Laundry soap update #2

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I posted a recipe for homemade laundry soap in November of 2013.  I am always striving for improvements and I have tried many different options for ingredients so far. I still most like the Dr. Bronner’s – I posted in the past but really have a hard time finding all the the need ingredients in one place.  It seems like if the store I am in carried Bronner’s they don’t carry washing soda or they have the washing soda but are missing the bar of soap.  I tried ivory with my last batch because I had some on hand, and while it seems to clean the same, I just don’t like it.

One thing I have never really cared for about my soap was the consistency and appearance – but it really didn’t matter.  But this weekend I was at my mom’s house and washed some fabric while I was there.  I used her soap – which happened to be a batch of homemade laundry soap I made for her using Fels-Naptha for the bar of soap.  I have never used this soap for my own laundry soap but the consistency of my mom’s soap was far above mine.

So to try and adjust my own supply I am trying yet another bar of laundry soap.

Materials:

1 bar zote (I am using the white bar)

1/2 cup borax

1/2 cup of oxiclean (an addition)

1 cup of washing soda

Water

5 gal bucket

Grater – I like to use my food processor for speed

Directions:

1.) Grate the bar of soap.

2.) Dissolve the soap in about 2 – 3 cups of water on the stove top.

3.) Pour the melted soap and water mixture into a 5 gallon bucket with lid.

4.) Add the washing soda, oxiclean and borax.

5.) Fill the bucket about 3 – 4 inches from the top of the bucket with HOT water.

6.) Stir well, cover and let sit over night.

7.) In the morning stir well to break up the gel

When you transfer your soap from the bucket to whatever receptacle you choose to use for your immediate needs (I use an over-sided mason jar with a spout, my mom uses an empty commercial container) make sure you mix well to break up the film on top and remember you should be filling half the container with water and the other half with soap.  If you do it this way, you will be using the mixture as you would a regular commercial soap.  If you choose to keep it in the concentrated form, you half as much soap as you would for regular commercial laundry soap.

As has always been this is a huge money saver.  And using the bar of Zote instead of Dr. Bronner’s will actually save even more money since there is about a $3 discrepancy in price.  I will be making two 5 gallon buckets of this stuff in the next few weeks so I know I will have more than enough laundry soap to make it through the first year of baby’s life.  Each bucket will last our family at least 8 months and cost about $3 to make (you can see the price breakdown including the cost of time in this first laundry soap update).  I do still purchase Dreft for the baby clothes and use that until my stock pile is gone.  But I can’t actually tell you the last time I bought commercial soap for mine and my husband’s clothing.  It has saved us hundreds of dollars over the past few years.

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An open letter to the man in Walmart who lost his manners

Dr Sir,

Yes, you.  The jerk who made a snide remark to the Walmart employee about the crying child at the front of the store.

I am not sure when you decided it was okay to ask an employee to ‘tell that woman to get her kid under control’ when her daughter was clearly upset and mom had been trying to calm her down.  As a mother of a young girl myself, I am pretty sure that in the same situation I would have left the store because as obnoxious as that child may have been to you, I promise you the mom was likely much more uncomfortable about the situation than you were.  And frankly, she may have been dealing with crying and screaming all day as it was.

Maybe mom was waiting with the child while dad picked up a medication – mail order pharmacy isn’t instantaneous, and if the child needs an antibiotic, well that could cause the fit you were so easily irritated with.  Maybe the child was crying because mom told her ‘no’.  I guess in that situation there is an easy solve, mom could just give in … but then you would be upset because mom raised a self-entitled child who was draining all of societies resources or being a productive member of society.

Here is the thing – parent’s can’t win.

No matter what we do, or how we parent, someone like you is waiting around the corner to make sure we know how badly we are failing.  And almost without fail it will be in a moment when we already feel like we are the biggest failures that have existed in parenthood.

Here is my snide suggestion for you: at your age, you should probably not wear shorts that were clearly designed to be deemed hip to the late teen early twenty-something crowd.  But since that isn’t useful (sucks when someone cuts you down without offering help doesn’t it?), let me give you a serious suggestion:

Look around, you are in Walmart.  Families shop there.  Beyond that Walmart is known for some silly things … like the behavior and people that can be seen there.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this site.  Sure you can see that kind of craziness pretty much anywhere … but usually not in great enough quantities that a whole website is dedicated to the oddities seen in one location.  My point is that maybe you should adjust your expectations.  Between families and the crazy stuff that can go on, you should count your blessings that the biggest disruption to your shopping experience was at checkout where a little girl was crying.

Secondly, you are in a public place.  And I am pretty sure you don’t own Walmart.  If you really have such an issue getting along with others, there is this crazy little invention that has been helping out the most antisocial of us since 1991.  Actually, online shopping was ‘invented‘ in 1979 … so it has been around for awhile.  It just took some time for it to become commercially available.  Today, you can even shop online for your groceries and have them delivered to your door … crying kids not included.

Just so we are clear, I know you don’t and won’t have any shame in your disgraceful behavior.  I am not disillusioned enough to believe that my words will make you snap out of your poor behavior and change the way you treat others.  I don’t expect this will ever even fall under your judgmental glare – but it sure makes me feel better.

I do hope that if I should ever knowingly cross your path again, your behavior has upgraded from matching that of a tantruming two year old to that of at least a semi-respectful seven year old.

Sincerely,

The mother of a sometimes less than well behaved 2 year old.

Flannel burp rag how to

The things you think you know about having a baby before one is born is such a stark contrast to reality. One thing that stands out for me is my need/desire to have those adorable one layer flannel blankets and my need (or what I thought to be a need) for specific burp rags … because of course baby’s spit up.  I can remember the birth of each of my siblings and each of their different ‘stages’.  You’d think I would have known better.  Especially on the burp cloth front – but I didn’t and all the ‘experts’ and registry builders tell you that you need all these things for a new baby. Turns out those cute little flannel blankets were frequently used for catching spit up instead of wrapping my baby up tight.  Let’s face it, new recommendations say blankets are sort of a thing of the past and should be replaced with sleep sacks and specialized wraps any way. The only exception to this was the ridiculously over priced special burp cloths I bought that formed just right to your shoulder and were supposed to convert of a ridiculous looking bib.  But they fit so nice on the shoulder and were smaller (better for the diaper bag) than carrying a full size flannel receiving blanket. But they are made out of some sort of muslin fabric that just don’t absorb as well as the flannel.  And at $9.99 for each one, the cost just doesn’t really make a ton of sense. So, based on my insane flannel stock pile (why does it always have to have major sales on holidays/big shopping sales and be so darn cute?) and my impending need for plenty of rags to soak up new baby spit up, I thought I would make my own version. I combined the best of both worlds.

Flannel burp rag tutorial - DIY - great shape for staying in place.

What you’ll need:

Flannel – to pieces per rag.  I imagine 1/2 yard of fabric will get you at least 2 clothes

I started by folding the fabric and tracing a kidney bean pattern about 19&1/2″ at it’s longest point 10″ at both ends and about 7&1/2″ at it’s most narrow point on both the printed flannel and a complementary color flannel.  I actually used a chip box to make a pattern so I could make many of these.  I folded the pattern in half when I cut it so that each side would be symmetrical.

Next I placed the cut fabric right sides together.

I sewed around the edge with about a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Remember to leave an opening to flip the rag inside right.

I folded in the material from the opening and sewed a top stitch around the cloth.  The seam allowance was about 1/4 of an inch.

Infinity scarves/nursing covers, careseat blankets and a lack of sleep – tutorial included

Yesterday, or more accurately the early morning hours of today, I was able to get 3 different projects done.  While I am extremely tired today, I am so happy with the things I got done.

First on the list was an infinity nursing scarf.

Digging out that darn nursing cover was just a waste of time and energy every time I needed to nurse my little girl.  But, wearing the cover as a scarf?  Well easy, on hand access to a cover whenever the little one needs it … sounds like a no brainer to me.  I found this tutorial for the dimensions on diary of a mad crafter.  The tutorial is really easy to follow and takes about 5 – 10 minutes to complete the scarf.  I used this really fun double sided jersey with stripes on one side and polka dots on the others.  The neutral colors should make it widely useable and the jersey material made it so I didn’t need to finish the edges.  The bonus on this fabric find is I got it on clearance.  I am not sure why, but the fabric stores in my area always seem to have jersey fabrics in their clearance section.

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The next project was left over fabric from my carseat cover.  When we had our little girl, I got a bunch of those ‘free’ product things.  You know, like the sling and carseat cover.  The carseat cover also had a baby lap blanket that we used all the time for our October baby.  Unfortunately the lab we had at the time seemed to have some issues adjusting to life with a new baby and less attention and ate about 1/4 of the blanket. I had a ton of extra material so – I made one of my own to match.

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Like I said, all of my materials were left over but what you’ll need:

20″ x 25″ cotton printed fabric

25″ x 25″ coordinated minky fabric

and of course thread

I started this project by laying the minky ‘right side up’ and laying the cotton fabric print side against the ‘right side’ of the minky.  I lined up one end of the 25″ side of minky with the 25″ side of the printed fabric.  I pinned them together at just that one edge and sewed it together.

Next I pulled the printed fabric to meet the other end of the minky.  This allowed for the ‘trim’ of minky on the one end.  I pinned all sides and sewed them up leaving a small space to flip the blanket right sides out.

Finally, I folded in the little pocket that was left open for flipping, and did a top stitch all the way around the blanket.

Again, a simple project.  I think the thing that took me the longest as cutting the material.  I am also not an expert in working with minky.  I find it can be a little difficult due to the fabrics tendency to stretch.  My advice is to go slow, always pin, and look ahead and made adjustments as needed as you go.

My last project for the night was another really practical and easy project – and it used leftover scraps from a handful of blankets I made. Tomorrow’s post will include a tutorial for that.

Target’s secret weapon – stocking sanity for moms everywhere.

Today I learned the secret to Target’s success.

At 8 pm I found myself climbing into the car and heading to my local Target store.  For the next hour I found myself sitting in the parking lot on the phone with a good friend and crying – trying to pull myself back together.

Sometimes I swear motherhood is designed to see just exactly how resilient you are.  Today was a day for mommy and daughter to hang out.  And I have been looking forward to not having a million things competing for my attention so I could just spend some time with her.  But I am quickly learning that I am not that person.

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I will always have a million things competing for my time and attention.

I like to be busy and I need to feel useful.  I do realize the slightly preposterous implication of that sentence.  Of course raising my daughter is of the most paramount use I can be – but I have a harder time seeing the forest through the trees.

Let me explain.

My daughter loves to color and read books.  Which are both perfectly great activities – but I sometimes fail to see the value of these things in the journey to raise her to be a well rounded and responsible adult.  I know it’s there but sometimes coloring just looks like coloring and reading a book is just reading a book.  While I am sitting there reading with her, I see all the things around me that are needing attention but aren’t getting it.  Yeah, that load of dishes should really be washed but the second I try to get up I have a little demanding mini me pulling at my legs saying ‘mommy, come color with me’.  And it is really hard to explain to her that mommy will be better able to give her the time and attention she craves after I do something to make me feel like I accomplished something … like that load of dishes.

I realize that both things have importance.  A clean home changes my mood dramatically and puts me in a better frame of mind, but my daughter is only going to be 2 and wanting to color with me for so long.  When she is 18 and moving away for the first time, what am I going to be thinking?  ‘Gee, I sure wish I had done those dishes in a more timely manner’, ‘Hmm, I really wish that when she was little I had a nice organized, spotless home’, or ‘Man, what I wouldn’t give to have one more night to cuddle my little baby girl’?

Based on what I can already see my guess is I will be wishing for one more day, not a cleaner home.  And all the warnings from well meaning parents of older children that ‘those days go by so fast’ or ‘before you know it they are all grown up’ only reenforces my hunch.

But now and then the pressure to get my house in order and to keep everything clean and the absolute insane guilt I feel for not being able to make sure my home is spotless when my husband walks in the door after work get the better of me.  Today was one of those days and it was fueled by the copious amounts of things left to get done before our little boy arrives and accelerated by a minor plumbing leak I discovered in the basement.

I figured if we could just make it to nap time and I could lay down and rest with her for a little while, the afternoon would seem all better.  Most days are fixed with a nap and a snack.  And after being awoken from an hour and a half of slumber by a sweet little voice saying ‘mommy, wake up’, I was in a pretty good mood.  Until I went down to the basement to find a fan I never located (I hear they are great for fort building) and got distracted by the state of the basement and that pesky leak.

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Of course my excited girl was calling for me, she was impatient for the promised fort and movie on this gloomy, rainy day.  It took me two hours to pull myself together enough to get the fort up, the tv on, the popcorn made and crawl my pregnant body into the fort with her.

I want to be clear – my daughter wasn’t particularly ‘naughty’ today, maybe a little extra whiny and needy but not ‘bad’.  It didn’t matter though.  By the time daddy walked in the door I was done.  Over the day.  Ready to move on to something new, to feel useful and productive or at least part of society.  Staying home this past week has been doing a number on me.

So he let me leave.

And where do I go?  Just that big red bullseye across the highway.  After my second vent/breakdown today, I finally made it into the store.  And it hit me.  Target is successful because they put there stores in the middle of the suburbs where all the crazy stressed out moms who feel disconnected from the world live.  I don’t know if they knew that gold mine was sitting there for the taking when they built their first suburban store – but it is working for them now.  Of course there are other stores in that area, but Target has this amazing assortment that still allows me to be mom while I am on my ‘vacation’.  What I mean is, I could have gone somewhere else for the few items I needed, but at Target I was still able to browse items for my family.

That’s right, I left my home to get some me time, which was spent thinking about my family.  I actually even called to check in and make sure my little girl was okay … while she was at home, with her daddy.

I have heard a million times that you don’t know love until you are a parent.  I don’t know if that’s completely true – but I can tell you I never knew guilt until I was a mommy.  And no one warned me.  Not that I would have believed it if they had, but I really had no idea. And not in the I-knew-my-life-would-change-but-I-didn’t-realize-to-what-extent kind of way.  I mean I DIDN’T KNOW there would be guilt – pretty much all day everyday.  And I thought I would have less of it as she got older, as I eased into parenthood … but there is more, especially as she becomes more and more vocal and articulate.

And the worst part is, I am not doing anything ‘wrong’.  My daughter is well cared for and loved.  She is smart and funny.  She is sassy and strong willed.  She is sweet and loving.  And we make the best decisions we can for her knowing everything has a trade off – but no matter the choice we make, I feel the guilt of the ‘what if’.

So today, after loaning a parking space from Target for an hour, I went inside and parted with a little bit of money.  Seriously, in Target terms, I spent pennies.  Brought home a future project for me and the little one to complete, and thanked Target for the little sliver of sanity I was able to get back my little Target vacation.

Nesting – why we do it and what it looks like with 11 weeks and a to-do list a mile long

We are about eleven weeks away from welcoming our little boy into our family.  Apparently I am a late bloomer to the nesting instinct, but it is in full swing now.

According to parentingweekly.com, nesting is an instinct all mothers in the animal kingdom are equipped with.  The article claims nesting typically starts in the 5th month and can range in ‘symptoms’ all the way to the extremes of throwing away perfectly good linens in order to replace them with fresh ones or taking apart everything including the knobs/handles in the kitchen to be able to disinfect the screws and inside of the knobs.

My nesting instinct with my daughter really didn’t start until the very end and it was seemingly mild case and really focused on practicals.  For example, I wanted to wipe down everything in the kitchen and organize the insides of the cupboards.  I figured who knew when my kitchen would get a throughly cleaning again and who wants to hunt through the cupboards for whatever baby thing we needed when the baby was crying or at 2 am.

I think it had something to do with my daughter being a first born.  I didn’t feel as much pressure because my attention wasn’t being divided between a toddler and a newborn … and we were in our house for just over a year when she was born so it was pretty well set.

Fast forward to baby #2 and we have a torn apart basement, a soon-to-be nursery overflowing with all sorts of stuff from office furniture to baby supplies like a mountain of diapers and a crib still in the box waiting to have a freshly painted room in order to be able to be put together.  But the painting needs to wait until the room is cleared out, which needs to wait until the basement has baseboards, which waits until it has carpet again, which waits until … well, you get the point.  There is a lot of work to get done.  A lot of it that I am ‘banned’ from doing.  Either because my husband is not really comfortable allowing me to help, or because I tire so easily, or because it is medically in advisable.

Don’t misinterpret that to mean that I don’t have my own to-do list.  I have been systematically going through all of the rooms in our house and either throwing, shredding, recycling, or garage sale-ing everything we don’t need/use all that often.  Even my daughter’s toys/stuffed animals are not exempt … or some of the clothes we got for her but never used or don’t ever foresee using are out.  I have even started getting rid of my maternity wear that I am less than thrilled to wear.  I freed by closet of all my corporate wear since I have left my job using ThreadUp.  They are basically a second hand online site.  They buy like new designer clothes from you and sell them online at ridiculous prices.  I really liked this option because they will take all sorts of things and you get to choose what they do with the ‘rejected’ items you send in – either have them sent back to you for a S&H fee or choose to recycle them.  Most of the things I sent just were too much to be messing with on my own (new with tags Banana Republic pants and suits).

In addition to my ‘clean up and get rid of crap’ list, I have a handful of small home improvement projects to add to the basement redo list.  (If you aren’t sure about this basement redo business, here is a little bit about the flood we had last year leading us on this long journey).  We have a door knob to the side door – our most commonly used door – that could just use an old fashioned up grade.  The knob we have often results in a slammed door when the husband leaves for work, I’d like one that shuts a little easier – because when baby and toddler sleeps, mommy sleeps and we don’t want to wake a sleeping anyone if not necessary.  I’d also LOVE to replace the impractical banister style railing in our living room at the top of our basement stairs with a custom built half wall book shelf because … STORAGE.

If that list isn’t long enough, I have a handful of ‘craft’ projects to complete for baby as well as half started projects I’d like to finish and post to etsy or in preparation for some fall/winter craft sales with a longtime friend.  My list of ‘to-dos’ for baby include 2 window panels, a few nursing scarves that look like infinity scarves, burp rags, and a handful of blankets.  A few days ago I was able to cross off the diaper changing pad followed by a blanket for my daughter that was supposed to be done as a christmas gift this last year and the carseat cover for baby.  Both used some minky fabric which I find a little challenging to work with.

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With only 11 weeks to go, I am feeling a little pressured to get this ever growing list done.  This mom could use some serious tips on getting ready for baby #2 – what are your best tips for getting things done and in order with a two year old running around?

Another day, another project – Coffee Sleeve

Today I spent just over 3 hours at the lab to be sure I didn’t have gestational diabetes.  If you haven’t ever been through the process, they start by taking a fasting blood glucose and then asking you to drink a very sugary beverage in about 5 minutes.  The drink on an empty stomach can cause nausea and/or vomiting.  They then ask you to hang out for 3 hours and take a blood glucose reading every hour.  As long as you pass at least 2 of the 3 hourly readings, your free and clear.  I passed all of the readings without a problem.  If you are lucky, you pass the 1 hr non-fasting test and get to skip the 3 hr test.  I wasn’t that lucky with my first pregnancy and I wasn’t that lucky with this one.

The down side is that the sugar provides for a very active baby.  On the other hand you have 3 hours to just sit.  I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  The time I had I used to complete another project.  Not one that I really had on my ‘to-do-before-baby-list’, but one item to cross off my endless list of started projects nonetheless.

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This is the second coffee sleeve I have knit but the first completed one using the double pointed needle technique.  I can’t decide which I like better from a finished product perspective but from the perspective of working on the item, I think I much prefer to use the magic loop method.  I found that it was easier to see what I was doing and I didn’t have to use a stitch marker which saves a little time and doesn’t interrupt the process so much.

I am hoping that tonight I will have a little bit of time/energy for one more project.  Again, not on the to-do list I mentioned yesterday but a project I have had in the works since Black Friday 2014 and intended to complete by Christmas.  So well overdue.  I have so many projects in the works that were really just for fun – so as I complete them, I’ll start to post them in my Etsy shop.