A Little Holiday Cheer

In the spirit of the holidays, it is easy to get caught up in the gift-giving (and receiving!), the cookies, the music, the lights, and everything that makes Christmas so exciting. We spend time with friends and family and look forward to what the new year has to bring. However, for those individuals who may not have anyone to celebrate with, the holiday may not seem too bright. If so, this post is for you.

  1. You are loved. There is Someone who wants nothing more than to hold you and tell you everything is going to be okay. Hold close to the One who can make you feel better when no one else can.jer-31-3
  2. You are worth something. You have a purpose, a reason for being here, a reason for living. Treasure every day you have and shine your light on others. quote-there-has-never-been-and-never-will-be-another-you-you-have-a-purpose-a-very-special-marie-forleo-80-84-66
  3. You can make a difference. To the life of a rescued pet, you have changed their world. Even when it seems like no one else needs you, they do. If you choose to shop, please adopt and save a life. Millions of animals are in shelters every day waiting for someone to love them just like you do. 12-30-adopt-with-quote
  4. You will be okay. Stay busy and delight in the little things. Volunteer, go for a walk, or donate to a good cause. Watch football or go see a movie. Do what makes you love and know that at the end of the day, only you choose your own happiness.3353850-everything-will-be-ok-quotes

Now I’m off to spend Christmas with my husband and five furbabies; each rescued, by the way. May your holidays be bright, your smiles wide, and your love shine to everyone. However you choose to spend the holidays, enjoy them!

From us to you, Merry Christmas!!

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DIY Laundry Detergent and Dishwasher Tablets

When it comes to household chores, I’ve become a pro at multitasking and getting 3+ things done at one time. Hopefully that skill will carry over into parenthood in the future 😉 Anyway, it’s not uncommon for laundry to be in the washer, dishes in the dishwasher, and animals eating dinner all while I am vacuuming up the dirt that comes with having five pets. Completing these household chores not only takes time, but also money. You know the phrase time is money? Story. Of. My. Life.

I got hooked onto making my own laundry detergent when I was in graduate school and started learning about the horrible toxins in (most) conventional laundry detergents; see this article from Mother Earth Living for more information. My mom and I made our first batch and I have doing it ever since. True, it does take some time (I can usually make one batch in about a half hour or so), but that one batch will last 4-6 months depending how many loads we need to do that week. Not only do I know exactly what is being put on my clothes that I wear daily, but it’s also a lot more cost effective to make your own detergent. Although I cannot give exact figures because it’s hard for me to say how many uses I get out of one batch, I can assure you it’s more than 64 than is what I’d get in a standard bottle. Plus, you buy the ingredients and then you’re set for at least two or three more batches. I just bought washing soda for the first time in a year! Below is the recipe I swear by, and it does the job just fine. We do, however, add OxoBrite to white loads for extra cleaning power. (Credit to Wellness Mama for this fantastic recipe).

  • 1 bar of grated bar soap (I use Kirk’s Coconut Castile soap)
  • 1 cup of washing soda (can be found on Amazon or at Walmart)
  • 1 cup of borax (or additional washing soda)
  • 15-20 drops essential oil of your choice (OPTIONAL)

First, I grate the bar of soap, which is definitely the most time consuming part of the process. Be careful to not cut your fingers while grating…I’ve done it and can clearly state the pain is worse than a paper cut, and those are brutal. Mix the washing soda and borax (or additional washing soda) in with the bar soap (if you’re prone to dry skin or have sensitive skin in general, I’d recommend wearing gloves for this process) and then add the essential oils if you choose to use them. Mix again and then add to a glass jar or container of your choice. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. I have used this detergent 100’s of times in our washer (that unfortunately is not HE) and it works well in both cold and hot water. It works great for my mom in her HE washer as well. This works great on my husband’s colored dress shirts, but I can’t vouch for its performance on yellow rings around the collar of a white button-down since neither of us ever wear them.

If making your own detergent isn’t for you but you still want some more natural options, this guide by the Environmental Working Group is a great starting point.

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In addition to my own laundry detergent, I tried making dishwasher tablets for the first time. To put it bluntly, I was SO impressed. I used a recipe found on One Good Thing by Jillee and will definitely make it again.

  • 2 cups Washing soda or Baking soda (cuts grease; I used washing soda)
  • 2 cups Borax (natural cleaner and disinfectant)
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt or Epsom salt (reduces the effects of hard water; I used Epsom Salt)
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (added cleaning power, liquid to help bind the ingredients)
  • 15-20 drops of Lemon essential oil (added cleaning power, antibacterial properties, smells good!)

Making these were so simple. All the ingredients are mixed in a bowl and then stuffed pack into cheap ice cube trays from Walmart. Let them sit in the sun for 24 hours until they get hard and then put them in a container of your choice. I add a splash of distilled white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher simply for extra cleaning power in our crazy hard water, and my dishes have been spotless.

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If you choose to make your own detergent or dishwasher tablets, I hope you have the same success I do. I will never go back to store-bought detergent if I don’t have to!

 

The Starlight Foundation

I look forward to my Fab Fit Fun box every season, and this winter box was no different; details here if you want more information on what I’m talking about. However, this box included a piece of jewelry supporting a charitable organization that I was actually interested in looking into for more information: The Starlight Foundation.

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The Starlight Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1982, seeks to improve hospital stays for young children and teenagers. Over 30 million children each year in the United States experience a long-term hospital stay due to a chronic, critical, or terminal illness. When you think about how scary the hospital can be for a short-term stay, the thought of a young child being there long term is devastating. I had an emergency appendectomy at age four, and I assure you Barney helped me get through the week I had to be without my mom and dad.

The Starlight Foundation is a top-rated nonprofit with Charity Navigator, GreatNonprofits, CharityWatch, and GuideStar. Out of every dollar received, 85 cents goes back into programs to benefit the children and teenagers in need. That figure is awesome compared to some other popular organizations that are more popular and well-known and only give a fraction of what they receive back into research and education. More than 800 hospitals are involved with the foundation and provide education, technology, and entertainment to help turn children’s fear into joy. Although they cannot make the pain go away (unfortunately), there are simple ways to make a child smile. An upcoming project in the works will be converting ugly hospital gowns (let’s be real…does anyone really look good in those things?) into colorful and fun robes for kids to wear. How awesome, right? If you would like more information, the link is below.

I had not even heard about this foundation until three hours ago, and I now I am so glad I did. Although my die-hard passion in life is animal rescue and advocacy, we all have to live for something. Some of these children are literally living in hospitals with an uncertainty of when they’re coming home. It is wonderful that programs like The Starlight Foundation exist!

https://www.starlight.org

*FabFitFun link is a referral code. I am not affiliated with them in any way.

A Real Life Venting Session

Has there ever been a week that just 100% kicked your butt and you thought, “This is just a really bad nightmare and I’ll wake up, right?” This week was that nightmare, and I am so thankful it’s over. Don’t get me wrong; there are some weeks that are difficult, but this took the cake. Let me start off with what happened nine days ago to give you the full effect.

As stated in my Thanksgiving post, Leia got ahold of an umbrella and chewed off half the plastic handle. She spent 48 hours at the vet (including Thanksgiving Day) and we weren’t sure if surgery would be necessary or not. Thankfully, she was able to pass the plastic pieces and had to be on a specific gastrointestinal diet for three days before allowing her to eat her regular food again. That Royal Canin food is not only expensive, but stinks too. So glad we don’t need to another can of that anytime soon… My husband and I have been watching her closely over the past week and are fairly certain the worst is over. I’m glad to have my precious pittie back to normal.

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My brother and his wife, along with their dog, Gavin, came to visit Friday into Saturday, and we had a wonderful time. They have been to West Virginia to visit three times since we moved here and it has been cold and gloomy every single time. We are clearly terrible at planning trips to see each other. We took a trip to Beartown State Park for a hike, saw Dr. Strange in theaters (Benedict Cumberbatch is equally as hot as Dr. Strange as he is Sherlock, fyi), spent some time enjoying Small Business Saturday, and basically just caught up after not seeing each other for five months. Even though PA really isn’t that far away, it’s just enough time and distance that it’s too much for a day trip and not quite enough for a short plane ride. My brother has always been one of my best friends, and thankfully for me, his wife is the sister I never had.

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Beartown State Park

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A man and his faithful companion.

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Family is everything.

When Monday hit, I was already exhausted from the busy weekend and dealing with a sick pup. I should have known the week would hit me like a ton of bricks! For starters, Matt began his month long pediatrics rotation. Although he’s having a good experience, the hours are long and like the beginning of every rotation, it’s a new place to get used to. My car had to have the torque converter replaced in my engine, and thank heavens for extended warranties. Shout out to my dad for making sure I had one because I got my car checked out at 97,656 miles and my warranty ended at 100,000. Talk about luck! The dealership is an hour away, so I missed work and spent four hours alone driving taking care of the vehicle. Now Matt’s car is acting up and has to go to the garage on Monday. Jerking him back and forth with loss of power is not something I want to mess with when he drives an hour to and from rotations every day. Ever heard of being car poor? Well, over the past nine days, I’ve realized that it’s possible to be car poor, pet poor, AND medical school poor at the same time. I swear, if we didn’t have a savings account, we wouldn’t be eating for the next two weeks. Has it been a full moon?! It rained for two days straight, and that combined with the sudden change in temperature, caused me to experience a nasty sinus infection that resulted in an Urgent Care visit for treatment. For real, those infections are nothing to mess with either.

Despite all this, I’m trying to think positive because, at the end of the day, I live in a nice little house, have an amazing marriage, and a job I enjoy with the best coworkers. Oh, and I am a rescue mama to five incredible pets who allow me to live vicariously through them. Life is good, and it’s important to remember that always.

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19  

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Yes, it is as cozy as it looks!