Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pay It Forward 2012

I know I'm behind on my Picture Perfect Room challenge and I have a to-do list a mile long, but when I saw this I just had to get on board right away!

A dear friend of mine, Leslie, posted on her Facebook page that she is participating in Pay It Forward 2012.  For those of you who are not familiar with the concept or the movie, the expression "pay it forward" is used to describe the concept of asking that a good deed be repaid by having it done to others instead.

Paying it forward can be accomplished on many levels... from simple acts of kindness like paying for the order of the person in line behind you at the drive-thru to more life changing actions like giving your old car to a single parent [or needy family] with no means of personal transportation.  Leslie has decided to send a handmade gift to the first 5 people who comment on her post... which is perfect for the DIY, thrifty, crafty, Blogland world in which we live!  And, I am lucky enough to be one of those 5!  In turn, I have to post the same message on my Facebook page and do the same thing.

Want a handmade gift from me?  Simply visit my Facebook page and leave a comment on the Pay It Forward 2012 post.  If you aren't already a "friend" of The Old Park Homestead, please click the LIKE button while you're there.  But, there's a catch... not a catch really, but more of how paying it forward works... you must post the same message on your Facebook page and pay it forward to 5 more people... or 10 or 20 people if you like!

Here's to an idea for changing our world... and putting it into action!

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Friday, February 3, 2012

What I Like About Your Blog

Yikes! I don't know if I'm ready for this... but I joined up none-the-less over at Inspire Me Heather. What better time than the present to dive right in... with both feet... even if the water is cold... and it's freezing outside... and you forgot your swim suit... and... oh, get over yourself and just do it!

Here's what it's all about [from Heather's blog]:

Would you like to have some other bloggers give you an honest critique of your blog?
You won't know who they were either.
You can take their advice or dismiss it as you please - only we will know what they said.

1. Enter your blog.

2. Heather will email you 2 blogs to critique. Visit them and email her back with these 2 responses: what you liked about their blog and what you didn't like about their blog.

3. When you reply back to her with your 2 critiques (in one email, please) she'll give you a link to a private blog page where she'll post the reviews in random order.

Like I said before... yikes! No one wants to hear they have an ugly baby.  Who wants an ugly baby?  But, sadly, it happens.  Somehow the parents are blind to the ugliness.  Who's to tell them any different?  And the ugliness continues.

I have read countless blogs and posts about how to blog and what to watch for [good and bad].  I view all blogs with a discerning eye... making mental notes... and Pinterest notes... of what I like and dislike.  How can I make my blog better?  Can I incorporate "that" into my blog?  What do "the people" want?

My participation in this project will, in return, offer likes and dislikes from only 2 people.  But I'm OCD a perfectionist remember?  I need to exhaust all avenues... leaving no stone unturned.

So, I'm asking you... my Blogland BFFs... would you also be so kind [do I need to highlight "kind"?] to let me know what you think?  Pleave me a comment with your likes, dislikes, and what you'd like to see in the future.  I can take it.  Really I can.  If I once ran into burning buildings, I can handle this... [I think]

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day 2012

Today is Groundhog Day... and there will be 6 more weeks of winter!

We're not far from Punxutawney, PA and Phil is somewhat of a local celebrity.

On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob - in front of thousands of followers from all over the world - to predict the weather for the rest of winter.  According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather.  If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip.  Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br'er Groundhog.

Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States.  It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates.  Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives.  It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.  If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.  If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans and they found groundhogs to in profusion in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog, resembling the European hedgehog, was a most intelligent and sensible animal and therefore decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.

In 1993, Columbia Pictures released the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.  A weather man is reluctantly sent to cover a story about a weather forecasting "rat" (as he calls it).  This is his fourth year on the story, and he makes no effort to hide his frustration.  On awaking the 'following' day he discovers that it's Groundhog Day again, and again, and again.  First he uses this to his advantage, then comes the realization that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day.

You can watch the Live Groundhog Day Webcast here.

Love Punxsutawney Phil as much as we do?  LIKE him on Facebook.

[Groundhog Day facts and photos from]

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cheaply Green - Homemade Laundry Detergent

Since we've become a one-income family [for now!], it has challenged me to look at how we spend money and the products that we use everyday.

In my quest to live on the cheap, I realized the benefits of making your own laundry detergent.  It's less expensive [under $20 per batch that lasts, oh, FOREVER], more concentrated [uses only 1/8 cup per load], and greener for everyone involved [no lengthy chemicals you can't pronounce].

The first recipe only included three ingredients: Borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, and a bar of Fels-Naptha laundry bar soap.  It worked great in our front-loading HE washing machine [and no complaints from Mr. Homestead!] but I couldn't stop thinking about our hard well water and "tweaking" the recipe to help combat dingy whites and hit those stains a little harder.

My current recipe includes 2 additional ingredients and beefs-up the amounts used so it makes a bigger batch.

[I'll apologize in advance for the long post, but I had a lot of questions when I was wandering around the internet researching my recipes and I hope passing this information along to you will answer a lot of your questions... all in one place!]

Borax is what helps to soften the water... softer water allows the soap to work better.  20 Mule Team Borax is made of 100% Borax, a naturally occurring mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen and water.  20 Mule Team Borax is not harmful to washing machines, plumbing or septic tanks and does not contain phosphates or chlorine. 

If you have a lot of iron in your water like we do (well water), don't use bleach on your whites because it reacts with iron and can cause holes in your clothing.  And I was blaming it on the dogs!

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda works as a laundry detergent booster and as a household cleaner.  It's not only effective, it is all-natural too.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda acts as a deodorizer, cleaner and softener.

Oxygen Stain Remover... pretty self-explanatory, I think.

Fels-Naptha Heavy Duty Laundry Bar Soap is a time-tested stain remover and pre-treater.

1 - 4lb box Borax [WalMart $3.38 - found in the laundry aisle]
1 - 3lb 7oz box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda [WalMart $2.39 - found in the laundry aisle]
1 - 4lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda [WalMart $2.16 - found in the laundry or baking aisle]
1 - 3.5lb tub oxygen stain remover [WalMart $6.97 - found in the laundry aisle]
3 - Fels-Naptha Heavy Duty Laundry Bar Soap [WalMart $0.97 - found in the laundry aisle]
Total $17.81

5 gallon container with lid (WalMart $3.97 - found in the home goods or storage aisle]
Cheese grater [Dollar Tree $1.00 - used only for utilities and crafts]
Large spoon for mixing [Dollar Tree $1.00 - used only for utilities and crafts]
Small scoop [Dollar Tree $1.00/pair - used only for utilities and crafts]

The hardest part of all this is grating the Fels-Naptha laundry bars... by hand!  But, it builds character and puts hair on your chest!

It should look like real shredded cheese... for the world's largest taco!

With the shredded Fels-Naptha in the 5 gallon container, pour in the entire contents of the remaining ingredients.  Stir.

VoilĂ !

There is plenty of room left in the container.  You could use a smaller container... or make more if you want to.

For convenience, I keep a smaller container on top of the washing machine.  The scoop is a 1/8 cup coffee scoop.  You can also use the FREE 1/8 cup scoop that comes with the oxygen stain remover.  I am still experimenting between 1 scoop or 2 scoops... a scoop in the detergent tray and a scoop in the wash tub... both scoops in the tray... both scoops in the tub.  Mr. Homestead is currently working on a job at a famous chocolate factory here in Pennsylvania and you wouldn't believe how stubborn those cocoa stains can be... although I'm certainly not complaining when he comes home resembling a giant Easter bunny!  You'll need to experiment on your own depending on your soil load and washing machine type.

Store the remaining detergent sealed with a lid.  If you use a smaller container for everyday use, you won't be needing this stash for a long time!

Have you started going green or living on the cheap?  What modern products have you given up?  What "old-fashioned" ways have you incorporated into this "instant satisfaction" era?

Now... to create some cute printables for my containers...

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