New Knitting Magazine: Knitscene

I have a thing for magazines. Even if I never get all of the projects done! This new Knitscene magazine looks interesting – I love the cover project! Wish I were 18 years old again so I could wear most of the stuff!

Homemade Laundry Soap – from Diana McInelly

Thanks, Diana, for scouting this out. What a great idea. This could only come from a friend who has more boys than I do!!! Click on her boys’ pic above to see her blog.

Homemade Laundry Soap

– 1 bar of soap (I bought Ivory but most recipes call for a soap called Zote, I haven’t seen it but they say it is at wal-mart and in all fairness I didn’t look)
– 20 mule Borax
– Arm and Hammer WASHING soda

1. Shave the soap and add to 6 cups of slow boiling water and stir until dissolved.

2. Add to the water 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing soda. Now different recipes say different things some do 1/2 cup and others do 1 1/2 cup so I just did 1 you can play around with it.

3. After it all dissolves add 4 cups of HOT water to the bucket that you will be holding the soap in. I bought a plastic container that will hold 32 cups of water cause that is how much you will have when its all done. And it came with a hinged lid on it.

4. Pour the soap mixture to the hot water and stir

5. Now finish by adding 22 cups of water to the mixture.

6. Stir and let sit for about 24 hours

It will be a gel mixture but everyone says that the mixture will separate so you just have to stir it before you scoop it.

Scoop 1/2 cup to your laundry!

Kid Funnies: Jack & Texas, Gabe & the Furnace

We were talking about how diverse the kids’ new school district will most likely be when we move to Houston as compared to Gretna, Nebraska. Jack proclaimed with much disappointment, “We’re going to be Texans?!? I wanted to be German!” He then went on to proclaim “No, no…I really wanted to be Egyptian!”

Cole informed me that when Gabe walked in from school he proclaimed, “Oh, yeah, baby! The furnace is working!” Cole thought it was funny because most of the time people only say anything about the furnace when it’s broken.

Where do they come up with this stuff???

Pom Pom Valentine Hearts!

Who knew? I am in love with pom poms these days. Check out how to make the hearts here. The rug can be found here. Now if I just had some for my roller skates…

Warm Heart, Cold Weather

I had just finished a new Everlast: Strike class at the gym and needed to get milk at the grocery store. I love Baker’s because of the Manager’s Special milk. Anyway, there are two boys who work there with Downs Syndrome who bag groceries and help you to your car. I frequent the store enough that I’ve been helped by them at least a few times. I’m ashamed to say I still do not know their names. Well, today I was standing there, holding a very heavy Ben, with my hair still half wet from showering at the gym – no coat – just a sweatshirt and the weather was plummeting into the single digits with extreme wind and snow pellets. I was freezing cold but it didn’t bother me at all because of what I was saw: one of those divine moments when you witness the Lord’s hand in everyday details. I happened to have Daisy, our chocolate lab, with me in the car today because while I was at the gym, somebody was going through our house that is for sale. I asked the bag boy if he was afraid of dogs and he said that he wasn’t. Well, when the car door opened and he started loading groceries, she kissed him and when he was done he stood in the car door and hugged and kissed that dog and told her that he loved her for the longest time. It was really touching. There was no pretense, no social mores or taboo, he just kissed that dog right on the snout. I was freezing, holding Ben, and my heart was so warm that the cold didn’t bother me a bit. I can see why dogs are so therapeutic to us all – it just took a very special bag boy to help me remember that.

My Favorite Strollers – Single, Double & Jogging

Having 4 boys, I’ve been through a few strollers. My friend, Kathleen, is on the lookout for a double stroller and asked my advice (isn’t she sweet?). Anyway, her provoking question led me to reminisce about my favorite strollers and reconsider what I might do if I needed to do it all over again.

I can tell you that my favorite stroller HANDS DOWN is the one we bought 13 years ago when Cole was born – it was a single jogging stroller made by Kool-Stop called the Kool-Stride. It was purple and on clearance for $399 (I know, I know – it didn’t feel like clearance to me, either). This company has replaced the sun shield, the wheels when they got a new easier-to-install feature and the basket for us, as well as two soft grip tubings for the handlebars. It has held up extremely well and it is still my stroller of choice (and still looks great to boot!). I have loaned this stroller out while I needed a double and even now, I still regularly use this stroller to walk, jog, run or even go to the zoo with Ben. If you visit their website, here, they also have strollers for seniors/handicapped and started as a cycling company. They’ve been doing strollers, though, since at least 1996!

My second favorite stroller was my Kelty Deuce Coupe. I used this stroller for Gabe & Jack when they were both small and I needed a double. I remember the day I bought this clearly – blizzard conditions and I spun out over the median near Oakview Mall in order to get it but it was worth it (nobody was hurt!). Zany Brainy was going out of business plus I had a coupon and I got this stroller for somewhere in the mid $200s. When we were done with the double jogging beast, I sold it on ebay for a small profit (low $300s). It was wonderful – great colors, the elasticized net pockets held a ton, easy buckles, great for a tall person, and I did learn how to squeeze it through doors – with my kids still riding in it. I didn’t ever like stadium type double strollers (can you just imagine the hair pulling, candy sticking incidents?). I prefer side-by-sides. We loved this stroller and there have been a few times I’ve wanted it back. Kelty does make a very similar one now and it sells for around $400.

My current garage holds two strollers: 1) the original Kool-Stride and 2) a Peg Perego Venezia that I bought for Ben. It was also expensive (low $200s) but it had a pram option for a newborn and I keep this in the car for places where I know my jogging stroller won’t fit. It has worked well and held up, too, though little things have gone wrong like the logo sticker coming off, snaps no longer snap, and I can never figure out the straps. I do love how you can switch the handlebar to face toward or away from you so the baby can look at you or forward. I also love the swivel wheels but sometimes it’s hard to steer and I don’t like to lock them. We took this out on the ice at Chalco a few weeks back and had to ditch it roadside – it’s pretty much a city stroller. I wished I’d had my Kool-Stride with me then! I would consider Peg Perego for a double but only if I never, ever had to go over a curb or dirt.

Some strollers I’ve had and did not like: Graco, Evenflo. They fell apart quickly and wheels were not sturdy at all. I had liked the infant seat combo convenience but it’s really only necessary for such a short while. I never have liked the Duo Gliders – so many friends say they’ve fallen apart. I think you do get what you pay for! If I had to do it over again, I would like to try Phil & Teds. Maybe a Bugaboo – but I don’t see any of those in double. Maclaren is supposed to make great double models. I would buy another Kool-Stride in a heartbeat – although I did try a double of this stroller that I bought on Ebay and, although it worked, it was mammoth and hard to maneuver. The front swivel wheel on some of the new strollers intrigues me but I don’t think I’d like one for actually jogging (knowing how much I hate the swivel on my Peg Perego). I would buy the Kelty again and would consider a single jogger, too from them – if I still didn’t have mine from thirteen years ago!

p.s. Here’s a link to Cookie Mag’s top strollers – see what they have to say!

Kid Funnies: Gabe & His “Gifts”

Gabe is a gifted kid in so many ways but it’s funny to hear him on what he personally thinks are his gifts. I caught this conversation last week:

Gabe: “Hey, Mom! I can make Jack laugh just by lookin’ at him….it’s a gift.”

Beautiful Kitchens

In my quest for beautiful kitchen islands, I ran across many photos and thought I’d share my favorites. The photos are from Armstrong, Thomasville, and Southern Living.

Bag Fever (Maybe I Need A Vacation?)

I love these bags. This weekender bag is genius. I am going to have to make one. Someday. Thank goodness for “someday” because then I don’t have to admit that it will actually never get done. I am feeling this need to learn how to do everything at least once and cannot figure out why. Midlife crisis, I guess. This ruffle bag seems much more doable and an easy way to dress up your recycled grocery t-shirt bags. Yeah, I’ll try that one first. They’re both beautiful and found on The Weekender blog.

French Country Furniture & Kate Madison

I had insomnia and was up until 3 a.m. wondering what I could do relatively inexpensively to spruce up our kitchen to maybe help sell our house. I was online searching for remodeling or refinishing kitchen islands and I found Kate Madison and fell in love (every Kate that I know is adorable so it is only fitting that furniture named Kate should be as well). So much for inexpensive! A girl can dream, right? I love to browse pictures and discover what I truly think feels like home. It’s all about home and not so much about the stuff, I try to remember most of the time but some of these really do just feel like home to me! Be sure to check out the Kate Madison website for more inspirational ideas.

Kid Funnies: Cole & Horsepower

We were discussing the meaning of horsepower and Cole commented, surprised, “Oh! I thought it meant how many horses a car could drag.” He claims to be kidding but we’re not sure. Sorry, Cole. Hopefully Elizabeth won’t tease you too much over this one. xoxo Mom & Dad

Bisphenol-A Free Baby Bottles

Oh, baby! I knew I was going to be wantin’ another one soon so I made Don swear to not give in to my ticking clock. These babies may not include German engineering but these new bottles are just about cute enough to have a baby for. No, not announcing anything. Must move first and, hopefully, regain my senses. HOWEVER, I do have it on good authority (thank you, Facebook) that some of my in-laws might be needing this type of info very soon. Each picture links to the source – and each one a different glass bottle and/or bottle sleeve, whether silicone or knit. Click away!

Stephenie Meyer Takes Top 4 Slots

Never been done before. Stephenie Meyer takes the top 4 slots of the Top 100 Books of 2008 from the USA Today’s best selling books list (photo courtesy of USA Today). You can check out the article here. Personally, I’ll admit that I started reading them skeptically – I was pretty darn sure I would hate the books. I mean, come on, vampires?! As I turned each page, though, I kept annoying my hubby by saying, “Wow. This is really good stuff.” I couldn’t believe how much I liked the books! They’re not really good vs. evil books. More about free agency and choice. Loved them. Even hubby has read them and likes them as much as Harry Potter. Surprise! Other books on the list that I have read this year: Wrobleski’s “Edgar Sawtelle” and Grogan’s “Marley & Me” — both great. Now, off to read some of the REST of the top 100 books…I’m sure some of those are even better…without the teenage groupies.

Say Hello to Fisher & Paykel – Our New Washer!

Fewer moving parts. Top loading high efficiency. GREAT price. This machine usually sells for around $900 but Don and I put in a marathon clearance shopping trip to Lowes and Nebraska Furniture Mart last night. It was next to a brand new Whirlpool Duet high efficiency front loader in a discontinued color of shimmery brown (normally about $1,000 but for sale at $550). The Fisher & Paykel was marked down because it had been returned. The Whirlpool was new but the color was discontinued. After talking to the service people there, we had actually decided to NOT get a high efficiency machine until after we moved because they can be difficult to move and expensive to fix. We were looking for something really cheap to get us through then after we moved, I could use the machine to felt and we would replace it with a new high efficiency set in Houston. Well, the price of this thing convinced us. Fisher & Paykel warranty it for TWO years (Whirlpool only offers one year) and then we splurged for the 4 year Lowe’s plan that starts AFTER the 2 years are up – so our washer is covered for 6 years. We had a 10% coupon, too, so this is how the deal went down: $324 washer plus $59 delivery fee (we wanted them to take away our old one) plus $26.81 tax = $409.81 for TOTAL washer, delivery, takeaway. Add the other $99 for the policy and we spent just a bit over $500 for our new high efficiency washer. I’m so excited to have a top loader because a) I don’t have to bend and b) I don’t have to buy a podium/stand and c) they are much sturdier and more reliable than the front loaders and d) better for felting. What convinced us is that we saw the same exact machine at NFM for $900 that very night. It was a difficult choice. The shimmery brown Whirlpool was pretty but it wouldn’t match my already white, working-perfectly dryer. So that sealed the deal. I can’t wait to try out all of its features. You can check out the machine and capabilities here and here – then you will KNOW we got a smokin’ deal.

Tribute to Cole – He’s 13 Today!

What?! I officially have a teenager?!? News to me. Other than being the world’s biggest eavesdropper, Cole is nothing like your typical teenager (give it time, right?). He is still a great kid and I’m proud of him and glad he’s in our family. He is like a superhero – kind, helpful, courageous, righteous, strong, smart, imaginative, friendly – and he has only one weakness that I know of: spelling. It’s his achilles heel. Not a bad trade for a superhero.

Memories of Cole from when he was a baby: he cried constantly because he had reflux. We had to do step aerobics to bounce him to keep him happy. He has always loved animals – especially dogs (and they seem to love him, too). He is also a very good big brother – he has helped take care of each of his three brothers. His first word was “Jesus” (seriously, even before mama or dada). He has always made friends easily and has a great sense of humor. The daycare he went to as a baby called him Mr. Personality. He enjoys piano, just quit trombone (with our blessing; we’re just not band people), is a brown belt in taekwondo (sooo close to black!), scouting, camping, swimming, etc. I asked him if he wanted to live in the country or suburb when we moved to Houston and he said without hesitate, “country”. He’s just an easygoing kid. We are grateful for him! We’re proud of you Cole.

Yesterday, at church, he got to be the Bishop’s helper and he held the microphone for a confirmation and had to sit up on the stand all during sacrament. His brother, Jack, looked up and said, “What’s Cole got?” (we were thinking microphone) and then he answered his own question by saying, “Cole’s got the priesthood?!”