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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Liberated Laundry

I have been playing with the idea to make my own laundry soap for a while now. After collecting several pins on Pinterest, I decided it was time to do some serious research, and make a commitment to do it! There are many different ideas and methods, but I knew I wanted a liquid laundry soap, and I wanted it to be a "green" recipe. Ultimately I settled on trying "Mom's Super Laundry Sauce".

This recipe is very simple, and only requires 4 ingredients:

1 bar of Fels Naptha
1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda)
4 cups of water

All the ingredients can be found in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store, and I can not even begin to express my joy at the extremely low price of each item!
Since I am not a fan of microwave ovens (or radiation for that matter), I stuck with the traditional stove top method. It is slightly more time consuming, but well worth it to me.

The Fels Naptha bar must be shredded, but it's decently soft and shredded easily.
Fels Naptha has a pleasant scent, but I found that once I shredded it and added it to the boiling water the aroma was a bit too strong for me and I opened my front door (good thing we were having a Michigan heat wave and it was in the 40's!) and turned on my ceiling fan to help ventilate the air. The directions state the shredded Fels Naptha bar should be fully dissolved within 10-15 minutes, but I found that it took 20-25 minutes with constant stirring.
Once it's fully dissolved you add in the Borax and Washing Soda combo, and stir until you can no longer feel any grainy texture on the bottom. This took me about 10 minutes, but I wanted to make sure it was fully dissolved so the finished product wouldn't have any grainy texture to worry about leaving residue.

Once it's all fully dissolved, pour the mixture into two 1 quart mason jars equally. This will fill them each about halfway, then you add enough water to reach the "shoulders" of the mason jar leaving about an inch or so at the top. Then flip them upside down, the ingredients begin to separate, and you let them sit for 4 hours and go about your day.
My mother-in-law graciously loaned me two 1-quart mason jars for this project. One was a regular mouth mason jar and one was a wide mouth mason jar. This distinction is important for how you handle the next step... the blending. Most standard blenders will work with a regular mouth mason jar. You just screw the blender blade right on to the top of the regular mouth mason jar, put it on the blender, and hit puree... Voila! Easy and relatively mess free!
However, the large mouth mason jar doesn't fit on the blade, so I scraped out all the ingredients into my blender pitcher, whipped it up, and it did the trick just fine... just a tad bit more messy, but the same results.
Upon my research I found that this method cleans your laundry, but I still needed to soften my laundry. A friend of mine recommended using white vinegar in a downy ball in place of fabric softener during the rinse cycle. White vinegar not only helps soften your laundry, it also helps whiten, brighten, and eliminate any possibility of residue build up on clothes and in your washing machine.
So, now the big test... a load of dirty towels! I have a HE front load washing machine, so I loaded up the towels, plopped in a tablespoon of laundry sauce on top of my towels (Yes, that's right! Just ONE tablespoon per load!), threw in the downy ball with white vinegar in it, and set it to wash as normal. Once I got the towels out of the dryer I was very pleased with the results! The towels are very clean, and no scent other than just a clean smell. The towels aren't as soft as I am used to, but they aren't coarse either. I may play around with the amount of white vinegar I use in my next few loads of laundry, but since I'm not totally dissatisfied with the level of softness I will continue to use the white vinegar either way.
So, now my laundry is liberated from chemicals, and liberated from costly store brand laundry detergent! The method is slightly time consuming, but considering that one batch will last me about 6 months, I think it's well worth my time and effort. All in all it will cost me approximately $2.00 for about 128 loads of laundry!

You can find the link to the main article at the top, or you click on the link here. I cannot stress enough the importance to follow the instructions on the link 100%! The instructions are very simple, it's more about having the patience to fully dissolve the ingredients during the cooking phase. But, considering the cooking phase is only a half an hour of your time, it's not that big of a deal to stress about it!

Next project on my list: Wool dryer balls! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Lenten Challenge

I woke up today with a rumbling and a slight ache in my stomach. Nothing unusual, just normal hunger  pangs. As I pondered what I wanted to eat for breakfast I was struck with the realization that I would not be satisfying my breakfast cravings today, because today is Ash Wednesday... A day of fasting and abstinence... no meat, and little food.

Most Catholics go through this day as an obligatory chore. I know plenty who stay up until midnight just so they can eat a full meal before bed. Some may wear their ashes proudly, but most go home and wash them off before they go out in public. Others may take the time to say extra prayers or do spiritual exercises, but most move through the day grudgingly, contemplating the food they are missing, taking out their bad mood on others around them. Most will not realize their complaints and minor hunger pains are perfect examples of first world problems.

Catholics love to discuss what they have voluntarily given up for Lent. Most people give up some tempting treat such sweets, or snacks, or even alcoholic beverages. Some people chose to add something to their daily lives like reading scripture, praying the rosary, or even physical exercise. Some Catholics take the penitential time of Lent very seriously and find things to give up, or things to add that will really challenge them. However, most won't go too far outside their comfort zone. Most will say, "I gave up chocolate, and it will be very hard, but I can still have it on Sunday."
The Lenten season is for 40 days and 40 nights, but each Sunday is considered a "mini Easter" and allows Catholics to have a break from their Lenten sacrifices. But, I have to ask the question, is it truly a sacrifice of penance when you look forward to having your treat all week until Sunday arrives and you can indulge?

I would like to offer my readers a Lenten challenge. When your tummy is grumbling, and your mood has turned sour from the pains of fasting, offer your suffering up for a child who has no food at all. When your cravings kick in and you want to give in and eat a burger on Friday, offer up your cravings for a family who is suffering from a great loss. When Sunday arrives and you want to indulge, offer up your Sunday indulgence for a child suffering from an incurable illness.

This is not to suggest one person's sacrifice is greater than another's, each sacrifice depends on the will of the individual. It is to suggest that you make each sacrifice count. To make your sacrifice give meaning to something beyond your own suffering. There are lots of needs in this world to offer our sacrifices for. Turn your Lenten sacrifices into deeds for a greater need, and maybe by Easter it will become a daily habit!

What have you given up for Lent?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fighting The Dirty C!

Today is World Cancer Day. It's the dirty C-word that everyone thinks about, but doesn't really want to talk about. I don't think there is a single family I know who hasn't been affected by it. So what can you do about it? Plenty!

Support is the best thing one person can do for another. Supporting a cause that has a personal effect on so many people everyday... what more could anyone ask for?! There are many different organizations that fund and support research for cures of all types of cancers. Pick one, or pick them all, just be supportive. Most organizations have several huge fundraising events that are fun and rewarding to get involved in. The one nearest and dearest to my heart is St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Here are just a few "did you know?" facts about St. Jude's from their website:

No Place Like St. Jude

  • Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
  • Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since it opened in 1962.
  • St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent in the next decade. We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
  • St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs we make, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.
  • Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most – saving kids regardless of their financial situation.
  • St. Jude was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, who believed that “No child should die in the dawn of life.”
St. Jude's was there for my family, and continues to help many others while always maintaining the positive atmosphere of HOPE! There are so many ways throughout the year to help support St. Jude's. There is the St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk.
Our Team DOMinator at the St. Jude's Give Thanks Walk 2011
The walk kicks off the St. Jude's Thanks and Giving fundraising campaign during the holiday season, so shoppers can make a donation at local stores while purchasing gifts. Every September Chili's Grill & Bar Restaurants picks a day of "More Hope" and donates 100% of their net profits to St. Jude's. 
Each summer people from all over the country participate in the Warrior Dash for St. Jude's. And many people make personal contributions for someone they know.
Showing your support for cancer research is so much bigger than I can ever articulate in writing. It's not about one more organization begging for money. It's not about seeing who can raise the most. It's about each and every dollar giving HOPE! It's about giving a child one more day filled with love and laughter. It's about giving your friend, co-worker, or family member a fighting chance. It's about showing support for LIFE! 

What is your favorite cause? How do you support your favorite cause?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

To Choose or Not to Choose...

I often get asked questions about proper etiquette. With the wedding season coming up, I have been getting a steady stream of questions regarding wedding etiquette. Recently, I was asked a wedding etiquette question that I didn't know the proper answer to, but it was because it was a regarding a topic that I don't see Bride's putting too much energy into in our current social norms. Should the Mother of the Bride (MOB) choose her dress before the Mother of the Groom (MOG), and should the MOB and MOG dresses compliment the colors of the wedding party?

The tradition answer to the first question is yes, the Mother of the Bride does choose her dress first, and the Mother of the Groom should choose a dress that complements (but does not match) the MOB's dress. Typically I tend to lean towards traditional etiquette, but in this instance, I can honestly say I really didn't put much stipulation on what either mother should wear at my wedding. Our wedding invitations specified a dress code of "Semi-Formal" (I did NOT want anyone coming to my wedding in cargo pants, or jeans!), and I assumed that both mothers would follow that dress code... and they did! All on their own!
My mother in a beautiful dusty aqua gown.
Ken's mother in a lovely black dress.
I, personally, think that a bride has enough planning and stress on her to have to worry about such a minor thing. By allowing each mother to choose her own dress, it free's the bride for other matters that need her attention, and also avoids any potential conflict that may result in trying to choose a dress for the MOB and MOG. That's not to say the bride shouldn't have any input on the final decision, and some MOB's and MOG's may want the brides help in choosing a dress.

Some brides may have a specific style, color, and length she wishes the MOB and MOG dresses to be. Some bride's may want the MOB and MOG dresses to match or compliment the bridal party, while others may not care at all. I have recently noticed a rising trend of brides in the "I don't care, as long as it's nice" category. It is because of this trend that I wasn't even aware that there is a specific order in which the mothers get their dresses.

Whichever category each bride finds herself, in regards to MOB and MOG dresses, making sure both mothers know your expectations from the start will help this wedding detail go much more smoothly, and hopefully stress/conflict free!

Did you choose your MOB/MOG dresses? Were there any conflicts/concerns about MOB/MOG dresses?

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Frustrating and Confusing Misuse of ...

I know that my grammar isn't perfect. I'm sure readers find grammatical errors in my writing quite frequently. I'm a frequent abuser of run-on sentences, hence my love of ellipses. However, I have noticed a growing trend in a major grammatical error that is, quite frankly, driving me crazy! The misuse/abuse of the ellipsis...

In formal writing, an ellipsis is used to signify an omission within a quote. Informally an ellipsis is meant to convey a pause, or a break in a train of thought. I won't go into too much detail, but if you want to know more I found a great article here.

My pet peeve is with the growing trend of using an ellipsis in place of an exclamation point, or period. Here are some examples I see on a regular basis.

"Happy Birthday..."

When I see this, my first reaction is, "Do they not want to wish that person a happy birthday?". Using an ellipsis in this example makes the birthday greeting seem as though it is written reluctantly rather than with joy. 

"It was great seeing you..."

Was it really? Because written like this make me think it really wasn't so great after all.

"Thanks for all your help today..."

Well, if you aren't grateful for my help, then next time I won't offer. I hope you are starting to see my point. An ellipsis is a pause... an emotional straight faced contemplation. There isn't any excitement, joy, or positive emotion when using an ellipsis. Now, change all three sentences by ending them with an exclamation point, and you will see what I mean.
"Happy Birthday!"
"It was great seeing you!"
"Thanks for all your help today!"

Using an exclamation point shows the intent of your feelings, and doesn't leave the reader confused, frustrated, or offended. Not that an exclamation point can't be used offensively, but at least you are well aware that you are choosing to use it in an offending manner. Until next time ... please use your punctuation responsibly! 
Charles Schulz always captured the melancholy emotions of Peanuts with ellipses.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: My Year of Changes

Upon review of my life over the past year, I have found it to be a year filled with lots of firsts, lasts, hellos, goodbyes, and forevers. This is my 2013... My year of changes:

Started 2013 visiting Chicago for the first time.
Celebrated my 5th Wedding Anniversary.
One of the photo's I had done for my husband's anniversary gift.
Celebrated the high school graduation of the eldest son of one of my oldest and bestest with all of my oldest and bestest.
Spent my summer preparing to open my very first Etsy shop.
My first 4th of July at Greenfield Village for a patriotic concert by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra that included live cannon fire and an amazing fireworks show.
My first trip to Mackinaw City, and the UP.
Planned my first themed baby shower.
Joyfully welcomed a new member to the family.
Finally got to say "Hello" to my first Niece/Goddaughter.

Delighted to see the first picture of my first nephew.
I said goodbye to my job of 3 1/2 years, and I had my first table at a craft show.

In a year that was filled with ups and downs, lots of firsts, many celebrations, laughs and great memories shared with family and friends, it is also a year that will never be forgotten. It is with very heavy hearts, we had to say a painful goodbye to our loving, funny, smiley, amazing "Dominator".

It is with tears in our eyes, and love in our hearts that you are greatly missed. 
You will be in our hearts forever! 
Dominick Paul Curley-Keck
September 28th, 2005 - December 18th, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Craft Show Crafting Part 2

Last night my mother-in-law asked me if I'm reading any good books for Advent. Hmmm... Considering that I have been spending 12-14 hours a day making bows and flowers
In all different styles
Brainstorming and designing creative ways to display all my product
 For the Craft Show that is this Saturday
And I haven't even taken down my Thanksgiving decorations, or put up my Christmas decorations... As lovely as it sounds to sit down and read a good book, I just haven't been able to fit it in. ;) 

As the big day gets closer, I am getting more excited! If you are in the area, stop by and see us!

St. Mary's Christmas Bazaar
December 7th
10am until 4pm
St. Mary Catholic Church
10601 Dexter-Pinckney Rd.
Pinckney, MI  48169