Category Archives: contest

Tooth Soap

By now you probably know that I make my own laundry soap and fabric softener, “fabric freshener”/ bug spray, dishwasher soap, toothpaste and even, on occasion, bar soap.  Pretty granola, huh?  Well, today I stumbled upon tooth soap.  Yuck, right?  Maybe not. 

Ambre at We Are of the Day is giving away this tooth soap from Beautiful Soaps

Pearly White Teeth

All natural and free of SLS.

It can’t kill me, and it’s better than all the poison nastiness that is commercial toothpaste, so I decided to enter.  You should too.  Really.  Go now.

Not game for tooth soap?  She’s also giving away lip balm and bar soap.  Everyone loves free soap, right?   

Some of the soaps are pretty amazing.  Actually, I may just be inspired enough to go whip up a batch myself.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Lucky Me?

Ok, if you read Have I mentioned I Love Random??, you already know that I was the lucky winner of canning labels from Lelo and a $30 prize package from Organize It Mom (I ordered the Clean It Cards and 2 Job Charts).   Pretty lucky, huh?  But it gets better.

Recently I attended the Farm to School Conference in Traverse City.  While  I was there with a team from my school, I learned about Taking Root, the 5th national Farm to Cafeteria conference being held this year in Detroit, Michigan.  I also learned that scholarships were available to cover the $250 (early bird) registration fee.  I told my husband that I was applying for a scholarship and asked him if he wanted to go to Detroit with me for four days if I was awarded the scholarship.  He replied, “I should probably pack my bags now, you win everything.” 

So, last week when I found out that I had indeed been granted a scholarship to the Farm to Cafeteria conference, Mr. Hippie asked me why I wasn’t playing the lottery.  I haven’t taken up lottery tickets yet, but I have decided to try and win another blog prize.  Tomato Lady and Ivory Soap over at Little House in the Suburbs are giving away a Spring Feet package.  You could win too!  Click on over and check it out.  If you enter, my odds will surely go down.  And, who knows?  If I win this giveaway, maybe I just will start playing the lottery. :)

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Have I mentioned I Love Random??

I’ve never considered myself particularly lucky.  Until now. 

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you know that I’ve been participating in some challenges over the past few months.  I started with the Dark Days Challenge.  After that I started the Can Jam Challenge.  Most recently, I participated in the 28 Days Challenge.  There weren’t prizes for the Dark Days Challenge or the Can Jam Challenge other than the satisfaction of knowing I was doing the right thing for myself and for my family.  Plus getting some delicious food stocked in my pantry through my canning efforts.

However, Tigress did have a “raffle” of sorts.  It was technically a giveaway but it works the same way a raffle would.  Post a comment in the comments area and if the random number generator selects your comment number, you win.  Well, I was the lucky winner of these beautiful labels (which I still haven’t claimed yet because I am at a loss for a name for my carrots).  I promise, I will claim the labels soon and put them on my jars so that you can all see them.

The 28 Days Challenge was different.  It did have winners.  By posting your before and after pictures and explaining what you did to transform your space you could win many different valuable prizes.  I did not win one of the prizes. :(  Have you seen the competition???  There were some pretty amazing transformations. 

So, what’s with the lucky feeling?  The Organizing Junkie offered some consolation prizes.  Completely random.  And, I won!  I’m the lucky winner of a $30 prize package from Organize It Mom.  Oh yeah, and I have a wonderful clean room that my kids will go play in and a space to work.  I can’t complain about that.

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28 Day Challenge Final Results

So, after 28 days, I feel reformed.  Well, maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but my room is clean at least.  Check it out:

Workout Room?

Before.

And now for the big unveil:

The finished family room.

After

What left?  One of the two bookshelves, one of the two desks, and the treadmill.  Three bags of stuff went to Goodwill.  Two boxes of paper got recycled and a giant bag of paper was shredded to use as worm bedding.  Plus, a box and a bag of books are waiting to go to the used bookstore. 

What’s new?  The loveseat.  It was hanging out in the living room, but it fits much better here.

This shelf has been organized:

Built in shelf.

This built-in shelf offers a lot of storage.

The “office” has been organized and relocated:

New workspace

The desk is clean and big enough to double as a table for crafts or other projects.

The entertainment center is organized and perfect for the kids and their friends.  There’s even space for a small VCR/DVD player in the console:

media center

Now the kids have a place to play the Wii with their friends.

The sitting area:

A place to sit and read or play.

A new home for the loveseat I "rescued" from the side of the road.

The room has purpose now, but we needed to keep the dog’s “room” too:

A place for the dog.

The kennel fits nicely behind the loveseat and doesn't detract from the room.

 So, 28 days is supposed to be long enough to learn new habits, to break bad habits and start fresh.  I feel reformed better and ready to conquer another space.  

My room isn’t perfect, but I made the small space work.  I also have to give credit where it’s due.  I didn’t do this all on my own.  Mr. Hippie spent a long time Friday morning organizing and vacuuming, and both the kids helped a little at various stages of the project.  The kids really seem to like their new space, I just hope they like it enough to help maintain it!

And, and update.  As part of the official challenge, I need to answer some questions.  While I kind of got to that in a round-about way in my post, I thought I should clarify a bit. So, here you go:

1.  What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?
The hardest part of this challenge, was finding a new home for all of the “stuff” that had accumulated in the space.  I purged a lot of it. (See #3)  Our house is small and doesn’t have a lot of storage space, so moving it wasn’t an option for most of the stuff. 

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?
I sweep through the room every night and put stuff that doesn’t belong there back in its home.  Keeping Gwen accountable for her junk daily is vital too, because she loves to hang out in the new space!

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?
 Tons went to Goodwill.  I took four bags of books to school.  Mountains of papers were recycled.  Some was thrown away.  The bookshelf is being repurposed.  I had originally planned on freecycling it, but it didn’t get picked up so now I’m going to use it in my “root cellar” as storage for canning jars.  Two small shelves got moved into the big storage shelf and one tall shelf got moved into Gwen’s room as “art storage” for her drawing supplies.

 4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries?
The tall built-in shelf in the room is really deep, so I utilized long baskets and small storage cubes to keep things accesible yet out-of-the way.  It looks tidy, but I can reach everything. 

5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?
I should win the challenge because I turned a completely unusable space in my home into a romm that is filled with life!  The kids want to be there now and I actually enjoy sitting down at the computer to work (and I don’t have to clear a space for my stuff before I sit down at the desk.)

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28 Days Diversion

So, the room is coming around nicely.   I’ve purged a big box and a bag full of recyclables from my space, filled a grocery sack with items to donate to Goodwill, brainstormed some storage ideas with a friend and contemplated several different furniture arrangements. Furniture. It’s just one of those things that you can’t be sure of until you’ve drug all the pieces around and around the room to see how they look. In my head they look one way, but with such a small space, I have to be sure they work before committing to anything.  I’ll have to come back to the furniture.

I’ve also washed and dusted both windows and all the surfaces I’ve uncovered to this point, removed a dead television (that I’m taking to Best Buy to be E-cycled) and vacuumed the exposed carpet.  Despite the progress I’ve made, I still have a long way to go.  The old ‘wooden’ desk has to be removed still and there are many things in and on it that need to find new homes. 

I was feeling pretty good about the room when I got to this point:

Woah!  You can actually see the top of the desk!!

The top of the desk; exposed for the first time in I don't know how long.

The desk was clear and clean.  I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw the top of the desk.  It was inspiring.  Not only because it made me feel like there might actually be hope for the room, but because I suddenly had space to work!  This brings me to the diversion part of the story.  You see, my laptop case  is soo heavy that I can’t stand to carry it around.  Plus, when I bike across town to meetings, I always wish that my laptop was in a backpack.   I’ve been storing fabric swatches for weeks intending to turn them into a backpack for my computer, but haven’t had the space to actually start a project of that size.  Until now.

Here is the finished pack as modelled by my son:

Laptop backpack

My new, custom-made laptop backpack.

I scoured the internet for a pattern, but couldn’t find what I was looking for.  I found laptop sleeve patterns, and laptop envelope patterns, but none of the patterns were for a backpack.   I wish I had a “laptop backpack”  pattern to share with you, but this is more of a protoype.  I had to rework a couple of parts because they didn’t work exactly like I’d planned the first time.  And, I’d put a loop on the back for hanging the pack if I were going to do it again.  Also, I’d figure out a different closure system for the left pocket.  But, the pack does what I need it to do and my son has already put in an order for his pack for camping. 

The pack is quilted and fully lined to protect the computer and to keep it from hurting my back.  The pockets on the back are made from old jeans pant-legs from when Gwen was three or four.  She wore the knees out of the jeans, but the applique was so cute that I couldn’t bear to throw them away.  Sometimes being a packrat pays off.  The water bottle fits snugly in the pocket without any closure, so the right pocket is simply hemmed.  The left pocket is for the computer charger and cords.  I didn’t want them jumping out so I sewed zipper from an old pair of my jeans into the top.  It’s a little awkward, but it works.   The straps came from the same pair of jeans the zipper came out of.  I cut strips out of the length of one of the legs and sewed them onto the pack.  Another of the changes I would make in the future is to sew the straps on before the top flap so that I don’t have to work so hard to hide the raw ends of the straps.  If you look closely at the bottom of the pack, you can see two metal eyelets.  For some reason I thought that would be a good feature.  Keys or something could hang from there.

The side that rests on your back

This is the side of the pack that rests against your back.

For now, the pack will have to do.  Maybe someday, when I have more time, I’ll tear it apart and rework it.  If that happens, I’ll make a pattern and post it for you so that you don’t have to make it up as you go along like I did. 

Homemade Laptop Backpack

My laptop in its new, lightweight, easy-to-carry backpack.

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5 Down, 23 to Go

As I look around my cluttered computer room, it appears that not much has been done.  I, however, know otherwise. 

  • The Christmas ornaments have been returned to storage as have the rolls of gift wrap and the clear tape that never got returned to the wrap storage container. 
  • The filing cabinent has been cleaned out and the files from the drawer of the old desk have been recycled or refiled into the main cabinent. 
  • The main filing cabinent has been cleared off and wiped down.
  • The window sill has been cleared and cleaned and the plants that “live” there have been trimmed and watered. 
  • I started sifting through papers.  I emptied out a paper grocery sack that was filled mostly with papers I don’t need anymore, cleared out a stack of old magazines, and purged a bunch of old mail.

So, I’m well into the purging stage.  I’m not done, but check out this bag full of shredded papers that I’m going to feed to the worms.

old paperwork
50 pounds of paper?

This bag used to hold 50 lbs. of chicken feed.  Now it’s crammed full of shredded papers.  The worms will love all this fresh bedding.  In addition to this bag of “had to shreds”, I also ended up with a box full of paper to recycle.

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Can I Jam Carrots?

In January I signed up for the Can Jam Challenge.  I canned two three different batches of marmalade as part of the citrus challenge last month.  You can read about my my marmalades here and here if you haven’t yet.  I was also lucky enough to be selected by Tigress as the random winner of beautiful labels for my next 6 Can Jam entries!  Don’t you just LOVE random!   The labels are made by Lelo in Nopo and you can see samples here.  My jars are going to be so beautiful with her custom labels on them!  So now, what do I make that’s deserving of her artwork??
This month’s featured ingredient is carrots.  I’m thinking some sort of pickled carrot, but I vaguely remember a carrot marmalade recipe from my exhaustive marmalade recipe search last month.  I’m rather fond of marmalade after our brief encounter in January.

I E-mailed Providence Farms, my CSA, to see if they had any carrots in storage that I could buy, but no luck.  Andrea said they could dig some, but that she thought they would be “soup-worthy.”  I’m sure they would be a delicious addition to soup or stews, but if I pickle carrots, I want them to be crisp and crispiness is questionable, so I broke down and bought non-local, organic carrots.  This challenge will be so much more fun when I can use local or homegrown ingredients!

I’ll be posting the finished carrot recipe the week after Valentine’s day, so check back to see what I come up with!

For now, here’s a (rerun) picture of some canned-up summer bounty!

jams, sauces and pickles

See, I can jam, and pickle and sauce.

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28 Days Progress

I have a plan!! 

So, here it is:

1. What do I want the purpose of my room or area to be?
Multimedia/family room.~ Place for tv, video games, and a computer workstation.
2. What do I need in or near the room to serve that purpose?
Entertainment center, seating, proper places for all the junk that’s in the space now.
3. What can I remove from the room?
Christmas leftovers, dead tv taking up floor space, old papers (clean out files and consolidate filing cabinets), kids outgrown books
4. What problems do I see with the room?
Traffic flow is an issue, clutter, too much stuff in the small available space.
5. What organizational tools might solve those problems?
Baskets to organize the remaining items, ???? I’m sure there’s something else, but I haven’t thought of it yet.
6. What habits need to change to solve the organizational problems?
Stuff needs to find a home, things need to get put away, not put down, the kids need to be retrained to keep their stuff in their space, not public spaces.
7. What kind of a budget do I have to create the organized room of my dreams?
Not much, but I’ll spend $50-$100 on storage, etc., if I really need to.  Hopefully I can repurpose other unused/underused items from the house.
8. What kind of a timeline is necessary to organize the room? (28 days!)
9. What is my plan of action?
Box up all the “stuff” that is sitting on/in places it doesn’t belong
Clean out files/desks and recycle or refile everything to conserve space
Get rid of a desk
Eliminate one or more bookshelves

Now, following through on the plan will be an important component of the organizing if I am going to actually get the room cleaned up.  The Christmas tree has been gone since before the new year, but for some reason I hadn’t gotten around to putting the boxes of ornaments away.  (Nor had anyone else stepped up to the job.)  They are all organized now and ready to be removed from the room.  I know, it’s a baby step, but hey, it IS a step.

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Slacker

I currently have three posts in the works.  What am I waiting for?  Lots of things. I need to upload pics, finish typing without falling asleep.  Various other deterrents.  This is important though, and no pictures are required.  A friend of mine introduced me to the  “Little House in the Suburbs” blog some time ago. (Thank you, Amber.) I am in love with it.  So much useful information and things I need to try.  Plus now, giveaways.  I want to win, but as my husband once said, “My friends deserve nice things.”  (Taken completely out of context and that is a whole different story that should be saved for another day never.)  So friends, good luck. 

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