Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: Lonely Girl, Gracious God

I had the opportunity to read and review this heart-wrenching and faith-inspiring memoir by Lauri Khodabandehloo, Lonely Girl, Gracious God: A Mother’s Story of Autism’s Devastation and God’s Promise of Enduring Love

From the beginning of Lauri Khodabandehloo’s pregnancy, she suspected something was wrong with her unborn child.  After her seemingly normal daughter is born, her uneasiness continues as her daughter’s development lags.  

While continuing to deny that her child has a disability, this mother searches for answers and help for her daughter and her special needs.  Through thorough self-inspection and eventual acceptance, answers come and the ability to help her child begins.

Lonely Girl, Gracious God shows us what a mother can accomplish through love and faith in a caring God.  With this faith to guide her, she and her daughter make a happy life from the pieces they have been given, but not without pitfalls and discouragement along the way.

For anyone who lives with the tragic disability of autism, this book takes an honest look at the heartbreak and hope that family members encounter on their journey for a "normal" life, not only for them, but also for their autistic child.

Title: Lonely Girl, Gracious God: A Mother’s Story of Autism’s Devastation and God’s Promise of Enduring Love
Author: Lauri Khodabandehloo
ISBN-13 9781935265467
Publisher: Deep River Books
Publishing Date: 2011
Listed Price: $13.99

* Disclaimer: I was provided this book to facilitate my review as my only compensation for this post. This post reflects my honest, personal opinion and experience with the product which may differ from yours.  Product information courtesy of the sponsor.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Crowning Moments! Hop #2

I'm so excited to be having my second blog hop!  Last week, I had some amazing posts!  One, in particular, has stuck with me. Click RIGHT HERE to read this incredible "Crowning Moment!" from last week, written by my good friend, Marlee.

I love this theme because so many of you accomplish great things or experience such profound, life-altering realizations that we can all share in.  The beauty of a "crowning moment'" however, is that the greatest change in your life can be as simple and spectacular as you child's first step.  I was very touched by Allison's video she linked up last week of her son's first steps when they wondered if he would be able to walk.  What great Crowning Moments!

So, without further ado, here are the rules:

1. If you don't already, follow the host website (http:/hereslivinthedream.blogspot.com).

2. Grab my new hop button above and put it on your site so others can find their way back & share in the fun.

(I wasn't sure how to get the html for it, so if you download this picture to your files, go to the design page of your blog, add a gadget, go to pictures, and then add my link "http://hereslivinthedream.blogspot.com" in the space available, it will work.
3. Link up a post, not a whole blog.

4. Go to the other links, comment, follow, and HAVE FUN!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I'm taking a time-out on blogging for a little while.  The summer is flying by and I want to enjoy my six little blessings while they're here and still want me to play with them.  I will be here on Fridays for my new Crowning Moments! blog  hop and hope to see you all here. 

 I love my readers and the comments I receive.  It is an honor that out of all of the things there are to read out there, you take time out of your busy schedules to visit my "Dream."  Thank you so much.  See you on Friday!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Down on the Farm: New Puppies!

Our Australian Kelpie had NINE puppies last week!  They are just starting to open their eyes.  I will be posting cuter pictures, (with my kids holding them,) soon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Above and Beyond: Happy Mother's Day?

Not a good night Saturday night; two sick babies equals no sleep for Mom. When I had new babies, I was maybe used to it, but now, I need more than two hours of fitful slumber!

Sunday found me dragging to say the least. The kids made cinnamon pancakes, eggs and bacon for their incredible Dad with a cute sign hanging in our entranceway that read "Happy Fathers Day!" He got a new rasp to file the horses' hooves and tons of kisses and hugs from the kids. He then took them to Church, (while I stayed home with the little ones,) where he was sung to and honored, again.

By the time Church was over, lunch had passed and the two sick sweeties were napping, I was ready to crash. I was vaguely aware of laying down and don't remember much until the smell of yummy food reached my nostrils.

While I was sleeping, (which Moms never get to do during the day!!!!) Richard had put potatoes in the oven to bake, cooked lamb chops to perfection, and made watermelon balls for the side. He did all of this as well as a sink full of dishes and a load of laundry.

Meanwhile, the whipping cream sits in the fridge, waiting to be put into saddlebags atop our faithful steeds, where it will be mixed into a delectable ice cream concoction. The horses stand out in the pasture, waiting to be saddled whereon my husband and I will enjoy a couple hours of simple conversation, inside jokes, and beautiful scenery with maybe a kiss or two for good measure.  At least that is still the plan, after two little girls are back to normal.

Happy Father's Day, honey!   Thanks for going "above and beyond," again.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Share Your Crowning Moments!

I am starting a blog hop!  For those of you not familiar with what a blog hop is, you will enter the link to a favorite post from your blog, or you can write an original post, and enter it here!  You can then "hop" around to other people's blogs and share your love.

The great thing about a blog hop is you get to read some great posts that you may not have found on your own.  The other great thing about a blog hop is you get people visiting your site who may not have found you on their own!

My hop is going to be called "Crowning Moments!" and you can share anything that you consider to be a "crowning moment!" whether it was literally a moment where you received a crown or a highlight in your child's life or a moment of realization in your own life.  This hop will be receiving posts Friday and Saturday.

So find your "Crowning Moments!" and link up! Next week, I'll have an official blog hop button!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten... and Then Re-learned as a Mom

Art 101
 Remember trying to achieve the straight lines or perfect circles; mastering the concept of  complementary colors and light versus shadow?  I remember learning about perspective and what a neat concept that was; that as you got closer in the foreground of your picture, the trees, or roads got wider or taller.  There were so many things that made art attractive and "right".  

As I've become a Mom, my perspective has changed.  I've re-learned what is beautiful art as my kids have developed their own talents.  When my four-year-old asks if I love her drawing of a horse, I honestly tell her it is the most beautiful horse I've ever seen, (now which end is the tail on?)

 As my kids bring home their different holiday art projects, the once pristine blue and silver Christmas tree has transformed into a modge-podge of colors and shapes.  But is it any less beautiful?  Sure, walking around the Festival of Trees sends a longing for a perfectly trimmed tree in complementing colors and shapes, but as we turn on the lights that are hung loosely on only one side of our own pine-scented tree, the warmth and Spirit of the season flows just as strong. 

 And so, although the masterpieces hanging all over my fridge may not be Monet's, they might rival Picasso's; and even if I have to ask "Oh, it's upside down?", the mountain scene taped to the door bares a strong resemblance to the real mountain scene outside my window. 

 As I continue to "learn" what art is, I'm grateful for the talents I can help nurture and develop in those future artists that seem to decorate every wall (and sometimes, it's literally the wall), with color and life.

Edited version from January 27, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tip of the Day: Hand-Tossed Ice Cream

In yesterday's post about the most remembered Father's Day gift I've ever given my husband, I noted that I would be giving out the recipe for the ice-cream perfection I was able to serve up on the mountain.  Since I am a woman of my word, I share that recipe with you now.

 I originally got this recipe for an activity with the kids.  They love to help out with this fun summertime treat.

Hand-Tossed Ice Cream

3/4 c. whole milk, (I use 2 %)
1 c. whipping cream, (I use heavy cream)
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
(2) 1-qt. sealable plastic bags
(2) 1-gal. sealable plastic bags
6-8 lbs. crushed ice
2/3 c. rock salt, (if I don't have this and want to make it right away, I just use regular salt, but it takes a lot!)

Place first 4 ingredients into qt. baggie- push out air as you seal bag.  Place this bag in other qt. bag; seal.
Cover bottom of gal. baggie with ice.  Sprinkle 2-3 Tbsp. of salt over ice.  Place double-bagged ice cream mix on top of ice.  Layer more ice and salt around ice cream mixture until large bag is full; seal.  Place sealed bag inside another gallon baggie; seal.  Take the "ice-cream-ball" outside and toss it back and forth for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove wrappings and unseal bags, then serve.

Makes about 2 cups, (four 1/2 c. servings.)

You can also put the "ball" in a can with a lid and roll it back and forth to mix. Or, as read in my previous post, you can put the "ball" in saddle bags and ride for about an hour.

To get different flavors of ice cream, (although the vanilla is fabulous,) just add the desired ingredients with the first four initial ingredients.  I added crushed Oreo cookies on the top of the ingredients before I sealed the first baggie and my Oreo ice cream was perfect.  You could also add cut up fruit, chocolate syrup, or any other flavor you like your ice cream to be.

Extra Bonus Tip: If you are doing this with kids, sometimes their attention span is not long enough to throw the  "ball" for the whole time.  Be prepared to take over, or just serve the ice cream early.  It may still be a thin consistency, but it will still taste great!

Extra, Extra Bonus Tip:  If you are doing this in the winter in your front room, make sure your baggies are higher quality because they may start to leak or just get an outright hole in them while you are tossing them to each other, resulting in a very wet, salty mess on your couch! (Experience talking☺!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Down on the Farm: Father's Day, Country-Style

With Father's Day coming up, I've been reading about a lot of gift ideas for Dad.  Well, I'm going to tell you what I got my husband last year that he will remember forever!

Richard is a cowboy through and through.  He loves riding horses, wearing his cowboy boots everywhere, looks handsome in a cowboy hat, pays a fortune for a custom-made saddle with the swells and seat perfectly fit to him,  he loves to rope and brand cows, especially his, and makes excuses to move the cattle to different parts of the mountain, just for an excuse to ride and work his cow dogs.

Richard and I try to get in a date night once a week, even if it is just accompanying him down to the barn to do chores.  With six kids, twelve-years-old and younger, we don't get much private conversation in when they're around.  I decided that I would get a jump on Father's Day and give him my present on Friday, as a date, just me and him.  Then the kids could do their usual breakfast in bed, signs all over the house, shaving cream, etc.

Before Richard got home from work, I got two horses and had them saddled and waiting.  I then made homemade ice cream, (I will post the recipe tomorrow for my "Tip of the Day,") and bagged it extra heavy, so it wouldn't leak.  You are supposed to toss this ice cream for at least twenty minutes for it to thicken up.  I put the bags in our saddle bags on the back of the horses, hoping that the movement of the ride would be enough to set it up.

I had just changed and spiffied up as Richard pulled in the driveway.  He came in the door and asked if the kids had been riding the horses.  I told him we were going riding and the kids were babysitting.  (I was nursing at this time and figured we had two hours tops to get our ride in.)  He was so excited to get such a surprise.

We headed out on our ride, enjoying our alone time together, admiring the beautiful mountain scenery, grateful our kids were getting old enough to watch each other for a couple hours, happy that we could be in the saddle together again, (my first ride out of the arena since I had been pregnant and had my baby,) and me knowing that the second part of the surprise, the ice cream, was still to come.  (Richard loves ice cream just about as much as riding, especially Oreo ice cream, which I had crushed in the baggie with the cream, hoping it would turn out.)

After about an hour, we topped out on the mountain, overlooking a beautiful valley.  I told Richard I had another surprise for him.  He was mildly curious as I handed him a sack.  He pulled out the baggies of frozen perfection.  The ice cream couldn't have come out more perfect!  The Oreo was mixed throughout and it was the perfect consistency.  We ate our ice cream out of the baggies under a tree in the shade, visiting and remembering how this all started.

We finished out the loop around the mountain and back home in just over two hours.  Richard sent me up to the baby with a big thank you and a very romantic kiss.  When I got up here, my little angels were managing splendidly.  The baby was sleeping peacefully, the kids were happily playing.  It was the perfect gift, not only for the most awesome Father of my children, but also for me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Blogger-dash Winner Announced!

And now, for the news you've all been waiting for, last week's winner of the Blogger-dash game was Colleen, at A Day in the Life of a Five Foot Mama.

Colleen, (Five Foot Mama,) and her little family with Brennan on the way.

Colleen got the most votes for her hilarious captcha,"rednex: (noun, plural) a group of people who exhibit strange or ridiculous behavior.  One who belongs to this group will typically possess an intelligence quotient lower than 84.  Other distinguishing features include buck teeth, mullets, camouflage clothing, a shotgun in a large truck, and a house on wheels.  Rednex may be male or female "

I think at times we may all display certain aspects that may be considered to fit in this category, (take for example the rocking chair that I was throwing out last year, but my husband thought it was so comfy, it stayed in our backyard the rest of the summer so he could enjoy it!  We looked like "rednex.")  In honor of our Five Foot Mama, let's all see how many posts we can use the word "rednex" in. Be sure to let me know if you use it so that we can all check it out.

I love Colleen's blog!  She has a handsome hubby and a darling little boy that she shares with us in her posts of everyday life.  Not only does she share the milestones they go through as a family, but also has fun, interesting, and practical advice and tips to help her readers grow.  

And for all of you mothers or mothers-to-be, she just did a fun review on some cute onesie stickers!  (I didn't even know what these were, but they're adorable and you need to go check them out. You can even get a discount on your order if you go through her!)

I look forward to featuring you, Colleen, so that we all can enjoy your "Life as a Five Foot Mama!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Crowning Moments! Blogger Tag!

Jen, over at A Book, A Girl, A Journey, tagged me in a little get-to-know-you game.  So for my Crowning Moments! post, you get to read my answers to a few questions and then find out who I tagged, definitely their "crowning moment"! ☺
1. Do you think you're hot?
Definitely when the temperature outside is above ninety degrees,
 but until then, I am usually on the cold side.. 

2. Upload a picture of the wallpaper you're using at the moment:

Is this a big surprise to

3. When was the last time you ate chicken meat?
As opposed to chicken bone?  Well, I made up a recipe last week
 that I named Malibu Chicken casserole.  It was so yummy!  If
 you want  the recipe, just ask!

4. The songs you listened to recently:
I was just trying to shut it out so that I could concentrate on this
 post!  It is Alvin and the Chipmunks singing "Christmas Don't Be Late."

5. What where you thinking as you were doing this?
I was thinking, "Who says Christmas songs can't play in mid-June? 
 I'm glad the Christmas tree isn't still up!"

6. Do you have nicknames? What are they?
My name is Melanie.  Some people call me "Mel" but mostly I am
 called, "Mom," "Momma," "Hon," and "Babe."

Tag 4 blogger friends:
1. Geoff at Photokapi.com
2. Justin at Animals Rock
3. Marlee at Budgeting During College
4. Colleen at A Day in the Life of a Five Foot Mama

Who's listed as #1?
Geoff, a great photographer and friend from way-back-when, 
dedicated to his family, and my special feature blogger this week. 
 He's got an awesome contest going on at his photo blog that I'm 
hoping I win and also has a separate blog that tells all about his 
wonderful family.

How did you get to know #3?
I found her awesome blog and was impressed with her wit and 
humor.  She also gives out some great tips to save money.  She's
 my kinda gal, a real country-girl at heart.  And, she's planning the
 adventure of a lifetime resulting in me living vicariously through her.

How about #4?
This was one of the first blogs I started to follow.  Her commitment
 to raising her family matches mine and I love her excitement when her 
darling little boy reaches all of his milestones.  She is very practically 
minded and looks awesome when she's pregnant!

Leave a Lovey-dovey message for #2.
Justin, you rock!  I love you so much and am so proud of the 
awesome job you do on your blog.  Thanks for being so enthusiastic
 about it and sharing your vast knowledge about animals with us all.

Okay bloggers, tag! You're it!  Have fun!  No tag-backs!

Remember, today is the day to vote for your favorite Blogg-dash entry.
 Just go HERE and cast your vote.

Today is also the last day to enter my giveaway for and electronic
coloring computer game for your kids.  Just click HERE to enter.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten... and Then Re-learned as a Mom

Construction 301:  Today, we're dealing with advanced stuff.  Of course, nothing that your typical kindergarten student can't handle.  I take you back to the days of blocks, Lincoln Logs, bottle caps, and Legos.  When I was growing up, with a bucket full of bottle caps and rubber bands, my brother, sister, and I could design high-tech roads all over the front room that would compete with any trillion-dollar spaghetti-bowl bridges you could find today.  And watching my own kids, I'm amazed at their ability to design and build towers from the time they're one, (of course, the demolition part comes more natural at this particular age.)  The ranch houses, barns, fences and forts are five-star that they construct with their Lincoln Logs.  Don't even get me started on the Legos.  Underwater command centers with a fleet of sixteen differently constructed power ships that not only speed underwater, but can fly, as well, dominate every corner of the kid's bedrooms.

So, at what age does the quality go down, and the price go up, when you are trying to build something so simple as a house?   Maybe not everything sticks with you from kindergarten to motherhood, after all!

Share your building frustrations and tips with me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tip of the Day: Kisses

Put a smile on your kisser and someone might put a kiss on your smiler ☺!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Down on the Farm: I Have WHAT Under My Hood?

For a while, I worked at veterinary clinic, Ribbonwood Animal Hospital, on the weekends, hoping to keep up my education and make a little money on the side.  Although I had to travel 45 to 50 miles to get there, I really enjoyed the work and the people I worked with.

One particular day, I was rushing to work to get there a little early because I had to drop my car off to get the oil changed.  Mom would meet me at work to watch the little ones and so she was going to deliver me the few blocks to and from work for the oil change.

Everything went smoothly; I got to work a little early, took my car to the lube station, got back to work and would just wait to hear when my car was ready to pick up.

The phone call I got came sooner than I expected and was not at all what I expected to hear!

Apparently, the mechanics opened my hood and peeking out at them was our best mouse/bird/bunny catcher, Maize.   The thoughts of our poor kitty riding under the hood going 70 miles per hour down the freeway for nearly an hour was almost more than even I could take!  They assured me, however, that he was fine and contained in a box.

I rushed over to pick up our lucky feline and found him no worse for wear.  Besides being a little bit jumpy and a smudge of grease on the top of his head, he was just fine.
This is Maize.

Maize has never ventured under the car since his ride of terror, (although he loves to be on top of it,) and has no problem going into a cat carrier when we have to transport him somewhere, (a definite ride in style when comparing, I'm sure.)  Like I've said before, you have to raise them tough if they're going to make it on a farm!

Has your cat ever taken a horrifying/funny/adventurous trip somewhere?

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Blogger-dash Winner Announced!

And now, for the news you've all been waiting for, last week's winner of the Blogger-dash game was Geoff, at Photokapi.

Geoff got the most votes for his hilarious captcha, "tatervan: where you put your potatoes when you want to transport them somewhere."

In honor of you, let's all see how many posts we can use the word "tatervan" in. (Mmmmm... I'll have to think about that one - it might be hard to use!) Be sure to let me know if you use it so that we can all check it out.

This is a GREAT time to be doing a feature on him since he is holding a FABULOUS giveaway.  Click HERE to find out all about it!  You can win your favorite photo from his blog, framed and shipped to you!  The only hard part will be choosing just ONE!

I have some fun facts to share with you this week about Geoff, but he started us off with a great summary.

A brief summary of my life:
I work as a Web Developer for Hewlett-Packard, have been married 13 years this month to the love of my life (Diana), have 5 adorable children, 3 girls, 2 boys, in that order. Oldest is 11 then 9, almost 7, almost 4, and 20 months. My oldest daughter is has special needs and is in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy. She was born with CytoMegaloVirus that affected her brain – basically making 1 side smoother than the other. Due to this, she is unable to walk, talk, or do other left-side brain activities. However, she is a happy girl who loves her siblings and they adore her, and she is especially fond of babies. She has a knack for cheering up those around her with her coo’s and smiles. She is a joy to have in our family and makes us feel blessed.
In my spare time, I enjoy yard beautification, home improvement, photography, video games, and hanging out with my family.

I'm excited that I have the opportunity to share with you the talents and life of Geoff as my feature this week.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Crowning Moments! Dishes and a Journey!

As I went to bed without an idea of what to post today for my Crowning Moment!, I decided on this:

"Finally, after four days of painting and decorating my sons' room, getting in my garden, planting trees and flowers, doing my monthly grocery shopping, catering to six little ones, and one big one, (my husband:), getting the laundry done, feeding dogs, horses, cows, pigeons, and cats for my husband while he was away looking for our lost cows at the desert, taking kids to the dentist, trying to keep up with my emails, etc., I finally got the dishes completely done; a true CROWNING MOMENT!"

But this morning, as I got up early to post, I read an interesting email that made me curious and I had to search it out.  What I found was incredible and I wanted to share it with you.

This is not just another blog.  Khushbu, from India is on a Journey and her post yesterday was so beautiful that I ended up reading all of her posts.  She is a great writer and has true heart.  I also discovered that she is only 18!  I did the math several times to be sure because her writing is fabulous and touching, like somebody who has lived many more seasons than eighteen!

Her post yesterday was about families and a particular Crowning Moment in her own life.  I encourage you to go check it out.  I hope it will touch all of you like it did me!  Thanks Khushi, for sharing your journey with us.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten... and Then Re-learned as a Mom

Poetry 212: I was visiting Michelle over at Heartfelt Balance Handmade Life.  She is having her "Thankful Thursday" today and I was inspired by the beautiful poem she posted today about being thankful.

I decided that I would also share a poem.  Although I searched my shelves high and low, the following is all I could find, and it does fit with this post.   My kindergarteners love it and I appreciate it because I love to hear my kids laugh and try to figure it out.  I hope you enjoy.

Runny's Rittle Leminders
by Shel Silverstein's "Runny Babbit"

Runny doesn't always do
The thoper pring at all.
Just see the motes his namma
Has pasted on his wall:

Stop faking maces           Bake your med                       Trush your beeth          
Say "Thease and Plank You"                         Dettle sown                 Peed your fet               Whon't dine           Spon't dit                       Dont'e feat with you ingers                       Don't tread rash          
Fash your wace                Nop stagging                Shing back the brange                         Fisten to your lather               Que biet          Cover your snouth when you meeze              Fipe your weet            
Rean up your cloom     Knub your screes                     Don't dam the sloor                    Don't nick your pose    
Tick up your poys                     Scon't dream              Phet off the gone                               Ean your clears    
                  Don't few your chingernails                    Don't sight with your fister                          Don't mew with your chouth full        

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tip of the Day: Baking Soda Does it All Plus More!

This post will wrap up my segment on using substitutions and home remedies to replace the more expensive, toxic, or inconvenient methods of health and beauty products, medicines, and cleaning supplies.  Last week, I mentioned a number of non-traditional uses for baking soda.  I will continue with this list, but please note, there is no way to post every good thing that baking soda does.

First of all, I want to thank all of those who have read and especially commented on this series of posts.  I would like to mention a few uses for baking soda that my brilliant readers have added to the list.

Cheeseboy @ The Blog O' Cheese submitted this use for baking soda: "It sits in the fridge and does whatever it does back there."

Becky @ Rise Above Your Limits said that her favorite use is mixing it with vinegar to make a cool volcano eruption.

Susanne @ The Woman to Woman Talk mentioned how much safer baking soda is compared to some of the chemicals that we use to clean our homes.

I Am Jo Ross @ Definitely ME added that it whitens teeth.

With summer coming, this use may come in handy.  To remove the dullness or discoloration caused by chlorinated pools, rinse hair with 1/2 tsp. baking soda in 1 pint water.

Remove fish, onion, or garlic odor from hands with a solution of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water or liquid soap.  Rub, and rinse.

Make bubbling bath salts with 2 1/2 cups baking soda, 2 cups cream of tartar, and 1/2 cup cornstarch.  Mix, and store in a covered container.   Use 1/4 cup per bath.

For a simple daily deodorant, dust baking soda under arms using a powder puff.

For instant relief of razor burn, dab on a baking soda solution.  Use a dab of baking soda on a shaving cut to stem bleeding.

To soothe sunburn pain, saturate a washcloth with a solution of 4 Tbsp. baking soda in 1 quart water.  Apply to affected area.

Make your own natural kitty litter by mixing a small box of baking soda with 2 to 3 inches of dry, sandy clay.

To clean up a pet's "accident," scrub the area with club soda, and let dry.  Then sprinkle with baking soda, and let stand.  Vacuum.

If your pet has a run-in with a skunk, (or you do,) wash the pet in a bath containing 1 qt. 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 tsp liquid soap.  Rinse well, and dry.  Discard unused cleaner.

To make play clay for the kids, combine 2 cups baking soda, 1 cup cornstarch, 1 1/4 cups cold water, food-coloring (optional).  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 10 to 15 minutes.  Should stir until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes.  This clay will harden as it dries so you can make lasting keepsakes.

To test baking soda for freshness, pour a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice over 1/2 tsp. baking soda.  If is doesn't actively bubble, it's too old to use.

If you need 1 tsp. baking POWDER and don't have it, use 1/4 tsp. baking soda plus 5/8 tsp. cream of tartar.

Test the acidity level of your garden soil by adding a pinch of baking soda to 1 Tbsp. of soil.  If it fizzes, the soil's pH level is probably less than 5.0.

Sprinkle baking soda around tomato plants to sweeten tomatoes by lowering acidity.

There are so many more uses for baking soda that I didn't mention. You can use it for almost every part of the body, in every room in the house, and in every area of your yard. If you have a problem, there may be a way for baking soda to solve it.

What do you use baking soda for?  Please share!

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