Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stinky Laundry? Fix it! - Sis 1


I have been the recipient of a lot of wonderful hospitality in my years, and I'm always thankful to have a nice place to stay, good food and great company when I visit family in far-away places.

But I have to admit that I'm not always so thankful to have a towel to dry off with. There have been numerous times that I have gotten out of a nice shower, hopefully smelling good, and dried off with a towel that reeked of mildew.

A couple of times, I have even babysat a baby who was very fortunately super cute, because I almost couldn't stand to hold her if it hadn't been for that. She smelled (because of her clothes) just like a rotten dish rag.

My husband is not always terribly tactful and has told people that their towels stink, and he usually gets a reply like, "My towels don't stink!" So, you may not know it if your laundry smells horrible. Don't be offended. Just assume that if you are not actively preventing mildewy towels, your towels are stinky. And just washing and drying doesn't count.

If your towels are white, you're in luck. You can use bleach to kill mildew. Always use vinegar in the rinse water.

If your towels are colored, you are still in luck. You can use ammonia to kill mildew. Again, always use vinegar in the rinse water.

If you have a high efficiency washer (HE), you put the ammonia in the little section for bleach* and the vinegar in the section for liquid fabric softener. If you have been blissfully unaware of your stench for a long time, you may need to soak the towels in ammonia water for a few hours, which will require a bucket, sink or tub unless you have a top loader.

For white towels, drying outside also helps, but for colors, you will probably see some fading.


I have been faithfully working out for several months now, but in just the last month and a half, I have really stepped up the intensity of my workouts. I have been soaking my (and my husband's) workout clothes in ammonia water  before running the wash cycle. In the past that has always seemed to work, but this morning, when I put on my newly washed exercise shirt, I noticed that I already smelled like a gym rat. (I left it on to go walking and smelled awful--sorry ladies!--but when I got home, I decided to fix that problem, too.)

Here's the simple solution: Get pet urine remover. I got mine from DollarTree. Spray on stinky clothes, making sure to saturate the extra-stinky spots (armpits for me). Wad the clothes into a ball and squeeze tightly several times to make sure the spray is getting into the fibers. Let sit at least 10 minutes. An hour is better. Launder as usual.


A couple of years ago, my favorite black suede (leather) jacket spent a weekend at a chain-smoker's house. When I retrieved it, I thought I was going to die. It had soaked in the smoke and I could hardly breathe, just wearing it. I took it outside and febreezed it, letting it hang in the shade (I didn't want it to fade) for several days. No luck. Then I googled and decided to try freezing it. I stuck it in my freezer for a day and then got it out and let it thaw in the shade. Again, no luck. I was afraid I was just going to have to throw my poor jacket away.

Since I was faced with the prospect of trashing it anyway, I decided I would (gasp) wash it. I used cold water and detergent, plus a good amount of baking soda. That helped, but the smell was still there. So I washed it again, this time with a lot of vinegar (love the stuff!). That did the trick! And, after drying it, in the dryer on low heat, my jacket was just as soft and supple as ever, had not shrunk a bit and smelled good. Yay!

*NEVER mix ammonia and clorox (chlorine). The fumes could kill you. Ammonia and vinegar are fine. Clorox and vinegar are fine. Baking soda and Borax are fine with either one. But DON'T mix them. If you are going to put ammonia in your bleach compartment, rinse it with water first.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Whole Orange Cake - Sis 1

My parents gave us a huge bag of tree-ripened oranges at Christmas time, which are delicious. I put a bunch of them in the fridge, because I was quite sure we wouldn't eat them all before they went bad on the counter. Good thing I did. The last few that I left out were very hard on the outsides by the time I used them. The others are still great, but I don't want them to get bad, so I've been thinking of ways to use them, besides just eating them, which I have been doing, but nobody else in the family has.

So, I came up with a cake recipe. Because what could be better than adding fat, sugar and flour to oranges?

Whole Orange Cake
1 large orange, washed, not peeled
1/2 cup coconut oil
4 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar
zest of one orange

Preheat oven to 325 degrees farenheit. Put the orange in the blender and blend it up as well as possible. Add the oil and eggs. Now you can blend it up well. Add remaining ingredients a little at a time, blending between additions.

Pour evenly into a greased and sugared bundt pan. I used coconut oil to grease my pan, but the cake didn't slip out very well, so you might want to stick (no pun intended) with Crisco.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack until you can remove the cake easily. (Or use a knife to loosen the edges and make them crumble, like I did.)

Mix the glaze ingredients well in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue boiling for two minutes. Remove from heat.

Use a long toothpick or a spaghetti stick to poke a bunch of holes in the cake and slowly pour about half of the glaze over the top. Wait about 15 minutes then slowly pour the rest of the glaze over the cake.

Enjoy your cake while thinking what a great and healthy choice you've made by eating whole oranges for dessert.

P.S. It's just a hunch, but I think lemons would work well in place of oranges here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Toothpaste Laundry Magic - Sis 1

Not too long ago, one of my lovely sisters-in-law very kindly allowed me to use her wardrobe for several days. I had driven 5 hours to get near her house and hadn't realized that I had completely forgotten my suitcase. I had always suspected that we wore about the same size of clothes, so I called and she packed me a bag of clothes, including two different choices of dresses and shoes to wear that Sunday. They all fit me well, and I was very thankful not to have to wear the same clothes for 5 days straight.

I washed her clothes in my mother-in-law's washer, except for what I was wearing at laundry time, which included a white shirt with a stain on it. So, as I was washing those clothes out by hand in the bathroom sink, I was determined to get the stain out as a "thank you" for her kindness in letting me borrow the clothes.

This stain was not just any old stain. It appeared to be made by black permanent marker, and I could tell that she had scrubbed the thing before. It didn't show when I wore it, as the shirt was used only to make another shirt more modest, but any stain's a bad stain, right?

I was scrubbing away, not making any progress, when I noticed a tube of whitening toothpaste on the counter. I thought, "What the heck, I'll try it." And it worked.

I told my husband about my discovery on the way home from our trip. He decided to test my findings. He got one of his white dress shirts that had some armpit and collar stains. He scrubbed with bleach on one side of the shirt and toothpaste on the other. (Yes, he does most of his own laundry--we just won't get into why.)

I don't know how he applied the bleach on the one side of his shirt, but I think he just poured it on directly (he IS a man.) Instead of removing his stains on that side, the bleach actually made bigger yellow stains on the shirt (I've had this happen on white cotton towels before. It's very maddening, because it looks like big old pee spots.) The toothpaste removed the stains from the other side of the shirt, and then my husband used it to remove the bleach stains on the bleach side of the shirt.

So, I now have a dollar-store tube of extra-whitening toothpaste in my laundry arsenal. I haven't tried  it on colored clothes yet. If I get brave enough to do it, I will update the post, but for now, I have a great stain remover for white clothes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tea Bag Tanner & Cellulite Cream - Sis 1

I was browsing Pinterest a week or so ago and saw a pin about black tea as a replacement for sunless tanner. I thought that was a great idea, since you can dye a lot of things with tea, so I followed the directions.

I went to Family Dollar and bought some tea. Not being a tea expert, I'm not sure if what I got was what they were talking about when they said to use black tea. It's actually orange pekoe and pekoe cut black tea. It was $1.49 for a box of 100 tagless tea bags.

The directions said to boil 6 teabags with 2 cups of water, wait until the water is cool to the touch and then spray it on your legs with a squirt bottle and let dry naturally. That's what I did. And I liked the color. (On parts of my legs.)

The problem with the spray-bottle method is that you get blotchy color with run lines. That may be slimming, but not natural looking.

So here's my solution. I had used the 6 tea bags, so I had 94 left. I covered them in water in a pot. Then I simmered them until the water was nearly gone and let it cool. Since I didn't want my hands tanned, I put on rubber gloves and squeezed the liquid out of each tea bag and threw the bag away. Next, I boiled that liquid down to nearly nothing.

Once cooled, I poured my VERY strong tea into a bottle of dollar-store lotion and shook well. Now I have a bottle of sunless tanner that goes on colored. You just rub it in (wear gloves) and you don't have to wait for the color to change. You won't have streaks, because you can see the color going on.

And here's the great thing (that's unproven): black tea has lots of caffeine. Caffeine has been shown in some studies to improve the appearance of cellulite. So maybe using your homemade sunless tanner that cost you a total of $2.49 will make your cellulite go away. Happy Day!