazy. And it was time consuming, but actually really fun, and more rewarding than I ever imagined. I mean, I never pictured myself making a whole (delicious) thanksgiving meal by myself, much less turning it into a trompe l’oeil like a layer cake!


Hungry yet? Well, an epic feast deserves an epic post, so here come the recipes! And yo, its so much simpler than it sounds. Trust.

The Seitan Turkey

  • 4 Cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1 Cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 large onion small dice and caramelized
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Cups strong No Chicken, chicken stock (veggie stock)
  • 1 full sheet of cheesecloth
  • Butcher’s twine

Start a large pot of water boiling. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another. Caramelize the onions until soft and golden brown and add them to the dry ingredients. Mix the two bowls together until a loose batter forms, and shape that into a loaf-y shape. Lay it out onto a full sheet of cheesecloth, folded over once.

seitan turkey
Roll it up tight into a cylinder, and tie it with bakers twine at either end, and twice in the middle. Drop that puppy into your hot water, cover, and let simmer gently for 2 hours, turning once throughout.


When its done, carefully unwrap it while its warm. Otherwise, the outer layer sticks to the cheesecloth and makes it much harder to remove. If you’re feeling cheeky, you can brush it with Earth Balance butter and blackening spices and bake it awhile to get a nice browned outside. I didn’t find this necessary, either way really. By the by, this makes a HUGE roast, so I’d halve the recipe if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd. Or, just freeze half and save it for a rainy day!

The Stuffing

This is the one component that was semi-homemade, as I used Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix and followed the instructions by adding veggies and broth. I just wanted to mention it because I used sauteed Trader Joe’s Stuffing Starter (a blend of celery, onions, fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) as the base, which was too easy and tasty for words. But I am bereft to report that, this year, they’ve discontinued the stuffing starter. WHY, TRADER JOE, WHY?!? So sub in some celery, onions, and herbs of your choice. In my mother’s tradition, I also added raisins, which brings a supremely sweet and rich dimension that I simply adore.


The Sweet Potatoes

  • One 3-pound bag whole sweet potatoes
  • Unsweetened, organic soymilk to taste
  • Earth Balance butter, to taste
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

This one is very dependent on how you like your mash. I boiled the sweet potatoes whole until they were fork tender. The skin just slips off when they’re warm, but be careful not to burn your fingers. I pureed them in my sexy-ass 14-cup Cuisinart (thanks, Cuisinart!) and added enough milk and butter until they were juuuuuust right. I gotta say, this was the silkiest, most satiny, savory sweet deliciousness ever. I lurved these babies!


We don’t have pictures of these final two parts, whoops! Use your imaginations, k?

The Mashed Potatoes

  • One 5-lb. bag whole russet potatoes
  • Unsweetened, organic soymilk to taste
  • Earth Balance butter, to taste
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

I did these the same way as the sweet potatoes, and I don’t really know what I did wrong (was it the type of potato? The cook time? Did I over-puree?)… but they turned out a bit gluey and thick. It was actually pretty suitable for this dish, especially the icing part… but if it were just a side dish I’d have tossed it out and started over cuz I prefer my mashed taters more light and fluffy in general.

The Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 bag whole, fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice, with pulp.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to taste
  • pinch of salt

This one is simple pimple. Just boil everything up in a pot, then reduce and simmer until it reduces to your desired thickness. Add the spices last, so you can monitor how potent you want them.

That’s it! Just layer and freeze, layer and freeze, “ice” with mashed taters, and brace yourself for an EPIC flavor party in your mouth. To serve, just cut into slices and warm them up individually, but its also super yums when cold. Oh, enjoy all the compliments and comparisons of yourself to Martha Stewart…. cuz that’s just how fly this bad boy is. It really is. YUM. And if you’re like me, after your tastebuds do a happy dance, you and your friends can do one too… like we did!


So, what do you think? Would you give it a shot?


Korean Wife Camp: Korean-Style Chicken Soup

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korean wife camp recipes

My usual staple chicken stock recipe is courtesy of the domestic goddess to end all goddesses, lady Ina Garten herself. (Bow down, people, and hail your queen.) But her method, while delicious and consistent, requires a whole day and night of time and energy. Which I can spare maybe once every three or four months in pursuit of a ginormous bulk batch of her nectar. It’s kind of a lot of work.

In between those times, this Korean-style chicken soup, or dak guk (닭 국), adapted from Maangchi.com) takes but a laid-back hour to make, and is incredibly soothing and delicious given how dead easy it is to make. I mean, who ever heard of one-hour chicken stock that was full-bodied and tasty as hell?! It’s almost good enough to completely supplant my beloved Barefoot Contessa stock. Almost. 

What I also love about this recipe, is that it makes better use of the ingredients, and produces less food waste. It always chaps my ass to fish out, strain, and throw out (or even compost) the stewed-past-death chicken carcasses, dried out meat, and baby-food mush veggies when making Ina’s recipe… but this one avoids that, giving second life to the ingredients that make it so flavorful and hearty in the first place.

dak guk korean chicken soup recipe

What you’ll need:
(serves 4)

For the broth:
2 chicken breasts (I’ve made this with boneless, skinless breasts and, as pictured, a spatchcocked double breast on the bone. Both were totally delicious, so it’s up to you! I use breasts because they’re healthier, and easy to shredm… but you could use legs, if you’re more of a dark meat connoisseur.)
16 whole cloves of garlic – skinned. (Do you know about this method of peeling large quantities of garlic? You’re welcome!)
1 medium/large onion – halved and quartered, skin on
2-3 Tbs ginger – sliced roughly
16 cups water
2 Tbs fish sauce (I love this brand, because it’s just fish, salt, and water – wayyy less additives than others. If you can’t find (or stand) fish sauce, you can use soup soy sauce, or simply plain soy sauce.)
1 Tbs salt

For the chicken topping:
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper – ground
2 Tbs sesame oil

For optional spice:
2 Tbs gochugaru powder
2 tsp sesame oil
cayenne pepper (to taste)

dak guk dalk kug korean chicken soup recipe

Brace yourselves for how easy this is, because at first blush, it appears too good to be true.

Put the first four ingredients into a stock pot and add the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour, uncovered.

After an hour, remove the solids, reserving the chicken and garlic. The ginger and onion can enjoy a trip to the compost or trash.

Add the fish sauce and Tablespoon of salt to the stock, and stir. It will have reduced to about 12 cups at this point. Now taste that shit. Can you believe that only took one hour?! The stock is now DONE.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, use your hands to pull it into shreds. Don’t snack on it just yet.

Place the garlic cloves into a small bowl, and mash them into a paste with a fork. Mix in the sesame oil, salt and pepper, and then massage the garlic oil paste into the chicken meat. This gives the chicken an incredibly moist consistency, perfumed with so much aromatic flavor… it’s addictive. Snack on some now. Marvel at what you have created. Then, stop snacking. You want there to be plenty for your assembled soup!

dak gook korean chicken soupI personally like to gently sauté sliced carrots and celery and add them to the broth for a bit more veggie bite and fiber – but carrots and celery are my chicken soup favorites. You could do this with any vegetables of your preference, or give veggies the middle finger and let the chicken and stock speak for themselves. If you do add veg, once they’ve reached your desired level of doneness, hit them with a splash of soy sauce for a bit of extra umami caramelization. Then just layer them into your serving bowl with some chicken, ladle on some stock, and enjoy the simple, rich, soul-soothing properties!

This recipe is extra brilliant, because you can make it in advance, which makes it great for entertaining or daily lunches! Just keep the chicken, broth, and veggies (if you use them) in separate containers in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the stock to a simmer, and pour it over the chicken as you serve. Easy peasy. And oh, so good.

For those of you who enjoy a bit more spice in life, here are two ways to heat things up a bit:
1. sprinkle whatever veggies you sauté with cayenne while they’re cooking.
2. make a paste using 2 Tablespoons Gochugaru (korean red chili flakes) and 2 teaspoons sesame oil in a bowl. You can add some to the chicken when mixing in the garlic, or just spoon it directly into your soup. Or both! Which is what I do. Mmmmm.

I hope you try this. It might just change your life forever.

If you do, come back and let me know how it went! Until next time…. 안녕히계세요! (Goodbye!)


BPA Be Gone! 10 ways we’re kicking plastic to the curb.

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This article published by Mother Jones last week was a frightening reminder that we don’t know the whole story about BPA and how the chemicals in plastics affect us. It seems that even so-called “BPA-free” plastics are not safe. And I promise I’m not going all tin-foil hat on you. These allegations are backed up by some pretty significant science.

In fact, a lab called CertiChem ran extensive testing on 18 everyday plastic items from places like Target, Walmart, and Babies R Us,  and found that a quarter of the items “came back positive for estrogenic activity. These results mirrored the lab’s findings in its broader National Institutes of Health-funded research on BPA-free plastics.”

“CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner, who is also a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin, had recently coauthored a paper in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It reported that “almost all” commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.”

This type of hormonal exposure is incredibly dangerous, and I want none of it. And while it’s unclear if we’ll be able to see or pinpoint it’s effects in our lifetime, this statement particularly affected me, and influenced our decision to make some drastic changes in what we use in our home:

“A chemical like BPA reprograms your cells and ends up causing a disease in your grandchild that kills him.”

Fuck. That. Noise. To that I say…

NOT IN MY HOUSE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

I fully support LN Smith‘s idea that “every dollar you spend… or don’t spend… is a vote you cast for the world you want.” And the world I want encourages companies to give a shit about the safety of me and my family. But not all of them will, so we’re spending our money on those that do, and trying to avoid shopping with those who don’t.

Here’s some of our favorite plastic-free gear for the kitchen, where minimizing BPA exposure matters most.

bpa-free glass stainless options kitchen bottles storage

1. 4-Ounce Jelly Jars: these are as versatile as they are cute. Just perfect for small batch jams, snacks, salad dressing, spices, pills, or individual portions of almost anything. Also perfect for traveling with. I put lotions, my homemade deodorant, and hair ties/barrettes in these little jars and pop ’em in my travel bag. Easy peasy, and all under the 4oz. TSA maximum for liquids!

2. Half Pint Mason Jars: we use these for canning, but also to store small-batch dry goods like popcorn, seeds, sauces, nuts, etc. They are also great for using as vases to hold flowers, or certain produce items that want to be upright. And a great size for loose craft items too!

3. Quart-Size (32-oz) Wide Mouth Mason Jars: Maybe the most versatile size of our collection, these are awesome for storing large-batch stocks, since they can be frozen. Or we store produce in them, with a small square of damp cloth, in the fridge. (Here’s an awesome guide on storing produce without plastic, for more ideas.) I also like these for keeping leftover dried pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, etc once the bag is opened. I keep my whipped coconut oil in one of these on my bathroom vanity for body lotion. I use them for storing our homemade almond milk. And, as you know, they’re the perfect size for making/storing my homemade laundry lube.

4. Half Gallon Mason Jars: oh, how I love my big daddies. These are brilliant for storing larger amounts of dried goods that we get in bulk – like flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, washing soda, borax, etc. Also great for brewing large batches of sun tea, or infusing waters.

5a. Flip and Tumble Reusable Produce Bags: these always come in my canvas tote with me to the farmer’s market, so I don’t have to use the plastic bags provided there. These have such a fine mesh they can also be used to pick up dried goods in bulk like rice. Then when I get home, I can transfer them to a jar for long-term storage.

5b. Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Mesh Produce Bags: with a wider-gauge weave, these are sturdy as hell and hold produce like a mean m-fer. Also a staple for our weekly farmer’s market trips.

6. Snaplock Tempered Glasslock Storage Containers: tempered glass means they can go from the freezer to the oven and not crack on you, so these are multi-talented like crazy. We use them mostly for storing leftovers and packing Paul’s lunches for work, but they can also be used to freeze portions of stock or lasagna or whatever you like… ready to be reheated in a snap. And speaking of snaps, the lids are the most secure I’ve tried. They snap on and over the lips of all 4 sides for an air-tight and water-tight seal.

7. Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle: These guys come with us to the gym or out shopping, filled with water. Lightweight, unbreakable, and dishwasher safe… they’re perfect sports bottles.

8. Aquasana 18 Oz. Glass Bottles: We’re hardcore slaves to our SodaStream machine, but the plastic bottles are so no bueno. Since we haven’t found a great option to replace it yet, we’re carbonating the water in their bottles, and immediately transferring it to these sturdy glass bottles. I also like to use these for iced tea, when I brew a big batch.

9. Cuisinart PerfecTemp Stainless Steel Electric Kettle: RIP, Keurig. We barely knew ya. Yup, had the sucker for about 6 months, but decided there’s far too much heat and plastic involved to feel comfortable about it. So, we’re selling it and pulled Paul’s old stainless steel kettle out of retirement. It has variable temperature settings, heats up in seconds; and the kettle is cordless, so once it’s been heated, you can move with it easily.

10. Glass Bottles With Stoppers, 33 3/4 oz: We use these rarely, but they’re lovely for storing larger amounts of carbonated water. Especially if we have company and want a couple carafes on the table.

…and this is just the start.

Sure, the lids on some of those items are plastic, but their contact with what’s stored inside is so minimal, I don’t mind too much. And hey, baby steps right?

Pretty soon, those baby steps are gonna add up to quite a journey. And we feel pretty great about the direction in which we’re headed.


DIY Gold Polka Dot Wall. Kate Spade would be so proud!

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Not to brag, but let me brag. When I moved into Paul’s condo, he graciously insisted that I take the gorgeous master bathroom as my own – and moved himself into the guest bathroom on the other side of the house. What’s that saying? “A happy couple never has to fight about the position of the toilet seat?” or “A happy couple never has to smell each other’s poop?” or “A happy couple never has to negotiate over who showers first?”

It’s a beautiful concept. I love having my bathroom as a personal haven of hygenic privacy. I have a wonderful jacuzzi tub, and roomy shower, and enjoy luxuriating in one or the other on a daily basis. But, after it being solely inhabited by a single man for the past 2 years, it definitely lacked a woman’s touch. There was nothing on the clean cream walls, and my lady-heart was screaming for girlish decor.  It’s the only room in our home that I can completely control the look and feel of, and it took me quite some time to figure out what I wanted for it’s overall mood.

First, I found this vinyl wall decal at Target, and put it on the wall next to my vanity. I loved the luxe gold calligraphy, and thought it would set a good mood right off the bat.

Then I saw Jordan’s polka dot wall in her studio, and it struck me like a lightning bolt. I wanted gold polka dots on my bathtub wall, and I wanted them NOW. I’m a huge fan of patterns in general, but the dots get me every single time. It’s no secret that I worship at the altar of Kate Spade, and this idea is clearly very inspired by that obsession.

I was going to do potato-print dots, like Jordan did… but my friend Audrey found these vinyl decals from UrbanWalls on etsy for me. I loved the size and uniformity of them, and Paul loved the fact that they’re easily removable without having to re-paint, when we decide to move. So, I ordered up 2 rolls for a total of 100 four-inch dots for the affordable price of $77 CAD / $69 USD, and recruited a girlfriend to help me out on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

We started by cutting out each circle and roughly spacing them out until we decided what looked best. We measured the space from the edge of one dot to the next, which was about 3 inches. It was easy to just use the ledge above the tile to prop them up while we figured it out.

diy gold polka dot wall

Then it was as easy as peeling off the backing, sticking the circle onto the wall into the correct spot, and rubbing them with a straight-edged plastic (we used my Cast Iron scrapers) until they had adhered fully, and we could peel off the front. Since I wasn’t feeling particularly perfectionistic that day, we used the ruler to measure the first and last dots of each row or so, and eyeballed the rest. I chose to do alternating rows, so positioning the dots just above and between the two below was kind of a cinch. And behold! My DIY polka dot wall of glory!

Sure, there’s about two areas that came out a little wobbly and imperfect, but I really don’t mind. It reminds me that I made it myself, rather than hiring a decorator. And the effect of the whole wall is so beautiful and stylish, my heart is happy every time I walk into my bathroom! Look at how the light catches the gold on the dots, and how well the shade of gold complements our tilework!

DIY gold polka dot wall

diy polka dot wall before

All in all, we used 97 of the 100 dots. And if I ever get sick of them, or we decide to sell our place and move… all I have to do is heat the dots with my hair dryer to release them!

I’m so proud of my first big home craft, and love what a big impact it makes for under $70!

Stay tuned for more bathroom decor updates, coming soon!


Homemade laundry detergent, aka Laundry Lube!

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My inner domestic goddess (a much nicer, more elegant way to name my “inner hippie”) is taking over, y’all. After a long, hidden hibernation, she re-appeared quite without warning last year, and has been dancing barefoot around my house ever since.

Around the same time I started taking a more active role in my health care, I also enrolled in a series of classes at The Institute of Domestic Technology to learn various and sundry food preservation techniques – from cheese making, to jam making, bread baking, and beyond. And as if by magic, some kind of past-life spirit was ignited inside me that has a fervent need to make things. Like, from scratch. And grow things that we can eat, and know the sources of the food I buy. To eliminate as many unnecessary chemicals from our home as possible, and embrace a more natural, wholesome lifestyle. My teachers dealt in the alchemical arts of home economics, and I was hooked.

If you knew me before, this is when you’d laugh uncontrollably and fall out of your chair. But it’s true! And it’s a rabbit hole of endless possibilities that are actually fun to play with, as well as eco-conscious and health-conscious… but most of them are insanely cost-conscious, too. Me likey.

I’ve already shared my recipe for homemade, natural deodorant. And today, I’m happy to pass along my latest endeavor…

Homemade Laundry Soap (aka: Laundry Lube)!

(because, don’t get it twisted, living a cleaner lifestyle doesn’t put an end to my filthy mind.)
homemade diy laundry soap

You’ll need:
1 bar Fels Naptha (5.5 ounces)
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
plenty of hot water
2 one-quart Mason Jars (or 1 half-gallon mason jar)

make your own laundry detergent

Fels Naptha (aside from being incredibly fun to say) has been around for over 100 years, and is by far, the most efficient, affordable and versatile laundry soap on the market. It’s also one of the least chemically-laden. It’s widely known as a great stain-fighter, and can stop the spread of poison ivy in clothes that have been exposed. For this recipe, you can either hand-grate it, or do like I did, and cube it before sticking it in ye ole Cuisinart for some hot pulsing action until it resembles chopped nuts. Bonus: your food processor bowl will be polished beautifully once you wash it out!

Divide the gratings equally between each of your quart-sized mason jars, and add 1.5 cups of near-boiling water to that (between 180-212°). Hint: if you have a keurig, just run water through that to heat it up. It’ll do ya just fine. No need to mix or jostle it around too much. Just put the lids on the jars and let it cool for about 12-24 hours. Or longer, if you’re busy. I actually waited around 3 days, cuz life got busy.

When you come back to it, the Fels Naptha will have sort of jelled up at the base of the jar. Take a butter knife to it and slice around until you can stir it into a consistency like a mucous-y, lumpy, gooey vanilla pudding. It really doesn’t have to be exact. You can’t do this wrong. Just mush it around.

Then add your 1/2 cup each of Borax and Washing Soda, to each jar. Note: this isn’t the same thing as Baking Soda. It’s just not.

borax and washing soda

Now add enough hot water to reach just where the curve of the mason jar starts to narrow, an inch and a half below the lippy top of the jar.

If you have an immersion hand blender, great! You can stick that baby right down into the jar and turn it into a lovely mayonnaise of laundry cleaning power! No immersion blender, you say? Well, do you have a regular blender? Because you can use this amazing hack to screw your mason jar directly into your blender blade housing and mix it that way! Don’t have a blender, either? Well, you might be amish. But that’s ok! Break out a whisk, and some elbow grease, and make like you’re going for a stiff meringue.

The photo on the left, below, is what the gelled Fels Naptha looks like when after it soaks up all the hot water and you come back to it (top), and after you stir it up a bit (bottom). The photo on the right is what it looks like after the Borax and Soda are blended in. Looks pretty delicious, actually! But don’t eat it, yo. Basically, when you’ve got something between a mayonnaise and a smooth silky pudding, you’re done!

diy laundry soap step

The end result is a highly-concentrated laundry lube that will leave your clothes bright and clean and fresh, without all the creepy chemicals and high price tags of store-bought products.

(Now, I think that it smells pretty darn lovely all on it’s own. The Fels Naptha gives it a slightly lemony freshness that is particularly well-suited to laundering. But, in theory, you could add 10-20 drops of your preferred essential oils to the washing soda before mixing it in, to personalize your scent. I might try this later, and will update with results then. If you try it before then, just be sure to choose a scent or blend that will play nice with the lemony scent that it naturally carries.)

To use it: just plop 1 Tablespoon on top of your clothes before starting the load. I find it simplest to use a cookie dough scoop, which is exactly 1 Tbs and has a handy release lever built-in. For super duper dirty loads, you can add another 1/2 or full Tablespoon. But here’s the catch: don’t put it into your soap tray. Just plop in directly into your washing tub with all your dirty duds.

I know what you’re thinking – can it possibly work in High Efficiency (HE) washers? YES! It does! That’s what we have. It works in both, regular or HE washers, whether they load from the top or front. Does it really clean your laundry – like really clean it? YES! It does! Believe you me, my hippie aspirations will never stand between me and a well-cleaned load of clothes. This stuff works. And, according to the general consensus of people who’ve used it for a while, it won’t fade your colors, either.

But how much does it make, and what does it cost? Well, let me break it down for ya:

The most amazing part? This recipe makes enough laundry soap for 128 loads. That’s, like, a year’s worth of laundry! And the cost breakdown comes out to about $7 for a YEAR OF LAUNDRY. But, guess what? You can make it even cheaper. I shopped at Amazon for these prices (because I’m lazy), but word on the street is there are lower prices out there that can reduce this whole shebang to as low as $2 for the whole recipe if you shop super smart.

My price breakdown – through Amazon
Fels Naptha Bar: $4.40
Borax (76oz box) contains 9.5 cups. At $11.74 box, it costs $1.23 per cup
Washing Soda (55oz box) contains 6 7/8 cups. At $9.68 box, it costs $1.40 per cup
Total Cost for 128 loads of soap: $7.03

So there you have it! My homemade laundry lube. Saving the world, and my wallet, and making my inner domestic goddess do a happy dance… one load at a time.

Go forth, friends… and be clean!