Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Do you know what happens around age 6-8? Children learn how to keep secrets and they cannot be coaxed, bribed or even tricked into spilling the beans. J took Emily and Matthew shopping for my present last week and I have not been able to get a hint out of either of them- not even a slip up of the store it was purchased at! These kids are good!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Place Like Home

Click your heels three times and repeat after me...
There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.

Screw. That.
Home is currently bone-chilling cold and even though the summers in the south nearly melt the skin off your body and you need a gas mask if you enter a location where people might be sweating (OK, everywhere!), I am ready to trade that for these 'you have to be out of your mind to live here and enjoy it' frigid days. I know many people might be saying out loud to their screens right now "I live in climates much colder than where you are." If you enjoy it I think the cold sensor in your brain must have gotten stuck in September and you stopped registering the actual temperature outside. In absolutely no way do I find temperatures under 10°F the least bit enjoyable or even tolerable. When I take the dog outside I like for the fluid in my eyes to remain liquid, not frozen. It is a very odd sensation to close your eyelid and feel the surface of eye now cold; very odd indeed.
Even my van is revolting at the sub-zero temperatures. Last night it creaked, moaned and whined when I forced it to take me someplace warm. So maybe the tires nearly melted to the driveway last year when it was 115 in GA but it never voiced it's "van opinion" like it did yesterday. I think I agree with the van; this just sucks.
I think we need to permanently move to somewhere in the south and then drag all of our relatives with us. We'll make sure to bring them down in the winter so they are settled before the 100+ degree August hits.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Homemade laundry soap

I changed my "recipe" just a bit and started adding Kirk's Hardwater Castile and Biz to my soap. I have used about 1/4 scoop of Biz for a few years in my laundry to help remove stains so I started adding it directly to my soap, but I cut down on the Borax so there wasn't too much stuff in there.
Now I use:
1 bar Fels Naptha
1 bar Kirks Hardwater Castile
2 cups Arm & Hammer washing soda
1 cup Borax
1 cup Biz

************Original Post*****************
OK, so I don't have 18 kids like the Duggars but that didn't stop me from using an idea I saw on their show: making your own laundry soap. The links I found online made the liquid version look like something from a science fiction movie in the 80's so I opted for the dry powder version instead. It seems weird to use something "homemade" to wash my clothes instead of the standard Tide that I've used for over a decade but all the comparisons I found online seem to point to the homemade detergent cleaning just as well as Tide or other name brand detergents. It is frugal and best of all, phosphate free so I am doing one more part to earn my crunchy halo. I made one batch for our laundry last weekend and so far, so good. I made a larger batch today to donate to a shelter that is in need of laundry detergent and documented so you can learn too; aren't you thrilled?
Recipe I used:
2 cups soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

I used Fels-Naptha soap in our recipe. It is an old laundry soap that has somewhat of an industrial, clean smell to it. I think you'll either love it or hate it; I'm weird and fall into the middle but everyone else in the house really likes it. You can use other soaps (make sure it is soap and not a beauty or deodorant bar) such as Ivory, Kirks Hardwater Castile or Zote. Next time I will most likely use Kirks because it has a very light fragrance and I can add my own essential oils.
Borax can be found at most grocery stores in the laundry aisle although you may have to find a smaller grocery store for the washing soda and Fels-Naptha.
1. Cut up the soap into small pieces or use a grater. I used the grater on the food processor the first time and cut it into chunks this time; I think the grater worked better.
2. Grind soap into a powder using a food processor.
3. Add Borax and washing soda and mix thoroughly; I used the food processor for this too.

That is all! Store in an air tight container. Some sites say to use 1 tablespoon, some say to use 2 tablespoons. If you have figured out the secret to kids keeping their clothing clean you may only need 1 tablespoon. The clean kid fairy hasn't blessed me yet, so I use 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons per load.
This soap does not create suds, don't be alarmed when your water looks as though could not possibly be cleaning dried dirt off your children's clothing. It would be a perfect soap for HE machines.

This particular batch used 2 1/3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap, 1 2/3 cup Borax and 1 2/3 cup washing soda. The total batch was just over 6 1/2 cups of powder. Using 1 TBSP this powder would wash 104 loads and using 2 TBSP it would wash 52 loads. Total cost for this big batch was approximately $3.50.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Conglomerate of thoughts

For several days I've been thinking, "I need to blog this" and not done it so now they all get thrown into one post, kind of like Blogger Vegetable Soup. You have to eat it all; don't pick around the veggies you don't like.
Here is what we enjoyed Thanksgiving weekend; the kids were purely delighted to find a blanket of snow on our last couple of days of traveling. Me? Not so much. It only reminded me of what a long winter we have ahead of us and just how accustomed I had become to the South. Can't we just have a winter home and a summer home?

I was driving a few days ago and passed a sign I've seen a few times. Listed for places to eat at this exit is "BEEF EATERS." What the heck kind of restaurant is Beef Eaters? I mean, for real. I'm thinking I'll open a restaurant and name it "POULTRY PICKERS."

Look who showed up in our mailbox yesterday; Mr. Dave Ramsey himself (and Sharon too). How do they know we slacked off this month (OK, kind of the last 6 months)? I'm sure this card is purely calculated to make people feel guilty. Now every time I walk by the card I see Dave looking at me; almost like he's eyeballing that shopping bag and saying "Do you really need that?" Before long you'll hear me talking to Dave and saying "Really, it's for my sister, she needs it." I may just have to hide this card.

Whose idea was it to make a fake Christmas tree? Originally, way back when, who was the hair-brain inventor that thought of sticking poky green paper crap on poky wire sticks? I will give credit to the manufacturers, they have really come along way from the 'match the colored stickers to the layers of colored holes' set-up (which didn't work after a few years because the stickers fell off and then couples fought over which branch went where when finally the male gave up and huffed away while the female sat and tried to figure it out, all the while steaming and stewing and then muttering "why do I have to do this every year?") OK, so that was a long tangent but I know you grew up with a few Christmases like that too and if not, keep it to yourself.
Instead of the muttering about where the branches were supposed to go it was muttering about how I was sick and tired of stupid little green poky things and wires scratching up my skin. At least I get a nice smell after I break out in a rash from a real tree. This one gave me a rash, no nice smell and it isn't much better than my $30 Sears special that I jammed garland into so I could hide the pole. Just as I said this was it, next year we are going back to a real tree, Matthew piped up with "so, Mom, you don't care about me? Because you know I'll allergic to real trees so we can't have a real tree, Mom." I looked right at him, just as my hands were stinging with red spots all over and said, "I'll make sure you have your Zyrtec every day".