We have a small Christmas and birthday budget for our kids because they get a ton of toys from relatives. Dan and I don't get toys from relatives. We mostly get gift cards and checks, which usually go into savings or general funds. So, we give the big gifts to each other. We could get each other little gifts, then spend the money we get on big gifts, but that's just not how we like to do things.
The Old Laundry System
I hand washed everything. Diapers were soaked, then scrubbed and washed in the sink. Regular clothes went into a large Rubbermaid bin that lived in the shower stall. The best way to describe the general wash was a ten to fifteen minute kneading of clothes in water with soap nut liquid. Then I dump out the water and refill the bin with clean water for a five minute rinse cycle.
If someone doesn't have a washing machine hook-up and finds the laundromat inconvenient and pricey, this works. A good video that demonstrates my basic kneading technique on a smaller scale can be found on Ridiculously Extraordinary.
All of the clothes were then line dried. I would bring the tub into our room, where the largest line is. The line just goes from one wall to another, like outdoor lines go from tree to tree, attached with heavy duty S-hooks. I would hang everything to drip dry over the bin on hangers. After a few hours when the dripping stopped, I would spread the clothes out over the line to finish drying. I have two lines going across the window frame in our bedroom, one above the other, so that the diapers can hang in the sun, which helps kill bacteria.
The New Laundry System
I got the Wonderwash for my birthday. It was purchased with my swagbucks Amazon gift cards. I had read all reviews carefully, which indicated that the base was not sturdy and the handle flimsy. The base can be easily rebuilt from sturdier materials, and the handle in unnecessary, as the whole thing can be tumbled as you would roll a large barrel. Anyway, I have been using it for two weeks, and I agree that these parts were made out of the cheapest parts possible, but have not broken, and will not if used correctly. (Dan was happy about how excited I was to do laundry, so he let me play with it early.)
The barrel part of the Wonderwash is a work of genius. I can do the wash cycle in three minutes and the rinse cycle in one minute. It uses much less water than the Rubbermaid bin method. It also uses less soap nut liquid and the clothes come out cleaner. The drying is the same, except we do drip drying on the line in the shower stall, then transfer the clothes to the line in our bedroom or the one in the kids' room, depending on whose clothes they are.
This gift is truly a luxury, as it was not necessary, but makes my life easier. It does seem like a better long term solution. Right now, we can still do one load a day, plus diapers. Some days I have to do two loads, but it is still less time than one load with the old method. By the time I have to do three loads a day, some kids will have learned how to do this for themselves.
Here is my other birthday luxury, lovingly made each year by Dan (with supervision).
Beat with blender until fluffy:
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
(I used the stevia baking blend I got from NuNaturals with some old molasses instead of brown sugar, but otherwise would have used maybe a tablespoon of stevia and a cup and a half of white wheat flour with molasses.)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Blend together, then add:
2 cups grated carrots
1 can crushed pineapple
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coconut
Bake at 350 for forty-five to fifty minutes, or in crock pot for about an hour and a half to two hours on high.
Luckily, cream cheese frosting is the easiest frosting to make with stevia. I am using this recipe, with my crock pot cream cheese, but adjusting the measurements until it tastes right. I also add lemon juice to cream cheese frosting because that's how my mom taught me. I didn't calculate the cost because I used expensive NuNaturals stevia ingredients that I would not have used if they were not given to me.