Days Until Christmas....

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Little More Green...and Stain Fighter!

This week, another Earth Day passed by.  On that day we were traveling to visit family, but we have been doing things a little more natural/green around our house.  We already compost, recycle, try to keep lights off that are not in use, use cloth bags for shopping, and the list goes on.....

I can almost always think of another way to get back to basics, which typically comes with a smaller price tag, and becoming a little more green in the process.  There always seems to be more ways to be just a little more earth-friendly.  

So.....this past few weeks, I incorporated a stain-fighter into my laundry process that is awesome.  I found it on Pinterest, and I've noticed it on many blog sites.  Anyway, it works much better than the Shout! or Spray and Wash that I've always picked up in the grocery store.  It makes me wonder why we stopped using what worked once to begin with?  I'm quite sure my Great Grandmother didn't go to the General Store and ask for Spray and Wash!  Did we change because we wanted what was advertised, what was conveniently put in a spray bottle for us? Did we want the extra cost?  Did we want the pretty colored bottle to set in our laundry room?  Hmmmm.  It makes me wonder.  

It took minutes to put these things together in a (recycled) spray bottle:
  6 TBSP Baking Soda.  
  2/3 Cup Ammonia
  2 Cups Warm Water
  2/3 Blue Dawn   (I use the WalMart Generic of Blue Dawn).
FYI - Put the liquid Dawn in last or it foams.  Mix all ingredients gently in a bowl, and pour in a spray bottle with a funnel (made out of a recycled soda bottle with the bottom cut off, if you need a handy funnel!)      

I use it on colors and whites and have been pleased.  After the first mix, you don't have to heat to make it work...just give the bottle a gentle tip back and forth (it separates a bit when unused for a bit) and spray away those stains. Spray and launder right away, or just spray the stain and throw it into the laundry to wait until you do your next load!  Either way, it's wonderful stuff.   (My hubby likes the look of his white shirt collars).  

No more extra spray bottles to plop into the landfill.  No more hunting down coupons for your stain fighter to help out on the grocery bill.  No more extra fragrances from a chemical concoction created by a factory.  Just back to basics.  

I've been doing a lot more "green things" lately.  I'll blog about more of them soon!  


Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Irish...

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This year our family looks upon St. Patrick's Day a little different.  There is still the fun of pinching each other before we remember to put our green on, but since we returned from a visit to Ireland a few months ago, we have a new special place in our hearts for the Irish!

We were in Ireland for a few weeks, and though it's not a huge island, it's so lovely with so many places to see. We didn't see half as much as we wanted!  We flew into Dublin, and drove to Limerick to stay. We took day trips from Limerick, and returned each night to our hotel during our stay. As each day ended, the we would say "THIS was my favorite day here" because all of Ireland is so amazingly beautiful.  The people were charming.  It was an amazing trip!

Because we have two boys who are insanely interested in castles, we went to more than 25 castles during our stay!  I've attached a few shots of the awesome history and views.

Have a great day, and don't forget to wear Green!

Until Next Time,

Friday, March 16, 2012

And We're Back....

I haven't blogged in a bit. Honestly, Blogger has me frustrated. My blog account got messed up a bit and I have put off straightening it out. I am back up and running. Another thing to check off my long to-do list! So, expect a post soon. After all, I have not posted recently and that means I have a lot to get off my mind! (Yep, look out!)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Volcanic Valley and A Dent!

In one of my earlier posts, I blogged that we went to Australia in March.  We decided then that since we were already across the globe, that we'd check out New Zealand, too.  

In Australia, we had issues with full hotels or overbooked hotels.  In New Zealand, we decided to kill two birds with one stone.  We wanted to avoid the full hotel issue, and cross camper-van off the list of things we would like to try.  We saw camper vans (or motor vans, as they call them) all over Australia and wondered how difficult they could really be to drive and live in.  We found out in New Zealand!

We arrived in New Zealand, and got the last camper van they had!  Luck was with us!  (Most of them had been pre-booked or transferred to the other island for the use of aid to earth quake victims).  We watched a movie at the rental place on how to drive it, use all the equipment, unfold the beds, refill the water tank, and power up! (It had no bathroom, so we didn't have to worry about that issue!)  We signed paperwork for the rental, agreed on a reasonable, but not full level of insurance coverage, and we were off!  The kids were giddy with excitement at the thought of "camping" in New Zealand.

Keeping in mind that we needed to drive on the opposite side of the road, and our chauffeur, (my brave Hubby) was sitting on my right side,instead of my left, in the driver's seat, we made some pre-travel plans.  We were going to park far from everything the entire time, to avoid backing up or being in a tight parking space.  We weren't going to use the stove at all so we didn't have to re-fill the cooking natural-gas.  For the few days we were there, we didn't want to mess with cooking inside.

We went to the Glow Worm Caves first.  They were fun, and a once in a lifetime experience.  We took all of our own extra vehicle precautions, and did great.   It was raining and parking was on a hill, but we did it!

That night we found an RV park, but it was full, so we went to another one and got the last spot.  It was not easy to get into, but we made it. We parked at our first RV Park for the night.  Getting tucked in the first night was not ideal.  I had to figure out the table and beds for the first time.  Tom (Hubby) kept banging his head when the bed was folded down.  I am only 5 feet tall, and the kids are shorter in height (yet), so the rest of us didn't have that issue!  It was pouring down rain, and the vent let in too much water to leave it open, which meant a hot, steamed up van!  The Robin William's movie "RV" was playing in my head.  It rained all night.

The next day we folded up, unplugged, and headed out.  We went to Waimangu Volcanic Valley where we saw lots of hot pots and geysers.  It was beautiful.  It rained a lot but with such beautiful views, it didn't matter.  We kept going!   We also visited the Buried Village at TeWairoa Village near Mt. Tarawera.  An Indian Guide gave a spectacular tour of the village showing where a nearby volcano had spilled ash and lava down a mountain and into the village.  His Grandmother had been in the village the night of the volcano.  She helped to save many of the tourists from the lava flow.  Years later they dug the village out to show what the village had been like.  It once had a beautiful terrace of mineral waters nearby. Indians from the local tribe hosted tourists from around the world on tours of the area, and to bathe in the  natural minerals at the terrace.  All this changed when the volcano erupted one night.  The last sign we saw in the museum at the end of our Buried Village Tour said "Will it happen again?"  The answer was YES!  History noted that Tawawera had erupted at least five times in the last 20,000 years.  Wow!  Okay, time to be leaving!

By the end of our visit in New Zealand, we were old pros at refilling the water (for the sink) in the camper van.  We knew how to quickly fold out or fold up the beds and table.  We were still parking as far as possible from everyone everywhere we stopped, and Tom was doing a great job navigating our Camper Van Beast on our "wrong" side of the road!  No problem!

Finally, it was time to fly home.  We dropped the van off at the rental place, proud of our accomplishment.  Then they told us, after their inspection, that we had a dent!  WHAT!?  We worked so hard and were so careful!   We were stunned.  When they showed us, I was amazed.  Someone must have doored the vehicle somewhere along the way.  I took pictures.  Had I known, I would have cleaned the black mark off with a rag and it would have been invisible, but they considered it an incident and filed the paperwork for repair.  They would get back to us in a few months, but in the meantime, they would hold the $2500.00 NZD deposit.  We'd hear from them in a few months.  Sigh!
We just recently received the return of some of our deposit.    

The results: 
-Trip to New Zealand?     Less than Australia, but definitely not cheap.     
-The tiny black marks on the Motor Van Beast?      $400.00 NZD!
-Adventure in New Zealand living in a vehicle, and so many bruises, long walks from parking, fun experiences and silly moments with the family?      Priceless!

The next trip will be in a few months and will be Ireland.  I'm voting to sleep on something without wheels this adventure.  Tom and the boys are crossing their fingers that we can stay in a castle!  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Christmas In July

A bit of Patriotic-Christmas-in-July!
Happy day to you all!

As I blog today, it's very hot outside in the Panhandle, but inside the Christmas music is playing, the air conditioner works hard, and I am designing new ornaments.  It's that time again to start creating ornaments for Christmas In July, and for the upcoming holiday season in my etsy shop.  I've got lots of new Sugar Plum Ice Cream Cones in the works.

My little guys love to help out when I get out my ornament supplies.  I've learned to give them a tray of extra items of their own to work with.  If I don't, they are going to be getting into my decoration supplies.  I love that they want to be involved and creating though.  They add their own "boyishness" to their own creations, and we initial and date them, then add them to the tree each season.  Their progress shows in their ornaments as their eye-hand coordination and maturity grows, and our tree has become similar to a special type of scrapbook of ornaments that only comes out during the holidays!

This year I've tried to make ornaments in many different colors.  The green is selling out first, and I'm out of green, so will be making more soon!  Green is a traditional Christmas color, but it doesn't stand out on a tree as well as other colors often do, so selling lots of green this year surprised me, but there is a lot to say about tradition!  I still love to decorate a majority of my home in shades of red and green for the holidays.  My favorite holiday decoration is holly and ivy.....a fine example of traditional holiday colors.

Until next time!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Love Drawings!

My dear friend, Brenda, is celebrating her 100th post by holding a drawing.  She has some pretty things that she's giving away.  Just drop her a line and follow her blog.  She's a decorative painter, and a blogger.  She does beautiful painting.  (You should see the recent painting she did of a beautiful heron standing near the water!  I keep telling her to blog about it, because it's an amazing piece of art that she created.  It makes me feel tranquil just to look at it).  Well, anyway, check out Brenda's blog here and get your name in her drawing!   She has two etsy stores, too.  You can find out more about them on her blog.  It's almost that time to start thinking fall, and then holidays again.....and her hand-painted Christmas ornaments are something to be cherished!  And Brenda, if you're reading this, congrats on your 100th Post!  Here's to many more! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day....

Hello and Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!

This week my boys worked hard to create handmade Father's Day cards.  They also picked thoughtful gifts.  The most adorable though, was watching them sneak around and hide their gifts and cards when their Daddy was around.  When Tom opened their gifts today, he was touched by the care they took. He loved the items they made and chose for him!  It's been a relaxing day of church, going out for lunch, a mid-day nap and then steak on the grill this evening.  Does life even get better??  My boys and I are so thankful that we have Tom.  He's an amazing father to our two children.  He was happy to change diapers and push the stroller when the boys were small.  Now, as they mature, he continues to love them, encourage them, spends hours teaching them new skills, telling them stories, and being our lead tour guide as we experience other cultures and traditions in our travels!  He's the one that is happy to drive the car on the opposite side of the road from what we're used to while I try to get the GPS working.  He willingly rents and drives a big motor camper when I suggest it might be fun.  (That's an adventure I'll blog about soon!)  Tom is our entrepreneur, to make sure I get my cup of coffee ordered just right in Germany, (he speaks 3 languages).  He Tom is always up for a new adventure, and for this, we are thankful!  Because of Tom, our life is entertaining, unpredictable, and full.  He keeps life interesting and as we celebrate Father's Day today, we know we're very blessed.  We love you, Tom!

Beautiful Australia 2011