Friday, February 28, 2014

Valentine Gift for my Girls

We love reading together, so for Valentine's Day I made the girls these little dragons, to go with the My Father's Dragon book set
Sparky on my computer.

The pattern (and idea) is from Susan's blog. I used Lion Brand sock-ease yarn in the cotton candy colorway on size 0 needles. She offers some modifications for making the little dragon in single ply sock yarn, but once I got started on the pattern, I just stuck to the pattern for the most part.  The dragons were pretty quick to knit up, but seriously fiddly to add all the little appendages - ears, arms, feet, wings, tail. I did most of this knitting at the kitchen table so that I could follow along with the pattern.  It was not a knit while watching a show kind of project.  
Audrey and Sparky

The girls LOVE them - which is always nice when you spend time making something.  Audrey named hers Sparky, Meri named hers Jenkins (she was trying to say dragon, but I thought she said Jenkins and it stuck).

The book was a huge hit too.  The illustrations are fun and the story is a quick read with action in every chapter.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's Day activities

One of my neighbors came up with a fun idea of doing a progressive dinner for Valentine's Day.  We were assigned dessert and I made molten chocolate cakes with a good dollop of whipped cream.  This is one of my favorite easy, fancy desserts.  (I use the microwave instead of a double boiler to melt the chocolate, so it is really very easy.)

I thought it might be fun to try a game with the whole group of kids and older kids.  After we put Meri to bed, I taught everyone how to play Mafia.  Back in my college days (it feels old to say that), we used to have Mafia parties *every* Thursday night starting at 9pm.  It was awesome.  I forgot how much fun that game is.  However, one of the kids was a little too young to play (though I did check with her parents before I even suggested it to the group) and her feelings got hurt when the other kids accused her of being the mafia (she was mafia and they were detectives and got that right during the night, but that is neither here nor there to a 6 year old who feels picked on).  So we only got to play that for one round...

Then the night ended completely when we heard Meri crying and found out she had thrown up.  That was the beginning of a very long night for me.  She only slept when I was holding her and even then she was throwing up every 15-20 minutes for several hours.  I was glad to be holding her so that she got some relief and sleep.  Plus I just love her cuddles even at 3 in the morning.  She finally fell asleep and felt better around 5:30am.  I also went to sleep then, and slept all day and all night, with my own stomach bug in the midst of that.  Then it was Ryan's turn.  Luckily Audrey seems to have managed to avoid getting the bug (KOW).

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Laundry soap

I enjoy doing laundry these days - and I cannot believe that I am writing that.  It is true though, I enjoy the snap that wet clothes make, I like seeing all the clean clothes on the drying racks, and I like folding them into stacks by person.  (Meri thinks that she is also the biggest laundry helper in the world as she puts all of the socks on the lower levels of the racks - super cute.) I try to follow the flylady idea of doing a load a day and if I do that, I can usually line dry everything.  I love the feel of crisp clothes right off the rack and it is a nice way to add a little moisture back into the dry winter air.
Meredith is "helping" with laundry by unfolding the folded stack of kitchen towels and laying them neatly on the couch.
Since, I do laundry everyday, and I hang and fold clothes everyday, I have a bit of time to think about the process.  I have thought about how strong the laundry detergent smells and I don't really like strong smells.

I've also had a chance to try the old-fashioned method of soaking my laundry to see if it actually gets things cleaner - you know what - it does.  For now, I soak two types of laundry - Meredith's diapers and Ryan's shirts each get overnight soaks in the washer and then I just launder them as usual and they get really clean without any extra work.

I fell for the marketing a while back and bought a big container of the "baby" laundry detergent before Meri was born.  That was over 2 years ago now.

We used regular liquid laundry soap from Costco until it was gone and then I started using the baby laundry soap for all of our clothes to try to use it up.  I would say we are still several months away from using it all up.

In the meantime, I also tried making my own laundry soap powder using Rhonda's recipe. I started using it intermittently with the baby soap for our clothes - just to make sure that we don't have any allergies to it before it is all we have.  So far, it is working really well.

My homemade laundry soap
It was super simple to make the powder.  I grated a couple of bars of soap - I actually shredded them in the magic bullet, but I wouldn't recommend that because it took a really long time. Then I measured the amount of soap flakes I had and divided that amount in two to get the correct ratio of borax and washing soda.  So I had 2 1/2 cups of soap powder, and added 1 1/4 cups of borax and 1 1/4 cups of washing soda to the container and gave it a good stir.  According to Rhonda, I should only need about 2 tablespoons per load of laundry.  However, I found that 2T is actually a bit much and 1 heaping tablespoon is working well for this batch of laundry powder.

For Meredith's diapers, I use plain Tide.  Since it is recommended by the diaper manufacturers and it does not give Meredith any trouble, I am going to keep on keeping on with that.