Tuesday, November 24, 2009

XXV, Laundry, and Carrot Cake

Today, I am officially older than I have ever been before. I have now technically lived for one score and five years. I was recently discussing with a friend the unique feeling in turning twenty five, especially when you already have three kids. In my mind, it is the doorway to aging. Some older readers may disagree.

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).

Carrot Cake

Beat with blender until fluffy:

2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
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.)

Add in:

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.


Anonymous said...

How often do you wash sheets and blankets? they do not look like they would fit in that thing and without an outside drying line it would take forever to dry.

Emily said...

Sheets fit in there easily, but I haven't tried blankets yet. I have a large rack that I use outside for blankets in the summer, but in the winter, they do take forever to dry inside. Sheets don't take that long to dry.

Clisby said...

Boy, I wish I had had one of those when I lived in an apartment with no washer/dryer.

Martha said...

I would be in 7th heaven if I would have received the Wonderwash back when we were apartment living and we were using the laundromat. It never occured to me to use something like your old system to do laundry. I went on Amazon to look at the product profile and perhaps this is something we could use for our small loads to save on water and such.
I have a question re the soap nuts. Are your clothes soft?

I'm Lori...and maybe I'm you, too. said...

Happy birthday.

Treva said...

Happy Birthday! Enjoy your cake -- it sounds delish!

Deidra said...

Happy Birthday Emily! I hope your day is filled with joy.


mary bailey said...

Happy Birthday, Emily! You are very wise, and still very young, at a quarter-of-a-century. Don't start feeling old now! What will you do when you're facing forty?

Emily said...

Martha, my clothes are remarkably soft, considering we line dry them. I attribute the softness to the soap nuts. I don't remember them being soft at all after line drying them after a regular detergent wash.

mary, at forty I think I'll be thankful that I am wiser than I was at 25, and thus I might still feel young.

Scottish Twins said...

Happy Birthday!

Atheist Mama said...


Happy freakin' birthday! I'm soooo excited for you that you got the wonderwash! I thought you would like it :)

Enjoy that cake! And if you think 25 feels old...wait until you're really old like me (haha :P)

Alicen said...

The 25 mark was a tough one for me too. Now, I realize that it really wasn't a big deal at all, I'll soon be 27 and don't feel any older.
Congratulations on your birthday and on having to do so much less work to achieve the same (and better) results! Yahoo!
Happy Birthday!

Kimber said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY!!!!!! Man, I remember when I was that young with 3 little kids, boys also. I so miss those days!!!!! Enjoy your birthday with your family!

Courtney said...

Happy Birthday!

I can remember turning 23 and telling my husband that I couldn't believe I was SO OLD! Now, I'm 40 and 23 (or 25) seems really, really young...

Enjoy your day :)

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to how gentle it is on the clothing? I have a HE washer and it's not as gentle as I thought it would be. -Cris

Rachel said...

Emily, Happy Birthday! My daughter will be 25 on December 12th. It really hit me hard when I turned 27, for some strange reason.

How much are you able to fit into the wonderwash? I do my husband and my sons blue jeans twice a week, and it is usually 6 pairs. Could you fit that many in there? If not, it might be more work for some families.

Roxanna said...

Happy B-day Emily :) I actually saw this when another Mom was looking for an option to clean her cloth diapers when they lived in a hotel, and I thought of you. Your carrot cake sounds yummy

Cricket said...

Happy birthday, Emily! :)

Jen said...

Happy Birthday Emily!! From a just turned 40 year old who IS thankful for being wiser than I was at 25. :)

I wish you a wonderful day, and year!

Emily said...

Cris, since I've only used it two weeks, I don't know, I haven't noticed a difference, and it is advertised as good for delicates, so I would assume so.

Rachel, it probably is more work for most families compared to a washing machine, but it uses no electricity and much less water and detergent to clean the same amount of clothes, so it saves money over a washing machine, not to mention doesn't hurt the environment as much. Anyway, it would probably take two loads to do six pairs of jeans, maybe three. I wash jeans with the rest of the clothes, so I haven't seen how many fit at once.

Farwood said...

Happy Birthday!
I must admit to being mildly amused as I was wondering a few days ago why you didn't have a Wonder Washer.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Emily! When I turned 25 I joked that I was going to have a quarter-life crisis. ;)

AnnMarie said...

Happy birthday!

Just because you are always saving electricty I have to commet on the use of the blender. Why not beat it by hand? I stopped using a mixer for baked goods when I was a teenager. I use a stick blendr for a few things like pesto and sometimes bean dips (if i didn't cook them soft enough). Otherwise I avoid appliances when baking and mixing! I didn't think of it for years so maybe you haven't either?

Emily said...

AnnMarie, I hadn't thought of it. I use the electric beater only a few times per year, but next time I go to get it out, I'll try by hand instead. I do everything else by hand, so why not!

Anita (Living, Loving and Learning) said...

I like your little washer, what a nice gift. The soap nuts are interesting too. I may have to give them a try in the future. How do they smell?

Emily said...

Anita, soap nuts don't smell like anything, and the clothes don't either. Some people add fragrance, but I prefer no scent.

Simple in France said...

Happy Birthday! My favorite birthday cake is also carrot. Excellent choice. I like that your husband makes it for you.

And the washing 'machine' is genius. I never knew such a thing existed but it's a great idea.

I've been trying to find someone to invent a washing device that I could hook up to my bike while it's on a rack. . .so that I could peddle through the spin cycle. I haven't given up on my dream, but your little washing machine is cool!

Organizing Mommy said...

The washer thing looks so small--how big is it?

Happy Birthday! You are a truly amazing woman and only 25? I would have rolled over and died if at your age I had 3 kids and no washer. In fact, I think I still would. LOL

crabcakes said...

Happy Birthday Emily!

That carrot cake sounds yummy!

As for the laundry. I've just started recently trying to dry some of my laundry on a line. I'll admit it's a lot more work than just throwing it in the dryer. But I'm curious to see if it cuts down my electric bill at all.

Anonymous said...

If you get a wringer, it will really cut down on your drying time.

Jennifer said...

Emily, I am exactly one week and one day younger than you and I could not be more excited to turn twenty five and hope people actually take me seriously! But then, it wont be my big day for a week, so we'll see how I feel then, haha. All of my friends are married with kids so I feel so very far behind, not having found a good guy yet. Maybe once I'm a mother I'll feel older? XD

Anonymous said...

Emily, I love your blog! I'm just wondering if you have been on the lookout for a wringer (it will really help with drying), and was also wondering what your method is for sanitizing/killing bacteria in diapers. These tips are so helpful and innovative!

Kathryn said...

Happy quarter century! What made me feel really old was when my oldest son turned 20, for some reason it hit harder than when I turned 40 the year before.

sunnymommy said...

We are generally a sugar free house. We use raw (sometime local) honey to replace sugar. But, that doesn't work in frosting! (Too runny.) It was my 5 year old's birthday on Thursday and I couldn't figure it out so she got regular buttercream frosting. I have never used stevia. Never thought of adding it to flour to make up the sugar dry bulk. In that recipe it called for both stevia and erythritol (sp?) which I've never heard of. Do you use both or just the stevia in your frosting? Does that always work to just sub an equal amount of flour for sugar with stevia added to the proper sweetness? Do you use honey at all? If not, why not?

Emily said...

sunnymommy, I chose a recipe with erythritol because I have a bunch of free erythritol. I would normally just use stevia. I would find another recipe for frosting if I didn't have the erythritol.

I have never had a probem substituting flour for and stevia for the sugar, but I don't do a 1:1 substitution. If a recipe cals for a cup of sugar, I would put in maybe 3/4 cup of flour. I know how thick the batter is supposed to be, and that comes close. The worst that can happen is you have to adjust the cooking time a tad. Unless you're using red wheat flour, which could make it have a more wheaty taste.

I came across this recipe for vanilla frosting made with honey, if it is helpful in the future.

We don't use honey because it still effects my blood sugar levels and makes me need a nap. Stevia has worked well for everything we needed and has cut our sugar cravings.

Early Retirement Extreme said...

I have been looking at the wonderwash (and similar) but reviews always seemed very polarized. Lehmans sell a rocking washer with a wringer and I would get that if I had more space. I think right now, we're paying about $10/month to do laundry at the "laundrymat" right next door.

Jen said...

Do you boil your diapers? If not, how do you clean them?

Mary Q Contrarie said...

The next luxary you should put on your list is a spin dryer. Then when you air dry your clothes on a line or a clothes drying rack you will not have to do the dripping step in the middle. Not to mention your clothes will dry much faster.

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