Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Give Your Laundry A Little TLC

I don't remember going on any $300 field trips when I was a kid. Actually, I don't remember going on any field trips, but that's probably because they weren't of the $300 variety, and so were not very memorable.

TLC has one of these absurdly expensive field trips coming up. His whole grade is going on some sort of oceanic exploration trip in San Diego. Of course, attendance is optional. But when you've been subjected to the nostril flare of total rejection by your 11-year-old child, it kind of takes the fun out of optional.

What to do? What to do? TLC, an entrepreneur at heart, decided to take matters into his own hands. He tried to get a little space at the Christmas shop at his school for some wooden bead bracelets he made, but he got shot down by the PTA. Strike one. His brother's had good success selling his homemade soft pretzels, so he set me to work trying to replicate the Krispy Kreme donut recipe. Three or four recipes and several pounds later, strike two. Finally, after reading a book called The Toothpaste Millionaire, about a boy who makes toothpaste that works and is way cheaper than the paste at the store and, natch, makes a million, he whipped up a batch of homemade laundry detergent.

I used it today on all my laundry. It was actually pretty great! It has a nice mild, clean smell and my clothes got just as clean as ever. It didn't get out the tar that somehow got on Lynnie's pant leg, but hey, it's detergent, not boric acid. The best part is, it's only $1.50 a gallon (that's enough for 32 loads in a top loading washer or 64 loads in a front loading washer). Leave me a comment if you want some, he's taking orders!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Design Diva in Me

I watch HGTV a lot at night. Last night I went to sleep with my little head full of designer drapes and complete kitchen remodels. As I rested, all those creative ideas percolated through my subconscious, and I woke up ready to revolutionize my house, design-wise at least.

One of the first things I did was organize. I put all my little hair elastics, sorted by color, into an empty egg carton. Then I closed the lid and put the whole thing in a small drawer in the bathroom vanity. It didn't fit. I tried to jam it in by pushing down on the top with one hand while I forced the drawer closed with the other, but it still wouldn't fit, plus it hurt my hand. Then I was inspired to cut the lid off. Now it fits, but every time I open or close the drawer, the little elastics go flying. I hate bending over to pick them all up. Luckily, I've found that a little bit of color on the tile looks really quite nice.

The second thing I did was to purge. Only our stuff, of course, although the hair elastic Incident did make me feel slightly nauseous. I put a box in the hallway labeled Charity and forced each of my children to contribute ten items. I probably should have specified that the items they contributed had to be their own. My unwitting 3-year-old has nothing left to play with.

Next I went to work on those curtains. Just so you know my background, my mom used to tie our curtains back with whichever hair ribbons her girls weren't using that day. I myself have tried to go a little classier, using a scarf rather than ribbons. Although I'll admit, when I'm feeling sassy, I sometimes steal the scarf and use it for a belt. My curtains stay closed on belt days, and also my pants don't sag. But if they did it would be okay because my curtains are closed, so no one would know.

Anyway, inspired by HGTV, I decided to sew a valance for the bare window over my kitchen sink. I was a little delayed in my sewing as I tried to figure out if it's pronounced vuh-lahns, or val-ince. Then I was further delayed when I couldn't find my sewing machine. Then I remembered that I don't have a sewing machine, plus I don't know how to sew. So, the vuh-lans or whatever will have to wait.

I thought I would play to my strengths next and refinish the table. This would involve stripping, sanding and staining it. I know that sounds like a lot of work, but if there's one thing I can do it's strip. I learned to strip in the workshop behind my house when I was just a little girl. My parents really encouraged me in this pursuit. I think they saw something of a future in it for me, but I haven't really done it much since I got married. I really planned on getting that table done too, but when it came down to it, I couldn't bring myself to touch it. It's a family heirloom, and I was afraid if I refinished it I would wipe out all the pencil scratchings dug into the wood surface during homework time, or the little specks of nail polish from beauty salon days, or even the glossy patch left there when I tried my hand at jewelry making one time and pretty much sheened up the whole room, instead of just the wooden beads I was working with.

By this time my day was pretty much gone. I know I'm no match for the design divas on TV, but I do feel pretty good about what I did with those hair elastics. Tomorrow I'm planning to tackle home repairs. Can someone please call that Phillip guy I've been hearing so much about?