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Number four boy is getting ready to turn six this weekend and so he was tasked to make his "birthday list". With his older brother transcribing his wants, it came out like this:

my b-day list

mandalorion battle pack
pharoh's qest flamer runner
scooter ("good" says sam)
spider-man pajamas
Spider-man fuit snack
nerf knife
Star wars figure (anakin and JJ)
ninjago carring bag
star-wars sticker book

powderd sugar
white milk
cinomin toast

the whistle stop

rice and chicken (SOY Sause)
refried beans
boston butt

ice cream

Really?! I picked from the "options" and augmented the "suggestions" and came up with this...

Mama's B-Day List for Sam

Ninjago Bag
Ninjago Sticker Book
Spiderman Pajamas - tell Grandma Settles
Ninjago Figures - Grandma Collins

Pancakes (Nutella or powdered sugar toppings)
Bacon (believe it or not this is a HUGE treat around here...)

Here, I'm drawing a blank...

Boston Butt - because it on the eMeals menu (SCORE!)

Ice Cream Cone Cup Cakes (with Spiderman Flags)

I have never heard him mention a "Ninjago Bag" before but I was kinda excited because I had been thinking of making the boys some shirts with their favorite ninja and figured I could probably do something similar with a bag. And I bought a drop cloth that I made my table runner out of (started out considering making window treatments but caved and just bought some). I had leftover (a lot) and figured I could whip up something pretty basic. And it really didn't take that long! After all the bags and purses that I made this came together pretty quick and easy

Drop Cloth Material:
4.5" x 27.5" for the bag
27.5x3" for the strap

Blue Cotton Fabric:
12.5" x 14.5"

Yellow Cotton Fabric
Black Felt
White Felt

Hem the short side of the big DC material by folding over half and inch and then another one inch and iron. Give it a stitch on the ol' sewing machine. Repeat on the other short side.

Take the blue fabric and iron a 1/4" hem around all four sides.

I went to the Google site for images and typed in in Ninjago Jay and found this image, printed it off and cut it out for a pattern.

I used Wonder Under for the yellow fabric and black felt to make it more stable/durable for each piece (they are small and squirrelly to work with otherwise), ironed them in place and stitched around the edges.

Fold the bag in half to determine where to place the "face" in the middle. Pin and sew a single stitch close to the edge

I considered just leaving it at that but the little white reflections in the eyes really made it seem "finished" so I found this decorative stitch on my machine that did a great job. The other reason was that the blue fabric had a lot of space in the middle that wasn't attached to the bag and I thought it needed to be tacked down somehow (maybe should have used the Wonder Under for this too?) and since the eye reflections were close to the middle it would serve a legitimate purpose as well. Anal? Let's move on...

Now with right sides together match up the hemmed top pin and sew up sides.

When I made this purse I was so jazzed to learn how to make a gusset so I thought it would be fun to do it again for this project. Super easy and looks so "tailored"!

Take the bottom corners and create a triangle by having the seam go down the middle of the triangle from the top apex. Mark two inches down each side, connect the dots and sew along that line. Then trim to about 1/4" - DONE! Cool, huh?

Now iron that seam flat to prepare for the strap.

I folded the strap fabric in half and made a tube by sewing along the long sides and turned it right side out. Put the seam on the edge and iron. I sewed a straight stitch down each side close to the edges along the long sides and ends (closing the tube).

Now, I centered the end of the strap with the seam and sewed a square with an "x" in the center. At this point in the project my attention was waning and I was willing to put up with several "oh, well" mutterings. Yeah, that's why my projects are small... instant gratification is a major character flaw of mine.

To keep his now loot safer I added some velcro to the top. If I would have planned for this project I thought it would be cool to made the blue face a flap to make it a cool, trendy messenger bag... maybe next time. 

I was marveling over the fact that I had all the supplies to do this - not one time did I have to jet off to the store to get that elusive "one thing". Just goes to show that I have *a lot* of stuff in my cra(p)ft closet. I'm thinking it would be cool to get a blue shirt and put the same "face" on it as well as a pillow case? Overkill? Yeah. 

I did it.

I made my own laundry detergent.

I watched this youtube video and decided that it looked easy enough. And, yes, it's safe for front loaders and septic systems according to various reviews that I read. (I should have kept track of them but I didn't so forgive me for the lack of specific reference here.)

I found every item that I needed at Walmart on the laundry cleaning supply aisle. Here's the cost breakdown for you:

Fels Naptha Laundry Bar                 .97
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda     3.50
Borax                                             3.38
Oxi Clean*                                  14.98
Subtotal                                       22.83
Tax                                                2.23
Total                                            25.06

This is the initial investment for the ingredients. *The Oxi Clean is an optional ingredient and I bought mine at Sam's Club so I wound up with the 11 pound box.

When the cost is broken down to a six gallon recipe it looks like this:

Fels Naptha Laundry Bar                 .97
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda       .25
Borax                                               .35
Oxi Clean*                                      .34
Subtotal                                          1.91
Tax                                                  .19
Total                                              2.10 = .35/gallon

Am I missing something here??? I paid over $12 for a gallon at Sam's!! And I choose the slightly more expensive brand because I don't want any added colors or fragrances. (Yeah, I ask the manufacturer to use less stuff in their product and they charge me more...)


I didn't take photos of the process... it seemed silly to waste the time when the video has already been made. But I will post the recipe and directions if you don't require the visual of a video.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Fels Naptha - one 5.5oz bar
Washing Soda - 1/2c
Borax - 1c
Oxi Clean (optional) - 1/2c

Grate the Fels Naptha and dissolve it on the stove in four cups of water. Don't let the water boil too much and it will require constant attention. Just keep working it until it's completely dissolved - no lumps.

Fill a 5 or 6 gallon bucket with three gallons of hot tap water. I measured it out and then marked the outside of the bucket for future batches. In fact, I wrote the recipe on the side of the bucket as well.

Pour the dissolved laundry bar in the bucket of water and stir to incorporate. Then, add each of the powders making sure that you dissolve each one *completely*. Easy schmeasy.

Cover it and let it cure for 24 hours.

So here's where you find me... I just uncapped the bucket and it's gelled and kinda cool lookin'. One person suggested breaking up the gelled consistency  by giving it a good stir but I took it a little further and used a drill paint stirrer. Funny, huh? The boys (and girl) were happy to assist with the power tools...

At this point I am saving my current laundry dispenser to refill and asking my neighbor if she would save hers for me as well. You are supposed to fill it half way with water and the rest of the way with the laundry detergent. It requires shaking before each use but I think if you blend it up ahead that it won't be so bad according to one review that I read. We'll see, huh?

Well, I guess this will have to be supplemented with reviews on the cleaning power it holds. I'll get back with you after a few loads of laundry. I do at least two a day so it won't be too long. And let me know of you try it too! Happy laundering!!!
"...from the WHERE?" you ask??!

Yes. The Jacuzzi (tm) tub in my master bathroom that I *dreamed* of owning one day. The day is now and it is in the midst of six children. Most people that I talk to refer to this scenario...

A cruel, cruel twist of fate.

First off... I don't believe in "fate" but it sounded dramatic so I went with it. Anyway, you can see where I'm going with this, right? How would I find the time to *use* the thing if I have several children and all the things that go along with taking care of them?

But really I can use it as...

A method of testing my convictions of homeschooling.

I call my technique "Delight/Self Directed Studies". Basically, I teach them to teach themselves and now I can rate/reward my success based on how often/long I get to enjoy my pool of pure relaxation. Again with the dramatics...

I can confidently say that I rate/reward myself very well. Yup, got the wrinkled toes. Not fingers because I've got them above the water reading or playing Sudoku. And then there is the refreshing glass of ice water sitting on the edge with, maybe, a little bowl of pretzels to munch on. Is it weird to have food at the tub? Don't answer that.

Here are my suggestions for those of you who desire some serious tubbing time...

If you are beginning with small children DO NOT spend your money on curriculum. Instead, if you just *have* to spend the money to feel like your doing something for their education, invest it in living books. The ones that have stood the test of time like...

Lamplighter Books

Vision Forum is a fantastic source for G.A. Henty and Ballantyne for boys and Elsie Dinsmore for girls among others.

Don't forget that there are so many books that are available online FREE because they are public domain. Check out Project Gutenburg

I happen to have found Robinson Curriculum in which has all the suggested books on CD for you to print as you need them. They are all public domain so there are no copyright issues. I have been so pleased with all of the books referenced in this collection.

A high quality library is worth the effort. Otherwise, get a library card and save those pennies.

So really, the number one thing to do with babe is READ READ READ to the sweet thing. And then when junior(ette) starts showing an ability to recognize letters then see if it might be time for a structured reading lesson (I've had four babes start reading around four or five).

WARNING: DO NOT LET THOSE LESSONS BE LONGER THAN 15 TO 20 MINUTES PER DAY. That's all those little brains can take! And if you're reading to them they're really getting *that* many more "lessons" and they (and you) don't even realize it!!

Okay, so I know you're going to ask me, "What reading curriculum do you use?" I use Teach Your Child To Read In One Hundred Easy Lessons. I like to refer to it as the "Be Jesus Book" because you read exactly what is printed in red to your budding reader. Success with FOUR children so far. I started out with another curriculum with my oldest that cost my poor husband $350 only to dread singing the same STUPID song every day and no reading happening. Then through divine guidance I found TYCTRIOHEL for $21.95 at my local B&N. I've seen it lately for under $15 through CBD!? This book gets the job done and does not confuse little minds with conceptual grammar that makes no sense even to the English major out there. It just gets them READING.

This is where you're going to have to figure out what works for you. Because if you don't "get it" as the parent/teacher it will drive you CRAZY and you won't care if junior(ette) *ever* reads.

I just want to encourage you to not jump at the first  fancy looking package with all the cute animals and ditties and colorful art. You probably already have a lot of that in all those books your reading to junior(ette) right now anyway!

After you get them reading and making sure they are reading QUALITY books then pretty soon you will find that junior(ette) can pick up any book to find out lots of things and then one day will go looking for the book with the answer to a question they have and then... realize they can operate semi-independantly and eventually you've worked yourself out of a full-time job of "table time" (YAY!!).

It's a process. It will take some time. Enjoy the process.

I really only skimmed the surface of this topic but this is the gist and will probably conjure up more questions. Whatever you do, keep it simple. Don't attempt to mimic public school methods. Don't get caught up in "early" anything. And don't FREAK out if you think it's not happening soon/fast enough.

If you find the right method that works for your home then you will, too, be Homeschooling From The Hot Tub.