Thursday, April 25, 2013

Making Mah Own

I recently had a bout with a rash. Real classy. I was covered in red itchy bumps all over my forearms and legs. It. was. not. fun.

This has happened before and I attributed it to artificial sweeteners. They are not good for you in large amounts, so after some Benadryl and cutting those out of my diet I called it cured.

This time I did the same thing and it did not go away. Nothing helped. Rash gel, lotion, alcohol, Benadryl (helped but it didn't go away), hot water (um- don't try that. hurts like... well you know), cold water. Nada.

 So after about two months, I decided to take everyone's advice and change laundry detergent. I had been using the same stuff well before I got the rash- but I was ready to try anything to make the wretched itching stop.

Instead of spending the big bucks on what I usually get, I decided to peruse the 'net and take a shot at making it myself.

Not only did I succeed at making my own detergent- it was cheap, easy, will last forever, it worked, and my rash is GONE!

The super simple how to:

Homemade Laundry Detergent
All of which can be found at Wal-Mart for less than 10 buckaroos. Woot!
1 large box of Borax
1 large box of Baking Soda (or Washing Soda. either one)
3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap
A large container for the detergent (this recipe makes a lot!)

Step One
Grate the Fels-Naptha soap bars with a cheese grater.

Step Two
Combine borax and baking soda. Fold in the grated soap.

Step Three
Do a happy dance, because you are done!!

Toss 2-3 tbsp into each load of clothes you wash. The Fels-Naptha soap smells so clean and good and this is safe for energy efficient machines because it does not produce a lot of suds. Clothes come out clean and fresh and my whites are brighter than evah!

Ready for a surprise?! I was on a roll- so I also made my own fabric softener!!! And guess what else? It's even cheaper and just as easy and effective as the detergent!!

Homemade Fabric Softener
1 bottle of hair conditioner (brand and scent of choice- I used Suave Green Apple because it's $1 a bottle)
6 cups of hot water
3 cups of vinegar

Step One
Whisk together the hair conditioner and hot water until well incorporated and smooth. Gradually add vinegar and mix well.

Pour into your container of choice and enjoy! This can be measured and used the same way as store bought fabric softener. I was worried the mixture would separate, but I made another batch to fill up my container and a few weeks later it's still well mixed and gives my clothes a light apple scent without being too strong. And don't worry- you won't smell the vinegar at all!

And there you have it! Around 15 bucks and I have laundry detergent and fabric softener for months!

Seriously- if you have ever wanted to try it but haven't known where to start or what to do, please give it a shot! It is foolproof and you won't regret the savings and fact that you know exactly what is cleaning your clothes (no crazy chemicals! yay!).

Next time I'll be sharing the deets on our baby deck garden. I guess I'm a full on hippie now. Groovy :)

Peace out,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sunshine Through the Rain

It's interesting being on the adult end of a catastrophic event. When 9/11 happened I was still a child; a freshman in high school. I remember trying to work through what this actually meant for our country and why someone would be so cruel.

When I heard about what happened as school ended yesterday and the children I teach were no longer in my care, my heart was shattered. Of course my Facebook feed was flooded with prayers and opinions and others crying out for the same clarity I remember searching for almost 12 years ago. All I could think was how tragic it is that so many innocent people lose their lives in response to the actions of very few wicked.

In times like these people pour out prayers. The ears that hear these prayers are interpreted differently by many people, but for me my prayers for healing and blessing for those affected and those giving up their time and skill to help, true heroes, are also accompanied by a newfound ache for the love of Jesus. He was one innocent who lost His life as an act of love for all of us. In spite of it all, there is still love. If we can care so much and be so deeply moved to pray and feel and grieve for people we didn't even know existed until yesterday- imagine the love God has for those people. Imagine the love God has for you.

It's not easy to be an adult. To have to process emotions as an adult. I looked into the faces of my children today as we fought through another day until summer. Really looked at them today. Some wore purple sticky notes for the people of Boston. Some want to ignore it completely, some don't understand what it all means, and some probably understand it a little too much. There's one thing they all still have in common- an overwhelming desire to be loved. Yes, even the boy who screamed out the four letter 'f' word first thing this morning; as well as the one who caused the outburst.

They just want to feel wrapped in love and acceptance. I try my best to give that to all of them. It's not always in the form of a smile; sometimes it's in the form of a conversation in the hallway- but it still says I care. And I love. Because they just. want. love. Don't we all?

Just love. Feel. If even for just a moment. Let emotion wash over you and enjoy the rush it gives that you. are. alive. And you were created with a purpose. For a purpose.

I love you. Whoever you are reading this. Whatever your story is. I love Jesus with my whole heart and soul and if you love Him too, that tickles me to death. I want everyone to know how incredible it feels to be loved by a Creator and Savior. But I love you even if you don't. Even if you think I'm silly. Even if you don't go to church. Even if you don't believe in anything. Even if you and I don't agree on gay marriage, abortion, the president, which way to put the toilet paper on the roll.

I love you, friend. I mean it.

In the words of Mr. Rogers' mother, let's continue to look for the helpers. And heal.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Simply Living

Every now and then something comes along and saves my faith in humanity. Times are hard and the media is full of bad news and trashy celebrity gossip- oookay. Confession time. Hello. My name is Andrea. {everyone together now- "Hi Andrea!"} I am addicted to celebrity gossip. It's been over a month since the last time I was on the TMZ website. Promise. Anyway- When I stumbled upon Christie and her cause I was humbled and thrilled! I follow the blog and Instagram of an awesome lady named Melody (awesome blog- very real and encouraging. And she's from SC! Holla!) and saw on her Instagram that she'd shared a photo about a virtual shop on Instagram called Storehouse Vintage that was having its first Instasale. I had never heard of this Instasale stuff before, but after a little reading and looking I realized there are lots of people who use Instagram to sell vintage and handmade items, clothing, and thrifted treasures. (If you know me, you know that is right. up. my alley!)

So to make a simple story even more complicated, here's where I was humbled: Christie is running her shop to raise money to adopt two baby girls. From Africa.

Be still my heart.

As I realized this I shared a picture to promote her sale and encourage as many people as I could to participate and help her sweet little family raise money to bring her babies home! Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to snag anything in the sale (the first person to comment on the picture of a desired item wins it- really fun & exciting!), but I did win! By sharing the picture my name was thrown into a hat and drawn out as the winner of one of her custom embroidery hoops she makes.

I'm so glad I won. My hoop is beautiful. I told her I really liked earthy & jewel tones, and I wanted the word "simplify" hanging in the middle. Well, that word was too long but was quickly remedied by using the words "live simply" instead. She was so sweet and had the hoop to me super fast!

It's now hanging above our stove for Josh and I to see every day and remember to take a step back and always think twice before getting hung up on the stresses of life- step back and live simply. or simply live. I'll take it either way.

To get your own, go follow her and her shop (storehousecrafts & storehousevintage) on Instagram- keep an eye out for when she is taking orders and get yourself a hoop!

God brought ours on the perfect day at the perfect time. I was feeling really overwhelmed about our finances and as I unwrapped my beautiful hoop I remembered that it's just money; and that a lot of my worry and anxiety will be helped if I just make an effort to

Thank you again, Christie!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Them Ripped Khakis, Though.

Nothing screams "fat old teacher" quite like having two twiggy preteen girls come up to you at lunch giggling as they sweetly whisper "Mrs. Atkins you have a hole in your pants."

... seriously? Yes.

True story. Sadly.

I learned a good lesson from it, though. You see normally I would have been depressed and cried about it and hated myself even more, but I was kind of sick of doing that. I've been doing it a lot lately.

I'm having a hard time with my weight. It is so. hard. to look at that scale and truly love myself and believe that I am doing everything in my power to maintain a normal life as well as lose weight. It's hard but I'm doing it and it's discouraging because it's just not working. The scale continues to creep toward a number I have sworn to myself I would never ever allow myself to see.

*Note- I have Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome and hypothyroidism. I'm fighting a seriously uphill battle in regards to weight loss thanks to my whackadoodle hormones.*

What to do, what to do. Well, on that day I refused to have the meltdown to which I have grown accustomed. I refused the anxiety and embraced a Kohl's credit card (only because of the additional discount. It's paid off and not to be used unless it will then immediately paid off). The pants that tore I had been wearing since college. Anyone that has gotten married knows that after marriage things don't fit the way they used to- it just happens.

So I got a new pair of pants. That are really loose. And comfortable. And will not rip. Ever.

Life has been full of these moments lately. Unfortunately in each instance I haven't always had the grace to forgive myself and trudge on. My husband tells me every day I'm beautiful and how much he loves me. I am so blessed in that.

So that's where I am. I wish I could continue this post with some sort of epiphany or happy ending, but too many 'bloggers' only talk about the good stuff and it comes off pretty pretentious. This space for me is meant to be a place to share my feelings, my memories, and things that I want my children and grandchildren to be able to look back on and laugh at, enjoy, and shed a tear over.

Y'all I am so not perfect. My life is not perfect. My husband is amazing but we fuss and fight with the best of 'em. I have a pretty smile and pretty hair but my midsection leaves much to be desired and I'm willing to admit that to the world.

I'M NOT HAPPY WITH MY BELLY. It happens. I'm working on it, but it's really hard because I like food. I'd love to exercise but have neither funds nor time nor self esteem enough to drive to a gym. But I'm hell bent on losing weight and getting healthier so my plan is to dig deep and make some time to walk/exercise and continue working on finding foods I enjoy that don't pack such a carby, fatty punch.

What's life without the not-so-savory stuff to make those rich moments all the sweeter?

Besides, one day those sweet little twiggy girls will get married and become mamas and know the same woes.  I hope. ;)