Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shopping Bag Heaven

I just purchased three new reusable shopping bags and they are a joy to behold. This purchase was very unlike me....These bags cost more than the 1.99 I am usually willing to spend on...well just about anything. But just look at them. Aren't they so very pretty. I have many shopping bags-well technically just bags. I have a motley collection of old pre-school totes, Trader Joes canvas bags, a few cheapo bags I picked up here and there and a denim one my grandma made years ago. Sadly I am too embarrassed to take them anywhere but Aldi.

These new bags from BlueQ are awesome. They are sturdy, stay open by themselves (a plus at Walmart where they stare at you like you have 3 heads if you come in with a reusable bag) and they hold a lot. Did I mention they are made form 95% post consumer recyclable material. Yeah baby! Buy some-it will do ya good.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I'll be Homeschooling my son beginning this fall. I am reluctant, terrified, and excited. I recently read this essay, by a homeschoolong mom, that puts my feelings regarding homeschooling into words (with very little effort on my part). So, I am posting it here with full credit given to her. I figure that since all of 2 people read this blog-I am comfortable with my plagiarism.

From Mrs. G., creator of The Women’s Colony

Monday night Mrs. G. was watching Law & Order or something educational on PBS when she bumped the remote and accidentally switched the channel to Wife Swap. One of the wives being swapped was a homeschooler who, once again, confirmed most Americans’ misconceptions about those of us who choose to ejukate educate our kids outside of a traditional school setting: that we are humorless, intolerant, overprotective religious extremist manifesto-writing misfits who chain our 22 children to the kitchen table and teach them that, despite advancements in modern astronomy, the earth is indeed flat; how else would we all not fall off of it?

The Wife Swap’s homeschooling mom lives with her first cousin’s husband and two children on a farm in Iowa. They make every effort to run a self sustaining farm not because they choose a life of volunteer simplicity or wish to leave a softer carbon footprint, but because, like so many of us, they are preparing for the Apocalypse. This family, admirably, raises their own livestock and vegetables and subsists solely on a raw food diet. In other words, they eat only raw food, including their MEAT. And Mrs. G. is not talking about sushi, Carpaccio or lightly seared tuna. These people eat chopped up chunks of raw chicken. They gnaw on raw turkey legs. On special occasions, they indulge in what they call “high meat”—chunks of animal flesh that have been rotting and aging in a jar for at least four days. They aren’t worried about e coli or salmonella because, they insist, God wouldn’t put any bacteria on this earth that was harmful to them.

Now, Mrs. G. is tolerant by nature (and regarded by more than a few folks as odd), but this type of homeschooler is the bane of her existence. It makes her life more difficult in the following ways:

1) The Little League moms sit far away from Mrs. G. during baseball games because they don’t want her to hear them talking about boozing it up over the weekend or their child’s science project on evolution. And this is sad for Mrs. G. (a cradle Catholic) because she is a big fan of alcohol and monkeys.

2) Mrs. G’s relatives feel the need to quiz her children on major holidays with scintillating questions like hey, pass the cranberry sauce, and can you tell me how many quarters there are in a dollar?

3) The women at Mrs. G’s book club, which consists primarily of public school teachers, have a few glasses of wine and say stuff like have you ever noticed how homeschooling boys have such an unhealthy attachment to their mothers or I have this homeschooler in my 7th grade class and she reads at a 3rd grade level and wears a denim jumper and bedroom slippers every single day…and then they remember Mrs. G is a homeschooler and change the subject fast.

4) The cashier at Safeway, eying Mrs. G’s children helping her bag groceries during the middle of a school day, asks if it is a school holiday and when they explain they are homeschoolers, she smiles skeptically and says how interesting and then waxes on for two minutes about how high school was the best time of her life.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are between 900,000 and 2,000,000 homeschoolers, and the number is growing at a brisk pace. Mrs. G. finds it exhausting to drop all the necessary conversational hints to prevent others from thinking she is a suburban maverick kook who makes her own kefir and eats raw meat. So, readers, here’s the 411 on homeschooling mama Mrs. G:

* Her children are of average intelligence and don’t play any musical instruments. Not even the recorder.

* She is the good kind of feminist…the old school kind who is hung up on that tired old doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights for women…as well as honoring the beauty and, yes, nobility of raising a family.

* Her children watch television, play video games and eat large quantities of processed food.

* When she is not spinning her own wool and milling her own flour…not that there’s anything wrong with that, she enjoys gardening, gin and historical documentaries. And “The Sopranos.”

* She and her husband chose to homeschool for very personal reasons that had nothing to do with religion, politics or any kind of aversion to public school. Until this spring, Mrs. G. taught creative writing part-time in a public school for eight years.

* She doesn’t jump on bandwagons and is turned off by zealots of all stripes. Mrs. G. is absolutely sure about nothing.

* And she prefers her salad raw and her meat cooked.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Laundry Day

Today I am going to share how to make "homemade" laundry detergent.

This started as a lark. Something I read about on the Internet. Something for the very frugal, the very poor, or the very "crunchy". But still, I was curious. Would it work? Could I really make laundry detergent in the convenience of my own home with a few simple ingredients?

I certainly didn't NEED laundry detergent. I had recently horded about 4 large bottles of Tide. Still, I bought the ingredients and bided (wait is it bided? bid? well you know what I mean) my time...waiting anxiously to use up all of my Tide. I'll admit some days I used two capfuls per load...but hey, I was anxious to begin my experiment. Finally when the Tide was almost gone I made my first batch of laundry detergent-very loosely following a recipe I found on the Internet. Although I made a few mistakes the first time around, I have been using this homemade detergent for a few months now and I am very satisfied. Try it. It costs pennies a load, reduces landfill waste, and has no phosphates (at least I don't think so). A caveat; I have heard that with some water types (you know-hard and soft etc.) this detergent will not work-so if you have the opposite of whatever type of water we have-maybe you better stick with Tide.

To begin you will need to grate one bar of Fels-Naptha soap. I had never seen this soap before but I easily found it at Kroger (a grocery store). The smaller the "bits" of soap, the easier the next step will be-thus the grating.

Next-Fill a large stock pot about 1/3 full of water. Add the grated soap and heat on medium high until the soap is dissolved.

Stir it every now and then. It doesn't take too long-maybe 15 minutes.

Now you will need to add 2 cups each of Borax and Washing Soda. I have always used Borax so I had some already (it can be found at Target or Walmart). I had never seen Washing Soda before but I found it at Kroger.

When the soap is completely dissolved, take the pot off the heat and SLOWLY add the Borax and Washing Soda. If you add these ingredients too quickly the whole mixture will bubble up and spill all over the stove top. Not like I have ever done that! Stir well until the powder dissolves.

Now if you want to get fancy-add a few drops of food coloring to make it look "real" otherwise the soap will be a snotty yellow color.

Add enough cold water to bring the mixture near the top of the pot (but not so full that you can't lift the pot) and stir well.

Use a funnel to fill old detergent bottles with the detergent mixture. I would divide this recipe between 3 large detergent bottles. Then "top off" each bottle with water and give them a good shake (with the lid on of course). Let the bottles sit over night. The liquid will "gel" but it is a snotty, gooey looking, watery gel.

Use about a capful for each load. You can also add some essential oils if you prefer a "scented" detergent. Oh and it is a good idea to give the bottle shake before you use it.

There are many recipes floating around out there that use varying amounts of soap, Borax and washing soda-but this is a good starter recipe. Go ahead and give it a try-I'll bet Al Gore doesn't make his own detergent-so now you can feel all superior inside-you "green" person-you.