Saturday, October 29, 2011

Adventures in Baking: Snickerdoodle Muffins

One of my all-time favorite cookies is the Snickerdoodle. Mmm... they are so yummy. I think I like them because they are so light - the texture is delightful and the taste is so subtle. I can eat a dozen before I realize it! Another reason I love snickerdoodles is because they are so fun to make. Rolling dough in cinnamon sugar is just a good excuse to lick my fingers, then the spoon, then heck... why not? The entire bowl. The third reason I like making snickerdoodles is because it is the only cookie that I always have all the ingredients in my pantry at any given time. I can't keep chocolate chips in the house... they get eaten by the handful!

So anyways, last night as I was perusing Pinterest, I came across a recipe for a snickerdoodle muffin. Even though it was 8 o'clock at night, I began to think about breakfast. How yummy did these sound? So yummy.  However, I didn't like the recipe. I searched the internet until I found one that I did like - simple and quick and with all the ingredients already in my pantry. I was set.

About 2 hours later, I was still thinking about the snickerdoodle muffin. The recipe I had found was still not quite right. One recipe had required rolling the muffin dough in cinnamon sugar. Huh? The second required baking the muffins, then dipping them in melted butter then cinnamon sugar. I'm not sure why, but somehow that just sounded like muffin blasphemy! That's just plain ol' awkward. So, I thought... streusel! Of course! The go-to topping of choice and SO much easier than rolling individual muffins. So, I found the easiest recipe for streusel possible and combined 2 recipes, and even added an additional ingredient.

Here's the experiment.

You'll need:

Dry ingredients:
1/2 C sugar
1 & 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon (my addition)

Wet ingredients:
1/3 C butter, melted
1 egg (room temperature)
1/2 C milk

Streusel topping:
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T soft butter (room temperature)
1/2 t. cinnamon
*You could also add a couple of tablespoons of flour if you like, but I thought, why take away from the creamy goodness of brown sugar?

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

First, mix all dry ingredients together in a medium-large bowl.

Sift dry ingredients.

Combine with wet ingredients and mix just until the dry ingredients are wet. The batter will be lumpy.

Place in your muffin tins. I got a full dozen with this recipe.

Next, make your streusel by combing the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in another small bowl. Stir with a fork until it is moist but crumbly (see above).

Gently sprinkle the streusel on each muffin. You don't have to press it in!

Bake for 20-25 minutes. My gas oven cooks way too hot and fast, so I only baked these for about 17 minutes.

Snickerdoodle goodness for breakfast!!!

Happy baking!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Culture Shock?

One of my many visitors the past two weeks asked me a GREAT question:

"Are you in culture shock?"

I immediately answered with a "Umm... a little. I think so. No. Maybe? Hmm... probably."

For the millions of military wives out there, they know exactly what I am talking about, this culture shock. Even when my Coastie and I were dating, I didn't fully comprehend this thing calling military life. I naively thought it was just a job. Sure, a job that took him away a lot, but still, it was just a job.


Wrong. This life has its own culture, language, implicit rules, and fierce love and protectiveness that "civilians" can't understand. My own family struggled with my decision to marry a military career man. Politics come in to play all too easily. How could I give up a comfortable life near family to go wherever the CG sent us?  

Here's the thing: the military life isn't just a job... it is a total and complete way of life. I had to learn (actually, I'm still learning) a whole new language. It is full of acronyms and phrases that are pretty much foreign to me. For example, I had to call someone to ask about our BAH and they said to call the MAC. Every time I have to ask a question, I had better know my Coastie's SSN, unit, and rank, or no one will help me. The social hierarchy is also different. As a social worker, I strive to create a world where all people are equally respected and treated fairly. That's impossible in this life... friendships, social activities, even conversations are based on rank. Higher ups don't socialize with the Enlisted and vice versa. Even among the Enlisted, there are rank separations about who you can befriend! We are even separated into different neighborhoods on base!! I am not criticizing this lifestyle; it has always worked this way and it always will. I cannot change it. I can accept it and not take it personal. I say these things to educate you "civilians." And yes, we do call you that. It is not derogatory; it is simply a fact. It acknowledges that we have a different culture, language, and mission and purpose on this earth. We aren't better than anyone... we chose this life. But please forgive us when we are exclusive and speak in our own language. Forgive us when we smile with sad eyes because you can't understand how we "do it" when our husbands are away. Forgive us when our priorities don't align with the rest of the American culture.

So, yes, I am in culture shock. I am completely out of my comfort zone. But I am loving every minute. It challenges my brain, what I thought I knew, what I thought was important, and who I thought was important. Here, politics are just an afterthought. Here, religion is still going strong. Here, entire conversations happen with just a bunch of letters strung together. Here, homecomings are the highlight of your year. Here, every face belongs to someone who is or has been in the same spot as you. There is commonality among strangers that is no longer achievable in the civilian world. Here, no matter what branch or rank, you can empathize with another spouse or parent over the worries, fears, and proud moments that make every part of this life worth living.

Friday's Favorites

This week's favorite product is one I include in most of the green cleaning projects. Can you guess? Oh yes... baking soda!

This week during my grocery store visit, I stopped on the baking aisle and began price comparing the brands of baking soda. I mean, it's all the same stuff, but I like to ask to research how can I get it for the least amount of money. I didn't earn the name "Penny Pincher" for nothing!

Okay, so back to the baking soda. I noticed this ad on the corner of the Arm & Hammer box. I usually ignore ads or "buy 2 get 1 free" gimmicks (after doing the math plus figuring in "Will I actually use all of this?" it usually isn't worth it). However, this particular box struck my fancy, made my skirt fly up, put the syrup on my pancakes, and caused my frugal radar to beep.

Arm & Hammer paired up with Better Homes and Garden magazine to offer a one year subscription to the magazine if you purchase two boxes of baking soda. I immediately picked up two boxes!

By quickly doing the math ($1.34 for 2 boxes at $.67/box) and prioritizing my love of cooking and making a home, I knew I had struck home-making-on-a-budget gold.

I filled out the mail-in form and included the receipt. It was that simple! I've already used some of the baking soda, so the deal is already working to my advantage.

I'm so excited to be getting my $1.34/year magazine. If you have this deal in your area, take advantage of it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Since I haven't blogged in a week, it is perfect that it is Thankful Thursday!! I've had quite a busy week - full of starting a new job, lots of company, and new adventures in my new local town. This post helps me focus and shift my attention back to what is truly important. I find it is so easy to become mired down in the day-to-day worries and concerns. Thursday is my day to acknowledge all the blessings I have.

So, this week, I am incredibly thankful for:

A visit with my mom.

A week of incredible sunsets.

Exploring the local area and seeing incredible art.

Meeting other military wives.

Hearing my husband's voice.

Sweet friends.

Chicken and veggie stir fry.

The hilarious and sweet residents at my new job.


Decisions that bring me peace.

Quality conversations.

Afternoons at the beach.

Be thankful today and every day!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday's Favorites

Yes, I like lame catchy titles. Forgive me.

Actually, I wanted to spotlight products, people, or ideas that inspire me. Since I didn't make any of these products, people, or ideas, I couldn't really blog about how to make them, could I? So, in effect, welcome to Friday's Favorites! Each Friday (that I remember), I write a quick blurb about why I like the product. I do NOT get paid for this (I wish I did!). Seriously, I just love a good deal and love to share it with people.

Funny story: I went to visit my mom in Orlando last week. A friend of hers at the conference complimented me on my necklace. I said "Thanks" and told her it had been $2 at Forever 21. She looked at me like I was an alien freak (you know... with her head cocked at a 30 degree angle to the right, eyes full of pity, and pursed lips) and said, "You didn't need to tell me that." Like, somehow I offended her with my thrifty-ness! Calm down, lady! I just wanted to share the money-saving tip about cheap jewelry at Forever 21. It wasn't meant to offend. But hey, if you're offended by a good deal... maybe you should find another blog right now about all the expensive stuff at Tiffany's.

If you can't afford Tiffany's, and you're still reading my ramblings, thank you!

Let's get on with it... here's the first product featured on Friday's Favorites:

I love this soap! I use it in the shower, for laundry detergent, and in liquid form to make other green cleaning solutions. My husband even uses this now. At first, it was weird that it had no smell. How did you know you were clean??? Do you feel clean? Did all the dirt get washed off? Do you stink like an old gym sock? No? Then I guess the Castile soap worked. Seriously, I'm now addicted to this stuff. Plus, it suds up on a loofah just like a body wash full of chemicals. It's smooth and creamy, and it keeps my skin from drying out in the Florida air. One bar has lasted me almost 5 months. Can you say that about your expensive body wash? This is only about $1.00 each (usually sold in packs of 3). Try it and fall in love!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I have SO many things to be thankful this week. The first and most important - I am officially employed!!! Not only am I employed, but I have a great title, my own office, and it's with a Christian company so I can share my faith. Plus, I've only been here 3 weeks! God is so good! We feel so blessed for this calling. I am completely at peace and so eager to start to work.

I'm also thankful for:

Chicken tetrazinni.

My cute pink glue gun.

My mom's upcoming visit.

Phone calls from back home.

Skype dates with my best friend.

New recipes.

A wonderful friend in another Coastie wife.

A free gym membership (that I actually taken advantage of!).

The friendly people at the Family Readiness Center who are so helpful.

The very cool Florida weather.

Encouraging words about this blog from others.

Sweet cards in the mail.

Be thankful today... and every day. Happy Thursday!

Going Green: Cute Odor Eliminator

As a proud owner of a cat, I struggle with the odors of the litter box. I think I'm going to attempt homemade kitty litter at some point. But for now, I'm going to tackle the issue of litter box odors. I got this cute idea from Pinterest.

Here's what you'll need:

Baking soda
Essential oil
Glass mason jar
Cotton kitchen twine

I used orange essential oil because it is light and fresh. It has a tough job ahead of it, so I wanted something sweet but strong.

Simply fill your mason jar about half or 2/3 full:

Add in 25-30 drops of essential oil. Don't be shy!!

Next, cover the opening of the mason jar with fabric. Eyeball it, and cut slits in the fabric to create holes for the air to pass through.

Next, secure the fabric with the kitchen twine (or whatever you have on hand). Trim up the extra fabric and tie a sweet bow.

And voila! You have a cute, eco-friendly, odor eliminator to sit next to the litter box. This would also be cute in other areas of the house... perhaps near my husband's work boots. If the baking soda gets stiff, just give the jar a good shake. That will release the scents of the essential oil and keep the baking soda effective.

If Mr. McGee could, he would say "Thank you!"

But he doesn't speak to us lowlife humans. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Going Green: Homemade Powder Cleaner

Powder cleaner you ask? What would I use that for around my house?

I use it as a Comet-like bathroom scrub. I also sprinkle it on the carpet, let it sit about 15 minutes, and then vacuum it up. This smells great and it is SO EASY to make!!!!

Here's what you'll need:

Baking soda
Essential oil (I used orange because that's all I had)

I am going to blow your eco-friendly mind by how easy this is! Simply put the baking soda in your container and sprinkle in 15-20 drops of the essential oil. Mix together. Done!

Again, I use this like I would the brand-name Comet in the bathroom or use it to take odors out of the carpet. 

Happy Cleaning!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Wedding Blog Post

Since it is our one month anniversary, I thought I'd write a short blog about our wedding. We had the best wedding we could have imagined! As a wedding planner and former bridesmaid at 10 weddings, I knew what I liked, what I didn't like, and what was and was NOT important. Getting married in our late 20s also helped. I was able, as a female born into a society that prizes wedding costing on average $27,000, to put that aside and focus on what was most important to me and to us as a couple: the marriage. Don't get me wrong, I love weddings! But we made a conscious decision to focus more on our relationship and our upcoming marriage than a day to party. Our pastor phrased it perfectly; he said marriage was not the finish line - it was the starting line. That fit right in with our "Team Preston" mentality!

Don't worry, I won't bore you with all the details of our wedding. But I will share some advice. I think I've earned that right with all the weddings I have planned, been a part of, and now being the bride.

First, put aside expectations. This was especially difficult for me. I am a people pleaser! I struggled with it right up until the moment I walked down the aisle. We were 30 minutes late starting the ceremony, but that was only because so many people came to love us that the shuttle to the destination had to make an extra trip! (I hate being late, so that bothered me.) Anyways, put aside expectations - of your family, of what is proper, of what people might say. Toss it out the window. Plan a day of celebration (in our case, a whole weekend!) that reflects BOTH of you.

That leads me to my second point: Plan a wedding that incorporates the bride AND the groom. So many women forget this little tidbit! For example, we planned a wedding that was outdoors, in the mountains, was simple, small, and organic. This reflected both of our personalities: we love nature, I have a family place in the mountains, and we wanted the marriage and our friends to be the focus - not decorations, flowers, or expensive details. Another example, my husband wore Chaco sandals with his suit.

He was more comfortable in a suit than a tux, and the sandals reflect his hippie, laid-back personality. Some women scoffed at this and couldn't believe I "allowed" it, but I loved it! I loved that he was so comfortable and authentic at our wedding! I chose not to wear a veil, but instead chose a simple gardenia for my hair. I was comfortable, smelled great, my groom loved it, and it was so easy to get ready!

Third, we had a theme. The theme was so subtle, I doubt people picked up on it... as it should be. Our theme was one of trees. We picked a tree because we talked a lot beforehand about our "roots." What kept us rooted in love, for example. We reflected this in our invitations, our "Blessing Tree" for a guest book, and even our cupcake stand!

Fourth, don't sweat the details. As a graduate student, I had to choose between graduating or planning a wedding. I chose graduating! In effect, I chose a wedding location that would do all of the decorating, set-up, and clean-up for me. The location was small, so that also helped me hack away at the guest list. However, I completely trusted the owner and coordinator; she didn't disappoint! I refused to stress about table settings, centerpieces, or the menu. I chose to focus on other things and gave her my vision. She made it come to life! I asked for lots of candles and rocks from the river in which I learned to swim:

I also bucked tradition by not having programs for the ceremony. Instead, I wanted to save trees (get the theme??) and had the ceremony outlined on a chalkboard:

It was the same with my cupcake baker. I told her my vision and it was better than I could have imagined! Even down to the tree branches iced onto the top tier:

The same was also true of our flowers. I simply showed our floral designer a picture of what I was envisioning, then trusted her professional opinion and skill to make it come to life with what was in season:

What I noticed during the planning was that I had picked ALL local, small business owners, who were also all single women! As a child of a single mother, I guess I have a proclivity to support single women in their business ventures.

The details that we cared about were all taken care of: we had UT orange and white scattered throughout the wedding day (but hardly noticeable so we wouldn't be overwhelmed), our tree theme, an unconventional location surrounded by God's beauty, the most amazing rehearsal dinner and celebration thrown by his parents, and a super fun and sweet choreographed First Dance.

I have much more advice on wedding planning, but I'll keep that to myself unless you're curious. My thoughts are mostly about making the wedding personal, affordable, and comfortable - for you, your groom, your family, and your guests. We had a traditional wedding with a few new ideas thrown in. It was a great mix for us! I guess I did alright because my husband is still talking about how "perfect" our wedding was and how perfectly it reflected us as individuals and as couple. 

The most important part of the entire process and wedding day was that we were married. At the end of the night, shouldn't that be all that matters? 

Marrying my Coastie was the best decision I ever made. Happy Anniversary wherever you are, Mr. Preston!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Me? A Floridian? Never...

Okay, so for a country gal to leave her mountains, it had to be something special right? Right. My Coastie is absolutely worth it! However, I love my mountains. So what is a girl to do in such a flat place like Florida? I've decided that instead of allowing myself to mope around, I'm going to keep a running list of all the things I like or love about living in Florida. So far, this list is pretty slim, but I'm sure I'll be adding to it. This is all part of my plan to put a more positive vibe out in the world.

So, here goes. I like:

The right lane "continuously green" light at busy intersections. (It allows you to keep going through an intersection if the light is red. Somebody back home... tell Kingston Pike about this idea!!!)

The grid pattern of the streets. It makes it easy for me to get un-lost relatively easily.

The palm trees.

The sunrises and sunsets.

The dolphins who play in the river behind our house.

My husband lives here.

Everybody knows somebody near my hometown, or drove through it once, or know about the tourist attractions near by.

My Tennessee license plate makes me look like a tourist, so I don't feel as bad when I make an error while driving.

How big the clouds look.


Wine sold in grocery stores.

My husband lives here.

Oh, did I repeat something? I guess I did! But that's the point... the best and most important part of living in Florida is that my husband is stationed here. Nothing else matters! Traffic, the inconvenience of everything, the crazy weather, how it never gets cold, how flat it is, how only Gator paraphernalia is sold here... none of that compares to the fact that HE is here and I am with him. My husband said I was not allowed to say I was a Floridian. We will always be Tennesseans at heart... no matter where the Coast Guard sends us.

But, I can't resist this:

Go VOLS!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Going Green: Soft Scrub

For most of these "green" products, I have to give a big shout-out to my fabulous mother, Jan:

She has her own "green only" cleaning business. So, basically... she is a professional and a genius. Trust me.

This is her recipe for a "soft scrub." I use this in the shower, toilet, and sink areas. She only likes to use it for the shower. However, I have this weird tendency to want to know that something was "scrubbed" really well in order to be clean. Just make it and see how you like it, but definitely try it on the shower! I used it this morning and it even took off the soap scum from the awful glass doors we have on the master bath shower.

You'll need:

1 & 2/3 C baking soda
1/2 C water
1/2 C Castille Liquid Soap (I used unscented)
2 Tbsp white vinegar
A few drops of an essential oil (I used tea tree oil because I like its disinfectant quality)
Bottle to hold solution (I used a 20oz recycled Coke bottle)

Mix baking soda, water, and liquid soap together in a bowl.

Add the vinegar. Don't be alarmed when it fizzles!

Stir together well and then add drops of the essential oil. Add however much you like - you may like a stronger scent than I do.

Give it one last stir, pour into whatever container you like and close the lid tightly. Done!

When you are ready to use this, you may notice that the scrub has gotten a little stiff. Give it a good shake or add a few drops of water and another good shake. It'll loosen up and work its magic on your shower. I use an old washcloth turned rag and just scrub away!

Happy Cleaning!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Semper Paratus"

Raise your hand if you know what that means.

No hands?


No? Okay, well "Semper Paratus" is the motto of the U.S. Coast Guard. It means, "Always Ready." The brave men and women of the USCG are always ready - for disasters, for hurricanes, for search and rescue, for law enforcement, for dinner to be disrupted, for plans with friends to be cancelled, for personal hopes changed, and to know that every time they take off that uniform, they will still have to be ready for anything.

So what does "Semper Paratus" mean for the families, wives, and friends left behind while the Coasties are out saving lives and defending the country? We, too, are always ready. We are ready to say good-bye. We are ready to help them pack their bags and kiss them a "see you later" kiss. We are ready to be alone. We are ready to keep living our day-to-day routine. We are ready to have our lives and jobs uprooted for the good of the Coast Guard. We are ready to defend our men and women when people ask what the Coast Guard really does. We are ready to have holidays, birthdays, and special moments without our Coastie. We are ready to support them. We are ready for that one phone call once a month. We are ready to welcome them home whenever that might be. We are ready for this challenge.

We are always ready.

I am ready.

Semper Paratus.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Husband Approved Chicken Pot Pie

As a new wife, I've been trying to live up to my impossibly high expectation of being a gourmet cook. My husband eats a LOT, so I've also been challenged to cook enough food for three people - myself, my husband, and his second stomach. My husband has been a wonderful sport about being a guinea pig. I've been trying all sorts of new recipes. I'm a competent cook, but I'm not gourmet or creative. I have tried so many new recipes lately, some of which my husband said he would like again and some he wasn't too crazy about. In my defense, all were edible and we even polished off the leftovers! Finally, he asked me if I had any "staple" recipes that I loved to make. I answered with the usual lasagna, pasta dishes, pork fried rice, and chicken pot pie. His face lit up when I said chicken pot pie. He begged until I made it for him and I am so glad I did! He talked about it for two days!!!

I'm going to give you this very, very simple recipe for the Husband Approved Chicken Pot Pie. BUT, here is a warning: this is NOT a gourmet, fancy, intricate, or expensive dinner. If you are looking to impress guests, do not make this. However, if you want something easy and comforting, make this tonight!

Chicken Pot Pie

Heat oven to 350.

You'll need:
1 pckg of pre-made pie crusts (I use store brand!)
2 cups of pre-cooked chicken (I use about half of a rotisserie chicken)
2 or 3 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
Carrots, diced
Broccoli, roughly chopped
2 cans Healthy Request Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
Large dollop of sour cream (if you have it)

Pre-cook your potatoes until fork tender.
Steam the carrots and broccoli for about 5-7 minutes.
Put all the ingredients (minus the pie crusts) in a bowl and mix. I added a large dollop of sour cream to the mixture until it looked creamy enough.
Unroll one pie crust and place in bottom of a greased 9 inch pie dish. Pour the mixture into the pie dish and cover with remaining pie crust. Pinch the crusts together. Cut slits in the top.
Cook for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe is also good for using up other leftovers. You could add whatever veggies you have on hand or substitute turkey or ham for the chicken. Make it your own or make it how your husband, kids, or friends would actually eat!


Thankful Thursday

It's that time again... the day of the week where I sit and make my list of all the things I am most grateful for that week. Thankful Thursday! This week has been packed full of blessings, sad moments, surprises, good conversations, and tightening the belt until payday. BUT, I am still thankful and grateful to the Lord for all these things and for all the other blessings I am sure I am not even aware of yet.

Here's this week's list:
My sister's visit.
The amazing Coastie wives who have checked in on me.
Learning my way around enough to not have to use the GPS.
A phone call about a job.
My husband loving the chicken pot pie I made for him.
Sweet friends back home.
A Navy wife who is a life-saver, good friend, excellent mom, and general cheerleader of life.
Home-made hummus.
Church shopping with my husband.
Waffles on Sundays.
A phone call from my cousin.
Sunscreen and days at the beach.
A free gym membership.

I am one blessed gal!

Be thankful today! I'm going to go enjoy the last hours I have with my sister during this visit. Have a great Thursday!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quick Fix Idea

Confession! I am addicted to Pinterest. Haven't heard of it? Well, stop reading this silly blog and go find out. Once you have extricated yourself from your new obsession... Welcome back.

I am actually putting a lot of the ideas I've found on Pinterest to work in my house. Some ideas are just fun to daydream about, but when my husband approached me on how to wash his expensive sleeping bag, I ran upstairs and went to my "Going Green" board on Pinterest. I knew I had seen something about how to freshen laundry...

Ahh, yes. The reusable dryer sheet. In that case, the gal had soaked a dish towel in fabric softener, dried it completely, and then tossed it in with her laundry - load after load! She claimed it saved her from buying dryer sheets - same fresh fragrance without all of the cost.

So, what did this little housewife do? I thought, "I could do this!" I read the care instructions on the sleeping bag. Time and money were not on our side to have this sucker dry cleaned or taken to a big laundry mat, so I looked around our laundry room for inspiration.

I found these:

Woolite (I love it for washing delicates), an old rag, and a tupperware container (from the kitchen). So, armed with these items and ingenuity, I made my own dryer sheet/Dryel sheet.

I covered the rag with enough Woolite for it to be damp, but not soaked (again, time was against us). I let it air dry overnight. Then, I simply tossed the sleeping bag into the dryer with the Woolite-fresh rag and PRESTO! An hour later we had a clean-smelling sleeping bag. We even went a step further and hung the sleeping bag inside out on our patio. Now my husband will have the least man-smelly sleeping bag on the boat. Granted, I would love to have that thing clean with good ol' soap and water, but that will have to wait. At least it smells more clean and fresh!

The Third Preston: Mr. McGee

After our introductory blog post, I was reprimanded reminded that I had forgotten one critical family member. This someone would be Mr. McGee. He is our 4 year old, medium hair (meaning his fur is long-ish and sheds everywhere) mutt of a cat. He is beautiful!!!

Here he was as a little kitty (second day with me!):

Such a tiny face! Okay, well enough of the baby kitty talk. 

Now Mr. McGee is 4 years old and loving life here in Florida! He has adjusted quite well. The 12 hour car ride with a hotel stay was a bit stressful, but he did exceptionally well. Especially since he was either sitting in my lap or on a pile of my clothes the entire ride. For those of you who have had to travel with pets, you know it is no easy chore. But after the first 2 hours in the car, Mr. McGee shut up calmed down and we had a peaceful trip.

He enjoyed doing this during the trip:

Now Mr. McGee is king of the castle at casa de Preston. He already his favorite places to hide, nap, and snuggle. I feel so lucky that I married a "cat person." My husband loves Mr. McGee... I think maybe it's because he finally has a pet to play with again!

Last night, Mr. McGee thought my pillow was his throne.

Wrong! Well, at least until I fell asleep, then I'm sure Mr. McGee made himself comfortable on my head and/or pillow again.

He loves all the windows and doors in our home. He especially loves watching the neighbor's dogs scamper about! I think Mr. McGee may need a brother or a sister of the canine persuasion soon...

I left him happily playing in the garage, so I better go rescue him from a lizard or giant beetle or something. Mr. McGee would lose that fight. He's a lover, not a fighter.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Going Green: Laundry Detergent

The Preston household is making a commitment to "go green." We want to use more natural, organic, local, and earth-friendly products and food in our home. This is a huge commitment - it takes both time and money. However, in the long run, it makes us feel healthy and good about how we run our home. One of our first attempts at "going green" is laundry detergent. Now, if you are married to man like my husband, he'll go through three outfits a day. Plus, as a military man who works on a ship all day, he comes home covered in grease, oil, and dirt. Laundry time is ALL THE TIME. So, to cut down on our costs, waste, and putting chemicals back into the water, we decided to use an all-natural laundry detergent.

Here's the recipe.

You'll need:

Borax (about $4), Washing Soda (about $3), and Castille soap ($2.50 for 3 bars).

First, in a medium size bowl, add 1 cup Borax:

And 1 cup Washing Soda:

And 1 ENTIRE bar of Castille soap - grated.

It doesn't hurt to have a handsome husband help with the grating, either. He loves being involved! 

Mix all 3 ingredients together and you're done!

Here's the end product. If you are like me, and all your appropriately sized tupperware is holding leftovers in your fridge, just grab a plastic bag. 

Use about 1/4 cup per load. This recipe will do about 15-20 loads.

If you have a particularly oily or greasy load of laundry (like I do a few times a week!), just add a drizzle of your regular dishwashing detergent. It will pull out all the grease! 

I washed our first load with this detergent and it worked perfectly. Enjoy!