Monday, February 27, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday!

The weather:::
Chilly. Today the clouds have taken over, but we did have a bit of sunshine this weekend.

On my reading pile:::
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
(I decided to reread one of my favourites after watching 'Midnight in Paris' & I'm also very excited for the GG movie coming out)

On my TV:::
Big Fat Gypsy Weddings

On the menu for this week:::
I have yet to sit down and make a menu plan for this week, & I'm kind of afraid to use the stove, I had a boiling-over incident whilst making my own laundry detergent this weekend & now whenever I cook it smells like burnt soap.
On my to do list:::
Finish unpacking. It usually never takes me this long, but this house is very difficult & we STILL haven't found the hardware for our table & the big dresser is still down in the dining room. 
I also need to work on my ripple blanket, I haven't been able to get much done in the past week.

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
I'm still working on the ripple blanket. I would also like to start some flowery bunting to hang in my living room.
Looking around the house:::
Ugh. It's such a mess.
I want the dresser out of the dining room & then I think I'll be finished.

From the camera:::
Layla's room! It's the only room that's finished. I unpacked it first so she'd have a place to play while we're trying to finish up the rest of the house.

Something fun to share:::
When you move, especially if you move as much as I do, make sure the movers pack up the hardware to furniture that has been taken apart in a special place. It's been a week & we still haven't been able to eat at our table. We think the movers taped the bolts into the paper the table legs were wrapped in, and the movers took those with them after they unloaded everything. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

An Announcement

There has been a lot of talk & interest in my etsy shop on twitter while I was in the process of moving. A lot of people have been anxious to purchase some of the yarny goodies that I make, and others seemed really interested in some patterns I posted & was thinking about making. I was planning on starting up shop as soon as I was settled here in England, but seeing as how it took about 3 months longer than planned, I don't think I'll be able to do this. The main reason being, winter is nearly over! The weather is starting to turn warmer, so there will be no point in anyone buying wrist warmers or thick cowls. 

So my plan is this: I'll spend all summer working on crocheted goodies & in August I will be adding everything to my shop window on etsy. That way things can be purchased in time for the chillly Autumn weather, & worn throughout winter to keep warm. Then I will add more pretty items to the shop window in time to be bought & given as gifts in the holiday season.

I greatly appreciate all of the people who have shown interest in buying the things I make with my own hands! It started out as a hobby to make things for myself, Layla, and to give away to friends and family as gifts. I'm very lucky that so many people love my work enough to want to purchase some for themselves!! Thank you for all of your kind words, and I will be posting pictures of the progress I'm making throughout spring and summer & will announce when I have an actual shop opening date!

x Jen

Saturday, February 18, 2012

On the Hook

Jer knew I was going crazy waiting for our household goods to be delivered to our house, not just because I want to finally unpack & be home, but also because I was going a bit nutty wanting all my yarn that's been packed away because I had nothing to work on. So he told me to order a bunch of yarn on Amazon! It arrived yesterday, and after rolling it all into balls I decided I'd try my hand at a ripple blanket. I tried & failed to make a ripple blanket last summer & haven't tried it since (not because I didn't want to, I was just busy working on gifts for friends) 

So I started last night & got a few rows done, now I'm working on it again while I watch the news & wind down from a semi-busy day.

Anyone else working on anything interesting?

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I have always liked the idea of homemade cleaners to use around the house. I hate the smell of chemicals, I always feel like I need to wear a gas mask to clean the bathtub if I'm using comet or something just as strong. Apart from the half a grapefuit/salt thing, I haven't really tried much else. I even have a few of the recipes for different things pinned onto a pinboard on pinterest that is reserved for all-natural, homemade cleaning. I would have tried all of this in our California home, but we were moving out soon & I wouldn't have been able to pack anything I had made, I'd have had to throw it all out as we were leaving the country. So now that we're here, we've been assigned a house, and we officially move in on Monday, I've decided I'm going to do the all-natural, homemade cleaning! To be honest, I was a little on the fence about it until Sandra posted this on her blog & after reading her praises of it, I knew I just had to do it 100%.

So I'm making my own laundry detergent, carpet deodorizer, shower head cleaner, laundry detergent, bath tub scrub, spider killer/repellent, glass/mirror spray, dish soap, dishwasher detergent, as well as a solution to clean counters & tile/hardwood floors.

The recipes are easy peasy, and I've found similar ones all over the blogosphere. 

For Laundry Detergent:

  • one bar of soap (I'll be using Dove)
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 2 one-gallon containers (if you use gallon sized milk, just save & clean out the jugs & use those)
First you need to grate the bar of soap into a pan large enough to hold 2 gallons. Once it's all grated add one gallon of water & cook it on the stove until the soap dissolves. At that point you need to add the borax & baking soda. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat & add one gallon of cold water & stir well. The mixture should thicken overnight, so I wouldn't use it right away. I've seen some blog mention that they only used half a bar of soap, and it worked much better for them. 
When it's ready to be used just add 1/2 cup per load!

For Bathtub Scrub:
  • 1 teaspoon liquid soap
  • a few drops of anti-bacterial essential oils (tea tree or eucalyptus)
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • just enough water to make a paste (add small amounts slowly!)
Use with brush to scrub surface, rinse well.

Spider Killer/Repellant:
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup pepper powder
  • a teaspoon each of oil & liquid soap
Put all ingredients into spray bottle & spray around doors/windows outside (not in the house!)
Spray again after rain.

Glass/Mirror Cleaner:
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 15-20 drops essential oil
Mix in spray bottle, shake well before each use. If you don't have or want to use essential oils you can use the citrus-peel infused vinegar I will mention soon. Spray liberally on area you wish to clean & wipe off.

Dish Soap:
(I'm actually still not 100% sure that I will use this, as I've found an all-natural store bought dish soap that I love & I've read this one isn't as great at cutting heavy grease & you have to really scrub hard with this one, but I'm posting it anyway!)
  • 2 cups Castile soap
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
Mix well before each use, add to sink full of hot water, scrub dishes, rinse well.

Dishwasher Detergent:
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 citric acid (turns out it's pretty hard to find so you can substitute "fresh fruit" produce protector or 15 packs of unsweetened lemon flavoured Kool Aid)
Use 1 Tablespoon per load. & it is VERY important to add a little white vinegar to the rinse aid compartment.

To Clean Kitchen Surfaces:

You can just use pure white vinegar, or if you'd like it to smell nice infuse it with citrus peels! Lemon, orange, or grapefruit seem to be the most popular & they add a little kick to help clean! So put your peels inside a large jar & poor your white vinegar in until it's full. Close up the container & let it sit. You can use it after just a few hours, or if you prefer a strong scent let it sit overnight before using it. I'll be keeping a large jar that will always be full in my kitchen to use everyday.

To Mop Kitchen/Bathroom/Hardwood Floors:
  • 2 Cups infused vinegar
  • 2 Gallons hot water
Mop floors, then dry well with a clean towel. If you would prefer a different scent than citrus when doing this use vinegar that has not been infused & then add a few drops of your favourite essential oils.
I've seen that it is recommended to use slightly less vinegar on hardwood floors, so test out different mixtures & see what works best for you.

& there you have it!
All you need to make your own cleaning supplies. 
I also recommend using towels instead of paper towel to reduce the amount of waste you produce. 
I am very excited to start using these for my everyday cleaning & can't wait to get started. I'll be making all of my solutions this weekend & getting the house clean & ready for the movers who arrive with all of our stuff on Monday! I really cannot wait to finally be home!! Seriously, almost half a year living in temporary housing in 3 different places; we moved out of our house October 21, I stayed with my parents until November 21, then met up with Jer in Nebraska until January 21, & now we're finally moving into our house on February 20.
I think moving into a new home & having zero cleaning supplies on hand will make the transition from store-bought, harsh cleaners to all-natural, homemade cleaners so much easier & I'm really excited about this. I'll let you know how it goes!!

P.S. I mention a half-grapefuit/salt thing in the beginning of this post, & it's so simple! Cut a grapefruit in half & sprinkle some salt on it. Wet down the area you'll be cleaning & sprinkle salt liberally over area. Then use the half a grapefruit to scrub down tub surface & fixtures. If you don't want to eat the other half of the grapefruit you can squeeze out all of the juice over the area you're cleaning. So easy, and it works so well!!

I hope you've enjoyed this blog post! It took hours of online research to finally find the recipes that would work for me. I hope these sound great for you, and if there is one that doesn't seem to work for you, there are plenty of others out there & different variations of the ones that I've posted!

Happy cleaning!!

x Jen

My lemon-infused vinegar ready to be used.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday!

The weather:::
Cold. Though, it's supposed to warm up this week & get up into the mid-40*F range. I'm kind of looking forward to that! Don't get me wrong, I love cold weather! I think I'm becoming vitamin D deficient & I'd like the sun to come out just long enough to feel the warmth on my face. 

On my reading pile:::  
Darcy & Fitzwilliam by Karen V. Wasylowski

On my TV:::
Downton Abbey series 2 episodes 7 & 8.
I think the Grammy's are replaying tonight on AFN (Armed Forces Network) & I'd like to see what all the fuss was about last night.
Six Nations rugby tournament has been fun to watch!

On the menu for this week:::
Not sure yet. I'll make something delicious.
I've been too anxious for the move, and we're getting the keys tomorrow, so I'm going a little crazy!!

On my to do list:::
Pack up our stuff in the hotel room & move it to the new house. We want to move some of our stuff over there as soon as we get the keys. We'll still be staying here until our furniture gets delivered, but this will make things easier when we finally get out of here.
Buy a car! I think we're going to go look this week.

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Ugh nothing. I've been practicing a couple of stitches for a pattern for really fancy wrist warmers, but I don't have enough yarn to finish a whole one, so I'm just making little sections.

Looking around the house:::
Chaos. It's a hotel room, and Layla didn't clean up her toys last night before bed.
Seriously. I know I sound like a broken record, but I'm just SO READY to be home. I was not made to live out of a suitcase for 5 months.

From the camera:::
I got a brand new purse from the Cath Kidston store!

Something fun to share:::
For those of you stationed at either RAF Mildenhall or RAF Lakenheath, did you know there is a Martha Stewart housewares store in the Commissary on Mildenhall?! I had NO IDEA, there are no signs outside indicating this, & I wouldn't have noticed it unless I went in to get Subway for lunch the other day! I've been in the commissary before, but the Martha Stewart goodies are hidden away in another section completely. I saw so many cute things in there! I may need to go pick up some cute food containers because I always seem to lose the lids to mine.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I love England

I know that I have been complaining about a lot of things going on, but living in military temporary housing for 5 months & only having the items that fit in a suitcase will do that to a person. Also, finding out you don't have a choice of where you get to live & getting forced into a tiny home which results us having to get rid of some of our furniture can make a person a little grumpy. Though, I am attempting to not to be bitter. It turns out that I don't have to try that hard. I mean, I AM in England!! I'm in happy, shiny England!

My happy, shiny England:

  • Beautiful views: Even the 5 minute drive in between bases is filled with beauty. Everything is green, even though it is winter & everything is also half frozen.
  • Brick buildings: I love brick. I love old things, and I love beautiful things. Old, brick buildings are beautiful to me. 
  • Shopping: First, there is the Cath Kidston store not too far from me, plus I am very much looking forward to going shopping for antiques!! I've already discovered a 3 story antique store near here that I cannot wait to peruse. My only problem is that I don't have anyone to go with yet =( I wish Melissa was here!!
  • Snow: We didn't have snow in California where we lived. In fact, we didn't have any seasons in California where we lived. It was basically 60 degrees all year round & alternated between foggy days & sunny days. We now live in a place where we can experience all of the seasons again!
So these few things are what have me excited about living here. So far it's been great & I'm actually getting really excited to move into our house soon. We pick up the keys on Tuesday & will find out exactly how long after that our homegoods will be delivered. Keep your fingers crossed that it won't take too long for everything to be taken out of storage. 

I can't wait to sleep in my own bed & be lazy on my own couch! I cannot wait to start going through all the yarn I have packed away waiting to be turned into crocheted goodness!

I'm even warming up to the idea of living in this tiny place. I've even decided to name our home 'Tulip Terrace' because I love tulips & alliteration, plus it's a terraced home.

We're in the center home.

Friday, February 10, 2012


"What you read when you don't have to determines what you will be when you can't help it."
-Oscar Wilde

What are you reading these days? Do you have any recommendations?
If you do, please share with me!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday!

I haven't done this in a while!

The weather:::
So. Cold.
It snowed all Saturday night & the sun hasn't come out since. We haven't really left the hotel room since Saturday except for a couple of expeditions out to get a cup of snow to eat or walking around the corner to the shoppette to get a snack. Each time we have had to bundle up.

On my reading pile:::
The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
Darcy and Fitzwilliam by Karen V. Wasylowski
The Waves by Virginia Woolf
The Glass of Time by Michael Cox
The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

I've got quite a big reading pile. I've just been too wired to sit & read. Happy to be in England, but anxious to move into the house.

On my TV:::

Downton Abbey Series 2. I missed it here in the UK so I'm watching it along with those in the states. Every Monday I download the latest episode. We've also had a lot of Rugby on this weekend.

On the menu for this week:::
Chicken Tortellini, soup, salisbury steak, & BX food. It's difficult to cook a lot here in temporary housing. I just don't have a fully stocked kitchen.

On my to do list:::
Crochet, though I have no projects to work on. I've used all of my yarn, and I don't want to go out and buy a bunch for 2 reasons; I don't want to venture out too far in the snow-British winter drivers scare the piss out of me, and I have a TON of yarn just waiting for me in storage & will get it in about a week and a half.
Keep the hotel clean.

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Well I've been dying to work on some stuff from this awesome blog called 'Attic24'  She has a ton of crochet patterns & ideas for projects. I found the blog long before we left the states, but we were kind of in limbo for a while & living out of suitcases, so I didn't have much room to fit anything.

Looking around the house:::
Still haven't moved into the house. Here in temporary housing there are toys everywhere. What little extra room we had in our suitcases went to Layla's Christmas presents. We were supposed to be in England long before the holiday, so we didn't plan on that, so we had to make room & buy very little for her. She still had a good Christmas!

From the camera:::
Princess Doggy!

Something fun to share:::
Holly leaves crochet pattern on Attic24 that I've been working on. I have the tiniest bit of green yarn leftover from a project & am working on some holly leaves for next Christmas. I wasn't able to do any fun Christmas crafts this last holiday & I have just enough yarn to make a couple of these. It's really the only pattern for something small enough for me to use up this yarn!