The Diaper Drying Experiment

Our dryer has recently had the audacity to break on me–during our bought with the stomach flu, no less.

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It couldn’t even break in a decent way like the heat going out or the tumbler malfunctioning. No, it had to do something stupid like have the “Start” knob snap off. You’re a jerk, dryer!

Once upon a time, I thought I could easily get by without a dryer. What an ignorant lady I was! I’ve been frantically trying to keep up with our laundry because hanging everything to dry adds a fair amount of time to this chore. A big part of the problem is the cloth diapers.

I do a load of cloth diapers every other day since we have 2 in diapers. This load takes up almost all of the space on my drying racks. Additionally, the diapers take well over 24 hours to completely dry (and that’s with a fan blowing on them). That means other loads of laundry can’t go through the wash until the diapers are finished drying.

However, a couple of years ago I read a blog post about line drying diapers even in the winter. I didn’t save it, so I can’t reference it now, but it seemed to claim that diapers on the line could be a year-round endeavor. Generally I have no motivation to hang up diapers when it’s freezing outside, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I was a little skeptical that the diapers would dry but the only way I would know is by trying.

The Experiment 

It was sunny, windy, and a high of 22 degrees on the day I tested this theory. I hung up the diapers at 11:15 a.m. and took them down at about 5:30 p.m. They were in direct sunlight for a good chunk of this time. I use prefold diapers and I’ve heard those generally take less time to dry than all-in-one diapers.

img_1210

Dry, diapers, dry!

The Findings

The diapers were frozen stiff on the line when I took them off. When I brought them inside and they thawed a bit, they were almost as wet as when I initially hung them outside. People with half a brain probably could have predicted that outcome given the fact that other sources of water remain frozen on cold, sunny days, but I was hoping something magical would happen when the sun’s rays hit the cloth diapers.

And no, science wasn’t my strongest subject in school.

Conclusion 

Almost complete failure.

In hindsight, the half remembered blog post may have been talking about sun bleaching diapers year-round, not actually drying them. And I will admit that my diapers do look significantly brighter. However, line drying outside wasn’t the space saver I was hoping it would be since I had to rehang all the diapers inside. Ain’t nobody got time for that with a toddler and infant to tend.

Bottom Line

I need to get the dryer repaired ASAP.

 

*Update on 2/9/17*

So a bit of research has shown that you can line dry clothes in the winter. . . sometimes. I think it was too humid the day I tried.

But at any rate, I fixed my dryer a few hours after I posted this! 🙂

 


June, the Trickster Month

Despite not having a summer break anymore, it’s hard not to feel like life will be a little less chaotic when we flip the calendar to June. The town becomes alive with happy children pedaling their bicycles to the pool and neighbors taking longer walks around town. Even my husband’s schedule gives the appearance of calm. Confirmation is on break for the summer and he doesn’t have monthly chapel duties at the Lutheran school 20 miles away. And, for a moment, we think that we’ll have a little reprieve from the rigors of pastoral life.

Summer

But June is a trickster month. While children are on summer vacation and confirmation class isn’t a weekly obligation, June is the month of VBS and weddings. Illness and death also don’t take a summer break and still strike when they please.

So, here we are, midway through June: 2 funerals completed, a wedding and VBS still coming. My husband and I are giving each other frazzled looks asking, “How did June get so busy?!” And I would like to say that we were naive and didn’t know to expect this, but the June did the EXACT same thing to us last year. In fact, I remember telling myself, “Next year we’ll know that June isn’t a quiet month.” How could I have forgotten?!

Now, don’t worry about us. We’ll survive June and we’ll go on a family vacation later in July (because nothing says “relaxation” like driving across 3.5 states with a toddler). The end of July and August do promise to be our calmer time of year (it was last year as well), so we’ll get our reprieve. And next year we’ll remember that June isn’t a quiet month and it won’t lure us in with its false claim of summer calm.

note to self


Expectation vs. Reality: Art Time

When my siblings and I were children, my mom always had us put together a little craft around major holidays for our aunts, uncles, grandparents, and godparents. It’s something from my childhood that I would like to repeat for Babykins. And now that she is 17-months old, I decided she could do a little project for Easter.

I thought I was so smart. Easter still a month away, so we had plenty of time to finish. Likewise, I set my expectations for a project extremely low. No Pinterest searches for me! Instead, I drew a little Easter egg picture on the computer, typed “Happy Easter!” underneath, and printed off some copies for Babykins to color. Since Babykins has been playing with crayons for many months now, scribbling on some cards wouldn’t be too difficult for her.

I expected the project to go like this:

expectation

We would easily kill 15 minutes as she “colored” the cards. She wouldn’t be able to finish all of them in one sitting, but that’s way I started the project a month early. We would have fun!

This is what really happened:

color

waiting finished

you color

Something tells me a hand-colored card from me won’t be the same as from Babykins. *Sigh* Maybe we’ll try again at Christmas.


How to Make Banana Bread as a College Student

I originally wrote this essay for a non-fiction writing class in Fall 2007. It still makes me laugh, especially now that I make a fairly decent loaf of banana bread. 

One day in the grocery store, you spot the perfect banana bunch in the produce aisle.  Their vibrant yellow peels and smooth curves call to you and lead you to gently place them into the cart.  As you continue to shop, you begin to plan the things you can do with them—mix them with cereal, make peanut butter and banana sandwiches, or simply eat them.  The possibilities seem limitless.  When you return to the apartment, you position the bananas on the kitchen counter, an obvious place where you have easy access to their sweet taste.  Then you glance at the microwave clock, realize your class starts in ten minutes, and dash out of the apartment.  While doing this, you promptly forget that bananas even exist in the world, much less in the kitchen.  About a week later you rediscover the bananas as you search for a snack.  However, the bananas no longer have the vivid yellow hue that beckoned you in the store, but rather they have turned into a mushy, rotting mess the same color as day-old coffee grinds.  Disgusted, you grab the decaying fruit and head for the garbage.  Just you lower the bananas into the trash, you have a thought—why not make banana bread?  Excited by this new idea, you flip through the cookbook that your mother gave you (she is convinced that you cannot live off Ramen noodles and boxed macaroni and cheese).  Page 99 holds the recipe that will fulfill your baking aspirations.  You read the ingredients:

Ingredients*:

½ cup shortening

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup mashed ripe banana

½ cup chopped walnuts

After reading the ingredients, you begin to follow the instructions carefully.

Step 1: Find the ingredients.

You have some of the ingredients like eggs and sugar (sugar for your coffee, of course.  It’s the best part of waking up).  However, Ramen noodles don’t require shortening and boxed macaroni and cheese ingredients do not involve baking powder, and you realize that you don’t have the bulk of these ingredients.  After you decide the ingredients won’t miraculously appear in the pantry, you go and explain your difficult dilemma to your roommate.  She might have these obscure ingredients because she often bakes chocolate-chip cookies from scratch.  Fortunately, you guess correctly and your roommate will let you borrow the ingredients.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t have shortening.  She instead provides a substitute—butter.  You express your doubt about this and she replies, “I’m pretty sure butter and shortening are the same thing.” Your mother had never used butter for shortening but you decide to take her advice.  Not because you believe the shortening-as-butter theory but because you do not want to use gas to drive to the grocery store, nor do you want to pay for the shortening itself.  After a quick glance through the pantry, you find all the other ingredients you need to make the banana bread.  

Step 2: Cream together shortening and sugar; add eggs and beat well.

Since you have never baked anything from scratch on your own, you have no idea to as of what “creaming” and “beating” mean.  The last time you learned about cooking, you were in middle school and learned recipes like spaghetti and scrambled eggs.  Not exactly the most demanding foods to make.  Either way, you finally come to the conclusion that “cream” and “beat” will simply have to mean the same thing: stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.

Step 3: Sift together dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with banana, blending well after each addition.

Another unknown vocabulary word arises in the instructions.  You vaguely remember your mother using a rotating, cylinder-like contraption called a sifter whenever she made Christmas cookies.  Since you do not own a sifter you decide “sift” will have the same definition as “cream” and “beat.”  Once again, you pick up the trusty wooden spoon and beat the dry ingredients vigorously.  As you beat the dry ingredients, you realize that you have not mashed the bananas yet.  “Mash” is one cooking term you do know and you begin to aggressively smash the bananas into a pulpy, goopy mess.  You pour the mashed bananas with the rest of the ingredients.  Later you learn that sifting requires light stirring and you decide that beating ingredients may not serve as the answer for every unknown cooking jargon.  You also realize later that you forgot to add a teaspoon of baking soda because you only skimmed the directions, reading only the first word of the ingredients.  Because of this, baking powder got sifted with the other dry ingredients, while poor baking soda never did make the final mix..

Step 4: Stir in nuts.

You skip this step for two reasons.  First, you do not like nuts, they taste like salted cardboard.  Second, you do not have any nuts in the apartment and you do not want to go to the store to buy them.  After all, if you decided not to go to the store to buy a necessity like shortening, why would you go to buy something unnecessary like nuts?

Step 5: Pour into well-greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.

Suddenly, you come to the realization that you do not have a bread pan.  After debating if a cake pan would suffice as a bread pan, you decide to get into your car and make the trip to the grocery store that you have successfully avoided until this point.  When you enter the store, you realize that besides a bread pan, you need a gallon of milk for breakfast in the morning.  As you walk toward the dairy section, you find your hand reaching for other necessities like pudding cups, fruit snacks, chocolate, and of course, Ramen noodles and boxed macaroni and cheese.  After finding a pan and spending three times the amount of money you intended to originally, you drive back to the apartment.  Finally, you pour the mixture into your brand-new, well greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.

Step 6: Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 45 to 50 minutes or till done.

Just then, you realize that you forgot to preheat the oven.  You turn the oven to 350 degrees and wait about ten minutes for it to heat up.  When it has warmed, you gently slide the pan in the oven and set the timer for 45 minutes.  While the bread bakes, you decide to act like a productive student and start your homework.  However, first you need to check Facebook, then your e-mail, and then Facebook again in case anyone has written on your wall during the three minutes it took for you to check your e-mail.  Then you decide your fish currently lives in filth and squalor and needs to have his fishbowl cleaned.  After you finish creating a clean fishy home for your beloved aquatic pet, you remember you have not called home yet this week.  You dial home, talk to your mother, and answer her questions.  “Yes, everything is fine.  Yes, I’m going to class and studying.  Yes, I have been taking my vitamins.  No, I’m not coming home next weekend.  Why?  Because there’s a football game next weekend.”  After your mother finishes her interrogation, you find the readings that you need to do and sit down on the couch to begin.  Just as you flip open the book, the timer on the oven beeps. Well, no one can say you didn’t try to do homework.

After you pull the pan from the oven, you stick a toothpick through the middle of the bread to see if it has finished baking.  Since the middle appears to remain slightly soupy, you put the pan in the oven for another three minutes.  The same results occur the second time you put the toothpick in the bread, so you return the pan to the oven for another two minutes.  Again, the middle seems slightly raw, but you decide that it may only appear uncooked because of the heat.  You leave the kitchen as the bread cools.  After about ten minutes, you return to look at the bread.  To your horror, the whole middle has collapsed and now sits in the middle of undercooked banana bread mush.

Step 7: Remove from pan; cool on rack.  Wrap and store overnight.

You remove the bread from the pan—right into the garbage.  You make a mental note to lay subtle hints for your mother to send banana bread in the next care package.  Why go through the agony of baking banana bread when you mother can cook so much better?  Finally, you look in the pantry and debate if you will eat Ramen Noodles or boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner.

*Recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.  United States of America: Meredith Corporation, 1976. 99.


How to Confuse Your Server

Earlier this week, my husband and I decided to go to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner.  My husband had been recently commenting that he wanted wings, it was a dreary day, and a weeknight.  It seemed like the perfect time to go to a sports bar.

We arrived at the bar and were quickly seated.  I then started scanning the menu for weekday specials.

decidingOur server came to our table to take our orders.

orderingFor some reason, she paused to look at us.

confusedJust as the pause starting getting awkward, she finally said:

wednesdayApparently we had both forgotten what day it was and decided it was Tuesday.  One of us should probably go back to work soon so we can keep track of the days.


Sometimes My Cats Make Me Look Really Stupid

Cats have a tendency to stare intently at things.  Sometimes they stare at a bug, sometimes they stare at you, and sometimes they stare at what appears to be nothing.  It can be difficult at times to figure out what they are observing.  Consequently, this scenario plays out in our home more often than it probably should:

staring

 

asking

 

I stare

 

wondering

 

And then my husband catches me staring at nothing as intently as the cats are.


What It Takes For Us to Buy a New Printer

The “Why Do Today?” saga continues!

I got my first printer when I bought my computer in 2006.  It was a simple model without any fancy features.  It was AWESOME!  I printed numerous English papers and hundreds of pages of readings off of it in college.  My husband and I continued to use the printer after we got married.  I don’t think I could have chosen a better printer.

In the summer of 2012, my husband and I decided it was time to get a new computer before my trust desktop  from my college days had a chance to die (that computer was a good purchase as well).  We also decided we should replace our printer when we got a new computer.  It sounded like a good plan, but we never bought a computer that summer.

This past February, we finally pulled ourselves together and purchased a laptop.  “Great,” we said, “Now we can get a new printer!”  Weeks passed, we didn’t buy a new printer.

Then in April, my printer started to act up.  It would randomly decide not to communicate with my desktop and refused to print.  I had to restart the computer to get the printer to work.  After dealing with this a few times, I told my husband, “Maybe we should get a new printer before this one completely dies.”  Weeks passed, we didn’t buy a new printer.

In the beginning of summer, our ink cartiridge ran out.  When my husband found out I bought a new one, he suggested that we get a new printer the next time we ran out of ink.  I agreed that this sounded like an excellent plan since it would be after our move.  Sure enough, cartridge ran out in September.  We didn’t buy a new printer.

Later in September, we had a day that we declared that we were absolutely, positively going to buy a printer that week.  My husband found a model that fit our needs in the Best Buy ad and we said, “Yes, we are going to do this!!”  Saturday came and went and the sale expired.  We didn’t buy anew printer.

October came.  My husband started printing his confirmation worksheets and school papers at the school library.  I started printing coupons off at work (don’t worry, I was printing coupons for my employers’ shopping as well).  It took a little plan, but life withou a printer was working.

November arrived.  My husband realized that with the end of the quarter, he wouldn’t have easy access to the school library to print off his confirmation worksheets.  Ironically, my employers’ printer decided to quit communicating with the laptop, cutting me off from my coupons.  We realized that we needed to buy a printer.

Now I know that we could get by without a printer.  We could always pay to print at the public library.  But the money for a new printer had been sitting in our bank account for over a year–it would be silly to pay for printer use at the library.  So finally, almost 18 months after we initially decided to get a new printer, we went to Office Depot to purchase one.  It took less then 30 minutes to pick a printer.  We were $50 under budget.  It was painless.

I wonder why we waited so long?

printers


Apparently We Never Do Today What We Can Put Off Until the Last Moment

Admittedly, my husband and I don’t leave everything until the last possible moment.  We managed to get his call application in a few weeks before it was due.  However, there are many times that we put off chores we have time to complete, only to have a frantic scramble to finish them later.

Our most recent example of this has to do with our winter things.  We got a new comforter last fall and I decided that it should be washed at the end of every winter.  Since our comforter is very large and fluffy (and warm!), it requires a trip to the laundromat to use an industrial-sized washer.  At first I was going to do this before we moved, but then I had this thought:

comforter

Sounds logical, right?

Likewise, I bought a winter coat four years ago that needs to be dry cleaned.  Generally I’m fairly diligent in not buying clothing that needs to be dry cleaned, but this coat slipped through my rule.  Anyway, since I wore my winter coat consistently for 6 months (thanks to our never ending winter), it accumulated things like mud, dog slobber, and children’s snot on it.  It desperately needed to be cleaned by the end of winter.  Once again I was going to do this before we moved but thought:

coat

Sounds logical, right?

At any rate, we moved at the end of July.  Even though my husband had 5 weeks off between our move and classes starting, more pressing chores and activities kept popping up.  Consequently, we didn’t wash the comforter or clean my coat during August.  Then classes resumed for my husband.  September passed and we still didn’t clean either item.  Then the cold of October blew in and we realized that we really wanted our comforter at night.  It took me a week after deciding that we needed to put the comforter on our bed to actually take it to the laundromat.

As for my coat, it was cold and blustery most of this week.  My winter coat finally made it to the dry cleaners on Friday.  It looks like I’ll be wearing lots of layers until I get the coat back because clearly, we never do today what we can put off until the last possible minute.


How We Almost Burned Down the Farm

When we first returned at our farmhouse, there was a huge pile of wooden pallets on the burn pile.  Our landlord told us that he was just going to burn them but we could use them for a bonfire if we wanted.  My husband and I decided that sounded like great fun, so a couple of weeks later we invited some friends over for a little get-together.

The afternoon of our bonfire, my husband and I were studying the pile of pallets and discussing whether we should make the pile smaller.

not a good idea

My husband, most likely spurred by my teasing, decided to take my advice and left the pallet pile as it was.  However, we did conclude that the pile was big enough that we needed to start the fire before our guests arrived.  Consequently, we set out right after dinner to begin.

It took a few minutes for the fire to catch, but soon we had a cheery burn going.  Then the pallets really started to ignite, sending bright flames into the sky.  It was impressive.

??????????

We sat several feet away to watch our handiwork.  But then the fire got bigger.  Flames started rising higher and higher into the air and the intense heat made it impossible to get closer than 3 feet away.  I told my husband, “Well, good thing there isn’t any wind tonight.”  As I said this, bits of burning wood began to fall on the dry grass.  Fire started creeping toward the house and even worse, the old shed that is next to the burn pile.

We realized we had made a terrible mistake and that our innocent little bonfire was going to become a giant farm fire.  Fortunately, we were somewhat prepared.  By “prepared,” I mean we had a hose that didn’t quite reach the fire and a gallon bucket that looked miniscule next to the roaring fire.  We set to work trying to fight the flames.

prgression

Thankfully, despite our initial stupidity, we were able to wet enough of the ground around the fire to get it under control (and before anyone else arrived!).  Of course, because it was my idea to leave the giant burn pile as it was, I had to bear the brunt of the blame for almost burning down the farm.

the end


Because I’m an Idiot

So I had a picture started for a new post, but doodling is currently on hold as I try to do triage on my laptop.  I may or may not have clicked on some buggy links and may or may not have acquired some viruses.  Whoops. . .