So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90.12

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

A friend recently asked me for my recipe for homemade laundry detergent, so I thought I would share it with you.  It's fairly easy but a little time consuming.  It's very frugal - each batch costs only around $2 to make (works out to about 6 or 7 cents per load).  Let's get started!

You will need:
a large container of some sort (I use a 3 gallon/11 litre bucket)
1 bar Sunlight soap*
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda*
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax*
28 cups hot water
*these are all in the laundry aisle at my local grocery store

 Grate (as finely as possible) your soap into a medium saucepan.

Add 6 cups hot water and heat on stove until the soap is dissolved.  Remove the pan from heat and add 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax.  Stir until everything is mixed together well.  Pour the soap mixture in your container and add 22 cups of hot water.  Stir well and let sit for up to 24 hours.

 This makes about 7 litres. After it has set, it will be a sort of gel.  Stir it up and then you can transfer it to storage containers if you want.  I usually dilute it more at this point so it's a little more pourable.

 When you're using this for laundry, you'll probably use about a cup per large load.  You need to let it mix with the water before you add whatever you're washing or you might get streaks of residue on your stuff.  I usually wash in cold water but I don't think it would be as tricky to use in hot water (because it would dissolve  more quickly in hot water).

And that's all there is to it!  It doesn't have much scent so it's good for people who are sensitive to perfumes or have breathing problems.  It just has a kind of clean smell.

Thanks for visiting today!  I'm linking this post to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

I got the original idea for this recipe from a newspaper article, but I have tweaked and changed it..

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Feasting on Fragaria (aka strawberries)!

We have been eating LOTS of strawberries lately.  Fresh, local berries - not imported from anywhere (well, I did drive them home in my car).  The summers here are so short that I just go into a fresh fruit and veggie frenzy as soon as things start growing.  First comes the rhubarb, then wild strawberries, then cultivated strawberries.  By that point the garden is usually producing something - lettuce, spinach, green onions.  Raspberries come next and then blackberries and blueberries.  Last of all are cranberries (there's nothing quite like cranberries picked off the beach).

Back to the strawberries, though.  Of course, we've been eating them raw (Robbie has to have his cooked because of his plant enzyme allergy thing.  We pretty much have a microwave just so he can eat fruit.)  I've also made freezer jam and sorbet.  Both are super easy recipes.  For the freezer jam I just follow the recipe on the Garden Fare package.

The strawberry sorbet is pretty easy too.  Boil 1 1/4 cups water with 3/4 cup sugar for 5 minutes to make a syrup.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Purée 3 cups strawberries (hulls and stems removed) in the blender until smooth, then add the cooled syrup and blend.  Pour into a shallow metal baking dish.  Put in the freezer and let it freeze until it's getting solid around the edges.  Stir to break up the frozen areas and return to the freezer.  keep doing this until it is slushy and can be scooped.  Serve or transfer to a tightly sealed container and keep in the freezer.  This makes about 4 cups (probably slightly more).  I got this recipe from a magazine (Today's Parent, July 2006).  The original recipe also calls for lemon juice, but I leave that out.  It might be a touch on the sweet side, but I think you could cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup.

It also makes a nice sauce for vanilla ice cream, as I found out when I couldn't get mine to freeze in time for a social.   Everybody wanted the recipe.

It's a delicious time of the year!  Thanks for visiting today.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Encouragement in an Unexpected Place

Sometimes encouragement comes in the strangest ways.  Last week, I was encouraged while at the craft store.  I was trying to apply for a teacher discount that had been advertised, which in turn led to a discussion, between myself and 3 women I did not know, about homeschooling.  They were all so positive!  I have never had a complete stranger tell me something positive about homeschooling.  Usually, I get the polite, tight smile or the nervous looks.  Not this day!  When I mentioned my son has "special needs", they were even more enthusiastic in telling me what a great decision I had made to homeschool my kids.

After all the negative reactions I've gotten, this was truly refreshing.  Not that every reaction I've heard has been anti-homeschooling, but every negative reaction feels like 5 (if you know what I mean) especially when choosing to home educate is only one of a list of highly stressful things you're dealing with.

Anyway, I got my teacher discount and I was encouraged all at the same time!

Thanks for visiting today!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Afternoon Excursion

On Canada Day (July 1st), I took my kids out to the new playground at my daughter's former school.  This is one of the communities we had to pass through:

I've heard a lot of pronunciations for this name!  It is pronounced YOU-ig.  It is a beautiful little rural community not far from where we live.  Just before you get to this sign is a place I find very interesting.  Brace yourselves - it's a cemetery.  Not just any cemetery though... look closely.

(you may want to click on the photo to enlarge it)

This is a very old cemetery used by the early Scottish settlers in this area (Uigg Pioneer Cemetery).  This particular headstone has a Gaelic inscription on it.  I believe this is the only Gaelic marker left here, although some are so old and worn it is hard to tell what the inscription is.  The dates on most of the markers are in the 1850's and 1860's.  There are a few different family names represented - MacDonald, MacLean, and MacPhee among others.

This young man was only 16 years old when he passed away in 1854.  There are a number of headstones for children younger than this and quite a few for women in their twenties.  I find it fascinating (sad as well) to visit old graveyards like this one, read the inscriptions, and wonder who these people were.

This is not a large cemetery.  There are only about 25 markers still standing.  There are also a few lying flat on the ground.  Someone (or some group) cares for the grounds.  The grass is always kept cut in the summertime and some of the headstones have been repaired.  

I often wonder what these people were like and what brought them to this island.  They would mostly have emigrated from the Isle of Skye.  Were they happy to come here or did they not have any choice?  Did they miss their native land?...

Thanks for visiting today!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

ASD Assessment Results

After my son's assessment yesterday, the doctors gave us their feedback.  It wasn't a big surprise, it only confirmed what we have suspected for awhile.  He IS on the autism spectrum, although the doctors (two really nice ladies by the way) say he is remarkably high functioning.  He is basically a sweet little boy with some quirks and a few struggles, especially in the areas of language and social skills.  Really, nothing is going to change the way we treat him. We will still be working with him at home as we always have and he'll still be going for speech therapy and occupational therapy.  They won't diagnose him with a specific syndrome until he is 6, if then.  The main thing that has come out of this assessment is the magic letter that we can use to get him into programmes, and other help, etc IF WE WANT THAT.  I'm not sold on the idea, as I mentioned in a previous post, but that option is now open to us.  I would rather not stick a label on him that he has to carry around with him for the rest of his life.  Our plan of action is pray, watch, & wait - for right now at least.  Thank you to those who have been praying for us - we appreciate it!

Thanks again for visiting!

Breaking the Law

I broke the law on Monday.  Well, kinda, SORTA broke the law.  I bought something ILLEGAL.  I know you're shocked.  I can hear your gasps of amazement and bewilderment ("But she seemed like such a nice girl!").  Well, what did I buy?  


Farm fresh ungraded eggs, to be precise.  And technically I purchased them illegally.  Why?  I bought them through our local health food store.  Here on PEI, small farmers can sell ungraded eggs from their farm gate but they are not supposed to distribute them through a shop.  The way the lovely couple who own the shop are getting around this law, for the time being, is quite inventive.  They are selling the egg CARTONS for $2.75 each and then they give you a dozen eggs free with your purchase of the carton!  Clever, aren't they?  Here is a link to an article about this situation.

These are lovely eggs and some are huge!  Look at the size of the egg in this next photo.

I am really looking forward to eating my farm fresh eggs.  Two observations about eggs from smaller farms:
  1. The shells are (usually) much stronger.  The first time I remember cracking a grocery store egg after being used to farm eggs, I whacked the egg a LITTLE too hard on the edge of the sink (which is usually how I crack eggs for baking and cooking) and ended up with a disintegrated egg dripping through my fingers.
  2. The yolks are quite a bit more yellow, darker than "store" eggs.
And in my personal opinion, farm eggs taste better.

I try to buy local if I can, but sometimes local products are out of my price range :( and I feel bad.  I do what I am able to do.  When we buy sausages (these are a treat!), we get them from our neighbours.  They make the most delicious sausage!  My husband's favourite is "Fire & Ice".  They are intensely spicy/hot.  I like "Hungarian" and "Bratwurst", spicy but not too spicy.  Yum... sausage...

I got off topic there a little bit, didn't I?  Anyway, I'm trying to avoid using my kitchen stove as much as possible lately.  Right now, it's 26 Celsius in the shade.  So no eggs or sausage for supper tonight :(  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all around (too bad we can't grow peanuts here!)

Thanks for visiting today!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

ASD Assessment Part Two

Today we take our son for his actual assessment.  The appointment is a couple of hours long.  The psychologist and the paediatrician will take turns working with him to evaluate his situation.  I'm fairly nervous about this one because there will likely be some news after the doctors have conferred.  By this afternoon we should have a good idea of what we are dealing with.  I would appreciate prayer.  I think I have prepared myself for the worst and I'm not giving up no matter what the doctors have to say.

Deuteronomy 31.8 - And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. 

Monday, 4 July 2011

Good Intentions

Have you ever had the experience of someone giving you advice that you never asked for and insisting that their advice is what you should do no matter what?  I've had that experience lately.  It really bugs me that people (who are NOT "experts") dish out unsolicited advice and make you feel like a bad parent.  Then you feel bad that you're cross with them and then you just feel anxious and guilty.  I think people mean well but... grr.

I homeschool because I think it is the best thing for my kids and my family.  I am doing the best I can.  I am also doing the best I can to help my son with his problems.  The doctors (the "experts") say we are doing a great job and that he has made remarkable progress.  So why would someone tell me I need to do more?

We were talking about my son's upcoming ASD assessment.  I said all we really wanted to know was what we were dealing with.  The comment?  "Oh, but you want to get him into a programme!  You make sure the doctors get him some help.  He needs so much help with his socialisation (that's the wrong word to say to a homeschooler!).  You don't want him to... this, that, and the other thing.  You want the best for him..."

Yes, I want the best for my son.  What IS the best though?  Success in worldly society or to be the person God made him to be (whatever that might look like)?  I don't want my daughter in public school for various reasons, some moral and some scholastic, so why would I send my son to some kind of public programme?  He is our child and we have to raise him "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6.4), no matter what problems he has.