There’s going to be a grand re-opening. After letting this blog go for the last six months, I am doing a major redesign, and re-boot of Manning the Homefront! Stay tuned for the new changes!
The elderly dog lies on his bed emanating old-dog smell. He gets up from his bed and rolls around on the floor. Sunshine hugs him, and the odor passes to her.
Sunshine gets up and runs off, her dirty feet leaving little tracks through the hallway. She leaves a trail of odor on her way back to the bedroom as I call her to change her diaper.
After I finish changing the stinky diaper, I track mud, grass, and leaves back out to the garden where I am working compost into the fertile but funky soil.
At the end of the day, Sailor comes home reeking of his job. He kisses his wife, hugs his daughter, changes his clothes, and goes out to the garage to tinker with his car. He comes in for supper reeking of JP5 (a kind of fuel), gasoline, and old grease.
Supper is a pungent mix of garlic chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, and fresh rolls with garlic butter.
At the end of the day, my house stinks of a life well-lived, but it stinks nonetheless. Of course I clean regularly, but the good smell invariably wars off to reveal some of the underlying funk. The problem is that we like living in a good-smelling environment. I like to not have to be concerned if my guests are concentrating on my conversation or on the stench emanating from the dog bed. I like to relax in a room that smells good. I don’t want to smell last night’s supper at lunchtime (unless we have left-overs).
To combat the stench, I use a lot of Febreze. It is good for extending the time between washings of the washable things, and it is especially good for the things that cannot be washed. The difficulty with Febreze is the cost. I can go through a small bottle in about two days. One bottle costs $2.47. I go through about 15 bottles a month. 2.47×15=37.05. That is a LOT of money spent on something that is not strictly necessary.
There are some things that I can do to help offset my costs:
- Use Less: Since I made the initial calculations, this household’s Febreze usage has absolutely decreased. I am down to about 1 bottle per week. Now my house smells funny, and I find myself doing more washing. Obviously, this situation is not ideal.
- Coupon to Bring Down Costs: Couponing has been the most beneficial tactic so far. I lucked into a sale when I had a lot of Febreze coupons. I built up a pretty good stockpile, but I am using it quickly.
- Make My Own: This idea is the best one. Homemade fabric deodorizer is cheaper, and I can control the ingredients in the solution. This is important because we are a family with sensitive skin.
So, I went, a-google-ing, and I found four recipes for Homemade Febreze at Tipnut. I tried them all and made up one of my own. Here is a review of all five recipes.
Recipe #1 (My recipe)
Fill the bottle with 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water. Add about a tablespoon of fabric softener.
This recipe mostly failed. The vinegar cut the smell, but it was a little like living in a pickle jar. Obviously, I put too much vinegar it in, and not enough of the stuff that smells good. Even though I wouldn’t use it daily, I would use it again if I had a major deodorization project (think Sailor coming home from deployment).
1 Part fabric softener
1 Part white vinegar
1 Part water
I liked this recipe best. I used it the longest, but the solution had some deal-breaking flaws. First the things I liked:
- It did cut the smell with a minimum of vinegar smell.
- The vinegar smell went away quickly
- I can choose which fabric softener to buy, and some of them smell great.
- It cost significantly less per bottle than store bought Febreze.
I had some problems with it, too. The biggest problem was the high concentration of fabric softener. Fabric softener really exacerbates Sunshine’s eczema, so I had to stop using it. I also worry about the cost of the fabric softener and the long term build-up that it will cause on my fabrics.
2 Parts water
1 Part fabric softener
This recipe was good at masking odors, but it didn’t have the same odor-killing power as the ones with vinegar in the recipe. Also, I have the same issues as above with the fabric softener.
16 parts water
1 part rubbing alcohol
1 part fabric softener
This recipe was my least favorite recipe. I didn’t understand why rubbing alcohol was an ingredient. The spray was also very weak. I felt like I was spraying my couch with water. There was no noticeable difference in smell. It wasn’t very effective.
2 cups water
¼ cup fabric softener
1 TBS baking soda
I liked this recipe. It was my second favorite. The baking soda does almost a good of a job as vinegar at neutralizing odor without the smell. It was a little weak, though. As always, I have concerns with the fabric softener.
This was a good experiment. While I have not found my Febreze replacement, I did learn a lot. In the coming weeks, I plan on researching and devising my own Febreze substitute. This first little foray into making my own deodorizer has definitely put me on the right path in my quest to replace Febreze.
How do you keep the funk from your home? Do you have any good advice?
Linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family
Happy Memorial Day. I hope that yours is a good one.
Gas prices are going up, and it seems like our dollars aren’t going as far. The good news is that there is cheap fun to be had most anywhere you find yourself. Here are some fun places to go all across America.
Erie, Pennsylvania – Growing Kids Ministry
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – Somewhat Crunchy
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Family Balance Sheet
Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York – Coupons, Deals and More
New Jersey – Oh! Diane
Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Indoor Garden Musings
Mansfield, Ohio – Live the Adventure
Cincinnati, Ohio – Savings Lifestyle~Cincinnati
Mount Vernon, Ohio – Living Better One Day at a Time
Dayton, Ohio – Savings Lifestyle~Dayton
Grand Rapids, Michigan – Kitchen Stewardship
Metro Detroit, Michigan – “Cents”able Momma
Oakland County, Michigan – Bargain Shopper Mom
Warren, Michigan – Saving Dollars and Sense
Grand Forks, North Dakota – Frugal Front Porch
Indianapolis, Indiana – Bargain Briana
South Bend, Indiana – Excuse The Mess
Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri – Kansas City Mamas
St. Louis, Missouri – The Pickledpigsfeet
Branson, Missouri – Getting Freedom from Debt
Springfield, Missouri – I Think I Can
Rochester, Minnesota – Everyday Notions
York, Nebraska – Heavenly Homemakers
Omaha, Nebraska – Mom Endeavours
Madison, Wisconsin – Many Little Blessings
Oshkosh, Wisconsin – A Little Bit of This and That
Chicago, Illinois – Chicagoland Homeschool Network
Champaign, Illinois – Chambanamoms
Black Hills, South Dakota – Little House on the Prairie Living
Checotah, Oklahoma – Blessed With One Income
Tulsa, Oklahoma – Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Gadsden, Alabama – Aint Mimi
Dallas, Texas – Funky Faith Girl
Dallas, Texas – Grocery Shop For FREE
East Dallas, Texas – Surviving The Stores
Fort Worth, Texas – Smockity Frocks
Austin, Texas – Stetted
Houston, Texas – Moms Travel Tales
McKinney, Texas – Wisdom Begun
East Texas – The Full Pantry
Murfreesboro, Tennessee – Life in a Barn
Nashville, Tennessee – The Country Chic Cottage
Mobile, Alabama – A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
Birmingham, Alabama – iGoBOGO
Brunswick & the Golden Isles, Georgia – Teri Lynne Underwood
Alpharetta, Georgia – Cuponeando
Atlanta, Georgia – See Jamie Blog
Augusta, Georgia – Hyperactive Lu
Athens, Georgia and Mississippi – Tractors and Tire Swings
Little Rock, Arkansas – It’s Real Life
Ft. Bragg, North Carolina – Military Wives Saving
Charlotte, North Carolina – The Carolina Clipper
Charleston, South Carolina – The Tween & Me
Greensboro, North Carolina – Mrs. Happy Homemaker
Jacksonville, Florida – Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida – Orlando’s Best Deals
Virginia Beach, Virginia – The Singley Fam Blog
Richmond, Virginia – Daily Dwelling
Hampton Roads, Virginia – A Home Made by Kiki
Charlottesville, Virginia – How to Have it All
Blackwater Falls State Park/Davis, West Virginia – Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling
Treasure Coast, Florida – The Cardamom’s Pod
Saint Augustine, Florida – Jypsie Visions
Lake Norman, North Carolina – Stretching Pennies Saving Dollars
Washington, DC – The WiC Project
Baltimore, Maryland – The Happy Housewife
Brunswick & the Golden Isles, Georgia, Teri Lynne Underwood
Tucson, Arizona – Saving with Pam
Phoenix, Arizona – Mom Endevors
Albuquerque, New Mexico – The Chou Life
Kalispell, Montana – Our Family Adventures
Salt Lake City, Utah – Just the 2 of Us
Thermopolis, Wyoming – The McDonald Family
Denver, Colorado – Denver Bargains
Colorado Springs, Colorado – Colorado Springs Bargains
San Diego, California – Life As Mom
Yosemite National Park, California -Handbook of Nature Study
Seattle, Washington – Queen Bee Coupons & Savings
Whidbey Island, Washington – Manning the Homefront
Olympia, Washington The Coupon Savant
Portland, Oregon – Frugal Living NW
Willamette Valley, Oregon – An Oregon Cottage
Frugal Vacation Tips
Whidbey Island is a place of spectacular beauty and small-town culture. You won’t find the big-city accoutrements, but what we have is unparalleled. Most of our activities happen outdoors, even in the rain. Don’t worry, In the summer the Island rarely gets rain. We are in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. For such a small area, there is a mind-boggling amount to do here, and the best part is that most of it is free.
Deception Pass State Park: Deception Pass is the first site you will see as you drive onto the island. Besides offering spectacular views from the bridge, the park is a gem of hiking trails, old-growth forest, and interesting sites. There is a small wading area and many other attractions. It is no wonder that it is the most visited state park in Washington. Over 2 million people visit the park every year. Entry to the park and most activities on the park are free.
Camping is available, and this year’s prices are $12-$36 dollars daily rate per site. They offer group sites, but the prices for those sites vary depending on your needs.
- A scoundrel named Ben Ure smuggled illegal Chinese immigrants to the island later named after him. He made the immigrants hide in burlap sacks so that he could easily throw them overboard in the event that customs waylaid him.
- During prohibition, people smuggled Canadian Whiskey from Victoria, BC to the most northern part of Deception Pass State Park.
- In the early 1900’s, there was a rock quarry that employed convicts from Walla Walla State Penitentiary. They quarried rock that was carried up to Seattle by barge. The rocks were used to expand the Seattle waterfront.
This is the park that I am most familiar with, and one of the things that I recommend is the Deception Pass Boat Tour. It is decidedly not frugal (rates start at $21 per person for the tour), but I think that it is well worth the cost.
Fort Ebey State Park is another wonderful place for hiking and biking. The park sports over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. There is also fishing, surfing, and para-gliding. You may camp here (the price is the same as Deception Pass), and you can even harvest seaweed if you have a license and are in season. It is a wonderful place to see wild life.
- Fort Ebey was built during WWII to as a first defense to protect the Puget Sound from invasion by the Japanese.
- It housed two 6 inch guns. The guns are not there anymore, but the original battery is still there and open for exploration.
Fort Casey State Park: When you drive up to this park, the first thing that you will notice is the barracks. They are still in use for summer camps. The park itself boasts some hiking, but is more noted for the boating, fishing, and diving. You can request guided tours of both the gun turrets and Admiralty Head Lighthouse. These tours are done by volunteers.
- This is another fort that guarded the entrance to the Puget Sound (there were four).
- Admiralty Head Lighthouse is an historical landmark.
- Most of the guns stationed at Fort Casey were sent to Europe during WWII where they were mounted on rail cars.
South Whidbey State Park: This is the youngest state park on the island. It was founded in 1976. The park boasts fishing, swimming, clamming, and crabbing. There is some hiking and camping. The real draw to this park (according to yelp, we haven’t been there yet) is that it is the best place to see the unadulterated forest and wildlife.
Disclaimer: If you plan to fish or collect other wildlife, you should consult the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine what’s in season and whether you need a license.
Art and Theatre
Whidbey Art Gallery: This gallery offers their art for viewing and for sale. They showcase most every medium including photography, fiber, clay, and glass. The Whidbey Art Gallery is open every day except Tuesday, and they offer periodic events to the community.
Brackenwood Gallery: This gallery primarily supports Pacific Northwest artists. They are open to the public, and provide educational tours on request. They also host events throughout the year. They change their displays monthly.
Whidbey Play House: This is a whole lot of fun. Check out their website to find out what’s playing. This is a community theatre that is very good. Performances are always good, and this is always a good time. Tickets are $16.
Island County Historical Society: Admission is from $3 for an adult to free for children under 5. They offer educational tours. Along with the permanent exhibits, they have an exhibit that rotates throughout the year. Actually, I think the society describes itself best:
“The Museum celebrates over 150 years of Island County history and houses over 19,000 objects, photographs, and material in its Collections and Archives. Our permanent exhibits detail the shaping and development of Island County from the Ice Age to the mid-twentieth century and our visitors have the opportunity to learn about the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, Whidbey Island’s Maritime History and Sea Captains, the Pioneer Settlers of 1853, and the County’s extensive military history.”
–Island County Historical Society Website.
Holland Happening (April/May): Holland Happening is the event in Oak Harbor, WA. There is a parade, street fair, and a carnival. The elementary school students provide artwork to be hung in the local business’s windows. The whole community comes out to have a good time. If you are here for Holland Happening, you shouldn’t miss it.
Penn Cove Mussel Festival (March): The mussel festival is another must-not-miss. There is a mussel chowder cook-off, you can visit the mussel farms, and there is an art walk. There are also children’s activities and a beer garden.
Island County Fair (Aug): The fair includes activities like livestock exhibitions, entertainment, vendors, food, and a lot of good, old-fashioned fun.
Whidbey Island Highland Games (Aug): With music, dancing, and…guys in skirts throwing logs…how can you go wrong? Seriously, this is a celebration of the Celtic culture on Whidbey. It is spectacular.
Whidbey Kite Festival (Sep): I’ve never attended this, but I’ve heard that it is absolutely spectacular. Imagine the sky filling up with kites of all colors, and you have the idea.
I haven’t done everything on this list, but I’ve done a good portion of it. I’ve been to a lot of places, and I can safely say that Whidbey Island is one of my favorite places in the world.
Is there anything that I have missed? What is your favorite thing to do in Western WA?
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When I first started reading my leave and earnings statement (LES), it was a little like reading Greek. Now, just remembering how to access a Leave and Earnings Statement is tricky. There is so much information on the statement that it can be hard to pick out the truly necessary information. This is the first of a three-part series all about the information on a LES, how to use it, and what is relevant to daily life.
This is a LES, or at least most of one. There is more writing at the bottom of the form that my screen shot cut off, but it’s just more of the same information contained at the bottom. We’ll be able to work with this. All of this information can be very overwhelming, but we’ll break it down.
This top line of the LES is just the identifier. The pertinent pieces of information are:
- Name (orange box): This is your service member’s name
- Social security number (blue box): The last four of your member’s name will be here
- Grade (pink box): This is your sailor’s rank. It will be E-1 through E9 for enlisted and O-1 through O-9 for commissioned officers
- Pay date: This is the date that your spouse started getting payment from whatever branch of service that they are in.
- Years in Service: This is how many years of service that your spouse has. This is important in determining their base pay, sea pay, and other special pays and allowances. It’s very important that this number is correct. It should correlate with the Pay Date.
- Period Covered: This is the month that the LES is covering. For instance, the example is my husband’s LES for December.
The information in this line may seem like a no-brainer, but keep an eye on it. I’ve had my name wrong, my social wrong (after they changed my name), and other things. Just make sure that they have your name right.
This box is your entitlements box, or the box where they list all of the kinds of pay and allowances you get. For that month we got paid:
- Base pay (red box): This pay is based on your service member’s rank and time of service.
- BAS (yellow box): Basic allowance for subsistence is meant to pay for a service member’s meals. The military agrees to provide room and board for anyone who serves. It is important to note that the service member is the one and the only one that this pay is meant for. You will not get it if the service member has access to a mess hall or a galley. We got it for December.
- BAH (blue box): Basic housing allowance. This is the allowance that the military gives to a member who qualifies to live in off-base housing. Actually, I don’t think I am strictly correct here anymore. People who live in base housing get this now, I think, since the housing has been privatized. Now I think that you qualify for it unless you are supposed to be living on the ship or in the barracks.
- Total (aqua box): This is the total of all your pay and allowances before taxes.
This is just what we were entitled to in the month of December. Pay can fluctuate with the service member’s specialty, location of service (sea duty, deployed, combat zone, ect.), level of education (for instance doctors get paid more), and other things. Because this pay fluctuates sometimes from month to month, it pays to keep an eye on it. There is a good resource for all of the pays and allowances that military members are entitled to here.
The number in the total box is not what you are getting paid. It is the gross payment for services rendered. Your net pay will be given to you after all of the deductions are taken out.
What specific questions do you have? I’d love to know. Please comment below.
This isn’t the normal subject matter for this blog.
Normally, I don’t talk about current events or politics because it’s not good for Sailor’s career. So, this isn’t going to be political. These are my thoughts, from the viewpoint of a veteran and a military wife about current events. Please forgive my navel-gazing.
Osama Bin Laden is dead. He was killed in a fire fight by Navy Seals in the city Abbottabad, Pakistan, a military town about 50 miles from Islamabad.
Frankly, I have mixed emotions about this. The Deputy Headmistress has posted about Bin Laden’s death on her site, and she quoted the bible to begin. The verse she linked a quote to is Proverbs 24:17
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.”
People are cheering in the streets. I’m watching them in front of the White House and in Times Square right now. I’ve read several blog posts where the bloggers are metaphorically pumping their fists. Frankly, it kind of makes me sick.
Please, don’t misunderstand me. I truly believe the world is a better place without bin Laden. He is the pure evil who organized both the attack on the USS Cole (DDG 67) on October 12, 2000, and the attack on America on September 11, 2001. Here’s the thing, though: He’s a person. No matter how despicable he was, it feels plain wrong to celebrate the death of another human being with abandon. I feel like we shouldn’t lower ourselves to the same level as terrorists. He would have rejoiced over our deaths, but we don’t need to debase ourselves by indulging in that kind of smarminess.
When I joined the Navy, my head was in the clouds, and I didn’t really have a clue about what went on in the wider world. I can still remember the day that the USS Cole (DDG 67) was bombed. I was in boot camp. The RDC (Recruit Division Commander—same as a Drill Sargent, only Navy) has us take a knee and explained to us that the USS Cole had been attacked, and that what we had signed up for was very real. The RDC was really as gentle as he could be (for a guy who had spent the last two months beating us into submission) as he explained to us that 17 of our shipmates were going to go home to their families in a pine box. He told us that we could count on the world being a very different place, and the Navy being a very different beast from the one that he joined. That was the moment when I realized that I had signed on to something bigger than me. That was the moment that I realized the enemy was very real, and that America was vulnerable. Osama bin Laden orchestrated the attack on the USS Cole (DDG 67).
The September 11, 2001 attacks on America were a watershed event in my life. This must be a common refrain from a lot of people in my generation. After all, 9/11 was my generation’s Pearl Harbor. It was when I knew that my old RDC was right. I stood in the galley during a Dead in the Water drill and wondered what was next as I watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center. It happened almost 10 years ago, and I remember being VERY angry. I felt violated that my country, which I was sworn to protect, had been attacked. It was a very personal thing, and Osama bin Laden choreographed it.
This has been a little over 500 words of naval gazing, emotional diarrhea, call it what you will. The point is this: I’m glad the guy is dead. Because of him, countless lives were changed. There are empty spots at dinner tables around America. There are wounded warriors and their gold star families whose lives will never be the same. All of these things happened because Osama bin Laden lived and made the decisions that he made.
God, please forgive me, but I’m glad that he’s dead. I feel more than a little guilty writing that, though. Bin Laden was the guy who masterminded some of the worst attacks on American soil. He was the guy who permanently changed my generation, and not in a good way. He was also a human being with a mother and children. Someone loved him as a person and will genuinely mourn his passing. Celebration is not a good thing. This is absolutely not a good time to rejoice. We shouldn’t celebrate another man’s passing from this world. At most, this warrants a cautious sense of completion. It’s good to feel pride for the SEALs and the intelligence community who completed their missions flawlessly (I have to insert a little fraternal love here—go Navy). It is okay to mark the fact that the last decade has been book-ended, but it’s too soon to bask in a job well done. The job’s not done yet.
I’m sure that I am not the first person to think of this, but it worked so well, that I had to share it with you.
Yesterday I cooked my Easter Ham in the Crock Pot. It turned out beautifully.
I usually buy spiral cut hams on sale, and I always dry out the ham in the oven. It’s good, but it’s dry. I prefer not to glaze the ham, which probably has something to do with it. I was trying to think of a way to not dry out the ham when I saw the Crock Pot just begging to be used. It was kind of a light bulb moment.
Anyway, I just threw the ham into the crock, put about a cup of water in the bottom, cranked it to low, and let it go for about 5 or 6 hours. When the ham came out of the crock, it was falling off the bone and so juicy! I’ll definitely be doing this again.
A few things to consider:
- I got a very nice broth. It is currently sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be used. When I use it, I will skim the fat off the top and use the liquid underneath. It will be salty, though, so I’ll have to be careful not to over salt the dish.
- Since the meat cooked off the bone and I already got a good broth, I’m not sure if the bone will be good to use in a pot of ham and beans. I may try it, but maybe not. If you know about this, please comment below.
- The ham almost didn’t fit into the crock pot. I’ll definitely be considering this in the future. Make sure the ham you buy will fit into your crock pot. If you have a turkey roaster, that might be a better fit.
- Incidentally, I think that this potato salad would be heaven with a ham.
This was one of those serendipitous moments in the kitchen that makes me glad to cook. I love learning new things, and there are an infinite number of ways to improve my cooking technique.
Linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.