Thursday, August 28, 2008

That's customer service

In my last post I described my first experience with Soap Nuts. In it I mentioned off hand that the bottle had leaked.

When I got home today I found a package from Laundry Tree in which I found a note that read,
Sorry about the leaky Citrus Mist bottle! Hope it wasn't a huge mess in your mailbox?
Here's another sample bag to replace the messy one. If you try the shampoo trick, let me know what you think! -Lisa

Well Lisa, it wasn't a big deal at all, the bubble wrap lining of the padded envelope contained the small leak nicely, it just smelled really strong when I opened it. I do appreciate your concern. Also, the small bottle of Energy essential oil blend arrived perfectly intact and unleaked. Thank you.

I will now overcome my nervousness and act as a shampoo guinea pig. It certainly can't make my hair any worse (I hope). I'll get back to y'all in a few weeks on that.

The back of the bottle reads
Energy Blend: our fave smell ever.
Do with it what you will: add scent to your laundry (washed with soapnuts, natch), make your own cleaning solutions, or even stash it in your purse and sniff it when you need a boost.

Hmmmm, smelling salts.

Off to boil me some soap nuts ...

Monday, August 25, 2008


Blogger updated their dashboard a few days ago - I think I like it this time.

A couple of weeks ago I participated the the bloggy giveaway carnival at 5minutes4mom and let slip that I had won something. Well, I've finally had time to try it out, take pictures of it, and get the pictures uploaded. Just call me speedy.

And here it is: SoapNuts from LaundryTree

And when I opened the bag I found this:
The small fruits are the soap nuts, also known as soap berries. They contain saponin, a soap chemical, which is released when they are run through the wash cycle. You can read more about it at wikipedia. That bag should do six to eight loads of laundry. Since they are odorless, a small bottle of essential oil is also included, that one is citrus mist.

So I counted out four of the berries (they are technically not nuts) and tied them up in the muslin bag. The essential oil is put on the bag itself; I skipped this step since the bottle had leaked in transit.

I then dropped the whole thing on top of my laundry and chucked the whole pile in the washing machine.

I have no way of knowing how clean it got my clothes, but they were much softer. There was one shirt that had to hang dry, and even it lacked the stiffness that usually results in.

Another claim made about these is that they are good for people with sensitive skin. It doesn't seem to have helped me much in that area, but then I really can't say for sure since I had a major breakout a couple of days before I used them, and it still hasn't cleared up entirely.

I found a few places that suggested boiling them down to create a liquid soap which could be then be used for everything from dishes to bath soap. I'm somewhat curious to try it as a shampoo, I wonder if it would do for my hair what it did for the shirt.

Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.


Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm famous

My first post is up over at A Frugal Housewife.

Head over there and read it.

I'll be contributing semi-regularly in the coming months.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brown Spaghetti

I entered this recipe in Pioneer Woman's recipe contest. It is one of my favorite dishes, but there is some contention about the name. I’ve called it Brown Spaghetti all my life along with my sisters, but a few years ago Mom decided Mushroom Spaghetti sounded better and has been attempting to correct me ever since. Whatever you call though, it is good.

1 lb Italian Sausage
Olive oil
½ lb mushrooms
Medium onion
Medium bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 10 oz cans cream of mushroom soup
Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and cayenne

Brown and drain sausage.
Chop up the mushrooms, onion, pepper, and garlic.
Dump a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet, add the mushrooms, onion, pepper, and garlic, and sauté until the onions are transparent.
Add the sausage and dump in the mushroom soup. Fill each of the cans about 2/3 full of milk, cover with your hand and shake to dislodge the rest of the soup, then add that in too.
Mix well then add about 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne, a few shakes of pepper, and a couple dashes of salt adjusting all to taste.
Mix well and allow to simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes.
Serve over spaghetti noodles and top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Alternate title: Why do I always get myself into these situations.

They decided at work that we need pictures of our former Directors/Commanders. This is great; I think they should have been there all along. The only problem was that it is sometimes hard to find pictures of someone who came and went nigh on thirty years ago.

Enter my direct supervisor, M, who was executive secretary for twenty some-odd years before being promoted to her current position about 2 years ago. As executive secretary, she kept a small snapshot of each of her "boys," as she calls them. They are all taped onto a paper with their names and hang right above her desk. For four of the Colonels, those were the only pictures available. Three of those came out pretty good: a little grainy and blurred, but what do you expect when you blow a 3 inch snapshot up to an 8x10 portrait? And they are between 15 and 30 years old anyway.

Then there was Col. Wilson:

The original 1.5 inch photograph was given a rough chop, then stuck to a sticky note which bore a large logo across it's center. This was scanned in exactly as it was, blown up to 8x10, matted, framed, and sent to us to hang on our wall-of-fame.
Oh, there was one more touch in that version which is lacking in my scan above. The photo was left on the main paper, which is crowded, so above the Colonel's left shoulder was a vertical bar of dark blue with large, sharply focused white stars - the edge of the next photo.

M and I looked at that and said something along the lines of "they can't possibly expect us to hang that on a wall of USMC former base directors." And then I said, "I have photoshop at home, if you'll give me your original there, I'll take it home and see if I can fix it." Maybe one day I'll learn to keep my mouth shut.

Four hours later I had this

A digital image, it took another whole afternoon of fighting the computer tooth and nail to make it print a nice glossy photograph.

It's an improvement though. Not the best I've ever seen, but good enough that it won't jump out and horrify me ever time I walk past that wall (which is fairly often).

I spent most of this morning affixing little brass plates with their names and dates of service to the bottom of the matting for each Colonel, and sticking more little brass plates to a nice black sheet of metal for the ones who are so old that there are no photos.

I am eager to see the final results when they get the rails hung and the whole shebang on display. I think it is going to look quite nice overall, and I'll be able to walk past it without having the horror above jumping out at me. Even if people walk past it and shudder at the awfulness, I'll know how much worse it could have been and that I did my best, and I'll be content.

I suppose that is why I always get myself into these situations.

P.S. I won one of the bloggy giveaways. I'll post more when I have it in my hot little hands.