MYO Foaming Hand Soap

When I won a bottle of Bath & Body Works Twisted Peppermint foaming hand soap at a Christmas party in December, I was delighted!  I’d never tried this product before, but I love peppermint!  The soap turned out to be a favorite of mine, and when we reached the bottom of the bottle in April, I wanted more.


My first inclination was to search for it online, but I wasn’t able to find it at a reasonable price since it is a seasonal item at Bath & Body Works stores.  In my search, I did find a recipe for making your own foaming hand soap.

It took me a few weeks to gather my supplies, only because I didn’t want to pay online prices for essential peppermint oil.  I wasn’t set on a high quality peppermint oil.  All I was interested in was the scent, not any of the healing properties.  It’s hand soap, for heaven’s sake!

I found a clear, almost scent-free soap at Wal-Mart for around $3.  At a local bulk store, I found a small bottle of peppermint oil for $1.  I had water on hand, and I planned to re-use the original foaming soap dispenser.

Now, it was time to get to work.  I measured out 1/4 cup of the liquid soap and carefully poured it into the soap dispenser.  I then added 3/4 cup of water.  Lastly, I poured in a small amount of peppermint oil.  I put the top back on the dispenser and shook the ingredients to mix them.

When I tried the pump, the foam was a little less soapy than the Bath & Body Works variety, so I added another quick squeeze of my Wal-Mart clear soap and shook it again.  Perfection!

My last step was to add a tiny drop of red food coloring so that my soap looked just like the original name brand soap, and I replaced the container in my bathroom with nobody the wiser.  I’m very happy that I will not have to wait until next November to have peppermint foaming hand soap in my bathroom.

In fact, I now have peppermint foaming hand soap in both bathrooms and in my kitchen.  The supplies that I bought would easily supply me with peppermint foaming hand soap for several years.

If you’ve got an empty dispenser for foaming hand soap, have a try at making your own.  If you’ve got a liquid soap that is already scented, then all you need to do is add water to the soap in a 1:4 ratio.  Easy peasy and frugal, too!



Cut a Watermelon in Under 10 Minutes

Jack used to be in charge of cutting watermelon at our house.  It was a bit of an ordeal because it was a messy job, and he didn’t like to do it.  Last year, I read an article about an easier way to clean a watermelon, and I gave it a try.  The good news is that it really was is easy.   The bad news is that cutting watermelon is now my job.  But that’s okay.  It takes me less than ten minutes to turn a whole melon into melon cubes.

Just in case you missed that article, here’s how it’s done.

1.  Put a kitchen towel on the counter under your cutting board, and grab a long, sharp knife.  Have your storage container ready beside you. 

2.  Cut the watermelon into long quarters.
3.  Make cuts through the red part of the melon about an inch apart.
4.  Run the knife blade under the watermelon slices to release them from the rind.

5.  Cut the melon into cubes or chunks and drop it into a storage bowl.  (I used to store it in slices instead, but then we had to cut it up in our bowls, so this saves a step later.)
I like to use Tupperware celery keepers because the tray in the bottom keeps the watermelon from lying in its own juices.  I have two of these containers, and usually one half of a watermelon fits in each one.

6.  Clean up your mess.
Clean-up is quick and easy thanks to that towel which prevents sticky watermelon juice from running down the cabinets or dripping onto the floor.

I’ve done this so many times this summer that I can completely clean an average size seedless watermelon in about six minutes.  Every time I do it, Jack marvels at my speed.  He never passes up an opportunity to congratulate me on my technique and finesse.  Of course, he’s just making sure I don’t try to pass the knife back to him.  It works for him, too!

How do you cut a watermelon? 


A Frugal Source for Audio Books

I love to read!  Unfortunately, it’s not possible to read and sew at the same time, and so we have AUDIO BOOKS!


Before I tried audio books as accompaniment to my sewing work, I wrongly assumed that I would not like listening to someone else read a book to me. Oh how wrong I was!  I have found that some books are actually enhanced by having them read by a professional.  The Help is one such book.  This delightful story came to life as different actresses read the different characters’ narratives.

One of my all time favorite cozy mystery series by Alan Bradley features Flavia deLuce, and I much prefer listening to this series than reading it.  The narration by Jane Entwistle is delightful!

Thus far, I have borrowed all of my audio books from the public libraries and downloaded them onto my MP3 player.  That still works for me, and the library audio books are completely free.  The problem is that the library doesn’t have a lot of audio books available in my two favorite genres:  cozy mysteries and Christian fiction.

I’ve recently discovered a way to add to my selection of audio book titles in a very frugal manner.  First of all, I downloaded the Kindle app to my iPhone.  (Yes, I have an iPhone now even though I posted about NOT needing a smart phone awhile back.)  Anywhoooo, with this Kindle app, I can download any book in my Kindle library to my phone.

I was surprised to see how many of the books that I’ve gotten from Amazon for free or for very reduced prices in the genres I love also have audio books available for them.  Many times the audio book is offered at a greatly reduced price to anyone who has bought the Kindle book. 

For instance, in the picture above, I am all set to listen to a new book using my iPhone and ear buds.  For $.99, I bought the Kindle edition of this book which was recommended to me by a friend.  Amazon then offered me the option of purchasing the audible narration for just $1.99!  For just under $3, I have a new audio book that will afford me approximately twelve hours of listening pleasure.

I can do a search in my Kindle library on my phone and find all of the books that I already own that have audio companions available.  On Amazon, when perusing the Kindle books, if just under the price of the book you find the words “whispersync for voice-ready”, that means that an audio version of that book is also available.  With whispersync, I can switch between reading and listening and the book is always at the place where I left off last time.  Amazing!

I’m still using the library whenever possible to download audio books, but I’m also listening to some of the free Kindle books I’m accumulated by paying $1.99 for the audio companion.  I’m delighted to have so many more audio books to choose from without spending a great deal of money.  In my book, that’s a win-win situation!

What is your favorite kind of book to read or listen to? 

My Greatest Blog Post of All Time

Some days I sit down at my computer to write a new blog post, and I ask myself, “What do my readers need to hear from me today?”  I wonder if it’s possible to share anything new that hasn’t been shared many times over on the internet.

Those thoughts of “what’s the use?” or “why not give it up?” bubble to the surface.  Then I remember  that one post that I shared here that has been read hundreds of times, and I realize that my blog is not in vain.  I am helping people.  I am making a difference.

That one blog post is served up to readers who land here after searching the internet for relief from pants that are too tight.  It happens.

By logging in to my blog’s dashboard, I can see which blog posts are read most often and which words and phrases people use to search for helpful information.  (Don’t worry, I can’t tell who is doing the searching.) Here’s a small sampling of some of those phrases that are typed into search engines:

“my pants are too tight”
“how to make my waistband bigger around the waist”
“breeches too tight”
“pants are too tight when sitting”

Who knew that my claim to fame would be sharing an idea for making your jeans just a little looser in the waist?

So maybe this most-viewed-blog-post-of-all-time here at Elaine Searer’s blog doesn’t outline steps for world peace or a balanced national budget, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.  Tight pants are a problem, (ask me how I know this) and I’m proud to be able to ease the pain of some who have been suffering with this malady.

If you somehow missed this post, A Trick for Too Tight Pants, you can read it now.   You’re going to want to sign up for email updates from this website.  I have a feeling my next great idea is almost ready to break loose.


The Benefits of Hiring a Pet Sitter

Being a pet owner can be such a rewarding experience!  We love our little dog Mocha, but the question of what to do with her when we go away used to cause us a fair amount of stress.  We tried having friends or relatives watch Mocha in their homes, and while they treated her with love and kindness, we knew that having Mocha in their homes with their own dogs was disruptive.

Our answer to the problem was to hire a dog sitter who comes to our home and cares for Mocha here.  We’ve had good experiences with all of the dog sitters we’ve hired, and as far as we are concerned, there are definite benefits to hiring a pet sitter as opposed to taking our pet somewhere else when we are away.  Our current pet sitter, Teresa of TLC Sitting and Cleaning Services, has been a great fit for our family.  She has a flexible schedule, reasonable rates, and she loves Mocha as much as we do!

Here are four reasons why we prefer to hire Teresa to pet sit for us when we are away from home:

1.  A pet sitter keeps your pets in their familiar environment. 

Sending Mocha to someone else’s house when we went away was quite stressful for her.  Mocha barely ate while we were gone, and she was not comfortable having sleepovers with other dogs.

When Teresa comes to our house to care for Mocha in our absence, Mocha barely notices that we are gone!  Her surroundings and routines don’t change, and she enjoys having Teresa’s undivided attention.

2. A pet sitter can keep an eye on things around your house. 

Not only does Teresa take care of Mocha when she’s here at our house, but she also takes care of basic household maintenance.  She brings in our mail and newspaper, takes phone messages, and provides a presence in our home in our absence.   She even knows how to tend our wood stove and can keep the fire going when we are away.

Once when we were away last November, Teresa held down the fort at our house during a snow storm and power outage.  It was a comfort to us to know that someone was at our house monitoring things while that was going on.

3.  No additional immunizations are required for your dog. 

When your dog bunks in with someone else or has a stay at the kennel, he may be required to have certain immunizations to protect him and the other animals there from contagious diseases.  While it’s a great idea to keep current with the necessary immunizations, having a pet sitter come to your house eliminates the need to take your dog to the vet for shots before you can leave for vacation.

4.  Peace of mind.

Peace of mind is the biggest advantage to hiring a pet sitter.  When we go away now, we don’t have to worry about Mocha.  We don’t feel as if we are inconveniencing a friend or neighbor to dog sit for us.  We don’t worry about something malfunctioning at our home in our absence.

These are just four benefits to having a competent pet sitter come to your home.  When we leave Mocha and our home in Teresa’s care we can relax and enjoy our time away without concern for our dog or our house.  For us, it’s the sensible thing to do.



A Temporary “Fix” for a Dripping Faucet

This has not been a stellar month at Grandma’s house.  Jack and I both have colds right now, and two weeks ago I had a sinus infection.  There’s been a lot of whining going on around here.  Whining can be annoying, but not as annoying as a dripping faucet.  Did I mention that we’ve got one of those, too?

Dripping faucets drive me crazy!  Why?

1.  I can’t stand the thought of wasting water by running clean, fresh water down the drain even if it is happening just one drop at a time. 

Wasting water isn’t about money for me because we don’t pay for our water since we have a well.  Wasting water is just so….wasteful.  It is especially bothersome when I know that there are folks around the world who are dying for want of a clean drink of water.

2.  I can’t stand the sound of water dripping in the sink.  

The sound of a drop of water plopping into our stainless steel sink at regular intervals could drive me over the edge.  I’m often perched precariously close to that edge anyway, and it’s certainly not a good idea to aggravate the situation.

The very best way to fix a dripping faucet is to replace the faucet or some parts of the faucet to make it stop.  We know that.  We (meaning Jack under the sink and me taking pictures) are going to have to do the work ourselves, or we are going to have to pay someone to do it for us.  And that, folks, is why our faucet is still dripping.

The purpose of this blog post is to share with you a our way of dealing with a dripping faucet.  This method works for us because it eliminates the noise of the dripping faucet and eliminates the wasted water.

dripping faucet solution

The first thing we did was find a large measuring cup to collect the dripping water so that it wasn’t running down the drain.  This eliminated the wastefulness because we used the collected water to add to our humidifier.  Therefore, the dripping water was keeping us from running water for that specific purpose.

The trouble is that I could still hear the water dripping into the measuring cup, and I couldn’t take it!

dripping faucet temporary solution

In order to stop the drip, drip, drip sound that was slow torture for me, we bought a package of brand new sponges.  We place a sponge inside the measuring cup, and the sponge keeps the water drops from plopping and pinging.  It works great 95% of the time.

When the measuring cup gets full, we simply squeeze out the sponge and dump the collected water into a jug.  We then transport the collected water to the humidifier.  Problem solved!

Surely we will have this faucet fixed before summer, but if not, we will use our collected water to water our plants.

What do you think of our dripping faucet solution?  Are we innovative  problem solvers or hopeless procrastinators?  

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