Sunday, February 23, 2014

diy natural laundry soap

yes!  diy time again!  i've been making my own laundry soap for over a year now.  it's biodegradable, nasty chemical free, and good for my sensitive skin.  we also stopped using fabric softener or dryer sheets for some time - all they do is coat your clothes with chemicals.  white vinegar makes a nice softener - just put it in the rinse cycle.  static cling has been an issue.  some people swear by tin foil balls in the dryer, but that doesn't seem okay to me.  the wool dryer balls i made really do help, but they don't eliminate all the static.  i just purchased seventh generation dryer sheets that are all natural and whatnot.  i'm going to try cutting them in thirds to see if that helps.

the one thing that really ruins my all natural laundry smorgasbord is awesome husband @_antgas and his love of the smell of gain.  i buy those gain scent boosters when they go on sale and sprinkle some in with the sheets and towels.  i don't love the ingredients, but it's not as bad as the way we used to do laundry.  and it's a lot cheaper!  i use a 40oz canister to hold my laundry detergent.  i'm not good at measuring or counting.  so there.

so here's the breakdown for how much this shit costs me:
1 bar of dr. bronner's soap (i use almond): $4.09
arm & hammer washing soda, 55oz: $3.69 (only .067¢ an ounce)
borax, 76oz: $4.49 (it's in the big container.  i threw out the box.  it costs .059¢ an ounce)
oxybrite 32oz: $5.99 (.187¢ an ounce)

oxybrite is basically all natural oxy clean.  i've found it at natural/health food stores and some walgreens carry it.  borax and washing soda will be on the bottom shelf in the laundry aisle.  you can use any castile soap you like - nothing too perfumey or filled with chemicals or moisturizers, like don't use dove.

1.  grate your soap.  if you use the smaller, finer side of the grater, it will take FOREVER OMG SERIOUSLY FOREVER.  i use the larger side (the side we use for cheese) and it makes adorable little soap curls...

2.  get a food processor.  if you don't use one, the soap will not get to a powdery consistency and may not dissolve well in warm/cold water washes.  

3.  i put in 1/2 cup of soap curls, 1/2 cup of borax, and 1/2 cup of washing soap.  if you're using oxybrite, add a scoop to each batch in the food processor.  i don't smush the soap curls in either, i loosely fill the cup.  don't pack them in like you're measuring brown sugar.  if you're keeping track, i have about a cup and a half of dry ingredients in here.  i have a teensy cuisinart; if you have a larger one, you can probably put more in at a time.  ALSO feel free to add a tablespoon or two of baking soda if it makes you feel better.  it makes me feel better.

7.  pulse the heck out of it.  if you have fucking stones of borax, either crush them by hand or pick them out and throw them at people.  DO NOT try to powder the soap without washing soda or borax. they help the soap get like powdery.  without other dry ingredients, the soap will just smush up and break your blender, which is why you will have to use a food processor.  this may or may not have happened to me.  

5.  pour your powdery soapy stuff into your laundry detergent container.  repeat until you're out of soap curls.  

6.  TADA!  you have laundry soap.  find a scoop, buy a scoop, whatever.  i have a cute little scoop that i stole from one of @_antgas' old workout powder supplement crap things.  i use the double and triple loaders in the laundromat and use 2 tablespoons per load.  i'd estimate those are extra large loads; if you do smaller loads or have a medium-largeish home washer, you can probably use a bit less.  maybe 1.5tbsp.

now, i think i used about 14 ounces each of borax and washing soda, and maybe a 1/4 cup of oxybrite and baking soda.  like i said, i don't measure.  i'm assuming this is how much i used because it's a 40 ounce container.  so i might have used a bit less than this, but whatever.  here's the breakdown for one 40oz container of my laundry soap...

1 bar of dr. bronner's soap (i use almond): $4.09
arm & hammer washing soda, appx. 14oz: $0.94
borax, appx. 14oz: $0.83
oxybrite, appx. 2oz: $0.37

a grand total of $6.23!  two tablespoons is about an ounce, so you should be able to do around 40 loads of laundry with this.  that works out to 16¢ a load!!  i know you can get tide or all or whatever on sale and spend about 20¢ a load - doesn't seem like a great savings, right?  BUT IT'S ALL NATURAL.  it's safe for HE machines, it doesn't have a fuckton of chemicals, it's safe for septic systems and the water table, and works well on @_antgas' mechanic dirty clothes.  does it take out all the diesel fuel stains and shit?  no, but neither did ANY of the other detergents we've used.

so there you have it.  my natural, easy to make laundry soap.  it takes me about 20 minutes to make from start to finish.  it makes me feel better about what's soaking into our clothes, what's draining into the water supply, and doesn't make my clothes smell funny or itch or anything like that. you can find tons of different recipes for laundry soap.  some call for different types of soap, like fels naptha laundry soap.  it's supposed to be excellent on grease stains, but it contains animal fats so i don't use it.  some recipes call for one bar of soap and only one cup each of borax and washing soda.  some call for two parts EACH of borax and washing soda to one part bar soap.  this is the recipe i've been using and i love it.

it will not make suds.  like not at all.  if you've ever washed with dr. bronner's or other natural castile soaps, you may be familiar with the low sudsing of these soaps.  that's what makes this safe for HE machines - low suds.  i do all of our laundry at a laundromat and never see suds in our wash.  and if you're wondering about white vinegar in the rinse cycle as a softener, it does help.  it helps rinse out any residual soap in the clothes.  and it's so cheap.  i use white vinegar for everything now - fabric softener/rinse aid in the laundry, rinse aid in the dishwasher, household cleaning, clearing slow drains (when mixed with baking soda).  it's natural, it's easy, and it's cheap.

let me know if you try my laundry soap, and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

some days i hate life

i don't know what it is with me.

i just deleted someone that i considered one of my best friends mere weeks ago from my life.

we met by chance, when i was looking for someone to watch my clowder of cats while i went to disney with awesome husband @_antgas, my brother, and sisterfromanothermister.  i wanted someone who was professional - not just someone to watch my cats.  someone who wouldn't rob me, who would know what to do in a cat-related emergency, and maybe even take in the mail.

i found the company online last minute, like early january 2012.  she set up an appointment to meet us, my cats, and see the house.  when she came in, i introduced her to my husband.  she questioned our last name, i said what it was, and she said, 'i get your mail'.

just like that.  'i get your mail'.

she had purchased my mother's house in 2007.  the house we lived in when we got married, the house with the kitchen we redid, the house where we had so many fun times as a family.  she lived there.  and still got our mail almost 6 years later.

most of my cats liked her, and we secured her services for our vacation.  it seemed so funny, 'such a small world' kind of moment.

sometime in march of that year, i think, we hung out socially.  we got along like logs on fire.  it was hysterical.  even her husband and awesome husband @_antgas got along.  we all liked a lot of the same things, had similar senses of humor.  we all loved animals, the same cartoons.  and we lived like 5 blocks away from each other.

one of her dogs was fear aggressive.  she never wanted us to go near him, afraid that something would happen.  she'd give us treats to throw toward the dog when he barked at us.  we weren't afraid. after a few weeks, we finally convinced her to let us try interacting with him.  he ended up loving us.  she said we were two of the first and only people that he trusted.  i loved that feeling, i loved hearing how excited the dog would get when she said 'aunt steph's coming over! uncle ant's coming over!'  i loved brining him - and her other dogs and cats - presents and treats.  i loved how when she came over, she wanted to see the cats, interact with them, love them.

even more, i loved how it was when we spent time alone together.  snuggling with dogs and cats on the couch, shopping more than we probably should have, going out for sushi or frozen yogurt or starbucks.  we both had issues.  she was so supportive of me, i tried to be supportive of her.  she complimented me and i always brushed it off.  she taught me to shut the fuck up and take the compliment.  it was someone i could be myself with.  completely myself.  the pants could come off at this house.

when something happened and i needed someone, she'd fit me in.  when something happened and she needed someone, i tried to be that someone.  often she didn't want me to come over or meet her or whatever.  i wanted to be there for her the way i felt she was there for me.  i wanted to be the kind of friend to her i felt she was to me.

last summer, she went through some of her own shit.  she admitted that she withdrew from me, from some other people.  it was only a few weeks, but it upset me because i knew she didn't withdraw from everyone.  the first time we hung out again, in september, it was a bit strained.  i was trying to feel my way back to the relationship; she seemed to be doing the same.  i tried to act like we were back to normal: want to go shopping, want to go to dinner, want to snuggle with dogs.  she'd make plans with me sometimes, but i felt like she wasn't making time for me like she was before.  i tried to back off, but i missed spending time with her.  she owns her own business and i know sometimes shit happens: she'd had to cancel or move plans a few times before.  but this fall, it felt like it happened more often than not.  i started feeling like i wasn't as important to her as she was to me any more.

then on january 10-11, we had a big miscommunication.  i thought she had to check with her hubby about hanging out, she thought i said my hubby couldn't hang out.  wires got crossed.  instead of straightening them out, when she told me she made other plans, i told her how i felt.  i told her that i get it, and that it was done, but that i had been feeling more and more like she was canceling on me more often than not.  how i'm such a planner and it bugs me when plans change last minute, and how it made me sad and depressed when stuff like this happened.  i told her that it made me feel like she made time for others, but not for me.  i told her my truth at the time - looking back, i don't know if i should have.  maybe i should have waited and thought it out, maybe i should have said it a different way, whatever.

she apologized for making me feel that way.  she said she didn't intend to hurt me - i knew that.  she said that she guessed some things had changed since the summer, but not because of anything i did.  she said she hadn't really thought about it.  then she had to go because she had a sick dog, but signed off 'i'm sorry for how i made you feel and will talk about it more with you soon... xo'.

i stopped seeing her online.  she was never on facebook chat, or other social media sites, unless she was mentioning her sick dog.  i know that was a huge handful and she had shit going on - i gave her space.  i thought maybe she needed space.  she said she wanted to talk about it with me... i believed her.

last wednesday, i just missed her so much.  i had seen her being more active on social media, and thought maybe things were settling down for her.  i messaged her, saying it made me sad that we still hadn't talked.

no response.  not for two days.

i started feeling frantic.  what did i do?  i texted her; no response or acknowledgement or anything.  i messaged her on facebook again, asking if she was avoiding me, telling her i thought i should give her time, telling her i missed her.  nothing.  i tried to be a little cute, asking her if she wanted to meet for frozen yogurt or sushi, sending through cute pusheen pictures.  nothing.  i then told her it was obvious she was now ignoring me, and i didn't know what i did to deserve that.  i apologized if i'd hurt her, stating that would never have been my intention.

i spent hours crying, trying not to cry, crying some more.  trying not to cry, asking awesome husband what i did wrong, crying some more.  i spent a lot of the weekend trying not to think about her ignoring me, trying not to cry, trying not to feel.  i emailed her a heartfelt letter, asking her to let me know what i did, baring my heart.  i cried some more when i kept not getting a response.

last night, i sent her this message:
     Steph Gasseriously. i text you, message you, email you and you keep ignoring me? what's going on? 
Steph Gas
and it's obvious you're on fb and available to chat so you must be seeing my name come up and ignoring it. i just don't know what i did. i go back and forth between missing you so much that i just want to keep messaging you and being so angry that you're treating me like this.
Steph Gas
just to put it out there, i'm on the verge of deleting you from all of my social media. it makes me sad to see you commenting on mutual friend's things and ignoring me. since you're ignoring me for some reason, i'm curious as to why you haven't just deleted me from your life. maybe i'm still hoping that you'll start talking to me; maybe that's wishful thinking. i don't know why you've made this choice, all i know is that you made it. you never gave me a chance.
i deleted her from my facebook.  i unfollowed her twitter, instagram, and pinterest.  it makes me sad to see her comment on mutual friend's things, especially right under one of my comments, and know she is purposefully, willfully ignoring me for no reason that i can discern.  i'm sure she has a reason, but she's not sharing it with me.

i'm going to try not to cry over her any more.  someone posted something online that i stole because it really resonated with me on sunday, when i was trying not to cry about it...

if she can't even take a moment to respond to any of my contact attempts, even if it's just 'leave me the fuck alone', then she's not who i thought she was.  i deserve this.  i deserve respect, i deserve love, and i deserve someone's time.

i'll try not to cry about her any more.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

fuck this motherfucking snow

seriously.  awesome husband @_antgas and i are home for another snow day.  i'm supposed to intern today and the place is closed.  i'm losing intern hours every time this happens.  i mean, i'll make them up.

but i was kind of excited to go in today.  they're revamping the chemical dependency program where i'm interning to make it more of a day program.  instead of people coming in for an hour and a half group three or four times a week and an individual once a week, they're offering unbillable (free) groups to keep people there all day.  they're structuring the billable (required for treatment) groups and times for individual sessions so that there is some free time in between.  so you show up for group at 9:30am, and your next group isn't until 12:30.  you get out at 10:45... what will you do until then?  most of the people are driven by OUR van, so they have to wait.... why not have free groups that they can attend?

i'll be doing one orientation group a week - going over rules, the stuff they signed, basics of why they shouldn't use tobacco or energy drinks, etc.  and i was offered the choice between a general substance abuse group or opioid group - i chose the opioid.  i think that will be very interested, focusing on opioids.  the heroin and opiate problem on long island is seriously an epidemic.  i'd talk about different opiates at each group maybe, show what they do to your brain, work on education.  since it's not 'billable', i can't make it too treatment-y - it can't really be like full-on counseling.  i'm sure some coping skill stuff will come up, we'll work on relapse cues and prevention, but it won't be primarily a therapeutic group.

i've also picked up cross stitching recently.  i've purchased a couple of patters from subversive cross stitch and a couple of etsy stores.  because they're not my designs, i can't sell them.  so i'm guessing i'll give them to friends - and maybe give away a few here....

it's funny, you'd think (i thought) that cross stitching would be horrible for my hands since they're so swollen and achey.  it's not painful at all, and i don't think it's hurting anything.  my pain levels haven't changed... maybe my hands have gotten a little looser (they're not any stronger, but they feel a little easier to move).

so today will be another day wasted at home.  awesome husband @_antgas will play video games most of the day, i'll tool around online and cross stitch most of the day.  i bought potatoes yesterday for dinner tonight - i'm thinking big, yummy baked potatoes (his is a white potato and i bought sour cream; mine is a sweet potato and i'll cover it in butter and brown sugar) and soup.  maybe i'll whip up a batch of my delicious pretzels and we can watch a disney movie.  we're (i'm) planning our anniversary trip to disney and have had a hankering to watch 'beauty and the beast' for a few days now.  or maybe 'sleeping beauty'.  we'll see.

are you somewhere it keeps fucking snowing?  are you going stir crazy?  are you ready to punch the next weatherperson who uses the phrase 'polar vortex'?  and are you mad at whoever decided to start naming winter storms?  (this one is pax.  PAX i tell you.  i hate that fucking name.)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

i just don't know.

this is a journal entry from the rheumatoid arthritis support website i visit daily. i really feel like i can be free there because no one knows me.  i still worry about sharing some things on my blog because people i actually know in person read it.  

just took my 8th injection of enbrel last night. that's two months in. i'm going to be on it for another 5 weeks minimum. so that will be 13 weeks, three months. and most literature/nurses/doctors say it will kick in within three months.
i'm sure some of you know i'm still not experiencing any relief. any at all. i'm taking supplements including omegas hoping to alleviate some swelling. i'm taking my folic acid. i take a multivitamin. biotin. probiotic. eat veggies and a little fruit. eat limited meat. eat very few moderately to heavily processed things (compared to others, at least. i still eat a veggie burger a week). no bleached flour in the house. organic, vegan, minimally processed sugar. limited cow dairy (mainly cheese). i have no food allergies or sensitivities that have been discovered, expect potentially aspartame. i haven't tested it again yet because i shouldn't be ingesting that anyway. i supplement my diet with fruit and veg juices to ensure i'm getting nutrients.
i don't crave anything. maybe once or twice a month i crave meat, usually a well done burger or a good steak. nothing seems to upset my stomach, but i don't really want to put anything in it but bland stuff - pasta, pretzels, corn tortillas. i eat veggies with a little dip or hummus. apples. i haven't had any real cravings except for meat since i started methotrexate. i never know what to make for dinner because i just don't 'want' anything. awesome husband @_antgas asks me about going out for dinner and i just don't know or care.
i've had trouble with my pain levels. when you take that rapid thingy at the doc's office - the 1-10 scale. i never know how to answer it and i found something excellent on tumblr the other day...
0 - Pain Free
1 - Very minor annoyance - occasional minor twinges. No medication needed.
2 - Minor Annoyance - occasional strong twinges. No medication needed.
3 - Annoying enough to be distracting. Mild painkillers take care of it. (Aspirin, Ibuprofen.)
4 - Can be ignored if you are really involved in your work, but still distracting. Mild painkillers remove pain for 3-4 hours.
5 - Can’t be ignored for more than 30 minutes. Mild painkillers ameliorate pain for 3-4 hours.
6 - Can’t be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and participate in social activities. Stronger painkillers (Codeine, narcotics) reduce pain for 3-4 hours.
7 - Makes it difficult to concentrate, interferes with sleep. You can still function with effort. Stronger painkillers are only partially effective.
8 - Physical activity severely limited. You can read and converse with effort. Nausea and dizziness set in as factors of pain.
9 - Unable to speak. Crying out or moaning uncontrollably - near delirium.
10 - Unconscious. Pain makes you pass out.
it reminded me that i'm justified in 6-8. i thought i didn't get dizzy or nauseous from the pain, but now i'm not so sure. i do get dizzy sometimes on bad days.  i don't take painkillers.  i don't even take advil right now because i don't know what my liver is up to.  i have pain in the general area of my liver and will have my most recent test results tomorrow or saturday.  my pain does not make it hard to concentrate, but i think that's because i am focused and good at compartmentalizing pain.  my pain does interfere with my sleep.  and as for 8, my physical activity is very limited.  i can read and converse without effort but occasionally sharp pain causes me to stop.  i have a small stockpile of medications that i shouldn't have but i kept - klonopin (won't help with the pain but will knock me the f**k out), oxycodone, cyclobenzaprine.  i never throw out medications because i'm afraid no one will give them to me again.  as a recovering addict, none of these medications are easy to come by unless your doctor trusts you a LOT.  mine does - for now.  i'm terrified that will stop though and i'll be seen as med seeking.  
my hands and feel have these odd feelings.  kind of cold or hot; full, pressurized feeling.  it's not like swelling that i'm used to.  i'm wondering if it's more severe swelling than i've experienced.  my left wrist particularly has been bad.  it is hard for me to roll over in bed.  it is hard for me to support myself on my hands or knees.  it is hard to get up and down off the couch, the bed, the toilet.  my left shoulder is very painful and i feel like it's radiating into my back, which confuses me - is the shoulder pain due to rheumatoid disease or is it a muscle issue?  
i am very tired.  all of the time.  the constant headaches don't help.  sometimes i feel a touch of vertigo, i think.  kind of like when you're really drunk and your head feels a little light and swimmy?  i don't know what that's about, but it's my new normal now.
i do not like my new normal.  so many people tell me it gets better, i'll find a good medication.  i don't believe them.  i spent most of my life wanting to die, wanting to kill myself, struggling with depression and anxiety and ptsd and suicidal obsessions and so many things.  just so much.  i spent twelve years on and off medications until i found something that helped with my symptoms.  i didn't want to die.  i sometimes want to now.  it would be easier.  i know in my head and heart that it isn't true, i know that i won't kill myself.  i know i won't.  but it doesn't mean the idea isn't appealing.  that's part of my disease.  i do not know how people do this without medication or without relief.  i do not know how people go through medication after medication until they find something that works.  i do not know what i'm supposed to do to have a quality of life that is more than sitting on the couch watching cartoons and drinking diluted green tea.  dragging myself out of bed to intern for a job i'm going to love.  experiencing pain while driving, while food shopping, while typing, while sitting still doing nothing.  i just don't know.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

cookies and pizza. yum.

today is probably one of my worst rheumatoid disease days yet.

i am calling it rd, rheumatoid disease, now.  i think that using the word arthritis gives people the wrong idea.  it's not 'just arthritis'.  

i participated in a twitter chat last weekend (#rheum).  it was kind of nice to see other people have the same questions, concerns, and feelings that i do.  it's always nice to have your feelings validated.

but today i woke up with so much hand pain.  my hips hurt, my head hurts, my ankles and feet hurt.  but OHMYFUCKINGGODS my hands.  my fingers, my wrists, my knuckles.  all of it.  

in happy news, yesterday a tiny person and her mother knocked on my apartment door looking to sell girl scout cookies.  YES PLEASE.  but $4 a box?  when i was a brownie selling cookies for the first time, they were $1.50 a box.  guess i'm older than i thought i was.  two boxes each of thin mints (for awesome husband @_antgas), samosa, and savannah smiles.  i love lemon flavored things.

it snowed a bunch yesterday.  the roads weren't too bad today, and it got warm enough that some of the snow melted.  but yesterday it snowed on top of snow left over from last week's snow storm.  oh, and it's going to snow again overnight tonight.  so when i wake up tomorrow morning, there will be snow from three snow storms piled up all over the place.  amazing.  and it's barely february.  we have months of this shit left.  my birthday is mid-march, and i was born during a blizzard.  i've had to cancel or change birthday plans numerous times because of snow.  fuck.

i wish i had something more useful to say.  i went to my internship today, i remembered to eat, i voided my bladder numerous times.  i'm feeling sleepy and achy and lazy now, and i'm planning on ordering pizza for dinner and crying.