The Stacy Chronicles

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Natural Cleaning Products and Skin Care

So, I’ve had a few inquires about switching to natural cleaners and the such.  With foster babies on the way we had to lock up all our chemicals.  I started thinking, “why are we locking these up?  why do we even have dangerous chemicals”?  So, we decided to try to live without all the cleaners and chemicals (they are linked to infertility too).

First off, if you have a house-full of chemicals let me advise you to use up what you have first.  It’s dangerous to pour out old chemicals in the sink and also to dispose of them in the trash.  Just use what you’ve got and then when you run out you can make the switch.  I’m going to try and cover everything, and if you have any questions please post them at the end of this post. 🙂

Cleaning Supplies

  • toilet cleaner – i still use bleach
  • kid’s toys – i also soak them in highly diluted bleach..in the tub
  • grout and tile cleaner– mix 2 cups of hot water, 2 tbs of natural dish soap (7th generation), 1 cup of vinegar  (i scrub everything down with a heavy duty magic eraser dipped in the mixture, then use a toothbrush to clean the grout)
  • you can use the above mixture to wash down your sink and toilet too.
  • floors– hot water out of my shark steam mop.  ( i usually spray around the toilet with a natural disinfectant which you can purchase at target)
  • kitchen countertops– i spray with a natural disinfectant, then sprinkle baking soda on any stains, rub-in with a dish cloth.
  • stainless steel and glass/mirrors/windows– vinegar and water
  • air freshener– i fill an empty spray bottle with distilled water and then add essential oils like sweet orange, bergamot, patchouli.  i spray our bed, the dogs bed, and the bathroom with this.  so fresh!
  • laundry detergent– recipe below…i also add 3tbs of Oxi-Clean
  • dishwasher detergent– we haven’t switched yet, i just use the little Cascade packs.

 

Beauty and Skincare 

  • deodorant –  i use the Thai Stone (i recently found out you have to rub it under your pits for 30 seconds (each pit) for it to work and of course it has to be wet).  i REALLY like the one I MAKE.  i don’t really measure, but i will tell you what i “think” is in it.

First make sure you have an empty d.o. canister.  Then get out a boiler/pot.  You will need.

  • natural bee’s wax
  • natural shea butter
  • organic coconut oil
  • baking soda
  • cornstarch
  • essential oils (optional)

I bought my shea butter and bee’s wax online at Amazon.  You can buy them in small quantities.  Your shea butter will be yellow and creamy, but not super soft.

Cut off a tbs or so of your bee’s wax.  Chop it up small so it will melt faster.  Throw that in.  (bee’s wax is NOT essential, but I have found it makes your d.o. more firm.  mine tends to melt in our bathroom)  Next, scoop out a couple tbs of shea butter.  You are going to want your heat on low.  Do not scald your ingredients, you just want them to melt and mix together.  Then I put in a tbs or two of the coconut oil.  Mix well.  Add an 1/8 of a cup of baking soda and maybe 3 tbs of cornstarch.  (as you can tell, i don’t have this to a science, but all the ingredients seem to fit perfectly in my d.o. tube)  Lastly add your essential oils.  Just 5 or so drops will do.  There you have it!

I don’t sweat as much and I never smell when I wear it.  This is TMI, but I’m a huge sweater!  Since I’ve switched to all natural deodorants  I barely sweat.  It’s amazing.  Also, side note  you might be wondering why I would make my own natural deodorant when you can just buy one.  #1 natural deodorants don’t ever work for me #2 some have artificial fragrance #3 some are made with propylene glycol which is by-product of gasoline and I prefer it not to be on my body!

Another note about the natural d.o. it only takes a little.  Just rub it on up and down once and then smooth with your fingers.  You might find you only need to use it every other day.  Also, if your pits feel sensitive, you might need to use less baking soda.  The d.o. is kinda gritty, so this can irritate sensitive skin.

  • shampoos and soaps– i try to buy only all natural handmade bar soap, or Dr. Bronners.  for my shampoo i just look for hair products with out sulfates, silicon, and parabens.  THIS CAN BE A GREAT CHALLENGE.  i honestly haven’t found anything we are in love with.  there is a Crabtree and Evelyn Shampoo and Conditioner made with Olive Oil and Avocado that i have samples of from a hotel.  i wash my bangs with it a lot and really do like it.  it has no sulfates or parabens.  
  • shaving cream– i use an all natural conditioner that i got from T.J. Maxx.  no more itchy dry legs!
  • haircare– for frizzy hair i use Argan Oil and lots of it!  it doesn’t make my hair oily.  i also use a lot of dry shampoo so i don’t have to wash my hair as much.  the less washing the better!
  • body scrub-  depending on how large my jar is i mix equal parts Dead Sea Salt (you can use Sea Salt or coarse salt depending on the exfoliation you want) to Organic Coconut Oil (or EVOO) and then add in essential oils.  there is no need to put lotion on after your bath because your skin is SO smooth and soft.
  • teeth whitening toothpaste- 2 tbs of baking soda, 1 tbs of Coconut Oil, add water until you get the consistency you like, peppermint essential oil or i like to use Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap.  to boost the effects, you could splash your brush with peroxide beforehand.  also, this recipe is semi-abrasive and is suggested for use only twice a week.

Medicinal

  • yeast infections/rashes/sore muscles/eczema/psoriasis/shingles-  i am in no way stating this as a “cure”, but i have found that soaking in Dead Sea Salt relieves a lot of these issues.  if you are looking for salt straight from the Dead Sea with no gimmicks, i sell it through Aviv International.  she is in Anniston, AL and has all of her Dead Sea salt, mud, brine, etc shipped to her then she formulates her products right here in Alabama!  the salt that i soak in is just straight salt from the Dead Sea.  you can purchase 2 lbs for $10.  this salt would be great to put in your own scrubs and soaps!  let me know if  you are interested and i can get you some samples!  she also has loads of other Dead Sea products!  you can find her on facebook here.
  • heartburn- papaya tablets (can get these in the pharmacy part of Wal-Mart)

DIY Natural Disinfectant Spray 

7th Generation Products

Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent

 

If you have any other natural remedies to share please do!  I would love for someone to send me one for health care.  Natural herbs and such for medicine.  I am very concerned about this since we will be adding children to our home in the near future.  I don’t want to dose them up with tylenol and other drugs with scary side effects.

 

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Herringbone, How I Love Thee.

I recently learned a new stitch, and I think I love it.  I use the term love loosely, obviously.  But for-realz, it’s my favorite stitch yet!  I’m pretty obsessed.  As you probably know, our master bedroom is a work in progress.  BUT I have been inspired and I know what direction I’m going.  We have to get new windows before we take the wood paneling down, so just ignore it in the pictures please.

I read that a man HATES, yes HATES extra pillows on the bed.  Ya know, the decorative kind.  Throw pillows.  A friend told me today that the average human uses 38 pillows in their lifetime (not throw pillows, but the sleeping kind of pillows).  Jeff replied, “Meghan has that many now.”  ((the boy don’t lie ya’ll))  I’m a collector of pillows, one might say.  Anyways, because I don’t want my hubby to hate the bed he sleeps on, I have limited myself to two decorative pillows.  I have a large body pillow that props up my sleeping pillow, than an extra one for more height or lower back comfort, THEN I made ONE, yes ONE throw pillow for the bed.  Don’t count him out though.  He weighs in at a whopping 24 inches (yes, I know it’s not a weight).

This pillow is so cool.  The insert is from a fabric, General Store in Anniston, AL.  The building is over a hundred years old.  They have rows and rows of upholstery fabric, and they have a feed/seed store connected.  It’s A.MA.ZING!  The pillow form is made by Pacific Coast Feather and is made of 24oz of Trillium.  I have no idea what it is, but I do know it’s awesome, and fluffy, and I love it.

You know when you feel a pillow you can tell it’s quality?  Say it bounces back kinda slow and airy.  I like to touch pillows.  You can just tell when something is stuffed with polyfil, down, or made of foam.  This pillow is so soft and lofty…yeah, that’s the word, lofty.  It feels luxurious.  Lovely.  Can you tell I’m in love?

I had to give you a super drawn out description because I plan on selling these.  Yes, you can get them in smaller sizes and different colors too.  I’m thinking about making an Etsy listing.  If your interested let me know! 🙂

Here she is…finally!  I know.

jeff 007-2 jeff 008 jeff 009 jeff 010jeff 016 jeff 012


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My Very Own Special Yarn. Knitted Sweater Project, Post I, Dying of the Fiber

So, I have set out to make a sweater.  What’s the big deal you might say.  I’m sure your just going to go to Hobby Lobby, buy some yarn and knit it up, right?  Wrong!  I want to make a special sweater.  The sweater you see on the left.  A sweater made of Merino Wool.  The softest, fluffiest fiber you’ve ever felt.  I don’t want some cheap acrylic or itchy wool.

There is something you probably don’t know about me.  Since I was a little girl I’ve had this “thing” paranoia about texture.  Any thing lacy, wool, or itchy, count me out!  I’d rather be boiled alive than stuck in an itchy wool sweater all day.  I have a phobia of sweaters unless they are cotton and unless I can have an undershirt on, so I can take my sweater off when I start to…you guessed it, SWEAT.  I hate to sweat in my sweater.  Ick!

I love the look of handknit sweaters.  The lovely textures and patterns.  What’s a girl to do?

Get her awesome friend to spin her up some yarn of course!

I wanted to share with you the process of what goes into a sweater.  A custom made sweater that is.

I’m talking about hand dyed, and then hand spun yarn.  From fiber to sweater.  I’m going to show it to you all.  Thanks to my super amazing, crafty, talented friend.  She has agreed to graciously document her part of the process.

She has purchased the fiber, had it shipped, separated it out, and here starts the journey of the dying process and so forth.

I’m sure the majority of my readers don’t have an obsession over fiber like I do.  It won’t hurt my feeling if you skip these posts.  I just thought it’d be super cool to show you what all is going into this sweater from start to finish.

I’ve never knitted an item of clothing before.  I really hope I can get the gauge (because I never check gauge) right.  If that is off then the sweater could be too small or large.

Also, I thought this might open your eyes to why handknit sweaters on Etsy are $200.  That’s right, I said $200.

This one is going to cost me around $40, but you have to keep in mind that is not including all the time going into such a beautiful project.

So stick around if you want to learn something a little different than the normal ‘Stacy’ posts!

A pound of superwash merino ready to be used!

A pound of superwash merino ready to be used!

Out of the roving ball.

Out of the roving ball.

Measured out the five ounces for the bare yarn.

Measured out the five ounces for the bare yarn.

 Meghanyarn_2698 - Copy

the dye in the bowl to 'dip' the fiber in, notice the grey already on the fiber, I did this several times.

the dye in the bowl to ‘dip’ the fiber in, notice the grey already on the fiber, I did this several times.

where you can see the dye swirling out into the water.

where you can see the dye swirling out into the water.

The first half of the fiber dyed and over on the plastic wrap waiting for me to finish the other half.

The first half of the fiber dyed and over on the plastic wrap waiting for me to finish the other half.

All sealed up to keep out dirt and keep the dye in.

All sealed up to keep out dirt and keep the dye in.

about 5 ounces of the fiber before being soaked in the water vinegar mixture.

about 5 ounces of the fiber before being soaked in the water vinegar mixture.

mashing the fiber down into the water vinegar mix. You really want the fiber to be really saturated so it will take the dye.

mashing the fiber down into the water vinegar mix. You really want the fiber to be really saturated so it will take the dye.

The second 5ish ounces all dyed and ready to be wrapped. This one was done a bit darker. I plan on spinning the light out and the dark (hoping to fit on two bobins each) and then plying them together.

The second 5ish ounces all dyed and ready to be wrapped. This one was done a bit darker. I plan on spinning the light out and the dark (hoping to fit on two bobins each) and then plying them together.

The two sections wrapped up in my dye bowl, ready to head to the microwave.

The two sections wrapped up in my dye bowl, ready to head to the microwave.

All ready to cook in my special dye microwave.

All ready to cook in my special dye microwave.

I zap it at about two minute increments and let it rest for about the same in between.

I zap it at about two minute increments and let it rest for about the same in between.

The cooled fiber drying in the shower. (With some other yarn also drying)

The cooled fiber drying in the shower. (With some other yarn also drying)

the pile of dryed fiber

the pile of dryed fiber

There you have it!  My fiber is all dyed and dried now!  The next step is the yarn making process….it only gets more interesting from here!

Stay tuned.


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A Look into a Foster Mother’s Heart

James 1:27

The day Jacob and Grace left us is forever in my heart. And even now as I recount it, it brings tears to my eyes.

Tim went to court that morning and found out they would be leaving. Daddy came to Hayneville to get me from a training, and mama went to Mcds to bring us lunch home for one last meal together. When I got there I remember frantically teaching Jacob to call 911 if he ever needed it, and feeling like I had fallen short in so much I needed to have done for them in our seven months together.

I remember everyone who loved them from our family coming to say goodbye. I remember Lauren bringing two gallons of milk to send home with them because Grace loved milk so much. I remember my sweet granddaddy saying he felt like he was at a funeral, and Aunt Tina taking another little boy who lived with us home with her so that we could have the night to grieve. And that is what we did. We layed in our bed and I cried. I knew that my life had ended. It was my first experience loving a child the way a mother does, and them leaving hurt me.. Deeply. I remember telling Tim that I would never be okay again.

And I was wrong. I was okay again. The sun rose the next morning, and whether I felt like it should or not.. the world went on. Healing from them leaving was a slow process. I worried about them, I missed them. I physically hurt from missing them.

On days like that, it was hard to just trust God. I felt like there had to be something I could do to control their future. But I know that HE knew what was best for them far better than me.

I wonder sometimes if they remember us. Especially Jacob. I wonder if he remembers our vacation to North Carolina or Tim and Daddy coaching his basketball team. I wonder if he remembers our prayers, or swimming all summer. I wonder if he remembers me singing.. and how really loved he was.

And if he doesn’t, I am glad that I do. I am glad that God showed me for the first time through Jacob and Grace about real sacrifice for HIM. Sacrifice that goes beyond your checkbook and your free time. Sacrifice that is full of heart, and effort, and trust, and total commitment.

I am thankful that Jacob and Grace will grow up with their parents. And I pray that one day I get to see their sweet faces again and they have wonderful stories to tell of honor roll and playing sports. And how loved they are by their family, I would be so glad to know that they were really aware of that.

They left three years ago this week. And so they are on my mind. Amazing to think in three years how much has happened, and how it feels like yesterday that I kissed them goodbye.

If you don’t pray for foster children, and the foster families that they have to leave at times please do. The bonds that exist.. that are often immediately broken.. are real bonds. And losing someone you really love, is beyond difficult. I am so thankful for the families who decide that God’s command to take care of the orphans exceeds their own fear being hurt when the children have to leave. And I pray for their peace on the hard days.

James 1:27

You can follow Lindsey’s blog by going here.


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Crocheted Wipe Box Cover, and other random things.

snow, blocks, diaper cover 012First off, it snowed yesterday.  It didn’t stick, but I still get very excited to see snow (maybe it’s all those years growing up in Florida).  I didn’t have a model yesterday so I used Ole’ Glory.  I think she’s beautiful.

Second off I LOVE BEING A HOMEMAKER!  This is my first week getting to stay home.  The job that I had before was just a temp job.  I knew that our homestudy paperwork and what not should be completed by the beginning of the year, so a job that lasted until the second week in January seemed to be the perfect fit.  I’m still trying to get up early-ish, and I’m staying super busy.  When you work full-time you don’t really get much deep cleaning done…at least I didn’t.  Now I feel like I can stay on top of the laundry, dishes, and make nutritious meals for my family.  The best part of it all though, is getting the nursery ready for the babies!  I can now focus on ART and making it all pretty.  Here are some things I’ve done/made just yesterday!

snow, blocks, diaper cover 017 snow, blocks, diaper cover 014We put up some wall decals of two birch trees with leaves, birds, and bird houses.  The room is not a “bird” theme persay, but I do want a woodland feel to it.  Deer, Raccoon,  Foxes, Owls, Birdies, not in abundance, just here or there.  I picked this up at Goodwill about 3 years ago. It’s from Target and had never been used.  I think I paid $6.

snow, blocks, diaper cover 020 snow, blocks, diaper cover 021 snow, blocks, diaper cover 022The easiest and cutest thing I did was paint these wooden blocks.  Every kid needs wooden blocks to play with.  We want lots of hands on and imaginative play going on in here.  I got two bags of wooden blocks at a thrift store for $2 a bag.  I have an all natural disinfectant that I sprayed these with and then let dry.  Next I separated the shapes and painted a few of each shape a color.  I used soy paint from Hobby Lobby.  It’s $2 a bottle.  I just used a sponge brush and painted one to two coats and let dry.  I’m pretty sure the soy paint is safe for them…just in case they put the blocks in their mouths.

The super cute owl container came from Ikea.  It has a lid and then a smaller box was inside with a lid.  I love it SO much.  It fits the room perfectly!  I think it was around $7.

snow, blocks, diaper cover 023 snow, blocks, diaper cover 024 snow, blocks, diaper cover 025 snow, blocks, diaper cover 026 snow, blocks, diaper cover 030Lastly I made a cover for the wipe box.  We are planning on cloth diapering and also using cloth wipes.  I found a spray by California baby on sale at Target.  You can make a solution to keep your wipes in or spray the wipe before use, or spray the baby’s bottom and then wipe.  From what I’ve read you just cut up old flannel receiving blankets.  Wipe boxes are not very attractive.  So, after talking to a friend she came up with the idea of a crocheted cover.  What a cool idea.  I have no idea if the arrangement will stay the same on the dresser or not….probably not, knowing me.  Also the changing pad just has fabric over it, I haven’t made the cover yet.

I don’t have a pattern to share for the wipe cover, but if you want me to try and walk you through it I can.  OR you can just buy one from me, because I would love to make them to sell.


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How to Dye Your Own Yarn, and a Cute Little Foxie

yarn dying, gun 001

  • First pick out a NATURAL fiber yarn (cotton will work).  This one is made of angora and nylon (not natural).  I have actually had this yarn since 2005 the year I taught myself to knit.  It is the same yarn that I knitted my first scarf.  I gave it to my grandmother for Christmas.  This is also when I learned how much cheaper it is to just buy a scarf! ha!  Also, it took me 3 months to figure it out.  No one around me knew how to knit, just crochet.
  • After you pick your yarn you want to unwind it out of the ball and make a large loop like this.  You can use chair legs, your hubby’s hands spread out, or just wrap it from your thumb down the sides of your arm, around your elbow, and back up. <this is also how I wrap up an extension cord. (got it)?
  • yarn dying, gun 002Next you need to take extra yarn and tie your bundle in numerous places so it won’t get tangled in the dying process.
  • yarn dying, gun 005Mix one part vinegar to 4 parts water and let your yarn soak in that mixture for at least 30 minutes.  This helps the yarn ‘take’ the dye.  Also, use a bowl you don’t mind getting stained and that can be used in the microwave (I didn’t think about that last part when I started this).  You can use an old plastic rubbermaid or a glass bowl.

yarn dying, gun 008 yarn dying, gun 003

 

  • I used rit dye, but you can also use kool-aid.  

yarn dying, gun 020

 

  • I was trying to make a foxie orange, so I stirred in my yellow first.  You want to put it it lukewarm water.

yarn dying, gun 024

 

  • Put both yarns in, then put in the microwave.  You need to heat it at 3 minute intervals.  Keep checking the water and gently stirring (more aggitation with natural fibers, the more they will felt….which we don’t want).  You want your yarn to soak up all the dye.  Your water should turn clear (so all the tutorials told me), but mine never did.

yarn dying, gun 026 yarn dying, gun 027

 

  • After I felt like I had cooked it in the yellow long enough, I sprinkled in the red.  I kinda wanted more spots to be concentrated then others.  I lightly stirred it in and started heating again.  I bet I heated the yellow for 15 mins and the red for 9 mins…I didn’t want it to get too dark.

yarn dying, gun 008

before colors

yarn dying, gun 028

after colors

  • When you take your yarn out of the microwave you want to pour all the water in the sink and lightly rinse your yarn with cool water.  Your going to softly push on the yarn to get the excess water and dye out.  When it runs clear, gently squeeze it.
  • Get an old towel and fold it in half.  Lay out your yarn and then roll it up in the towel and push on the towel, to soak up excess water.

yarn dying, gun 031yarn dying, gun 034

 

  • Next you want to find a hanger and hang your yarn to dry overnight…it could take a couple days.  Put a large bowl to catch all the drippings.  I barely had any.
  • To speed the drying process on the second day I cut the ties and kinda spread out my yarn on a towel in front of a space heater.
  • yarn dying, gun 046When the yarn is FULLY dry you can finally roll them into balls.  I rolled mine into center pull balls.  Here is how.
  • Now you are ready to knit with your hand-dyed yarn!  This is a great way to make colors that you want but can’t find.  It’s also a good way to combine all sorts of colors to make more interesting yarn.  OR you can use it to dye yarn that you don’t really like the color into something fun!

Here is what I made with my yarn:

fox 022

 

All the tiny little pieces to make my fox for the ‘future’ baby.  Here is the pattern I used.  It’s in another language, but it’s the only free fox pattern I liked.  Google will translate for you, but her terminology is unlike any I know.  Therefore my pattern doesn’t look exactly like theirs.  I had to make up the ears and the white belly fur.  Also, I somehow misread the pattern for the face.  Oh well.  Here he is:

fox 029 fox 028 fox 027 fox 026 fox 025 fox 024He looks like a little mouse-fox.  I think I’m going to let the baby name him!  I love his fat little tummy.  There is something so rewarding about knitting animals.  It is so different than knitting a scarf or hat.  I think it’s because YOU give them their personality.  You make their eyes and their expressions.  Though it is a lot of work and very time consuming, I thinking knitting animals and dolls is my favorite!