Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dyeing in a Front Loader

I am excited to have something to add to the great list of tips at Works-for-Me-Wednesday on the blog We are THAT family!

My latest experiment worked! And it had been a long time coming. I was given some great pink capri pant hand-me-downs, several years before my girls were born (if that tells you how old they could be!). I got to wear them for one summer maybe before I stained them with something that would not come out. I was really sad about ruining these pants, so I decided to try bleaching them. That took the color out of everything but the threading and trim (Oh, how I wish I had taken a picture of them!). And then they sat in my to-be-repaired box... for years.

Now that we're moving again, I'm trying to go through things and get rid of what I don't want/need. I thought I should really give it a shot with these capris, especially since we're moving to a warmer climate. I found this at my German grocery store:

It is fabric dye with dyeing salts. It says it works for fabrics that can handle 60-95 degrees Celsius (140-203 degrees Fahrenheit) and wool, sink, and polyester. That was another risk. My pants said they needed to be washed in cold water, but many of my American bought garments say that while many clothes we've bought here say 40 degrees Celsius (which is 104 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher. So the pants had to take a heating!

As far as I could tell on the directions in German, this is what you are supposed to do:

  1. Wet the garment or fabric. Place in the washing machine drum.
  2. Open the package of dye and pour on top of the clothes in the washing machine. (For silk you have to add vinegar.)
  3. Set your machine on delicate or easy clean at 60-95 degrees Celsius (140-203F). My machine did not allow for those temps on those cycles, so I had to use the colored fabric cycle instead.
  4. After the cycle finishes, add normal laundry detergent and start a normal cleaning cycle at 40 degrees Celsius (104F).
  5. I read online that you should add bleach to the next cycle to make sure your machine is clean. I decided to skip that and try a dark load of laundry that wouldn't hurt to have a little dye (black or brown socks and t-shirts since I used dark brown dye). I also put in an old light colored rag to see if the dye was still around. Thankfully, the rag came out it's same color, so the dye had been washed through. I washed other darks next just in case, but had no problem.

You want to see the pants?

We are amazed at the success! My husband keeps commenting about how you'd never know they didn't come that way. I think I may try to dye some old lace next!
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Curbside Finds

The first part of this week is "put out your junk on the curb for anyone to get it or else the trash man" for us in Naurod. I won't try to tell you the German name for this type of trash pick up. This time we had some to add rather than just grab! I had to put my less than perfect slip covered couch back on the curb where it came from (albeit a long way from the curb in Chicago!). The pink tricycle got picked up right away, but it has several problems that the next owner may find annoying.

This is what a neighbor's driveway looks like. My daughter and I discussed getting that wreath to work on later, but it was nabbed by someone else before we came back by. These days can be crazy for our village. It seems the whole world knows when it's planned, and they drive around in vans like vultures around and around looking for whatever is a treasure to them (or to someone they can sell it to!). So do I consider myself one of these vultures? Hmm... maybe not because I live here? Well, we're all in it for the free stuff. We've acquired a "new" couch and matching chair, another chair, treated lumber, an outdoor lounger, some enamelware bowls and 2 small dresser/side tables that work great for the girls doll paraphernalia all over the 2 years we've been here.

These are my finds for today: 2 old toy commuter trains, a pewter goblet with German on it, and a glittered plastic garland for Christmas. Some of you might think of these as junk, but I look forward to seeing how they find the right place at our next home. I've been wanting to add some whimsy to our more grown-up Christmas decorations already--maybe that's what having kids does to you! We'll miss the junk/treasure days in Naurod!

PS: One of my favorite blogs I have to say... is celebrating the 1 year birthday of her Etsy fabric store, Fresh Squeezed Fabrics . Leave a comment on her blog to enter the give-a-way for some great fabric choices or a $50 gift certificate by Thursday!

Another fabulous source for fabric, The Fabric Shopper, is having a give-a-way of Japanese fabric and a pattern of your choice along with Sheree's Alchemy. Comment before the end of the month! Here's my favorite Japanese fabric offered:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Backyard Color & Things to Come

We had the privilege of seeing our allium--but I normally call it garlic--and clematis bloom before we leave. We're hoping to see the peonies (the bush behind the garlic) open up as well. We decided to take it with us to our new home in Portugal with several other things we've planted here. It's ok to do--you take the lights that you installed and even the kitchen (if the next tenant doesn't want it) when you rent here. I'm hoping the rudbeckia (I forget that in America they're called black eyed susans) will make the transplant as well (the small plants popping up left of the garlic). Gotta love perennials!

We'll miss this gorgeous vine. He's had his roots here a long time...
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Is it really permanent?

My husband even encouraged me to post this: We have a couple big baby items that have been used by our organization, and therefore have been labeled with a permanent marker as such. No problem until you want to get rid of these things. We still have them after a couple garage sales and such. The resale shop here is pretty picky about stains too. I finally decided to google it and found this. We were both very skeptical that it would actually work. I thought at this point, "What do we have to lose?". So, I applied a little dry erase marker over the permanent market, wiped it with a dry rag and wallah (sp?)--it's gone! It actually took a couple applications of dry erase followed by dry rag then wet rag, but it's tons better than before. Wish I would have taken pictures to capture this amazing phenomenon!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Deal of the Day

Yesterday, I went with Heather to a flea market at the Wiesbaden International School which happens to be located in our village (no, we couldn't afford to send our kids to such a place--it would be like paying college tuition every year!). It was such a treat to be in an English speaking environment, and people were selling great English kids books and clothes for rock-bottom prices. Let's just say, I could have spent a lot more than I did! Last night, my husband and I finally decided we'd buy a train table with trundle drawers from a couple who'd given me their phone number in case we wanted it. All it took was looking through the last Pottery Barn Kids catalog I have (while I was trying to decide on paint colors for the girls' room at our next house). I saw their train table painted white with little chalkboard signs on each drawer for $349!

Who says it has to hold trains? We actually have trains and doll houses that would work well on this table in our new play room. So I checked for the price of this particular brand of train table online. The best I found for it new with 2 drawers was $250. It looks very similar to this:

So, I realize I'm not getting PBK. But wait and see what may come of this great deal for 30 Euros (about $38) with a little paint! We love it when we get vision for things, and see God's hand of provision!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Memories made

Yesterday was a special day in many ways. Of course, it's Mother's Day--even nicer now that I'm a mother! The girls had decorated wooden frames at kindergarten, and the teachers had inserted some special phrases about moms in German. So special and fun to see the girls giddy for me to open their gifts up.

My husband also took the girls downtown on Saturday to buy me some ranunculas (see how pretty) and some fresh squeezed OJ (he knows how much I make over it). Plus he was following my request to not spend too much, and we certainly don't need more to pack up at this point!

After church Sunday, we went with Heather and the kids to a favorite German restaurant, Hockenberger Muhle. We've taken many visitors there over the time we've been here, but it had been a long while. We made reservations for the back terrace so the kids could run around the playground there while we waited for our food. It was worth waiting for--so yummy! Heather and I tasted spargel soup for the first time--pretty good. Do you know what spargel is? White asparagus! Quite a treat here--people stand in line for it!

Next was the Appelblutefest (apple bloom fest) parade in our little village of Naurod. Not quite the floats of the Rose Bowl parade, but a ton of fun for our girls and us! This was the 3rd day of festivities--seeing all our friends and neighbors out and about. I teared up a bit in the midst of the huge crowd with the revelation that this was not going to be an experience our girls would have all their lives (as it has been for the past few years). I like the community feel of this festival and our village so much! I know we've been called to serve elsewhere now, so this desire to have a community like this for my kids has to die, at least for this season. And who knows what might take place in little Bombarral? I would have never imagined this here!
There she is! This year's Appelblutefest Queen sitting on the Naurod Gans (goose) float. All the girls were thrilled! We even waited on our street since the floats would come by one more time to "see her again"!

The day ended with a short but sweet talk with my mom. She couldn't chat our normal Sunday night (afternoon for her) time since she was eating out with my brother! I was a bit disappointed she didn't get my gift yet (after a request that they wait to ship it so it would be more timely for Mother's Day). Anyway, in my mom's usual form, she listens to what's going on and how she can pray, gladly agrees to take care of something for us (this time: review a newsletter), and generously gave me money for Mother's Day. She is a wonderful lady!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Maybe apple green?

The blog We are THAT family has gotten me thinking about our level of greenness (see the post on Shades of Green). Being "green" is something I never thought I would necessarily figure I would become, but living in Germany for over 2.5 years has left it's mark. I hope it doesn't fade with our upcoming move!

I think my husband and I wanted to be "green" folks back in Texas, but didn't know what that looked like except for taking our plastic bags back to HEB and requesting the recycling bins from the city to have recyclable items picked up next to the trash. We were definitely into repurposing old things into "new" things, but didn't know that counted back then or how it is called "upcycling" these days.

The way it changed:
  1. Our unknown education in greenness began upon arrival in Germany with the introduction to the trash organization system here: biodegradable, containers, paper, glass that can be turned in for money, glass that doesn't get you any money back, and other--like dirty diapers (that's one place I didn't go green!). It's a shocker to go back home and see everything go in one trash can! This is work if the system is not set up for you I know.
  2. Next, we had to take drivers' education AGAIN! Studying for the tests got facts forever in my brain like: 1 drop of oil contaminates 600 liters of water (I think that's right) OR your gas efficiency decreases with the more stuff you carry in your car OR don't push your gas to hard since your gas efficiency decreases with RPM's (?) above 3... You don't want to forget that real SUV's are only seen with an American license plate here. Our little diesel VW gets amazing gas mileage--thank you God!
  3. A few other internal motivators to cut back on water and energy usage: seeing that our next oil bill needed to be much less (our house and water is heated with oil) and knowing some American friends that got a very large bill for how much more electricity they used than the city had expected them to use! Our heating is scheduled to go off at night. We don't run the water when you don't need it (ie: walk away from a running faucet). We have a system of scrubbing all the dishes of food under water, then soaping them up with the water off, then rinsing with a medium stream of water (I know it's crazy how full power water gets to me!--what have I become?). Of course, there's no lights on if you're not using that room, computers off when not in use, etc.
  4. For the most part, there are few things packaged in multiples, like snack packs for lunches or something. All the kids in school use reusable containers for their lunches, and we do too now. Seldom does a ziploc make it in our fridge or lunch! And we reuse the ones we do use if we can.
  5. This could fit with point 4, but having no free plastic bags at the grocery store deserves it's own point! This was quite a culture shock. I learned to put everything back in my grocery cart after the cashier scans each item. Then I go to my car and put everything in a collapsable box or big fabric bags. I think most Germans don't buy groceries for a week like us so they just put their few items in a fabric bag and go. I saw that you are given plastic bags at the grocery store in Portugal. Will I be able to continue (but as a nonconformist)?

We are by no means really that green (especially when you read about the people in the blog post above). We didn't have much choice in the matter really. I am encouraged at the things we see on the internet or during trips home that show America is on it's way to becoming more green. If only everyone could have a quick internship in doing it like a German...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Auf Wiedersehen PWOC

Yes, today was my last PWOC meeting. I did better not being as sad as last week--our last week to meet in our Bible study groups. So many people are PCSing (I'm getting good at military lingo-ha!)--going to their next assignment. And...we are too! These are some sweet ladies I've enjoyed getting to know (Emily, Katy, and Kelly)--my dear friend Heather is missing from this pic! I will miss them!

PWOC stands for Protestant Women of the Chapel--a ministry for military women. And they kindly let me participate as well! I have been attending since February. How I wished I could have gotten involved sooner!

Anyway, I went to the Love and Respect Bible study. It was marriage-changing in my opinion (or atleast changed my part of it!). I highly recommend it for a small group or Sunday school class--women and men together. For anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area back home, I saw there is a conference you can attend in July! I think it would be worth the money and time for sure!

Monday, May 4, 2009

John 10:10 dishes

What? Yes, Dayspring has come out with these great dishes with John 10:10 on them or just the word "Life." They are beautiful. So, I've commented about them in hopes to win some. Even referring you to check them out to (to give me another chance to be really honest). The blog We are THAT family is great too--worth subscribing to if you do that kind of thing!

Great Mail

From the beginning of thinking through this blogging adventure, I've wanted to share about the fabric I received in the mail last week. It was the fabric I won from Bunte Fabrics (a fun name for a company since it is the German adjective for colorful). Look how nice my package came!

I had decided to ask if they'd be willing to ship it to me (and bypass the Texas stop), and they agreed! I found out Yvonne at Bunte Fabrics grew up near Frankfurt and was familiar with Wiesbaden! Thanks again Yvonne for this treat in my mailbox!

I plan to use this fabric to make a fall colored nappy bag from the Amy Butler pattern I won as well from The Fabric Shopper blog. And this was my 2nd Fabric Shopper give-a-way to win! Will there be time to do all this sewing in my future? One thing I do know: my husband is being really creative trying to figure a place for me to land all my craft stuff and sewing machine in our next house. So nice!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

hearing the latest CCM

We had a picnic with our friend Jen last night. We got on the topic of new Christian contemporary music we like, and how do we stay updated over here in Germany. She has a State-side friend that keeps her in the loop.

We've found it helpful to listen to KLOVE online. They do a great job of posting who and what your hearing so we can find the song on Itunes later (or ask for it in a future gift delivery from the States!).

We received some great new CD's at Christmas:
Chris Tomlin Hello Love (amazing worship songs)
Hillsongs This is Our God (fave songs: Desert song, Stronger, This is Our God and so on)
David Crowder Band Remedy (fave song: Never Let Go)
Robbie Seay Band Give Yourself Away (favorite songs: Come Alive, Song of Hope)

The latest song I've scribbled down from online radio is By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North. Speaks about God's hands holding us. Sounds good!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm jumping in

I finally decided to do it: blog--a word I thought was so ugly when I first heard it a long while back! When my parents left after Christmas, I unintentionally found some great blogs that inspired my creativity, give fabulous decorating or organizing ideas, or just were enjoyable to follow. Since then, it seems these blogs have become a great substitute for the English magazines I enjoy reading (but cannot obtain without a large price) in this part of Europe.

My husband jokes with me that the blog writers have become my friends since I am an extrovert. Friends that speak another language can only go so far in sharing their life with you!We're in an unusual season currently--the rest of our team has returned to the States, and we're packing boxes in preparation for a move to Portugal in June.

I've had some surprising success (blessing rather) in some of the blog give-a-ways I've entered. Twice I've won purse or bag patterns and the fabric to make them (amazing, huh?!). Those have been nice gifts from God really. Getting the stuff to Germany is another issue (thank you to Mom in Texas who is my generous go-between).

So, we'll see how this blog thing goes. I hope to be disciplined to not let this "hobby" suck life from me or my family. Rather, I hope you can enjoy this along with me...


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