Healthy body, healthy spirit, healthy mothering. This is the journey I have set out on with my two amazing children.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

From Scratch

Kelen decided to bake a cake from scratch tonight.  He found a recipe in one of my old Betty Crocker cookbooks for Pineapple Upside Down Cake, searched for all of the ingredients (which we had on hand because he has been hinting at wanting to make this for weeks now).  He gathered everything onto the dining room table, pestered me with questions while I was on the phone with my Dad and waited patiently whiningly for me to help him.

This was really good practice for my, little  4th grader as he has just begun to learn fractions.  Being the cruel prepared momma that I am I saw this as a learning experience and got increasingly frustrated lovingly helped him add 1/3 + 1/3 so he could measure the sugar.

He artfully arranges the pineapple slices in the baking dish.  At first he was planning on dumping everything into my little oven proof mixing bowl.  This was when we had a quick discussion about the importance of reading ALL of the directions and being willing to ask for help (even tho at this age he THINKS he knows EVERYTHING).  

Little sister was only allowed to assist with this one.  She would make Vanna White proud don't ya think?

Tadaa!  This was a delicious cake, made entirely by Kelen.  Disclaimer: I may have showed him how to use my very expensive Kitchen-Aid mixer.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We like tunes

Kel asked for and received a MP3 player for this past Christmas.  I finally caved and got myself an Ipod.  In the same time frame our PC acted like it was struck by lightning when it fact it was just a power outage and the follow-up power surge when the darn lights came back on.  Before you say anything, I DID have the dang tower plugged into a surge protector.  Sadly, there was no protecting going on.  My memory was fried.  Well, not MY memory but my PC's memory chip, or board or whatever that thing that stores stuff is called.  I lost everything on that PC: documents, pictures, games and sadly all of my music.

Therefore we have begun buying a whole lot of I-tunes music.  That started with Neva's participation in the school talent show.  She wanted to sing a Jonas Brothers song.  It turned into a Joe Jonas & Demi Lovato duet from the crap-tastic "Camp Rock."  If I never hear the Joe Bros again it will be too soon.  Sadly I know that my daughter "loves" them and isn't going to stop listening to them until she gets some taste older and learns what real music sounds like.

Along with his MP3 was a free subscription to e-music with 50 free downloads.  I couldn't pass that up.  I should have.  This music site is horrible.  They don't seem to have the music my kid wants.  I type in a name and get the message "we don't have" so and so.  This really only applies to newer musicians and bands.  The classics we like are mostly available.  We have added Elvis, Johnny Cash, Ella Fitzgerald, Ferlin Husky, Billie Holiday, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Terrence Trent D'Arby all from this site.
I can't even begin to tell you how happy it makes me that my 9 year old listens to this music.  What other 4th grader would listen to "Viva Las Vegas" followed by "Louisiana Saturday Night"?

Want a random sampling?  I'm gonna put this thing on shuffle and see what comes up.

1. "Rock This Town" - Stray Cats
2. "Cry Me a River" - Justin Timberlake
3. "Buffalo Soldier" - Bob Marley
4. "Celebration" - Kool & the Gang
5. "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" - Charlie Daniels

Man.  My kid is cool.

My Ipod has exactly the same music as his with the exception of a few songs that I, as the momma, have deemed completely inappropriate for children's ears.  They include:

1. "Baby Got Back" - Sir Mix-a-Lot (What can I say?  I have a big ass & love to hear a man talking about how great that is)
2. "Seventeen" - Winger (I grew up in the hair band era & still love them)
3. "I Want Your Sex" - George Michael *sigh* (He was my first crush, way back in the Wham! days)
4. "Time Warp" - Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack

It is a rare occasion for somebody to walk into my home and not hear music.  Generally there will be hints of 3 different music players going on.  Neva has confiscated my kitchen cd player and listens to a lot of Kids Bopz.  Kel generally plugs his MP3 into the speaker doohickey in his room and blares something while I either have my Mac on shuffle or the Comcast music stations blaring.  What can I say?

We really do like our tunes.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Have I gone too far?

Guess what I did this weekend?  

You will never guess so I will just tell you.  *drum roll please*

I made my own laundry soap.

Why?  Because I have stopped buying it in plastic and I have to pay a small fortune for the powder that has no phosphates in it.  Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "Tia has clearly lost her mind is really serious about protecting her wallet the environment" and you would be right.  Phosphates in our water supply are causing a multitude of problems because Phosphorus, a naturally occurring element, is a primary source of plant nutrition.  Unfortunately we are putting WAY too much of it into the water supply.  Basically it is washing down our drains and into our streams, lakes and rivers.  When a water source has excess Phosphorus algae begins to take over (algae feeds off the Phosphorus).   This puts a financial strain on our municipal water treatment plants as they have to strain out even more algae than normal.  It also tends to clog up the pipes, literally.  Algae, by the way is that gorgeous slimy, often green stuff floating on stagnant ponds, a typical part of nature but not something we want in our drinking or bathing water.  Oh.  And one more quick point.  Our government has been very much aware of this problem since the 1970s but leaves it up to state and local governments to limit the amounts of phosphates that can be sold in their areas; if you want to know more check your local statutes.  

So while reading one of my daily blogs I stumbled upon this very topic and decided it was time to make another batch of homemade laundry soap.  Yes, I have made some before, the powder kind and I didn't like it.  Hopefully this liquid will be better.

What you'll need:

  • 1 big bucket.  I used a 5 gallon all-purpose bucket (with lid) from Home Depot. 
  • 2 C of finely grated pure soap.  I like Fels Naptha which I can buy really cheap at my local grocery store.  Some recipes said bars of Ivory work great too.
  • 2 C Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.  This removes dirt and odors.
  • 2 C Borax.  I have only ever seen the 20 Mule Team brand but I am sure there are others out there.  This is a whitener and helps to remove odors.

This is what finely grated Fels Naptha looks like.  I grated it using my standard metal cheese grater while watching Grey's Anatomy.  Just watch your fingers when the bar gets tiny.

I gathered my supplies and got to work.  In a fairly large pot start heating 1 quart of water.  When it starts to simmer add the 2 C of soap.  Stir until completely melted.  Take it off the heat and stir in the washing soda and borax.  It will begin to gel pretty quickly.  I let this cool a few minutes before I dumped it into the bucket.  Add 2 gallons of water.  I used cold water but next time I will try hot and see if it makes a difference.  Stir well and let it sit overnight.  It will continue to gel and tadaaaa!  Liquid laundry soap.  Use 1/4-1/2 C per regular load and up to 1 C for heavily soiled clothing.

I can't say for sure but most web pages that I checked (I am actually not the only person doing this) said this costs anywhere from 3 cents to 8 cents per load of laundry.  Seems pretty darn cheap to me.

Warning:  This does NOT look like regular liquid laundry detergent.  One web comment I read described it as thick egg-drop soup...and that is the most perfect description possible. It is like a watery gel and I debated putting in this next picture but what the heck.
If it makes you feel any better, Kelen was squealing "MOM THAT'S NASTY!" as he poured so I could snap a quick picture.