Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Little House-Laundry EMERGENCY!

I'm not a laundry fan. And I'm not too picky about the process either...though I do hate wrinkled sheets. Anyway, I ran out of detergent one night 6 weeks or so ago and didn't want to run to the store (this is not the emergency btw). My friend Sara and I had recently been talking about experimenting with homemade recipes...I had bought some of the ingreds so I tried out making my own! I think it worked great and was cheap as all get out so on round two I took some pictures for blogging :) ! Here are the ingredients:

The first time around, I used Zote bar-soap instead of Fels-Naptha, but it made me cough and sneeze when I grated it and every time I opened the tub to use it...that can't be good! The Fels-Naptha is MUCH better!

I used my food processor to first grate the bar soap, then switched blades and minced it until it was fine and grainy. Mixed with the Borax and Washing Soda (NOT baking soda) it looks just like your typical powdered detergent.

Each load takes just two tablespoons...just the size of a recycled Oxy-Clean scoop. So far, I've been happy with it though I'd like to try adding some essential oils for fragrance. Maybe I'll get a round tuit sometime.

Now for the emergency! I opened the dryer yesterday afternoon to get Kai's T-Ball uniform out for his last game. First I pulled out his pillowcase and thought, "huh? that's weird. where'd all these stains come from?" Then I pulled out a shirt smeared with brown and purple streaks, then his baseball pants, COVERED with multi-colored mushy marks. "Oh, dear! A wacky crayon!!!" Yes, the wacky crayons have come back to bite me in the butt. Kai's been coloring with them and must have had one in a pocket. The entire load of all his laundry was marred by melted, multi-colored, non-washable crayons. Of course this happens when we need to be out the door in 18

I googled the issue and found a method that worked for some others. I didn't have all the right detergents etc. (because of my homemade experiment above :) ). So I threw it all in (except the uniform of course) to soak with some detergent, all the Oxy-Clean I had left and some Grandma's spot remover. All the marks were still there at 10 p.m. when I got back from a Target run with the correct ingredients:

  • Tide Powder

  • Spray'n'Wash (now Resolve)

  • Oxy Clean

  • Borax

I mixed about a Tide scoop amount of each into the washer filled with hot water and ran it on the Heavy-Duty cycle. Double rinsed. And....drum roll....I'd say 85% of it came out!! Woot! The casualties were the 100% cotton items like the pillow case and a couple t-shirts. Most of Kai's clothes are in the "comfort" line of things...athletic shorts/pants/shirts etc. and the marks are completely gone from that kind of fabric. I really thought they whole load was toast, so cheers to whoever it was (I'm not sure now) who figured this formula out!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stroller Shopping

I need help! It's been almost 8 years since I've shopped for a stroller and I need a new one! Okay, really I just want a new-to-me-not-been-through-two & a half-kiddos-one.

1. The seat must sit upright fully! No recline. Zip. If it does, Z Baby pulls himself up which just can't be comfy or ergonomic.
2. Decent sized basket...I carry around a lot of stuff.
3. One-handed open/close.

If you have suggestions, I thank you in advance; please post them in the comments (on the blog, not on facebook :) ... I don't go there much anymore). I may just have to break down and go to BabiesRUs and shop (ugh!).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Frozen Assets Experiment

I'm always on the lookout for a way to do things better when it comes to homemaking. This weekend it was "how to be in the kitchen less often", though I spent the whole weekend IN said kitchen to make it work.

During my quest to either
a. convince Eric to expand our grocery budget
b. figure out how to spend less on groceries
I once again ran across the once-a-month-cooking phenom and decided to give it another whirl. It's been about 4 years since the last time I did it...and that time was with a friend so I didn't have as much flexibility for recipe selection etc. Frozen Assets Lite and Easy by Deborah Taylor-Hough was available at the library so that's the cookbook I used.

The book is broke down into mini-sessions with 4-6 recipes each. I chose one chicken, the ground beef and a pasta mini-session to make up a total of fourteen main dishes. I combined the grocery lists into one master and hit the stores this week...once on Tuesday to catch some sales and again on Friday to get the weekend specials and produce.

Now, because I don't keep my kitchen in "ready-to-cook" mode at all times, I ended up spending over an hour Saturday morning just rearranging the table & island, washing pots and pans and unloading the dishwasher. Once I had a clean slate though, bam! there was some major cooking going on. Not really. It was more like lots of chopping, grating, running to a quick garage sale, more chopping, boiling chickens, thawing meat etc. Not to mention keeping three little ones occupied. I grated my thumb, which was special too!

By late Saturday night I had finished the pasta and all but one of the beef recipes and had the kitchen cleaned and ready to go again today. I got another meal in the freezer before church and now, at 7:23 p.m., just need to bag some soup that is cooling and mix up the last recipe which is pretty easy.

My piggies are tired, I'm a little grouchy and I have a deep slice on one finger from some heavy-duty foil. Ouch! BUT--I have (okay, almost have) 14 meals ready to thaw, heat and eat in my freezer!!! Some of the meals are so large that I'm sure they'll stretch to two full meals while others should yield some leftovers. Woot! Woot!

I think from now on I'll just do one mini-session at a time. Or else adapt some of my own recipes and do the cook more than one at a time deal. One thing I really liked about using the recipes from Frozen Assets was that they all contained a lot of veggies...something I know I need to use more of in my cooking. The kids will probably balk at some of the meals (beans! aaack! zucchini ugh!) but it will do them good! And guess who isn't going to be cooking for the next several!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Little House Ain't Working

A month or so ago I had one of those days. Ya know, one of those "this AIN'T working" kind of days and I found myself smack dab in the middle of a pity party. Laundry everywhere, dishes piled, my heart all mucky, kids driving me crazy, etc. etc. Let's just say that some weeds needed my heart, not to mention my garden!

So our good and gracious God got me alone...on a drive out in the country, no less. (I was going to get milk from the farm on a Saturday kids!) He reminded me that lamenting about life, or situations, really does nothing to change the situation...and that HE would provide for me whatever I needed: strength, stamina, a label maker...whatever! (I already have a label maker so not sure why that popped into my head?)

I drove and thought and mused and prayed and then came home to write it all out. It's amazing how putting those thoughts to paper makes all the difference:
  1. Arise early. 6ish.
  2. Get ready.
  3. Spend some time with God.
  4. Work on some FlyBaby steps.
  5. Quit stressing about $ by going to all cash. (Thanks, Dave. Again.)
  6. Lights out at 10:30. I need my beauty sleep! (uh-oh it's 10:15 now so I'm on the clock)
That's it. Pretty simple. And ya know what? They are helping! I mean, it's not like I was starting out with a TOTAL disaster of a life/house. But sometimes rearranging what's already there is a necessity.

Here are a few things that I actually already had in place before all this...but now am using them again. Ahh, I really DO love organized chaos!

Our menu:

Our rules about speaking:
Our definition of obedience:

Elena & Kai's morning routine chart:

My laundry routine chart:

My morning prayer for Eric:
Our Homeschool daily schedule:

Can you tell I like to make lists? Yay! Anyway, there are some other stories that have come as a result of this "new leaf" I've turned over...and I'll save them for's 10:25 now and you know what that means!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Little House on Sandpiper Street

Yay! A beginning to my summer series has, what else? Begun! I've been mulling around a bunch of bloggerish ideas for awhile and have decided it's time to delve in. My motivation for a "Little House" post is coming from a diverse group of events from the past several months. A couple of those are that we, like any book-loving family of elementary aged children, are reading through the Laura Ingalls Wilder series and I went to a funeral. Yup, that's weird (explanation to follow).

  • Gardening (I know, surprise, surprise)
  • More on Going Green
  • Childhood Enjoyed
  • Developing a Quiet & Peaceful spirit
  • Lifetime Learning
  • Homemaking Simplified

So come along with me and maybe you can help me figure some of this stuff out! Especially the simplification of homemaking (I think I even made that description more complicated than needed). How about "Simple Living". I think that's one of my sister's catch-phrases.

Ooohh, you want an explanation about the funeral motivation? Okay. Eric's Great-Grandma, Lorraine, passed away last month at the age of 89. She was a dear. I did not know her well, but she was always a quiet presence sitting to the side of the room at the Dunlop family gatherings. Her service was beautiful, the weather fittingly rainy, yet the mood was one of peace as she now is with her Lord Jesus. I learned more about her life from the remarks from her long-time pastor in the short service than I had in the 16 years around the family. But of her time as a mother of young children, I still know little. Her obituary said that her marriage was blessed with three children and then described many of the servant-like occupations she endeavored as a faithful homemaker. I love all that! I love that her children were able to rise up and call her blessed! But I want to know her story! How in the world did she take in extra laundry, sewing and raise puppies AND children??

So for this, I am writing. Not so much for you, dear reader, but for my own kiddos and theirs. My grand plan is still to turn this blog into a scrapbook...(I wrote about that last year)! And since I'm in goal-making mode right now, it's going to happen. Then someday, maybe one of them will actually take the time to crack it open...maybe after I croak...but then they'll have PLENTY of fuel for writing up this phase of my life, because brief as it may be, the days are long and full and I want them to know all about it (and hopefully learn from all my mistakes)!!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Room Redo Time!

Well, call me crazy, but I've let my kiddos help me redo their rooms...and I'm talking more than just let the pick out colors and themes....I let them paint. Am I crazy? Probably. But I sure learned not to underestimate the determination of an excited 7 and 5 year old! They are really good!

Elena was a super go-getter with the roller and we knocked out the two coats in her room in just one day. It's super-fab now that it's all done and back together. I'll post pics later once they're both all done.

Uh-oh! That can't be good.

Kai's room has a chair rail, so that doubles the cut-in time, plus the dark color we chose needed 2-3 coats. I THINK it's all done now and ready to be put back together. That's my job for the next 45 minutes...if I get this post knocked out!

He'll always know that is on the wall behind the layers and layers!

I must say I was so sad to paint over the ladybug's been my favorite in the house for years. But the camo green is pretty cool and looks much more like a hang out for my little guy than the pretty fair yellow with red scalloped trim!

Okay, and now for the picture of the weirdest craft project request I've received yet.

Kai has a new pet blue jay, complements of the gal having a garage sale giving away the beanie-babies that were SUPPOSED to pay for her daughter's college education (ha). Since he got him, he's been wanting a "black shirt with a skull face with teeth and the two bone things x'd underneath" for him. His name is SpikeyBones. I finally figured out that a cut up lone black sock would make a great shirt. Add a bit of fabric paint and wah-lah! I love little boys!

The Cloth Adventure Continues

Almost 15 months in to the cloth diapering adventure around here and we're going strong. The stinkies have yet to come back...still being a rebel and washing in Tide and using a touch of bleach. Here are some pictures of my current favorite system: A super-soft LoveyBums jersey knit wool cover over a Mother-Ease one-size (MEOS in diaper lingo) diaper with snap in doubler.

He sure has a nice bubble but, but it's cool, soft and looks comfy (the tears are just the "but I want the camera mama" version)! I've finally found the wool love with these lightweight covers...before I was trying to use their snap-in diaper (they call that a LIO or LoveyBum-In-One) but it was not absorbent enough for Z-man. Having a nice thick fitted under it has done the trick!

At night I opt for a completely natural fiber dipe under a heavier wool cover or occasionally a PUL Mother-Ease Air-Flow cover. The MEOS occasionally get a faint ooky smell with the all night #1...maybe the touch of poly in them? Not sure, so I go for my bamboozle or a LoveyBums organic cotton fitted with doubler.

Since I don't stick to one system continuously, prefolds with Thirstie covers are always on hand. They work really well for Daddy, who can't handle all the snaps on the fitteds! I stack up a few covers with the dipes tri-folded inside and reassure him it will be just as easy as a sposie. He only freaks out now when #2 shows up and he gets to test out the diaper sprayer. One day he left the soaked (but thankfully completely sprayed off) dipe in the bathtub as he didn't know if he should put it in the pail. Oh dear!

All-in-all, thumbs up for not dropping the $$ for disposables! I've sold almost every diaper or cover that he's outgrown so I'm planning on breaking even and diapering this final bambino for almost free! Wheee!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Sunday Morning Garden Tour

This is the day that the Lord has made! Ah, nothing like a beautiful Sunday morning to refresh the spirit! We are in the midst of painting two bedrooms and finishing the three bookcase/cabinets so a quiet morning is indeed a blessing. Up before the need to rush around getting ready for church, I took some garden pictures making the rounds of the house while the kiddos picked fresh strawberries for breakfast.
FINALLY! We have blueberries! Only a few clusters, but I'll take 'em after years of waiting. Next time we move into a house one of the first things on my to-do list will be to plant at least half a dozen blueberry bushes.

This is the semi-neglected West side of my house. The peonies in the background are faded and gone...I cut the last one yesterday so I could savor its beauty a little bit longer.
Well, not much of a garden, but our garage is full of the woodworking project. They are almost done! Kudos for the awesome paint guy who took the time to custom match the stain to the color of my office armoire. Right now Eric and I's nail beds even match!

Still bloomin'!

The East side with my never-blooming hydrangeas. And much in need of mulching!

More berries to come! Every morning we have fresh ones and have the ardent task of deciding what we should use them for. Often we munch while we think and then they're gone.

Sweet peas! I actually don't really like peas and I'm not sure anyone else in our house does either. But they look pretty and evidently we can grow them just fine. Ha.

Kai and I found baby veggies this JetStar tomatoes...

And a tiny baby zuchinni!

I worked so long on this bed yesterday that my body hurts. There are landscape bricks around the edge that the grass had creeped between. I dug it all out, pulled all the weeds and mulched. Much better though the bright sun makes it hard to capture it's beauty on camera!

Last but not least, my hosta bed. They are doing okay this year and the slugs haven't completely skeletonized them yet. My favorite thing? The simple hanging basket I scored on sale at Ace this week...deep red fancy geraniums and the trailing little white flower stuff all in a pretty brownish pot. Hung next to our hummingbird feeder which, according to Kai, had its first visitor this morning!