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Welcome! I invite you to join me on this journey we call Life. It's crazy, fun, silly, sad, happy, loony, dull, exciting and everything inbetween

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Garden Update

      About 3 weeks have passed since I posted about my garden. While some hopes of growth have been dashed not all is lost. While I don't have the normal large assortment of varieties of tomatoes, a few plants are growing (but no 'maters yet!). I have three beautiful watermelons growing by leaps and bounds and the cantaloupe vines are huge. I expect to see blossoms and melons starting any day now.
Row of gourds

This my "second"plot with the watermelons, cantaloupe, pumpkins & corn. There are rouge corn stalks and sunflowers growing all over it from the bunny food!

YEA! A watermelon! I thought it was the first and only, but a day or so later I found two more!

Sunflowers. This is the opposite side from the other photo from  3 weeks ago. They are MUCH taller since this photo was taken
     Now normally I am very neat about my garden. My rows are usually ruler straight, properly labeled so you know exactly what is growing where and it only gets messy when it comes time to stake things up.. This was no ordinary year.... it started with the tornadoes. We stayed with my in-laws because of the power outages and to consolidate our other resources. During all this mess, our son had his tenth birthday. He had been asking for rabbits for most of a year so that's what we got him... We came back home about a week and a half after the tornadoes..... What does birthday bunnies have to do with the garden? Well I am pretty big on recycling and reusing things, especially where gardening is concerned. I save paper all year to line my rows to keep weeds out and I save all our eggshells, coffee and tea grounds to till into the soil before planting. I had read that bunny waste is great for composting so I began disposing of the shavings on the plot I use for our corn, and melons. I just dumped everything.... left over food, shavings and old hay. It all got turned and tilled several weeks ago and I went on my merry way planting my seeds. Well not after plenty of water and sunshine, imagine my surprise last week when stuff started coming up all over the place! Instead of neat orderly rows, I have an entire part of my garden just popping up with corn stalks and sunflowers interspersed with my cantaloupes, watermelons and pumpkins! It took my a few minutes to realize why. Rabbit food is like bird seed - a mix of everything from grains and seeds to sunflower seeds and corn kernels. I am looking at it like a bonus!
I got to eat a "home made" radish today and it was delicious! And the rabbits loved the greens from it! I also have gourds planted and they are going absolutely crazy! I spotted several blooms and a tiny little gourd is growing. I hope to get lots so I'll have plenty to use for crafts!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Baby Blankets



These are some of the baby blankets I have made. I entered the blue one into our County Fair last year and won 2nd place. I do these by hand with a little hand/lap loom. I have been told these are far to delicate for the large Union loom I am working on, but I hope to be able to purchase another loom that will allow me to make more of these. It is a little time consuming to make them the way I do. I love weaving the soft textures and then the overall plushy feel of a finished blanket is just wonderful.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

     I had been wanting to make homemade laundry detergent since coming across the recipe online. I set out to do it but had trouble finding the ingredients around here. After searching in vain every time I went grocery shopping, I finally found that Wal Mart had started carrying all three main ingredients again. I brought them home then promptly got so busy doing other things that they just sat there. I ended up opening the Borax to repel some ants. I opened the Washing Soda to add some of it and some borax to a dish washing mixture. The bars of Fels Naptha just sat there and I swear they were starting to look at me with contempt for buying them and not yet using them! I think I was afraid that the process of making the laundry detergent was going to be a long drawn out ordeal . Yesterday I finally just did it. Was I ever surprised! It did not take long at all. so far I am pleased. It seems to have only a faint smell and very low suds. after letting it sit for the 24 hours, mine was quite the thick gelatinous blob. A quick double check and I realized I did use more of the bar soap than the recipe called for. It calls for 1/3 of the bar and I used a half a bar. O well. I just got out my Tupperware hand mixer and churned it all up and then refilled four large detergent bottles I had been saving. My batch made 450 ounces, or about 3 1/2 gallons! I have a front load Whirlpool machine... considering that I read recently that these machines typically only need about 2 - 3 tablespoons of detergent, this batch looks like it may last me until next year! For those wondering or wanting it, this is the recipe I followed.

What you'll need:
~ 4 Cups of water
~ 1/3 bar of chear soap, grated (I used Fels-Naptha)
~ 1/2 Cup Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda) I used Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda)
~ 1/2 Cup Borax (20 Mule Team)
~ 5 gallon bucket for mixing (a lid is helpful)
~ 3 gallons of water

First grate the bar soap and put into saucepan with 4 cups of water. Heat on low until the soap is completely dissolved. While soap mixture is heating, add 3 gallons of water ( I used warm water) to the 5 gallon bucket. When soap is completely dissolved, add it to the water in the bucket and stir in the Borax and Washing Soda. Continue stirring until thickened. Let mixture stand for 24 hours.

A few notes from me: I didn't have a lid for my bucket so I covered and secured wax paper over it and it worked fine. I have transferred the mixture to detergent bottles I had been saving for easier handling and shaking, should it thicken. I have read others statements that they just keep it in the bucket with the lid on.

~*~  Always use caution with the bucket around children and do not leave it where a child could get get into it as it is a drowning risk. ~*~

Next up, thinking of trying out a homemade dishwasher detergent recipe!! :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Freebies Sites I Use

     I love getting freebies! Who doesn't, right? To get them often takes a little work and patience, but it is exciting to go to the mailbox each day to see what is waiting or come home to find a box waiting at the door. I began signing up for free stuff over a year ago. In that time I have gotten some really great items. Jose Cuervo did a giveaway that lasted several weeks and I received several large plastic margarita balls, salt rimmers, plastic pitchers, a shaker, and several sets of margarita glasses. I have gotten a couple of Gillette Fusion razors, lots of cereal samples, samples of snacks, household cleaners, posters, etc. More recently I have received a gift pack from Scrubbing bubbles that included an Automatic Shower Cleaner with the solution, full size bottle of Fantastic cleaner, package of Vanish Drop-ins and a cute rubber Scrubby figurine. I have also gotten free flower and vegetable seeds, sandal wash, Swiffer dusters, lots of shampoo and conditions samples to try, 9 boxes of various brands of Hair color, hats, stickers, Joby nail art, Fiber One Brownies and too many coupons for free products to count.
     I subscribe to several newsletters and and freebie sites to keep up with the most current. One of the best sites is Hey It's Free. The links are tested before being posted to weed out the fake sites that have invariably cropped up to. You can also find Hey It's Free on Facebook and when you LIKE them, you'll get their posts in your feed.  There are others that are great resources for free stuff, coupons and great deals: Carolina Couponer, Kip's Free Stuff, Wicked Cool Deals, A Freebie Empire. 
     I try to find at least a couple freebies or samples I am interested in everyday and fill out the forms. By doing this is creates a fairly regular and continuous stream of goodies flowing into my mailbox. I will warn  you: once the first few freebies arrivein your mailbox, you too will become addicted! :) 
      

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More Projects....



The above photos were taken by the lady I bought the loom from.  
   While I wait (and pray) that the garden will produce something, I've started another one of my projects: The weaving loom. I began weaving by hand a few years ago and found that I love it! It didn't take long for me to start dreaming of own an actual loom. I recently bought an old Union rug loom that was in need of some love. I felt like it was in decent shape and that with some work, it would be great. Of course finding somewhere to put it when it's finished will be a whole new adventure! For now, it is on the back porch.
   I worked on it for just a little while last week but it was so hot I wrapped it back up. Saturday's weather was great. Windy, chance of rain and much cooler that it has been, so I unwrapped it and got to work. I was nervous to even touch it. I have never done something like this and the thought of ruining it terrified me. It's time consuming and dirty work, but I am so stoked! I have rubbed some of the wood with Scotch Brite pads and it is so wonderfully smooth. Most of the metal parts are heavy duty cast iron. They have some rust on them but even that seems to be cleaning up nicely. The rust on the reed concerned me, but even that is cleaning up pretty well so far. I get excited all over again every time I stand back a just look at it! I am very anxious to make progress because I am planning to attend my first fiber guild meeting in just a few weeks. I am hoping to meet others that can help me learn what will be for me, a "new" way to weave.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Garden

My sunflowers at 1 week . At the far end of this row, the fence forms a corner and there is another that runs adjacent to the fence. It is even longer so I hope to have a sunflower jungle soon!
Two weeks in and my garden seems to be coming along (one half planted 2 weeks ago, the other half one week ago) . Considering that not only was I very late getting it in because of clean up (and repairs to my tiller) from the April  tornadoes, but that a lot of my seeds were from the season before last, I consider this a minor miracle. If all grows well, I should have bell peppers, Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Italian Market Wonder tomatoes and tomatoes from seeds that I received from Campbell's. I also planted some seeds that came from some giant hybrids I bought several years ago. These tomatoes routinely weigh in at at least 1/2 a pound. Some reach a full pound. I can't remember the name of them at the moment, but they taste GOOD! I have also planted some pumpkins, cantelope , yellow and red meat watermelons, corn and sunflowers. The sunflowers are truly my miracle seeds. I had several sacks with seed heads in them that were stored in the shed we had. The tornado tossed it like a dollhouse toy and all it's contents were strewn all over the yard.  in the aftermath I didn't even remember about the bags because the BIG stuff, like my tiller and the baby kittens we had not known had apparently been born the night before the storm.  As I prepared to get my seeds ready, I bought two packs of sunflowers, but when I opened them to drop into the area I had prepared for them, about 10 seeds fell out into my hand. I knew it wasn't enough for the spot tilled, but also not enough for harvesting to eat and save for next year.As I walked back to the house something growing in the grass caught my eye... it looked like a sunflower! I looked around and found another. And another! I remembered the bags. I hurriedly transplanted the small stalks and began looking around. Under some shed pieces set to get hauled off, was one bag.  I was doubtful, but hopeful as I pulled it out and peered inside. I was FULL of large dried sun flower heads full of seeds! A few were actually sprouting. I took the bag over to my sunflower bed and began dumping seeds everywhere! They have sprouted and it is a wonderful sight!  Every bite we manage to harvest from this garden is going to be a reminder that despite adversity and against odds, we can and do survive and that hope and optimism win.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Coffee Mate On Facebook

Do love Coffee Mate Creamer as much as I do? Do you use it in recipes or add it to foods?  Check them out on CoffeeMate.com or on Facebook and enter to win on the Fanatics Unite tab.  There are also activities and games to play! If you are a true blue fan, you can even apply to be a part of the Brew Crew like I am!! :)