Thursday, November 17, 2011

Maybe I Should Change My Last Name To Duggar?

What I'm about to say sounds crazy, but just go with me here, ok?

I'm going to attempt to make my own laundry detergent. 

I know, I know, it's 2011, and these products are readily available at my local grocery store.  And, no, I haven't decided to run off to Arkansas and join the Duggar family.  My awesome friend Ashley (she writes a blog called Organized Homemaking), got me interested in trying this.  She and I are what I like to call "famously frugal."   We love finding new ways to save money.  This one is apparently a HUGE saver! 

After lots of highly intensive research (I did a Google search), I found that there are a lot of "recipes" out there for laundry detergent.  Most of them are for the liquid variety, which is the kind I normally use.  They seem pretty labor intensive and involve "cooking" the mixture and monitoring it to make sure it doesn't burn.  This is the kind that you see the Duggar Family make on 19 Kids and Counting.  I'm sure it probably works great and it's worth all the effort, but I don't have teenager in my house that I can ask to take on this project.  There a two preschool age children in my house and one stay-at-home mommy, and frankly, I don't have time to "cook" my laundry detergent.  So I found a recipe for the powdered variety on a great website called DIY Natural.  It seems MUCH simpler, and this is what I plan on trying. 

The website estimates that their homemade detergent costs $0.05 a load, compared to an average of $0.21 a load for the name brand detergent.  Since I don't trust anyone (I mean, come on!  I won't even use my name on this blog!), I'll do my own price comparison. 

Here's the link to the recipe:

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Update

This year's costumes turned out pretty good. 

Captain Hook & Tinkerbell

Me and my munchkins

And for your enjoyment, a blast from the past:

Estimate1992, I think

6th grade?? 

My mom, way back when

The Trunk or Treat event at church was awesome.  Headed to a costume birthday party tomorrow.  Trick or Treating on Monday.   I love this time of year!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Halloween Obsession

I love dressing up for Halloween.

I mean it.  I really LOOOOOOOOOVE dressing up for Halloween. 

When I was a kid, my mom would let me come up with whatever I wanted to be, no matter how crazy or difficult to make, and that's exactly what I'd be.  She'd let me creative visions guide our work, even if how I wanted to make the costume wasn't necessarily the best way.  I dressed up as almost every character imaginable. 

Strawberry Shortcake
A China Doll
Minnie Mouse
Scarlet O'Hara
The Ace of Hearts
Nancy Kerrigan
Crew Member from the Starship Enterprise

That's just the short list.  There are tons of other costumes.  Those are just the most memorable.  We spent hours at the local walmart or the hardware store or wherever had the crazy part we were looking for.  It was super fun and super memorable.

I am determined to do the same thing with my kids.  On Curly's first Halloween in 2007, I made this costume for her with no pattern.

In 2008, I bought this in Montgomery for her in February.

In 2009, I spent HOURS working on these costumes.  At age 2, she picked Snow White from the pattern catalog at the craft store.  Buddy's was put together from scratch.

Last year, she wanted to be a ballerina and he was in love with Bob the Tomato.

This year, she wants to be Tinkerbell.  He still isn't expressing a preference, so I figure this is the last year I will get to make them into a matching set.  He's going as Captain Hook. 

I had some elaborate plans for Curly's Tinkerbell costume, but Handsome pointed out to me that authenticity was probably more important to me than to her.  So we found a really sweet Tinkerbell costume at the local thrift store for $2.  Buddy's costume has been the time consuming one this year. 

They will make their debut on Wednesday at our church's Trunk or Treat event.  Pictures to come. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Lazy Blogger

I know, it's been forever.  Life has been busy, so sue me!

Handsome's new job is going well.  I'm STILL looking.  I have a few "nibbles" with some phone interviews, but nothing concrete.

Curly just started back to preschool today.  (See obligatory first day of school picture below)  They are now keeping her from 9 am to 1 pm, Mon, Wed & Fri.  We are required to send lunch with her, which now creates an entirely new set of issues.  They do not allow peanut butter, so our "lunch on the go" choices are pretty limited for my picky eater.

Other summer events that took place since I last posted included a weekend at the beach with some amazing friends.  We spent three glorious days at Carolina Beach, digging holes, building sand castles, jumping in waves and generally having a fabulous time.  The beach is WAY more fun with little kids!  Unfortunately I haven't downloaded those pics yet, so you'll have to see them later. 

Curly has discovered her own sense of fashion.  So as not to stifle her creativity (and lacking the energy to argue with her about it), we made many outings this summer with Curly sporting ensembles like this:

Buddy has also begun to assert his independence.  While his speech therapy is going amazingly well, and he's talking WAY more than he used to, he is also learning how to be defiant.  As exemplified below:

The monkeys had some other great times at recent events, especially at church.  Curly and her best buds got to spend some time on a water slide, at a rock concert and watching science experiments.  I think she likes being a big kid.

We also did lots of park playdates with friends.  We especially enjoyed those with the little guy pictured below. 

We also instituted what we like to call Family Movie Night.  We eat pizza, pop popcorn and cuddle up together as a family to watch a movie.  Curly loves it, but Buddy is still learning to sit still.  One day we'll go to a real theater.

That's pretty much how we spent our summer.  Just one more thing -

Kenan - you still need to wash your car.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I can't believe I haven't posted in over almost a month!  There's really no excuse except I just haven't known what to say, there's been so much going on!  I'll break it down into categories, to make it easier.

Buddy developed a bad cough that wouldn't quit, then kindly passed it on to Curly and then me.  All 3 of us have taken antibiotics, which didn't work.  Buddy seems to be over it now, but after 3 weeks, Curly and I are still coughing.   We've driven everyone around us nuts, hacking up a lung everywhere we go.  I should probably by stock in Ricola cough drops.  I'm certain I've gone through the entire supply on the East Coast by now.   Unfortunately, I had to bow out of singing a solo at church that I had really been looking forward to sharing.  No one would have wanted to see me hack up there on the platform.  I didn't even make it to church that day (which is a BIG deal for us, since we practically live in that building!) 

So I haven't accomplished much lately.  I'd been working on a rocking chair for my friends, the McTriplet Family.  (They are expecting triplets next month)  I was too sick to attend the baby shower, and in the days leading up to it, was too sick to even work on it.  Hopefully I'll get it finished before the baby girls get here.  It matches their nursery perfectly.  I haven't even started on either of the dressers.  The job search has been going on in earnest, which has taken up a lot of my time (more on that later).  Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I'll have several photos of finished products to post.

Handsome officially has a new job.  He starts work for a major "not to be named on this blog" computer company next Wednesday.  He won't have any gap in his employment.  The only issue is that this new position is hourly, and carries no benefits, necessitating that I MUST get a job so we can insurance.  Not the most fun reason to work, but a valid one. 

I've sent out what feels like a million resumes now.  I have had a few new "nibbles."  I interviewed for a position with a nonprofit that sounded ideal.  The commute was a little long, but the benefits at this place were crazy good (100% health care paid for the entire family, 5 weeks of vacation up front, unlimited sick leave, etc.)  It was looking really promising, and I had been called for a second interview.  There was some crazy changes to the scheduling of the second interview, necessitating that we reschedule a family trip (more on this later).  Once we'd finally gotten it all straightened out, I received a message that they have decided to postpone hiring for the position all together.  Needless to say, I wasn't really happy about that.  I guess they lost some funding or something, and the most logical place to cut funds it to not hire the open position.  I've been assured that I was a "finalist" for the job and that I'll be contacted as soon as it re-opens, but who knows when that will be.  I also interviewed at a large, national health/kid services organization.  That interview went really well, but it looks like A LOT of late nights and weekends, and with 2 munchkins at home, that would be really really hard. 

I did apply for a job at a small university that is very close to our home.  The job sounds like I'd really enjoy it, and I even know someone in the department, who was very encouraging when I contacted her.  I am REALLY hoping I get an interview there, but who knows.

I keep praying two things:  that God would guide my steps, and make His will clear to me and to Handsome; and (this one is a little selfish) that if I MUST go back to work and leave my two precious children in someone else's care, that I would at least enjoy the job itself, so I won't be completely miserable.  I get the feeling that even though the benefits were great at the postponed job, that I would have hated the actual work itself. 

We'd been planning to visit Handsome's parents, who live 16 hours away in the Midwest in June, since who knows when he'll get another vacation.  We had planned to go the 19th to the 25th, but when my interview got rescheduled for the 24th (the one that was later canceled), we rearranged our travel plans, and left almost immediately for a visit.  We've been here since last Friday and will return home tomorrow.  The kids are having a great time and got to visit this awesome children's museum.  I'll post pics once we get home.  It has stormed a lot while we've been here, and my in-laws lost 4 trees in their yard during one of them. It's supposed to storm all day today, mostly likely severely in the afternoon.  Hopefully we won't have to spend all afternoon in the basement. 

My favorite name-sake aunt is coming for a very short visit as soon as we get back.  Hopefully I'll get to spend a couple of hours with her, and let the kids visit with her a bit.  I wish she could spend more time with us, but she and my mom are headed north to visit a friend, so they must get on the road ASAP. 

Well, there's an update.  Probably not very entertaining or funny, but hopefully we'll get back to those kinds of posts soon.  There's just so much change going on right now in our family, it's hard to focus on the humorous. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Artists in Residence

This is how we spent our pre-bedtime, daylight hours yesterday:

A private art show is being held in our driveway.  At least until it rains...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Getting Ahead of Myself...

So I now have 3 pieces waiting for me to complete them. 

I really enjoyed doing the last one, especially the selling it part!  We have the rocking chair, the 1940's dresser and another dresser I bought today. 

I worked up a quote for the lady I sold the last piece to, but I think she just asked for it so she could try to pick my brain about how I do this.  While I'm glad she admired my work, it seemed kinda rude to be asking for EXACTLY what I did for each and every step of the process.  I had already told her that this wasn't just a hobby and that I was trying to make some extra money for my family, but apparently she didn't care.  I didn't give her too much info and eventually just told her that if she wasn't happy with the results she got doing it on her own, that I'd be happy to redo it for her.  Oh well!

We've been moving the "workshop" from warehouse at the family business to our garage in our house.  This will make it a lot easier to finish stuff when I have spare time to work on it. That's what the major hold up has been.  I'm hoping to get at least one piece finished by the end of the weekend.

The rocking chair is sanded and ready to get working on.  The 40's dresser has the knobs removed and is ready to clean up and paint.

Today I sent Handsome off to pick up a large purchase I made on Craigslist.  I know I have 2 other projects waiting to be completed, but this seemed like a really good deal that I couldn't pass up.  He grabbed the high school senior who lived behind us to help him move it out of the second floor apartment that the lady who sold it lives in.  It's a solid mahogany dresser that I got for $40.  The handles are salvageable, and the damage is on the surface.  We paid the senior $5 for helping out, so my cost was $45. 

While the dresser is perfect for a make-over, apparently the apartment it came out of could have used the same.  Handsome said it was really smelly and there were cats everywhere.  Needless to say, I'll be wiping the whole thing down with Clorox wipes before I get started, just for my own sanity. 

While getting gas in town yesterday, I noticed an auction going on at the self storage place behind the gas station.  I was SOOOO tempted to go see how one of those works and see if there was anything I could pick up cheap. I might have to check it out in the future. 

I put a "wanted" ad on craigslist and have gotten some bites from that.  I've also been meaning to check out the flea market at the fair grounds and a store called Garage Brothers that apparently cleans out other people's spaces and sells the contents. 

Hopefully by the next post I'll have more before/after pics to post!! :)