Choosing to see the extraordinary of "ordinary"

Monthly Archives: January 2014

Several years ago, I was talking with a friend, bemoaning how busy and stressed out I was.  She immediately told me, “Go organize your underwear drawer.”  My initial response was laughter and a “Whaaaaa?????”  Her theory was that if your underwear drawer is all neat and tidy, then life seems just bit more under control.

Well, I went home and organized that ol’ drawer, and you know?  It worked!  Nothing like starting or ending the day pulling open your underwear drawer and seeing everything all together.  Life seems a bit less chaotic.

My life isn’t all the chaotic and stressed right now (I attribute that to my organized underwear drawer), but as I was working in the kitchen a couple days ago, I looked up and saw our snack cabinet.

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Oh, dear.  Who lives in this place?  Note that in our loverly kitchen, there are no doors on the cabinets.  The rest of the room is in such a sad state that this isn’t really a biggie, it’s just icing on the cake.  But, really, who wants to fix their coffee early in the morning and look up to see such an awful mess?  It’s kind of like an unorganized underwear drawer.

I decided that this just had to be fixed, though it was definitely NOT on the day’s to do list.  You know, it just took a few minutes before it looked like this.

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Oh, that is MUCH better, thank you.  Now, it makes me smile instead of groan.  Isn’t it funny how the tiny little things affect us?

Today, I am thankful for Megan’s advice all those years ago.  There’s not much that can beat an organized underwear drawer (unless it’s an organized snack cabinet)!

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God has and continues to bless us in such amazing ways that I am continually humbled.  It’s not like we deserve one little inkling of all He has given, so I sometimes ask, “Why me?”  I don’t have an answer to that and probably never will in this life.  Though we have to expect and accept the bad times along with the good, I feel the good far outweighs the bad in life.

Well.  Here’s what’s got me so excited today.  Caleb got his diploma in the mail today!!!!  He officially has his Associates degree, and I am so very proud of him.

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Like most firefighters, The Man has sufficient time off between shifts to work a second/part-time job.  Caleb has chosen to go to school as his second “job” (which is the second part of the fabulous blessing today).  There are some things that government gets wrong, but implementing the GI Bill is one big thing this wonderful ol’ government of ours got RIGHT.  They decided long ago to reward veterans’ service by not only paying for their college education but paying them to get their college education.  Win, win!

My poor Man, he hates school, not because he isn’t able to do it but because he just don’ like musty old books or boring old teachers…not at all.  But he stuck with it.

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He would probably like to say that getting this degree means he’s done with all that horribly boring stuff.  Well, he’s not.  He’s being brave and working on his Bachelor’s degree as we speak (if we were “speaking”).

Yes, I’m proud of The Man.  Yes, I’m humbled by God’s provision (of My Man and of The Man’s education and second job).  I pray that we will never take His blessings for granted and always remember that “to whom much is given, of him much will be required.”  (Luke 12:48)


Mom has these color wheels (or color fans, whatever you want to call them) from Sherwin Williams and Glidden Paint that have become almost like treasured heirlooms in our family.  Anytime she or one of her three daughters start to think about a painting project, the question always comes up, “Who has the color wheels?  Can I use them?”

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These little beauties have every color imaginable.  If the minutest of minute shade cannot be found on one, it is always sure to be on the other.  Notes of which rooms have been painted which colors are detailed on the back of various strips.

Side note:  I actually greatly scared myself and my lack of personal identity at one point last year.  I had the revered color wheels on the floor of our front room trying to pick Just.The.Right.Shade of blue.  Out of the fifty bajillion shades of blue, I had it narrowed down to two color strips.  I happened to look on the back of them.  Oh heavens, my mother had picked the very exact colors for her dining room.  I am my mother after all!  (Which is not so terrible a thing, really, just scary.)

Well, since we have years and years and decades of painting forecast for Caleb’s and my future and since mom’s color wheels are almost in constant use, I took the bold step of deciding to buy my OWN color wheels.  (It was a skeery point in my life.)

So, with trepidation, I call the paint stores yesterday and ask them if they had any color strip thingies available (yes, I used those words and am not proud of it).  I felt like a little school girl asking The Great Color Schoolmarm if she would give me my very own treasured color heirlooms.  They answered, “Yes, we have some in stock.”  My next fearful question was, “How much are they?”

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Do you KNOW what they answered?  They answered, “Oh, we don’t charge for them.”  WHAAAAAAAA????????  You mean they’re……….FREE?!?!?!?!  Faaaaa-REEEEEEEEEEE?!?!?!?!  WhaHOOOOOOOO!!!!!  Yes, these are the very feelings and words that were running through my head as I picked up those precious color wheels – color wheels that are ALL.MINE.  Who knew treasured color heirlooms came so cheap?

Now, I’m off to Mom’s to look over her color wheels and copy those precious notes on the back.

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Yes, it’s a radical and very, very exciting post on here today, folks.  I am talking about making my own foaming hand soap!  Hold on to yer hats…

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For the past several years, I’ve had the increasing desire to find more natural alternatives to the chemically laden, cancer causing products out there.  My mother thinks I’m slightly on the crazy side.  But, really, I’ve cleaned the bathroom just one too many times where I have to hold my breath, spray nasty cleaner all over, gag, open the window, gag some more and repeat.

I won’t say I’m a natural “freak.”  I don’t buy organic, I chow down on chips and dip when the spirit moves and I drink pop out of aluminum cans.  But, in order to combat all the MSG and aluminum that I consume, maybe homemade cleaning and personal care products might be the thing for me.

The health factor isn’t the only thing driving this cause.  I also go for the frugal factor.  It is SO MUCH cheaper this-a-way than buying all that chemical stuff!

The journey has been slow.  Finding “recipes” that actually work is kind of important, and despite all the claims on Pinterest, not every homemade cleaner recipe actually works.  But bit by bit, I’m getting there.

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So, today, I will share the easiest, fastest of them all…homemade foaming hand soap.  I’ve tweeked different online recipes a bit to suit how we like it.  First, I used just castille soap, but ’tweren’t foamy enough, and The Man didn’t like that.  So I added Dawn dish detergent to the mix.  (Side note:  The Man firmly states that I can’t call it “homemade” when I use pre-made ingredients such as Dawn.  I disagree.  Everything has an ingredient list of things not made by the manufacturer.  Besides, Dawn is wonderful.  It’s my friend.  So I use it A LOT.)

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So without further ado, I shall share my easy peasy foaming hand soap recipe because the healthiness and the frugalityness blesses me.

Foaming Hand Soap

Hot water
2-3 teaspoons liquid castile soap
1-2 teaspoons Dawn dish detergent
20-30 drops essential oil (optional)
1.  Boil water and let cool.  Trust me, don’t pour it into the bottle until it is cool.  Otherwise, your bottle with wither and shrink and you will have to buy a new one.  (I may or may not know this from personal experience.)
2.  Pour into foaming soap bottle leaving a good two inches head space.  (You can just buy the soap once from the store and re-use the container until it withers and shrinks from boiling water added to it.)
3.  Add castile soap, Dawn and essential oils.
Notes:
– I found liquid castile soap here; it’s also available at Target or health food stores, I believe.  It’s kind of pricey for soap, but seeing that you use 2-3 teaspoons at a time, it lasts forever.
– The essential oils are optional, but it smells oh-so loverly.  This is where the fun experimenting is!  Try different scents.  Lemon, lavendar, peppermint and oregano have anti-bacterial properties if that is your goal.
– The bottle may need to be shaken if not used for a while.  The soaps sometimes settle a tad.
– There are no preservatives, so it needs to be used within 3-4 weeks.  I’ve had mine for well over a month before it started “growing” things.

That’s it!  Such a wonder, this stuff is.


Saturday morning (our anniversary!), The Man and I were sitting in the front room talking about what we were doing a year ago.  We came to the conclusion that he would have still been sleeping while I would have been scurrying about doing my hair and makeup and embarking on the long and arduous task of getting into my dress.

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The conversation turned to what the room we were now sitting in looked like a year ago.  ‘Tweren’t pretty.  Dust everywhere (thanks to The Hardworking Man), a couch and TV in the middle of the room (because who doesn’t like to watch TV in the middle of a construction zone?) and dust everywhere (did I mention that already?).

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Well, we didn’t care back then.  We were finally married and happily jetted off to Puerto Rico.  (While I loved our wedding and everything about it, I was very glad that we didn’t have to deal with wedding plans this year.  The honeymoon, however, I’m trying very hard as I sit here at work today not to be all pitiful and sad that I’m not in Puerto Rico again.)

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Aaaaaanway, back to the front room.  We came home a week later fully prepared to dive into our new life in our happy, work-in-progress bungalow.  We opened the front door that late night after our long flight, and what to our wondering eyes did appear?  A very, very CLEAN front room.  Very clean.  Yes, various and sundry family members of ours had come over while we were basking in the Puerto Rican sun to CLEAN our front room.  Everything was swept and organized and oh, so CLEAN.  (I would say PRETTY, but it was decidedly not PRETTY; it was CLEAN though.)  And not only did that family of ours clean our front room, they did little odd jobs around the house.  (Thank you Tim H. for putting our new toilet seat on!  Oh, the little joys in life.)

Yes, as we discussed this surprise that our family blessed us with a year ago, Caleb said, “I’m glad they did that.  It was really nice.”  Yes, My Dear Man, it was really nice.