Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kids and Messes

The kids and I decided to get out the washable paint today and paint a few pictures.  I was intently focused on my painting (I was working on some ideas for a new blog banner), and was rather alarmed when I looked up and saw that my two year old had been transformed into The Incredible Hulk.  Apparently Layla was bored with painting on her paper, so she decided to move on to a more exciting project:  body painting.  She even had it in her hair!  Good thing it washes out.  My philosophy with kids making messes is that it's all good as long as the project keeps them occupied for a longer period of time than the time it takes for me to clean it up.  For example, if I let Layla "wash dishes" in the kitchen sink for 30 minutes and it takes me 10 minutes to clean the water up off the floor and counters and change her clothes, I consider that a net gain of 20 minutes.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Much of the Midwest and the northern parts of the country have snow right now, so I thought it would be an appropriate time to talk about one of my favorite things.  I know not everyone shares my feelings regarding the fluffy white stuff, but I absolutely love it.  Snow inspired the title of my blog and even the decorating theme for my son's nursery.  When I see snow, it recalls to my mind the pure joy I experienced as a child when I learned school was cancelled due to snow.  I clearly remember building forts and making snow angels.  I remember our somewhat swampy backyard freezing into a mini skating rink.  We would run and slide on the ice.  That was our version of sledding since I grew up in Indianapolis where there are no hills. I experience all this in memories when I see the snow, and now, also through the eyes of my son.  I also love the way a good snow storm shuts down the city, makes everyone slow down, get outside, and help dig out neighbors whom they never talk to otherwise.  I love to go for a walk while it is snowing and I always notice how everyone is actually outside, either playing with their children or shoveling sidewalks.  People may deny this, but there's something fun about the tradition of standing around the water cooler at the office comparing stories of how treacherous the drive home was the night before and how much longer it took than normal.  What I love most of all about snow, though, about is the way that it makes everything beautiful.  Snow, at least temporarily, renews the world and washes it clean. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

My 2010 Blogging goals...

Bloggers all over are posting their goals for 2010 today.  As a blogger wannabe, I'm going to follow suit.  Here goes...
  1. Create multiple categories of posts that can be easily navigated.  For example, I would like to have posts related to adoption and foster care, practical money saving tips, creative sewing ideas, and a posts related to products I am designing and creating. 
  2. By the end of March, I would like to establish a strong direction and theme for my blog and be able to sum it up in one sentence.
  3. Learn how to customize my blog.
  4. Learn Facebook and Twitter
  5. Create a new list of goals at the end of March once I have learned more about blogging etiquette, lingo, and common practices.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Mopping Ceramic Tile...

I'll be honest, until recently I had a love affair with one of those powered mops that requires batteries, special cleaning solution, and disposable pads.  I must have spent a fortune just to keep my kitchen floor clean.  I used to rave to anyone who would listen about how wonderful the silly mop was.   Someone spilled their margarita one time at a party we were having, and when I got the mop out to clean it up, I gave an entire sales pitch for the mop for the benefit of the whole party.  Shortly afterwards, one of the guests told me they went out and bought it because I convinced them they couldn't live another day without it.  That wasn't the first time someone told me that I influenced their floor cleaning purchases, either.
After I'd been using the the wonder mop for awhile, I started getting a little suspicious about the fragrance.  It just smelled a little too good.  I decided that I would carry a spray bottle around with me when I mopped, and, instead of buying the expensive solution that mounts on the mop, I would spray the floor manually with my own solution.  This eliminated the need for batteries, I was able to save on cleaning solution, and I knew exactly what I was spraying on my floor.  Eventually, I decided that I couldn't justify the expense of the disposable pads and started wrapping the bottom of the mop with my own rags.  Take that, Mop Manufacturer!  You get no more of my money!  Anyway, I used that method for several months until the mop broke in half, and after I decided the duct tape I was using to hold it together wasn't really working, I decided it was time for a new approach.  I now have a mop that comes with a reusable, fabric, shower cap looking thing that goes over the head.  After use, I just throw it in the laundry.  I still carry my spray bottle with me.  I fill it about 1/4 full with vinegar and the rest is water.  Lately, I've been experimenting with adding a few drops of essential oil, but so far it has made the floors a little sticky.  I won't lie to you, though, this method requires a bit more elbow grease than the wonder mop, but it's not toxic and it won't break the bank.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Napkin Experiment...

I've noticed that anytime someone in our family spills something, has dirty fingers, or needs to clean something we grab the closest paper towel or napkin.  Of course, we also each use a napkin at each meal time.  Over the course of a day, that adds up to a lot of paper and money in the trash.  I tried eliminating paper towels, but that just increased our napkin usage.  When I eliminated the napkins, I reached for a tissue every time I had dirty fingers or needed to wipe a face.  I realized that the key to using altenative products is to make them as convenient as the original.  That is when I decided to start making my own napkins that were the same size as the store bought ones.  I wanted them to fit in my napkin holder and I didn't want to have to fold them.  Shortly after Thanksgiving, we began using squares of flannel that I just happened to have in my fabric stash.  I have now made myself a set of 14 napkins that my family is using exclusively.  So far, I am very pleased.  We've even observed two unexpected benefits.  For one, flannel is very soft on little faces (my kids have dry, irritated skin around their mouths and noses in the winter).  I don't think anyone would describe a paper napkin as "soft".  Also, these flannel napkins are good for multiple uses between washing.   I hadn't planned that we would use the napkins this way, but we immediately noticed that it just seem necessary to wash a napkin after just using to wipe a few crumbs of our fingers.  I would never have "reused" a paper napkin.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How I save money on laundry...

Just like your family, we do a lot of laundry in this house.  Below are things I do to save a little money:
  • Wash as much as possible in cold and never use the hot wash
  • Use Free and Clear inexpensive laundry detergent and washing soda as a boost
  • Use a combination of vinegar, water, and 3 drops of essential oil as a fabric softener (I promise your clothes won't smell like vinegar)
  • Put 3 drops of essential oil on a small piece of cotton and use as a dryer sheet
  • Dry the clothes in the dryer for 5-10 minutes and hang dry. 
I have about 20 feet of clothesline (two 10 foot lengths) in the basement and two cheap drying racks and am able to dry about 2 loads of laundry per day.  Putting them in the dryer for a few minutes keeps the clothes from drying stiff.  The clothes should be removed from the dryer while still very damp.