Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Betty Crocker lives here....

Photo credit from Live Better America site
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Well Betty Crocker really doesn't live here, but it just seems like that lately, because if I plan on doing holiday baking, it will be with her help....

As you know by now I haven't posted in a long time. Since the last post a lot has been going on... We bought a home in the country, renovated this home, sold the home to purchase our dream home (will post later about this adventure)...AND most importantly our 1st grandson was born...AND #2 grandson is due in the next month...whew!

Michele from the blog WITH IN THE HIVE wanted to do a cookie exchange via our blogs. Here's the info and the girlies who participated. (Some WONDERFUL cookie recipes!!)

Alina, Monica, Teresa, Kathy, and Michelle participated! Check their blogs out!

SO that's why this holiday season I won't be able to actually "bake" holiday's cookies from scratch, but wanted to share a favorite holiday cookie I made with my mom each holiday season. The recipe below is "almost" exactly like my mom's. I've added red for ingredients my mom would have used.

Live Better America Recipe I cut/paste below:


cups granulated sugar
cup canola oil (regular vegetable oil)
teaspoons vanilla
oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
cup fat-free egg product (real eggs)
cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon salt
cup powdered sugar
  • Step 1In large bowl, mix granulated sugar, oil, vanilla and chocolate with spoon. Stir in egg product. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours. (mom put in the refrigerator overnite)
  • Step 2Heat oven to 350°F.Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into powdered sugar; roll around to coat. Shape into balls. On cookie sheet, place balls about 2 inches apart.
  • Step 3Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Reality check on real laundry costs...

Long post, but I guarantee it will inform you about some things you may not realize or knew about when factoring the costs (real cost) of laundry. AND just maybe by reading this post will help convince you that buying natural laundry soap will be a very money wise choice and an Earth-friendly choice too.

Hey- NO one ever said laundry's NOT a dirty job ~ And with that said~ I'm just glad to help it become a little less "dirty"and put some money back in your pocket too.

Reality check #ONE: After completing a survey, i.e. number of people in a family, how many loads per week, large or medium loads, etc... This is what you've said:

  • 2.96 average people in a family
  • 5-6 large loads per family/per week
  • 1.96 average loads per person/per week
  • Over 90 percent do large loads
Reality check #TWO: Finding the REAL cost of laundry- after all the estimated average of loads per year/per family was well over 300 loads! While researching I quickly noticed that almost ALL brands stated a #number of loads on the front of the label, but failed to state what size load. (Note our new label!)

Certainly NOT mislabeled- just good marketing on their part- strategically placing the info on the back where the consumer is most likely NOT to read before purchasing. 

AND I soon learned-- All the #number of loads on the front label were for medium (or sometimes called normal loads), but as my research found- most families are doing LARGE loads! 

Reality check #THREE: See table below for the REAL REALITY costs of some popular laundry brands:


40 loads/56 oz.

.24 cents per load
But that’s
40 medium loads!
per  56 oz.
Reality is:
.31 cents per load
30.5 large loads
per 56 oz.

64 loads/100 fl. oz.
Source: Personal purchase, Food Lion Grocery Store 4/12

.22 cents per load
But that’s
64 medium loads!
       per 100 fl. oz.

Reality is:
.28 cents per load
49.5 large loads
        per 100 fl. oz.

64 loads/100 fl. oz.

.21 cents per load
But that’s
64 medium loads!
       per 100 fl. oz.

Reality is:
.27 cents per load
 50 large loads
        per 100 fl. oz.

32 loads/50 oz.

.33 cents per load
But that’s
32 medium loads!
       per 50 fl. oz.

Reality is:
.42 cents per load
 25 large loads
        per 50 fl. oz.

HE Friendly powder
64 loads/ 32 oz.

.22 cents per load
AND that’s
HE Friendly

Reality is:
.22 cents per load
  64 large loads
        per 32 oz.

Reality check #FOUR: WHAT?! Did you think I'd forget to add the fabric softener in the costs? Well, I didn't, and found almost 90 percent of you use fabric softener. SO, the table below is the added cost, just another reality check on the real cost of laundry....ouch.

              LARGE LOAD

Reality check #FIVE: AND perhaps the BIGGEST cost of all is to the EARTH we live on.  Landfills littered with the large bottles, small bottles, and various containers of used  laundry detergents and fabric softeners...

Reality check- It will take over 200 empty bags of our
natural laundry soap to equal the weight of just
one empty (100 oz.) bottle of the
laundry detergent bottle shown.

AND finally...

Reality check #SIX: Under the Willow, LLC has re-designed Whispering Willow Natural Laundry Soap to include~

  • A new look!
  • Several new scents (Fresh Rose, Sweet Pea, Linen & Lace)
  • Even more Earth-friendly packaging (AND that was hard to accomplish, but we did it!)
  • MORE laundry soap for less money (lots!)
New look tucked inside the sweetest soft muslin bag.
Re-useable for a gift bag or storage bag, washable.
Company note: We may be a little fish in a big pond, but we're not doggy paddling the approach (anymore) to educating you the real cost of laundry soap for both you and the cost to our Mother Earth...AND you don't think our laundry soap cleans as well as the big shots...just read our reviews here!

Our new look includes: 2lbs. of Whispering Willow Natural Laundry Soap, muslin bag, scoop for $14.

Today you are able to purchase our "new look" Whispering Willow Natural Laundry Soap right here below or go to our online shop:
Under the Willow, LLC

New look! Whispering Willow Natural Laundry Soap!

Important note: Even with the added price of shipping- we still beat the cost per load of the most major brands!

2 lb. More soap for less money!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Growing Wisteria...

Wisteria vine- starting it's 2nd year growth...
We like this "little guy" so much our next project is building a Pergola across our back porch. Last year we planted this Wisteria and it grew and blossomed like nothing we've ever seen.

Every night my husband or myself help guide the Wisteria's new growth to another arbor or another placement on it's existing arbor.

Arbor's from Lowes (40 dollars each)...

IF last year is any indication on the amount of growth we'll see this year- the poor little guy needs more "stuff" to grow on.

As our first spring outdoor project we decided to not only help our Wisteria vine, but add some (very needed) shade to our back porch. After going through years of umbrellas to canopies- NOTHING seemed to last a year or full season for that matter- SO we decided to install a Pergalo.

We have helped train the Wisteria to grow to another arbor...

After pricing them we decided this was a project we could easily manage ourselves. The prices we estimated for a Pergola already made was between 1200-3500 for a span of 12 by 15.

Here's our estimated cost breakdown:

  • 13- 2 by 8 by 12 foot @ 9.73 each
  • 4- 2 by 10 by 16 foot @ 15.98 each
  • 4- 4 by 4 by 10 foot @ 12.97 each
  • Paint- 50.00 (white exterior)
  • Misc. nails, etc... 50.00
Estimated cost of our home built Pergola: $342.00

Peek at our back porch last year- right before the Wisteria was added...This year we've replaced the couch cushions, still need to update the shutters AND add our Pergola for the needed shade and a better home for our Wisteria!

Back porch will be getting an updated look in the next several weekends...

AND we'd love for you to visit the Under the Willow
 cleaning room while you are visiting!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Annie Sloan post continued...

A friend's newly finished project using Annie Sloan chalk paint!

Several weeks ago my daughter and I met up with a good friend- who was more than excited to share her (and husband's) first try with Annie Sloan paint. She was able to show us a small picture on her phone, so you'd image how excited I was to see the "final" project as a full size picture!

Here's what they did:
  • Found a china cabinet to re-purpose for their dining room
  • Sanded it down (but said they didn't have to)
  • Painted with Annie Sloan paint
  • Applied the Annie Sloan "wax" to give it the old world look
  • Applied wall paper to the back of the cabinet
  • Volia! One gorgeous piece!
I think their first creation with Annie Sloan paint came out beautiful! I can't wait to try this technique on a piece or two I've been thinking about.

Thanks Tiffany for the picture of your final project! Hugs!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Annie Sloan chalk paint...

If you've used Annie Sloan chalk paint, I'd love to hear what you painted!

Has anyone else been inspired lately by Annie Sloan? She has designed a line of "chalk" (NOT to be confused with blackboard paint) paint that is the newest rage in painting furniture. It claims no sanding furniture before painting and more!

I'm looking forward to experimenting with this new line, and am currently looking for a local supplier here near the Eastern Shore.

The below "blurb" is right from her site:

Why our Paint is Special

Reasons Why it's Good!

Chalk Paint is a very special paint for very many reasons

1. It's the BEST paint for painting furniture by a long way
2. No need to prime or prepare
3.Extremely low VOCs so it is good for the environment
4. You can use it on any surface, indoors and out ( the outside of our shop was painted in it- perfect!)
5. You can use the paint by diluting it with water to make a wash to show the wood grain
6. The colours are mixed intelligently and the web site shows how you can adapt your colours for your use
7. It's a girls' paint, but boys can use it too.
8. It's flexible so you can be creative and change your mind
9. It allows your walls to breathe so it is perfect for cottage walls
10. You can use it as an impasto ( thickly) - leave the lid off to thicken
11. We've been making it since 1990 so it's tried and tested

AND while I've been researching this new line- I thought I'd put a call into my local, very knowledgable, great customer supportive Sherwin Williams salesman. When I asked him if Sherwin Williams had something "comparable" to Annie Sloan chalk paints- he actually had no idea what I was talking about. This surprised me a bit- so I hope in the future other (more local) paint companies can meet the demand of "chalk" paint for furniture re-painting, up dating, re-do, re-purposing. I look forward to see if this happens.

You can also follow Annie Sloan's blog here:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Little hands warm hearts...

Recently my daughter was asked if her family could "nurse" back some little chicks to better health. Four little chicks delivered- scrappy, thin, in poor health. Shortly one died, but the other three had some very little hands to help nurse them back to health. AND within days the surviving three went from scrappy to perky almost chubby little balls of yellow fluff.

Grand girlies running down to the barn to see the baby chicks...

Three little chicks under a heat lamp...

The weakest of the three peeps had to be fed water with a syringe...

Two happy "peeps". Baby chicks now strong enough to go outside
for a short time...
Daffodils for Mommy...
One day the littlest of the peeps will be able to join the other chickens on the porch. That's Jo-Jo looking at them drinking from her water bowl!

For now the littlest of the peeps will have short visits outside and be taken care of with little hands and warm hearts...

I'm very proud that my grand girlies have taken the responsibility to nurse these peeps back to good health.