Posts tagged ‘home organization’

May 14, 2012

the soft soap recipe

my husband and i have a fondness for mrs. meyer’s soft soap.  we used to purchase it just when we needed a pick-me-up but then we became so attached we began adding it to the grocery list on a regular basis.  if anyone has used any of the mrs. meyer’s products i don’t need to tell you that they aren’t cheap, so when i saw the recipe for soft soap using a bar of mrs. meyer’s as a base floating around on pinterest, i repinned immediately and decided to give it a try.

when i had assembled my ingredients, i discovered that pinterest had eaten my pin so a quick google search soon revealed that there are many recipes out there.  the one that i chose used a bar of mrs. meyer’s soap, one gallon of water, and 2T of glycerin.

since the recipes are so easy to come by i won’t repost here.  suffice it to say the soap is grated, heated in a large stock pot with the water and the glycerin and allowed to cool.  the prep was super easy and came together very quickly ~ well within an hour.

i noticed on some posted recipes, there were comments that the soap was very thin when completed.  i found this to be true.  it did resemble skim milk both in consistency and appearance.  the key here is to allow it to cool for a significant length of time.  after it has cooled, it does have somewhat of a lumpy appearance and i did need to whisk it before pouring it into the dispenser.

my thoughts on the finished product:

~this is a $ saver and one i will definitely be using on a regular basis however:

~the scent is not as strong, and i have to say that is one of the reasons i loved mrs. meyer’s soap.  the scents are so clean and unique.  i can still smell lemon verbena though, and considering the savings i’m willing to overlook this tiny flaw.

~the consistency is still not the same as the original.  perhaps it was the amount of glycerin used (i saw other recipes calling for just 1T) but it seems a bit slimey and often times a drop is left on the pump after use which can make a mess on the countertop.

~after whisking the soap to pour it into the dispenser, i poured the rest into a gallon milk jug for later use.  it promptly solidified.  not rock solid.  more like cream of wheat.  how i will get it out when we need it next remains to be seen. :/

~one blog recommended giving the final product as inexpensive gifts. um. no. don’t do that.  this isn’t *that* great.  if you want to give soap as a gift my suggestion is to make it from scratch.  sorry.

bottom line: if you have a free hour one afternoon and want to save some $ give it a try; it works.


May 8, 2012

a series of truly random thoughts and confessions

1. in the past ten days i have learned all i ever wanted to know about trailer hitches, trailers, and the like.  we now own one, purchased for the purpose of hauling a lawn tractor back and forth to our farmette-to-be that now has grass growing knee-high.  post about said lawn tractor complete with a photo forthcoming.

2. if the weather holds, we should break ground on our farmette by the end of this month.  for this reason i have started packing up the scary upstairs: the place that started out as a cool sitting room we never used so it now houses anything we don’t know what to do with but do not want to pitch.  anything from mason jars to a tapestry wall hanging.  in order not to overwhelm myself, i pack two boxes a day.  well, i am supposed to.  i started this project a month ago and i have a total of…..thrrreee…boxes packed.  post about said boxes complete with a photo forthcoming.

3. i am now the proud owner of a kindle named emily.  i have gone from watching drivel on netflix to reading, a much more wholesome past time.  i even gave christian amish romance fiction a try…..and promptly gave it up.  it reads about as well as it sounds.   i have discovered the blogs/websites/fb pages that offer free kindle books by the virtual boatload.  i anxiously await their posts on a daily basis and have been known to download something stupid, something i know i will never read, simply for the thrill of getting something for free and watching its title magically appear on emily’s home page.   post about said kindle named emily complete with a photo forthcoming.

4. last weekend my husband and i taught ourselves to play canasta.  i won every hand.  i won playing with my deck of pink playing cards.  it was a blast.  i…don’t really plan to publish a post about canasta with photos.  sorry.

5. yesterday i went shopping for a spare tire for our new trailer.  i ended up at a ranch supply store and discovered a series of 3′ high metal troughs containing…………baby chicks!!! and baby turkeys, and baby geese, and baby ducks, and baby something elses i don’t at the moment recall.  i guess i should flaunt my limited knowledge of poultry and say that these were pullets being offered for sale (did i get that right?) but i’m still confused as to what it means when the sign says that they are “sexed”.  still need to read the how-to book but we need to read it pretty durn quick because i want me some chickens.  post about said chickens complete with numerous photos when we get them.

6. speaking of living things: our pond has turtles.  i discovered one in the grass last week when i was mowing, and in order to avoid a terrible accident, i picked him up and moved him to the edge of the pond to see what he would do.  he happily dove right on in.  we need a log, or a rock of some sort so the turtles can sun themselves and all be named appropriately.  would publish a post about said turtle complete with photo if only i could find him again…

random illustration for random post:

March 20, 2012

10 ways to welcome spring…

in my part of the world it has gone from winter cold to very warm, very fast.  we almost seem to have bypassed spring and gone straight into early summer.  nevertheless these are some things i’m looking forward to doing this spring when we aren’t busy planning the building of and move to our farm:

  1. opening all the windows and airing out the house
  2. while the windows are open, giving the house a good clean from top to bottom
  3. washing, starching, and ironing the curtains so they look pretty when they catch the breeze from the open windows
  4. (so as not to focus completely on housekeeping) getting a pedicure and having my toes painted pink
  5. making deviled eggs
  6. going for long walks and taking in the blooming daffodils, tulips, dogwoods, and redbud trees
  7. planting a vegetable garden
  8. making a pretty spring wreath for the front door
  9. mowing the lawn, then sitting out on the back porch and enjoying the smell of the cut grass
  10. flying a kite

happy first day of spring!  what are your plans from now until summer?

February 27, 2012

why folding the laundry is so terribly difficult…

because i no longer get started when i am joined by this little guy who wants to help:

he jumps into the basket,

situates himself comfortably,

then burroughs down…


until he falls asleep.

…and he looks so cute and cuddly, that i just don’t have the heart to remove him.

February 24, 2012

land shopping part 1

i don’t remember the first time the idea of a farm hit.  one of the first that comes to mind was when we moved to our first home on a quarter of an acre.  we had such a big yard.  i could have chickens just like martha stewart.  we could have a huge garden.  i could put up our own food.  i could have a clothes line.  we’d live off the land.  how. cool.  but then, the home owners association was formed barring everything from chickens to clothes lines.  we also learned that we didn’t (at that time) really have the tools or skill to garden or landscape a yard of that size.  even if we had,  a septic  had been installed in such a way that the prime area for a large garden really couldn’t be used as such.   we also longed for the charm and character of an older home.

when we moved to our older home, i became a master gardener and refined my gardening skills.  my husband began to get involved with me, and in a few seasons we grew enough to supplement our grocery bill.  our tiny yard was slowly being taken over by our growing garden.  we also became more interested in our food, and loved the concept of a small, self-sustaining operation where the table was supplied with meat, milk, cheese, etc.  provided by livestock lovingly fed and cared for.

we would sit out on the back porch in the evenings and speculate.

what if?

maybe someday we’d have what i liked to call a charlotte’s web farm.  i’ve since learned it is called a hobby farm: a white clapboard house with a red gambrel roof barn housing chickens, goats, sheep, geese, ducks, a pig, and a cow.  add the token barn cat, and a sheep dog – picture perfect.

it was last fall that we decided it was time to  move and we began to wonder:  how realistic was “the place in the country”?  after some research, and scratching out some figures on paper, we were delighted to discover it was within reach.  our first step then  was to decide – how big?

we were so naive.

remembering how overwhelmed i felt when i tried to mow our quarter acre lot i decided that anything over three acres would be way too big.  i had also begun to read up on homesteading and noted that much could be done in a reasonably small area.  however we also wanted a place that felt secluded.  we didn’t really want any neighbors too close by.

we were invited by our realtor to come out and visit a five acre lot to get a feel for size.  we both imagined driving way out into the country, turning off onto a dirt road, and standing in the middle of a wheat field: the wind whipping through our hair, nary a soul to be seen for miles around.  we were shocked to find ourselves instead  in a neighborhood, houses on either side and across the street, the five acres just a very large lot in a nice development.  five may have been much larger than a quarter, but it wasn’t quite large enough to give the secluded feeling we were looking for.  7-10 acres was more like it.

now that we knew what size,  we needed to settle on a location.  since my husband travels frequently with his job, we didn’t want to be any further than half an hour from the airport.  it was suggested we take a look at a small agricultural community about twenty miles east of where we live.  one beautiful fall afternoon we went for a sunday drive and we loved what we saw.

it was small.

it  was quiet.

it was very unassuming.

we had seen an online listing for ten acres and a pond and set out to look for it.  after driving around for nearly two hours we never found it but we did decide that we liked the community and the location.  the gently rolling,  grassy stretches of sparsely populated  land were exactly what we had in mind.

however, in discussing all this with our realtor, it was suggested we look instead at another place about 20 miles north.  this particular area didn’t have the flat, grassy stretches .  it was more rocky and woodsy, but it was beautiful in its own way.   it had a larger town with a wal-mart super center, restaurants, a library, and park with a beautifully flat jogging trail.  in spite of how we felt about the small town we looked at first, we decided we should be practical and settle instead somewhere a bit closer to some amenities.  the fact that it was situated close to a lovely lake was a perk.

one afternoon, i found what i thought would be The Spot.

February 20, 2012

good morning

so i just put my husby on a plane for the week.  normally he comes home on thursday evenings ad we have a long weekend, but recently his client asked that for the next four weeks he stay through friday.  those additional twenty-four hours make for a very long stretch so we squeeze as much as we possibly can out of our weekends.  to us this means scheduling very little except for our customary date night, catching each other up on what happened during the week, and doing some projects together around the house.  since our time together is so limited these days, i don’t do much house work over the weekends, meaning that monday is a major clean-up-and-get-it-all-back-together day.  not exactly fun, especially after an airport run.

i will however, set aside some time this afternoon for more important things such as catching the downton abbey season finale.  speaking of which, i came across this article this morning.

puts my current feelings on housekeeping in a totally different perspective.(highclere castle by the way is the real downton)

February 16, 2012

farmette? or homestead?

last friday we became first time land owners.  we now own ten acres in a very small farming community with a population of less than 1,800.  we’ve spent the past several months dreaming, scheming, scratching out figures, drawing up floor plans, researching,  land shopping, then land shopping again (we had one false start), and finally closing out on a place we absolutely love.

the desire we’ve had for some time was to have a place where we could have a large garden, a few fruit trees, and some small livestock; a place that would basically become self-sustaining.  i use the word “self-sustaining” loosely because to some self-sustaining means that one crafts one’s bricks from the dirt in one’s yard – then uses said bricks to build one’s house.  that isn’t at all what i mean.  i mean self-sustaining in the sense that one simply grows and produces the majority of one’s own food but still unashamedly uses the grocery store from time to time  for staples.

last year when asked about our plans for an acreage i described it as “ a sort of homestead” .  i said “sort of” because our scenario doesn’t really fit that of the typical homestead: about 2-5 acres with a garden and some small livestock.  at the same time i couldn’t really say we were planning a  farm because your average farm consists of several hundred acres and a series of out buildings.  i later picked up the term “farmette”.  not only did it describe our situation to a “t” , but  i loved the sound of the word.  wiki describes a farmette as “a small residential farm run by an owner who earns income from a source other than the farm. “  farmettes typically are no more than fifty acres,  and contain a garden and some small livestock.

our farmette will feature ten acres and a pond, a small simple “starter home”, a single outbuilding to serve as a shop and garage, a honkin’ big garden,  and some small livestock.  for the sake of not getting too overwhelmed, we’ve divided our plan into three phases.  phase one: the actual purchase of the land already being completed.

the second part of our plan is to now build  our home. we’re starting out small and temporary (most likely).   i see this as the modern day equivalent to the sod houses and log cabins of our pioneer ancestors.   i’ve found that in starting out on the land  it is common to use a travel trailer, a mobile home, or in some cases even a yurt as a temporary residence while the permanent home is being built.  but my husband and i are not good at roughing it.  we hate camping.  we must have heat.  we must have running water.  so we’ve decided instead to build a small barn,  influenced by the traditional red barns seen in a children’s story book; and fit it out as a cottage.  it will be very, very simple but i still plan to give it some style.  my decor has evolved over the years, starting out very colefax and fowler, to  williamsburg colonial, now to modernish vintage country chic (is there such a thing?).  my hope is that when we open the front door to our  new home for the first time our reaction will be “this is gorgeous! let’s just stay here!” instead of “omg.  what on earth have we done!?”  once we have the home built we’ll put our current little house on the market, and move.  we’ll do a lot of landscaping (i’m thinking native perennials) and put in a kitchen garden similar in size to what we have now.  then we’ll purchase three chickens.

phase three will be to establish a very large garden, large enough to provide the majority of our produce with enough left over to freeze and can.  we have also toyed with the idea of growing enough to someday enter the farmer’s market arena as a small business.  the garden phase  will also include some apple trees and blackberry bushes.  then, we’ll  purchase a few more chickens.

if i’ve learned anything since we’ve started acting on our  plan, it is that things never go according to the plan.  so i’m trying to keep it all loose and just go with the flow.  should however, things actually go as planned, they may look a little something like this:

~ increase the chicken flock to provide adequate eggs and meat

~ add some ducks and turkeys to the mix; maybe geese if they will be nice

~look into the possibility of taking on small ruminants (dairy goats and sheep)

~ train the sheep to graze picturesquely on the front lawn.  ::sigh:: ok maybe not.

~mmmmmaaybe…raise a pig or two so we can have bacon with the eggs

~plant millions of daffodils on the slope below the pond

~toy with the idea of a dairy cow

~contemplate bee keeping

~dig out the pond a little deeper and see what it would take to stock it

and finally:

~build a new-to-look-old-white clapboard farmhouse depending on how much we like our barn cottage and whether or not we decide we need or even want anything more than that.

i know we’ll be crazy busy.  i know it will be a lot of work.  i know it will be a tremendous challenge, but it is a challenge we welcome and we can’t wait to get started.

as for timing?  i really don’t know.  we plan to start as soon as we can but i’m sure we’ll encounter some snags and delays along the way.   again, i plan to just try and go with the flow and in the words of tim gunn “make it work” regardless of what happens.

February 13, 2012

new experiences

this morning i am preparing to call someone about hay.

this is a new experience for me.  i have never discussed hay with anyone in all my life.

until we closed on our property last friday, i didn’t even know it grew hay. it does however, and while we were passing the paperwork back and forth to sign, the seller’s broker presented a small slip of paper containing only a first name, and phone number, and told me  that this fella lived about five miles south of us  (or was it north?).

he is the hay man, apparently, and has been cutting the  hay on our acreage for some time now. the seller and her broker assumed i knew all about hay, how it was mowed, when it was mowed,  how cutters of hay deal in their services and product.  i just nodded dumbly.  “yes, of course, the hay.  we were wondering about that…”

so this morning i am going to give him a call.  i was informed that this call needed to be made soon because at some point something will need to be done with the hay, some sort of spraying schedule or something like that, which has this organic gardener somewhat alarmed; but for the present, i’m letting it go.  i’ve more important things to worry about, such as the orientation of the window above my kitchen sink.

marco and i went out yesterday to evaluate the lay of the land and try to decide how things should be situated.  i spent a good deal of time standing where i hope the sink will go, looking at the view, and deciding if this is exactly where i want to gaze while scrubbing pans.

while surveying the barbed wire fence, i grabbed a switch of something wondering if perhaps this was the hay.   i decided to use it while shopping for paint chips and thought how it would be lovely to tell folks, “yes i had the dining room paint tinted to match the color of our hay”,  as if i was born and bred on hay making.

for all i know it may just be some sort of weed.  i hope the hay man is kind and patient enough to give me the education i am going to need.

February 3, 2012

why i need a greenhouse

i love the scene in the remains of the day where emma thompson  is sitting (if i recall correctly)in a green house of sorts mending a needlepoint cushion.  or something.  the important thing is that she is sitting in this beautiful  glass conservatory and sewing.  that is one reason why i need a greenhouse.  so i can sit peacefully amongst the plants and sew.

another reason why i need one is this:

this is a plumeria.

it was given to my be a fellow gardening friend.

i knew nothing of plumeria plants when she gave it to me.  in fact, i naively thought that after it had been given to me in january, it would grow and bloom by the following april, so that i could surprise my birthday-twin-friend who grew up in hawaii, with a plumeria plant of her own; started from mine.

i will pause here and allow the other experienced plumeria growers reading this post (if there are any) to clean up the coffee they just spewed across their keyboard and recover from their uproarious laughter.

ahem. anyway.

i need a greenhouse because when the cooler weather arrives, i need to bring this plant inside.

and i don’t know where to put it. i started out by putting it in the bathroom until i could figure out a better place.

but it doesn’t like the bathroom, so it drops leaves in the sink like this:

which i ignored for a time.  but then i noticed this:

and upon further observation i saw this:

and this:

and i had to spend the entire afternoon with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol getting rid of the little buggars.

now, i know that a green house would not have eliminated aphids and that other winged creature i cannot identify (pest identification has never been my strong point); but it would have prevented the mess in the bathroom,which believe it or not took great effort, and it would give me some other place to store this plant, other than where it is now.

i moved it to the den.

where it sits.

aphid free.

but shedding leaves all the same.

January 3, 2012


i suppose this is the sort of post one publishes on january 1 but i consider this first week of the year still early enough to reflect upon the last year and set goals for the year to come.   as i said before, i’m not much of a resolutions sort of person, i like to set goals: reasonable goals that i can actually accomplish.  it isn’t very often that i reach every goal on the list so it is frequently added to the list again :sigh: in hopes that someday i will actually make it.  this past year was one of those years where a few on the list will be added again in hopes of possibly being able to cross them off this time next year.  2011 knocked me off my feet and not really in a good way.  we experienced some major set backs and major disappointments that we are still working through – many of my goals  simply had to be set aside for one reason or another.  so, looking back at 2011:

1. complete our dossier in a reasonable amount of time.  at the time of writing this goal we haven’t yet talked with the family coordinator from our agency so i don’t know what constitutes “reasonable amount of time”.  i would though like to have it done by spring.  if you have no earthly idea what i am talking about see the link to my other blog on the sidebar of this page and read the “our news” post.

the link on the sidebar is no longer there as our plans to adopt fell through.  i followed up with this on a post entitled “the other blog” which is tacked up on my home page.

2. by the end of ’11 i would like a place for everything and everything in its place.  this will require better time management on my part.

wayall….we’re still working on this one but i can say that my kitchen is pretty well organized.

3. continue working to establish our potager (a potager is a fancy word for kitchen garden.  i used to throw it out there periodically to show off and then discovered i wasn’t pronouncing it correctly).  i would love it if we could purchase less and less produce from the store and use more and more from our garden.

yes!  this we did accomplish and were even able to grow veggies year ’round.  i have cabbage, lettuce, and brussels sprouts happily growing along out there.

4. run the john 3:16 10k with a better finish time than last year.

5. complete the st. paddy’s day 5k in less than 32 min and 27 sec.

6. depending on whether or not we travel abroad to meet little one and when we could potentially travel, run the 15k tulsa run in october.

due to some ongoing health issues i’m still dealing with my running was very sporadic this year so the 5k, 10k, and 15k were out of the question.  this was a big disappointment for me.

7. show some things on etsy and hopefully sell them.  this is another repeat from last year which was a repeat from the year before.  we’re getting there.  at least now i know what i want to show, it is just a matter of executing it.

…aaaand this is another that had to be set aside in order to deal with set backs.  sooooo…..

goals for 2012 (in no particular order of importance)

1. show somethings on etsy and hopefully sell them.

2. start making a quilt for our queen size bed.  someone gave me a series of quilt patterns as a wedding gift and i have never made one.  my grandmother made lots of quilts, and i always wanted to follow in her footsteps but i’ve just never done it.  a quilt seems ridiculously ambitious in light of this potentially being a very busy year for us (more on that later on) but i’m afraid if i don’t just jump in and do it, it will never get done.  we need a new bedspread, this is a great opportunity to start.

3.  i want to be more punctual.   i always seem to be running 5-15 minutes behind and have no excuse for it other than i spent too much time on facebook or was having a bad hair day.

4. begin to increase our garden space to about 4,750 square feet (including paths).  are you shocked?  yes, this can be done. i’m stoked.

5. purchase three chickens.

6. while i would absolutely love to run that 15k in october, proceeded by a series of 5 and 10k’s; i’m just not sure that this will be the year so i’m not going to mark it as a goal.  i would however like to commit to regular exercise whether that be yoga, walking, or light jogging.

….and once again

7. have a place for everything and everything in its place.  that actually may happen this year, as i may not have much of a choice.

i like having seven goals.  seven is a perfect number.

what are your goals for the upcoming year?