Thursday, June 21, 2012

The William Morris Project: This n' That

Due to almost paralyzing fatigue (Seriously, is it allergies?  The 95 degree heat?  The fact that I haven't eaten a hot dinner in 5 days?) I almost skipped another week. But after racking my brain & mustering up a minuscule reserve of brain power, I recalled that I HAVE done something useful this week.  And I even came up with 2 additional items to share with you.

First, I visited a local children's clothing resale shop last weekend - a place that I've been meaning to check out since we moved here 10 months ago.  For our area, they had a more-than-decent selection, and I commenced to race home & pull together 2 bins of clothes to take there on my next free day (September?  January?).

I know, not terribly impressive, but it freed up about 1/3 of the space in my laundry room.  And note to self: Do not buy 8 pairs of jeans for a girl who wants to wear skirts every day. 
Categorize this under Useful. 

Next, I have a useful + beautiful item to share with you.  I had heard about these special hair elastics that are supposed to be comfortable, colorful, AND leave no crease in your hair.  As I spend at least 64% of my time with my hair off my face, I thought they were worth looking into.  My first impression was that they were a bit pricey, but one afternoon I found a discount code in Lucky magazine (June issue).  I hied myself on over to etsy & placed an order.  3 weeks later, I am here to tell you that they are WORTH IT.  I ordered a 10 pack of different solid colors, and they threw in an additional 5 (thank you!).  I spent about $9 in all, and I love them.  They are comfortable, bright, don't stretch out, and don't leave a ponytail crease.  I have hair that is thick, but fine, and these hold my ponytail securely.  This is the etsy shop I purchased from: No-Tug Hair Ties.  While I wouldn't buy them for my 8 year old (who goes through a pack of Goodys in about 2.4 days), I am definitely worth this little splurge.  Santa, feel free to leave more in my stocking.  

Finally, I want to know if you have smelly towels.  I do.  Mine are about 10 years old (some even a bit older), and it seemed like I could never really get them smelling fresh + clean.  Do you know what I mean?  That sort of musty, moldy, not-at-all fresh smell?

Yes, I've heard you can dry them in the sun & lessen this problem. But that's not a good option for me, and so I was stuck.  Thankfully I Pinterest'd an idea that really works. I think it's important to share these things because I have pinned my share of stuff that turned out to be a big dud.

Here's what I did:  Load the towels into the washer.  Place 1 cup of white vinegar in the fabric softener or bleach tray of your washing machine.  A cup was too much for my fabric softener tray, so I dumped the remainder into the detergent compartment. Wash the towels in Hot water - WITHOUT soap.  Once this is done, add 1/2 cup baking soda to the load (I just sprinkled it on top of the wet towels), and wash again in Hot - WITHOUT soap.  I dried as usual, and more than a week later those towels are still smelling fresh and CLEAN.

Did you already know how to keep your towels fresh & clean?  Sometimes I feel like I missed out on the Happy Homemaker tips & tricks that were supposed to be mailed with my marriage certificate.  That's what I get for being the only child of an Undomestic Diva.

This post is part of The William Morris Project, begun by Pancakes and French Fries.  Check it out, and then come join us!

Amended 6/21: Apparently the hair ties are made from fold over elastic, which a quick internet search (I'd probably buy it on etsy) shows to be very inexpensive.  While I feel a little foolish now that I paid "so much" for what I got, I am still happy with them & even more stoked now that I know I can make my own in the future!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Things That I Don't Skimp On

I've been doing lots of thinking about the past year.  It's been challenging in new ways.  We are incredibly blessed to enjoy good health, a spacious house, vehicles with no major malfunctions, and a steady paycheck.  But this year has not been without its hurdles - mostly financial.  (Relax, we're fine!).  And while I have gotten really creative with our budget, I have found there are a few areas I refuse to skimp on.  A short list for your reading pleasure:

  • My Kid's Underwear.  I know this is weird, but have you looked at inexpensive kid's underwear, especially for little boys?  The cotton blends can be really scratchy and I find that the elastic waistbands seems to disintegrate after just a few months.  They just do not look or feel comfortable at all, and really, if you want comfortable, it all starts in the unmentionables doesn't it?  (don't answer that)  So, yes, I buy my children pricey undergarments, usually from Gap or Gymboree.  Here's how I justify it:  a) they are so soft, especially the ones made by Gap. b) they last & last, without holes, unravelling or stretched out elastic, or shrinking. And c) I buy them on sale, or at the outlet.  And I find that if I buy 'em when I see 'em on sale, they don't cost any more than what I would pay at my local mass merchandiser.  
  • Toilet Paper.  Do I have to explain this one?  I didn't think so. 
  • Cleaning Supplies.  While I find that I have a fully stocked arsenal of cleaning supplies, I have also honed it down to just what I really need.  This is what works for me:  On a weekly basis I use Method spray (Pink Grapefruit), Comet, Clorox toilet cleaner, and Method glass cleaner.  I mop my floors with a Hann steam mop (amazing), and if I am really freaked out about germs, I do have Lysol spray.  I like cleaning cloths, but recently ran out of them, and haven't bothered to buy more.  I really use the spray for 90% of what I used the cleaning cloths for.  Yes, I have more stuff under my sink, but the specialty items are only called upon once in a while (Barkeeper's Friend, Goo Gone).  To me, it's worth it to pay $2.99 for a delicious smelling spray than to to pay $4-5 for a tub of medicinal smelling cleaning cloths.  
  • My Hair Cut.  I cut J's and Big Daddy's hair at home - usually a buzz cut every other month or so.  M only gets her hair cut once a year, and she's growing it again, so I will probably just trim it up before school starts.  But mine.... well, I won't risk cutting my own, and I've tried the inexpensive places before.  This is an area where I really find that You Get What You Pay For (aka the Good/Fast/Cheap trifecta) - and if it's cheap, it's never, ever, good.  My hair is long enough that I can easily go 3 months between cuts, but after that I feel like my positive self-image starts to falter a little.  $27 every 3 months is totally worth it.    
What about you?  No matter what your budget is, do you have any tried & true favorites that you refuse to give up?   

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Weekend

I made her a dress!
I've never sewn a garment except for some quick and dirty Halloween costumes.  
I love the idea of a "pillowcase" dress, for a lightweight summer garment, but she's a bit big to use an actual pillowcase now. With a little googling, I found a tutorial from The Mother Huddle using fat quarters instead of a pillowcase.  I dug through my stash of fabric and came up with enough for a test run.  As I was sewing it, I wondered if it was a little too "circus tent".  But once completed, I love it!  And so does she!

It did take me several hours in total, but that was mostly because each panel is stitched together, then the seams are finished off with a zig zag stitch.  When I make another, I think I'll cut down on the number of panels to make the assembly a little faster.  I also took the easy way out & used grosgrain ribbon for the neck. 

Saturday night Daddy put up the tent in the backyard for a little Father/Son campout!

J, prepared for any camping contingency: sword, shield, gun, coloring book, toy trains, mini Iron Man.

And while they camped out, I stayed in & did my nails. 
These are the Sally Hansen Salon Effects in Kitty, Kitty.  I used one pack for my fingers & toes (there are 2 packs per box), and was short one finger on each hand.... so I just painted them a coordinating color. I feel very glamorous!

And of course, there had to be a little naptime, too.  I don't exactly know why he ended up in the hallway but he snoozed comfortably for over an hour. 
He has taken to wearing his cape everywhere, and also insists we call him Batman.  Ah, to be 4 again.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The William Morris Project - Buzz, Buzz

Our new beehive.

If you look closely, you can see one of those little buzzers flying back into the hive. 

Let me preemptively answer your burning questions:

  • No, we have never had bees before.
  • No, we don't know what we're doing.
  • Yes, the yellow thing in the front is a feeder.  It's just to get them started. 
  • No, we didn't catch a swarm, we took bees from a friend's hive & are hopeful that they are making a queen. 
  • Yes, it's a hobby.
  • No, we won't be selling the honey. 
  • Yes, we are excited to harvest the honey (probably in late winter). 
  • Yes, the neighbors are cool with it, and in fact were excited when we set it up last weekend.  
  • Yes, this has been the longest week ever and that feeling is reflected in my lack of enthusiasm for this week's "project".