Friday, December 19, 2008

Washing wool socks

A while back, I finally finished the other sock, the mate to the one I made earlier this year. And I've been wearing them often enough to have one of my kids asked if I had needed to have them surgically removed to wash them. Yeah, it's cold in this house, they're warm. Back AWAY from the socks and no one will get hurt!

I've heard so many cautions about washing wool and how easy it is to felt the wool that I was just plain scared to wash them. However, it's been in the 60's for the last week, warm enough that I did worry about wanting to wear them and so I decided to bite the bullet and wash these bad boys.

Here's what I did. First I cleaned out the bathroom sink - washed the toothpaste and dog hair (how DOES dog hair get in the sink? 12lb Chihuahuas are NOT tall enough to get to the sink!). Then I got the water just barely warmed. I mean it was just enough to take the chill off our mountain water, but still cool to the touch.

I then plugged the basin and put about 3 drops of "Dr. Bonner's liquid Castille soap" into the water. Not enough to cause suds. I set the socks into the water and let them soak for about 2 mins, GENTLY squished them about 5 times. Kinda poking them into the water. Yep, they WERE dirty. I pushed them up and down a couple more times gently, pushed the water out of them and supporting them well, let the water run out. After the water was out, I repeated the process without wringing or twisting the fabric. I just pushed down on top of the socks, trapping them between my hand and the sink bottom to squeeze out the excess water a bit. The second verse is same as the first, with the same results. Ok, they WERE dirty. (dog hair, grrr)

Then I got a bright idea. I mean, how do I wash MY hair? Uhmmm...wool is just sheep hair, right? When I wash my hair, I put a tablespoon or so of plain old sodium bicarbonate a.k.a. baking soda into one 16oz. cup and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into another 16oz. cup, fill both with warm water. (do NOT put both in the SAME cup unless you like science project volcanos!) I then pour the baking soda laced cup of water over my wet head, work it in - sort of like I was using soap and rub my scalp. Then I rinse that out and pour the apple cider vinegar laced water over my head and work that in. (Prepare these before getting into the shower! lol) I then rinse that out of my hair. And no, it doesn't leave your dried hair smelling like vinegar!

Anyway, I got the bright idea of using the baking soda in the water for my socks. It did pull more dirt out of them. By that time, I was nervous about how I had squished my socks some and they were looking a little "rough" - some of the fibers were standing up away from the yarn. But, I was committed. So I drained THAT small basin of water and refilled with the same temp water and this time added the vinegar. It pulled a little soap out of the socks. Again, I pushed them up and down a couple of time gently, pushed the water out of them and supporting them well, let the water run out of the sink again. I wrapped them in a couple of towels and stood on them to get more water out. (Uh, if it's a very large item, do this in the tub - so the water runs down the drain and not all over the floor.)

I next gently picked up the socks and supported them - I didn't want to stretch them out and tried to figure out where I was going to put them so they'd dry - and besides, I don't own a "drying rack". But I DO own several cooling racks. The kind you put baked goods on. hahaha. Yep, got one of those bad boys out, arranged my socks on it and then took a good look at them. (Happy dance begins!)Not only were they clean, but the fibers that had formerly been standing up were all laying down. NO FELTING! wooohoooo. And as a bonus - they are SOFT!! Seems that the baking soda "melts" off the dirt on socks and the vinegar closes the open hair shafts on the wool just like it does on human hair. Less itch and feels soft to the touch. My well-worn socks look new - except on the bottom where I can see a couple of wear spots from not wearing slippers with them. (These were worsted weight yarn knit with #3 dpns.)

Now how does one repair a pair of knit bottoms on socks? How does one darn socks? Me thinketh I'm going to learn to do double knit on the bottoms of my house socks so they wear longer.

By the way, you can clean hair brushes and combs with baking soda and hot water - with out having to "work" on them. I put about 1 tbs of baking soda into the 16oz. cup, run some hot water into the cup, stir to dissolve the baking soda, add my brushes and combs and finish filling up the cup. Let them sit about 5-10 mins, dunk up and down 10 times or so and then rinse. Mine are clean - even the ones that live in the bottom of the purses/backpacks that only get washed once in a blue moon, hence are caked with gunk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Homemade de-icer - edited

Ok, so I've become a fan of alcohol. No, not the kind you drink! Sorry 'bout that. No, this is the plane old Isopropyl alcohol aka rubbing alcohol that you find in the "drugstore" section of any grocery store, pharmacy or Wallyworld type business.

Remember my alcohol instead of deodorant? It worked well all summer long. When I worked inside or outside. Still using it with no complications. 2 or 3 squirts under each arm still does the trick.

Well, my daughter was running late one morning, and wouldn't you know, we got up and there was frost on the windshield. What to do? The de-icer can was empty. ($1.00 for 2 or three rounds of window clearing.) Then I thought, hummm...alcohol? So I got my trusty deodorant bottle out and commenced spraying the windows with it. Yes, windows in the plural. Squirt the first section and away went the ice. So, around the car I went squirting. It was rather hard on the hands - little bitty squirt bottle.

Today we went to the store and for 97 cents for a trigger spray bottle and $2.68 for 32 ounces of 91% isopropyl alcohol I'm in business. I'm trying 1/2 alcohol and 1/2 water. Since the alcohol is stronger than the normal 50%-70% that you normally buy, I think I can water it that much and it still work. Of course, now it's about 50 degrees out and raining, so I can't try it until the rain passes and it gets cold again. So for less than the cost of 3 cans of the spray stuff, I have a eight 8oz bottles of spray. It only took me about 1 oz to de-ice the car. A little went a long way and that was pure alcohol. It will last longer mixed with the water.

Ok, a really bad frost hit. The watered down alcohol did not work very well. It did melt the frost, but then immediately re-froze. We were in a hurry (she was late - AGAIN). So I dumped out the watered stuff and used just straight alcohol and it worked like a charm. And it's still cheaper than the stuff in the spray can. Also, the straight 70% alcohol that sells for $1.00 for 32ozs. works just fine.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving, pt 5 Turkey and stuffing

Turkey and stuffing:
Stuffing, yes, stuffing. As in I stuff my bird. My family has stuffed turkeys for generations and we've never gotten sick. However, we don't leave the turkey out, we don't prestuff the bird and then put it in the fridge, we don't slow cook the bird. In fact, we wash the cold bird inside and out with cold water, make the stuffing, IMMEDIATELY stuff the bird with it, season the bird and then IMMEDIATELY put the bird into a large enamel roasting pan, put the lid on the pan and put the pan into the preheated 325 degree oven. If I vary from this in the slightest, then all bets are off. You're on your own with stuffing your bird! I'm just telling you how I cook my turkey. YMMV THE FOOD POLICE SAY; "DO NOT STUFF TURKEY". SERIOUS ILLNESS MAY RESULT. It takes about 2 - 2.5 hrs to cook a 14 lb bird to 170 degrees this way.

1 turkey any weight
onion powder
garlic powder
poultry seasoning
For a 14 lb bird (add or subtract ingredients as bird weight goes up or down):
7 slices of white bread (yes, you may substitute your bread - whole wheat)
1/2 lb regular sausage (yes, you may use country sausage or hot sausage if you want)
1/2 large onions, diced
1 celery rib, diced (one stalk, piece, etc. just one, not the whole plant.)
1 tsp olive oil, oil, bacon grease or grease from cooking the sausage.
1/2 tsp salt (opt. I don't use much salt, so I don't use salt in my stuffing)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (opt)
1/2 tsp Adobo (opt)
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (opt)

1. Cook the sausage on med-low heat. When no longer pink, remove from pan, place on paper towel that is on a plate and allow to drain. Pour off any excess grease. I buy "Jimmy Dean Sausage". I found that even though it's more expensive, I don't have a pan full of grease when I'm done cooking, but YMMV. In fact, as there was no grease in the pan, I had to add a little bacon grease to cook my veggies in.
2. While the sausage is cooking, dice the veggies. When the sausage is done, cook veggies in that pan, still set to medium low. After putting the veggies on to cook. Toss the bread onto the oven rack to toast and set oven to preheat (325 degrees.Bread doesn't need to be "browned", just dried out.
3. Also while the veggies cook, rinse out your roasting pan and dry it (to get rid of any dust that may have settled in it since it's last use. When I remember, I will spray the pan with a little cooking spray or olive oil.
4. When the veggies are done, remove the bread from the oven and break them into little chunks. In a bowl, mix the bread, sausage, veggies and any spices you want to use. Be careful, the sausage will be warm and the veggies hot!
5. THEN, take turkey out of fridge, open turkey bag, remove the ends of the legs from the little leg holder thingy, take neck, and giblets out of the body cavity. CHECK THE NECK AREA, sometimes they put part of the giblets in there! Wash your turkey inside and out with running water. (don't use soap! One day, when I was about 9, my mom told me to "wash the chicken". So I proceeded to pour dish soap on it and soap it up. lol She caught me and asked what I was doing - to which I very innocently replied; "Doing what you told me to. You told me to wash the chicken".) That's when I learned that "washing" a chicken/turkey was nothing more than rinsing it off well and looking for pin feathers. Check for pin feathers and remove if you find any. Remove the very inaccurate pop-up thingy. We're going to use a thermometer to see when the turkey is done! Turn turkey on end in sink so the water can drain out. This should all take no more than 3 minutes.
6. I start by lightly stuffing the neck area. I then fold the wings back on themselves (so it looks like the turkey is on it's back with it's "arms" behind it's head. Then I proceed to lightly stuff the body cavity. DO NOT PACK EITHER CAVITY! If you don't use all the stuffing (and I rarely do), then throw it away, give it to the dog or bake it with the turkey in a separate pan. Usually, it's only a handful that's left for my normal 14lb.something oz. bird. I then put the legs back into that little leg holder thingy that they put into the bird. The bird is now on it's back, centered in the pan.
7. Now I season the bird with Adobo, onion powder, garlic powder, and poultry seasoning. I put it on a little heavier than I would if I were putting the seasonings on food on my plate. Insert a thermometer into the breast, about 1/2 way, making sure it doesn't touch the bone. (I use a quick read thermometer, so it doesn't go into the bird until I'm ready to see if it's done.)
8. Immediately place the lid on the roasting pan and put the whole thing in the oven. Turkey usually needs about 15 mins per pound of bird. So a 14 lb turkey should take about 3 hrs to cook. Mine usually cooks faster. I think it's the covered, dark enameled pan that is the culprit. I've check the oven temp with an oven thermometer, and the temp is accurate. So the only other thing is could be is the pan.
9. Bake at 325 degrees until internal temp reads 165 to 170 degrees.
10. (I just used the thermometer to check my almost 15 lb bird. After two hours, the temp is 150 degrees.) It took 2 hrs 45 mins to cook this bird today.

Thanksgiving part 4 Chocolate Pecan Pie, Hershey Bar Pie

Ok, here are two really easy recipes for desserts, but taste delicious.

This is such a yummy dessert! It's very rich.

3 eggs, beaten
1 cup white corn syrup
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups pecan halves
1 unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 or 10" pie plate with the pie crust, flute edges. Place pecan halves/pieces on bottom of crust and then put chocolate chips on top of the nuts. Stir together eggs, corn syrup, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Pour mixture over the chocolate/nuts. Cover edge of pie with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

If you choose to use a cookie sheet to catch any run-overs, either put it in the oven to preheat and place the metal pie pan on the cookie sheet. If your using a glass pie pan, don't preheat the cookie sheet, just set it with the pie on it in the preheated oven. In 25 mins, when you take the foil off the pie, also take the pie off the cookie sheet. If it were going to bubble over, it would have done it by now and settled down.

I tried putting the cookie sheet on the shelf underneath the pies and they didn't get done properly. Once I removed the cookie sheet, the pies finished cooking just fine, but I had to put foil back over the pie crust again.

Ok, decadence first class:

Hershey Bar Pie

1 1/2 lbs Hershey Bar or Hershey Bar with Almonds (3 8oz bars)
1 12 oz tub of Cool Whip, thawed
1 9" -10" pie crust (I used to use Pillsbury, but at $3 for 2 crust, I'll be making my own!)

1. Blind-bake one pie crust. (Place in pie pan, prick all over, put in 350 oven for about 10 mins or until golden brown.) Let cool about 15 mins.
2. Break chocolate into pieces, melt on low or in microwave (nuke 30 seconds, stir, nuke another 30 until melted. It only took 3 cycles on my old microwave. Don't over melt in microwave!) Set aside and let cool a little 3-5 mins.
3 When crust and chocolate are cool, spread a small amount of chocolate on bottom ONLY of crust. Place rest of chocolate in a large bowl and mix with cool whip. (with a spoon.)
4 Place mixture into pie crust. Cover and let chill for however long you can stand it.

Cooking Tips
I only let crust cool a few minutes. Don't let the chocolate cool too much, it will harden again! If it's too hot, it will break the cool whip. I nuke my chocolate, it doesn't get as hot that way. When you mix in the Cool Whip, it will harden quickly.

Ok, I think this does it for desserts for the holidays.

Thanksgiving, pt 3 Why am I Blogging When I Should be Cooking?

Hahaha, sob, sob, sob.

In the last year, I was gifted with a new to me fridge. I had to buy a new blender (0ld one bit the dust and we have few thrift stores here, none with a decent blender). New equipment means changes in cooking times, in freezing and thawing times.

Yep, veteran of countless Turkey dinners is sitting here on Thanksgiving day, thawing a turkey in cold water instead of baking and eating it. Actually, it's a miracle we have a meal at all. It was this Monday, YES, 3 DAYS ago, that I realized, HELLO! It's Thanksgiving - THIS WEEK!!! I had to go get groceries. You know, like: TURKEY, potatoes, celery, onions, cranberry sauce, olives. The stuff that makes the feast a feast. So we get home and it all goes in the fridge. Now with my old fridge, put something frozen in the fridge part - like the turkey and wahlah, in a day, two at tops, it's thawed. Not this bad boy! I got up this morning and grabbed the turkey off the shelf, and it hit me. Thump. Not a gentle, thawed thump. No, a rock-hard, frozen THUMP. Nooooo. Say it isn't so. sigh

But that's one of the fun things about holidays. Nothing goes as planned, so don't get you tinsel in a tangle. Thankfully, I only have the two kids at home and no company coming. Oldest had to work from 7:30am to noon. She finally got home at 1pm. It's now 4:51 and I'm just now getting that bad boy in the oven. Dinner will be at 7:30. A little late, but hey, it'll be done and it will be good.

Thanksgiving, Pt. 2 Pumpkin pie/ pumpkin puree/toasted pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin pie ala Darlene

The nutmeg, which was substituted for ground cloves, adds a softer sweeter flavor.

4 eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups pumpkin puree, fresh, or from frozen and then thawed, or 1 29oz. can solid packed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups (2 12 oz. cans) undiluted Evaporated milk, whole or skimmed (NOT Condensed!) I measured this and actually, it wasn't quite 3 cups. More like 2 3/4 cups.

2 9" (4 cup volume) unbaked pie crusts (homemade, boxed, refrigerated or frozen "deep"dish)

Myself, I use Pillsbury from the refrigerated section. My grandfather was a pastry chef, my mom loves to make pie crust. When I made this pie one year, she raved about how I had "my grandfather's touch". I sheepishly confessed to buying it. I hate the rolling out of the dough. However, now that the cost has gone up to almost $3 for 2 crusts, I'll be rolling my own.

1 Preheat oven to 425F

2 Combine filling ingredients in order given; pour into pie crusts. (Actually, this year I put my glass pie plates on the cookie sheet, put the cookie sheet on the pulled out oven shelf and THEN pour the filling into the pie pans. Saves trying to move very filled pies without spilling them. I set the timer for 22 mins and at that point, removed the pies from the baking sheet and placed them directly on the rack. I also covered the edges with tin foil. They have continued cooking for another 22 mins and need about another 5 mins.)

3 Bake 15 minutes at 425F. Reduce temperature to 350F. Bake an additional 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool; garnish with whipped cream, cool whip, etc.

Yield: 2 9" pies

Cooking Tips
If you have any leftover filling, place extra into small, greased casserole and bake along with the pies.

When using metal or foil pans, preheat cookie sheet when you preheat oven. When using a glass or ceramic pie pans, DO NOT use cookie sheet directly under pie pans. (place on next rack)

If using SHALLOW 9" pans (2 cup volume), make in two batches. Bake for the 15 mins, reduce oven and bake only an extra 20 to 30 mins., checking near center for knife to come out clean.

Author: Darlene Burgess

To make pumpkin puree:

This method is very labor intensive. Not! Forget trying to peel the tough skin. Forget the watery taste from boiled pumpkin.

Buy a pumpkin. There are smaller "pie" pumpkins or you can use a "regular" pumpkin. The the two I cooked yesterday were about 10 lbs each. They were regular Jack-o-lantern size pumpkins.

I washed the skin on them with my scrubby to get off some dirt on them. I then had son cut the top off of one, then set it on the cut edge and cut the pumpkin down the middle - from blossom end to stem end (or rather where the stem would have been had he not just cut it off.)That's it, just two cuts.

I removed the seeds (we're using them later!)Just scoop them out. Don't worry about the stringy stuff now, just get all the seeds you can and then set them aside, strings and all.

I didn't bother scraping the insides and trying to remove the stringy insides. Those are more easily removed after cooking.

To Cook:
Place on cookie sheet (well, really, it's a jelly-roll pan - it has a lip on it), cut side down (so the skin is "up"). Place in 350 degree oven and let cook until done. With my large sized pumpkins, I could only cook 1/2 a pumpkin at a time, but a smaller pumpkin will cook with each half side-by-side. It took about 50 mins for it to get tender. It doesn't matter if the skin starts looking "burned" on top. The flesh inside is still good. "Potato test" it - when you can pierce the pumpkin, sort of like a potato and it's tender, it's done. With the smaller "pie" pumpkins it only takes about 30 mins to cook both haves together. So set timer and go do something else (like check to make sure the turkey is really THAWED!).

Carefully remove it from the oven. It will have a little liquid in the bottom of the cookie sheet, so don't burn yourself when you move the sheet. I set mine on top of the stove top and work with it their, rather than moving it else where.

Remove the skin. I use a fork to peel back the skin and cut off any dried out spots - like the cut edges of the pumpkin. I then cut these large 1/2's into 4 parts with the fork. I turn each part over and scrape the edge of the fork over the surface of the pumpkin. Or you can use a spoon. You just want to scrape off that top layer that was the ugly, stringy part. Then put that piece of pumpkin in a bowl. Repeat for the other 3 pieces that you just cooked. Then throw away the scraps (or put them outside for the squirrels, chipmunks and birds to eat). Rinse off the cookie sheet and put the next piece of raw pumpkin on it. Repeat for each pumpkin you've purchased.

While the next piece of pumpkin is cooking or when you're done cooking the pumpkin, you will need to mash up the pumpkin. Yesterday I bought a stick blender. Ehhh, it was ok, but still too chunky for my tastes. (It may have worked better if I had done it in small batches instead of a bread bowl full. lol). So I got out my newish blender. Ehhh, my old blender did better with it, but since it was all I had, I messed around with it until I could get it to make a smooth puree. With this newer blender, I put the semi-blended, almost puree into the blender container in 3 cup batches. Why 3 cups? Well, how many cups is in the above pie recipe? Yup, 3. So after I've blended my pumpkin, I can pour it into a qt. zip bag, remove the air, zip it and freeze it. When I need pumpkin for my pie, I don't have to mess a cup up measuring it. All I have to do is thaw and pour into the crust. If you use pumpkin for other things, measure and blend in the size you will use - or a variety of sizes. Some for muffins, pie and soup. Anyway, back to the instructions. After putting the almost puree (or the just cooked pumpkin chunks) into the blender, I had to use the "pulse" option on my new blender. Before I could just toss it in and hit high and it worked. This machine is a bit more finicky. I had to pulse a couple of times, push the puree down (don't do this with the machine RUNNING!) and then I could use the low setting and have it blend. How do you know how smooth you will like your puree? Well, do you like potatoes with a little bit of unmashed potatoes in it? Yes, then you will probably like your puree with little bits and pieces of unblended pumpkin in it. No chunks in your potatoes? Then blend it smooth. It's a similar textured veggie.

Out of those two big pumpkins, I had six 3-cup bags of puree and one 2 cup bag. I would have had more, but I hadn't eaten all day and was hungry, so I put some of the puree in a bowl and added about 1 tsp of bacon grease. Heated it an ate it. Then I made another bowl. lol So I probably would have had eight 3 cup bags had I not eaten some of it. (And it was GOOD!) I could have added some milk and spices to it and made soup, but I was hungry and didn't want to wait or cook some more.

On to the seeds. When you are finished cooking the pumpkin (if you don't forget them), you can cook the seeds while pureeing the pumpkin.
Put the seeds in a colander and rinse. You will want to pick off all the stringy flesh and break the seeds apart from each other so that you have individual seeds, not seed groups. Toss the stringy part. Shake the colander some so that you get rid of a lot of the water. At this point, there are two ways to do the seeds. Some people bring the seeds to a boil and boil them for 10 mins or so. I don't do that, I just put them on my (was in use, now rinsed off) cookie sheet, spread them out and sprinkle them with salt (or any other seasoning you'd like to use.) I put them in the 350 oven for 10 mins, stir and do another 10 mins. I stir and see if then still need more time to toast. Yesterday, it took me 30 mins to get them toasted, but I had the seeds from 2 pumpkins, so it took longer than a single pumpkin, but short time than doing two separate batches. When golden brown, remove, let cool and store in a zip bag. (store???? hahaha)

Thanksgiving pt 1 Things To Be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Ok, we're in a depression and things aren't really all that great. There's no money to buy stuff, people are out of work, CEO's of some of the Big Corporations are ripping tax money off of the workers while maintaining their life-styles. They come in private jets, wearing costly apparel and want Congress to bail them out. They were paid to run these corporations for a profit and raided them instead. They take home multi-million dollar salaries + bonuses and then the tax-payer is getting to bail out the now bankrupt business while these parasites get to continue "running" the company. People are being hateful to one another. Beating up little old people who disagree with you is now ok in some quarters. Judges can just throw out laws or reinterpret the Constitution any way they want and it seems "We the People" have no more say in what's happening. In other words, there seems to be plenty to dispare about. Or is there?

One of the best things to do is to count how much you do have instead of focusing on what you don't have. I'm glad we have a special day that encourages us to think of all that we have been blessed with. It doesn't meant that the jobless will have a job tomorrow or any of the other ills of the day are magically "gone", just that things really could be worse for us.

I was a missionary in Colombia, S.A. Needless to say, when my kids were young and wanted to complain about what they didn't have, I would tell them stories of the people and children that I met there. Children who ate food thrown out because it was too rotten to sell, who would pick it up out of the pathways and eat it-after people had stepped on it. Children sleeping outside in the open, huddled together like little puppies, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, a holey sweater and wet crochet shoes. Me? I was wearing a coat and a sweater and the wind was still blowing through me - it was COLD outside. The two little boys were about 6 and 8 years old. Their mom was probably a prostitute and they were sent outside to be away from her "work". How about the old lady at the market who was picking up rice grains out of the dirt where they had fallen from the rice seller's table. That rice was free - it was all she could "afford". And on the stories go.

Now do we feel grateful? Grateful for clean, parasite free water. Grateful for an abundance of clean, parasite free food. For the ability to go where ever we want without having to carry special papers from the government and without having to check in with the local police upon arrival.

How about the closet full of clothing we have. I knew 4 brothers that were in such dire straits that they only had one pair of pants among them. Only one could leave the house to look for work or go to school. So each day, they had a turn to wear the pants. They were 18-24 years of age and their parents had died. There was no safety net under them. No where to turn except to each other. And one pair of pants to allow them to gain the money they needed for food and rent.

How about the spaciousness of our homes. Yes, even a tiny 14"x40" trailer that held 4 people, 3 of which were under the age of 6 - and all their stuff. Baby beds, swing, baby carrier, toys, etc. Friends of mine in Florencia, Caqueta, Colombia had an room that may have been as large as 8'x10'. It had a cement floor. It held two twin beds and a small table upon which was the Coleman stove they used for cooking. There was no bathroom or running water in their "home". They had to go outside to a makeshift bathroom and a public faucet. There were 7 of them, the youngest was 8 years old. They all went to work each day. There was no schooling for the kids - even the "free" schools cost money. And how do 7 people sleep on two twin beds? I have no idea.

Family member passed away recently and you're feeling blue? How would it have been to have had to dig their grave. While digging their grave, you'd throw out the bones of the people who had been buried there before; knowing full well that in the not too distant future, someone would disinter your loved one. This is not done out of disrespect, but out of poverty and lack of approved burial space.

I own a 1986 car - hey, that's older than my oldest child. It runs. That's about all I can say about it. But that's what I CAN say about it. It DOES run. I had friends that had a bike. They went everywhere on the bike. All FOUR of them. And there are MOUNTAINS in Colombia. Dad stood and petaled. Teen daughter rode the handle bars, school-aged son rode on the front cross-bar, Mom rode side-saddle on the seat. (I even saw one family that dad had another child sitting around his neck while the rest of the family rode as my friends did. Wouldn't they have loved my old car? You bet!

How about freedom of worship? When I was in Florencia there was artillery fire in the mountains every day. The guerrillas that were at war with the government in that area had heavy artillery and it really was a war zone. While there, I befriended a family whom were members of my church. By their standards, they were solid middle class, but by our standards they were a very poor family. They had two books, one a Bible, the other a Book of Mormon. That's all the books in the tiny house. The children love to read the scriptures so I promised the children their own copy of the Book of Mormon if they learned the Articles of Faith (13 statements, a condensing if you will, of the main points of what we believe). At the time, the oldest boy was 10. Every day, when they got home from school, they would sit in front of the TV. During commercials, the oldest-Boris, would drill his younger siblings. Four years after I had left the area and was home, I heard that Boris had been execute by the guerrillas. His "crime" - he was a member of an "American" church. Which is interesting since we have more people in our church who speak Spanish than English!

We have the privilege of being able to go where we want, say what we want, be whomever we want to be. We have nice homes; clean,running water; the ability to heat and cool our homes. We don't have to get the government's permission to move; change jobs; nor do we have our loved ones killed if we vocally disagree with what our government does. We have multiple changes of clothing, a variety of foods to eat. Nice cars and we don't have to bribe judges, doctors or the government for our lives.

Is this country perfect. No, we have our share of problems. Are there hungry people in the U.S.? Yes. Are too many people homeless? Yes. Do we have places that rival 3rd world countries right here at home? In comparatively small places, it might seem that way. That is, unless you've been to the bad sections of 3rd world countries.

There are some places in Colombia, right in Bogotá (their capitol similar to our DC), that stretch for miles that is nothing but bombed out rubble. It's left-over from the violence of the 1950's. It is such a violent section that the Post Office, Garbage collectors, Doctors, Hospitals, Fire Dept, Police, not even the ARMY will enter that area. The "tallest" structure looks to be about 5'high. Yes, 5 FEET high, and nothing but RUBBLE. Nothing standing, just broken bits and pieces of what was once buildings all fallen in on itself. People live in that rubble like rats in crawlspaces. And there are TENS of THOUSANDS living there. Or rather, squatting there. I've been all over the US and have lived most of my life in the South. I've been in the Appalachian area and seen its poverty. But mostly, our poorest people have more than the "middle class" in many poor countries have; more than the "rich" in some countries have. Even in my "poverty" and I make WELL below the poverty rate, I am richer than most of the people who live in Colombia. In fact, richer than most of the people who live in the underdeveloped countries in the world.

Our challenge today and everyday is to look at what we have, where we live and be grateful that which we are blessed with. It's not a crime to want to better ourselves, in fact, it's good to want to do better in life. But not at the expense of our families or those around us. Not to the point that we are angry, disappointed or depressed with what we perceive we have been "cheated" from having. Those whom become like this are generally bears to be around - cross, cranky, surly, and mean-spirited. Do we want to be like that? Do we want to drive off family and friends? All it takes is changing our point of view. Change from ingratitude to gratitude and watch life become joyful again!

Are we looking at all we do have and feeling more thankful? I know I am.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Your gonna kill me for this recipe!

Ok, here's just what we need.

Cake in a cup (or bowl)

1 regular cake mix, your choice of flavor
1 box instant pudding (NOT sugar free), 4 serving size. Flavor to compliment the cake flavor

Open both boxes and place contents in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. I used a whisk and I got a not quite 10 half cup full each, from my chocolate cake/choco pudding and just over 9 half cup full from the carrot cake/vanilla pudding (coconut would have been better, kids won't eat coconut anyway other than fresh). (I mixed the choco and carrot leftovers together and had just short of 1/2 cup. But it worked, I ate it and it was good. lol)

This will make about 9 packages of carefully measured mix.

What I did was spoon the mix into a 1/2 cup measure, level it off and then pour it into a snack size zip bag. Squeeze out air and close. I choose to use the more careful spoon and level method rather than my normal use-the-measure-to-scoop-the-mix-into-the-cup-and-shake-off-the excess. I did this because I was able to make more mixes from it and they will all be exactly 1/2 cup. If you scoop and shake, you can get more than 1/2 cup quite easily. It took me probably 2 minutes longer to bag them this way than the scoop and shake method.

To use:

My instructions said to spray a 1 1/2 cup mug with Pam. Well, we tried the cup method and it looks cute, but the cake was tough on the outer edges and too deep to eat easily. Besides, the little bit of frosting didn't cover the cake well.
So on the next batch, I tried putting it into a cereal bowl. I was out of Pam, so I just didn't grease it. Truthfully, I couldn't tell a difference between the mug that was greased and the bowl that wasn't. Both had stuff stuck a little bit to the sides.

I poured one cake packet into a bowl, added 1 TBS olive oil and 1 Tbs water. Then added 1 egg WHITE. Stirred well and nuked for 2 mins.

I frosted it with some chocolate frosting I had purchased. Next time, I make my own frosting!

To make a glaze:
1/3 cup of powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp of Koolaid, Lemonade, Tang or other powdered, unsweetened drink mix, cocoa, or use some of the coffee creamer that comes in flavors.

(While you have the sugar out, make up 9 packets to save yourself the trouble of having to haul out, then clean up after each "glaze making" session. Then package the cake mix and glaze mix together in a larger sandwich size bag. Put all the sandwich bags into a large zip bag. When you use each sandwich bag packet, replace it into the zip bag. Next time, reuse the "kit" bags.)

To use the Glaze, place it in a cup, add 1 1/2 tsp of water (or Hershey's syrup) or other liquid (lemon juice would be good!). Stir together well. You can do this while the cake is cooking.

BE AWARE. The cake is HOT when it comes out of the microwave!!!

We've been playing with the recipe for several days. I've been mixing two packages at a time, one for me and one for Thang #2, each in our own bowl. This evening, instead of feeding the dog the egg yolks, I beat one large egg together and split it between the two bowls, 2 1/2 tbs to each bowl. I think it tasted better, but just the egg white does work. And you can probably use ground flax seed or gelatin to get out of using an egg at all. Could also probably get away with 1 tbs applesauce instead of the oil too.

Next project - when I finish the massive job of reorganizing my kitchen/food storage stuff, is to see if homemade cake works the same way. In theory it should, but you never know until you try it. If YOU try it, post and let me know.

Now you know why I said you're going to kill me. Hot cake on demand. Just what we all need. NOT!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Alcohol deodorant, Homemade laundry powder, fire-retardant for clothing

I had a comment on using the alcohol and I realized that I have more info for anyone who might want it.

For the first month or so, you may have to reapply the alcohol. I think it might be caused by the body releasing the toxins that have accumulated in those glands.

That little 50 cent bottle (from Wallyworld - near the trial-size bottles of toiletries) filled with alcohol will be your best friend.

If you notice any odor at all, go to a bathroom and just spritz once under each arm. It will knock back any odor and keep it from getting into your clothing and making the cloth smell too.

Here are some pictures of what I use to make the
deodorant from Udder Cream and essential
Lavender oil.

When I have some money, I'll probably get or make, a different cream - one that contains no propylene glycol in it. I just haven't had the resource to do that yet.

And the little 1/2 cup Glad reusuable container I keep it in.

You can use any small container that you can put a lid on. I find that this little container, that I already had on hand, allows me to mix and store in the same container. I wash it out with soap and water before adding a new batch of cream and oil.

I used to be a USANG medic and a paramedic, so I know to keep creams clean I don't want to put my hands into it. I have an older jar of "Udderly sMOOth" udder cream in the house that I use during the winter for my chapped hands. I bought a NEW jar of cream to use for the deodorant and I use clean cotton swabs or a new tongue depressor to scoop the cream out of the jar. That way, I don't introduce any unwanted bacteria into my cream and I can mix the oil and cream together with the same swab or depressor in my clean little jar.

Homemade laundry powder

Also, I use homemade laundry powder.

I grate about 2 tbs of Fels Naptha soap

or 2 Tbs of homemade, Ivory, or other mild soap (NOT detergent bars like Zest, Dial, etc!)

and add 2 Tbs of WASHING soda (NOT Baking Soda)
to my machine.

I fill the container for fabric softener with white vinegar (about 1/2 cup).

I wash everything in cold water except my whites and I do those in warm water. If it's been very cold outside, I sometimes use warm water on my darks, but it has to be below freezing for me to do that. I've not had a problem with the soap not dissolving in the washer. The vinegar removes any remaining soap, left-over detergent, left-over fabric softener and helps to make the clothing softer - as if you'd used a dryer sheet.

For people who like the smell or just "have" to have fabric softener, I used to use a trick to make my softener last. I would make up a batch of my own diluted softener. I had an old peanut butter jar that I would fill about 1/4 to 1/3 with fabric softener and then add water to near the top. I left room to put in a couple of small sponges that I had cut in half. They were about 3x6 when I bought them and they'd be 3x3 after cutting them. When I wanted a "dryer sheet", I would simple reach into the jar, take out a wet sponge, squeeze the wetness out of it and toss it in the dryer and put the lid back on the jar. When the clothes were dry, I'd put the sponge back into the solution for the next time. Since that time, the softeners have been "concentrated", so I'd only use a couple of tablespoons to 1 1/2 - 2 cups of water. You may be able to get away with even less. Try it and let me know. Personally, I don't much care for fabric softeners, either in the wash cycle or dryer sheets. They cause a build-up on your dryer's filter screen and also, your towels won't dry dishes or your body as well as ones that don't have the softener in them. On the other hand, I know people who absolutely love the softener in their laundry. To each his/her own. lol

It only took a couple of times of washing the clothing in homemade powder/vinegar to lose odor that my clothing used to retain - and I don't know why it used to do that. I think that the laundry detergent particles were still in the fabric and it was those particles that held in the smells. I used to use Tide, Gain, Surf or Sun to do the laundry in (US namebrand washing powders/liquids) I do wash myself regularly and only wear my outfits once before I wash them, but they would still retain the smell after washing and drying - and yes, I used enough detergent in the washer, in fact, I used to use too MUCH detergent in the washer.

I also noticed the first couple of times that I used the vinegar, the clothing did have a little bit of a "vinegary" smell to them when they came out of the dryer. But again, after about the 3rd time being laundered "Naturally", I haven't noticed the smell anymore. I have a child with a bloodhound nose. If it smelled like vinegar, she wouldn't use it in her clothing! (and she does use it)

I've also noticed that our clothing isn't fading like it used to fade. I'll have to do more checking - when I've finally gotten myself to regularly dry the clothing OUTSIDE instead of in the DRYER, sigh, and see if it keeps the fade away better.

Also, one thing a lot of people don't know. Ivory flakes, Lux, and homemade soaps are just that soaps vs detergents - which is what we normally wash with (dishes, clothing and our bodies). Detergents are petroleum based, soaps are fat/lye combos. The problem is, is that soaps remove any flame-retardant used in clothing - specifically BABY/CHILD items. At one time, all children's clothing from size 9mos to size 14 (kids) were required to be treated with flame-retardant chemicals. Times have changed, many people worry about the harsh chemicals that were used and the possibility of cancer. So now any clothing with flame-retardant MUST be labeled - but not necessarily with the name of the chemical was used to make them flame-retardant. And for sizes newborn to 9 month and any size over a kid's 14 have never been required, though some may contain flame-retardant.

IF the clothing or bedding has been treated, you can remove it by washing them several times with soap. If you desire, you can replace the chemical retardant (or put some in clothing that doesn't have any) by soaking the items in a mixture of 9 ounces of 20 Mule Team Borax and 4 ounces of boric acid with one gallon of water in a large bucket, tub or washing machine. Soak them after the final rinse. wring, squeeze or run the spin cycle of the washer to remove the excess water, then dry the clothing or bedding. If the garment is not washable, spray with the solution. This solution washes out of clothing and clothing should be retreated after each washing or dry cleaning. And I've not been able to find any indication of how long to soak the items. My guess is that you just want to swish them around so they get totally saturated with the solution and then you're good to go. I don't think it takes hours or spraying it on dry clean only clothing wouldn't work. kwim?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A more natural deodorant that WORKS

For years I've been concerned about using commercial antiperspirant. The aluminum compound that is the active ingredient in making you not sweat is, well....aluminum. And aluminum has been indicated to be a cause of Alzheimer's Disease. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't, but since I have a hard enough time remembering all that I need to remember, I've tried to find a replacement for said antiperspirant.

That should be easy, right? I mean, what did people used to do - besides stink?

Well, the first thing I tried was buying commercial deodorant. It doesn't have the aluminum in it that the antiperspirant does. Didn't work, I smelled like a guy, because "guy" deodorant is all that I could find. After sweating though it....ewwww, I tried something else.

Then I tried some of a name-brand "natural" deodorant. Now I used to like the company, but hey, something has happened. I don't know if they were bought out by someone else or what, but the last tube of toothpaste I bought from them was NOT "natural! I didn't find that out until I'd brought it home and used it. But I sweat through their deodorant and stunk, so back to the drawing board .

I then tried just using antiperspirant every three days and using the "natural" stuff the other two. Nope, didn't work. Anytime I'd go outside into the heat, ewwww. Plus, after going OFF of the antiperspirant, when I'd go back ON it, my lymph glands under my arm would swell and hurt - a LOT.

Ok, things were getting serious here. Time to troll the 'net for solutions. And the advice of most of the posts: baking soda - either plain or mixed with cornstarch.

I bought a large box of baking soda, emptied out a small container of bath powder, recycled said container and it's powder puff and wahlah. It did work ok, for about 3 weeks. At the end of 3 weeks I had the worst "burn" under both arms. Seems it's too alkaline for my body. 5 months later, I still have scars under both arms - well deeply browned skin where it was once only lightly brown, in the exact same area/shape as the cracked, red, painful skin was.

Things went from serious to critical. I HAD to find an alternative. So I asked a couple of local homeopathic types what they used. One said to get some ointment from the store, Lanocaine, I believe he said and mix it with essencial oil - either rosemary or lavender, just a few drops.

Well, I looked at the ingredients in the ointment he suggested (and it was ointment, not a lotion) and it was FULL of petroleum products that I didn't want to use. The closest "natural" cream I could find was some "Udderly Smooth Udder Cream". Sort of like "Bag Balm". Yep, it's used on cows and goats. But it had the least amount of objectionable contents that I could find, in a price range I could afford. (I didn't have the $$$ to buy cream or lotion at the health food store). So I bought the cream, and brought it home. I found a small container and using a clean cotton swab, put some into the clean container - about 1/8th cup worth of the cream. Then I added about 10 drops of some lavendar essential oil I had. I mixed it up and dipped my finger tips into it. I rubbed it under my arms after my shower and hoped for the best.

Out into the GA heat I went. And it worked very well. It was early spring and the temps were only going up to the 80's. The week we hit the low 100's I did notice that I was sweating through it just a tad. I could smell me, but the kids say they couldn't.

My second person told me they just mixed up alcohol and their favorite aftershave lotion. And the next week he brought me some of his "potion". Ummmm. That was really sweet of him, but I don't wanna smell like a guy. Yeah, even though I'll be 55 tomorrow (15th of Aug) and am still a bit of a tomboy, I do NOT want to smell like a guy. (They just get to play better sports than we girls get to play! Not that I play anything any more.)

Anyway, I decided I don't want ANY body odor, so when the temps got to 100 + degrees, I tried just putting plain alcohol on a cotton ball and swiping it under both arms. Then in the am, when I'd get dressed I'd use the cream I had made. It WORKED!!!! And after a couple of days of forgetting to put on the cream, just the plain old, $.79 a bottle, generic rubbing alcohol, I found out that it works the best!

I've used this all summer. I've gone outside after 2 days of not showering (I was sick, ok?), worked in the garden, got good and sweaty and didn't sweat through this. There was only ONE time, all summer long, where I could smell me, but again, the kids said they couldn't that I had any odor at all. And all I did (since I was out and about in the car - with no a/c), was take a $.50 bottle that I had of alcohol and sprayed it under my arms. Odor gone completely and no, I don't smell like I've just been to the hospital!

Who'd have known something so cheap would work so well. I do sometimes put on the cream - it smells nice, but still lets me sweat. Which is what your body NEEDS to do to keep itself healthy.

In my life there is a corrolation between when I started becoming less active and finally got to the point of hating any exercise (from a girl "jock" back when being one was "unladylike" and got me into a LOT of trouble!) It's when the deodorant I used to use became an "antiperspirant".

When I was a kid, all that was on the market was "deodorant". It was meant to help mask the smell of human sweat. Then, our good friends the chemical companies, gave us antiperspirant which was meant to STOP us from sweating. That why the directions tell you it takes three DAYS for it to get into your system and "work".

I wonder how many of us "fat" (and I AM a BIG girl) people are people that used to be active, but "all of a sudden" found ourselves not liking exercising? I mean, I used to run laps for FUN. Yes, everyday, I would go out to the track field, before the rest of gym class (all SIX years of it that I CHOSE to take) and run laps. What happened? You don't need a gym class to run. I went into the Air Force and HATED when we had to run. What happened in 2 years time to go from loving to hating running? That was the time period when all the deodorants, to keep up with the "new, improved" model, went to antiperspirants. And guess what, if you don't sweat, you get TOO HOT. And that makes you feel sick.

I'm finding that I am just now liking to sweat again. I'm still overheating because I'm overweight. But since I can now sweat (sorry, when I get into extreme heat, I do go around with wet armpits on my clothing, but it only matches the wet streaks that were already down my back and around my waist.) anyway, now that I'm sweating, I'm finding that I don't mind exercise. I don't mind the heat and don't mind being outside - because the heat isn't affecting me the way it was.

So, for 79 cents for the alcohol and 50 cents for a "finger tip sprayer" or $1 for a bag of cotton balls, I have solved my need to be social acceptable and still not gunk up my body with a mineral known to be associated with at least one dibilitating disease.

First an aluminum-free baking powder (alum is actually short for hydrated aluminum potassium sulfate) and now no more Aluminium chloride, aluminium chlorohydrate, and aluminium-zirconium compounds, most notably Aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly and Aluminium zirconium trichlorohydrex gly in my "deodorant". Woohooo! And it's a LOT cheaper too!

If you want to read an interesting article try this one on Deodorants. About half way down the page, is a health effect section.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Amish Friendship Bread

Hey, it's your lucky day. Two post for one!

Amish Friendship Bread


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 small box instant-vanilla-pudding mix (opt)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (opt)
1 cup raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, mashed bananas, cranberries, etc and/or nuts, (opt)

Cinnamon sugar: (opt)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

For starter:
Mix yeast, flour and sugar together. Add warm water and milk. Mix together with a plastic or wooden spoon until smooth. Place in a plastic, ceramic or glass bowl; or put in a gallon zipper bag. Squish the air out of the zip bag and close it. If in a bowl, just leave it open, or cover lightly with cheesecloth. Let sit on counter. Don't worry, there's enough sugar to prevent spoiling. Don’t refrigerate or use a metal spoon or bowl. The fridge will slow down the process and throw off the yeast cycle. Metal will kill the yeast. (Metal baking pans are ok. The dough isn't "raw" in it long enough to do serious damage to the mix.)

Day 1: begin or receive starter
Day 2: stir with wooden spoon (or squish zip bag)
Day 3: stir with wooden spoon (or squish zip bag)
Day 4: stir with wooden spoon (or squish zip bag)
Day 5: add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk
Day 6: stir with wooden spoon (or squish zip bag)
Day 7: stir with wooden spoon (or squish zip bag)
Day 8: stir with wooden spoon (or squish zip bag)
Day 9: stir with wooden spoon (or squish zip bag)
Day 10: add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk, then:

Put 1 cup of starter in each of three containers. Give two away and keep one. This will begin their day 1. (Actually, I either put one in the freezer for a spare or give it away, use one and keep one for my next batch. When the next batch is done, then I have 2 to give away or make a triple batch of the bread.) Caution, eventually everyone you know will have too much of this stuff and will run when they see you and it will be sort of like trying to give away zucchini! lol

When tired of fooling with it everyday or are going on vacation, put it in a covered container or zip bag and put it in the freezer. Remember to mark where you are in the cycle and then just pick it up where you left off. I've had some in the freezer in a zipper bag for a couple of months and it worked just fine. It is best to freeze it on either day 1, day 5 or day 10 - when it's just been "fed". That way, the yeasties have something to eat. But for a couple of weeks, it won't hurt it to just toss it in the freezer anytime.

For bread:
To the remaining batter, add vegetable oil, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, milk, vanilla-pudding mix, cinnamon and salt. Beat until well blended. Add 1 cup raisins, chocolate chips and/or nuts if desired. Grease two loaf pans well, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, coating bottom well. Pour batter into bread pans, and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar onto tops of loaves. Bake at 325 F for 1 hour. If you don't want the cinnamon/sugar mix, you can grease well and sprinkle with regular or powdered sugar and not put sugar on top unless you want it.

This stuff is SO good. And it's probably got 500,000 calories per slice. sigh

What to do with extra cukes

Well after 6 weeks or so of being brain-dead and not being able to think of a thing to write about that would be interesting, I finally thought of something.

I hope everyone's had a nice summer. My poor garden is just NOW producing tomatoes on the plants, but it seems that I'm not the only one around here with tomatoes that haven't bloomed until the last 2 weeks. It was just too cool at night for them.

I have been given a nice selection of cukes. Too many to eat in a couple of days, too few to make it worthwhile making pickles. What to do with them. Cukes don't freeze well at all. Canning them is even worse, unless you make pickles. Here's what I do with them.

I take about 4 cukes, peel and slice very thin - about 1/4" rounds and place them in a bowl.
I peel and thinly slice an onion into rounds. (I prefer my onions then cut in half so I have half-moons - easier to eat that way.) I place these in a bowl too.

I then add 1 part red wine or apple cider vinegar to 1-2 parts water (I like my cukes sour, so I go 1/1) to just barely cover the veggies. Add some salt to taste and mix it all together. Let it sit for a while in the fridge (or not lol). This will last for a week or so in the fridge - if no one eats it all first.

If you wanted you could also add some pickling spices to it and let it sit overnight before eating. Add some sugar and you'd have sweet/sour pickles.

I haven't given exact measurements because you can make this with however many cukes and onions you have. Sometimes, I just add more veggies to it and it's still good.

Because I like the vinegary foods, I take the peeled cukes and a fork and run the tines down the cuke from top to bottom, all the way around it. It causes the cukes to pick up more of the vinegar dressing. After scoring the cukes, I will then slice them thinly.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New, free computer organizers to end CHAOS.

I'm TIRED of missing appointments, being late and chaos. CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) Well, we're neater now, so it's not complete chaos, but there are still patches that I need to deal with and couldn't figure out how to do it.

I downloaded several programs over the last few days. I had downloaded WASEO's calendar, and found a program called DiaryDominator on their website. I love the fact that I can keep weather, mood, health with the click of an icon. I can type and edit on the fly. I can keep a weather journal and what I've planted in the garden in a separate panel that I can format.

The only thing I don't see is a spell-checker. Since I almost always have a blank Doc. (Open Office) open for saving things I find, I just type the suspect word on it and check it there. I can also copy all the text, paste it to the Doc., check it and repast it to the edit window.

DiaryDominator is sort of like my old 3x5 journal cards, but I don't have to write anything and worry about a bunch of little cards getting lost. Plus, I can save, backup and print it. Wooohoooo.

I found Mozilla Sunbird and replaced WASEO's calendar with it. It's an even more comprehensive calendar. I had to mess around with it a bit and downloaded another program, The Wonderful Icon, to allow me to make it go to the tray, instead of the task bar and to start the calendar on startup. Other than that, Sunbird is working very well.

I've spend the last few days looking for a desktop calendar wallpaper. I couldn't find a free one. I tried WASEO's for a day, then stumbled upon Sunbird. I already have Firefox, so I figured Sunbird would be an excellent program too. I really like Sunbird, so I'll do without the wallpaper feature.

I also downloaded a timer from WASEO. I haven't used it yet. I haven't had time.

I'd also downloaded FreeMind and LOVE that program. It allows me to plan things out and then switch them around. You start with a base node and then add children out from it. Add children to children, etc. Then when you're ready to organize it better, just grab and drop the children to where you want them. LOVE IT.

I was up until 9am this morning working on menu planning and organizing some of my life. I've never been able to wrap my mind around some aspects of organizing in a useful way. But plotting things out on a FreeMind page helped me to arrange things and then it clicked! For example, the menu problem. I mean I did get the part about where you're supposed to say what meals you were going to fix each day and writing that down. It was putting all the parts together that stumped me. You know the variety of foods, what's in season, who likes what, who's home on what day, assigning each day a theme - pork, beef, vegetarian, etc.; that has always stumped me. So I just didn't do it. We eat whatever, whenever. Not conducive to good nutrition nor maintaining a decent weight, not to mention that a fly-by-the-seat-of-you-pants approach kills the budget (ever heard of carry-out? sigh)

I also downloaded a bunch of files from one of my Yahoo! groups. I belong to a group called Creative Control Panel. It's to help me setup and maintain a Control Panel/Journal. There are several ways to set up your housekeeping. Make a list on computer, paper or 3x5 cards. Well, for me, I use all three ways.

I have my daily chores on 3x5 cards so that I can sort them around when "life happens". But I also need stuff on the computer. Hence my looking for a calendar for my desktop.

I'm sick and tired of "forgetting" appointments. I'll remember it right up to the day. I'll remember it that morning. But, during the day, it slips away from me. Next thing I know, I've missed something. desktop calendar has an alarm, MULTIPLE alarms. And they're set off to GO OFF multiple times a day. So now I should have a handle on THIS problem too! lol

Then there's some stuff that needs to be on paper. And that paper needs controlling. (As in right now, there's no place on my desk top that isn't inundated with STUFF. Paper STUFF. And cleaning it off 3 times a year and stuffing it into a box to go ???; isn't working. Hence my joining the CCP group. (I'm a backsliding Flybaby, too)

I used my FreeMind program to get my mind wrapped around the Panel/Journal too.

I guess I'm a visual person. I can work with the stuff in my mind,I've done it for years. But putting a major thought in a base "node" and then spidering ideas outward, adding "children" as I go, then being able to drag and drop the ideas around, lets me see the big picture.

There have been so many things that I just "didn't get", stuff I couldn't work with, things I couldn't figure out; no matter how much I thought about them. I'm finding that doodling on FreeMind collects all the tangents and lets me put them in an order that works for me.

I don't know why I didn't do this earlier. I've known for years that my mind "sees" in pictures, not words. And that for me to understand something, I have to be able to "see" it. Once I "see" it, I've got it. I think that the greatest problem that I've had with math all these years is because I couldn't "see" it, well that and I'm dyscalculate. Then one day, a few years ago, someone showed me a manipulatives movie. Suddenly, I "got it". Four times I've taken Algebra 1. I've NEVER understood what was going on. I'd ask my teachers how you know what formula to use and they would say, "you just know". Uhmmm, NO, I didn't "just know".
After watching the clip on factoring, I "got" what was going on!

The nicest thing about all these programs is that they are all FREE.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ideas to cut expenses, Part 5 camping/sleeping bags, cooking (edited again)

(Red type is the added, edited text)

But, but,....we don't have sleeping bags. Neither did the pioneers and they managed to crossed the continent without them. So here's how to make a bed roll.

Another how to bedroll.

How to roll a bedroll up and tie it.

Since some people might like to invest in sleeping bags, here a site on the purchasing and care of sleeping bags.

Or you can use two pieces of material with an old blanket, quilt, etc between it. Sew up 2 long sides and a short side to make a zipperless sleeping bag. Make it at least a foot longer than the person is tall and at least 5 inches wider than they are around. Instead of sewing, use diaper pins to pin it together. And when I say 2 pieces of material, it can be two pieced pieced together. In BIG chunks. You don't have to get all fussy and make a quilt top out of it. Just sew several large pieces of material together to get the size you want. A lot of us have material laying around from projects we "didn't get to" or handed down to us from others. Old sheets work, The bottom legs from worn out jeans work - though they would be heavy if you had to carry them very far.

Here's another idea on how to wrap up so you're not cold. It's a fire blanket for a fire bed. And here's her other info on how to make that fire bed. It's not a video either. (Word of caution. I wouldn't build a fire bed where there are any tree roots. Tree roots can catch fire and burn long after you're gone. They smolder very well. You don't want to start a forest fire - or one at your house either.)

But we don't have any mess kits or special pots for cooking and I don't want to ruin my good stuff. Remember me mentioning my 28 days in the high Uintas? My sole piece of equipment for cooking was an empty tin can. That had held about 28oz or so of peaches. And for group cooking, we had a lovely #10 can. You know those gallon cans that hold industrial size servings. Wallyworld here has them. You can get ketchup (a veggie in my house. sigh), peaches, fruit cocktail, pineapple pieces, green beans and more. Most of them cost between $2 and $4. Buy one, eat the contents (if your family can't use it all at one setting or before it spoils, portion contents into smaller containers/zip bags and freeze. Or dehydrate and take with you. (Whirl any of the fruits in the blender until smooth. Make a smoothie. Or put the resultant pulp on a dehydrator tray(ies) or cookie sheet(s) and dry it. It makes GREAT fruit leather! (and it's a LOT cheaper and healthier for you.)

You could also dry the veggies and then either take them as is, or put them in a blender and blend to a powder. To use them, Add 1/4 cup of dried veggies to 1/2 cup boiling water and allow to sit for 5-10 mins. Use some tomatoes and powder them, add hot milk to the powder and some seasoning and you have instant "cream of tomato" soup. Oh, yeah, we're camping. So add some powdered milk instead of liquid milk, then add water to the mix. (See what I mean about thinking outside of the box?)

What do you mean you don't have a cook stove? Neither did the pioneers. However, no one had any rules about not starting a fire. So you may, depending on where you live, need to use a stove.
Here's one type you can make.
Here's another.
This site has some great ideas and patterns for stoves, pot stands and other items! Follow his links to the different items.

Different types of fuels for those little camp stoves.

The other thing to use is a BBQ grill and charcoal. Most places you will be going to will have on-site grills. You need to bring charcoal, lighter fluid and matches. Many places have a fire-pit and you would need to obtain firewood and matches. Sometimes camp-sites will sell bundles of wood for a fire. They are expensive. Many of us have access to downed wood - wood that is already on the ground. I don't know of any campground that allows cutting of living trees. They don't make good firewood anyway. Green wood smokes like crazy and doesn't burn very well at all! Also, look up how to start a fire with wood. Boy/Girl Scout handbooks are a good place to begin. Also I'm sure there are sites on the internet to show you how.

Experiment BEFORE you go, so that WHATEVER method of cooking you choose to employ, you can handle the starting and care of it! OPEN FLAMES ARE DANGEROUS! Know what you're doing or have someone show you HOW to use your chosen method. REVIEW fire safety with your children!!! We don't want someone getting hurt or starting a forest fire because of carelessness.
Remember this: if YOU start the fire YOU are responsible for seeing that it is TOTALLY out. You have not only a moral responsibility, but a LEGAL one also. When the scouts camp, they have to put the fire out with copious amounts of water, stirring the fire and then use more water. Only when you can put your hand INTO the ashes and move it around is the fire OUT. There should be NO smoke, NO embers, NO nothing left. And that includes leaving it to go visit off the campsite or overnight. Only in survival situations do you have permission to leave a fire unattended, and even then it needs to be properly banked or put out if possible.

I personally have started many a fire from "put out" fires. Ones left overnight that were "put out". And it wasn't hard. A couple pieces of toilet paper, dryer lint or "punk", a few puffs of breath, a little tinder, some kindling and the fire was going quite well. All nature needs is a few dry leaves, a puff of wind and we have a wild fire. And yes, I know it took you 1/2 a box of matches to get that fire going. Been there, done that. But all it takes is a spark to get a wild fire going. Not fair, but that's life and Murphy's law.

Again, you don't have to BUY stuff to camp. Just use what's on hand. Do a trial camp out in your own back yard. See what you need and what you don't need. Perhaps try it once allowing everyone to go in and out. Tweak your list. Then try it again another night, but don't allow anyone into the house, except for potty usage.

Make a list of what you need for camping out. Your list will be different from mine. Keep your camping gear in backpacks or containers - where you have it all together.

Ok, so where do you now go to camp.
Backyard or rooftop camping is free. Yours, grandparents, friends, near or far.
State parks
National Parks
Some beaches - make sure they're safe places and not drinking/drug hangouts.
Locally known "camping" areas. (Known to the locals, but not to any published guide.
Private camp grounds like KOA (Kamp ground of America).

Definition of terms (And from cheapest to most expensive):
Privative camping- means that there are NO facilities. No bathrooms, no water. Either none whatsoever or none that is very near. That translates you will either walk a mile for bathrooms and water or you will have to bring in your own. Cost: between $5-$15 or so a night.

Car camping- parking is very close or right at the campsite. Convenient with little children. Usually bathrooms are quite close by and water, bbq/fire pits and a picnic table are on the campsite. The last few times we've camped with friends, we've done this and it's been really good that we did. They have small children and neither of them are "campers". When we camped with them, both times it rained very heavily. First time, tornado watches were posted. We packed up in the middle of the night and spend the rest of the night in the cars. The second time it just rained and we stayed put. I've also gone out with a Scouter and his daughter. We were experienced campers and so, even though my kids were young and it snowed, we stayed. We were prepared and could all handle the conditions - which included keeping little ones warm and dry. Cost: between $10 and $25 or so a night.

RV camping-self-explanatory, I think!
The RV is pulled into a spot and plugged into the electrical outlets. There are both temporary sites and sites where you can stay put for weeks/months - for a fee. lol Cost - out of this world. How much does an RV cost? And the gas for it now costs as much as it did. The parking(can you really call towing a house around with you camping?!) space is around $35-$50 a night.

Many camp sites have laundry facilities to go along with the restrooms and showers. Read the website's description of what they have to offer. If you're not sure, ask questions before plunking down a deposit. Also, note the deadlines for a refund. For some of the more popular parks, you have to make reservations in advance to get a spot, so call ahead to see what it's like at the park you wish to visit.

Ideas to Cut Expenses, Part 4 camping/tents

This brings me to the next idea. Camping. (note, the links are almost all videos and not good for dial-up users. They will take a month of Sundays to load.)

Come on, Mama, camping costs a LOT of money for the equipment. NOPE.

Learn to think outside of the box. Pretend the world has come to an end and what's in your house or can be found in nature is all you have to work with. Then involve your family. Most kids are really good at thinking laterally. Especially little ones. I'm serious. Talk to the under 6 set and ask them what they would do. You'll be surprised at the answers they'll give you.

You really, truly, don't need a tent. For true. I've used a tarp - spent 28 days in the high Uinta Mountains with one. Ok, I was taking a "Youth Leadership" class that just happened to be subtitled "Desert/alpine survival", but hey, none of us died due to getting rained on or having to sleep under the tarp. And actually it wasn't really a tarp. It was just a piece of plastic that was about 8'x8'. Yup, just plain old 4-7 mil plastic sheeting. Like what you'd use to cover a large living room window opening - the openings that have two windows side by side. Visquene (sp) is what I had to use. And like the first link shows, we used rocks to hold it down.

This week, I bought a tarp for my Scouter son. Since he camps in all kinds of weather, I got a heavy-duty tarp that had a silver side that reflects heat. That one cost about $20 for an 8x10, tarp - if you get a good tarp from the blue and white home building people. (Which is where I found mine.) Mine is double-sided, brown on one side and silver on the other. The duel sides are really useful. Face the silver side away from you and it will reflect the heat. Face it towards you and it will reflect body heat and campfire heat. There are videos on some of the many ways to set up a tarp for covering. It's mostly done with ropes instead of tent poles. But you can go to your local military surplus store or Army/Navy store and find old poles that went to Army tents. You can buy replacement poles meant for existing tents. You can use dowel rods, show curtain rods, tension rods, old broom/equipment handles, ski poles, or any other straight things to hold the tent up. You can use any sticks you find. Unless you live/camp where there is just NO trees, you can improvise the "tent pole(s)" on site. Lots of choices - ask the kids.

You can also get cheaper tarps and smaller tarps. (The two my son took were both cheap ones from Wallyworld. We have found that the tarps are a lot lighter than a regular tent. My son has a new tent that someone gave him for Christmas last year. He had a winter camp out with the Scouts and I sent him with the 2 older tarps I had. One for a ground cloth and one for the "tent". While the other Scouts had to hike the 10 miles with heavy tents, even with 2 tarps his pack weighed less. And it rained. He was the only one who was dry during the night.

A couple of sites to get you started are:
This one
This one shows a really easy way to set up.
This one shows a tarp similar to the one I got. There are 4 sections to this one. I enjoyed watching them. Since I first started this post I contacted Dave to see if he had a tarp kit that he spoke about posted on his website. He did not, but since I asked about it, he put up a 2 kits. They are complete, but to me, they are a bit expensive. A 7'x7' tarp set is $80 and an 8'x10' is $95.
That's a bit too rich for my blood. I know that Italian blankets are about $35 alone, plus another $15 for the tarp. I have found wool blankets cheaper on the internet and for most of us, we don't need wool blankets to summer camp. For my Scouter son, I'm tempted to invest money on a wool blanket. His troop camps in all weather. For the rest of us looking for frugal camping, the blanket off the bed will work. I'd bring along another blanket "just in case".
This one makes it seem like you have to be afraid to use tarps or be a math expert, but he does have some good safety tips and designs. Not a video, but a PDF file.

Knot tying videos:
Some knots from a Scout troop.
More knots.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ideas to cut expenses, part 3

Sorry folks, after working on this post for about 4 hours, I went to another link and came back to my post having been eaten.
I'm trying to redo/recapture the lost work.

Ok, some more ideas I have on cutting expenses. This set includes some fun, low cost or free vacation ideas.

Sometimes just a change in our schedule can seem like a vacation. Have breakfast for dinner, eat dessert first, get up early and watch the sun rise, stay up late and look at the stars. Go to and find star maps for your location. Also get info for when the different satellites and space stations are passing overhead. One night, my kids and I went out and caught the ISS and Endeavor uncoupling. It was so cool! All we have is a pair of binoculars, but they worked very well. They even make looking at the moon fun. You can see it with your naked eyes, but with regular binoculars, it's a great view. There's also comets and the regular planets to be seen.

Pretend you're a tourist and go to all the local places people go to see. I grew up in a tourist town - St. Petersburg, and I can tell you, I saw hardly any of the "local" sights. For whatever reason, we just didn't go and do the sight-seeing that people paid good money to go to St. Pete and see.

We now live in a little tourist town in Northern Georgia. We have gone to some of the local things, but haven't "seen it all". Many of the things that tourists do are free and we have the added benefit of not having a "time-limit" on us. We can go when ever, where ever and not have to worry about checking out of a hotel at a certain time. And we don't have to pay to eat out. We can always take snacks, drinks and meals with us. Just put them in a cooler and away we go. Anywhere within about 100 or so mile radius is an easy day trip. That's about 1 1/2 hrs drive each way. It would cost about 1/2 tank of gas for the whole trip.

Think outside of the box. Write to your local tourist/chamber of commerce, etc for info or just stop in the local office. You can also write to your state board of commerce and ask them for info. There are a lot of historical places, landmarks and places of beauty in each state. Do an internet search of your state or if, like me, you're close to several other states, also look at what they have to offer that is near you. You can also so searches for "National Monuments", State monuments, national and state parks, you local county and your city (or cities nearby). All have free information that you can have fun with. Make a game of it with the rest of the family.

Take the family on a picnic. Many state and National forests have free pavilion areas complete with tables and grills. Some you can reserve, but many are first come, first serve. Get there early and have a fun day. Bring a Frisbee or a ball and play catch, soccer or other sport. Remember to slather on the sunscreen and/or cover yourself and the kids. Sunburn is NOT good for us.

Create a garden. It doesn't have to be large to be of interest to kids. Square foot gardens are easy and fun. I posted on some ideas on how to do this cheaply here.

Go for a walk. Go for a walk in nature is fun, but even if you just take your kids on a walk around town, it will be good exercise and breaks some of that "cabin fever".

Sit with the kids and brainstorm ideas on things they can do. Have someone be a scribe and make a booklet with the ideas in it. Then when the kids act or even say, "I'm bored", you have a ready group of ideas for them to keep themselves busy. (Around my house, "I'm bored" is not an option. Like my mean mother before me, "I'm bored" is an invitation to help with the never-ending chores that need to be done. And since they are usually the culprits in part of the mess, give me any excuse and I'll find something for you to do. lol)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Most of "my ideas" are things I have learned from other people.

Sometimes the weirdest things can make us sit back and look at what we're doing and see things in a whole new light.

I once found a fortune cookie that said; "Do not lose your temper. No one else wishes to find it."

It knocked me back on my heels! I had never considered that when I "lost" my temper that indeed, someone else DID indeed "find" it.

Up to that point in time, I was a pretty hot-tempered person. That "fortune" caused me to think about what I was doing and How I was acting. It caused me to make a choice to control my temper.

No one "makes us angry". Anger is a feeling and we choose what we feel and what to do when we feel that emotion.

You don't think so? Well think back. Has there ever been a time in you life that you were so happy that nothing could rain on your parade? Perhaps you won something - a contest at school, a scholarship, someone you liked a lot told you they love you. Was there anything much anyone could say or do to burst your bubble? Usually not.

Now think back to another time. A time of loss. Perhaps a loved one died or was diagnosed with a serious illness, was in an accident. Perhaps you tried to accomplish something and failed at that attempt. Was there anything anyone could say or do to "make" you feel better? Probably not.

These are extremes, but that is my point. With the first one, we're so happy that anyone who is trying to be ugly to us, can't. We tend to just let it bounce off of us. We "excuse" them with, "they must be having a bad day." or "They're just feeling jealous." With the second one, we could win a million dollars and it wouldn't "make" us feel happy. Life is just too desperate at that point to really "care" about money or anything else. We are so wrapped up in the emotion of the time, that nothing much can be said or done to us that gets through to "make" us feel happy.

That's what I mean about other people not being able to "make" us feel something. What we feel is tied up with what we THINK.

If someone we don't particularly care for tells us they love us, does is cause euphoria? Uhm, no. (And we do well if we can hide our disdain and treat the person with kindness.) Why? Because we don't care for that person as a prospective mate. It's how we THINK about that person.

What if a stranger on the street blurts out; "That's an ugly outfit." Do we usually let it bother us. Not unless we also THINK it's an ugly outfit. Otherwise, most of us tend to THINK; "Well, that wasn't very nice of them to say that."

We can do the same thing with our anger. When someone says or does something that would normally "make" us angry, look for the reasons that we shouldn't be angry. When someone says or does something nasty instead of thinking "How dare they?", we can replace the thought process with "Perhaps they've had a really bad day." Someone cuts us off in traffic or doesn't let us in: "Perhaps they just didn't see me", instead of "They did that on PURPOSE!!".

It doesn't mean that we never "feel" angry, just that a lot of our anger is generated by negative thoughts of our own, independent of what others around us are doing. If we replace those negative thoughts, we can cut down - greatly, on incidents of "feeling angry".

Sometimes things really are "worth" being angry about. There are times when people do things that aren't right and cause grief in our lives or hurt our family. How do we handle that?

First off, when you mess up, how do you want people to treat you? Sometimes people do things and mean one thing, but we interpret it differently. It hurts our feelings. That's the time to confront the person with a simple; "That hurts my feelings".

I personally had that happen to me. Years ago, I was a missionary in Colombia, South America. I was with a group of missionaries. It was Christmas. We had just finished doing a program with the local people and were talking about what to do for our own Christmas. I got the bright idea of us singing some Christmas carols and exchanging a small gift. One of the others, a male, made a comment about how I always took charge. Well that hurt my feelings. (I'd been told many times that I was bossy.) I wasn't trying to be bossy. So I simply stated to him that his comment hurt my feelings. He was so astonished. And immediately corrected my impression. He wasn't trying to say I was being bossy, but rather that he thought I always had such good ideas.

What would have happened if I had not given him the opportunity to correct MY misunderstanding of what was said? Well, to this day, when I tought of this incident, I would have had hurt feelings. Instead, I can use this as an example of ME misunderstanding someone else and the need to ASK the person involved, when something hurts my feelings, what they meant. (Do NOT ask anyone else! How often has someone else had their own agenda and we've gotten sucked into it?)

So what if he really meant to hurt my feelings? Well, then that would have been HIS problem. I can choose to then think; "Well that wasn't very kind of him.", or "What a JERK." With the first, I keep my dignity with the second, I get angry and resort to name-calling (even if only in my head.) Do I WANT to be angry?

There ARE unkind people in this world. There are downright hateful people out there. There are control-freaks out there. Do we let them control us by "making" us angry?

I have someone who for the last 13 YEARS, has gone out of her way to make trouble for me and my family. There has been no doubt about it. People have gone to DFCS or the school board because of things she's said to them. I've found out because, later they've come to me and apologized and then named HER as the reason they were "so concerned".

Well, first, I've learned to stay away from her and to keep my kids away from her. She is no friend. Second, I've learned to go to people who "are in charge" and tell them the history of what's gone on. I've circumvented many a problem this way. When you are in a small group that has to interact and a new person comes in, it is sometimes helpful to "cover your booty". Talk briefly to that new person. Let them know that there's someone in the group that likes to get OTHER people to cause problems and to please not be influenced by this person. Then give details of what has been done. You don't need to name names. Sooner or later, this person will start stuff and then the new person(s) are forewarned. Then when the person follows their normal pattern, the person has exposed him/herself! All you have done is warn that there is someone who likes to do this. It avoids gossip while forewarning the new person.

I've learned to see the person who does this to me in the light of what a sad case she is. She doesn't control her own life, so she goes around trying to control the lives of others. I've learned to not respond in anger to her, but rather in a neutral way to her. I tried being friends with her and I've tried talking to her. She denies being involved with anything that has happened. It wasn't HER who was at fault. But 6 different people have named her as the instigator in 5 different incidents of trouble for me. And they all did it in passing. No one was trying to "blame" her, only they've all mentioned that they were concerned "after talking to her", but that they shouldn't have done what they did and they regret it. Would I forgive them? (Yes!)

What of people who kill family members? Who cheat on you when they're your spouse? Who cause a divorce by their constant bad behavior?

Yes, that does hurt (I've had to deal with all 3) No, it's not a good idea to pray to God to "get them". lol Though truthfully, I spend the first year after my divorce hoping that something would happen to the ex. (blush) Then one day, I realized that that that really wasn't a good way to be spending my time. I needed to leave him to a just God and to GET OVER IT! To do so, I had to learn to pray for the ability to forgive him. No, he didn't "deserve" it. (He's continued to cheat on the wife he now has.) He still does controlling things. (He STILL has our daughter, even though he was found guilty of contempt in court.) The bottom line is that it doesn't matter what HE does. I need to forgive him and get on with my life. Yes, I've cried an ocean of tears. Yes, he is in the wrong. But for me to survive as a kind, decent individual, I have to forgive HIM. I have to let it go. Otherwise, I can't move on with my life. And I would be full of anger. Anger that would spill over into all my other relationships.

Now that I have children, I am SO glad that I've had years to perfect "keeping" my temper. I would never wish to lash out at my kids in anger. I'm so glad that I had years of keeping my temper in a bad marriage. It helped to keep the fighting down to a minimum. (Though I'm sorry to say, we did fight and I didn't always keep that temper.) I'm so glad that I read that silly fortune cookie and stepped back and thought about how I chose to handle my emotions. Because how I chosen to handle my emotions has determined the kind of life I have lived. And the kind of life I have lived determines the kind of legacy I leave behind.

What kind of legacy will you leave behind? Will it be one of admiration for overcoming the trials of life or one of disdain for wallowing in your troubles? Will you be known for your kindness or for your temper-tantrums? The choices that you make daily determines your legacy. But the nice thing about life is that we can, at any moment, realize our mistakes and take action to correct them. Isn't that grand! We don't have to be perfect, but we can try to fix the things we see in ourselves that aren't up to snuff. And when we're busy fixing ourselves, we don't have a need to fix all the others around us. We can be generous and let them learn on their own timetable - just as we have. And those that we do have stewardship over (primarily, our kids) we can look at in a kind light. We then discipline from love, not anger. Then anger is not passed to the next generation. And to me that's the biggest reason of all to control myself. To give my kids a childhood that they can look back on and know that they were loved. Not one of being mommy's battering object. One that was full of laughter, not temper-tantrums (ok, well at least not from the "adult" in the house. All bets are off for the kid ones. lol)

Let us choose today to live lives of quiet dignity. Free from tantrums and full of laughter.