Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A few weeks ago I wrote about some things and kind of left y'all hanging, so here's the wrap-up.

1) You may remember that I wrote about buying this: Mattress Set

That's a Doctor's Choice Plush mattress from Denver Mattress Co. At first, we were very disappointed in it, because we were so sore all over from trying to sleep on it. (Notice I said "trying" to sleep!)

We called the store and told them our concerns and they graciously did the research to find out exactly which mattress we had slept on in Colorado. The result was that, yes, we had the right mattress, but mattresses take up to two weeks to break in.

Aha, I said. Maybe the mattress is new and stiff and needs a little help. So, for three days, I spent some time jumping on the bed! I found that all the coils, and whatever innards there were, would creak until I had "loosened" them up a bit, so I jumped until the mattress got quiet!

Believe it or not, it worked! Now the mattress is as comfy as the hotel mattress. (I guess that one had been broke in already by many people sleeping on it.)

2)Our new couch came!
It's an even richer color in person. It's not very cushy, seeing as it's actually office/reception lounge furniture, but Hubby and all the boys think that's a definite plus. The boys say it's hard to hold an intelligent conversation when you're sunk into a plushy sofa and it feels like your heels are as high as your head. Well, that definitely is not a problem here. You sit nicely upright. And it's not too bad to stretch out on for a snooze, either.

3) My new yellow shoes are nice.
Naturalizer Gersen Chrome Yellow CanvasI had to snip the thread that held the bow flat and loosen the knot a little on the left shoe, and then wear the shoes a couple of times, before they broke in across the top of my foot. But now they're nice. I still have my doubts as to whether bright, attention-grabbing shoes are really my thing, but since I got such good deal on them, I feel like I can afford to experiment.

That's all I have time for today. More later, maybe.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Book Meme

I saw this at real style real people and it made me curious. I am, after all, actually reading a book right now, and I have to try it.

Here's how it works:

*Tell the title of the book you are currently reading
*Turn to page 77
*Write the eleventh sentence on that page.

Here's the 11th full sentence on page 77 of Lord Peter, by Dorothy Sayers:

" 'It's a crime crueller and infinitely worse in its results than murder.' "

It's a crime worse than murder?? What is it?? Ack. I'm going to have to go find out!

I'm on page 64 in my actual reading right now, so I think if I read fast I'll find out soon. Bye for now...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Best Dishwasher Detergent, UPDATED

(Originally published August 1, 2007)

Two years ago, my life in the kitchen took a dramatic turn: we bought a dishwasher. Except for a brief respite of a year or so (when I was sick and we had been given a used dishwasher which we used till it died) I have done dishes the old-fashioned way: make the kids do'em.

Of course, many times it ended up to be my turn as well, and with four growing children, and homeschooling, and cooking from scratch, our whole kitchen seemed to be dishes. Dirty dishes on the counter waiting to be washed. More dirty dishes in the sink being washed. Clean dishes in the drainer waiting to be dried. More clean dishes on a towel waiting to be put away.

With the advent of the dishwasher that all changed. It became a fun game for me to load up the dishwasher and then clean up the rest of the kitchen while my happy Bosch maid washed the dishes for me. As time went on, it degenerated to dirty dishes on the counter waiting to be loaded, and clean dishes in the dishwasher waiting to be put away, but it was still much better than B.D. (before dishwasher)

And then I tried a new detergent. I had been using a gel, even though the people at the appliance store- and even the sticker on the dishwasher- recommended powder, because it made more sense to me. It was already wet, so it didn't need to dissolve; it should work great-- and it did. But then my conscience began squirming and said maybe I needed to use what the experts said to use. I bought a big box of powdered detergent and it was a disaster! The powder got into every cranny of my dishwasher and hardened there into a cross between cement and putty.

My dishwasher was no longer a happy little maid, but a surly slave. "You want clean dishes, I'll give you clean dishes....NOT!" It seemed to delight in spraying most of the soil from the dishes up inside the glasses and drying it there. Oh joy. There's nothing more frustrating than putting a relatively clean glass into the dishwasher (it just had iced tea in it) and taking it out completely coated with unidentifiable gook that must be scrubbed off.

I also was having trouble with a white coating on all the glassware, and the troubleshooting guide that came with my dishwasher was not exactly helpful. If my glassware has white streaks, it means I used too much rinse-aid. If my glassware has white deposits, it means I used too little rinse-aid. The problem was, I couldn't tell the difference between a deposit and a streak. In fact, it looked like I had both. So that meant I was using too much and too little rinse-aid?

We spent nearly a year fighting with this mess, but I won't bore you with the myriad of possible causes and solutions, or recount to you how many times I ran the dishwasher empty of dishes with some new something that might-- this time-- clear everything up. I'll jump straight to the happy ending.

We decided the problem was twofold: hard water, and soap scum. And the solution entails two parts as well. The first is a product called LemiShine, which I found at our local grocery store. I followed the instructions on their website and then ran the dishwasher empty one more time, and Wa-La! that took took care of all the residual soap scum and hard water deposits.

Next, we needed something to keep it that way while getting the dishes clean. And that something is a recipe I found for homemade powdered dishwasher detergent that works wonderfully. No scum, no hard water deposits, and no concrete buildup-- in short, clean dishwasher and clean dishes.

So here's the recipe, as I made it:

Dishwasher Powder

1 cup Borax
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup LemiShine

Use a tablespoon per load, a little more, a little less, depending on how dirty the dishes are and how hard your water is.

I am just thrilled. I have my dishwasher back. And my dishwasher is a happy little maid again.

Check out this blog: crazy-mumma.blogspot.com and search under Labels for "homemade" to find interesting homemade stuff, like liquid detergent and toothpaste and shaving gel and cat food.]

UPDATE, 1/6/09
I wrote about my trials and tribulations with my new dishwasher quite a while ago, and it appears that lots and lots of people have the same difficulties. You would be surprised how many searches I get for "dishwasher detergent," "white streaks on dishes," "best dishwasher detergent," "best dishwasher detergent for hard water," on and on in myriad variations.

I hope that post has helped somebody, but I need to amend it. In that little piece of writing I told how I had discovered how to make my own detergent, and to use a product called LemiShine. That all worked for a while, but then the rot began to set in.

You see, I found that the homemade detergent was not stable. It had salt in it, which absorbed moisture from the air, and quickly made it unusable. I could not make a large batch of it to use out of, and it was a real hassle to mix it up fresh every day or so.

And then something happened to the LemiShine. I used it faithfully for many months, all the while watching my dishes get more and more coated with a white layer of something that could only be gotten off by hand with much elbow grease.

I tried using more LemiShine, vinegar and baking soda-- even washing the dishes by hand now and again to start fresh. But it was no use. My dishwasher was all gunked up, the shiny stainless steel interior was white with deposits, whether of hard water or detergent, I couldn't tell, and my glasses were gross.

And then.

A friend introduced me to Glass Magic. I had seen it on the shelves, but never bought it, because the box looks like the Cascade box, and Cascade did a number on my dishwasher. But I was desperate.

My friend said it took a few washings with it, but eventually all her glassware came out clear and shiny again, and her dishwasher was clean.

So I bought some, and you know what? By the time I had used up the box (which at my house was a week at most) all my glassware looked NEW. I'm not kidding. And the stainless steel interior of my dishwasher? SHINY SHINY.

So I have a new hero.

Glass Magic® Performance Booster (2744338210) - 8 Pack
I'm not getting paid to say this (though it would be nice), but if you have problems with hard water or detergent scum, get Glass Magic. It will make you, and your dishes, and your dishwasher, very happy.

UPDATE 7/10/09:
Glass Magic is now called "Finish Glass Magic Performance Booster" and the box looks like this:

Finish Glass Magic Dishwasher Performance Booster: 16 OZ

It's still the same stuff, and it still works great.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quick Takes Friday #10

Here we are: another whole week gone, and for my Seven Quick Takes let me take you through my week.

Last Saturday:

My house guests (brother and his 10-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old sister) went home after a two-week visit. Big general sigh of relaxation among all the household.

LovelyDaughter and JD showed up in time to say good-bye to the visitors, and then stayed for dinner (our noon meal), and then stayed to hang out. It felt real holiday-ish.

In the evening, JD and LovelyDaughter let me ride along to see the town fireworks, and when we got back, we found the other boys had planned a surprise and had a pile of our own fireworks ready to set off. I know they blew mucho wages on that display but it was great fun to watch and they had great fun putting it on. I don't know who comes up with the names for some of these fireworks--stuff like "Crazy Exciting" or "One Bad Mother" or "The Whole Enchilada"-- but for some reason it adds to the fun.

And then I plunged in and made homemade lemonade for the first time, and discovered that it's ridiculously easy:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Heat till all the sugar is melted. Then add:

1 cup lemon juice
3-4 cups cold water and ice (more or less, till the sweet/tart ratio suits you)

That's it! Unless you want to spruce it up like I did, and put a whole sliced lemon into it and stir it around. And then put a slice of lemon in each glass, which will make everyone say really nice things about how you're spoiling them.


JD and Lovelydaughter came over again for the day, I went to the library in the afternoon (big splurge activity), and in the evening Swede came over, which made a great ending to a great holiday weekend.


Laundry, laundry, laundry. All the bedding the girls and Brother slept on. And I do mean ALL, since one of the girls has to wear Depends at night, and let me just say that perhaps "Depends" is not the best name for something that undependable. The foam mattress they slept on is still out in the yard airing.

Bake bread.


Laundry, laundry, laundry. Everybody's clothes.

Bake bread again, while the weather is reasonably nice so I don't have to use the oven later in the week when it's supposed to get really hot again.


Crash. I did some cleaning in the morning, and then read a book all afternoon. As Agatha Christie wrote in a story in another one of her books, I was both "soothed and stimulated by the perusal of it."


Super Crash. I'm ashamed to say I did absolutely nothing all day beyond making supper and was still exhausted.

Well, I gave a whole morning of my life to reading The Persian Pickle Club, and I felt cheated. For one thing, I kept noticing little things that seemed to say "This description is to add atmosphere," or "Here I throw in jargon for realism." It's disconcerting to have a story keep somehow reminding you of all the things you read in "How to Write a Best Selling Novel and Make Big Bucks."

For another thing, the "moral" of the story was something to the effect of "it's okay to kill a man if you save a woman in the process."


And the secondary moral was like unto it: "women need to stick together because women's friendships are strong and heartwarming, and better than relationships with men."

Or something like that. *sigh*


Hubby has charged me with taking two naps today. He said "get rested!" before he left for work this morning. I don't know if I'll manage to sleep twice, but I will probably try for a snooze this afternoon. Right now I need to do a little cleaning up and go buy some groceries.

And now I am looking forward with anticipation to tomorrow: We are invited to spend the weekend with some friends who live about a two-hour drive from here. I'm really, really looking forward to the chance to visit with friends, and also the break from my kitchen!

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Quick Takes Friday #9

It's been a busy week, what with three house guests (my brother and his two girls). As usual, I feel like I spend most of my time planning meals, cooking them, and cleaning them up.

Here's what we had today:

How'd I do for my first time to grill steak?

Dessert: "Mud-from-the-Crik," aka Ice Cream Sundae Cake.

Would you like a closer look at that?

(Pix courtesy of DrummerDude, who I think could have a future as as food photographer...)

Two days ago we did something I've been dreaming about for a year: we bought a new mattress.
Mattress Set
Last July, Hubby and I and Swede spent a night in Denver at a Comfort Inn, and that hotel mattress was the most comfortable I've ever slept on. You may remember that in the morning I tore the bedding off the bed to find out what kind of mattress that was.

Well, now we have some money, and we drove to the Denver Mattress store in BigCity and told the sales guy what we were looking for. He sold us a mattress and we brought it home, set it up, and slept on it.


My ribs hurt and my hips hurt and my back hurt. After I'd been tossing around on it for HOURS I looked at the clock and discovered I'd only been in bed for an hour and a half. This is going to be a LONG night I said to myself. And it was, and Hubby agreed, and now we are on a desperate search to find The Perfect Mattress.

You see, the label on the mattress did not say exactly which model of mattress it was; it only said "Denver Mattress Co, Hospitality Division." So we had to try to guess which model, which is complicated by the fact that the Hospitality Division is separate from the Retail Division. Hubby says if all else fails we are driving back to the Comfort Inn in Denver and offering to trade them our mattress for theirs! :)

On the bright side, I bought a pillow and it IS just like the one in the hotel. At least my pillow was comforting last night while my ribs were hurting!

We also ordered a new couch:

The website said they ship in one to three days. It's now been two weeks, and the only sign of life I can see is that our credit card has been charged with the order.

Let's hope all goes well, and that we like it as well as we anticipate. The couch we have now was a hand-me-down twenty-seven years ago, and it was probably ten to fifteen years old then!

Today for the first time I am wearing these:

Naturalizer Gersen Chrome Yellow Canvas

I'm wearing them with black capris, a yellow scoop-neck tee and a white camisole.

Technically, they should be all I was looking for in a pair of flats: cute, stylish, comfy... I'll let you know later how they live up.

Makeover Update:

New book! Just came today!

Flatter Your Figure

I paid one penny for it (at Amazon), plus shipping, of course, but still a good deal. It has all kinds of great diagrams, so it looks like fun. I'll let you know if it's good or not.

Okay. I'm done. Have a great 4th!

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.