Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~Philippians 4:8~

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Paper Work

It appears I have acquired another 'hobby', or as my Sweetie would be quick to add "another expense". To which I retort "Well at least I'm not shopping at Saks or Macy's!" And after all, it's the little things that make me happy.

So I've been spending my days playing with my new gadgets and tools. Not many, I'll grant you that. I simply will not allow myself to become so overwhelmed with inventory, that I won't be able to find what I need. So I purchased a little light box, a cheap paper trimmer, and a few more rubber stamps (but only when they're on sale at 50% off). It was bound to happen, you see. Only because several months ago, last year actually, a scrapbook hobby store went out of business. When I saw the signs that everything was 75% off, I became curious and decided to check it out. I even posted about it here. I bought a few things, but then a few days later the final discount came down to 90% off. By then not much was left, but I was able to purchase some papers and ink pads. I saved my little toys, thinking what if someday I get bitten by the 'paper' bug. Mind you, back then I was SO not into scrapping. I had no interest in it whatsoever. But being a woman with a healthy nesting instinct, I just could not pass up such a wonderful opportunity to stockpile items for the "what if's" in life.

And that's precisely what happened. I've been making a few (a very few) cards and tags. I do it because it's fun, and it's an outlet for creativity. I am certainly having fun with it. I know about Etsy and Ebay, and how people like to turn their hobbies into little business ventures. But I'm just not there yet. I could also do it with my love of aprons, and it's something I've thought about, but I'm not exactly chomping at the bit. I'll just take it slow and easy, and see where this takes me.

I think that for me, it's all about learning new things. I suppose I'm still searching for my 'calling'....for my true vocation. Who would've thought that at 51 years of age, I'd still be growing up.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

About The Homemade Detergent

This past week I did a couple of loads of laundry using my homemade detergent which I posted about here. On Mondays I usually wash the sheets and towels. Using the detergent, it was hard to tell if they came out clean, since to begin with, they didn't look dirty. When I washed our clothes, the same thing, they were not soiled, so it was hard to tell if there was any sort of real 'de-griming' going on. The real test I think came when I washed my Sweetie's gardening clothes. He had been cleaning out the pond filters, and had really gotten his jeans all muddied up and stinky. I usually only prewash whites, but in this case I did run his clothes through a prewash, using only 1 tablespoon of the detergent. For the actual wash cycle, I used two tablespoons, which really, was more than called for seeing as how it was only those two articles of clothing. But since the powder concoction does not produce suds, you almost feel tempted to use the amounts that are normally called for with regular detergents.

And therein lies my struggle. I can't wrap my brain around the idea that you have real 'washing' going on without the evidence of suds. That's what I've always done when I wash, is produce lots of suds! It would be fair to say that I tend to be heavy handed with the use of detergent. Which is not a good thing, I know. But then I am reminded that two of the products in the homemade mixture, the borax and washing soda, are actually detergent boosters. They are supposed to enhance the washing capabilities of commercial detergents. And that settled it for me, at least in my mind. Those ingredients do have cleansing properties. The Zote certainly doesn't hurt, and makes the wash have a slight citron scent.

What really convinced me though, was the fact that the gardening clothes came out of the washer sparkling clean! And even without any suds.

Therefore I will continue to use my homemade detergent. I will do so because I know it does do a good job at keeping clothes clean. And also because I have a huge, heavy box sitting out in my garage by the washing machine. I suppose I could use one tablespoon of my mix and one tablespoon of regular sudsy detergent, just to ease my mind. I would then have the best of both worlds, right? But that would defeat the purpose of trying to be more health conscious about the products I use in everyday life. It would thwart my effort to get away from the harmful chemicals which I know are in commercial detergents. And it would put me back in square one of spending mucho dinero on detergent. So those three reasons are enough to keep me on track, at least for now:

I. I have to use up what I have.
II. I want to use less toxic ingredients.
III. I would like to save some money.

Yes, I think I can wrap my brain around that.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Machacado Con Huevo

Today saw us enjoying a traditional breakfast treat for Supper. Most of the foods we know and enjoy as breakfast fare are versatile this way. Every once in a while we'll have pancakes for supper for example. The breakfast police don't mind a bit, I can assure you.

Our simple meal consisted of machacado con huevo. Machacado is basically similar to dried beef jerky. As I understand it, it's raw salted beef set out to dry open air, or for commercial purposes, dehydrated. The beef is sold in small thin packages, and you simply tear off the amount you need to cook. After frying for a bit until golden brown in a small amount of oil, I usually add plenty of diced onions and a jalapeno or two.

Today I also added a little bit of pinto beans, just because my Sweetie likes to 'mix it up' when it comes to the cooking with eggs. And as always in these breakfast dishes, the ubiquitous flour tortilla is always front and center, standing by for the call to duty.
I also like to add diced tomatoes and cilantro along with the jalapenos. But I was out of tomatoes since I'd just made some hot salsa.

And what does machacado and eggs taste like? To me, it tastes like 'barbacoa' which in turn tastes a little like pot roast, only more earthy and delicious! The eggs are just a medium or a means to an end, so to speak. You need the eggs to 'extend' the amount of the costly beef. Machacado is quite expensive, so we don't have it very often. It is a treat, that's for sure!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beautiful Diamond

The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

Nahum 1:7

Sunday, August 23, 2009

La Canicula

Canicula: An alternative name of the constellation Canis major; Also called the Dog Star. Growing up when people said 'Ya empezo la canicula', meaning 'The canicula has begun', you knew you had to brace yourself for the hottest of days ahead. I guess that's where we get the term 'dog days of Summer'.

As I was sitting in the living room looking out the window, I could see how stressed the plants were in the hot afternoon sun. It also took me back to days in my childhood sitting outside in my Grandmother's garden on days when even the fans did little to cool us. She would hold me in her lap and sweetly sing "barbas de oro, barbas de oro, vente vente." This was her way of praying for those sweet cooling breezes we desperately needed. It's like a little nursery rhyme which means ''golden beard, golden beard, come to us''. It evoked an image of an ancient man with a long gold beard dressed in the whitest vestment imaginable. He was the one who directed the trade winds and breezes to caress our hot weary bodies. As an added blessing he also sent the fluffiest clouds to shade us and the coolest raindrops to soothe our world.

Oh, yes, and I'll soon begin to call barbas de oro myself, as did my Grandmother and her Grandmother before her. This year's Canicula can't be over too soon for me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pretty 'n Pink

It's official. I joined the bandwagon like so many thrifty people who are looking to save some money by making their own detergent. I found two great sites, along with Rhonda Jean's blog post on recipes and instructions: I found Mary Jane's The Beehive Cottage post and pictures to be delightful reading on the subject, and this site also had very useful information.

I went out and bought my supplies (only four ingredients) a while back but kept procrastinating on actually mixing them up. And yes, that's all you have to do. The only bit of labor involves either shredding or running through a food processor your Zote bar of soap. If you shred with a food processor, you'll still need to break it down some more with the regular blade. But make sure you do this along with some of your mixed powders so as to enable the Zote to break down into smaller pieces. Otherwise you'll end up with larger bits such as in this photo from one of the sites that carries the recipe:

Compared to mine, I think I was actually able to break the Zote into finer pieces. However, it never actually pulverizes. There are still little chunks which I'm hoping will dissolve in water. The mixture is a nice shade of pink. My camera doesn't show the true color very well. One other thing, I did use my regular food processor which I will use again for my regular food preparation. It's only soap, you just wash your utensils and rinse them well, no harm done.

My recipe fluctuated just a bit in that I added two 14 oz bars of Zote:
4 lbs. Borax
4 lbs. Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
4 lbs. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
2 14oz bars of Zote soap
Total cost for ingredients: $10.60
Produced approximately 15 lbs. of detergent
As compared to a box of 'Gain' detergent which costs $10.99 for 8 1/4 lbs. Amount used per load is also MORE than the 1-2 TBS. of homemade detergent.

I used my big old menudo pot to properly mix everything.

Stirring everything together:

And just to appease any concerns anyone might have about the Zote soap which is made in Mexico, I will share this little tidbit: I bathe with it! Yes, you read that right...I use Zote to bathe. It's gentle on my skin actually. I never would have thought to use it since it's marketed to be used specifically for cleaning clothes. Women in Mexico who have no access to washing machines will use it on their trusty little washboards as the only soap or as an added spot remover. (It's also supposed to make a great catfish bait) But then I read on Mexico Bob's blog that his wife used it for bathing. So I thought I'd give it a try. And he was right, it really is gentle for showering. But what I like even better is that it's so cheap! The small bar can be found for around .50-.75 cents and the humongous 14 oz bar for just under a dollar! It lasts a long time too. We were spending more than $10 every two weeks on regular bath soap. But the large Zote lasts about a week.....at only one buck! It is rather bulky to handle though. My Sweetie prefers the smaller bar.
So now all that's left is for me to try this mix up in my washing machine. As to the amount of detergent to use, it's unbelievable but it is only one tablespoon per load, or two tablespoons if it's a heavily soiled load! I think this is where the savings part of this whole formula is. You use much less detergent per load to get your clothes clean.
I hope to be able to come back and report that it worked fine! So there you have it! Cleaning never cost so little!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Riverwalk

We're halfway through August and already I'm looking forward to some nice Autumn weather. That won't happen for a while around here, that's for sure. This has been a scorching hot month only worsened by the endless drought. But school starts in a week for the little ones, so I started thinking back on this Summer.

Last month, we were in San Antonio visiting my eldest Son. We took a drive down to the Riverwalk. The thing which stands out in my mind about that little trek was the extreme humidity. Probably not the best day to go to such a muggy, humid place. But the scenery is beautiful, and walking along the busy, tourist filled path is quite an experience. For good eats, we stood in line to get into this restaurant:

But the crowds and the long line made it difficult for our Grandsons. So we headed over to Saltgrass instead. While waiting in line though, we had a good view of the tourist ferries.

Our table at Saltgrass was on ground level, so I stepped outside to take this 'aerial' view of the river.
The little barges just keep going by, sometimes seranading visitors with mariachi music.
The Riverwalk is a beautiful place to visit. However, next time I'd much rather visit in the Fall or Winter. I hear it's also very pretty around Christmas with all the Holiday decorations. One little side note: there is an elevator under one of the bridges which we used to go up to ground level. As you approach, the reeking smell of bat guano almost knocks you out! Ugh! But bats are good. They're good tourist attractions as well. There is another well known bridge in San Antonio and one is Austin which is a tourist mecca for bat 'watching'.
I do recommend a visit to the Riverwalk next time you're in town. There are several nice hotels and a mall right above it. I liked that there are lots of quaint little shops in the area as well.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blog Award


I wish to thank Elaine from At Home and About for the "One Lovely Blog" award she passed on to me. It was sweet of her to remember me when passing out the award. I hope you stop by her blog and pay her a visit. She has a great place! Love her pictures and all those yummy recipes she shares. Thank you Elaine, gotta love those awards pictures on my sidebar!

As per the rules, I must pass this on to 15 people, however, due to not many bloggers accepting these awards lately, I'll pass it on to a few of my bloggie friends, and as always, the invitation remains open to anyone who wishes to accept the award to post on their blog. Please do so and enjoy! So for now, I'd like to pass it on to:


My good friend Gloria from Viva La Vida

Beverly from Tea Time and Roses

Cindy from Texas Tufa


Gabriela from Gabriela's Kitchen

Amy from Home Acre


Diane from Tomato Soup Cake

Bob from Mexico Bob.

I hope all of you find someone to pass the award to as well.
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Recommending A Blog

I found this great new blog, which incidentally, I've added to my blog list. It's named Three Blind Sheep and I have found so many well written entries which anyone can identify with. In particular, as a Christian believer, there are so many thoughts and experiences which I found to be genuine and helpful in this unique walk that I have been on for quite a while. You know what they say 'every little bit helps'? Well, finding that someone is also grappling with the same trials and tribulations but has found a way to deal with them is in itself helpful to me.

I don't know precisely who the author is. The profile only identifies the blog as belonging to two friends and a child, but I'm guessing it's one author who does most of the writing. My favorite part about this blog are the drawings of what else? Sheep! Which in a Biblical sense, is exactly what we are. Oh, my goodness! I just realized I made a boo boo yesterday. I went and recommended the blog to a dear friend, but I wrote the name as 'three blind mice'! Sorry, Renee!

This wraps it up for now, I'm hoping you'll head over to the blog and check it out.

On a separate note, I'm fast approaching my 200Th post! When I started this blog, I really never thought I'd get beyond maybe ten posts. But it has been fun just chronicling my days in brief writing flurries. I'm hoping I can make it to a 300Th post, as maybe then I can do some kind of celebratory giveaway. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Citizenship

So I decided to make a couple of changes to my blog. Nothing major, just some colors and fonts. I also finally added a blog description. And I did so to remind myself that I may be a citizen of this country, but I'm just passing through. I am not guaranteed a permanent residency status in this ol' planet. I got to thinking about our nation's obsession with pointing out the cultural differences we have with each other. And one of the ways we inflict our sense of superiority is by focusing on our citizenship status as Americans. "But I'm an American citizen." "They are only illegal or resident aliens at best." Let me clarify, I am proud to be an American. But I always think when I see the struggles of those less fortunate "But for the grace of God, that could be me". I mean, who can help where or to whom they were born? And yes, I do see and understand about the social and financial burden and stress we are under as a nation with the influx of so many undocumented people. That is why we have a responsibility to elect people of wisdom and intellect to solve those issues. I certainly don't have an answer. But it's not acceptable or feasible to allow hatred and prejudice to be the guiding forces in solving these problems. We seem to have forgotten that we are all inhabitants of this world, but that our stay here is temporary. And sadly, the ones beating the drumbeat of intolerance and hatred the loudest are those who call themselves Christian conservatives. That is also ironic. Because our main goal in life should be to exalt and honor our Creator and to follow his teachings.

I would love it if my Grandchildren could grow up in a world where there is no racial prejudice, where people are not judged by their appearance, their ethnic background, or even their socio-economic standing. I would like to believe that there is still hope for that.

Just rambling again, as I am prone to do when I have little to write about.

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