Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mommy Time

In about 24 hours I will be leaving for some mommy time.  I am heading to my best friend's house and will be there for 5 days.  This is 5 days of relaxation for me.  It won't exactly look like this, but it will feel like this for me.

My friend lives on a private lake, in a beautiful home, and by the way, she loves me and supports me.  That last part in the most important.  We haven't seen each other in 18 months, and the last time we did I spent a week with her while her brother lay dying in hospice.  It wasn't exactly a vacation.

Taking care of ourselves and spending time relaxing are so very important when you parent children with special needs, especially when you deal with emotionally disturbed children.

This afternoon I discovered that my son has been calling me.  He has a new phone number so it took me awhile to put it together.  I will not let his calls deter me or interrupt my relaxation time.

Part of the reason for this trip is that my "niece," Haley, is graduating high school.  Sonya and I met when Haley was only six months old, so being there for her graduation is important to me.  She is six months younger than my son, but worlds apart in maturity.  About four hours away will be another graduation that I will miss.  Another young woman whom we have known since birth.  Again, similar age to my son, but worlds apart in maturity. It is hard to not dwell on the success these young women will make of their lives, while he decides to trash his life, but celebrating with them is far more important.

Both of these young women give me unconditional love, and have for years.  If there was a way I could make both graduations, I would do it in a heartbeat, but Texas is a little large.

This may not be your idea of a good time, but it is for me.  Sonya and I might as well be sisters.  We have been best friends since we met 18 years ago.  We share everything, laugh until it hurts, cry until we can't anymore, and again, she has my back.  Her support during everything we have been through has never wavered.

We will also get together with our friend, Mary, whom I haven't seen in eight years, and my friend over on the Two Men and a Little Farm blog.  The last time I saw him was the end of 1995, a day or two before I left Houston.  I have no doubt we will pick up right where we left off.  Friends like that are more precious than gold.

As parents, we many times make excuses as to why we can't do things like this.  We tell ourselves our kids come first, and deny ourselves vacations or other "luxuries."  It took a long time for me to figure out that I have to put my mental health first in order to be a good mother.  Lately, the stress has been getting very bad.  One of the muscles in my jaw has tightened up so badly I can only eat soft food, or food you can barely chew.  I have been clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth.  Sure signs I am stressed.  I owe it to myself and my family to take this time off.

And besides, having my husband do the things that I always do is good for him too.  It gives him a new appreciation of what I do.  He will get a little time off while I'm gone as well.  A friend of ours is getting married.  He will attend the wedding and have time with friends.  It's good for him too.

The moral of this story is....give your family a gift.  Do something for yourself!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Frugal Living - Homemade dryer sheets

I was doing laundry today and I ran out of dryer sheets.  We get a lot of static in the dryer, so I need to use dryer sheets, but my sensitive skin means that I need to be careful of fragrance and dyes.  It makes it very difficult to find dryer sheets.

I also have to be careful about hanging my laundry outside since I am very prone to allergies, and hanging laundry outside puts the allergens onto the laundry. 

I got to thinking…. That’s a dangerous thing for me.  J  My friend Tess has been making baby wipes for her daughter.  They are wonderful!  You can also make your own anti bacterial wipes, so I wondered if you can make your own dryers sheets.  The answer is YES!  They are significantly cheaper and depending on your “recipe” some are reusable.  I found several different ways of doing this online, so I’ll share them with you.

If you don’t have sensitive skin, and want to be “easy” simply soak a cotton cloth (cut up t-shirt or flannel) in the fabric softener of your choice, and hang them to dry.  Toss one in the dryer.  The sites I found said you can reuse each one up to 40 times before you have to resoak them. 

If you do have sensitive skin, look for a natural fabric softener.  One brand I saw mentioned several times was Ecover. 

Other sites say to mix ¼ C fabric softener with ¾ C water, place your cotton rags in an airtight , pour the mixture over the rags and cover.  Then add “sheet” to each load.  This idea doesn’t thrill me.  I don’t do laundry every day and the potential of breeding mold sets my allergy meter on high alert.  Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s not the method I’ll use.

There are two more natural ways to make sheets that allow me to control the ingredients more for my sensitive skin.

Fill a spray bottle halfway with fabric softener or hair conditioner and then fill the rest of the way with water.  Add 20 – 30 drops of essential oil if you like.  Spray this on your clean cotton cloth and toss it in the dryer with your next load.

And the last “recipe.”

6 C water
½ C baking soda
3 C plain white vinegar
20 – 30 drops essential oil – if you want

Add water and baking soda to a large container and stir to mix.
Slowly add the vinegar and allow the chemical reaction to do its thing.
If you like, add essential oil, but this isn’t necessary.
Soak the cloths in the mixture and hang to dry.  Toss into a load. 

Since I am a knitter, I have a stash of knit “dishrags” in my house.  I will use these since they are 100% cotton and I know they are safe for me.  

Edit - If you use the last recipe with the vinegar and baking soda, be sure add the vinegar SLOWLY!  Even though the baking soda is diluted, the vinegar still reacts and causes a volcanic eruption!

If you want to add essential oils, you can add then to energize or calm, or to add an additional germ killer.  Check out the Doterra website to learn more about which oils to use.  Lavender and Clary Sage work well for calming, citrus for energizing and there are several oils in the Doterra line that help with germs.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Book Review - Cooking with Spirit

Cooking with Spirit by Jasmine Rose is a cookbook that you need to have, even if you don't cook.

The author is fun and lively woman.  If you have ever met her in person you know this.  If you haven't, sit down and read the cookbook.  Yes, I said read the cookbook.

It is filled with tidbits and trivia about various ingredients.  Each recipe highlights an ingredient and gives you the history and health benefits.

Yes, the foods are healthy, but they are also full of flavor.  If you think these are recipes that you won't really want to eat, guess again.  Gooey Chocolate Dessert Scones will make you change your mind quickly.  Northern Lights Salad, Aye Karumba Pasta Salad, Sort of Corn Quiche, but Not Really and even Designer Oatmeal are all fabulous recipes.  This is just a sample of what you can find.

Even if you never cook a single recipe, you will find this cookbook good for the soul.  There are fun family photos, quotes to lift the spirit and what other cookbook will tell you to do a Rhumba all over the kitchen?  Really.  I'm not kidding.

The directions for the Sort of Corn Quiche include:

"I'm going to tell you a little trick.  Put about 1/2 C of the the egg mixture in a small jar.  Add the two kinds of flour and the mustard.  Put the lid on.  Make sure it's on tight and shake.  Do a rhumba all over the kitchen.  Move that body!  Work up an appetite."

So, get this cookbook and start whipping up some fabulous meals. And if you ever get the chance, meet the author.  She gives great hugs and makes your spirit sour when you meet her.  Talk about a person who exudes positive energy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Frugal Living - Home Decor

I'm one of those people that decorates everything else first and saves our bedroom for last.  My kids have always had great bedrooms, but we usually don't.  I decided to put my husband and me on the top of the list for a change, but being me, I did it on a budget!

This is the before picture of our bedroom.  Nothing exciting, right?

I am very aware that I share the room with my husband, who is not into girly things, so I tried to strike a balance of pretty, but not overly girly.  I wanted to do something with peacock colors, but not overly so.

Here's part of the after.  The comforter that we had still worked fine, but it was getting a little ratty, so I elected to go with a duvet cover, which just slips over the existing comforter.  I paid $23 for it on Target online, and with using my Target card, I got 5% off and free shipping.  The pillows and bedskirt were from the old set, just reused.

I also got curtains from Target.  Again, 5% off and free shipping.  The best part was that if I didn't like them, I could return them to the store.  I didn't have to deal with shipping them back!

The peacock wreath above the bed is the best deal in the entire room.

I saw it when I was at a Michael's store in Madison, which is about 2 hours from my home.  I didn't buy at the time, because I didn't have my 40% off coupon with me.  I'm glad I didn't.  When I went to the store nearest me, they didn't have it.  It had to be transferred in from Madison.  I considered making one until I priced the materials.  The price was $19.99 in Madison and would have been around $13 after my coupon.  I couldn't buy the materials for that price.  When it came in, my husband went to pick it up.  It rang up for.............  How much do you think???

$1.99!!!! Yep.  It was 90% off!!!  I couldn't beat that deal.

I found some candles online that I liked, but no way was I paying the price they were asking!

They were anywhere from $16 to $33 each.  Yeah, I don't think so.  For the spot I was using them I needed 3 of them.  My friend, Jen, gave me the wall hanging candle holder they are on.  This woman wouldn't spend $48 - $99 on decorative candles.  Especially not when I can make them myself.

Total for the 3 candles... $9.  I had the two cream candles already, so I used those.  I purchased the green one for under $3.  The peacock and blue feathers were all on one "stem" originally priced at $8, but I had a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby.  The ribbon was on sale for $1.  So, I made my own candles for about 90% off what I would have paid online.

I decided to make the main colors the blue, green and brown, with just pops of purple here and there took keep it from being too girly.  The poster in the  middle is from Michaels craft store.  Originally $12.99, but I had a 40% off coupon.  If you are looking for home decor items, don't be afraid to check craft stores.  They have a lot more than you think and both Michaels and Hobby Lobby offer coupons on their website, or your smart phone.  Many times they are for 40% off a regular priced item.  I use these frequently.

The blue and purple "feathers" are actually pens from Pier 1.  The little wooden vase that they are in was a gift from my best friend when she went to Jamaica to get married.  It was the perfect place for these pens.

The lamp to the side was also purchased at Pier 1, along with the hook and candle holder in this photo.

The pens, hook, candle holder and lantern were all a total of $30.  It was originally $50, but I had a coupon for $20 off a purchase of $50 or more.

The last thing is the scarf you see hanging off the hook. I made it.  The yarn was the colors I wanted, it was $5.99 a skein at Hobby Lobby and I had my trusty 40% off coupon.  The yarn was a total of $7.20.

So the grand total for my bedroom makeover.... Just over $100.  And that was spent over about a 3 month period.

I haven't decided on a wall color yet.  I'll gladly take suggestions.  I want something neutral, but I'm not sure what.  I'm also looking at doing a new headboard that I saw on Pinterest.  It uses as an old door, painted in your choice of colors.  We had "extra" doors laying around our house, so the only cost would be a couple of quarts of paint.

I'm not sure what colors I'll use, but I think it would be a neat accent in the bedroom.

My husband is happy with what I've done and even happier with the amount of money that I didn't spend.  Thrift stores are another great place to find home decor items.  Check out my friend over at the Two Men and a Little Farm blog and see what he has done with the some thrift store finds.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Frugal Living - Homemade Cleaners

When I first learned about home made cleaners I thought, "Just go to the store and buy some cleaners.  Really."

However, as I blogged about here, the older I get, the more sensitive my skin gets.  I can't handle dyes or perfumes, so I have to be very picky about what I buy.

Fast forward to last week when my friend, Tess, gave me some laundry detergent that she made.  It is completely free of dyes and perfumes, and did a great job on my clothes.  I love it.

I also have been learning about essential oils, and have discovered that oils contain many medicinal and anti fungal properties.  There are many "recipes" for cleaners that use essential oils.  

The best part is that these cleaners are safe around pets and kids, in addition to being far more economical that commercial cleaners, and safer for our skin. 

Here are some "recipes" that I have.  

Laundry Soap

2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
1/4 C baking soda
1 regular sized bar of soap (Ivory, orFels Naptha will work)

There are variations on this.  Some say to grate the soap, and other's say to microwave it for about 90 seconds, leaving it brittle, then pulse all of this in a blender or food processor.  

Add 2 tablespoons to your laundry. - This works in HE washers as well.

Wood Floor Cleaner

1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C vinegar
10 drops of essential oil - lemon, orange or tea tree oil/melaluca
Add to hot water.

Regular floor cleaner

1 C vinegar
1/2 capful liquid castile soap
2 gallons warm water

Toilet cleaner

1/2 C baking soda
10 drops melaluca
1/4 C vinegar

All Purpose Spray

1/4 C vinegar
2 C water
1 tsp borax
30 drops oil - lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, orange

Alternate All Purpose Spray

2 C water
2 Tablespoons liquid castile soap
1 T white thyme essential oil (kills e-coli)
10 drops lavender essential oil

Combine in spray bottle, spray and let sit for 20 minutes.  Wipe with damp cloth.  This has anti bacterial properties.

Window Cleaner

1/8 C vinegar
1 C water
10 - 15 drops lemon

Tub and Tile Srubber

2 tsp borax
1/2 tsp liquid castile soap
1/2 C vinegar
3 C hot water

Pour into a spray bottle, spray the surfaces and scrub.

Furniture Polish

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 C vinegar
1/4 tsp lemon oil or fresh lemon juice

Mix in spray bottle and spray as needed.

Anti bacterial wipes

1 roll of GOOD paper towels cut in half to make toilet paper sized rolls
2 C warm water
2 Tablespoons coconut or olive oil
3 drops lemon
3 drops melaluca
3 drops white thyme

Bring to a boil.  Pour over paper towels, with cardboard core inside.  Flip roll until saturated.  Remove the cardboard core.  Put into an air tight container and pull from the center.

If you are looking for good quality essential oils, I buy mine from Doterra.  You can read about what makes them better than other oils.

It will take less than an hour of your time to make your mixes and it will save you a lot of money as well as being healthier for everyone in your family.