Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Earth Paste Recipe September 28, 2012

Seems all I do is homework and housework.

I’ve yet to find a simple solution to getting all of my homework done, but I have a recipe for what we call “Earth Paste” that will make your cleaning experience easy, efficient, and eco-friendly.


Earth Paste Recipe


1 2/3 cup Baking Soda

1/2 cup Castile Soap (we use Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Pure Castile Soap)

2 Tbsp distilled water

2 Tbsp distilled vinegar

3 drops Essential Oil (optional for scent)



In a large bowl mix the baking soda, Castile soap, and distilled water with a fork until smooth. Add the vinegar (the girls love watching the mixture bubble). At this point you’ll add your drops of essential oil if you’ve chosen to use them. Mix everything again, until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to scoop the mixture into an airtight container (we make and store ours in an old plastic ice cream bucket).

We use this mixture to clean our bathroom (toilet, shower, bathtub, sink), but it’s great for plenty of other things too (stove top, cutting boards, etc). It’s very easy to use, just put a tablespoon or two on a towel or sponge and get to cleaning. You’ll be amazed at how softly you scrub, and how wonderfully the solution cleans up! If you want to make it even more abrasive try adding lemon juice and salt (I’ve never had to do this, and I’ve been using this recipe consistently for the past five years).

I hope you like using your Earth Paste as much as I do!


Homemade Dishwasher Detergent September 14, 2012

The recipe we use for homemade dishwasher detergent is extremely simple.


1/2 cup liquid Castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Oil Liquid Soap)

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

3 drops tea tree oil extract (Optional – I don’t use this because it’s already in my Castile soap)

1/4 cup white vinegar


Mix the water and Castile soap in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and tea tree oil extract. Add the vinegar, the mixture will slightly curdle. Whisk the ingredients until everything is evenly blended. Use a funnel to transfer the mixture to a storage bottle (I use old 1gl. vinegar containers).’ll want to use about 3 tablespoons of the mixture per cycle at first, then decide for yourself based on your dishwasher and load size what works for you. I let my dishwasher run one time through, then add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the dishwasher and let them rinse again. This keeps the white film from appearing on dishes after the drying cycle.

***There’s a note on the original recipe, provided by my mother-in-law around seven years ago, which may be important to you: Do not substitute conventional liquid soap for the Castile soap unless it is a “low sudsing” soap. Regular soaps will produce too many suds and overflow the dishwasher***



I typically multiply the recipe by four and make a batch which lasts around two months or more, depending on how much I’m running the dishwasher. This recipe has been in use in my house for over six years now and I’ve never thought to purchase dishwasher detergent again.

Let me know how it works for you if you try it out!


Homemade Laundry Detergent August 20, 2012

I’ve been trying to do my best to plan sensibly for Baby # 3. I saved all of the gear, cloth diapers, wipes, bibs, and burp cloths from my first two babies. I have plenty of clothing if I’m having a girl, but, for the first time, I’m going to find out the Baby’s sex so that I can prepare accordingly. I spent the first few weeks of my pregnancy making a Plan A and B and C for all of the bigger things (i.e. how to continue with my schooling after the baby’s birth, how to survive financially, how to make sure that my girls still get time with me and avoid sibling rivalry). Now that I am 16 weeks pregnant I have time to focus on smaller things. One of my first goals was to make several extra batches of laundry detergent. By several I specifically mean ten, and by batches I mean five-gallon buckets full; so yes, 50 gallons of surplus laundry detergent in all.

You may be thinking that 50 gallons of laundry detergent is excessive, but I reasoned with this: we usually use one five-gallon bucket every month and a half (give or take half a bucket depending on the season, number of bed-wetting accidents, and the amount of spills the girls make with their cups, or splashes that come out of the bathtub). I figure that since I’ll be exclusively cloth diapering Baby #3 we’ll be using a maximum of ten gallons of detergent every month. More than likely it’ll be less, but I wanted to be on the safe side. I wanted to know that I could go a full five months after Baby’s arrival without having to make another batch.

It’s not extremely difficult to make a batch of laundry detergent; tedious and slightly dangerous, but it could be accomplished while a baby is napping. However, I am quite sure that I will have a lot of needs pining for my attention while Baby is napping, and I figure that once I have the detergent surplus there will be one less thing I’ll have to worry about doing soon after Baby is born. Thus far, I have made five surplus batches. My goal is to make one batch of detergent each week until I reach my surplus goal. Some weeks I may be replacing one of my two in-use buckets, so it may take me another two months to be officially complete, but I am excited to be planning ahead and creating a sweet relief for my postpartum phase.


Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe


Yields: Five-gallon bucket nearly full (approximately two inches from the top)



1 five-gallon bucket

1 long-handled wooden spoon

Cheese grater

Enough pots to boil 6 quarts of water and a pot to heat 4 ½ quarts of water with room to stir ingredients



4 ½ Quarts of Water

1 Bar of Zote Soap, grated

1 ½ Cups of Washing Soda

1 ½ Cups of Borax

3 Quarts of Hot Water

6 Quarts of Boiling Water

4 ½ Quarts of Hot Water

15 drops of Essential Oil (Optional – I use tea tree oil)



Start heating 6 quarts of water to a boil. In a large pot, mix 4 ½ quarts of water with the grated Zote Soap. Heat the mixture on medium and the soap will dissolve. Stir the Washing Soda and Borax into the mixture. Continue heating the mixture, but do not let it boil. Stir the mixture until it thickens (less than five minutes), and then remove the pot from heat.

Add 3 quarts of hot water to the bucket then add the soap mixture from the pot and mix well. Add the 6 quarts of boiling water to the bucket and mix well. Add an additional 4 ½ quarts of hot water to the bucket. If you’re using essential oils add these now. Mix the contents of the bucket.

Let the mixture set for 24 hours or until it thickens. Use 1-3 cups of the mixture per load of laundry (use more for heavily soiled clothing).


My mother-in-law gave me this recipe about seven years ago. I have used it consistently for six years and through two exclusively cloth diapered babies. It cleans everything, smells wonderful, and doesn’t leave residue or cause skin irritations. We love it, and if you try it let me know what you think!


Gluten Free Crepes with Fruit Paste July 30, 2012

Our latest favorite breakfast is gluten free crepes topped with a homemade fruit paste and a side of fresh squeezed orange juice. The meal tastes fantastic, it’s fairly quick to make, and the girls help every step of the way.

The crepe recipe is an adaptation of Chef Antonia Lofaso’s, which was featured in the July edition of Parents magazine. The fruit paste is an adaptation of something my husband used to make. He never wrote down a recipe, but it tastes like I’m making it the same. Feel free to experiment with different fruit combinations!

Crepe Recipe

3 eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour

2 Tbs. sugar

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

½ cup powdered sugar (for sprinkling on finished crepes)

Coconut Oil

**Whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk in the gluten free flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Coat your skillet with coconut oil and set over low-medium heat. Pour ¼ cup of the batter into the skillet, swirling it to make an even layer. Cook for one minute on each side (the crepe should be lightly browned). Transfer from the skillet to a plate. Sprinkle the crepe with powdered sugar and top with fruit paste.**

Fruit Paste Recipe

1 cup chopped strawberries

½ cup blueberries

1 ounce cream cheese

1 Tbs. butter

**Put all of the ingredients into a covered pot and set over low heat for 20 minutes. Whisk the mixture every four minutes or so. Take the pot off of the heat when the paste meets your desired consistency.**

While the fruit paste is cooking we like to make fresh orange juice. I do not have a juicer so we cut the oranges in half, put a strainer over the glasses and squeeze the oranges to bits. The girls love proving their strength while doing this part, though getting messy and snacking on the ingredients is probably their favorite.

I make sure to model a positive demeanor by not overreacting to spills, offering options instead of dolling out demands, and doing my best to make cooking a fun and safe experience. I not only get to encourage their appreciation for and knowledge of cooking (teaching them about standard measurements and sanitation after handling eggs, showing them all the yummy goodness they’re capable of creating), but cooking also gives them a chance to practice kindness and patience. The girls have to take turns pouring ingredients, share the fallen flour and powdered sugar, wait for the food to cook thoroughly before they can eat, and remember to thank one another for contributing.

We all enjoy the meal so much more knowing that everyone worked together to create it. I hope your family enjoys this wonderful crepe recipe!