Who doesn’t love ice cream?

June 28, 2010

Winners Drink Milk! is giving away a Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Stand Mixer Attachment today.  Yummy!


Miller Mondays, hiatus

June 28, 2010

This week I am taking a break from Miller Mondays and 48 Days to the Work you Love.

No offense to Dan Miller, he’s still one of my favorites.

I spent all weekend being all sinus-y and drippy.  I have a wastebasket full of tissues to prove it.  Most of the weekend I was sitting on the couch trying not to suffocate in my own slop.  (Isn’t that a wonderful image?)

Needless to say, I am pretty worthless at the moment.

We will return to our normal programming schedule next week.  Same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Make your own… Laundry detergent!

June 24, 2010

I decided this week that I would try my hand at making my own laundry detergent.  I have a small mountain of laundry from the “Move the Stuff in the Garage to the Basement” project, and we were about out of detergent anyway.  So, I figured, what the heck?

I got this recipe from my friend Kim, who in turn got it from the Duggar Family website.  (Remember them?  They’re the people with 8 million kids on that TLC show?  Can you imagine the laundry in that house?  Makes my mountain look very insignificant…  Seriously though, if they want 8 million kids, more power to them.)

So I made a trip to Rural King to collect the necessary ingredients, and got rolling!

First, take a bar of Fels-Naptha soap…

(Next time remember to take the picture before I get started.) …and grate it up.  I just used a regular cheese grater.

Admire your finely grated pile of soap, and remember that it is not cheddar cheese.  Please do not eat.

Heat 4 cups of water in a saucepan, and add the grated soap.

Stir constantly(-ish) until the soap is melted.

{As a side note, I added the whole pile of soap at once, and ended up with gloppy hunks of partly melted soap.

It all melted eventually, but it took longer than I thought it would.  Next time, I would only add small amounts of the grated soap at a time.}

Take a clean 5-gallon bucket, and fill it about half-full of tap water.  Grab your other ingredients:

…add 1/2 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Super Washing Soda to the bucket.  Stir to dissolve the powder.

Then add the melted soap-soup to the bucket.

Stir it all together, and fill the bucket the rest of the way with tap water.  (Be a little careful here, as the soap gets sudsy!)

Cover your bucket, and let it sit overnight to thicken.

The next day…

Take off the cover and stir your soap.  Don’t think about what it looks like…

…just stir it up really really well.  The jelly-like soap will un-gel, and become more liquidy again, I promise.

This is actually double-strength detergent now.  Using whatever dispensing container you want (I used the last recently emptied store-bought detergent bottle), fill your container with 50% new detergent and 50% tap water.  Shake well before each use, as the concoction will gel again in the new container.

For a top-loading washer, use 5/8 cup of detergent per load.

For a front-loading washer, use 1/4 cup of detergent per load.

If you like scented detergents, you can add a few drops of essential oil to your detergent (10-15 drops for every 2 gallons).  I would recommend adding fragrance to your smaller “working” bottles, not to the 5 gallons of stock!

I was able to buy all the supplies for this batch of detergent, including a new 5-gallon bucket, for less than $17.  For TEN GALLONS of detergent.  I have plenty of Borax and Washing Soda left over, so if I ever run out of detergent, all I will need to buy is a $2 bar of Fels-Naptha soap.  Remarkable!

I have used this so far on some musty-smelling towels from the garage yesterday, and some “business casual” clothes this morning.  So far, no complaints!

Printable recipe card:

It’s WHAT time?

June 23, 2010

I seem to be saying this more frequently lately.  Does anyone else feel like the days are getting shorter?  I mean, not just because the summer solstice was on Monday, but because there’s actually less time in the day than there used to be?

It seems like more and more I’ll be working on a spreadsheet for my research, or reading a book, or working in the kitchen, or working on my blog, or reading a paper, or running errands, or moving endless boxes of stuff from the garage to the basement, or whatever I’m doing, and all of a sudden I look at the clock.  “Really?  How did it get to be that time already?  Last I knew, it was three hours ago!”

Anyone else?  At all?  Or is it just me.  I feel like I am busy busy busy, but when I look back at the end of the day (or week), it doesn’t seem like all that much got accomplished.

I do know that at least my husband feels the same way.  He’s started getting up at 5:30 every morning to go work in the garden, or the barn, or the hayfield.  He says it’s the only way he’s ever going to get caught up!  (By the way, he hasn’t been “caught up” since I’ve known him.)

And here I am, out applying for part-time jobs, while thinking about trying to get another project off the ground.  Have I gone insane?

Anybody else having this issue?  What has worked for you?  Do you get up early, or stay up late?  Or have you just reconciled to the fact that “everything” will never get done, and whatever you can do is a bonus?  I’m up for tips here!

The basement is finished!

June 22, 2010

Well, sort of.

Last we knew, the basement had been flooded,

all the stuff had been taken to the garage,

and the basement had dried out.

We were working on cleaning and scraping the walls of the basement so we could repaint.

I am happy to report that we have finished!

We washed and scraped and washed and scraped and washed again.  Somewhere in there we sprayed everything down with bleach.  We also washed and painted the floor.  And here is what we finally got!

The walls and floor are clean and beautiful.

We built lots of shelves so all the stuff from the garage could be nicely stored in the basement.

Well, it’s getting there…

The most important thing is that all the stuff got taken out of the garage, including the two tractors that were hiding in the back!

And now, that garage fits not just one…

Not just two…

But three vehicles!  Including my husband’s long bed, extended cab pick up!

Now we’re talking!

If only the basement would sort and organize itself…

Miller Mondays: Nuts and Bolts, Part 1

June 21, 2010

Welcome back to Miller Mondays!  We have been discussing material from the book 48 Days to the Work You Love, by Dan Miller.

The next section, Nuts and Bolts, deals with writing your resume, identifying the companies you would like to work for, getting and performing on the interview, and negotiating salary.  This section gets into lots of details, so I thought I would break it up into two parts.  This week we’ll go over resume writing and a company search.

The main points for this week are:

1.  Having a clear personal understanding and focus is 85% of the process.

2.  The resume is a sales tool for where you are going.

3.  The creative job search strategy is your most powerful tool to get the job you want.

A resume should not be the tool that gets you the job.  Your resume should be the tool that makes the company want to interview you.  The resume is selling you, but is only giving enough information that people want to learn more about you.  The way you structure your resume and the information you choose to include will position you for landing the interviews you want.

This 85% number keeps coming up.  Remember when we said that 85% of the reasons for success were due to personal characteristics and skills?  Remember last week when we worked on identifying these skills?  Now is one of the times when they come into play.

Most resumes only get 30-40 seconds of time.  You need to use yours to make an impression.  A generic objective statement at the top of the page is not the way to do this.  Consider starting your resume with a skills summary.  Transferable skills are the basic units of whatever career you choose.  Transferable skills are learned in one job/career, in one context, but can easily be transferred to another context and even career.  Good with organization?  Have some computer skills?  Learn how to do accounting?  Have you been a teacher or a trainer?  Use these skills to market yourself into the position you want next.

Don’t particularly like the careers you have had in the past?  Looking for a change?  What transferable skills have you developed in your previous jobs that can carry over to other career paths?  Be creative here – there is lots of room for change!

Many jobs are never advertised at all.  Any job that is advertised is seen by hundreds of people (possibly tens of thousands if it’s posted on the internet).  How can you compete with these numbers?  Did you know that the best jobs often aren’t advertised at all?  So how can you go about finding the 87% of jobs that are never advertised?

First, identify 30-40 target companies that you would like to work with.  Use your own criteria.  Close to home, size of company, lots of travel, type of business, etc.

Once you have these companies identified, send a letter of introduction.  This letter should be addressed to a specific person, not just to the Human Resources Department.  Most receptionists will give out the names of the people who do hiring; many times this information can be found on the internet.  Use this letter to introduce yourself and start name recognition.  Tell them that you will be sending a resume in the next few days.

Send a cover letter and resume, addressed to the same person.  Do not end your letter with a generic phrase like, “I am looking forward to hearing from you regarding an opportunity with your company.”  Instead, give them a specific date when you will call for a follow-up discussion (4-5 days after sending the resume).  This takes the need for initiative off the company, and places it on you.

Then, don’t forget to call! Call on the day you said you would call.  Remind them that you sent a resume a few days ago.  Tell them that you are very interested in what their company does, and you feel your skills would be an asset.  Ask when you can come in to speak to them.  This step builds on the name recognition we started with the introductory letter, and gives you top-of-mind positioning, compared to the people who simply sent resumes with no follow-up phone call.

According to Dan, if you only send cover letters and resumes, you will need to send out 254 resumes to gave a statistical chance of getting any job offer.  If you add a follow-up phone call to the cover letter and resume, you only need to send 15 resumes to get a job offer.  Remember, your resume is a tool to sell you; the goal of the resume is to get you the interview, not to land you the job.

Next week – preparing for the interview and negotiating salary.

What’s that smell?

June 16, 2010

Sunday night John and I went out to the barn to feed the cows, the dogs, and the cats.  We also had to separate out the heifers from the cows, so we were in the barn longer than normal, getting gates moved so we had a place to put the heifers.

I fed the cats, and then turned around to help (well, to watch, really) John move the gates.  All of a sudden the cows stopped eating and left the barn lot.  There was still corn left, so this was pretty strange.  Before we fed, John shut another gate to keep them in the barn lot, so we thought they were just pissed about being locked in.

The cats weren’t eating either, but this is not so strange.  Usually they want some attention while we’re in the barn.  So we didn’t think much of this.

Then I turned around and saw…

… a skunk eating out of the cats’ dish.  Now I realize this picture is grainy, but surely you can tell that is a skunk and not a cat?  It’s dark in that corner of the barn, and frankly, I wasn’t getting any closer.

(Okay, to be honest?  I did try to get closer.  But the skunk turned and ran away.  So no more pictures.)

Great.  A skunk.  We’ve seen it around our property before, but not quite like this.  The sightings have been more like “Hey, did you see that skunk run off the driveway?”  Now what do we do?  I do not want a skunk in the barn.  I would rather have pigs in the barn.  (Yes, I realize what I just said.)

Fast forward to Monday night.  John had some 4H kids over to learn showmanship, and they were all out in the barn.  Who should come, perhaps to learn how to show the sheep?

Momma skunk came to visit.  This time she brought her 4 babies along for the road trip.

That’s right, I said FOUR skunk babies.  We are not having 5 skunks running around our barn.  (And we are not having five pigs to take their place.  Just to put that out there.)

Anyone have any bright ideas on how to get rid of the stinkers?  We’re up for options!

I guess the good news is that we still have running water, so if we do get sprayed, we can at least shower…