A family of six and their fearless journey through life, love and the pursuit of all things yummy

Salt Water Pool – Mini Mediterranean June 11, 2012

Filed under: Stuff for the House — Brandi @ 4:41 pm
Tags: , ,

I love a pool, especially a salt-water one. It’s as close to a sea or ocean we’re going to get. Some great friends sold us the pool for a song and we embarked on yet another wild endeavor – pool for The Wild Six!

I have a small backyard and other than my baby grape vines, I’m not planning on gardening. I want the space to be used for entertaining and that’s exactly what’s happening. We stained the concrete patio, put in a river pebble bed with planters, an outdoor fireplace, new patio furniture, grape vines and a POOL! I decided that trying to take Alberta and Beatrice to the public pool this year would be a nightmare and Lonnie and I decided to put in a pool.

We WISELY hired John Marr of to dig up the hole and level everything out. He did an amazing job and saved us about three full weekends of digging. Once the sand was down, we assembled the pool, filled it, dumped in the salt, fired up the sand filter and salt water pump and have been having a ball ever since. The kids and I love being able to stuff ourselves with breakie in the morning and just roll on in to the pool! Med in heaven! Like I said – the closest to the sea that we’re going to get right now.

I’ll post more photos of the kids frolicking later.


Update on Using Soap Berries/Nuts May 26, 2012

Okay, gave my natural soap a try as a bug repellent on my plants in the yard. I had a pot of annuals come back to life. Now, there is SOME nibbling going on, but I’ve managed to keep my pots, grape vines AND veg on the right track. Just cook down a batch of 5 soap berries in about 5 cups of water. Let cool and put into a clean spray bottle. Spray the leaves AND underneath. Yeah! No chemicals! Oh, and I’ve been spraying the elixir on my body and the twins…no bug bites yet. I love stuff that has a million uses. Thank you mother nature…you truly are the bees knees. Here’s the link to get your own soap berries:

p.s. Here’s a shot of my stainless steel fridge – the soap cleaned it beautifully and prevents greasy finger prints and my house is full of greasy little fingers.


The Great Grape Vine Experiment May 13, 2012

In my quest to bring France to my little spot in Kansas, I decided to build a trellis and grow my own wine grapes. At first, my husband thought I was completely wacko, but we both know that with any wine, the grapes make the difference. The surroundings, the soil, the love…it all goes in to making a great wine. The vines are more like children than plants because trial and tribulation grow the best grapes.

I found a nursery in Iowa that specialize in cold-weather grapes to make a tasty Bordeaux. I contacted the good folks at and ordered 8 plants. My super stud hubby and I went to the hardware store and bought the goodies to put together a grape trellis. We found a great video on how to build your own so that you have a sturdy structure to support your growing vines. It was some work, but not as difficult as we had thought. Even without the vines visibly growing, the trellis really makes our back yard look as if we’re in California or Burgundy, France! If you’re interested in building your own trellis, check out this link:

Violet and I planted these little babies, watered them, spoke to them and then named them. So say hello to Suzy, Wilbur, Tootsie, Larry, Paula, Honey, Ted and Ginger. They are now part of our clan and we’ll give them all the love we can muster. Hopefully in two to three years, we can have the grape-stomping party I’ve dreamed about and then I’ll know that France really has arrived in Kansas.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Making My Own Laundry Soap/Cleaning Solution/Shampoo May 12, 2012

Filed under: Stuff for the House — Brandi @ 3:44 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

What the bleep?! Making my OWN? It’s sounds nuts, but soap nuts/berries have been used for millenia and I discovered this from fellow blogger, She’s doing amazing things with old techniques like fermentation…anyway. Jumped on the soap berry bandwagon and began my experiment this morning.

Soap berries can be used for laundry, shampoo, cleaning supplies, natural pesticides for plants and veg, pet shampoo, etc. The list really is endless. But I mixed up a batch for laundry, shampoo, plant spray and cleaning supplies. There isn’t a product more green than this people! Here’s what I did.

I ordered a 2 lb. bag of the nubbies from and went to work. I boiled two handfuls in about 10 cups of water for 60 minutes. I strained them off into various containers: two for the fridge and the rest into ice-cube trays to freeze for future use (thanks real food lover!). There are obviously no preservatives, so it has a short shelf life. I made just enough to cover us for the week. There’s six of us and between shampoo, baby wash, laundry, cleaning and dishes, I think I made just the perfect amount.

A note about the shampoo – Violet and I add orange blossom water to make it smell dreamy! Next time we’re adding a concoction of steeped herbs. We’ll let you know how it turns out! 

Between being totally green and saving you a rear end load on soaps, cleaners and shampoos, soap berries are the way to go. No school like the old school!