Stasia's Place Of Grace


Monday, July 18, 2005

Mushrooming Updates

It seems I've waited too long to post - things have been mushrooming up all over around here... not the least of which are the pink oyster mushrooms from Fungi Perfecti!

The kit came last week and Jeff soaked it as required. We put it in plastic planter pot base, tented it with the provided bag over some inverted wire hangers, and away we went:

Soaked Foundation

Tented For Humidity Control

First "Sprouts"

A Few Days Later...

One Day Later...

Another Day Later - WOW!

This type of mushroom requires indirect light, so we have them in the bathroom, near the window - the shower humidity helps keep them growing.

If you have little patience for gardening, or antsy kids needing summertime entertainment, I'd highly recommend this kit! Looks like we'll be eating these beauties in less than a week.

Summer always brings back my strongest childhood memories. Did you ever lie on the grass and stare up through a canopy of leaves?

I remember running through the sprinkler, squealing with delight as the sprayer rotated and the fan of water tipped towards me. Did you ever try to cover up the sprayers with your hands, only to get a faceful of water? I can even recall my red and white seersucker bathing suit, the 1960s elastic so tight it almost cut off the circulation in my legs!

We have been having to spray the yard to germinate the grass seed put down by the septic folks. This little guy (and lots of birds) have been enjoying running through the sprinkler this year:

Fun Thing Of The Day

I happened to see the perfect bed for the knitter with too much yarn stash. Take a peek here.

Idea Of The Day

I've been reading on various blogs that parents are quite overwhelmed at having their kids home for summer vacation. The adults seem somehow paralyzed by the fact that their children expect to be entertained; they've become unruly, rude and obnoxious; or they're just plain bored.

So I'd like to offer some suggestions to help parents teach kids to be independent and thereby use the summer vacation as a construcive time. Isn't that better than just numbly observing the wee beasties as they act like a group of bonobos? These ideas are based upon this premise: if children are acting like a pack of wild animals, they either need more attention, or more responsibility, or more exercise, or less TV!

Stasia's Suggestions For Kids Home From School:

  • Mushroom kits! Also mushroom identifying books.
  • Junior cookbook (to cook mushrooms, or at least breakfast for the family).
  • Local summer recreation program or library reading program - check your city hall for details. Hint: if you have more than one kid, enroll them in different programs at different times so they're not all home at once to fill up their time by practicing new insults on one another.
  • Volunteer work at a local humane society or senior center.
  • Swimming lessons, or pre-lifeguarding courses. They'll be glad to have a head-start on securing a summer job at the pool or lake when they get a little bit older.
  • Horseback riding lessons. (Sigh...)
  • Dance or gymnastics lessons (indoors in the A/C!)
  • Tennis lessons.
  • YMCA programs.
  • Art classes at a local art store.
  • Build-a-radio or other "technology" kit.
  • Nature books and supplies - animal tracks book, magnifying glass, microscope. Add some inexpensive plaster of paris, a mixing container, and a bottle of water, and send them out to make plaster casts of footprints in the woods. Teach them respect for all living things or I'll give them what-for! No trapping insects, frogs and turtles and toads, or shrews, if you please.
  • Butterfly-growing kit.
  • Penpals and/or stamp collecting.

And finally, keep a list of chores handy. When asked, "I'm bored - what is there to do?" simply hand out a chore and require that it be accomplished. The kids will either ease up your to-do list (a little work never hurt anybody and it'll help prepare them for when they're out on their own, as well as teach some appreciation for all that's required to run a household), or they'll get wise and learn to entertain themselves without bothering you every half hour.

As my mother would always tell me, "Only the boring are bored." It's never too early to learn that life isn't going to entertain you - you must entertain yourself. And a kid with varied interests and an active mind is going to do better at school next fall than one who spent the summer cozied up with Nintendo.

What not to do? Do not take your kids to Starbucks to get them agitated on caffeine and sugar so that they annoy the adults trying to seek a moment's peace there (ahem). This only reinforces to the wee beasties that their heathenistic behavior is acceptable - and worse, acceptable in public. Whoever came up with the idea of giving children caffeinated beverages in frozen-treat form was an eejit.

Please note: I have no kids nor would I ever want any, so I probably have no idea what I'm talking about. However, these are all things my parents "forced" me to do when I was growing up, and none of them killed me. In fact, as you can see, I can entertain myself quite well as an adult, and I even got to marry a pretty interesting guy who had a project accepted by NASA for a space shuttle mission, who can compose symphonies, who cooks gourmet meals and pairs them with fantastic wines, and who could survive if trapped on a mountaintop for a week with only some string and belly button lint at hand. Worse things could have happened to me.

The lovely Nanette (she of the great stranded color knitting book!) sent me these tips for making septic-safe homemade laundry detergent, and she's told me I may share them with you!


This simple laundry detergent is kinder to the earth and septic systems, leaves your clothes smelling wonderful and feeling soft, and costs a lot less than commercial laundry detergent. I have very hard water and this works very well. I also use it straight as a pre-soak on spots in clothing and brush it in the carpet to remove stains. (Be sure to soak up all the liquid with plenty of paper towels after cleaning a carpet stain.)

If you currently use commercial laundry detergent, switching to to a homemade detergent may leave some residue on clothes the first few times you use it. This is easily fixed by adding 1 cup of white vinegar to the washing machine along with the detergent.

1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid lavender Castile soap (I've also used peppermint in this recipe.)

1/2 cup washing soda (Washing soda is supposedly a different chemical formulation of baking soda. I use Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.)

1/2 cup borax (I use 20 Mule Team Borax)

(Some recipes add 2 Tbsp vegetable glycerin, available at the health food store, to boost cleaning power. I've never tried it though.)

Mix all ingredients in a 2 gallon bucket. Add hot water to fill the bucket and stir well. This will be a thinner concoction than commercial laundry detergent. Save your old laundry detergent containers to store your homemade detergent. You should shake up the mixture before you use it because it has a tendency to separate. I use about 1/4 to 1/3 cup per average laundry load.

NOTE: You can also use grated Castile or vegetable oil soap instead of the liquid Castile. It needs to be grated as finely as possible or it may leave clumps on your laundry and it is best for use with hot water.

P.S. I've also read you can make your own homemade laundry detergent powder for hot water washes by mixing equal parts of finely grated Castile soap, baking soda scented with your favorite essential oils, and washing soda. Use 1/2 cup per laundry load.

Thanks, Nanette!


I'm so grateful to have the new computer and a decent Internet connection at last. Luckily, we found a great computer armoire on sale (we need to enclose the computer as it's near our open kitchen - don't want grease gunking up its works!)

Jeff played the dutiful husband and assembled it for us yesterday:

Note rickety "before" computer table...

Woo hoo!

It's perfect. I'm so grateful we found just what we were looking for, and at a super price to boot. We also were able to get an All-Clad pan to complete Jeff's collection at a huge savings last week - don't know what kind of serendipity is following us around, but we sure are thankful to be hitting everything at just the right time! Gotta' love good shoppie karma...

I'm also grateful that Miss Fiona has been with us for twelve years, and she's still doing great. We celebrated her birthday yesterday with a round of lamb burgers for everyone:

Chef Jeff Prepares Lamb Burger Bowls

The Natives Getting Restless

Fi Can't Wait And Tries To Eat The Floor

Waiting (Not So) Patiently

Look At That Google Eye!

Tori Tips Bowl Over To Check Beneath For Leftovers

All Finished. Anything Left On The Carpet?

Wishing you an interesting day with lots to do and learn... and good shoppie karma! (Kary, hurry up and get that Wizardy yarn for sale! The new Harry Potter book is out, and orange-and-purple sox sound perfect!)

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Welcome To Stasia's Blog

Stasia is a knitter, spinner, weaver, writer, reader, and musician from Wisconsin, USA.

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