Monday, August 27, 2012

Outkast would be proud.

I'll preface this by saying I am in NO way addicted to Pinterest.  I definitely use it from time to time but if I started to pin everything I loved on there, it would incite a pretty intense anxiety attack from the amount of unfinished projects and ideas that I never got around to actually doing.  You see, I'm a DIYer.  Not a PIYer (Pin it Yourself).  So for every few things I pin, I make sure I actually DO one of those things.  

I got this image from Pinterest.  The irony is thick, I know.

Anyone who has ever perused the site has probably seen the hundreds of "recipes" for DIY Laundry detergent.  With incredible claims of saving crap tons of money and many of them going the all natural route, I made this idea one of my super exclusive pins.  (If my pins had a wardrobe, they'd wear Members Only jackets.)

What's odd is that I've not ONCE thought about how much money I spend on detergent in a year (I imagine it's not more than the average American) and I don't go too far out of my way for the natural, organic route (sorry treehugging amigos).  But this seemed easy enough and would kill two birds with one stone.  (Husbo would be upset if I didn't encourage you to Google "Nick Thune Killing Two Birds joke."  It's worth it.)

After a Saturday afternoon trip to Target (and then Walmart)'s my loot:

Update: I didn't use the small container of Oxi-Clean.  Photobombing bastard.

1. (1) four pound twelve ounce box of Borax (Found in Laundry aisle)
2. (3) bars of Fels-Naptha soap (Found in Laundry aisle)
3. (1) four pound box of arm & hammer baking soda (Baking aisle)
4. (1) box of arm & hammer super washing soda (Laundry aisle)
5. (1) large container of Oxi Clean Free (Laundry aisle)

The only semi-difficult part was that the soap bars needed to be grated.  Ready for an action shot?
Go Steelers!

It took a little while to grate the three bars (Husbo helped) and afterwards, it looked like grated cheddar cheese.  Since I've been known to eat an entire bag of cheese cubes in one sitting, it was a good thing it smelled so much like soap.

Make your own taco bar, anyone?

From there, I just mixed all the other ingredients into a large 5 gallon bucket (this recipe makes about 3-1/2 to 4 gallons).  

I have bigger plans to help organize our laundry closet/pantry/storage catch all, so I thought I'd give myself a head start by storing my new concoction in a fancy pants container.  I bought a simple glass jar from Target and with some leftover chalkboard paint I had lying around, I went to work.

Here's a quick hint for painting this stuff onto glass: scuff up the glass a little with some sandpaper and wash it with a warm cloth to get all the dust off.  It will help the paint adhere better.  Tape off the area to be painted and you're off!

It takes 2-3 coats to get good coverage on glass but I always wrap my paint brush in a plastic bag between coats so I don't have to wash it between applications and it doesn't start to harden up or get gross.  Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. Cover Girl.

And here she is filled up and labeled.  (Which, if you think about it, is kind of stupid because I'm relatively certain that even with my horribly awful memory, I think I could remember what I put in this container.  But I'm a big fan of adding "jewelry" to any project.)

Hello, lova.

I wanted to wait to write about it until I made sure it worked. If it left our clothes smelling like a sweaty gym bag or made weird splotchy stains, what kind of endorsement would that be?   So yesterday,  we did 3 loads (I used 2 tablespoons per load b/c you can use less with this stuff).  Verdict: amazeballs.
It smells really great (but not too strong) and left our clothes scent-free but fresh.  They say it works fine in HE washers (which we don't have) and on sensitive skin (which we also don't have but I can see why that would be true).  We do, however, use cold water for everything but the whites.  It worked well in both temperatures.
After I did a little math on the subject, figuring the total cost of the ingredients and the amount that I made, it equates to about $0.08/load.  Compared to the brands we were using before, we were spending 2-3 times that per load, wasting the plastic containers and purchasing every 4 months or so.  This should last us well over a year.  
Is it going to save us enough to buy our own private bungalow on the coast of the North Shore?  No.  But it kept me busy for an afternoon and considering I would have otherwise gone out and bought an amazing pair of "fall is almost here" boots, this project did actually save us some money.
*Note: the title of this blog post is an ode to Outkast's 2001 megahit "So Fresh, So Clean."  Even though I'm happy to overuse a catchphrase or joke until it makes people groan, 10 years is my limit for outright usage.  But I'll imply it all day long.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Conversation.

In the truck, on the way home from Cary, discussing our evening.

Husbo: I don't mind coming, I just wanna be with you.
Me: You know someone wrote a song about that one time.
H: Who's that?
M:  'N Sync.  It's  called "I Just Wanna Be With You." Remember that one?
H: No. I don't know the difference between any of those groups.
M: That's why you married me.  I know all the differences.
H: Who sang "I Want it That Way?"
M: Backstreet Boys.
H: What about "Hit Me Baby One More Time?"
M: Blasphemy.
H: What about "Bye Bye Bye Bye Bye?"
M: 'N Sync but it's only 3 "byes."
H: I'm pretty sure they say it 5 times.

Husband is met with an incredulous stare.

M: Are you seriously questioning my boy band trivia?
H: It goes Bye, Bye, Bye, Bye, Bye.  (Said with accompanying hand gesture.)

I dig through my purse furiously to find my phone. 

M: Siri! Play Bye, Bye, Bye.

Siri obliges. Husbo hands me the aux cable to play through the speakers.  Song plays.  Upon reaching the first chorus, they sing Bye Bye Bye and then two echoed "Byes" play.

H: See?  5.
M: No.  They sing it 3 times and then there are effects that add a couple echoes.  The title of the song only has 3!

Song continues to play. I begin to do the dance moves from the music video.

H: You're getting way too in to these moves.

 I'm not listening due to continued dancing.  Song eventually ends. Conveniently we have just turned onto our street.

H: Well at least you got to get that out of your system. I think we're both right though.
M: About what? I need to use the bathroom before we go.

Try to focus on something other than the enormous turtleneck.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hambones Across America!

Go use the bathroom and grab a snack before digging in to this. I don't know how to edit myself.

Part One: California Über Alles

This trip started many moons ago when our good friends, the Hambones, announced they were going to be spending the summer in California. Jealousy immediately set in, followed by sadness - not only because they are friends, but because they are friends with a pool. Somehow we came up with the idea of flying out at the end of their trip to drive back across the ol' US of A with them.

We left our house at 4:40am, already hot and muggy outside. Arriving in San Francisco some hours later, but only 11am PST, we had an awesome reception:

The red and white from N.C. State. 

Yep, we had a sign waiting as we went down the escalator. The best part is that I hadn't told Kelly that I officially changed the way I wanted our last name plurazied earlier this year - she just thought it sounded better. We also had waters waiting for us in the back of Carlo's (Kelly's gentleman caller) 4Runner. Isn't it weird riding in someone else's car that's almost exactly like yours? The answer is yes, it is. Especially when his license plate says "FRESH" and he has dice on the mirror. Yeah I was jealous.

Our first meal? Strangely, not In-N-Out, but L&L Hawaiian Barbeque. Kelly had gotten me a gift card for my birthday to entice us to come out west - which I had conveniently left on the dresser at home.  Kelly and Carlo then took us around San Francisco for a bit. China Beach, where we watched an awkward wedding photography session, and of course our own impromptu photo session.

This is not nearly all of the pictures they posed for.

Next stop was for afternoon dessert at "Oops I Creped My Pants." They weren't the worst crepes I'd ever had. (They were the first crepes I'd ever had.)

"Because I'm wearing them, and I just did."

After some quality/half-ass napping at our hotel (which was courtesy of All West Virginian American Andy "Face" Facemire's points), we finally met up with the Hambones and their California tans. We had a failed food truck experience before going to the Pastrami Palace in San Something (there are too many to keep straight). We sat outside in longsleeves, jackets, and next to a heater. In July. It was awesome. Then we fell asleep during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

The next morning we had Breakfast at Tiffany's. No, really, we totally did. Not nearly as fancy as I thought it'd be, but nevertheless quite tasty. More impromptu photo shoots.

Have you ever tried to take a picture of two unathletic girls jumping?

The Hambones and I then headed towards SF while Sarah and Kelly went shopping in San Mateo. Pretty touristy stuff for us as Taco had never been to SF. This was interesting though:

I think this is better than actually posting the picture of the naked dudes.

Sarah finally met up with us, which meant one thing - cupcake time. The only place we hadn't been (according to the Cupcake Wars app) was Mission Minis. Only two flavors available - red velvet and cinnamon horchata - which had both apparently been sitting out a while as they were both pretty dry. I'd like to try the cinnamon one fresh though.

She's lunging.

Dinner at a 'za place in the Haight, I walked to Amoeba Records, we were exhausted. We're just now getting to Sunday? I told you it'd be wordy. Eastward!

It's pretty amazing how fast the California landscape changes. We went from the hills of San Francisco to almost deserty farmland pretty quickly. Sadly, our last stop at In-N-Out. A few hours later and we're in the beautiful mountains of...

We chose to skip the more famous/crowded sites that we'd never heard of anyway and headed over the Tuolumne Road, which is closed during winter. The only hike we wanted to make was down to a Giant Sequoia Grove. The rest of the trip through the park would be mostly from the road and, as Ethan calls them, vee-sta points.

This is how we hike. In ballet flats, Vans, and Instagram filters.
I don't think anything can really prepare you for a) the number of Europeans you'll meet on the trails, or b) how GIANT these trees really are. Amazing. Their pine cones - are they even called pine cones for Giant Sequoias? I'm not looking it up now. I digress... - which, according to numerous signs, you shouldn't pick up, were WAY bigger than my foot. (FYI I wear a 10.5 and am always looking to add to my Nike Air Max collection. Donations welcome.)

This is a photo collage.

There really were some amazing vee-stas in the park. If you're into nature, camping, backpacking Europeans, or California, I highly recommend a trip.

Have I mentioned that we don't own a real camera? I ran it over with my truck. If there are high quality pictures on here, someone else took them. Or I photoshopped them.
SENIORS '01!!!
We finally made it out of the park a little before the sun went down, and drove a few more hours to the capital city of the great state of Nevada - Carson City. We were happy to sleep and happier to leave it the next morning. If only we knew what the rest of Nevada would be like...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A bit of a sticky situation.

I know we promised vacation blog recaps (and they're coming!) but I thought I'd make a quick post about an incident that happened at work today.

It all started when I decided to rock a pair of 4" leather peep toes to work.  (That's a type of shoe for all the dudes out there.)  It was one of those days when I needed to look extra fly.  I had a big meeting after lunch and the higher the heel=higher the confidence. 

Around 11am I noticed the lining on the shoe was coming up on the back of one of the heels, creating a soft flapping noise.  Being the innovative (and classy) broad that I am, I decided to enlist the arsenal that is my resource library at work.  We've got a myriad of adhesive solutions for finish boards, etc.  Spray mount.  Velco strips.  Elmers.  And the mother of them all: Super Glue. 

The name alone should justify my choice.  It was going to do a super job.  So I picked up a fresh tube and got ready to do some modern day cobblin'.  I've always imagined Super Glue to have the consistency of say...maple syrup.  Not quite molasses but a thicker, slower consistency.  I turned the cap over to use the handy point on the back of the lid to puncture the foil seal.  Not sure I had made a big enough hole for the glue to come out, I squeezed the tube. 

Here's where it all fell apart.  Apparently (as many of my co-workers tell me after the fact), Super Glue has the consistency of water.  This fact, combined with my mighty death grip caused the glue to go ev.ery.where.

Now for those of you that know me, I prioritize my shoes above...well, most things.  Knowing I needed to act quickly to get this sticky mess off my hands (yes, plural), I decided to try and drop a few dots of the glue under the offending shoe liner that prompted this mess so I could clean up for good.  As I tried to gently push out a couple dots underneath the flap, my super-human strength got the best of me again.  Glue ran out everywhere.  (Perhaps I'd convinced myself that just the first part of the bottle was liquidy and it got thicker the further down you went.)

Either way, in my haste to make it to the break room (on the complete opposite side of our office), I figured that it could only be a good thing to have a little extra reinforcement underneath that liner.  So I slipped the heel on and made a quick dash to the nearest sink.

I washed.  And washed.  And washed.  I soaked my hands in warm water with some soap.  2-3 minutes looked like this.

I'm actually a little disappointed with how poorly this picture captures reality.
I looked like a leper.  And I was getting ready to meet my dad for lunch, followed immediately by my 'important enough to rock the super stilletto' meeting.  How was I going to shake hands with clients and resist the urge to tell them I did not have an incurable flesh-eating disease but was merely an idiot who didn't know how to use basic craft supplies?

But wait.  There's more.  As my mind quickly filtered through possible solvents in the office that would undo this blunder, I looked down at my shoes and furrowed my eyebrows.  Why was my left foot wet?  I reached down to investigate and realized: I couldn't get my beloved peep toe off.  

I had glued my foot into the shoe.

As I realized how much more dire the situation had gotten, my intern walked into the kitchen to check on me.  (As I breezed past her on the way to the sink I yelled for her to google how to get superglue off skin.)

"Sarah, are you ok?  I've read you can use vinegar or nail polish remover.  Do you think we have either of those here?"

Leaning against the counter, I shook my head. 

"Are you ok?" she asks.

I closed my eyes and sighed.  "I can't get my shoe off.  It's glued to my foot."

At this point, I realize I may have to hire her full time for the lone reason that she didn't immediately bust out laughing.  What a kind soul she is.

"Do you want me to help you get it off?"

She deserves a raise.

"That's ok...let me see if I can do this."

Luckily my super-human strength came in handy for once and after 3-4 good pulls, I was able to pull my foot away from the shoe.  I was free. 

Does the Instagram filter distract from the fact that I haven't had a pedicure in oh..say a year?
 As I type this, I still have residue all over my fingers and haven't yet been able to get the shoe liner off my foot.  But I figure time can only help me there. 

I'm taking applications for those who interested in being my bodyguard.  Apparently I need protection against my own stupidity.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Oh, we back.

Sup?  It's been a while but a lot has happened (namely, my deciding that I'm going to start using "sup" as a greeting) and we figured a catch up post was in order.   And in an effort to win Cliche Blog of the Year, we've got good news and bad news.  I always like the bad news first to end things on a high note.  So here we go...

A lot of you have been asking us what the deal is on the house.  Well, we had a big exciting day of bartering and counter offers. My HGTV-esque latte pumped feverishly through my veins as we wheeled and dealed.   Going into offer day, Husbo and I had decided on a number in our head that we were not going to go over that first day.  By day's end, there was still a moderate difference in our initial price limit and what the seller wanted. With the cost discrepancy before us, we reluctantly stuck to our guns and decided to walk away for 30 days to see if time would help motivate the seller to come down a bit more while we decided how much more we were willing to pay.

Don't act like you're not impressed with this graphic.

We realized there was risk involved in this decision and it was a major bummer to have all this build up without sealing the deal...but we knew it was the right choice at the time.

Fast forward two weeks.  While sitting in a car en route to Salt Lake City (more on that later), I joked aloud that I should probably check to make sure our house hadn't sold.  Through the magic of the iPhone, I pulled up our listing and...

Some buttheads bought our house.

(I apologize for the strong language but it's how I felt at the time.)  Yes, we knew this was a possibility.  Yes, it's totally logical that the seller would agree to sell OUR house to someone else if they offered more money for it.  But it didn't make it sting any less.

There is always the chance that during this contingency period that the buyers will back out, or their loan might not go through, or they mysteriously disappear (joking).  But the better likelihood is that we're staying where we are.

Which is a good thing.

We love where we live right now.  We stumbled upon this house not actively looking to buy and so we've got no complaints about staying in our sweet pad.  But there's a different plan for us than what we thought...and we're ok with that.

But enough about that.  On to the good news.  One of the things that softened the blow of Housegate 2012 was that we were on VACATION when I got the news.  As many of you probably picked up on via or Instagram, Husbo and I took a 10 day vacay that started with a flight into San Francisco and ended with a 7 day drive cross-country with two of our best amigos, Ethan and Carla.

For any of you that don't know me that well, I'm what some might call...long-winded.  I also love to make photo albums documenting our trips.  So the rest of this post is just a teaser to the three part series you can expect in the coming week.  But as an introduction, let me give you a rundown on the cast of characters and the general plot line.

Here are your headliners:

Tune in as she continues to "Lunge Across America."

Nick aka Husbo.  
Do we ever finish filming his boy band video?

Carla aka "Ashley" or Lady Hambone.
Will she continue to look beautiful and patient even as the morons behind her pose and twirl for the passerby traffic?

And finally:

Ethan aka: Hambone, Taco, Nathan, Barefoot Contessa (or "BC"), Jeans McQueen, The Most Nicknamed Man on Earth

Does he really wear jeans the entire trip?  Even whilst hiking shirtless in the desert searching for dinosaur fossils?

Look for plenty more pictures, stories and cliffhangers soon in this three part series:
1) "San Francisco: Where the Best Friends are Lovely but the Cupcakes are Not."
2) "The Mountain States: Can We Believe John Denver?"
3) "The Rest of the Trip: Get Us Out of Kansas."

We got back late last night and 3/4 of our car was pretty bummed to be home but luckily, I love Raleigh enough for all four of us.  We had a lot of fun and even though vacations are, it's good to be back.