A blog about "nothing"!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The name's Stewart........Martha Stewart!

I'll admit it--I'm a Martha Stewart fan.  I have been for a very long time too, probably since just after I was married.  I know she has her share of haters, I am not one of them.  Some of her stuff is a bit over the top, but I have to say that in all honesty, I have learned quite a bit from watching her shows, reading her magazine and her cookbooks.  Even my mom commented that unlike some of the people who do cooking shows "it's obvious to me that Martha is someone who actually knows how to cook, just from some of the things she does in her demonstrations".  Back when she spent time in jail I kept track of what was going on, and organized a "Martha Gets Out Of Jail" party along with some co-workers who were also fans.  What can I say, it was winter, we were bored, we needed a party!
A photo of some of the spread from the "Martha Gets Out Of Jail" party--the punch was made by one of the men I worked with who even got the recipe from the Martha Stewart website!!! 
I think one of the reasons I admire Martha is that a lot of her ideas are throwbacks to the good old days--back to basics kind of things that were typical for our moms and grandmothers, but in the fast paced world we live in, kind of got lost in the shuffle.  With the economy still struggling to recover, some of these ideas are starting to get noticed again.  People are realizing that not only are some of those old ideas less expensive than their modern counterparts, but they are also a whole lot healthier, safer and creating less of an environmental impact.
One area that seems to be getting a lot of attention lately is household cleaners.  So many people are becoming more and more concerned with what they are exposing themselves and their families to while doing something as simple as cleaning the floor, washing dishes or doing laundry.  In addition, the prices to buy all these chemical laden products keep going up and up and up--I'm appalled at the price of laundry detergent anymore.  In fact, it has gotten so out of hand that in some areas Tide is nicknamed "Blue Gold"--and is a target for thieves.  Someone steals a bottle of Tide and then because it is so expensive, they are using it to purchase drugs!!!!  Crazy huh?!?! 
Laundry detergent is one thing that I've been contemplating in the "make it yourself" category, and after an incident I had with a name brand laundry soap about 10 days ago, I finally broke down and gave it a try. (I ruined a brand new shirt!)  For $25 I purchased the following items (excluding the green bins in the background, I had those already)
A box of 20 Mule Team Borax, a box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, a large box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, a tub of Oxi Clean and 4 bars each of Zote and Fels Naptha soaps.  My list of ingredients to purchase came from checking out several different recipes I found online.  Based on different things I've read, this batch of ingredients should last me anywhere from 6 months to a year--or even longer!  I purchased all of these items at the local Walmart except for the borax, I picked it up at the grocery store. 
I made up two small batches yesterday to try--one with only Fels Naptha soap and the other with half Fels Naptha soap and half Zote soap, both mixed with the other ingredients.  I want to see if one works better than the other.  I'm not a huge fan of the odor of Fels Naptha (although it does take me back to childhood!), the Zote soap smells more like Ivory soap.  I'm not going to share my recipe just yet because I'm going to tweak it as I go.  I did do a couple of loads yesterday with it and I learned this--if you have hard water--you need to pulverize the soap, leaving it in small beads will not work very well especially if you use cold water.  This was easily remedied by running the batch I had made back through my food processor when I was done mixing it.  I ran it to the point that the batch of 1/2 and 1/2 started out with pink and yellow beads and is now a nice shade of orange!  I threw a load in this morning with it and it seemed to solve the issue of the soap not dissolving.  Best part is my clothes smell clean--not perfumed.  You can add scent crystals, but to me that's just adding an unnecessary chemical. 
I will keep you all posted as this project progresses--once I am satisfied with a recipe I will be sure to share it.  According to a friend who also makes her own, a batch like I made should last several months.  I am wondering what other things some of these ingredients could be used to make as well for cleaning purposes, I couldn't help but notice that once mixed, this smells a lot like Murphy's Oil Soap.  Stay tuned!  In the meantime, you can call me Martha.  I won't be insulted.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Any big plans for the day?  No party or anything here, just cooking some yummy food to celebrate.  I will be wearing one of my lovely Irish sweaters and matching jewelry.  I need to get my CD's out and put on some Irish music.  Enjoy!

Beautiful Celtic Cross at Monasterboice

Friday, March 14, 2014

I think a trip to Dairy Queen is in order................

It's been a loooonnnnnggggg winter.  I got a chuckle out of a Twitter post from Samantha Brown yesterday--"Winter coats are the new maternity clothes.  After what seems like 9 months of winter, I never want to wear mine again."  Pretty much sums up how I feel too!

Yesterday we woke up to snow and bitter cold, (6 degrees F), not fun.  But the upside of it is that in looking at the long range forecast, it appears to be the end of that crap--whoooo hooooo!!!!  Today it's supposed to be in the 50's, and in celebration, I think I will take Miss Laney on a long overdue trip to get ice cream at Dairy Queen.  MMMMMMMM!

Have a great weekend everyone!  Happy Pi day too!  Anyone have big plans?  I'm doing taxes, yuck.

"Mom, you're not pulling my leg, are you????!!!!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Girls Day Out!

Had a great shopping day in Pittsburgh yesterday with my favorite shopping buddy Heather--we covered a lot of stores!  I chuckle when I think about how Heather and I ended up being friends, we had known each other for years, she graduated with my sister-in-law and niece.  It wasn't until they were remodeling her workplace, she worked downstairs of where I worked, and while they were displaced, I offered her and her colleagues the use of our extra computer.  While she was in our office, we discovered how many things we had in common, and we've been great friends ever since.  I blame her for my thrift store addiction as well, so yesterday I introduced her to several places that she had never been to:  Trader Joe's, Whole Foods (my first trip too!) and Gabriel Brothers.  My station wagon was full of bags by the time we were on our way home with lots of clothes, shoes and goodies.  A fun time was had by all :)  In addition to some yummy food, I found this gorgeous hydrangea at Trader Joe's.  They are one of my absolute favorite plants, and I loved the idea of having it indoors to enjoy for a while and then I can plant it outside later.
The only brand new clothing items I bought were a jacket, a pair of Keds (yes another! I can never have too many) and a nightgown.  Thrift store shopping was difficult, it looked as though they had been cleaning out the racks lately, not a huge selection, but I still managed to get three shirts, a sweater and two pair of shoes.  The one pair of shoes still had the tags on!  The other pair doesn't look as though they were worn, maybe one time possibly, no wear at all on the bottoms.  I recently ordered a dress from Lands End to wear to a wedding we have to go to in May, and after I got it, realized that I didn't have shoes that really went with it.  I kind of had a particular style in mind, and was so excited when I found them yesterday--for $3.95!!! (the pair on the left)
I think with what I have purchased, I am officially ready for spring/summer!  I have an order from Lands End that is supposed to arrive today, two pair of pants and a pair of shorts, fingers crossed everything fits.  I am having a hard time picking what size to go with, I've lost just enough weight that some of the things I had from before are way too big, but other things still fit, it's weird.  I'm not 100% sure what size I really am either since no two companies are uniform anymore, argh!  I've weeded out a lot of stuff that didn't fit well from last season along with a few items I was just tired of.  I need to make one more trip to the Goodwill and the consignment store to drop off, and I think I'm finished.  Until fall!   Final tally for the day: three shirts, a sweater, a jacket, three pair of shoes and a nightgown:  $63.  The jacket at full retail was marked over $100 on it's own.  Not bad.
This morning I was thinking about all of the great reasons to shop at thrift stores.   There are so many!  I thought I would list some of my reasons here:
1)  The obvious one--to save money!  It is simply amazing how much new or near new stuff ends up at thrift stores.  The one pair of shoes I purchased would be $36 normally, I picked them up for $6.99--that's $29 I didn't spend and can keep in my pocket. 
2)  To find unique items.   Yesterday I found a Bradford Basket for $1.95.  Bradford baskets are comparable in quality to Longaberger, but the original company is no longer in business, it burnt down a couple of years ago.  I was so excited to find it as I knew exactly what it was, and it is a very useful size.  They also had two very large Steiff bears--they weren't cheap, $250 each, but to someone who knows about bears and collects them, that's a good deal.  I was surprised to see them, I can't imagine giving away a bear that was that valuable, I would love to know the story behind it. 
3)  Try out stuff that you might not otherwise.  I've found a lot of clothing brands that are generally more expensive than what I would normally spend.  A perfect example of this are the Denim and Company shirts I've come across, all of them brand new.  Denim and Company is a QVC brand and not super expensive, but by the time you add in the shipping prices, more than I am willing to spend for something basic like a t-shirt.  I have picked up several brand new ones for a fraction of the cost.  And my opinion on them is unchanged, I still wouldn't pay full price....but I'm only out $3 for a shirt instead of $20 or more.
4)  Find brands/items that are no longer manufactured.  Companies come and go on a daily basis, and it's especially sad when one of your favorites is gone.  I've come across several things from defunct companies as well as items that the style has dramatically changed on recently in their original form. 
5)  It's good stewardship.  Every time you buy something at a thrift store, that's one less item going in to a landfill.  And most thrift stores are run by companies that donate the money to good causes.  If you purchased just one item per month at $1 from a thrift store, that's 12 less items in the landfill and $12 to a charitable cause in a year.  Multiply that by 2500 people--30,000 items not in the landfill and $30,000 to go towards helping others.  Think about it!  And if that $1 item you purchased was a $10 item you saved $9 or $108 per year.  That's a low example too. 
Have a great week everyone!  We have snow in the forecast again for tomorrow, I'm starting to think winter is never going to end.  Hard to believe the first day of spring is only a little over a week away.

Monday, March 3, 2014

In Like A Lion..................

It's March, and the weather is still messed up.  We were supposed to get a bunch of snow thanks to another front that came through, luckily it missed us.  All I got out of it was aching joints on Saturday, luckily it was a fast moving front and all is good now.  Cold as heck, but we only have about 2 inches of snow on the ground.  The weather is supposed to be ick through tomorrow and then start to improve, upper 30's/low 40's by the end of the week.  Hopefully 50's and 60's aren't far behind.   Bring it on!

Saturday I made a run to a fun store we have in the area--Gabriel Brothers.  This is a regional store with an interesting history, but the long and short of it is they are kind of like a small scale TJMaxx, buying out closeouts and so forth.  Last time I was there I picked up all sorts of stuff including a pair of Taylor Swift Keds tennis shoes, this time wasn't quite as good.  I did get what I actually went for (rugs for the bathroom) so it wasn't a total bust--and I also found these:

Aren't they fun?!  I've mentioned before that I am hell on sunglasses so I always stock up when I find ones I like.  These were a whopping $3.99 each, I couldn't pass them up.  Hopefully the bright colors will encourage spring weather too :)