Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Still Cruising!

We are on our way back from Cozumel, so our cruise is almost over - awww! We've are having a great time! Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments, but the Internet service on the ship is very slow, so as soon as I get home I will reply to all of you who left comment's on my post about Ashley's awesome Cupcake Fabric Giveaway!!
If you're reading this...
Hey Julie! Guess what?!! Someone saw Serenity wearing her beautiful dress and knew exactly who made and designed it!! She said she got a few outfits from you already and she kept going on and on about how much she loved them! Of course, I did too!! Go ZozoBugBaby!!
And I made sure to mention courtneycourtney too!!
I have lots to catch up on when I get back! I noticed Ashley over at LilBlueBoo posted another fantastic applique tutorial!! She's FAST! I didn't even get to try the Tinkerbell one yet!! I saw those fun beanbags you made too! How cute are they?!
Well, gotta go! There's a lot of yelling and music all of a sudden - I wonder what's going on?
Have fun!!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Liquid African Black Soap Tutorial

Looks like a big turd, huh?!

It's been around for centuries, and it's good for all sorts of skin conditions such as acne, rashes, and eczema! It's even gentle enough to use on babies and toddlers. Some say it's supposed to be good for fine winkles too!


African Black Soap comes wrapped in brown paper. It comes in different sizes too, the one in the picture above is a 6lb block.

It's a long lasting soap with an unbelievable rich lather and light nutty scent. In some areas, you could probably find it locally, but I've never seen anything like it around here! You can find it all over the Internet though! Eclectic Lady purchases theirs though Fair Trade companies and they are supposedly a good online supplier. I got my soap from the same online store I get some of Serenity's hair products, Butters 'n Bars. I purchased 6lbs of Ghana African Black Soap from Butters 'n Bars for $29.99. That will last me a very long time! Great!


It's really easy to make Liquid African Black Soap (sorry about the pictures, I did this kinda fast), here's how I did it:

You'll need:
1 Pound (thereabouts) of African Black Soap
Vegetable Glycerine
Aloe Vera Gel
Lavender Oil or whatever scent you like (totally optional)
6 Cups water (You can use distilled water, filtered water, spring water, or tap water - I don't think it really matters.)

See how crumbley it is?

Dissolve the soap. There are two ways you can do this. You can crumble up your soap (it's very easy 'cause it's so "moldable" and "crumbley") in a container, fill it with the water, then cover and leave overnight. OR you can do what I did, and put the crumbled soap and water in a sauce pot on low heat until all the soap is dissolved.

Make sure to stir every once in a blue moon so it don't stick to the pot!

Once the soap is dissolved, put it in a bowl (those hard black chucks are Cocoa pods and perfectly normal!). Add a few drops of Lavender (or whatever scent you want or don't want). The next two ingredients are kinda based on how you like it. I probably added about a 1/2 cup (or just a tad more) of Aloe Vera Gel and about a 1/3 cup (or a tinny bit less) of Vegetable Glycerine. Add a little at a time (don't forget to stir it!), make sure to try it out before adding more stuff. Once it's the way you like it, pour it into your containers.

This was taken before I added anything. It will thicken just a bit after adding the Vegetable Glycerine - but it's not a thick thick liquid soap. It really doesn't need to be since it works so well as is!

POST-IT NOTE: I got my Aloe Vera Gel and Vegetable Glycerine online at Amazon for a pretty good price.

All done! I actually had a lot more than what is pictured, but I put the soap in some old plastic bottles and I didn't want them messing up my pictures of these cute little bottles I got from Target! The soap will last a long time 'cause you don't need to use that much - it lathers up beautifully!

My cute little 6oz. travel-sized bottles!

You can research African Black Soap and find out lots more details than I provided. Youtube also has tons of videos for homemade products made from ABS. One of my favorites is a Homemade Shampoo Video.

Hope you enjoy your soap!!

Have fun!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Electronics For Kids

Two Christmases ago, I bought a Samsung Mini-DVD player for my friend's two little girls, Bethany and Kelsey. It came with a free Looney Toons DVD, 4 re-chargable batteries and a battery recharger (the batteries last about the length of one movie). I got all that for only $24.85 plus shipping - good deal, huh?! I bought an extra one to keep at the house - and then pretty much forgot about it.

POST-IT NOTE: If you're interested, can Google "Samsung Hand Held Mini DVD Player" and get around 585,000 hits! Lots of online stores still sell them for some decent prices.

We're going on a Carnival Cruise this weekend, and I've been trying to decide if I was going to pack Serenity's portable DVD player she uses in the truck. Serenity loves watching her movies, but I have to be careful not to over pack so I wasn't sure if I should bring it. Then just a few days ago, I remembered I had that little player! It's small and it wouldn't take up much room in her bag!

Cool player for older toddlers & kids!

The problem is it will only play Mini-DVDs - which, as you can imagine, can be pretty hard to find. You can find some Mini-DVD movies online at Amazon, but I don't think I've seen them in the stores!

Tricky, tricky!

No worries - I've found a solution! You can make backup copies of all of your child's DVDs to Mini-DVDs by using DVD Shrink! It's a great program that's been around forever, plus it's Freeware! For a step-by-step guide on how to make copies of your DVDs to Mini-DVDs, click HERE. Blank Mini-DVDs are pretty easy to find too!

Moving on...

Below is picture of a pair of pink headphones with a built-in MP3 player by Sony. It's a pretty cool Headphone-Style Walkman that I think would be great for an older toddlers and little kids. Serenity likes to play with my MP3 player all the time - but she's always messing with the buttons (accidentally turning it off), my ear buds don't fit her ears, and the cord is always getting in her way. So she ends up getting really frustrated because it won't work right for her.

The kiddie ones are cute but, well too kiddie. And they don't look anything like Mommy's!

I saw these at Target a couple of weeks ago (my link actually sends you to Amazon), and I'm seriously thinking about getting it for her. I like the concept - and no buttons for her to fiddle with while she's listening to the music, no cord to get in her way, and maybe these would stay on better if I use the smallest ear bud attachment. Hmm... maybe!

I'll update this post if I decide to get it for Serenity!

Have fun!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chuck E. Cheese Coupons!

I take Serenity to CEC almost every Friday, unless my husband is home from Offshore and we have something else planned. Of course Serenity absolutely loves going - what kid (or grownup :) ) doesn't?!

It can get really expensive, but I never go without plenty of coupons! And CEC is very generous when it comes to their coupons. They'll let you use several at once and certain coupons you can use over and over!

If you Google Chuck E. Cheese coupons, you'll get around 105,000 hits! But my favorite ones are from Minute Maid and can be found here. They are in PDF form so you can save them to your computer and print 'em over and over! And they don't expire until Halloween! It's a great set of CEC coupons.

I think they would make excellent grab-bag party favors too. Change your printer settings to "fast draft" or "quick print" so you don't use a lot of ink, then print away for all those party guests!

I recently found some more coupons that you'll get a slightly better deal (the first set of downloadable coupons), but they expire on 8/8/09 - so use 'em while you can! Using these coupons, last night we (Me, Serenity & Kelsey) ordered a large meat combo pizza, four drinks, and 280 tokens - all that was only about $40!

Dontcha wanna load the kids up and head over to CEC now?!

Find the newest Chuck E. Cheese coupons HERE!

Have fun!!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Serenity's NEW Dresses by Courtney

I just love Serenity's dresses from courtneycourtney - I buy them all the time - and I will continue to do so! I guess what I like the most is all the attention to details and the creativity Courtney pours into each piece she makes. In my opinion, that's what makes her dresses top quality. Each dress is different - no two are alike! No other little girl, in the world, will have a dress just like Serenity - it's totally hers! How awesome is that?! As you can tell, I'm blown away by that fact!

The dresses immediately grabs a person's attention too, and Serenity always gets compliments when she wears a courtneycourtney dress! Not only does Courtney mix and match all kinds of fabrics and prints, but she does her own silkscreen designs and painting too! Awesome Artwear! Those dresses are extra-special and only in limited supply - so you gotta be quick to nab you one 'cause they go FAST!

Buying a courtneycourtney dress for Serenity also gives me an excellent reason to take more pictures of her wearing them! I love taking pictures and learning to Photoshop! Can you tell?!! Here's a "few" I took (you can click on the image to get a closer look) :

I only got two good shots of the "Around The World" dress, so I want to get more - of course! It's a darling dress, but Serenity insisted on wearing her "ballerina" shoes (that's what she calls them!), and they are a half size too small - she didn't want to wear them for long! So I need to try again with a different pair of shoes. Serenity has a pair of black Mary Jane's that I think would look almost as cute as the ballerina ones!

The "droplet" dress is one of my favorites - I got a lot of pictures of Serenity wearing that one! Here are a couple more:

Don't forget to check out Courtney's store courtneycourtney on Etsy, and her blog. You can see her newest posts about Serenity here and here!

Have fun!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Beautiful Bethany!

Yesterday, I took Bethany and Serenity around town for a "little" photo shoot. Despite the sweltering heat, we had fun and I got some awesome shots of Bethy!

Most of these were taken in Bayou Black. Bethany is perched on the edge of a little bridge. Did you notice the little heart she is making with her hands? That was completely by accident - cute! The view of the bayou from the bridge made a cool picturesque background!

The first picture was taken in Bayou Black on the same bridge as the previous pictures. The middle picture was taken on the side of the road. We saw this old red chair out near the bayou, and I thought it would make a neat prop. So I pulled over and the kids posed pretty for me! The last picture was taken at the park on the Airbase.

I love how these pictures of Bethy turned out - doesn't she have one of the most prettiest smiles you've ever seen?!

Have fun!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


What is POM? It's 100% pure pomegranate juice! I've been seeing this stuff in the juice section for a while now, but never tried it. I finally got a bottle of it a few days ago. BTW, I love the shape of this bottle - it really catches your eye! Anyway, POM is kinda tart, but not overpoweringly so, I think it tastes good - just remember to shake shake shake the bottle before you drink!

Pomegranate juice is supposed to have all kinds of health benefits too. And it has the highest levels of antioxidants than any other juice - even more than red wine!

You can find some excellent pomegranate recipes online, even yummy alcoholic recipes. I don't drink very often, but I think I'd like to try Oprah's favorite Pomegranate Martini!



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Toddler Flower Vase

Serenity loves flowers! Show me a little girl who doesn't!

My husband just gave me a lovely bouquet of flowers (I love it when he buys me flowers!) before he went back to work, and Serenity wanted some too - of course! I gave her a few of them, but it got me to thinking. Maybe she'd like to have her own vase full of flowers to put on the little table in her Castle Bed. But the vase can't be made out of glass, it can't have water in it, and it has to be kinda cutesy!

Last night, I bought a $5 bouquet of yellow wildflowers at Wal-Mart for Serenity, then looked and looked and looked for something to put them in. All of Wal-Mart's vases were made of glass - not one of them was plastic. In the kitchen section, all the glasses looked like, well - glasses! Nothing cutesy enough for a little girl's room!

Finally, my friend's tween, Bethany told me they had some little cups in the bathroom section that she thought would make a cute flower vase. I'm wondering why she didn't speak up sooner? You know, before I did a hundred laps around the entire Wally World "Home" area?!

Wal-Mart has some new, heavy, clear plastic bathroom accessories ( in pink, blue, green, orange, purple, and black), that are cheap and cute. Bethany was right, the cup was cute, but I liked the toothbrush holder ($4) even more!

How darling does this look filled with flowers?

I cut a few flowers all different lengths for Serenity's "vase", then put the rest of them in my vase on the kitchen table. When Serenity's die (or she breaks them, or pulls all the petals off, or sticks them up her nose, or eats them), I'll replace them!

Have fun!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Make Flashcards Using Web Photos

These are Serenity's flashcards I made for her when she started to recognize and name different objects. 
I went online and Googled images of her first words. 
I know I made more cards than the ones in the picture, but I guess they got buried deep somewhere in Serenity's room!

Flashcards are a wonderful learning tool. 

Show your baby something colorful - something interesting and she'll want learn more!
Although guess that's just how it is with everybody. 
If you find something totally boring, why bother learning anything more about it, right?
Your baby feels the same way!

Plus, this is a really neat way to remember your baby's first words,
and a cheap learning tool they'll use for a long time.

Now, the
best pictures to get are clear, bright, colorful ones with a white background - they print better.
Plus you don't want unnecessary background images distracting or confusing your little one either. 
Try to find pictures like ones below of a piggy bank, a beach ball, and some peas:

It works best if you find pictures with images of just one kind of object; for example, don't use a picture that has an image of a fork and a spoon. 

Here are some photos I found of oranges, rooster, apples, spinning top, watermelon, helicopter, school bus, Barbie Fairy, dump truck, airplane, sand castle, clown fish, elephant, dinosaur, cookie, strawberries, pancakes, pizza, book, TV, phone, goat, horse, unicorn, spider, tree, flower, grapes, sippy cup, bottle, paci, ballerina, and peaches

You can also go here for all kinds of free stock photos!

I printed the images on 4x6 photo paper and my husband had them laminated in town. 

I don't remember where, but I do remember it was fairly cheap. 
If you don't have a machine at home, I'm sure one of those Office stores will laminate your photos for a low price.

The cards are pretty durable too. 

I've had these for almost two years now and they are still in great shape! Serenity still likes to play with them, so I maybe I'll add more cards to her collection!

Have fun!


Friday, July 10, 2009

ZozoBugBaby Rag Dress

I got a few pictures of Serenity over at Lumen Christi's and one at Boudreau & Thibodeau'sZozoBugBaby Rag Dress.

This dress is gorgeous!

I love the way Julie puts all those colorful fabrics together!
She's absolutely amazing!

Julie has a wonderful Summertime sale going on right now in her Etsy store. Hurry! It ends on July 13th!

Don't forget to keep stopping by Julie's blog for all her latest updates, sales, beautiful pictures, and cool stuff to buy that she finds at awesome Etsy stores - like Lemon Lollipop and SunBasilGarden!

While you're enjoying ZozoBugBaby, check out Julie's posts about Serenity here!

Have fun!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mosquito Repellents

I hate mosquitoes - who doesn't?! Did you know that only females bite? They need blood (any blood) to lay their eggs - several hundred of them at a time! However, they don't eat blood to survive, but sugar - like plant nectar! Neat bit of trivia for ya!

If you live in South Louisiana (or ever vacationed here in the Summer, well hell - ANY time of the year really!), you know how bad the mosquitoes are right now. And if you have a bayou in your backyard, like we do, then you're going to have a few dozen 'skeeter bites before the Summer is over. Serenity has bites all down her arms and on her legs. When one gets her she says, "Mommy, bug bited me!". She sounds so cute, but awww, sha babe! My poor little girl!

The reason you're left with a big red welt after the female bites you, is 'cause she injects saliva to make it easier to draw blood - so it won't clot. UGH! How gross is that? It's also how they pass diseases to humans.

You just can't avoid them! You have to put something on when you go outside at night, even at certain times during the day. Around here, I've noticed they seem to be the worst first thing in the morning, right before and right after it gets dark. Don't ask me why, I have no clue!

So what's good for mosquitoes?

DEET-based repellents like OFF! and Ben's are supposed work, well - on most people. For some people, nothing works. Serenity tends to attract more of the blood suckers than I do. OFF! does work, but make sure you spray it all over, even over your clothes, 'cause if you miss a spot that's where you'll get bit! We forgot to put some on Serenity's face the night of the 4th, and she got a few bites on her forehead that instantly puffed up! I don't know about Ben's - I've never tried that kind.

I recently learned Zote is supposed to be good for 'skeeters, but I haven't tested it yet. It does have a mild citronella smell, so maybe! Citronella candles and oil are cheap and help with the 'skeeter problem a lot. We used to fill tiki torches with citronella oil and put up around the pool at night. It made a difference, but a few a those pesky buggers still got through.

I already knew that Avon's Skin So Soft body oil works (everyone knows that - my Mom used it on us kids in the 70's, back before Avon knew that little secret gem and jacked up the price!), but did you know that Victoria's Secret Amber Romance body spray is good too? My baby's sister's soon-to-be Father-in-Law uses it, she said they buy cases of the stuff!

Those new personal mosquito repellent gadgets, like ThermaCell and OFF! are "supposed" to work. I don't know about that. Seems like a lot of money to throw away, since nothing really protects you 100%. You could get the same results buying cheaper stuff. A bug light will help too, and I think every back yard should have one. But again, it won't kill all of them!

Terry bought a Black Flag propane fogger a few years ago. He mostly uses it if we have company and we'll be outside all day. It does work, but the effects don't last. But it's great to use if we want to keep mosquitoes away from our company! It's like having our own personal mosquito truck. For those of you not from South Louisiana, down here the State pays for a truck, equipped with this huge fogger, that drives by your house to help kill the mosquitoes. You always know when one is passing, 'cause the fogger makes this really loud sound. However, some areas are much luckier than others. Some areas, get a mosquito truck that drives by nice and slow doing a very thorough job - some even get the truck every evening, or more than once a week. Our truck? Well now, our truck sounds like a moped it moves so fast, and we're lucky if we see it once a month!

Terry also sprays the yard several times a year with some pretty powerful stuff he gets at our local feed store, South Louisiana Seed. It's called Martin's Permethrin 10% ($76.99/gallon), it's expensive but it does kill and control the population of all kinds of bugs - it's like an invisible barrier around your yard. Of course, it doesn't get all of them - what does? We do live right on the bayou! But there is a HUGE difference when Terry sprays this stuff and the effects usually last for about a month or more - it just all depends on rain, heat, etc.

Mosquitoes dunks are good for killing the eggs and larvae in still water - but can you imagine how many we'd have to buy for a huge bayou? Uh, I don't think so!

Basically, it's a combination of different things that helps with your mosquito problem. But nothing will completely get rid of those darn 'skeeters! To protect yourself from getting eaten alive every time you go outside, I've found that stuff applied directly to the skin or clothes will work the best - keep it simple! Save your money and don't buy the fancy, expensive "personal repellents"! As for protecting your yard, I think the Permethrin 10% is your best bet.

Here are a few things you can use on a mosquito bite:

Dermoplast Antibacterial Pain Relieving Spray
Bactine Pain Relieving Cleansing Spray
Benadryl Itch Stopping Gel
After Bite (I keep a tube of this in my purse)
Benadryl Itch Relief Stick (Small enough to fit in your purse)
Aveeno Anti-Itch Cream

I've tried all of them and they do work!

Have a GREAT Summer!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Zote Laundry Soap

Zote Laundry Soap:
{approx. 120 loads}

1 bar of Zote - 80¢/14.1 ounce bar
2 1/2 cups Borax - $2.99/76 ounce box
2 1/2 cups Washing Soda - $4.99/55 ounce box


1 cup Baking Soda
1 scoop of powdered OxiClean

Grate the Zote, and using a food processor {or blender}, mix all the ingredients together.
I have a small food processor, so I had to do it in several batches.

This recipe makes around 120 loads.
Maybe a little less depending on how big your loads are.
Store it in an air-tight container.
I put mine in a 16 oz. Cool Whip container and the rest in a Ziploc bag.

You'll only need to use 1 tbsp per small/regular load or 2 tbsp for large/super loads.
Wal-Mart sells inexpensive, reusable plastic and stainless steel coffee scoops for the perfect 2 tbsp (or 1/8 cup) measurement, or only fill it halfway for small/regular loads.

Zote has a very mild citronella smell, but once you use it in the wash it leaves behind a light pleasant scent. 

I think it did a good job cleaning a regular-sized test load of laundry. 

Check the Dollar Stores or Big Lots in your area if you're having trouble finding Zote!
I finally found it at Big Lots - but only after going to several different Dollar Stores, 1 Dollar Tree, 2 Wal-Marts, 1 Target, and 3 grocery stores {Rouses, Cannata's, and Winn-Dixie}!

After looking at both our local Wal-Marts and Family dollar in vain for Borax, I finally found it at Target for only $2.99 a box!
Borax's box has recently changed and it looks like this now:

I couldn't find washing soda any where in my area, so I order it online, but I try to look around for the best prices, and then buy in bulk.
Soaps Gone By has new deals going on all the time and is a trusted online store. 
I've been buying from them since I switched over to homemade washing powder.
You can also find it at Arm & Hammer's website.

For more laundry alternatives, tips and links, click over to my post:

Soaps Gone By has a recipe that I used as a guideline to create my Zote laundry soap.
I use the Zote laundry soap recipe on a regular basis, and I've given it to other several other people to test too.
Everybody loved using it, and we've found that it does a wonderful job of cleaning clothes!

My local Wal-Mart now carries Borax and Arm & Hammer washing soda.
They don't sell Zote (I've only found it at Big Lots), but they do sell the Fels-Naptha laundry bar.

So if you're having trouble finding Zote, you might find Fels-Naptha at your local Wal-Mart instead.
This laundry soap recipe calls for a 14.1 ounce laundry bar, so you'll need around 2 1/2 of the Fels-Naptha bars.

Have fun!

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