Friday, March 23, 2012

only God is God

There's a story that needs telling. And it's a GREAT story.

It starts out with a little baby who decided to come live with us, take up residence in my little incubator...

(little white dots at the bottom right corner of the black oval)

And then...what is a far too small a time after that...
God decided that this little Baby Blueberry had finished its mission.

And just like that, Baby Blueberry went home to Jesus.

And every question you might think would come into our minds has indeed come into our minds.

Was it because I wasn't take pre-natals yet?
I've had coffee during my other pregnancies and they turned out okay...
But the heart was beating - I SAW IT - and that's supposed to decrease the chances, isn't it?
I didn't lose weight first...
Should we have done something different?
Did we do something wrong?
...what happened???

But we know full well that none of these questions are rational, and some don't have answers at all.

Things are as they should be, even if not as we would like.

And so we are, again, without child. But we are with God. And God is with us. Closer than ever, better than ever, stronger than ever, tighter than ever, with every line we read meant for our comfort and peace and reassurance of God-With-Us.

And one more thing is certain:


And some of it we might know. Some of it we might determine further down the road. Some of it we may never see 'til heaven-side. But if for no other purpose than --

we will tell the story.

And we will tell them the baby's name...


Friday, March 16, 2012

the laundry story

I did it! I made my own laundry detergent. [beam] Here's how it went down.

Here's the recipe, just to recap:
   1 4lb box of Borax
   1 4lb box of Washing Soda
   1 4lb box of Baking Soda
      these three were all in the laundry aisle (actually, they were out of the Washing Soda, but they normally have it)
   3 bars of Kirk's Castile soap (you can also use Ivory or Fels Naptha, but apparently this one is all natural)
      this was with the regular bar soap in Health & Beauty
I chose this recipe because she said you can get everything at Walmart. I'm not super excited about shopping at Walmart, but it's where I go because it's cheap and I can get everything I need there. So if I can get all my laundry soap stuff there, too - bonus.

Note: The Kirk's Castile soap says "original coconut oil soap" and I was concerned it would make everything smell like coconut. It doesn't. It's smells beautifully like soap. I was pleasantly reassured.

My original thought was to use a 5-gallon bucket, but then after buying the ingredients, it seemed overkill. So I broke down and bought the one container big enough at Walmart. I think my boys actually were getting annoyed with how long I stood in the container aisle going back and forth about buying this thing. It didn't look the way I wanted it to; it didn't look farmhousey. At. All. And I was nervous because the lid didn't seem to stay on well. I kinda got really hung up on that "air-tight" part of the instructions. But I was getting impatient with having the ingredients on my table and nothing to put them in.

So I started pouring the boxes of washing soda, baking soda, and Borax into this container.

Note: It gets pretty powdery in the air. Don't breathe too deep. I did find the powders a their scent. Not bad. Just strong.

Then the soap. I bought the el-cheapo grater at Walmart, too. (97c maybe? No more than a buck or two, certainly.) I wanted the soap to be light and fluffy. I tried the 2nd smallest setting, but it seemed bigger than I wanted.

So I tried it on the smallest setting. It clogged. No soap was getting through.

So I went back to the bigger size, and it looked like this. (So pretty, huh??)

Then I realized that once I added the grated soap, it would be very hard to mix all this. Once it's all together, it's kinda dense. So I moved everything to an old 25lb. bird seed bucket (I washed it first). It's slightly smaller than a 5 gallon bucket. I didn't have a lid for it...but I'm choosing not to be worried for now. Later I'll find a more farmhousey bucket I like better.

It also gives me an EXCELLENT use for my grammy's wooden spoon. All my life it has been the chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-spoon. It's perfect for it. But it is just plain, unfinished wood, and it's fairly chipped and cracked now, and it makes me leery of what's hiding in there, so I had resigned myself to retire the spoon and hopefully do something crafty with it later. Something amazingly creative and brilliant.

Like drill a hole in it and hang it up.
(There's only so much you can do with a spoon.)

This is my big helper during this process. He loved it. As long as you can keep him from stirring too fast...

And the results?

Well, I didn't go easy on its first load, that's for sure. I live in the land of a 5yo who has "accidents" and a 2yo still learning. I had a verrrrr(rrrr)rrry pee-soaked load that I was actually saving to use as my first load. This is my life - if my laundry soap can't keep up, there's no point. Why go easy the first load? I'm not going to keep to laundry soaps on hand.

The recipe says to use about 2 tablespoons of soap, which equals 1/8 cup. (The measuring cup I bought doesn't have tablespoons. I'm hoping to switch to a smaller scoop at some point.)

I also added white vinegar to the load as fabric softener. This is supposed to both soften the fabrics (which doesn't matter as much to me; we didn't use fabric softener before) but also remove any last soap residue from the clothes. That'd be nice. The place I took my recipe from said to put it in the fabric softener dish. I don't have one of those. So I took a chance and poured it in the dish we have for bleach. The dish doesn't hold it until a certain time and then dispense it, it just drains right in. It said not to use much, about a quarter of a cup, which worked out to be just about the top of the dish, so I don't really measure it anymore.

Now, I'd like to say that I opened the washer and was greeted by the most wonderfully clean smell ever.

I can't.

But that's because I didn't finish that load of laundry, and I'm kinda bummed about it, because I didn't get to finish the experience. But, being first trimester as I am, my dad took pity on me and finished up the load for me. My mom folded it. (Thanks.)

But then I was able to get an unbiased opinion. She said she came across only one pair of shorts that still smelled like pee. I can handle that!!!! And since then, I can't remember any other pieces of clothing that have smelled less than clean when they come out.

I call that success.

A couple more tips:
1 - I put in the soap first, then started the water, before loading the clothes. This gave the soap a chance to start dissolving by itself without clothes sitting right on it. I don't know if it really makes a difference or not, but given the bigger shavings of soap, I'm trying to give it a fighting chance.
2 - It does smell slightly of vinegar when you open the washer with the wet clothes. But by the time they come out of the dryer, they're fine.

I do not/am not counting loads to calculate the savings. I will, however, keep track of how many days it lasts. But since I didn't really keep track of how long one bottle of detergent lasted me before, so I will have to do some kind of general average to figure out how it compares.

Overall, though, I like it. I like how purely soapy it smells. I like using soap from a big bucket. I like making it myself. I like using less for each load.

And I like using only things that God put on the earth. That's my favorite part. I'm not trying to live "crunchy," "organic," or "natural." I'm just (very slowly and one attempt at a time) trying to live a little easier, simpler, and more honestly, using what God gave us to begin with. Makes sense.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Welcome to the end! The 29 Day Organizing Challenge is over! And I made it...mostly... :)

I must announce, though, that I guess I am no longer eligible for the official challenge contest. Due to our snow storm yesterday, and hubby having to work from home (and thus being on the computer from 8-5), I did not get my blog posted...and posting closed at 3pm yesterday.

I did not know this.

For other link-ups, she allowed about a week to get all posts in. I assumed (I know, bad Carrie) that she would do the same for this week.

She did not.

C'est la vie.

The point is that I got it done, right?????

The point of this challenge, ultimately, for me, was to give Hubby a Valentine's Day present of a clean bedroom. I have done so. Yay, me! So all those prizes (those beautiful...wonderful...I-will-never-buy-on-my-own prizes) don't really matter. At all. (They don't.) (Seriously.)

But! I am posting anyway. HA! :)

So here are my before and after pictures, as requested.

Behind The Door - now the door opens all the way!

Baker's Rack & Corner - I don't kill myself trying to get to the lamp in the dark anymore!

Under the Bed & Headboard - obviously a picture under the bed wouldn't work, so this is the "purge pile" that came from it, and a picture of the bookshelf-headboard which you can't see in it's entirety (and it was pretty clean to begin with).

My Side of the Bed & Bookcase - an empty bookcase, and the trash is now next to the bookshelf-headboard.

 Dresser & White Chair - the frog got to stay, and the laundry basket is now where the chair was.

 In Front of the Closet - this was the BIGGEST part of the room to clean; now a cohesive, organized space (in HUGE need of a nice circle rug).

That was the practical part of the exam. Here is the written:

Laura also had 7 questions for us to answer:

1. What space did you decide to organize and why?
    I chose me and Hub's bedroom. I got the idea from Elizabeth at Ready. Set. Simplify. She chose the bedroom as a Valentine's gift for her husband, and I thought it was perfect (admission: total copy-cat). Our room is treated as a total after-thought. Neither of us go in there except to sleep and get dressed, and it's been our mutual, unspoken feeling of "well, let's get everything else done; we can wait." I thought...enough waiting. I also thought it would be nice for Hubby to get to his closet.

2. What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 29 day timeline?
    I started late, so I knew that breaking it down into small pieces, and scheduling them out in the exact number of days I had left would be crucial. I made a list of how many spaces I had, and then put them into manageable groups to fit the 19 days I had left. And I did NOT plan to work on Sundays. That would be organizational suicide.

3. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
    That would have to be that the very first full week that I was in the challenge, early in the week, my stepdaughter announced to her guidance counselor at school her plans for suicide. Nothing happened the rest of that week.
    The next week, also early in the week, everyone in my family began to get the stomach flu. Nothing happened the rest of that week either.
    I overcame it by simply ceasing to care. Not in a bad way, but merely by deciding that several things - these things - were more important. I could catch up. And if not, so be it. It was already better than it had been. I forced myself not worry about it. (And at times, it was quite forceful.)

4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?
    Much of it was stuff that belonged elsewhere. Much of that "much" was Hubby's fencing stuff, which belongs in another room entirely (it already has a closet, it's just been a process to get it all located there). Some of it went into his top dresser drawer (because, honestly, there's some stuff we just can't decide about, and this is where he keeps his small trinket things). A LOT of it was clothes that got washed or hung up. A lot of it belonged on the first floor. And a lot got simply thrown away.

5.  Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?
    It was a realization over the course of several days more than a moment. Usually I'll sort things and put them in bags, and then get disenchanted or distracted before dealing with those bags or piles. This time, almost every day, I dealt. with. them. Before I stopped working for the day, everything was delivered to where it needed to be. This was big-time, because it was a completed project - every day!

6.  Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?
    As mentioned in #5, I dealt with everything that day, at that time. This boundary was necessary to not getting behind, and to keeping myself on track and motivated. If I'd gotten bogged down, I would've been sunk.
    Also, once I got a bunch of the junk out, I was able to see more of the pieces that I actually liked and wanted in there, and put them in prettier, more useful places.

7.  What is ONE piece of advice you’d give to someone else to encourage them on their organizational journey?
    Hook up - gain some accountability somehow! Ultimately the only thing that can completely drive you is YOU, but knowing that I had people working on this with me - and encouraging me as I went! thank you, commenters! - and that I had a deadline, and a plan - and, I admit it, the potential for some sweet prizes - went MILES to keep me dedicated.

So, here it is, ladies and....well, probably mostly ladies. :) I confess: I did NOT finish the bookshelf. I didn't even start it. It's a monster, and with all that happened, I ran out of time. But I DID. NOT. FAIL. My bedroom - our bedroom - is light years away from where it started. It's peaceful. And inviting. And it was a gift, which I succeeded in delivering on.

Because I love my Hubby.

And that was the point.

home-made laundry soap!

I'm so excited!

This isn't yet another "I made my own laundry soap" blog post.....YET! But I have FINALLY bought the stuff to do so! Even in shopping in the store for it (and having to run to one other store to get the last product), I felt so homey and farmy = nailed it.

This is not my picture; mine will probably not be so farmy ('though I wish it would be). I got this from Sugar Pie Farmhouse, and she got it from several other ladies.

So now, on my stove, I have a 3lb7oz box of A&H Super Washing Soda (it was all they had), a 4lb box of A&H Baking Soda, that giant box of Borax, and 3 bars of Kirk's Castile soap. (I chose the Kirk's because she said it's better for sensitive skin. No one in my family really has sensitive skin, but I figure why chance it when using something new.)

I also chose this recipe - I know there are a HOST of recipes out there - because she said she got all the ingredients at Walmart. Walmart was out of the Super Washing Soda today when I went, but said they had a shipment on the way. I found it at the regular supermarket. (I think Walmart's might be a full 4lb, but I'm not sure. I can't imagine it'll make THAT much difference.)

Can't wait to share pictures when I really do mix it!!