Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I asked Grace what it looked like she was thinking in this shot, and she said, "Oh, yeah?  So you think you're gonna get away with that?"

This post is linked to 5 Minutes for Mom and Energizer Bunnies' Mommy Reports for Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WFMW: Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have been making my own laundry detergent for a while now...wanna see?

Here's what you'll need:
  • Hot water
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda)
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1 bar of soap (I used Fels-Naptha, which is a laundry soap and stronger soap than what you would bathe with)
These items can be found on the laundry aisle of most grocery stores, and usually they are on the top shelf.

Why, yes, I had already crumpled the empty wrapper before I thought to take the picture.

Grate the bar of soap.

I have asthma and grate the soap outside to minimize problems with the scent. I have far fewer problems with homemade laundry detergent than I do with store bought. However, I still have to make the laundry detergent on a day when I can have the windows open.

Add the soap shavings to a large saucepan with hot water (about 4 cups or more). Stir over medium-low heat until it dissolves and is melted completely.

Carefully pour the soap mixture into a 5 gallon bucket and add the 1 cup of washing soda and the 1/2 cup of Borax.  Add a few gallons of hot water, too, until the bucket is about half full.

Stir well until all powder is dissolved.

Fill the 5 gallon bucket with more hot water and mix well. 

Cover the bucket and let it sit overnight to gel.

I do not have a lid for our 5 gallon bucket, so I made one with plastic wrap and shoestrings. If I had a younger child or animals who might be in danger of falling into the soap, I would use an actual lid and/or move the bucket out of reach (for instance, on top of our freezer in the garage).

After the laundry detergent has cooled, it will have a strange, watery gel-like consistency--some have described it as looking like egg drop soup. Stir this well, and then you can leave the detergent in the 5 gallon bucket (be sure to stir before use) or transfer it to empty store bought laundry detergent bottles.

Use a handy-dandy scoop to transfer the detergent into smaller containers...a milk jug, of course.

Be sure to pull out the removable spout in the laundry detergent bottles to make filling the bottles much easier! The milk jug funnel will fit nicely and the spout is easy to replace on the laundry detergent bottle.

I do this step outside but forgot to take a picture at the time. Between the funnel and the scoop, filling your empty containers is a breeze even if you have no one to help you!

Here's where the recipes you find online differ dramatically--how much to use? I have seen everything from 1/4-cup to 1 cup per load. What works for me is to use 1/2-cup of this laundry detergent per load, mixing well before each use. However, I have had better results (and have seen other recipes that do this extra step) diluting it with half water and half detergent before using it and then using 1 cup of the diluted laundry detergent.

I don't have the space (or, obviously, a proper lid for the 5 gallon bucket) to keep the diluted detergent on hand, so I dilute it as I need to. I fill my storage detergent bottles with the undiluted detergent,

Storage containers

and dilute the detergent into another bottle that is ready to use. To make this step less problematic, I have my laundry detergent bottle marked at the halfway point to show how much detergent to pour into the bottle, and then a line marked at the top to show how much water to add. Measuring for this step ensures you don't have to measure every time you need to dilute the detergent. 

Pay no attention to the level of the detergent.  This is just to show the lines I've marked on the bottle.  :)

Shake well before using.  I use 1 cup of the diluted detergent per large load.  I measured and found that 1/2 cup of water mostly fills the cap of the laundry detergent bottle I use, so I use two capfuls.  For stains, I pour some of the laundry detergent directly onto the clothing and rub the detergent in a bit before adding the clothing to a load in the washing machine.  Fels Naptha is the original "stain stick," and I've found this to be very effective.

The washing soda and Borax last for a few batches of this laundry detergent, so a $1 bar of Fels Naptha is my only expense for the next few batches.  Inexpensive laundry detergent (and a scent that does not cause asthma symptoms for me)?  That works for me!

P.S.  To brighten your whites, since store bought laundry detergents have ingredients that do this step for you, add Oxi-Clean (follow the directions) or vinegar (during the rinse cycle) to the load.

    Indian Style

    Josiah (9) came home from a friend's house with a couple of feathers he had found.  Grace (6) immediately became an Indian girl, and decided she should have an Indian horse, too. 

    Grace says her Indian name is Indiana.  I mentioned that her name could be Talks With Her Hands or Tougher Than She Looks, she made a face at those suggestions!  Her horse Johnny has the Indian name (?) Rocket, and has the prettier feather. 

    Grace Indiana and Johnny Rocket

    This post is linked to 5 Minutes for Mom, Not So Average Mama, and Energizer Bunnies' Mommy Reports for Wordless Wednesday.

    Saturday, June 23, 2012

    Shortening Swimsuit Straps

    I'm rather long-waisted; therefore, I almost always find a swimsuit that fits me in the torso but has droopy straps.  My solution?  Shorten the straps with a simple stitch.

    This is the finished product:

    Using a running stitch (also called straight stitch) with two strands of thread like this,

    sew through the strap that needs to be shortened (I only did the front straps on each side). 

    Sew a running stitch on both the right and left sides of one strap with two strands of thread, like these Photoshopped stitches in yellow (since black on black wouldn't show up very well):

    As I sewed along the right and left sides, I left a length of thread to work with (about 3 inches long) on each side.  Repeat the process on the other strap you want to shorten, and be sure to compare the lengths you have sewn before tightening either one.

    When you have sewn the length of strap that you think will work, tighten the two lengths of thread like you would a drawstring and make a knot in each length of thread (this is where using two strands of thread for the running stitch comes in very handy).

    Side view of the strap

    With that, you are finished, and your work adds a small decorative touch to your swimsuit. 

    This was a cheap, quick, and easy solution to an annoying problem, and that works for me!   (It's also very easy to undo if you need to change how you sewed the straps or if you don't like the results.)

    Click over to We Are THAT Family for more Works For Me Wednesday ideas.

    Friday, June 22, 2012

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    Wordless Wednesday: See Rock City

    The bird wouldn't cooperate by looking at the camera.

    I am amazed that in all these years I still haven't seen Rock City (or if I did, I was too young to remember now), despite the fact that I have lived most of--the vast majority of--my life within a few hours of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
    Have you seen Rock City?

    This post is linked to 5 Minutes for Mom, Not So Average Mama, and Energizer Bunnies' Mommy Reports for Wordless Wednesday.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012

    Scavenger Hunt Sunday

    The photography prompts for this week are
    • Meet Me at the Corner
    • Mother Nature Meets Technology
    • One Step at a Time
    • What's Wrong with this Picture?
    • Standing Tall

    Meet me at the corner of Sesame Street! I found this toy piece from my childhood while going through my children's old toys this week.

    Street sign/lamppost from my childhood Sesame Street apartment building

    Did you watch Sesame Street as a child? Do your children watch Sesame Street? I can remember many afternoons where my friend Stephen and I would run together to one of our houses (we were next door neighbors) to watch the show. All three of my children have grown up watching it occasionally, too.

    Mother Nature meets technology every time we take a photo with a camera and capture the beauty of God's world around us

    Thursday's sunset

    ...and oftentimes technology gets in the way of what we are able to capture in a photo.

    Tuesday's sunset

    One step at a time
    , we are trying to find a dog I am not allergic to. This is not one of them. :(

    Josiah (9) and Grace (6) meeting and playing with the schnoodle puppies we went to visit on Saturday.

    What's wrong with this picture? Hmmm...

    On our way to and from visiting the schnoodles this weekend, we saw lots of mimosas standing tall--taller than I thought they grew--along the interstate.

    Why, yes, we did get stuck in traffic. I took that photo while we were crawling along I-24 in Tennessee.

    There were also lots of trees standing tall at the schnoodles' home.

    Click on the link below to see others' photographs or to join in the fun!  

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    The Wedding

    We had a wedding earlier this week! 

    The bride arrived to the ceremony on horseback (and the groom 

    The bride is wearing a baby doll dress that was mine when I was a little girl; her veil is a piece that came off one of Grace's princess tiaras.  She is riding on Barbie's horse. The groom is wearing an outfit I sewed from scraps.  He is riding a fluffy white dog.

    and, immediately after being pronounced husband and wife, departed for their a boat

    Maybe they were going on a cruise...

    Sunday, June 10, 2012

    Scavenger Hunt Sunday

    I am thrilled to join in with Scavenger Hunt Sunday for the first time today! This photography challenge gives you five things to hunt for each week with your camera.

    Here we go!

    We had to travel a bit to get to the Stone Mountain Lasershow Spectacular on Friday night

    with fireworks at the end of the show

    and Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the way home!

    This next photo could count for both silly and black and white:

    "Slightly imperfect," indeed! Fortunately, these were perfect for my 15 year old, who wanted solid white ankle or no show socks. Solid white socks are a rare breed right now.

    This is my sweet, silly girl hanging out at the lasershow with her Laura Ingalls Wilder braids:

    Grace (6 years old)

    Spots...hmmm...One morning I found droplets of water on what my 9 year old son says is cantaloupe. (He's the one who planted the seeds in the container.)

    Paper was tough...We have paper all around us, waiting to be sorted and thrown away or filed out of sight, but you don't want to see that, do you? I had no idea what I was going to photograph for paper until I saw
    this clipping from the newspaper this morning. We've had this on our fridge for years as a reminder to our kids and ourselves of the importance of education. Truly, we are so blessed to have the freedom to educate our children and to have so many resources readily available!

    The caption says, "Determined to get an education, many of the refugees known as the Lost Boys of the Sudan carried books across hundreds of miles of desert. Many eventually came to the United States."

    Click on the link below to see others' photographs or to join in the fun!

    Saturday, June 9, 2012


    Last Saturday, we took a little detour and drove through Farmville on our way to Tennessee.

    Yes, there were farms...

    and hay bales...

    and a beautiful stone church.

    Josiah (9) in front of the Farmville UMC stone sign.  The church is now known as The Farmville Church according to the sign in the background.

    We didn't see a single mansion, or any of the several people we know on Facebook who live in Farmville, but we can point you in the right direction if you're looking for custom cabinets...just head down Farmville Road a little ways.

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Overheard: Wow

    This was, word-for-word, a conversation Grace and I had one morning.  I shared it on Facebook, and recently in another blog post, but it was too good not to share again.
    While sitting on my lap this morning, Grace began an odd conversation...

    Grace [6 years old]:  Mom, what's the biggest lie you could tell someone?

    Me [wondering where she was going with this, and pausing to consider the question]:  Well, I think the biggest lie you could say is that there is no God.

    Grace nods, expectantly, and waits.

    Me:   Another really big lie would be that Jesus didn't really die on the cross and come back to life. What do you think?

    Grace [nodding again at my response]:  I would have said that the biggest lie was that God doesn't love you.

    Grace (6 years old)
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