In case you haven't noticed, there is an additional child in our family photo. I would like you all to meet the newest member of our family. She is the pretty little 7 year old in the purple dress. "Eloise" now has a little sister. We have decided to call her, "Amelia Bedelia".

Monday, February 27, 2012

Here's A Nifty Trick We Learned.....

**If you make this and find that the soap becomes stringy or too thick, simply take enough mixture to partially fill your pump dispenser, add a little hot water and gently shake. Keep adding water and mixing until desired consistency is achieved. I'm not sure, but I think you should only do this when you are ready to fill a small bottle. Leave the large container concentrated.***

 A few blogs that I look at
 mention variations of this recipe.
I finally took the time to actually try it.
Using this method, 
I was able to stretch 5 bars of soap 
into over 40 (8oz) bottles
 of liquid hand soap.
The recipe only requires
 a couple of teaspoons
 of the other stuff 
and I bought the soap at the Dollar Tree,
so I figure it costs about 20 cents/bottle.
*I will post recipe at the end*
 This is the most time consuming part.
While grating the soap 
we put the water on to boil.
 We placed the soap bits and boiling water
 in a glass bowl
and used my stick blender
 to whip the mixture.
This step can also be done
 in a traditional blender,
 but you will see in a minute
 why the stick blender makes big batches
 so much easier.
I paid $75 for my traditional blender
 and $19 for the stick blender.
The stick blender is the only one I ever use,
 because it's so easy
 to just stick it in the pot, or bowl,
or whatever I'm working with.
Sorry about the tangent.
Back to the soap.
 After the thick whipped stuff 
cools for about 15 min.,
Add remaining water and
lightly whip again, 
then add honey and glycerin.
Add essential oils.
Stir again.
Allow to cool completely 
before replacing the lid.
You can use a ladle and funnel
 to fill bottles,
but I prefer to use a turkey baster.

I had this huge cheese puff 
container & lid from Sam's,
 so I made a label and laminated it, 
and stuck it to the front.
This "vat" held 5 batches.

Bar Soap Makeover
(1 batch)
1 bar soap (grated)
1 cup boiling water
1 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. glycerine
enough cold  DISTILLED water to make each batch
 equal 8 cups
I used a glass bowl w/measurements,
 so I could see as I was adding water.
I would have gone crazy guessing, 
then dipping it all out to see if there were 8 cups.
20 -30 drops essential oil
(I used a lavender / tea tree mixture)

This all makes sense to me,
 because I already went through the process.
If you have any questions
 feel free to leave a comment.

I hope some of you try this.
Eloise and I really enjoyed this activity
and I won't have to buy hand soap
 for a very long time.

Drew said
 that he can't use our hand soap,
because it makes him feel funny.

Yours Truly
till Niagara Falls
& the kitchen sinks,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spring Has Sprung....

 Well....at least where we live.
The weather is beautiful. Don't be too envious though,
we will probably have more rain soon than most of you have all year.
 I guess it all balances out in the end.
Any way... this change in the weather
 is the cue for my O.C.D. side to reappear.
During the holidays, I kind of let things fly
with all of the baking and parties and such.
 After that I am focused on getting Eloise back on track
with a normal (our normal) school routine.
Needless to say things get a little out of sorts.
I've had a blast, but there comes a point
 when I have to stop and reevaluate my life,
 finances, and surroundings.
 I have to get back on the proverbial, "track".
The following are a few of my latest Spring cleaning projects :

I went through my cabinets and combined the leftovers
 from duplicate containers of spices and baking products.
 For example I had two half full canisters of curry powder,
so I combined them and threw the empty one away.
 All of the bags of pecan fragments
 got poured into a large mason jar.
 There is a lot less clutter (O.C.D. Me is smiling) and I am on a roll.
After I got everything in it's place,
 I noticed how pitiful all of my Sharpie/masking tape labels looked,
 so I fixed that.
 Ahhh...these labels are so much more aesthetically pleasing.

 I have also been experimenting with different recipes for
 environmentally friendly, cost effective cleaning products.
 The above pic is of some of the things I've been trying.
They are :
Glass & Mirror Cleaner (vodka  rub. alcohol)
All Purpose Cleaner
Veggie Spray (if you don't have organic fruits on hand)

I got the recipes (altered one) and artwork for labels from
 Amy Bayliss over at, "Cajun joie de vivre"
You can get to her here: www.amybaliss.com .
I noticed that Meboo also just posted a link
 on her blog, "Living The Good Life" .
Thank you Ginger for sending us this link.
I really like this site, because she is realistic in her approach.
 For example, she gives out recipes on how to make
 homemade chocolate syrup and spaghetti sauce,
 but she will also tell you that she uses store bought
 when she doesn't have time or doesn't feel like making it herself. 
She also tells you to toss any ideas that don't work for your family.
Amy Baliss also offers a lot of free printables
 like the cleaner labels (different styles available),
the signs for the baskets (below),
and much more.
**Her healthy version of Shrimp Scampi is delish**

 The above baskets are another idea we are going to try from the site.
They are for Eloise's abode.
I will be posting later with the results.

 I recently purchased some water bottles that we can use.
 I cant stand to wash bottles with straws or squeeze tops
 or any other hard to clean mechanisms.
 These simply have a hole with a flat cap.
We don't use glass bottles, because for us they are impractical.
 I can't use the metal ones, because I can't see
  if they are thoroughly clean inside (O.C.D. strikes again).
 These are plastic.
 The label says they aren't made from the really scary harmful chemicals
 that bleed into your water (not an exact quote-my words).
So, now we simply fill our water filtering pitcher,
 then use that to fill our bottles.
 I feel good knowing that I'm saving money and making less trash.

 I stumbled upon this very huge, very pink bar of laundry soap at "Big Lots".
I decided to buy it since it was only $ . 80
When I got home I googled it.
It can be used in the same manner as the Fels Naptha.
Several sources report that it gets whites whiter.
The bar is ten cents cheaper than Fels and is twice as big.
I like the milder smell of the Fels,
but the Zote doesn't contain hydrocarbons.
I recently made a bucket of laundry soap with the Fels, 
so it's going to be a while, before I actually get to test the Zote.
I went ahead and grated it and stored it in a large jar. 
Spring cleaning is in full swing.
Hubby just sorted and cleaned his walk in closet,
now I'm going to shred some old mail to throw in the compost bin.
While I'm doing that I'm sending Eloise out 
to toss bits of dryer lint all over the empty lots next door.
I read that the birds love it for building nests.

Till Next time,

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Big Thank You & Other Stuff....

 I want to begin this post by showing y'all what I just received in the mail.
My newest friend over at "Becoming Jody" surprised me with this adorable prize and lovely card,
so to her I say,

 For Valentine's Day Eloise gave out these little treats instead of sweets.
 As you can see, each fruit had a tag with gold ribbon.
They said:
"You're the apple of my eye"
"I'm bananas for you"
"We make a perfect pear"
I saw this idea a few weeks back on the net, but I regret to announce that I forgot to write down all the info, so I could give proper credit.
I've got to do better about that kind of stuff.

 A few of the homeschoolers got together at the park to celebrate V-Day.
 The Park renovation is really starting to look nice.
 Unfortunately the peddle boats are only available for rental on weekends.
I should have checked....another thing I've got to get better about.
Avery didn't let this little set back stop him from having fun though.

Future Homeschooler of America

 The puppies even had a blast.
When we got home Gumbo had to tell Daddy all about those pesky ducks that knew how to walk on water.
Gumbo tried to run out on the pond and get them, but soon found himself doing the doggy paddle back to shore!

Well I have more to post, but I'm out of time.

Till Next Post,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

From The Heart....

Each February I organize our Ladies' Dept. Valentines get together. We usually serve food and make some sort of gift for the ladies to bring home to the ones they love. This year I wanted to do something a little different, so I decided to do a sort of live blog thing. Several of the ladies in our church have blogs and most of them have oodles of talent. I titled the party "From The Heart" and picked a couple of ladies to demonstrate something that they do to show their love to their families. I underestimated the time it would take to adequately cover each of the topics, so we didn't get to the topics of : Favorite Homemaking Books, The Art of Coupon Clipping, & How to Create a Quick & Easy Party Table. 
We will get to them at some point though. Sorry gals.

 Below are pics of some of the ladies that participated.
 Sis. M demonstrated how to make homemade laundry soap which is more economical than the varieties available in stores, Not to mention better for the environment and your family.
Sis. K showed the ladies how to make "yo yo's" from scraps of fabric. Then she showed us some ideas on how to use them to embellish pillows, picture frames, and headbands.

 Above & Below are pics of "Plain Old Kristi" discussing how to pack adorable healthy lunches for your children. If you would like to see some of her "Bentos" you'll have to hop on over to her blog.
These Japanese inspired lunches are so cute.

 I was inspired to try my hand at making the laundry soap. 
I did it. It works. It's cheap. I love it.
I also decided to try some other recipes 
and I even made a discovery.
(If you already knew about this, 
don't spoil my fun.)
I decided to make a paste out of baking soda and a few drops of Dr.Bronner's Peppermint Castille Soap. I applied it, with a damp washcloth, to my tea kettle and my pitiful toaster oven.
After lightly rubbing for a few seconds, I rinsed and dried the two. 
The part of my oven door that you see gleaming over the box of soda 
used to be caked on/baked on black & brown . . .
and just look at my kettle!
I usually have to use chemicals and a lot of elbow grease to get it that shiny.

 One of the door prizes happened to be a cookbook that I own. I purposed in my heart to come home and try some more recipes from it. The above chunks of pure delight are a result of my determination.
These are called French Breakfast Puffs and the recipe is from, 
"The Pioneer Woman Cooks"
By: Ree Drummond
The recipe may even be on her fabulous web site.

Last, but not least...
From our hearts to your arteries... 
 homemade shortbread going into the oven for Eloise's Sunday School class. 
We decided that these are tastier than Valentines cards.
If you would like to see what the finished product looks like, simply click on the, "In My Kitchen" tab at the top  and then scroll down a little ways and you will see a spatula lifting a golden morsel out of a pan.
That's what it looks like.

Love & Prayers,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Only God....


  Only God knows the reasons we suffer loss and disappointment. I don't know why, but I do know from my own experiences that God has a funny way of turning those situations around . . . if we let Him. I remember a point after Katrina when I was very frustrated. I kept telling friends and relatives that God was going to take care of everything, but I wasn't seeing any results. We decided to take a weekend trip to clear our minds. Having a front row seat at the "Post Katrina Destruction Circus" had a tendency to wear on us emotionally.
   So there we were sitting in a church far away from home, when the evangelist(who didn't know anything about our situation) came up to my husband and said, "The Lord has allowed some things to be taken from you and you can't understand why, but I'm here to tell you that God had to clear out your life to make room for what Hes getting ready to give you". Looking back over the last six years; I know that he was a messenger from God. It has been a rocky, sometimes tear-stained trail, but I can truly say that the view from up here has been worth it. We are better off physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
     I wrote this as a reminder to myself as well as an encouragement to my friend over at "Becoming Jody" I will not attempt to retell her story here, but it would be nice if some of you would hop over to her blog and introduce yourselves. Jody is very sweet and could use a pick-me-up today.

***P.S.Jody- I don't know how I missed your Jan. 27th post about the package I sent, but I stumbled on it when I was scrolling back to find the picture of Stella.
~Blessings to you and your precious family.~

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lunch Scholars

There are days when I question my ability to educate my daughter in a manner consistent with the current "standards" . . . .

. . . After viewing this I can confidently put my fears to rest. On the surface it is comical, but if you really think of the  implications, it is sad and a little scary. This generation will be voting in the not so distant future and some of them are probably already raising the next generation as we speak.

 These students are from Washington state, so I can't give them a pass on not knowing the capitol of Washington. I am sure that this isn't an isolated case though. Based on what I've witnessed at our local high school(ranked in the top 10 in the nation) this is a national problem.

 I don't really blame the kids. The root of the problem lies in our priorities as a society. I'm sure these kids could rattle off the names of their favorite actors, singers, or the latest styles and colors that prom dresses come in, so it is not a question of intelligence.