Monday, February 28, 2011

Some days...'s all I can do to just sign in to Blogger.

Seriously. I want to be witty, I want to be light-hearted, I want to be calm and happy and fulfilled. And there are moments and brief flashes of all of that. My Little Friend said to me the other day, "You haven't done your blog in a long time." You know, in case I hadn't noticed.

I'll spare you all the gory details. It just doesn't deserve bandwidth. Some things have got to change. I know exactly what needs to change, but I feel like I'm in mortal combat with my enemy, and I'm not sure I have enough integrity to fight on and make those changes.

Either that or my period is coming on with a vengeance.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Never say never

I did something yesterday I thought I would never do.

I made my own laundry soap. Oh yes, I did. It seems like such a...I dunno...such a denim jumper-wearing, home-birthing, fundamentalist thing to do. Doesn't it? I don't know. But I'm trying to reduce the amount of dangerous chemicals in my home because I think they are killing me and Jake. Sometimes I can't breathe when I'm cleaning, and it takes days for my hands to recover after scrubbing a bathtub or shower. I am also trying to save money.

Here's the recipe:

1 bar fels naptha soap
1 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup baking soda

Grate the bar of soap in the food processer. Add the remaining ingredients with the grated soap into the work bowl and process with the blade until powdered. Store in a container with a lid. Use 2 tablespoons per wash load.

It looks like regular, granulated laundry detergent. It works great. It smells fresh. It was easy to find all the ingredients at Walmart or Ace Hardware store.

And it was super cheap! I doubled the recipe, which made enough for 56 (or so) loads of laundry. I spent less than $8 on the ingredients, and I still have most of the boxes of borax and washing soda left. So when I'm out of laundry soap, I'll buy two more 97 cent bars of the soap and make enough for 56 more loads for less than $2. I can probably do this at least three times more with what's left of the washing soda and borax. The whole process was easy and took about 5 minutes. I found a metal 2 tablespoon measuring cup at Walmart so using the detergent is easy.

Because you know if it's not fast and easy I'm not going to do it.

In our Relief Society meeting next Thursday we are going to make different kinds of homemade cleaners, including this one, so I've been experimenting and looking around for availability of the items we'll need. I'm going to do all the math and figure out exactly how much it costs to make these things and how it compares to the cleaners and detergents you can buy at the store.

One that I am kind of excited about is 1/2 cup baking soda mixed with 1/2 cup kosher salt and a drop or two of essential oil. This makes a scrubbing powder similiar to Comet or Ajax. I'll be interested to see if it dries out and hurts the skin on my hands like Comet does.

I'll let you know the results of all my experiments.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm not like other people

Most people are satisfied with having a kitchen junk drawer. Not me.

I also have a kitchen junk cabinet.

Like a junk drawer, a junk cabinet requires regular maintenance. I cleaned mine out this morning because it wasn't working for me anymore. Because every time I tried to dig out some scotch tape, a bottle of glue would fall into the butter that lives by the toaster on the counter below this cabinet. Cleaning butter off glue bottles becomes tedious more quickly than you might think.

Here is an inventory of items that belong in the junk cabinet starting on the bottom shelf:
  • cookbooks
  • mailing envelopes
  • disinfecting spray (The kitchen trash sits right in front of this cabinet. We spray the can every time we take out the trash and before putting a new garbage bag back in the can.)
  • grout sealer
  • a bottle of goo-gone
  • more cookbooks, and also some instructional dvds and videos (for things like my grain mill and sun oven)
  • packing tape
  • scotch tape
  • a big box of crayons for big, responsible kids who know what they're doing
  • in the black and red Avia shoebox are my craft supplies for kids. Things like watercolor paints, small boxes of crayons for little kids, fun stickers, glue sticks and colored pencils. Also the remnants of opened boxes of pens and mechanical pencils. Also a spare pencil sharpener. Also some extra leads and erasers for the mechanical pencils.
  • a super-duper, mega box of crayons that is only mine. Because I need that in my life. I don't know why, I just do. If I let you use crayons from this box then you'll know I really love you. And trust you.
  • extra, unopened boxes of pens, mechanical pencils, and highlighters.
  • almost every kind of glue you can think of: gorilla glue, krazy glue, super glue, E-6000, tacky glue, school glue, and gel glue for paper.
  • a bottle of white-out. Why do I have this?

None of this stuff is out of place - it all belongs here, and everyone in the family knows right where to go when they need one of these things. It's a strange combination. Sort of like a cooking/school supplies/office supplies/household supplies kind of place.

I need to get a couple of small trays or shallow baskets to keep my glues together. All those small bottles and tubes get jumbled around and it's hard to pull one out without knocking the others over or sending some falling down into the butter.

While cleaning out the cabinet this morning I discovered that I don't have any markers. I've had markers in my house since my Pretty Girl was a toddler. I'll write "markers" on my shopping list for the next time I go to the store. Because little Buttercup will soon be old enough to color with markers and it would be tragic for a Grammie to not have any. Have you seen these markers? You could die from so much cuteness:

(It has not escaped my attention that my blog has become boring. While recently suffering through an acute insomnia attack I was reading back over some old blog posts. I used to be more fun. More interesting. More...well... just more. Now I'm reduced to listing in great detail the contents of my kitchen cabinets. Maybe it's time to step away from the computer and have some real life? Somehow I seem to have lost my way.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lock, stock, and...

...well, you know how the rest of it goes.

Remember this post?

I paid off that car today. It's all ours, and it feels good.

I'm re-reading The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey this week, trying to strengthen my resolve to live a different kind of life. It's hard to change your way of looking at the world but I'm doing it now while I have both time and a husband with a good job.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Needle-nose pliers, anyone?

One Christmas, many years ago, I bought for Mr. Dub a set of tools. They were supposed to be his, but whenever I couldn't find my own screwdriver or hammer or pliers I raided his new tool set.

(In my defense, "my" tools - not to mention any of "my" other things - were and still are used by all the other members of my family who are not always conscientious about putting "my" things back where they belong. I put the word "my" in quotation marks because even though some things are definitely and inarguably mine, people say things to me like "Where is the label maker?")

The hard plastic case of Mr. Dub's tool set has always been too difficult to get into. It just wasn't ever an ideal set-up and then it broke. So getting in and out of his tool kit has been a problem, which of course makes putting the tools away correctly even less likely to happen. Something needed to be done but I didn't know what and I guess I thought we would just go on forever with things the way they were - tools scattered throughout the house and garage and nobody ever really able to lay their hands on what they needed without forming a search party.

I helped my neighbor have a garage sale a couple weeks ago. She had an old tool chest that once belonged to her late husband squirreled away in the depths of her garage and it was filled to the brim with all sorts of tools, junk, bits and pieces, and miscellany. I sold the contents of the tool chest to a guy whose wife, it must be said, looked none too pleased and then I bought the tool chest myself.

I haven't ever imagined myself owning a tool chest. It doesn't seem like something I would do. Sort of like buying old, beat-up stuff in other people's garage sales isn't something I would do.

But I brought it home, cleaned it up, lined the drawers with some cool, industrial-looking and quite grippy drawer liner, and organized Mr. Dub's tools into it. I'm hoping the grippy-ness of the liner will keep everything in place as the drawers are opened and closed. If it all starts sliding around in the drawers I'm going to be a little bit unhappy about it.

For now I love how it looks and I really hope it will be a more workable and permanent solution to storing and accessing our tools.

Monday, February 7, 2011

In my workbasket:

A baby sweater for my niece's baby that's due in April.

It, and when I say "it" I mean the sweater, not the baby, has a pattern that I thought would be tricky but has actually helped me keep track of where I am in the pattern.

Next up: sleeves. Then putting it all together.

The mama specifically requested "no clothes" for the baby shower, but I choose to believe that she didn't mean "no hand-knitted sweaters". Because it really is true what they say: When you make something for a baby, you have time to think good thoughts about the little person it's meant for and you begin to love that baby, and all of that becomes part of whatever you are making for the baby.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stocking up

1 Timothy 5:8 - "If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

Those are pretty strong words from Paul, and I try to take them to heart. This past week Kroger had a really super amazing sale, and yesterday I finally got over there to get in on some of the deals.

I spent $119.82 and saved $73.75. A lot of items were half price, and some things were a third their normal price. We are a little further along in the effort to lay aside some food and money for a rainy day. I didn't go over the weekly grocery budget I had set for myself before I found out about the sale, which makes me feel quite victorious and rather smart today.

And then, without warning and with no apparent reason, this morning we had a widespread power outage for a while. It was short and uneventful but it brought home to me yet again how you can't always predict trouble, and that if you are prepared you have nothing to fear. A few cans of soup and vegetables stored away really can bring a little peace to your heart.