Shout it Out? No, Toss it Out!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

One thing at a time.. this has been my personal mantra when it comes to getting my ( sometimes quite reluctant) family to be more green and more frugal. Most recently, my attention has been drawn to laundry, an unavoidable necessary evil in every household... some of us more than others. ( Oh how I miss the days of only doing laundry for myself, even if I did have to load it in the car and take it to a dreaded laundro-mat to do it.) My main goal is to be completely natural in my laundry efforts, and of course save some money in doing so by making my own laundry soaps, fabric softeners, etc. I have really hit some major road blocks in this endeavor however by finding just about every "recipe" I find calls for Borax, which as I have read is highly poisonous. Hmm.. take out the chemicals and replace with a poison... sounds like a great idea! Not! Being a mother of 2, sometimes frighteningly active, toddlers I really want to cut any "poisonous" or "chemical" aspect out as much as possible. I know there has to be an alternative that not only is free from any of these elements but that still cleans well too... so the search continues!

This week however, more out of necessity than anything else, I ran across one way to cut a commercially made product out of our lives. Our recent change to cloth training pants, one I was extremely excited about, left both my son and I with a few learning experiences to be had. ( Yes I know, it took me a while to change to cloth ones. Unfortunately they were absolutely nowhere to be found here much to my anguish, at least in sizes I could read and I just don't like ordering online for things that need a perfect fit because both of my children are like me.. one size fits for one thing or one brand and another size for another and so on...quite a pain lol) It was one extremely, ahem, "messy" accident that led to my discovery of the wonderful use of baking soda as a stain remover. I decided to test the offending trainers in a solution of about 1 gallon of hot water and 1/4 cup baking soda and to wash the other, less messy ones using my usual store bought pre-treater. Much to my surprise not only did the baking soda work as well as the commercial product but it actually outperformed it bringing the trainers as good as new while a few stains remained, although lighter, in the others. What better reason to toss out those chemical items and move to solely using baking soda? I am a definite convert when it comes to baking soda!

For tougher stains, try to sprinkle baking soda directly onto the fabric and let sit dry for a while, or you can try a paste made of baking soda and water. ( an unused toothbrush makes a good tool for scrubbing this in, I always keep one of 2 cheapie ones around for cleaning needs like that!)

More laundry ideas coming soon as my interest has been peaked by my little baking soda experiment lol.

Simple White Bread

Thursday, August 26, 2010

One of my favorite endeavors in my quest to become more frugal and self-sufficient is my journey into making my own bread. Not only does a freshly baking loaf of bread make the most amazing air freshener leaving your house smelling heavenly all day, but also creating your own bread allows you to tailor it to your own needs and control exactly what is in it. Not to mention the savings of making your own compared to upwards of $4.00 per loaf really starts to add up after a while if, like me, you aren't a fan of the unhealthy chemical laden standard white breads available on the market these days and opt for the more whole grain organic products available when you do by pre-made breads.

Who doesn't need a good go-to white bread recipe? From PB&J to toast most of us use white bread on a daily basis. I ran across a recipe online quite some time ago and have modified it to suit my needs to come up with the perfect white bread standard for my family. It makes a wonderful hearty loaf that can last about 3 days to a week for a family of four like mine. (Unfortunately I have lost the link to the original but I am looking for it and will upload if/when I find it lol)

This recipe is to be used for a bread machine, but if you don't have one you can always do it the old fashioned way. Believe me, there is no better stress reliever than hand kneading bread dough some days! I believe for hand kneading the somewhat standard knead 10 minutes, let rise 1 hour, punch down and let rise again another 30 to 45 minutes would work for this bread, but of course you can play around with that and find what works best for you depending on the size of loaf and consistency of bread that you like.

One thing to keep in mind when using active dry yeast is that warm water MUST be 110 degrees F at least, otherwise the water and yeast will not work together properly and you will end up with a small extremely dense loaf of bread. I have found that adding the dry ingredients followed by the oil and finally the water is the best method for me when putting the ingredients into the bread machine, but this is of course of personal preference. My settings for this bread are also always a medium white 1.5 lb loaf. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and if you make any modifications let me know and I'll give them a try! Always room for improvement!

Read Comics in Public Day

Along with chasing freebies, trying (although not sure how successfully! lol) to make art, juggling kids, husband, and about a million other things, one of my passions is comic books. Since I was a kid I have had a love and admiration for many of my comic book heros from Batman to Green Lantern, even Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. So of course you can guess my surprise and excitement when I learned a while ago ( I know I'm a bad blogger, I should have posted this a long time ago) about read comics in public day coming up this Saturday, August 28th. You can find out more by going to the facebook page , the twitter stream, or even the official website!  So grab some comics, head to the local coffee shop or wherever you go to read, and read comics in public this Saturday! ^ ^ I know I have some Lenore issues to catch up on, what comics will you be reading?

Summer Deals at Chuck E Cheese

One thing about island life here in Okinawa is getting used to not having things that I as an American have gotten so used to accepting as everyday life...the convenience of running to Walmart ( yes, while I tried to avoid it I did shop at Walmart for convenience items. I know, I know), or having a Home Depot and a Lowe's to choose from when the building or gardening bug bites me. Today I was reminded by our evil television that shows American commercials of an old favorite of mine, Chuck E. Cheese. Many parents rue the idea of Chuck E. Cheese but I welcome trips there. My kids always had fun and it always let the kid still hiding in this shell of an adult have fun trying to beat my old high score or win more tickets for them. So, even though I can't take advantage of this deal myself.. or at least until I find a well hidden Chuck E. Cheese somewhere here on the island.. I thought I would pass the news on to anyone who can, since it is a great deal especially for those of us who have multiple hungry mouths ( including husbands!) to feed. As part of a summer sale Chuck E. Cheese has multiple coupons available. One is one of their usual x amount of coupons for y amount of dollars, but the other is for a large cheese pizza for only $9.99. The offer expires on Sept. 24th so plenty of time to print out and enjoy the savings before school starts or on a weekend to celebrate and help ring in the new school year!

More information and the coupons can be found at the Chuck E. Cheese website. Be sure to look around too if you haven't already visited the site, there are lots of other deals and offers available!.


Well, I had hoped to be more active while beginning this blog but unfortunately I have been dealing with an attack on my facebook page after a post in which I stated that it was not only morally devoid but unconstitutional to even consider not letting the Mosque in the news as of late to be built near ground zero. This altercation has brought a lot of things to my mind that needed dealing with. While I refuse to go back on my "liberal beliefs" or apologize for who I am I do have to question at times, what makes me right and them wrong. I suppose to each of us in that which we call reality we are both right, and that is all that matters. Everyone has to do what is right by them, whether others agree or not. While I hold that both of us have the right to our opinion I simply don't find it appropriate for me to have been personally verbally attacked for speaking my mind on my own facebook stream.

However, in the abuse I had received came the comment that I am too young and immature to hold a valid opinion on the subject. This brought a major question to the forefront of my mind. At what point do we as individuals receive the honor of our opinions being accepted as valid? Not only am I going to be 30 this year but I am also a mother of two, an avid follower of what is going on in the world, and I often take it upon myself to look further into things that interest me, studying on my own while I simply don't have the time or resources to return to college and finish the last few years of my degree. On top of that I have experienced many things in my life that have made me grow as a person including the loss of  child through miscarriage, the death of many friends at a young age, dealing with life as a sometimes single parent and military wife and the experiences of many different regions and cultures through my travels of a military wife just to name a few. It is said that the mind reaches full maturity at the age of 25, and that social maturity soon follows suit. So I pose the question, when is it socially acceptable to consider yourself a mature, functioning member of society with opinions to be accepted and valued as someone who indeed knows what they are talking about? I suppose that the answer depends on to whom the question is being posed and so there will never be a definitive answer... and so I suppose all one can do is to "keep on keepin' on." I make no claims to be an expert, but my words and reality work for me and if one can't trust themselves then what else is there?

Cleaning Play Doh Sucks!

Monday, August 23, 2010

My mother, admittedly, is no Martha Stewart. It's not that she doesn't try she just isn't the best when it comes to all of the homemaker things as due to being a single mother she was usually working. Then again, after being a "single mom" myself for a year while my husband was deployed to Korea, and over a few other deployments and training separations I can see how that comes about, with little time to even breathe let alone think about cleaning and organizing your house. Regardless, I have had to teach myself a number of  things that other suburb dwelling girls turned mothers might have learned from watching their mothers who were homemakers doing. Today's  lesson is one such example learned through having toddlers and Play Doh in the same house or even 10 mile vicinity of one another. Here in base housing, thankfully, our floors are linoleum. Something I rue when my feet are sore and all I want is a nice warm cushy rug to sink my toes into, but even more so something I adore when it comes to cleaning. I have been through a blue million ideas for cleaning up those little devious blobs that stick themselves to your floor after a round of play doh building, refusing to give up their new homes. Of course, there is this cleaner or that cleaner that can remove the problem " in the wink of an eye" but I try to avoid those types of things as much as possible, choosing the more natural, less chemical laden option. Let's face it, even the most mundane things these days are pumped with so many chemicals one can only imagine how many dangerous things are in all of the cleaners that we all take for granted. Eventually I hope to find a good recipe for natural cleaners, a project I've been working on for a little while now, but it seems that they all seem to call for Borax... which is poisonous! Seems a bit counter productive, and not all_that_natural if you ask me.... so my search continues, but that's a whole other story. So back to the matter at hand and the cleaning of the tenacious Doh. All I have to say on that matter, to a point ( something I have issues getting to on occasion as you can see lol), is that vacuum attachments are your friend. I had tried sweeping it up with a broom for a while, but that did little as it was usually all stuck to the floor. Then came the vacuum.. hmm, seemed to just squish it down more. Then the light bulb came on finally. The brush attachment... Genius! Just enough to loosen the material enough to suck it up and away. Of course, I'm sure there are other methods but this one seems to be the best I have found so far... it does involve cleaning the attachment afterward of course, but that is something I do anyway with all of the dog hair and dander coming from my furry little mess factories. I know what you're thiking.. common sesnse lol. I felt quite a fool for not thinking of this sooner, as I'm sure most have but like I said, things like this just don't seem to click as easily for me as some people.  Perhaps when I finally decide to buy carpets for my house I'll have to find a whole new method but for now, this has been my saving grace having 2 kids that love their Play Doh but don't yet quite understand the concept of *not making a mess* unfortunately. Do you have a tried and true method for this? Please let me know, I'm always open for new ideas lol.

Adventures in Babysitting

So I got to babysit the new kid on the block today while his parents were doing all the fun in-processing that comes to moving to Kadena. Generally I avoid babysitting. Not that I don't like kids, in fact I love kids they crack me up more than any adult could, I think we come programmed with a sense of humor that we lose bit by bit as we mature. I just feel almost scared to watch *someone else's kid*... the added responsibility of not knowing them as well as my own. It's strange I know but I just worry more when it's not my own kids. I suppose I've learned well that my kids don't break if they fall down or get a boo boo but other kids might? Who knows lol.

Through today's adventure however, I have learned the unfortunate fact that my son is indeed a wiener kid lol. Several times he was owned through what most would call *typical boy play* army guys, hulk smash gloves, and general rambunctiousness. My husband has always told me that I baby him too much and that he is becoming a mama's boy but it had never quite sank in until today. I always liked the fact that he was my quiet little thinker that was happier playing quietly with his cars. I'm not sure how to take this. Should I encourage him to be " more of a little boy"?  Of course, personalities are different. From a young age he has always been more of a thinker, a problem solver, and more inquisitive than his sister. Perhaps he is just meant to be a "nerd".. it would certainly follow suit with his parents lol.

I suppose with him starting preschool this year he will come into his own more, perhaps be a little less shy and quiet and really find his niche in the crazy world of childhood. Maybe not all boys need to be the typical "little boy". I certainly see nothing wrong with my little guy who would rather stay inside flipping through a comic book than go out and get muddy with the neighborhood kids. He's a great kid the way he is even if he is a little more meek than other boys his age.. I guess like most things it will all sort itself out in the end.

Who Doesn't Love a Freebie?

So one of my new found addictions is to page through all of the Digital Scrapbooking freebies that are available and changing on a pretty much daily basis. It seems that these are usually fairly limited time offers, which makes it even more fun to chase them down before they are gone forever lol. ( I know, I lead such an exciting life :P )

Found some really cute ones today! Here's my short list ( I might add a few later) :

The adorable retroish Fresh and Clean set by Dawn Fairies Designs. I love this one as I'm a huuuge fan of anything even remotely retro. It also comes with a fun challenge and a chance to win the FULL set ( image available on the blog :)

Another really cute retro freebie available today is the Retro Coffee freebie by Latte Dah Designs. Be sure to check their blog for the full kit for Retro Coffee, there are a lot of really cute bead elements to be had in the kit and the price is great for so many elements!

Fall is almost here.. well for most people. I honestly don't know if we have fall here in Okinawa, I certainly hope we do since it is one of my absolute favorite seasons, but I don't think I've ever seen a palm tree lose its leaves like an Oak lol. In the fall spirit however, HK Projekte has a wonderful little fall frame cluster set available as a freebie over at their blog :) 
Of course, there are a lot of others available too but these were just some of my favorites for the day. Hope you enjoy them too!  :)


Here's the story, of a lovely lady, who was bringing up 3 very lovely.... * insert screeching record here*.  If you've come looking for the perfect family, or the perfect mom then trust me... you've come to the wrong place. Don't get me wrong, I have 2 awesome kids and a wonderful life living 10 minutes from the ocean and all the coral reef I could ever hope to explore here on my little slice of tropical heaven, but I think being perfect is, well, boring. For me the trial and error of life is what makes it fun.  Be it my adventures in gardening ( believe me, my thumb is more brown than green lol) my attempts to keep my family as green and natural as possible and lower our impact on the environment, my fun with photography, or any other projects that I decide to take on on a whim. (  They are frequent and quite varied.. I'm eclectic to the extreme, always thinking this or that looks interesting or like a good idea for our family.)  So come along and maybe learn a thing or 2 from my mistakes as I try my hand at this "mommy blogging" business I've been hearing so much about lol. Thanks for stopping by! ( psst. Anyone into digital scrapbooking? yeah? well I'll be uploading a few freeb goodies sometime soon so be sure to keep an eye out for those. I've recently become, well, completely addicted to it and have been busy playing in photoshop and coming up with my own embellishments and papers and who doesn't love a freeb? I know I do.)