Monday, February 27, 2012

Homemade Detergent!

My husband and I have been making our own liquid laundry detergent for over a year. We were surprised by how simple and inexpensive it is to make. Several months ago, we decided to try the powdered variety. It takes up less space in a laundry room. It worked fantastic!

Last week, I decided to grate the soap by using my food processor. I had heard that the process went quickly and the powder was made finer. I loved the outcome...and thought I would share it with you! I scurried around trying to find the right sized jar to hold a double-batch but just couldn't find one with that suited my needs. Thats when I remembered an old J. P. Coats tin I have had for years. Two batches of powdered detergent fit perfectly inside!

Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe:

1 bar of Fels-Naptha or Ivory Soap (I have used both and each works well)
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup Oxi-clean

Grate soap bar or put in food processor. Add powdered ingredients and mix well. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load, as this recipe is very concentrated. I doubled the recipe. Each single batch makes approx. 60 loads.....for pennies!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tough Days....

This week has held some tough days for our family. Our 10-year old truck broke down on us Monday and we soon found out it would need a new transmission. Our other car is my husband's "baby," a 1972 Super Beetle. We have it serviced about 4-5 times a year by a man who specializes in such cars and because of his good workmanship, it takes several weeks to get an appointment for our little bug. Lo and behold, our bug was due for a checkup this week...which meant we were carless for a couple days! In addition to these challenges, our married daughter (who lives in a neighboring town) had her car break down too, and with her husband unemployed right now, things have been very challenging in her house. This left her little family without a working car also! Her dad and I agreed to have it towed to a mechanic we know who works on Subaru's, since this is her type of vehicle.
Wow! What's going on with our transportation in this family?! Isn't it amazing how challenges always come in bunches?
At our house, we are still learning to trust in the Lord to meet all of our needs (I say "still" because its a very easy lesson to forget) . Sometimes we aren't really sure how God is going to do it, but we know He always will. Its very easy to panic when things fall apart or don't go as we plan...but when our eyes stay on Jesus, we find peace in any circumstance.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
~1 Peter 5: 6-7

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The March Tree

Amazingly, it is almost time for March. Its very hard to believe that springtime is quickly approaching. Since I committed to decorating a tree every month for a year, I always have ideas rolling through my mind so I can get prepared. March can be quite a blustery month...full of all types of weather. But its always a sure sign that flowers are about to bloom and Easter is on its way.

The March Tree is full of punch-out flowers, colorful tulle, and a unique topper (garden gloves holding a little pot of pretty stems). I had so much fun making the decorations and putting them on the tree. I also made a Spring hat for our front door. The flowers are hand-rolled silk ribbon roses that I recently learned how to make. I added bright buttons because they made me smile.

I have found that the more crafts I attempt, the more I learn to do....and it has been a delight to try new things (even when I fail). These hands that have spent years changing babies, washing sink loads of dishes, and ironing in the late night hours, now have a bit more time to work at different tasks and endless projects that bring fulfillment. My nest may be emptying out, but I am filling the void with more Bible reading, vigilant prayer, the singing of songs both new and old, and the joy and wonder of creativity.

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.
~Psalm 104: 33-34

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Little Homespun Fun

Now that Valentine's Day has passed, my thoughts have turned toward springtime. While in Myrtle Beach for our little vacation, we walked through a quaint area of shops. The owner of the cigar store was standing in his doorway and greeted us with a smile and a handshake. Once inside, we found several empty cigar boxes for sale. The most beautiful ones were large and wooden, with hinged tops. But tossed to one side was a cute little box with an odd shape. I asked the owner about it and he said he didn't think anyone would want it because the lid was lost. He was going to throw the box out. I fell in love with the little box...and brought it home from our vacation, determined to make something out of it as a remembrance of our trip!

I decided to make a was the perfect size for such homespun fun. I added a little nest with Momma Bird resting and ready to deliver...and Daddy Bird on top of the house, keeping watch for nasty invaders. I dressed it up with some pretty, bright ribbon...and a hand rolled ribbon rose (that I just learned how to make this week!). I thought I would share the results with you, along with this Scripture that makes me think of how wonderful God is to provide every resource His creation needs....

He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters, they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
~Psalm 104: 10-13

Monday, February 6, 2012

Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World

Raising four children has been a blessing and a challenge! One such challenge came when one of our twin daughters fell in love a couple years ago. She had dated one fella for over 4 years and this young man had become like a son to us. When they broke up, it devastated me and my husband. Not long after, our daughter came to me and told me she had fallen in love with someone new...and this someone new was of a different race. In most parts of the country, this is not uncommon. But in our small, southern town, we didn't know one other interracial couple. The list of concerns flooded my mind and heart. Was my daughter on the rebound from her previous relationship, did my daughter understand how young she was...could I handle this? I will admit that I prayed long and hard over these issues. In the end, I recognized that my husband and I had raised all four of our young ones to be independent thinkers....and we had taught them that the only part of a person that truly matters is the heart.
Our little girl chose to get married at home, at Christmas time. Her father performed the ceremony and we both "gave her away." Amazingly, I didn't cry or feel sad. Instead, I felt incredibly joyous.
Today, this young couple has blessed us with a beautiful grandchild! Our oldest son also has a lovely daughter who is almost 3 now. These two gorgeous girls have transformed my hubby and me into grandparents....and what an honor and responsibility that is. The Lord is good....all the time, the Lord is good.

"Jesus loves the little children,
all the children of the world,
every color....every race...
ALL are covered by His grace.
Jesus loves the little children of the world."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Valentine Vacation

The pictures are not that clear....but they are recent glimpses of each of us standing on the balcony of our beachside suite. Almost 28 years have gone by since I wed my Valentine. Through those years, we have shared lots of laughs and tears....lots of fun days and long nights. We have invested our lives in God's work and in our 4 young adult children. Recently we started talking about how long it has been since he and I shared a little get-away time together, just the two of us. Let's just say it had been an awfully long time. So we decided to be spontaneous and have a valentine vacation at the shore.

The weather was warm and sunny. The ocean waves pounded the sand just outside our room. We ate all our favorite foods, sang silly songs, read and discussed the Scriptures, held hands and prayed, walked along the beach in our bare feet, roamed aimlessly through flea markets. The week seemed to fly by as we enjoyed our valentine vacation. On our last night, we ran into dear friends from our church and hastily made plans to meet them for dinner. After freshening up in our room, we found ourselves staring out at a gorgeous sunset. "I don't think we've taken one picture since we've been here this week," I said after a moment. "No, I don't think we, let me get my phone." In the evening light, he snapped a photo of me...and then I took the phone and snapped one of him, just as our little bit of light was lost to nightfall. We went on to dinner with our friends and then laughed the late hours away watching funny shows on TV. Before long, the sun came up and it was time to pack and head for home.

I am so thankful the Lord blessed me with such a wonderful trip with my husband. What a precious time we shared! Our spirits were rested and renewed. I stand in awe of God's continued faithfulness. He meets every just the right time.

"I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations." ~Psalm 89:1

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Work of Our Hands~

I learned to cross-stitch when I was 17 years old. A woman in my church taught me, using the gifts the Lord had given her to share. I doubt she knew how many years of joy I would receive from her generosity.

Its been almost 10 years ago that I was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. There have been lots of ups and downs since then. There have been days when I could hardly walk and other days when I was so happy to be feeling good that I felt like I was walking on air. Many days, my hands won't move at my command and it can be a great frustration. Treatments started with pills and moved on to shots and then to IV infusions. Through it all, I have managed to keep stitching, although at a bit slower pace these days.

There is much joy in seeing the work of your hands. Oh, I have cooked casseroles and folded laundry and vacuumed floors. I have nursed babies (even two at a time!), changed diapers, picked up toys and I've done my fair share of hosting birthday parties (complete with homemade renditions of Batman cakes and Princess cakes) and gluing countless sequins on science posters at 1 am (just hours before the project is due)! All those things are "works" of my hands but those duties are soon gone. Needlework is some type of tangible proof that weeks, years, and even decades ago, someone spent their time wisely.

When I first started stitching, I hated to look at the backside of my work. It was a tangled mess! But somehow, the front side looked pretty good. But as the years have gone by and I have honed my skills, the backside of the work is fairly neat. Sometimes I study the backside of my work. I now know that if the backside is smooth and knot-free, the front side will yield a better result.

I can't help but think that this is how our spiritual lives are also. When we begin, we have lots of rough edges and well, lots of backside tangles and knots. But as we allow the Holy Spirit to work with us and as we bend to His power and guidance, the image we yield...both inside and out....will be lovely.

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us--
yes, establish the work of our hands."
~Psalm 90: 17