Monday, April 16, 2012

Well, I did it...

Yessireebob, I sure did!
(Don't you just love my language? It's the hillbilly from Arkansas/Tennessee coming out!)

What did I do?

I jumped on the make-your-own laundry soap wagon!

I've seen a several of my friends say they've tried it, and I've had it on my to-do list (i.e pinterest board) for a while, I just hadn't gotten around to it yet (in other words, I kept forgetting to buy the ingredients when I went to the store).

One minor difference, though - most everybody I've seen has been doing the powdered version. I wanted to try the liquid for a couple of reasons: one, I'm not a big fan of powdered. I know it's usually the more economical choice, however, (and this is also the other reason for making the liquid) a lot of times it doesn't dissolve well in cold water, and I, for the most part, do all of my
washing in cold water (except for sheets, and other, dirtier stuff).
So, liquid it was.
The melting soap
I used this recipe.

One thing I will say, several people around the web had mentioned that they melt their bar of soap in the microwave. I tried it. If I decide to do this again, I'll try the grating and melting method; for me it just blew up into a big, poufy, soapy sponge that didn't want to dissolve when I added it to the hot water - and my microwave now smells VERY strongly of soap. So much so, that when I went to heat up the kids lunch, it came out with a faint soapy taste to it.
Not good.
Not good at all.

My self-appointed soap-stirrer

The smell was a bit strong. The kids were outside playing when I started the whole melting process, and it got so strong that I opened the windows because I kept sneezing. A couple of minutes late, Juju came trotting in, informing me, 'Mom. I smell soap. Why do I smell soap?' She then appointed herself official soap-stirrer.

'Mom making cake?'
Sorry, son. I kept having to remind him not to taste it!

Of course, the little brother had to get in on the action. He wanted to eat whatever was in the pot. I finally convinced him that it wouldn't taste too good, so then he wanted to help stir.

The finished product.

I started out by putting it into two gallon jugs (the ones shown). I filled them most of the way up with water, but before they were even half cooled, they had already thickened to the point of being unpourable, so I divided in into another gallon jug and added water. It's still pretty thick, but more usable.

SO, cost breakdown:

All together, I paid a little over $9 for the ingredients.
I estimated that I have enough soap made for 80-ish loads, which makes it about 10-11 cents per load. When you take into consideration that I normally buy my soap on sale for $2.50-3.00 a bottle, it's not really much of a cost savings. However, I do have enough borax and soda left to make several more batches, so that will lower the overall cost dramatically.

Do I like it?
I've washed two loads with it. It seems to get the clothes clean, and they smell good when they're done. It's not a strong smell, but they smell clean - and I HATE musty smelling clothes (and towels). Some people have said that they notice their whites/lights get dingy faster using this. I personally find that my whites get really dingy here anyway (apparently from the yucky water), even though I bleach most of them frequently, so I doubt they'll get any worse, but we shall see!

If you've tried it, let me know what you think!

(BTW, THIS is NOT a good deal...good grief! I think my most expensive item was the Borax, which was around $4 for the 76 oz. box. Someone's making a killing!)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

On Armadillos...and Heaven - Conversations with a 5-year-old

Wow, I never knew so many topics could be covered so thoroughly in a 30 minute drive - until I had a child!
Leaving from the great-grandparents place tonight, we saw an armadillo (2, actually), so I spent the next little bit answering questions like, 'do armadillos have sharp teeth?' and, 'what would happen if you picked up an armadillo?', and, 'do hunters shoot armadillos and eat them?', among many others. At point, she told me she to learn about them and when she went to school she would ask her teacher to teach her about them - then she said, 'Mama, will you be my teacher?' So, after we arrived home, I had to look up armadillos on the internet for her - we had to see pictures, find out where they live, what they eat, etc. After I exhausted all the pertinent facts that Wikipedia had to offer, she informed me, 'let's go somewhere else and look for those things - I want to learn more!'
Then we moved on to heaven, and people dying and going there...'when I see someone that I love and have missed in Heaven, will there still be tears in my eyes?'; I told her that we don't cry anymore in Heaven, but she told me, 'but Mom, when I see someone I've missed, when I run to hug them, I might still have some tears on my face!'. So, then she wanted to know, 'what will God do to us if He sees us with tears?'
I'm sure she thought there might be punishment for doing something that wasn't allowed, after all, there are usually consequences for disobeying - but I got to tell my little girl about a loving God who, though He doesn't allow tears in His Heaven, when He sees tears in our eyes, does not punish us, but instead will reach down and gently wipe them away.
And I got tears in my eyes just thinking about it...I'm glad I have a God like that!

As a mother, there are so many things I can't explain - I don't know if armadillos have sharp teeth, or how Barbara Manatee (on VeggieTales) wears a dress and lipstick, or how a lie grows so big that it will swallow you up (VeggieTales, again), nor do I know why some people get sick and die, or why some people lose arms and legs, if it will be hard for hard to find Mommy and Daddy in Heaven, or why Bubby thinks red is green, why some people hurt kids, or why some kids don't have mommies and daddies (all questions I've been asked recently).

But I do know this: there is a God in Heaven who cares so much about me, that when I'm sad -it makes Him sad; when I hurt, He hurts with me; when I don't have answers to all the questions and the problems I face, He whispers, 'Just Trust Me'; and when I finally reach my permanent home - His home - because He cares so much, He will reach out to me, and with His great big God-hand - the very Hand that flung stars into galaxies, formed oceans and rivers, tree, plants and all those animals that I can't explain, the Hand that created man from just a handful of dust - with that Hand, He will wipe away every tear that has ever fallen from my eyes.

You know, maybe I don't need all the answers to all the questions...that's answer enough.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Home Made Granola Bars Made Simple

There's a few things about me that you may not know:
1. I like trying new things (except when I don't).
2. Although I'm not at ALL a picky eater (I'll try about anything at least once), I'm a bit picky about what I feed my kids.

I haven't completely started feeding my family whole-grain, all fresh everything - but I probably should. It's so much better for your overall health! And, after all, if our bodies are God's dwelling place, shouldn't we fill them with the best stuff we can?
Ok, enough. You didn't come here so I could lecture you on healthy foods.

Anyway, with all that in mind, I try to get the healthiest stuff I can find when I go to the grocery store.
Enter granola bars.
My kids like granola bars.
That's healthy. Right?
Well, it should be. But that high-fructose corn syrup holding it together...blech. And although it IS made of oats, supposedly, there is less than 1 gram of fiber per bar...(at least in the ones I have).
Surely we can do better than that?

So, I've been on a bit of a quest: find a good granola bar recipe.

What qualifies as good?
Well, I'd like it to have healthy ingredients, natural sugars preferably, and not too much of them; and, the clincher: it needs to be something my hubby will eat.

I tried one a few months ago, but it didn't turn out too great. I didn't mind them, but the kids and the hubster wouldn't touch them.
Bye-bye, recipe!
So, I've looked around, bt haven't pursued it too much, until the other day when I was on Pinterest, I saw this recipe: 5 ingredient peanut butter granola bars. I pinned it.
Today, I remembered that recipe, and pulled it up. Looked pretty good. So I decided to try it.
Good news! I think it might be a winner!

Now if you know me very well at all, you probably have figured out by now that I never follow a recipe precisely. Never.

So here's my version of THAT recipe:

4 C. Rolled oats (I used old-fashioned oats - the kind you buy in the big cardboard can)
1 C. coarsely crushed rice chex cereal (you could use rice krispies, but my friendly neighborhood mice had eaten those, so I had to use what I had)
1 C. Peanut butter
1/2 - 3/4 C. honey
1/2 C. chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)
1/2 C. miniature marshmallows

Mix together oats, cereal, choc. chips and marshmallows. In a microwave safe dish, melt the peanut butter and honey and stir together until creamy looking. Pour over other ingredients and mix thoroughly. The chocolate and marshmallows will melt slightly.
Press firmly into a pan (9x13 or so - I lined mine with parchment to make it easier to clean up)
Bake on 325° for about 10 minutes.
Cool and cut into bars.

Disclaimer: I am fully aware that putting chocolate and marshmallows in it just negated some of the healthiness. However, as least in this case, while it may not be super-duper health food, I DO know what went into it - and I don't know what all goes into the store-bought ones. At least I can pronounce all of the ingredients! And though they are sweet, it's all natural sugar - except what comes from the chocolate and marshmallows.

The verdict? Dear hubby pronounced them, 'not too bad', the kiddos loved them, and I, even I who don't like peanut butter overly much, thought they were pretty tasty! The taste is faintly reminiscent of those no-bake cookies.

So, if you make them, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The First Popsicle of Spring

It's official: Spring has sprung!
The kids had their first popsicle of the season today.

I found a cheap popsicle mold at Walmart the other day, so I bought it. Ever since, Ju has been bugging me to make popsicles for them, so yesterday I gave in.
And today, after 3,582 'Are they ready yet?'s, and about the same number of 'Can we eat them now?'s, after church tonight I let them have them.

Bubby seemed to be spending and extraordinary amount of time looking at his, so I told him several times to lick it.
This is what I got:

"Wickin' it, Mom! I Wickin' it!"

Wow. I think she got her dad's mouth! ;)

I made them with chocolate ('scuse me, according to Jonathan that should be 'chwocwate') pudding so the mess was minimal....if you don't count what was all over their faces!

Now to find a popsicle mold that is smaller. Jonathan didn't make it through much more than half of his - it was just too big. Now, my other child - the one with the bottomless stomach - didn't have a bit of trouble with it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Today, We Remember...

Today, we remember...that terrible, wonderful day some 2,000 years ago. That day when an innocent man - nay, not just an innocent, but a sinless, perfect man - was ridiculed, brutally beaten, and hung on a cross to die. It was a horrible death - bleeding, bruised, with nails in His hands and feet, the very life being crushed from Him by His own weight, hanging suspended between heaven and earth.
But, on that dreadful day, because of the death of one man, not just any man, but the Son of God Himself - God made flesh, Immanuel - life came to every man. A very bad day, became a very good day -

Because of Jesus.

In the words of Isaac Watts, penned over 300 years ago:

  1. Alas! and did my Savior bleed
    And did my Sov’reign die?
    Would He devote that sacred head
    For such a worm as I?Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
  2. And bathed in its own blood—
    While the firm mark of wrath divine,
    His soul in anguish stood.
  3. Was it for crimes that I had done
    He groaned upon the tree?
    Amazing pity! grace unknown!
    And love beyond degree!
  4. Well might the sun in darkness hide
    And shut his glories in,
    When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
    For man the creature’s sin.

  5. Thus might I hide my blushing face
    While His dear cross appears,
    Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
    And melt my eyes to tears.
  6. But drops of grief can ne’er repay
    The debt of love I owe:
    Here, Lord, I give myself away,
    ’Tis all that I can do.


    At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
    And the burden of my heart rolled away,
    It was there by faith I received my sight,
    And now I am happy all the day!

    On a lighter note: