Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to Remove Chewing Gum from the Dryer Drum

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Chewing gum.  A childhood obsession of mine.  I would scuba dive into the deepest abyss in the house, the couch, and recover five pennies lost to the world as we know it.  Their age and rarity would probably be worth a paper dollar to my grandpa.  But the agonizing spread of time between his next visit and the possibility that he wouldn't buy them from me wasn't worth the risk because the corner store three houses down had a little glass jar full of Bazooka Bubble Gum priced at $0.05 a piece, one of the only things in my life that I had enough money to buy and didn't have to ask permission for first.

Now if I wanted to hunt down some quarters and dollar bills in a life threatening safari, also known as my mother's purse, sneak up to the store, purchase a Baby Ruth and arrive home with the appetite destroying enemy in hand, I could.  Would I eat it all myself?  No.  Would I be questioned on my integrity and ability to be trusted in the home?  Yes.  Would my mother make me share the candy bar with my two sisters?  Yes.  Did I find that fair?  No.  If I was willing to put my neck out and risk my integrity and ability to be trusted by my own family for the momentary delight of caramel, chocolate, peanuts and I think nugget (what the heck is in a Baby Ruth anyways, leave a post if you know) I should have been awarded that candy bar for my bravery and given the honor of eating it in front of my sisters while I watched Sesame Street, knowing I was the only one that still needed to learn my ABC's and numbers.

Gum was my oasis.  It was nonthreatening and like a Chewy granola bar commercial,  it kept my mouth busy at the most important times:  church, long car rides, parent teacher conferences and any check out counter in the tri state area.  I could ask to bum a piece off any adult in my family and they would happily oblige.  I guess I was a chatter box child attempting adult conversations at the irritation of most people around me.  You know the type.

In my adulthood my love for gum is more of a way of life than a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

                                                       Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I use it to clean food from my teeth after eating, which in turn helps to prevent cavities.

                                          Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It is a form of stress relief and a tool for focus when my mind is in overdrive. 

                                         Image courtesy of at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And let's face it, if my breath stinks, which happens to all of us, I can pop in a piece of gum and I'm good to go.

In all it's glory there is a downside to gum.  And I'm not talking about the epidemic of gum stuck to sidewalks and the bottom of tables, although that is pretty bad.  What I'm about to mention is much worse.  It's a slap the forehead and say, "D'oh!" type of moment.  It's an interrogate every person living under the roof type of offense.  It's leaving gum in your pocket when you wash and dry your clothes.

Not only does this ruin almost every item that's in the dryer with the offending sticky outlaw, it coats the dryer drum with this tar like substance that's stretched and smeared and baked on!  The first thing that came to mind when this happened to me was that it was probably my fault.  I tried wiping it out, really I did.  It wasn't budging.  But you know what, I had a bucket of rotten smelling rags that needed ran through the wash so...dust to the wind.  I mean, come on, my dish rags would look better with more stains anyways, so that was a mute point.  To my surprise, and I don't recommend this because it could have been a fluke, the gum stayed on the dryer drum and didn't transfer to the rags.  Oh ya, I was back in business and the laundry getting d.o.n.e.  

That gum stain has become a part of my dryer.  I honestly don't even notice it anymore, in a negative way that is.  Now when I see it I'm like, "What's up buddy?  Stay strong".  I know that's wrong.  That's how houses slowly deteriorate.  When things that are broken or dirty just become a part of your home, maybe go to a nice Bistro or shop in an upscale town, then come home with fresh eyes and the inspiration to take on a few outdated DIY projects.  That's what happened to me after a visit to my mother's house and I saw her beautiful, and I mean gorgeous, washer and dryer.  I came home and stared at that gum stain like I was a made man.  It was going down.  But how?  Graaannnndddmmmaaa!!!!!   Hhhhhheeeelllllllppp!!!  By grandma, I mean Google.  This is what I found...

1st thing's 1st:
Put a small load of old towels in the dryer.  Run on warm for a few minutes and soften the gum.

2nd thing's 2nd:
Mix a tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent with a tad of water.  Make a thick paste and apply to a clean cloth.

3rd thing's 3rd:

Use the cloth to scrub off the gum; then wipe the entire dryer drum.

4th thing's 4th:

The next load in the dryer should be damp rags.  This will remove any residue or gum leftover.
I followed these instructions and said bye to my old friend Dry Gum and my new friend Melted Crayon.  I was pleasantly surprised that it removed both!  This is definitely a method I will be passing down to my kids and sharing with my friends.  Obviously checking pockets is the best prevention.  Share that too.  And if you do find some lost treasure, maybe indulge in a favorite childhood candy.  It may not be good for the body but it sure is good for the soul.  

Written by Jessica Connor

Friday, May 24, 2013

Clothing Flame Retardant; Natural, Homemade and Easy

As we enter Memorial Day weekend we bow our heads in honor of the brave men and women that died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  You will always be remembered.
Memorial Day
               The gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery are decorated by U.S. flags on Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day.  It originated as a way to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers that died in the Civil War.  By the 20th century Memorial Day was extended as a day to honor all Americans that died while in military service. 

Volunteers gather at national cemeteries and help place American flags on each grave to honor the soldiers that died while in military service.  Many others visit cemeteries and memorials.  

Before the American Civil War in some rural areas of the American South, a tradition of visiting family graveyards in late spring or early summer was similar to a family reunion.  The deceased would be remembered while friends and kinfolk would reconnect over a potluck picnic.  This may shed light on the current Memorial Day traditions we share of camping and BBQ festivities.    
For kids Memorial Day is often bundled into a weekend that represents the beginning of summer and the end of the school year.     
photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
If you're one of the many Americans going camping this weekend and you'll have children with you, you need to remember that there will probably be a campfire.

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Trust me, those kids are going to want to poke sticks in the fire, throw dry leaves on it, sneak garbage into it, and test the theory that spit can put it out, all while eating smores.  A sugar rush, family, the fresh outdoors, and a campfire make for excellent memories for the little guys and gals.  Is it dangerous and are you going to find yourself extremely protective?  Probably.  Good for you. 
To help you relax a little change the girls out of their loose sun dresses, the boys out of their swimming trunks, and put everyone, yourself included, in tight fitting clothing like a good, sturdy pair of jeans that are 100% cotton.  Cotton will ignite so keep an eye on how close they get to the fire.  Wool is your best bet since it smolders and can be put out with a few stern pats or taken off quickly and stomped. 
For added protection you can make your clothing flame retardant by following these simple directions. 
Nonpermanent Flame Retardant
2.5 ounces borax
2 cups boiling hot water

1.  Combine the borax and boiling water in a bowl and stir until all the borax is dissolved.

2.  Pour into a spray bottle, shake, and spray onto the clothes.

3.  Don’t rinse.

4.  Let dry before dressing the person in the clothes.

5.  Reapply the spray after each wash.

Obviously you have the option of dressing the crew in clothes already manufactured with a coating of flame retardants but there is growing evidence that it's not safe for our health.  Check out this link for loads of information on the topic. 
However you decide to honor our fallen heroes this weekend keep you and your loved ones safe around the fire.  And be sure to educate the next generation on the importance of Memorial Day.          

Friday, May 17, 2013

Beauty Shop Revelation

I finally went to a salon this week and had my hair trimmed.  I donated my hair twice in the past three years, committing to the au natural look for better quality wig material, but decided to enjoy the length for a while before slicing off the required 10 inches.  To all the ladies and gentlemen out there with long, flowing locks, I now understand how nerve wracking it is to have a pair of scissors snipping methodically at your hard earned mane.  It took years to achieve that length, right?  When I had short hair, the stylist could do no wrong.  Chop it, shock it, twist it, and snip it.  I'd be back in four weeks anyway and pomade could fix anything.

While I was sitting in the barber chair the stylist did her usual trash talking of bargain bin hair salons.  To the horror of all the staff, and wannabe beauty queens within ear shot, I admitted that I almost pulled into Best Cuts before opting for a more experienced establishment.  Now, to be fair to Best Cuts, these ladies all worked there for 5-13 years before moving on to bigger and better blow outs.  But, I guess that memory was short lived and the cycle of graduates from cosmetology school is at full throttle because there hasn't been hyde nor hair of a want ad in the paper to fill the void of their departure. 

After the pack of wolves was finished devouring their mid morning snack of other people's unfortunate hair stylist choices, we turned our attention to something positive, weddings.  And who doesn't like to talk about that.  They're like babies.  Everybody knows one, has one (two, three, four, or more), or has already been there...done that.  In that case, the conversation was flowing like polish on a pedi.

Of coarse, the notion of getting ones image professionally enhanced, by the self proclaimed divas of hair dye before the big event, was the main topic for the stylists.  The patrons were more interested in finding out where, to who, and how long they'd been dating before hand. 

In the midst of all the wedded bliss, I heard a woman slice through the snipping and the snickering, with a declaration comparable to a Disney princess that refuses to fall into the hands of her villain; "Wedding season is upon us, ladies"!  Did I really just get an adrenalin rush?  I mean, I literally started to panic.  I frantically searched my wardrobe, via memory, for acceptable wedding attire be it at a beach, ballroom, backyard, or dive bar.  I even considered having my nails done for the first time since 1999.  I had to get out of there.  The smell of bleach, burnt hair, and concealer was getting to my head, let alone being in one room with ten women that were probably menstruating or having hot flashes.  When I start considering acrylics it's time to split. 

On my way home, with a wonderfully layered cut I might add, I was finally able to breath and think like myself again.  The thought of weddings was still there but without the sense of panic I was suffering from while in the beauty bubble.  So, instead of freaking out about what color lipstick to wear if my dress is red, I was focusing more on what the bride and groom might get a kick out of as a gift.  Stem ware?  No.  Photo album?  Nah.  Puppy?  Nadda, but maybe.  Dryer balls?  Why the heck not?  They're going to be doing laundry, right?

So it was decided.  For this wedding season, that sneaked up on us so mischievously, I would gift Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls to the bride and groom.  Yay for me.  All by myself with a declaration for nobody to hear.  So, I decided something else.  I would be getting my nails done for the weddings.  Maybe just my toes.  You see, like I said, the smell of bleach, burnt hair, and concealer had gotten to my head and I found myself missing it.  That, and the resemblance between being in a salon with 10 catty women that were probably menstruating or having hot flashes and growing up in a family of multi-generational, catty women, that I know for a fact were menstruating, having hot flashes, or had one too many glasses of wine.  It felt good to be home.  And that, not the monster lashes, was the most beautiful thing about it.            

                                    photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Inventions: Giving the Gift of Quality Time to Families

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net  

Mother's Day is upon us heavier than ever before.  Social media is constantly putting unnecessary pressure on mothers by pitting perfection against reality every time a "friend" posts a picture of a perfect meal, a family photo in a staged location, or scripts an ego stroking announcement of one's ordinary accomplishment.  For example:  Snuck a 15 minute nap and a mini dark chocolate candy bar while the hubby read The Hungry Little Caterpillar to our precious little ones!  Thanks Babe, I'm such a lucky lady! 


I wish.

That stuff gets stuck in our subconscious and whether we like it or not we compare who we are ~ to who they are...and who we used to be ~ to who we wish we could be...and our mother ~ to ourselves as a mother... and celebrity mothers ~ to mothers we know that look like celebrities...and...

And while we're all wrapped up in meeting a glowing screens, unattainable expectations, that would be more accurately described as comparing-induced hallucinations, we've forgotten that our time and love is what truly matters to our children.  Not whether or not it's favorably documented.    

Really?  Really.       

Yes, motherhood has been mainstreamed.  But in the home, motherhood is still about being a tangible rock for children who's young hearts are as innocent as an apple blossom.

When they get their feelings hurt and their tears need dried, it's the mother who wipes them away with her tender kisses.

When they cross a developmental milestone, it's the mother's heart that swells until it bursts with shouts of praise and hugs of joy.

When they're sick as dogs, it's the mother's hand that cools their forehead and rubs their back.

When their belly growls, it's the mother that started dinner an hour ago in anticipation of their needs.

When they wet the bed, it's the mother that helps them peel off the shrink wrapped pajamas and warms their wrinkled skin in a bubble bath.

And when everything is going haywire, and the kids are being rotten, and the house is a wreck, it's the mother that somehow manages to get everything back on coarse.

Could you imagine doing this 150 years ago?  Would you have had enough time?  What type of daily chores would have gotten in the way of spending time with and caring for your children?  Would they "learn how to fend for themselves", so that you could tend the livestock and a garden that was the size of a few football fields?   

What you may not realize is that, now more than ever, we are spending larger amounts of quality time with our kids even though life seemed simpler back then.  Thanks to inventions like the dishwasher, washer and dryer, automobile, indoor plumbing, electricity, and the convenience of grocery stores and restaurants, our main job as a mother today is to be with our children.  Back 150 years ago, a house wife labored hard and long hours or they didn't eat.  When somebody asked, "Where's Jimmy?", he could have been a.n.y.w.h.e.r.e.  In the barn, in the woods, asleep in a haystack, at the creek, at the neighbors, in the fields, etc.  And he was probably a ripe ol' age of 5.  Hence the dinner bell.                

So when you get home from work and flick the lights on, run the dishwasher, brew a cup of coffee, put a load of clothes in the wash, and throw a casserole in the oven, take a moment to imagine how long all those chores would have taken a mother 150 years ago.  Then look at your children and imagine them fending for themselves while you were busy.  Thanks to modern day inventions you have all the time in the world to do the best job in the world, be a mom.  And the only opinions that matter are the children's.

Happy Mother's Day



Friday, May 10, 2013

Dryer Sheets Could be Costing you Money at the Doctor and the Pharmacy

Take a look at these percentages.
doctor appointment causes

from Reader's Digest May 2013

Did you notice that skin disorders has the highest percentage for doctor visits?

If you are part of this group, or know of someone that is, try using our wool dryer balls instead of chemical laden dryer sheets.

Our skin is a sponge and soaks up toxins from everything we come in contact with, even the air.

I'm sure you could imagine, or have experienced, what wearing a garment coated in synthetic perfumes chemicals and petroleum from dryer sheets could do to your skin.  Eczema, acne, and rashes top the list of reactions.  And that's just our skin. 

Dryer sheets are also notorious for causing migraines, breathing difficulties, nerve disorders, and anxiety. 

How are those little sheets of horror still being sold you ask?  They're not required to list all of their ingredients.  They're similar to cleaning products.  And we aaaalllll know what those guys get away with. 

I'll list the ingredients of our Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls right now.

1.  Wool.
2.  The occasional piece of hay if it was missed in the cleaning process. (Very rare)
3.  Non-toxic dye.

Give them a try.  Your skin doesn't lie.

If you are worried you'll miss the scent of dryer sheets you can add about 4-5 drops of your favorite essential oil right on the dryer balls.  The scent will permeate your clothing just like a dryer sheet.  Some of our favorites are lavender, rose and lemon. 

Lavender is the most popular smell sold in dryer sheets so maybe start with that one if you're looking for an easy transition. 

You can find essential oils online and at your local health food store.  I've also noticed the larger grocery store chains are starting to carry a wide variety in their natural and organic health sections. 

The only essential oil I've seen at WalMart is Tea Tree oil. 
It has a medicinal smell and is labeled as a treatment for skin disorders.  I use it mixed with vinegar in a spray bottle for the kitchen and bathroom, I dab it on cuts, I've used it to keep fleas off the dogs, I spray it diluted in my children's hair as a lice prevention, and I use it in the washer machine as a disinfectant (do not mix with bleach).  If we're fighting a sickness, or were exposed to something, I add it to our dryer balls for added disinfecting powers during the drying cycle. 

Basically, you need to lose the dryer sheets and move on to something healthier for you and your loved ones.  It's so easy to do and if you use 4-6 Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls in the dryer instead you'll never miss a beat.  And the more you use the better. 

You see, instead of coating your clothing with a slippery slime like dryer sheets, the wool dryer balls keep your clothes moving and free flowing by bouncing around (you can actually hear it).  This prevents static and wrinkles because the clothes aren't rubbing together as much and they're not pushed up against the side of the dryer in a big clump getting wrinkles BBQ'd into them.       

Like I said, it's worth a try.  The statistics are proof that we need to step up our game on trying a few home remedies here and there instead of being a victim of big business advertising and deceit. 

Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls:  No bull, just wool.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Disinfect and Separate That Laundry

turkey sandwich from Thanksgiving leftovers (side view)

                         photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/kthread/4141751450/

The Thanksgiving leftovers were polished off or frozen.  The decorative corn stalks tossed into the compost bin.  And visiting family members returned home from their travels.  Reflections of the new holiday memories were quickly, respectfully and momentarily set aside when the kids eagerly reminded us that Christmas was right around the corner.

blue dove htt/www.flickr.com/photos/29278394@N00/5343053441/
For the sake of my youngster's future thoughts of their own childhoods we sprang to action.  With the local radio station playing holiday favorites we journeyed into our 200 year old basement. We emerged with our traditional, and horribly spider infested decorations.  A few swats and couple flicks later we were in business and managed to trim the tree.
Our energy spent, our house up to date, we all fell asleep with a smile.  In our home, on that night there was no question those kids were dreaming of the spectacular surprises Santa might have in store for them.
Still waiting

The next morning, to my complete horror and surprise, I looked in the bathroom mirror only to be greeted with an infected spider bite.  I looked and looked and looked again.  Almost embarrassed for my own family to see it.  
I couldn't understand how it happened.  I never felt a bite.  I washed my face before bed.  The sheets were clean.  What in the world and why me and why on my face?
how it started: 30 june 2008 | 01h

I needed answers.  Not only on how to treat this wound but on where it would've come from.  I searched photos of poisoness spider bites and came up empty.  To my favor if I might add.  A poisoness spider bite is something to be feared and respected. 
I was getting a little nervous.  If this wasn't from a poisiness spider what exactly was I dealing with?  Call it trial and error, call it home remedies, call it expanding my knowledge, call it gambling with my life, I don't go to the doctor unless absolutely necessary and after I have exhausted all allotted time for natural remedies to have a crack at what's pestering  me.  This of coarse would not be possible without the Internet since I don't have a degree in medicine.  To my disgust there was a strong case of some type of bacterial cross contamination from the laundry.  I thought I was better than that.  Boy did I have a rude awakening.
Honesty is the best policy and in this case I hope to save you from the sniffles, an infection or an ugly stomach virus.  I messed up.  I was separating colors from whites and yadda yadda yadda.  But I was not separating underwear or dishtowels from the common loads of laundry.  I just always washed everything on hot and dried each load till bone dry.  Apparently there are some nasty bacterias, viruses and yeasts (spores) that are stronger than your washer and dryers hottest setting. 
Apparently people of old knew this and used to boil their clothes.  If I'm not mistaken I remember a news story from a few years back where a lady caught her house on fire microwaving her clothes in an attempt to kill germs.              
Wash Day 1917

Today we're lured into buying cold water detergents and saving energy by hanging our clothes to dry.  That really sounds wonderful and I have images of a sunny, green world when I imagine my clothes hanging from a clothes line.  But are they sanitized?  And does it matter which path is taken to achieve a presentably clean outfit?  You bet it does!

Have you ever been to a house, maybe it's yours, where the dish rags get used over and over again?  The same old hand towel hangs on the handle of the fridge for all to dry or wipe their dirty hands on?  They have a unique smell called bacteria.  It makes the nostrils curl up and die.  Imagine what kind of infection you can get if it touches an open cut or dry cracked hands. 

Our immune systems were designed to fight off dangerous bacterias and viruses.  Otherwise we'd look and feel like decomposing zombies.  Unfortunately, every once in a while a little bugger will put our bodies to the test.  But having a few tricks up your sleeve to disinfect your laundry can keep your system from hitting overdrive and avoid risking the possibility of defeat. 

1.  Separate loads in cloth bags that can be washed.
Radar in My Laundry Bag
     (Make your own!  Check out http://blog.makezine.com/craft/how-to_tuesdays_pillowcase_lau/)

2.  Wash UNDERWEAR separately to prevent spreading fecal matter and yeast spores.
3.  Wash DISH RAGS separately to prevent spreading staph, e-coli and salmonella.
4.  Wash TOWELS separately to prevent staph and mildew from spreading.
5.  PILLOW CASES get washed/changed daily to prevent spreading staph (lives in the nose of about 30% of population) and acne break outs.  Make more out of t-shirts!  Great for college students!  http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-T-shirt-Pillowcase/
6.  From there you can separate loads based on color, fabric and durability.
7.  Never use a dirty laundry bag or basket for distributing clean clothes.
HOW TO DISINFECT YOUR LAUNDRY (Only use one chemical, additive or oil in each load of wash to prevent harmful and life threatening chemical reactions):
1.  Wash on hot.
2.  Dry in dryer till bone dry.
3.  Add one cup of bleach.
4.  Add 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil.
5.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of grapefruit seed extract.  Why?  Even hospitals use the extract to kill Staph, Strep and MRSA's.
6.  Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide.
7.  Add one cup of Pine Sol or a similar product with the same active ingredients .
8.  Add one cup of white vinegar.
9.  Add a few drops of tea tree oil or grapefruit seed extract to your Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls.
10.  If you have a disinfect or sanitize cycle on your washer or dryer...use it! 

Fingers crossed these simple steps and necessary efforts will pay off for you this winter with less stomach bugs and infections.  I know we've already put a lot of these tips into practice at our home and I won't be mixing loads of blatantly contaminated fabrics with normal loads ever again.  Of coarse there are still going to be door knobs, public restrooms and desks at work and school that can't be put into a washer and dryer but when you get home wash your hands and do your laundry the sanitary way.  For an added boost of protection eat healthy, get a daily blast of fresh air and sunlight, exercise, manage your stress and let yourself laugh.  As for my infected spider bite, all is well with a little bit of my natural treatments.  And next year, we'll be storing the Christmas decorations somewhere other than our old, dusty basement.   

Written by:  Jessica Connor

Friday, November 23, 2012

Have a Laugh on Black Friday

   You may be reading this while standing in a mile long checkout line at the mall today.  Maybe you're taking a lunch break and resting your dogs after hunting down the best deals in town all morning.  Who knows?  You might be that rebel that refuses to shop on Black Friday, online or in stores.  You little rebel you.  Whoever you are and whatever you're doing you can use a good laugh.  Especially if you're the champion that cooked, cleaned and invited family and friends over for Thanksgiving yesterday. 

Joke #1:

What do you get when you cross a turkey with a centipede?

Drumsticks for everybody!

Joke courtesy of The Reader's Digest December 2012  Article:  Laughter, The Best Medicine

Joke #2:

   It was Black Friday, the morning after Thanksgiving, and the crowd was huge and getting antsy.  A small man pushed his way to the front of the line, only to be shoved back. On his second try, he was picked up and thrown to the end of the line.  On his third attempt, he was knocked to the ground, kicked, and, again, dumped in the back.
    "That does it," he murmured.  "If they hit me one more time, I won't open the store!"

Joke courtesy of The Reader's Digest December 2012  Article:  Laughter, the Best Medicine  Sent in by L.B. Weinstein, Miami Beach, Florida   

   We hope this lightened your day a little bit.  Happy Black Friday.