In Case of Sleep

May not stay awake enough to finish a more substantial blog post for today. Just wanted to put this here while I’m still able to type a sentence.

After a sunny, warm morning,  gusty wind brought cold air in a matter of hours yesterday. Today the wind continues to howl through chilly air. It feels like November. Winter is giving us a sneak preview.

Got some laundry done. Drove to and from dance classes. Rewatched Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Did some writing. Attended a Girl Scout meeting. Still fighting a cold, but better today than yesterday.

In the event that I’m catching zzzs, I’m setting the scheduler to post this mini post. Imagine something in this space that is interesting and inspired. While we’re at it, imagine humor and fantastic use of vocabulary along with beautiful photos.

I hope folks had a nice weekend and have a great week. Thanksgiving will be here soon.

This is for NaBloPoMo Day 20.


The Snowy Village Saga

I once saw a snowy village of epic proportions.

By snowy village I mean a set of decorative miniature Christmas houses made of porcelain and resin arranged into little (or large) towns. You can see these houses in stores this time of year. The brand I see most often is Lemax.

The quaint little houses are embellished with wreaths and holiday lights — all set aglow by a small light bulb nestled inside. There are wee trees and playful accessories like animals, sledders, snowmen, ice skaters, and boutiques to help bring the village to life.

One day (many years ago) a woman, who was a client of the company I worked for, invited our company to her home to see her snowy village in its full glory.

Prior to our visit, we’d heard of the snowy village through the grapevine.

The woman often named a house in the little town for somebody she knew. She tried to tie the little structures to friends or family members. A red house was named for someone who had a red house in real life. Flowers and extra plants for somebody who gardened.

The houses were set up on little streets in little rows. There was a forest section and a graveyard section.

It had been an honor, a statement of fondness and loyalty, to have your “own” house in her snowy village.

One day, as legend goes, an employee left her company on not-so-great terms. So his “house” was yanked from the happy little rows of homes in her snowy village. His privileges had been revoked.

Rumors of the snowy village, and its rules, had spread and there was talk and pretty soon everybody had heard of the snowy village (and what could happen to your house).

One day we were treated to a field trip to see the village up-close and personal.

The ostentatious snowy village covered three banquet tables in her expansive kitchen. The village alone had more square footage than my entire real-life kitchen has today.

There were raised, snowy hills with skiers. There were landscapes and moving parts that came alive with the push of a button.

While I had no interest in having my own Christmas village at the time, it was fun and entertaining (in multiple ways) to see the make-believe town with all its joy (and missing houses). It was a bit of an oddity, but the idea grew on me (of villages, not yanking houses).

With the passing of years, I could see appeal in setting up our own, much smaller, Christmas village.

We can make a scene in a happy little town where I never need to vacuum the floor, empty the trash, or do the laundry to have it look pristine and well-kept. I can decorate an entire house with holiday trimmings by simply removing it from its box and plugging it in.

We do not name any parts or buildings after anybody in particular. But we like things that we can related to —a reminder of something we’ve done in the past.

Our newest addition is a mini Christmas tree sales lot. It reminds us of purchasing fresh-cut trees, and the time my daughter volunteered at a tree lot. We get a splash of instant holiday joy.

This week, I discovered that I can buy Lemax brand village items for a lot less.

Lemax products are often clever, but the paint is not the highest quality. It varies a lot (sometimes the little people have lopsided eyes). Most of the figures are resin, not porcelain. And I think all the pieces are made in China. So they shouldn’t be expensive, but prices have climbed over the years.

Our local Michaels craft store had been our go-to shop to see Lemax Christmas (or even Halloween) Villages. There are several Michaels stores nearby. But we’d limit buying to times there was a good sale or we had a good coupon (or those rare times when it’s possible to use a coupon on a sale-price item).

This week I saw that both Sears and Kmart carry Lemax. These stores aren’t as close to home, but their everyday prices are often less than Michaels sale prices.

Take the new Snow Angels figures for example. At Michaels they are $13.99. With the usual 40%-off, sale price that becomes $8.40. With a coupon and a sale price, on a very few days I might be able to squeeze that down to $5.60. At Sears the same item is a regular price of $6.99, and the Sears website currently lists them on sale for $3.49. Michaels, I’m disappointed in you!

Somehow, I feel much more holiday joy gazing at Snow Angels that cost $3.49. I think I’ll use our own full-size Sears and Kmart shops for future little Christmas village purchases. Maybe, I’ll yank the Michaels village store out of our options for now.

The WordPress Daily Post’s Daily Prompt was Ostentatious.

This blog post is also for NaBloPoMo, Day 19.

In Other News – Three Things

Two Three things of note happened:

That’s right. It’s an empty washer and dryer at the same time!

I didn’t even realize until I opened the washer to put clothes in the dryer, and it was empty. This is a rare thing.

Also, I finally painted my fingernails (which I’ve been wanting to do since July). I know that seems trivial. But I thought it worth mentioning since, well yeah.

I also reached 100 Followers here on WordPress which is even cooler than the washer and dryer being empty at the same time. (Empty didn’t last long anyway.) More

NaBloPoMo Day 9: No Apologies

Conveniently the Daily Prompt for November 9 was:

No Apologies.

Convenient because I didn’t get a blog post out for November 9 (aka NaBloPoMo Day 9). It’s like the universe was saying to me, “It’s okay. No apologies are needed.” 

It knew I had work. It knew that it was Monday. And it knew that we had our monthly homeowners association meeting that evening. 

I like to go to the meetings when I can because our community has issues. We had six months of pink insulation and no windows just last year … I like to know what’s going on. 


Orange You Glad? (Stain Removers)

Orange Hand Cleaner from automotive supply stores can be the total bomb at getting out tough stains from clothing. You can even mix orange cleaners with hydrogen peroxide, right on the stain, for a total-mega cleaner like no other. 

First put a dollop of orange hand cleaner on the stain. Rub gently. Then spray* with (or pour) some hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) on top and on the back of the stain too. Again rub gently to mix it in a little. Wait about an hour and wash. If I have a stain that will not budge this combo is my last-resort, go-to power-duo. Simple, easy, economical, works.

Don’t get me wrong, rubbing laundry bar soaps like Zote or Fels Naptha also works wonders. But sometimes we need more than one tool in the ol’ stain-fighting toolbox. Actual soaps work by a different process than orange cleaners so while one might work great for some spots and stains the other may work better for others.

Have you ever pealed an orange only to discover that the ink from a sticker or stamp dissolves in the oils released from the peal of an orange? That’s the idea.

Other orange cleaners can be good too including “Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover,” but I find orange hand cleaners both work really well and are very economical.

They are extremely good at cutting through grease, oil, many kinds of paint, and sticky stuff like tar and adhesives. They are made to get thick, black automotive oil off of skin (which is a porous material when you think about it). 

Many of them contain pumice to help scrub away the dirt and stain. This can be helpful since all you need to do is rub very gently to power out even old stubborn stains, but you’ll also want to be careful that you don’t rub too hard and damage the fabric. When in doubt always test in a hidden location. Some orange hand cleaners are available in a smooth formula with no pumice or grit, so look for that if it’s an issue. Sometimes the Dollar Tree carries tubes of the non-gritty kind. And it’s only one dollar!

Since orange hand cleaners are good at removing adhesive, you’ll also find that many of them are good at removing the sticky residue left behind by price tags and labels on a variety of housewares.

Can be used for stains on carpets too but you will want to do a test spot and you’ll need to rinse/blot to remove all the cleaner from the carpet or it will leave a residue that will attract dust and new grime.

Not all orange hand cleaners from automotive stores are created equal. Some advertise themselves as being all natural and some contain petroleum distillates. Some say both natural and they contain petroleum distillates (like mineral spirits) so read the ingredients to know for sure. Technically petroleum does come out of the ground. Does that make it natural? If you have sensitive skin you might try the non-petroleum cleaner first. Either kind is “safe” for cleaning your hands as long as you rinse thoroughly. And you’d only be using a few dollops in a load of laundry. You may want to rinse twice if your skin is really sensitive.

Also even if you don’t do much in the way of working on your own automobile, it’s nice to have some of this stuff on hand for messy craft projects too.

There are lots of brands. Gojo and Fast Orange are two popular ones. There’s also Goop orange hand cleaner and  Puple Power Heavy Duty Orange hand cleaner. Right now I have Gojo and Purple Power to see which I like better.

*Some time after I posted how  peroxide in a spray bottle is great for stains I discovered that you can buy the H2O2 already in a spray bottle. I did not know. Well, fine. That works. It’s very handy. And you can refill that little spray bottle from a larger, cheaper bottle so all is good and right in the world. 

Catch Up Day – Still Not a Food Thing

Urgh! I’m supposed to be writing stuff and somehow hardly anything has gotten done this week. I managed some reading because, with apps on my phone, I can do that just about anywhere in tiny bursts. To some extent I can do that with writing too, but it is slower. Much slower. I only got a bit of writing done. Somehow time in this past week has evaporated like the last wisps of summer sun.

For the past month I’ve been meaning to do my nails and shave my legs.  I don’t get the bug to do my nails very often, but it does show up once in a while. So nearly every day I’ve been thinking, “oh, maybe I can do them today.” Then there’s laundry. Or a cat barfs. Or something else comes up. So that didn’t happen yet. The summer color I’d planned on doing just ain’t gonna happen at this point. I’m looking at you, Autumn.

Last week I had a follow up appointment with my Physical Therapist. I reeeaally should have shaved my legs if I was going to wear shorts there. Did it happen? Nope. If I’d have remembered this little tid-bit of info then I might have worn longer pants instead.

After that I should have, at least, shaved ’em over the weekend to avoid any more mishaps. Still no. Two days ago, I managed to haul my cookies up on an exercise bike again, guess what? I could feel my leg hairs swaying in the wind as I peddled. It’s not even like I can claim “winter legs.” At least I showered. 

Earlier I managed to paint a card for my daughter for her birthday. I’m proud of the card (proud that I finished it befor her birthday was over), and I’m even more proud of her.  I think she is a very cool young teen.

We had my daughter’s birthday party last weekend so it was a busy one. Plus we got her a nice but inexpensive cell phone, and activating it took a lot longer than I was expecting. 

First I’d tried to set her up on Cricket which didn’t work at all. It should have been the correct type of GSM unlocked phone to work there, but I think something is whacky. I’ll probably need go into a Cricket store to get the SIM to work. Like I have time. I can’t even manage to shave my legs.

Walmart Family Mobile plan to the rescue! I didn’t even know this existed until a few weeks ago. I’ll even save $5 a month over Cricket (but with slightly less high-speed data). I hope the coverage works OK, but the website for the service actually makes me feel like somebody put some thought into making it family friendly. More important, it actually worked. Excellent.

I meant to bake maple or caramel apple cupcakes for her birthday party, but that didn’t get  done either. Instead I purchased not-bad-for-store-bought cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate and decorated them with pumpkin spice marshmallows. They were a hit. Especially the marshmallows. I think they’ll be good in coffee or hot chocolate this fall.

We had a lot of fun at my daughter’s Laser Tag Adventure party. She has some great friends! The laser tag games are fun and the location was nice. But they had lots of video game redemption machines there, and some of the kids went a little wild with playing those. Seriously, why does it seem like so much fun for a machine to spit out paper tickets?

You can never get much with the tickets you trade in for “prizes” there or anywhere. Put in 25 cents and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to trade your tickets for a nickle worth of goods. 

My daughter got some Now & Laters — little hard taffy bricks that I’m pretty sure are nothing but an evil ploy of evil dentists. My daughter chose banana flavor. Against my good judgement she convinced my to try one. I promptly pulled a crown off my molar. I should have known better. Taffy is pure sweet evil incarnate, and this is not the first time that that crown has come unglued. It’s a fairly shallow, flat tooth.  At least I didn’t swallow it this time. That happened. And that’s another story for another time.

My mom and stepdad are moving in these next few days. I’m excited for them but also nervous as they’ll live farther away. This will be a big change. I helped with a few things yesterday, and I’m determined to help more this weekend.

I’m also determined to get some writing done, so here’s something. It looks like I’ve actually managed a blog post. I also have a couple of Cherokee Purple tomatoes finally ripening in our balcony garden. What’s not to like? It could be a good weekend.

I’m resetting my goals for the next couple of days. I am setting aside time. Still haven’t done my nails or shaved my legs though.

Accidentally Froze a Bar of Fels Naptha

I accidentally froze a bar of Fels Naptha laundry bar soap … for two or more weeks … in the freezer at work.

I’d made a quick, lunch-hour trip to Walmart. I put a bag of frozen food into our freezer at work so I’d have some quick lunch options. There were several packages of Lean Cuisine and some bags of frozen veg. Lean Cuisine are not my favorite lunch by any means, but they are quick when I feel like something hot. Servings are wimpy so I usually add extra veg. On the same trip I’d also purchased a few items for home, one of which was a bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap. I sorted all the items and thought I left non-parishable items for home in the car. I guess I forgot about the Fels Naptha somewhere along the way. That was two or three weeks ago.

Today, I reached into the bag and pulled out what I thought was another box of Lean Cuisine from behind a bag of frozen peas. It was a bar of laundry soap instead.

I decided to have a sandwich for lunch.

In other news, my daughter had “Locker Night” at school this evening. (Not really evening, more like late afternoon.) It was very hot and crowded, but my daughter got her locker and schedule for the upcoming school year. She’s excited for school to start back up again. I’m excited for her though I wouldn’t mind a few more weeks of summer. It was so hot I was sweating and kind of thinking that a bar of frozen soap might feel good about then.

Why Fels Naptha? I still like Zote, but I wanted to test Fels Naptha a bit again. Read my comparison of laundry bar soaps here: BAR FIGHT. And why I use them here: What Kind of Freak Uses Laundry Bar Soap?

Not the prettiest lunch. Pepper jack cheese with a pepper jack &  turkey sandwich on whole grain white and a container of pudding from home. Later I enhanced it with a couple of fresh cherry tomatoes and a chili. That helped! (I did not eat the Fels Naptha, but couldn’t resist a photo.)

Zote Flakes and Other Finds

Zote laundry soap comes in both bars and flakes. Until a little over a year ago I wondered what kind of freak uses laundry bar soap.

And until a few months ago I’d never seen Zote flakes in person anywhere. That changed at a local Shoppers Food grocery store.

I didn’t buy it at first (I still had two bars at home), but I did take some photos. Yes, I am that lady — the one taking pictures of a box of soap flakes right there in aisle 12. Who’s the flake now?

Flakes are good … for folks looking to use real soap who are short on time. Like me! It’s basically pre-grated Zote bar soap. Instead of little grated curls of soap, Zote flakes are flat. But both bars and flakes have the same true-soap ingredients. 

There are a few down sides to Zote flakes.  

I can’t see rubbing the flakes on a stain to spot treat it – too hard. You’ll have to do that another way . 

While bars are super economical, flakes cost more. The picture on the box shows that a single box of Zote Flakes = 2 bars of Zote. See the little pictogram in the lower right on the back of the box, below? 

Flakes are  $2.79 at Shoppers Food and I can find Zote bars for $0.97 at Walmart. (They’re a dollar at Shoppers.) That means bars cost about 30% less than their flakier counterpart. Maybe closer to the price of Fels Naptha? Plus you can get a little arm workout when you grate Zote bars. Yay, exercise!

Upon even further comparison, how exactly can Zote Flakes claim that 1 box = 2 bars when each bar is 14.1 ounces and the entire box of flakes is only 17.6 ounces? The math seems wonky. Shouldn’t it be 2 x 14.1 = 28.2 ounces? 

Yes and no. 

The Zote Flakes are hard and dry. Like really really well cured soap. Zote bars are fairly soft. Think the consistency of warm malleable candle wax versus completely cooled hard chips of wax. 

Zote flakes probably have very little moisture compared to bars. I guess this might mean that two grated bars, if left to dry cure, maybe for months, could possibly end up weighing about as much as a box of Zote Flakes. 

The real test, though, would be to compare the cleaning power of each. I need to try that. 

And, just how well do Zote Flakes dissolve in water? I’ll have to test that too. As it is, I’ve been using a finer grater when grating laundry bar soap to speed dissolvabiliy. 

It’s good to try one box of flakes, though, right? It is a big win for a lot of people to avoid grating bars of soap. (Words I never thought I would type.)

Until I do some tests, please enjoy some photos of other laundry products I found near Zote flakes.

Lots of laundry products! But many of these are detergents rather than true soaps. And many of them aren’t in English so I’m not sure what they are or what they have in them, but it was fun to see some new items.

There are:

Humming birds …

Suazel … Suazul? Zuul? Should I be on the lookout for the Key Master (from Ghostbusters)?

A kinder gentler Gozer? 

Whoa! Yeah. Let’s just take a look at this adorable Foca laundry seal instead.

Much better.  I’ll just finish up with that.

Stain Remover Bottle Spray

I found something this past year that has been majorly helpful not just on laundry but also on carpeting for stains and especially those times our cats have “situations.” Our cats are getting old, and they have some issues.

Drum roll please …

Put hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Yep, H2O2. In a spray bottle. That’s it.

H2O2 in a bottle has been super helpful for cleaning cat vomit (and other things) from the carpet. These steps work with many stains: First take up the “mess” as best you can. Then spray the entire area with H2O2. Let sit for a few minutes. Then blot. Repeat as necessary.

The simple transfer of liquid to a spray bottle (or switch to a spray top on the bottle of peroxide if you can find one that fits) has proven extremely helpful and effective. It’s sooo much handier than trying to pour peroxide from the bottle or spot-treat with powdered color-safe oxygen bleach. Household hydrogen peroxide is quite safe and fairly non-toxic. (Still keep out of reach of children. Don’t drink it, etc. Because yeah.) And it doesn’t leave a sticky residue behind.

Bonus! It’s super economical. Hydrogen peroxide from your local pharmacy usually runs under two dollars for a big a bottle — sometimes under a $1.

If you want extra souped-up powerful (POWER, POWER, POWER) hydrogen peroxide then go to your local Sally Beauty supply, or similar, and buy the kind of peroxide used to bleach hair or mix hair coloring. Don’t buy hair dye, just the hydrogen peroxide activator that’s used with it. This is also fairly inexpensive. Try to find one with few ingredients — some are just a higher concentration of H2O2, some hydrogen peroxide with citric acid to help it work better on hair, and some have all kinds of stuff like conditioners and what not. For stain removal you don’t want conditioners added. Also, if using it in a spray bottle you’ll probably want a version that’s liquid rather than cream (it comes both ways). Cream will work in the spray bottle if it’s not too thick though. Put liquid in a spray bottle and voila!

You may want to do a test spot to make sure the stained item won’t fade or discolor from the peroxide. This is especially true if you’re using the stronger made-to-bleach-hair variety of peroxide. Don’t leave that on for too long. For household peroxide, most fabrics will be okay, but usually avoid using it on silk.

For best results use a spray bottle that blocks out light or store in dark place. You don’t want to activate the peroxide before you’re ready to use it. It needs to be able to foam up on the stain. Don’t add any soap to it — some added ingredients will activate the peroxide in the bottle and, again, you want it to do it’s thing ON THE STAIN.

Peroxide is great at getting rid of organic-based stains — blood, vomit, and less gross stains like wine, tomato, grape juice, etc.

For stains that have both oil and an organic stain, I first rub with bar soap, or use a dollop of liquid soap, and then top it off with some squirts of peroxide. Rub it in.

The peroxide foams up, breaking down, and releasing oxygen which cleans, disinfects, and deodorizes. What’s not to like?

Repeat as necessary.

Now That I Started

I’ve started half a dozen blog posts since the end of the school year — even more of you count the ones I started in my head. There’s a lot going on — gay marriage is legal, the flag has come down, photos of former planet, former non-planet, now dwarf planet Pluto are streaming in — and I’ve managed to publish exactly zero of the blog posts I started. I can make a lot of excuses as to why. Many of them are legitimate excuses… But I still think I should have been able to manage to publish some with just a wee bit better time management or focus or something

It’s not for lack if topics!  Along with all that stuff in the news, we have a small balcony garden again. Yay! And my daughter has been having fun in Strings camp (kind of like band camp only it’s a day camp for orchestra). Zomagad, I even found Zote laundry soap in flake form instead of bars. 

That whole 10-minutes-of-writing-per-day thing worked well for a while. But I seem to have misplaced my 10 minutes (maybe under a tomato plant).

The one blog entry that I might actually manage to publish is about how I’m not blogging. This one. Which makes exactly zeros cents. I seem to best be able to blog about how I’m not blogging. I need to work on my priorities!

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