Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. - II Timothy 2:15

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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Domestic Corner: Homemade Laundry Soap

And here's the debut domestic! This isn't something I'll do on a regular basis, but when I come across something awesome and domestic, it'll land in here!

We have eleven people milling around our house on a continual basis that we refer to, lovingly, as our family. In any case, they accumulate a lot of dirty clothing, which we refer to, aptly, as laundry. I've had the honor to be the family laundress for many years and have, in those years, consumed countless bottles of thick, syrupy detergent.

Until I started my caregiving job, the idea of making my own laundry soap hadn't yet occurred to me. But the woman I work for makes hers and it was simple and very inexpensive. I thought, why not give it a try?

Before I go on I will say that we have a front load, high-efficiency washer that specifically says you should only use high efficiency detergent. This soap works in our washer and in my employer's top load washer as well.

First of all, you need these ingredients:

20 Mule Team Borax powder
Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
Any kind of bar soap (I prefer to use Ivory with aloe because Ivory is pure and it smells amazing!)

And you'll need these utensils:

Box grater
Large saucepan
Gallon measure
You will also need (not pictured) a five gallon bucket (preferably with a lid*)

Now here's what you do:

Boil 4 cups of water in the saucepan.

Grate 1 bar of soap

When the water is boiling, add the soap one tablespoon at a time, stirring until dissolved between each addition. 

When all the soap has melted into the water (you'll probably end up with a few stray pieces - no worries! Those can be strained out later) let it sit as you put 3 gallons of cold water into your five gallon bucket.

Pour the soap mixture into the bucket and stir. 

Then add 1 cup of the washing soda

1/2 cup of the borax

and stir.

I usually like to get my arm in there and squish the lumps out. The borax tends to be incredibly lumpy anyway, so rubbing it around in your fingers is a good idea. It's also pretty fun!

When everything is satisfactorily stirred up, cover the bucket and let it sit for 24 hours. 

Then stir it again. Now would be a good time to pull out any lumps of hard soap that have risen to the top. 

Let it sit for 24 more hours (it should look cloudy and slightly lumpy).

Use about 1 cupful for each load of laundry. 

I just let ours sit in the bucket and give it a stir before use. However, if your bucket is in the basement and your washer is upstairs (don't know how often this happens) you can pour it into a bottle and replenish the supply when it gets low. 

*If you don't have a cover for your bucket, don't worry! You can cover the top with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or even a board!

Till next time!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Saga of D.C. {Part 1}

I apologize for dropping off the face of the earth at this crucial time - I really do. Life's been hectic ever since I got back from DC on the 19th from work, to my brand, spankin' new laptop malfunctioning on me (the little traitor...), to piles of junk everywhere that need to be tossed, stowed or put away to itty, bitty things like sleeping and eating and Ultimate Frisbee. Also, I've been working on this post for four days and there are tons of photos to go through. I'm seeing some of them for the first time myself.

Anyway, here is  The Chronicle of Day One (I'll do some pictures too):

We started out at 3:30 am. Let me tell you that the last thing I wanted to do at 3:30 am was get out of my comfy bed and sit in a cramped car for hours on end, but such things have a way of becoming fun after you've propped your eyes open for a while.

We were stopping in Chicago on the way and drinking this horrible, horrible bottled chai tea (that company should be sued for mislabeling. It tasted like gasoline and burned on the way down.) and eating blueberry muffins and grapes. There's something really folksy and fun about eating in the car.

Here are a few pictures from Chicago a little after dawn: (I'm in the pink, my sister is purple, and my friend, who will show up at some time, is in teal. The guy is my brother)

Then we drove to Cleveland, Ohio, where we stopped at McDonalds:

And then, as die-hard fans, we couldn't leave without visiting the A Christmas Story museum! Yes, this is the actual house they used for the film and inside, after a brief intro by the tour guide, we were allowed to roam free and touch anything we wanted! Here's a glimpse into some of the fun...

I tried out the Official Red Ryder BB gun and did not shoot my eye out (though it wasn't loaded, so shooting anything out wouldn't have been an issue). Didn't notice whether or not it had a compass in the stock, though.

<-- my brother decoding the Little Orphan Annie

Trying out the rotary phone. 
It does make that whir-click sound!

<-- Deciding whether or not to try the Lifebuoy soap. I've heard it can cause serious sight issues. 

Somehow we ended up with three guns for Christmas. Ah well, still got the blue bowling ball. That's what's really important to remember. I am feeling a bit defenseless though. Not sure what good a ball would do me in the case of extreme physical danger. 

Then we moved on to the er... road again, and headed to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Now I am not much of a garden person - nay, not at all - but where the group went, I was obliged to follow (for various reasons. The most convincing being that I was stuck with them. =D)

Here are some snaps from there:

Japanese Tranquility Zen Pool. 
And girl.
Cuckoos in the nest

Then we decided, somehow un-unanimously, to spend the rest of the day in downtown Cleveland. Umm, yeah...It was a lot of walking for not much purpose and we didn't get to the waterfront due to an outbreak of mutiny.
Looking out to sea. (Cheated and got this in front of a lake...)

In front of the Rock and Roll Museum. We didn't go, not being fans ourselves.

After this, the aforementioned mutiny occurred and we saw no more of downtown Cleveland. I did however manage to snag this souvenir shot before the day officially ended.

So now with a general sense of well-being and the satisfaction of a job, well, done (I hope somebody gets that), I will now take my leave and we shall cover Day Two at a later date. Probably next June. I must refer to my journal for details anyway, but I believe we went to Gettysburg and Pittsburgh, PA. And somewhere in there the air conditioner gave out. 
Teasers abound!

Till next time!

All pictures belong to JocelynRose and may not be used or copied without permission.

P.S. To all who have entered the 2012 If You Give A Girl A Pen short story contest: September 1st draweth near! Polish up your entries and send them on in!
Thank you and good night.
*canned applause*

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Post No. 100

I can write 100 things too!

Well, I thought I'd never get here! Post number 100 has landed!

And, as promised, I sat down to do something special. Jamie and I were in an interview and came out on top (at least, that's what we're saying...). This is going to be one interesting read once it's finished, but we had to cut the questions short for now because Jamie's attention span gave out and the questioner ran out of questions.

So now it's your turn!

If you have a question you'd like to ask Jamie and Jocelyn, leave it in a comment and check back on the Jocelyn & Jamie page for their answers!

Have fun and be creative!

 Till next time!

Monday, August 6, 2012


This is something I wrote a while ago amid some spiritual frustration. Thought I'd share it with you guys.

To God:

Hi, it's me.

I need to talk to you. 

We've been pulling apart and it's all my fault. I'm always too busy or too tired or just too lazy. I'm sick of myself. So much trivial matter clogs up my brain, monopolizing my thoughts and pulling them away from you.  And I sit there and say that soon this'll be over and that'll be over and I'll have more time for you, but the truth is that nothing will get less busy, nothing will give me more time. I don't spend time with you because I don't want to. It's horrid, but the plain truth. 
I get bored while I pray - they're always the same. I don't feel like expending the energy it takes to read the right books because I don't want to force myself to reevaluate what's important to me. Perhaps too important. I forget to memorize and, frankly, it's become harder because I've lost the zeal to review and actually learn the verses. 
How did I get here? Why do I choose to stay?
I long for a closer walk with you, but here, in the most important aspect of my life, I choose to stay where I am. 
Why, Lord? Why do I give you such apathy?  

Till next time,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Shout Out for Team Orange!

Hello all! This is Jamie hacking again!

It's been a pretty busy week with camping and work and the Olympics and all, but I'm pretty excited right now about something that happened today!

For the past five years, my brother, two sisters and an assortment of friends have been competing in a Ultimate Frisbee tournament at a church in our (sort of) area.

The first year, we had a put-together-while-we-were-there team, called Roberts (the company that provided the custard we all ate at the end) and got second. The second year, as Team Orange we got third. Then the next year, still Team Orange we got second again. The fourth year (Orange again!) we dropped again to third. But this year (keeping our ambiguous name), we scrapped it out and got first!!!

It's weird, because we seem to carry around this curse where we carefully put a team together a month before the tournament and then generally have some of our best players drop out at the last second for various reasons, leaving us scrambling for anyone we can get. This was the first year we actually had the full eight person team the rules allow.

This year's Team Orange consisted of 4 boys and 4 girls (which is rather unusual, since the few teams with girls generally have one, two, or in some cases three). It's tough because when you're playing a team with all guys, you have to start a girl against them. Most of the time, this works out, but for some teams it would be nice to be able to put out the all-male front.

Basically the tournament has a seeding round where every team plays seven fifteen minute games with a bye for the eighth, then we break out for lunch and a devotion and come back for the round robin tournament.
This year we went 6 and 1, losing only to the team that had won last year. We knew they'd be tough because most of them are actually our friends, some of whom we play with on a regular basis.

It was about 90 degrees, extremely humid, and we were playing in full sun. So we went in to lunch, exhausted and very drained.

The long lunch break and devotion rested us a bit, but most of us had stayed up the night before watching the Olympics until 11:00 and got up early with adrenaline already rushing. I, for one, had to go to my caregiver job at 6:45 and stay until 8:30. I literally could have fallen asleep on the sidelines at any given time. :P

We had to wait for the 8th and 9th seed to play each other and then we played the 7th seed and beat them to advance to the next round.

Playing the third seed was tough. My legs were about giving out underneath me, but we couldn't let up or we'd give up the second place finish and the chance at playing for first against the last top team and would have to battle it out with another team for third. We weren't going to settle for third again.

We managed to pull off a pretty good win over the three seed (I was dying by that time) and, with second firmly ours if we lost, we headed back to the field to play the team we had lost to last year. Last year's champions - and our very competitive friends with a 7 male/1 female team who all happened to be quite good.

I elected to stay on the sidelines for a rest and my younger sister joined the exhausted guys for a face off. (I will insert here that the team we were about to play had just come off from a come-behind victory with a very scrappy, four seed team who had worn them out quite a bit) All in all, we were both not very impressive in energy totals. I figured we'd get crushed and that would be the end of it.

Well, as I sat on the sidelines with the other two girls from our team and cheered my head off, our worn-out team swung out in front with a 6-1 lead. I figured we had a chance by then, but there were still seven minutes left in the game and they were still fighting to defend their title. (I've been steeped in Olympic broadcaster speak for the past week; it's rubbing off, if you couldn't tell. :D )

Somewhere in the scoring of the six points I went back in. The other team posted a slight comeback and scored three to our one in the next few minutes. At the two minute warning, I was back on the sidelines, the score was 7-4 and I was cheering and hoping that we could, after five years of going strong and fading at the end (sometimes because of injury, sometimes because we just don't have enough people to sub out to keep the energy levels up, or sometimes because the teams we play are just too stacked for anyone to beat), we might actually win this year and finally get those commemorative t-shirts that every winning team receives and also to beat the team that handed us second last year.

The fact that we would win wasn't accepted in my mind until there were twenty seconds left in the game and our team scored their eighth point, sealing the victory. No one can score four points in five seconds.

We actually won the t-shirts!

And a year's worth of bragging rights and a gift card and vengeance for the four seed team that had almost beaten them.

It was pretty awesome. After watching tons of Olympic champions, it was nice to win a sort of championship of our own. And I got a pretty sweet sunburn on my face. Hopefully it won't peel... :-\

I was pretty tired. And I wanted a shower. And a nap.

I got one of them, but I intend to sleep very well tonight. =D

Till next time!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: The Betrayal

My first post after vacation is a book review. Figures. =D I devoured books while on the beach and on the way up, so here we go.

#1. The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore

4.5 out of 5
Recommended for: Ages 17+ (language, grit and several mature scenes)
Categories: Historical, Sweet Romance, Solid Writing, Can't-Put-It-Down

Synopsis: Internationally-acclaimed author Helen Dunmore follows her bestselling novel, The Siege, with a riveting and emotionally absorbing portrait of post-war Soviet Russia, a world of violence and terror, where the severest acts of betrayal can come from the most trusted allies.

In 1952 Leningrad, Andrei, a young doctor, and Anna, a nursery school teacher, are forging a life together in the postwar, post-siege wreckage. But they know their happiness is precarious, like that of millions of Russians who must avoid the claws of Stalin’s merciless Ministry of State Security. When Andrei is forced to treat the seriously ill child of a senior secret police officer, his every move is scrutinized, and it becomes painfully clear that his own fate, and that of his family, is bound to the child’s. Trapped in an impossible game of life and death, and pitted against a power-mad father’s raging grief, Andrei and Anna must avoid the whispers and watchful eyes of those who will say or do anything to save themselves.
With The Betrayal, Dunmore returns with a powerful and stirring novel of ordinary people in the grip of a terrible and sinister regime, and an evocative tale of a love that will not be silenced. 

Plot: The synopsis here is absolutely, positively intriguing. I have a basic understanding of Stalinistic Russia. I know it was horrible and I know it was worse than horrible. But Gloria Whelan's books for children don't come close to delving into the horror that was post WW2, communistic Russia.

This book is brutal and merciless, but also heroic and heartwarming. The love Andrei and Anna have for each other is so sweet and caring. Each looking out so much for the other and only thinking about each other. Their marriage was beautifully solid and right.

But the circumstances in which they live are almost incomprehensible to a girl who has grown up in the US, where our rights are protected and freedom of speech is to us as natural as the air we breathe. To think about having to hush every conversation and trust no one, about not being able to go to college because of who your father was, living in fear of being reported by your neighbors for a minor infraction and forced to either leave your apartment or share it with another family, to be blamed for a difficulty in a child's treatment that is out of your field and beyond your control and treated to horrific consequences only because his father is high up in the government and has the power to do it, to have to constantly be afraid of everything, hide everything and guard everything...Absolutely unthinkable. And they say that communism/socialism and big government is a good thing?
Umm, perhaps if you're the government and you can live a life that's different than the populace you crush every day it's a good thing. But the citizens who have no rights would probably say different. If they knew they wouldn't be killed for opening their mouths.

Characters: This book was out-of-the ordinary in the way that the characters were never described. I have no idea what any of them look like and it's really unimportant. The characters of these characters is what endears them to you - not the fact that they have brown eyes, brown hair, pale skin, and ect. Also, I have no idea really what these people's last names are. Every other page someone would be calling them something different and I couldn't sort out why or how. So we'll go by firsts. And there are only a few.

Anna: I'm still not sure about her. I liked her, grew frustrated with her, put myself in her shoes, re-liked her, and ended up unsure. Quite definitely, she was thrown into a hellish situation that she did nothing to bring on. All she wanted was a peaceful home with her beloved Andrei, but with a government who has a stranglehold on every person and a finger on every vein, a thing like this is impossible. She is strong and loves too much to protect herself. And it hurts her. But she has what it takes to survive.

Andrei: He's the kind of man that any woman would be proud to call their husband. He's gentle, caring and unwilling to compromise or let anyone suffer to protect himself. It's Andrei's refusal to shrink away from what he is and what he believes is right is the compelling factor that drives the book and the price he pays to follow his conscience and sense of what is right and good is staggering, inhuman and completely unjust.

I haven't read a well-written book in a while, so Helen Dunmore's three hundred and thirty-six page story was a welcome relief. Aside from the things that relegate it to the 17 and up category, I devoured this book and loved it. It was compelling and so horrific that I was glued to the page. I even missed Olympic swimming finals to finish it - which is a big thing for me. I love Olympic swimming. And reading it made me so incredibly glad to be American.

Anna and Andrei were great. Even though I wouldn't know them from Adam if I met them on the street because of the lack of description, they were really, really awesome. Andrei was so incredibly sweet and Anna was so considerate. They were perfect for each other. And Kolya was pretty good too. I loved his resilient piano playing.

Dislikes: Well, it was a book written for adults, and I can read books for adults, but I shy away from recommending them because of content. Even in some Christian fiction. I don't particularly understand why authors think we need to peek into the most private aspects of people's married (and unmarried) lives (though, sadly, I do know that many people read for that sort of thing) or why language is seen to enhance the experience, but that's how it is.
In some books, I can overlook it. If they're good enough.

ConclusionThe Betrayal was definitely good enough.
Till next time!