Socks.

Heaping.  Mountainous.  Overflowing.  

These are just a few words to describe my ever-growing pile of things to be mended, sewed, or patched.  I actually don’t mind grabbing a pile of such work and planting myself in front of the tv for a couple of hours to catch up.  It’s just that I’ve really let it go this time.

And then there are the socks.  

I am pretty good about using a small, mesh laundry bag (like the ones intended for lingerie) to corral the family socks (especially the little ones!), but no matter how hard I try… there are stragglers.

The ones that don’t match.  The ones that are missing.  The ones that are entirely too worn out, but have a perfectly good mate.  What’s a girl to do?

(Read more on laundry shenanigans here:  Laundry Quandry.)
If the sock is not too worn, it makes perfect sense to stitch it up.  It takes about 10 seconds and it’s good as new.  I am careful to make the seam on the outside of the sock or my girls will complain of discomfort. 
In the old days, women would mend holes in the toes of socks indefinitely.  Consequently, the sock would become shorter and shorter and continually be handed down to the next child in line!  I do this, too.  They also did something similar with sheets.  When bed sheets became worn in the middle, they would cut them down the center and sew the outsides of the sheets together to make a new “middle.”  Ingenious.  
Eventually a good sock gets so worn out that it is impossible to mend and seems of no use at all.  Nonsense.  This is when our socks get a second life in the rag drawer.  I love using old socks to clean with.  Turn the sock inside out to use the warm, fuzzy side for maximum scrubbing power.  You can even wear the sock like a glove.  (Great for those really disgusting jobs that you will inevitably encounter when you have kids!)


Back to the kitchen for coffee round 2.  Perhaps I will get to my sewing today.  Perhaps not.  Either way, there will be coffee.  
Continue the coffee love by joining my facebook page:
Blue Jeans & Coffee Beans.


This post is a part of the Frugal Tuesday Tip.


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Beauty begins in the kitchen.

 “Mom, your dancing is weird, but I still think you’re pretty.”
Out of the mouths of babes, am I right?  That’s what I heard from my little 4-year-old recently as I was fixing breakfast (and preparing my daily joe) to the tune of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.  She’s my diplomatic child.  Always sweetening the facts of life.  Apparently, my old high school show choir moves just aren’t cutting it anymore.  (My oldest princess said something similar about my super cool moves last week:  Upside Down and Sideways.  What gives?)
But she still thinks I am pretty.  Whew!  Perhaps I’m doing something right…
I used to think I had sensitive skin.  But once I became aware of all the chemicals that I was using on my skin (face wash, moisturizers, lotions, shampoo, conditioner, etc.), I realized that perhaps I was instigating my own skin problems.
After doing a little research, I found some super (and simple!) alternatives that were better for my skin than many expensive serums and potions and get this… infinitely cheaper(And who isn’t trying save a buck these days?)  Most of the ingredients can be found in my own kitchen at any given time and my skin has never looked or felt better (My Sadie agrees, so it must be true.)
Here are a few of the essentials in my beauty regimen:
Puffy Eye Potion
Drink 1 – 2 cups of coffee each day!   (There is a method to my madness… and yes, I had to go there.)
Caffeine from coffee is considered to be a blood vessel constrictor.  It reduces dark eye circles and puffy eyes.  No joke.  It’s also believed to aid in rosacea!
Gentle Facial Scrub
1/2 c. powdered goat’s milk (Available at most health food stores or online.  I use the Meyenberg brand.)
1/2 c. baby oatmeal (I like to use organic.) or 1/2 c. oatmeal
If using regular oatmeal, process in a blender or food processor until very fine. I like to use the baby oatmeal because I can skip a step!  Store in an airtight container (recycled glass jars are pretty and perfect!). 
To cleanse face, sprinkle a small amount of powder into the palm of your hand and mix into a paste with warm water. Massage onto face and rinse.
Goat’s milk and the extra fat it contains is great for your skin.  (Probably the only time you will ever hear that extra fat is a good thing.)  Most powdered cow’s milk is fat-free so it is not as nourishing for your skin.  This is a natural, gentle exfoliant and perfect moisturizer.
Honey Refresher
Apply 1 – 2 drops of honey onto a wet palm and massage onto face. Do not rinse. Pat dry. 
I love the way this makes my skin glow!  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  If your fingers and palm are wet, your face will not be sticky.  Honey helps fight aging and plumps up fine lines.  Can’t argue with that!
Honey is also a great treatment for razor burn! 

A baby food jar is perfect for storing the right amount in your bathroom.
Olive Oil Moisturizer & Eye Makeup Remover
Place 2 – 3 drops of extra-virgin, organic olive oil onto your palm. Rub palms together and pat face gently.
Don’t worry!  You won’t feel greasy… if you do, use less the next time.  I dip 2 fingers into the oil and gently massage into my fingers on both hands before patting onto my face.  
Can be used as a rich cuticle oil and to moisturize hands, too!
Olive oil is also the perfect, natural way to remove eye makeup.  Apply with a cotton ball.  It’s that simple.
Olive oil is packed with nutrients that moisturize the skin without blocking pores and also fights premature aging. 
A baby food jar is also a great way to store olive oil in your bathroom.
Baking Soda Exfoliator
To exfoliate the face, place a quarter-size amount of baking soda in the palm of your hand.  Add just enough warm water to make a paste.  Gently apply all over face and rinse.  Use 1 – 2 times each week for a youthful glow.
Body Scrub

1 c. olive oil or almond oil  (Jojoba or grapeseed work well, too.)

1/2 c. sea or kosher salt  (You can also use sugar, which is gentler for sensitive skin.)
5 – 15 drops of essential oils  (I like lavendar & vanilla or peppermint & orange.)
Add salt or sugar first, then mix in the oil. The mixture should be moist enough to clump together, but not overly oily. Then add essential oils. Its fun to experiment with new combinations! Store in a plastic or glass jar. Use all over 1 – 2 times a week in the shower.
This scrub improves circulation and exfoliates, leaving skin soft and smooth.
Nourishing Hair Care
To shampoo and cleanse the hair:
Add about 1 tablespoon baking soda and stir mix in about 1 cup warm water.  You can tweak the measurements to your own preference.  Those with curly or thick hair might need a bit more baking soda.  Fine, straight hair might need less.
Apply to wet hair, starting at the scalp and working throughout hair.  After a few minutes, rinse.  
Baking soda is very gentle, has a weak alkaline and clarifies without building up. 
To condition and detangle:
Add 1 tablespoon to once cup water and mix well.  Apply to hair focusing on the ends.  Leave in for about a minute and rinse.
Apple cider vinegar detangles, seals the hair cuticles, and balances the the hair’s ph level.
I admit that I was not brave enough to try this for a long time, but once I did I was astonished at the results.  This treatment is also great for color-treated hair.  I have found that it keeps my highlights looking vibrant and fresh.
Give the Gift of Natural Beauty
When prettied up in an attractive container or jar, these recipes make fabulous gifts.  I have given the scrubs and facial care many times for Christmas and birthdays!  I like to make personalized labels or tags and embellish with ribbons, raffia, and vintage buttons.  So many possibilities!
Happy Thursday!
Back to the coffee… and working on my puffy tired eyes for the rest of the day.
“Your beauty, within and without, is absolute, dear lover, close companion.”
Song of Solomon 7.6 (MSG)
Continue the coffee love by joining my facebook page:
Blue Jeans & Coffee Beans.

NaturalMothersNetwork.com 

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Little Miss Clean.

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. 

And well, I am not exactly a gardener (you can read more about that whole shenanigan here:  Greenthumbery.), but I do enjoy a good foul-weather day that forces me to actually get a few things done around the house.  I am sure this is God’s way of keeping in line.

I fancy a clean house just as much as the next person, but it’s definitely more of a challenge these days.  I once heard someone say that cleaning your house before the children are done growing is like shoveling before it’s done snowing.  Couldn’t possibly be more true.

However, it must be done (and frequently requires copious amounts of coffee). 

I quickly learned that my third child is much different from her older sisters.  She is cunning, precocious, and really, really fast.  (I imagine she is exactly like my husband was at the tender age of two and if you know my husband, you know exactly what I mean.)  She is continually bubbling over with incessant vitality and spirit (also the reason I am consuming greater quantities of coffee these days.)  She readily scales walls, cupboards, fences, and furniture.  I removed the ladder from my older girls’ bunk beds to help curb her desire to climb.  Now she just climbs into the top bunk by scaling up the side.  (Is she part monkey???)  I am convinced that nothing could ever be completely my kind of toddler-proof.

She loves to eat my all-natural deodorant and once sucked the ink out of Sharpie marker.  Trust me, I have poison control on my speed dial.  Most importantly… I. Love.  Her.

I was making an effort to “green clean” before, but it’s certainly become more of a priority in our home since this sweet baby arrived.  (You can read more tips here:  Super Secrets.)

Natural cleaning products are in abundance these days, but they are so darn pricey.  I have everything I need right in my kitchen.  I can clean my whole house with just vinegar, baking soda, salt and lemon juice.

Here are a few of my favorite natural cleaning recipes:

Drain Declogger

Pour 1 c. of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1 c. of hot vinegar.  Place a cloth over the top of the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Flush with hot water.  Works like a charm!

Air freshener

Place baking soda with lemon juice in a small dish to absorb odors around the house.

Fabric Softener

Use 1/4 c. white vinegar in place of liquid fabric softener.  Softens and freshens clothes and removes odors. 

Sticker Remover

Sponge full-strength white vinegar over stickers several times and wait 15 minutes.  Then rub off.  Also works well for sticky residue left behind by labels or price tags!

Window & Mirror Cleaner

Mix 2 tsp. of white vinegar with 1 quart of warm water.  Use crumpled newspaper (black and white only, not color) or a cotton cloth to clean.  (Don’t clean windows when the sun is on them or if they are warm or streaks will show.  Be sure to follow recipe.  Using too much vinegar will eventually cloud windows.)

NOTE:  You can recycle old baking soda used for deodorizing the refrigerator and freezer by using it to clean around the house!

Happy cleaning!!!
NOTE:  If you haven’t already noticed this blog has just been nominated for Best All-Around Mom Blog at Parents.com!!!  Please, go cast your vote by clicking on the button below (or at the top right-hand side of the page)!  Voting is open until October 15!

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Super Secrets.

Housework is one of those things you do that nobody notices until you don’t do it.  The truth is I don’t mind it all that much.  However, keeping up with my mischievous 2-year-old on cleaning day (or any day, for that matter) can be a downright rat race.

Usually, by the time the dishes are done in the kitchen, my toddler has relocated the contents of the medicine cabinet to the bathroom floor.  Once that is back in order, I hear giggling in the wash room.  I rush in to discover dirty laundry littering the expanse of the floor and my sweet girl hiding in the hamper.  As I toss the last sock into the washer… more giggling.  Not good.  My adorable little rugrat has just emptied an entire bottle of Italian dressing onto the floor.  And we are back in the kitchen.  Right where I started.  *sigh*  What’s a girl to do?  (Coffee comes to mind… strong coffee…)

Most days, I find myself wishing for a red cape, sparkly tights, and the ability to freeze time.  And since that doesn’t seem to be very likely, I settle for the next best thing:  My All-Purpose Vinegar Cleaning Solution, also known as my super secret weapon.

Mix 8 oz. warm water with 8 oz. white vinegar into a spray bottle.

It’s truly a triple threat:

1.  Absurdly cheap.  (A gallon of white vinegar is less than $2.)
2.  Completely safe and all-natural.  (One thing I don’t have to worry about my precocious toddler ingesting.)
3.  Works like heck.  (Even my mom was impressed at how well it removed stubborn, cooked-on food from my stove top.)

The vinegar has disinfecting properties and makes odors disappear.  Once the cleaning solution dries, there is no trace of a vinegar smell.

I use this solution for everything, especially in the kitchen and the bathroom.  I keep a bottle in both places for convenience.  For tough jobs, let the spray work for a few minutes first and then the dirt will usually wipe clean.

For extra cleaning power, you can sprinkle a little baking soda to scour surfaces, too.  Works like Comet… only better!

Attention dirt and grime everywhere: Prepare to be annihilated.  Consider yourself warned.

Everybody should believe in something. I believe I’ll have another coffee…

This post is part of the Frugal Tuesday Tip.

On Tuesdays, I am linking up with other bloggers to share a Frugal Tuesday Tip.  Go here to learn more about it and get some more Frugal Tuesday tips!

 

  This post is also a part of Simple Lives Thursday.

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Guilty as charged…

I did it.  I bought paper products… like kitcheny sorts of paper products.  I know.  I’m weird, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought paper napkins or paper plates.  Other than buying toilet paper and Kleenex, we are pretty green in that area.  We use cloth napkins and instead of paper towels, a good ‘ol kitchen towel seems to work just as well, if not better. 

I think my mother still shudders at the extra work of laundering such things, but when you’re already doing laundry for an entire household, what’s a trifle more?  There has been more than one occasion where my mother brings over disposable plates, cups, plasticware, paper towels and napkins because she is concerned about this.  She’s amazing and I love her.  I LOVE YOU MOM!  See?

So why the paper products???  Camping, of course!!!  This will be our first camping trip since I have had kids.  I am sure its going to be terribly interesting in a good way, and I’m almost 98% certain I will forget something important even though I started my list weeks ago.  So if anyone has any “green” camping ideas, I’d love to hear them! 

I did buy paper plates so they can easily be disposed of in the campfire.  I also bought paper napkins (which happen to be recycled so that’s a plus!).  I plan to refill our reusable water bottles so we do not have to use plastic cups, which cannot be easily disposed of in the campfire. 

I am also completely thrilled about the new insect repellent I have found!  I have often read of recipes for repellent, but have never ventured to try them.  I have a hard time slathering myself (or my kids) up with chemicals so I’m always looking for the most natural (and effective) alternative.  When I saw Coleman Botanicals Insect Repellent on the shelf, I instantly snatched it up, ignoring the nearly $5 price tag for only 4 oz.    Its deet-free and contains Lemon Eucalyptus Oil.  It seems to work really well so far.  One day at the park last week I came home completely eaten alive.  The next day I used the spray and not one bite! 

So I am off to pack and my resume my incessant list-making…