In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

Homemade "Ice Cream"

I don't have an ice cream maker.  Partly because I don't want to sacrifice the space in my cupboards, partly because I don't want to cough up the dough to buy one, and partly because I think that as a general rule of thumb small appliances that only do one thing and rarely get used are pointless hunks of junk.

I've tried making ice cream without an ice cream maker.  Basically you mix the stuff together, and then spend the day going back to your freezer over and over again to stir the stuff up with a fork.  I don't want to be chained to my freezer, I am a liberated woman! Sort of.  But I digress....

Lately I've been making a much simpler version of ice cream that doesn't involve an ice cream maker and technically isn't ice cream at all.  It's a frozen yogurt/sorbet like concoction that is simple and delicious.

Problem is, I can't give you the recipe.

I would if I could.  But it's kind of a taste and trial sort of thing.

You will need:
  • Some fruit, frozen  (strawberries, bananas, mango, peaches, whatever!)
  • some plain yogurt
  • a lime or a pinch of salt  (optional)
  • some sugar or other sweetener (maybe)
  • a food processor
Put a few big handfuls of frozen fruit in your food processor.  Add  about 1/2 a cup of yogurt.  If you'd like, you can add the juice from one lime or a pinch of salt to brighten up the flavors a little more.  Give the whole thing a thorough whirl in your food processor until it's pureed and creamy and kind of like soft serve ice cream.  Taste, and add your preferred type of sweetener if needed. 

You could easily avoid the use of sugar by using super-ripe, super-sweet fruits, especially bananas. Personally, I figure that even with a little bit of sugar this is far better for my family than anything I can find in my supermarkets freezer!

Move your frozen treat to a freezer safe sealed container and chill in freezer for at least 5 hours or until scoop-able and icecream-esque.  Or however long you are able to wait!

If you try it, be sure to swing back and let me know what you think!

Homemade Wool Dryer Balls

A few weeks ago, my youngest child broke out in an all over the body sort of rash.  We observed him and what he was eating for a few days, but saw no connection.  We began to wonder if it could be related to the laundry products we were using and, sure enough, when we switched to more natural products the rash disappeared completely.

We switched from our regular laundry detergent to one that is all natural (a.k.a outrageously expensive), we switched from fabric softener to good ol' fashioned vinegar,  and we threw out our dryer sheets in favor of these adorable little dryer balls.

Dryer balls reduce static in your laundry and decrease drying times.   They make some noise as the bounce around in the dryer, but we quickly got used to it.

Here's how to make your own dryer balls.

You will need:
  • some 100% wool
  • a crochet hook
  • scissors
  • an old pair of stockings/ pantyhose
  • some patience
  • your favorite essential oil (optional)

Start by crocheting a chain about a foot or two long.  This step isn't entirely necessary, but it makes the beginning of the winding process less finicky and frustrating.

Starting with your crochet chain and then moving on to the attached wool, wrap the wool around itself to make a little ball.  Wrap it tightly.

Continue wrapping the wool and increasing the ball size until it is about the size of a tennis ball.

To keep the ball from unravelling, push your crochet hook through part of the ball and pull your loose end through the ball.  Repeat two or three times until you are confident the wool is secure.  Cut off the remainder.

Repeat to create desired number of balls.  Three is good.  Six is better.

Now place the balls one at a time into the leg of an old pair of stockings. Tie a knot after each ball.  This will keep the balls from becoming unraveled while you felt them in your washing machine.

Throw the stocking full of dryer balls into your next load of laundry, and then into the dryer when you dry the load.  Repeat two or three more times.  Loads washed in hot will help felting happen faster, but cold will work too.

Carefully cut (or untie) the stockings to release your lovely new dryer balls.  If desired, add a few drops of essential oil to each ball to add a slight bit of fragrance to your clean laundry. I use lavender.

At this point, depending on the wool you've used, your dryer balls may just be slightly felted.  This is good enough to keep them from unravelling in the dryer.  They will continue to felt with repeated use.  They will need to be re-scented periodically.

Now all that is left to do is to throw your pretty new wool balls into your dryer every time you dry a load and start saving money on dryer sheets and electricity costs!

Homemade Play Dough

In our house, play dough is worth it's weight in gold.  An affirmative answer to the question "Can we play with play dough?" causes a frantic and celebratory dash to the kitchen, complete with shouts and giggles of excitement.  My kids compose songs about play dough. They seriously love the stuff.

Here is my favorite recipe for homemade play dough:

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
1 TBSP cream of tartar
1 TBSP oil
1 cup of water
Food coloring (optional)

Place the first 4 ingredients in a pot.  Add the water and stir well.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 4 minutes, until the mixture clumps and becomes very difficult to stir.  Remove from heat and knead warm dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  This is a good time to work in the food coloring, if you're using it. 

Wasn't that easy?

We keep our play dough in a zip-top bag in the fridge;  partly because I don't want the oil to start smelling rancid and partly because I don't want my youngest to get his hands on it and eat it. That much salt isn't good for anybody!

I divide the dough in half before kneading and make one color of play dough per child.  I used to think that more colors was better, but the kids have just as much fun creating with one color and we don't have the problem of it getting mixed together and turning into a big clump of brown.  Also, if each child has their own color, they don't fight over it!

I think the texture of this play dough is even better than the stuff you can buy at the store.  Why not try it and let me know what you think!?

Blogging, Real Life, and Truth Windows

In a straw bale home, it is common to have a truth window.  It is a small section of wall, sometimes ornately framed or decorated, that is left unplastered to show people the straw that lies beneath. 

It's a peak into the truth about that home.

I don't have a straw bale home, but I do want this post to serve as a bit of a truth window.  I want to give my readers a peak into our home. 

This blog is called Imperfect Homemaking for a reason.  I believe that homemaking is a glorious profession, and that those of us with the privilege of serving at home can and should embrace it as the blessing it is.  I believe that our husbands should be able to come home from work, look around, and believe we've done something productive with our day.  But I also believe that our homes are places to live out real life.  Real homes are filled with milk spills and temper tantrums, unwashed dishes and piles of laundry waiting to be folded.  I don't want a clean home at the expense of an authentic life. 

I've been struggling with the purpose and identity of this blog for a while now.  Ever since I started blogging, I've been receiving comments about my homemaking from people in blogland as well as those in the real world.  They say things that leave me uncomfortable and wondering if I am accomplishing my goal.  They seem to think I have it all together, that my house is always clean, calm and orderly.  That if they were to drop by at any moment it would always look like the pictures on my blog.  And this just isn't the case.

I never meant to give anybody that impression.

I am an imperfect homemaker.

So as I was washing some dishes this morning, I was contemplating this blog and whether or not to continue.   It occurred to me to get my camera and show you what my house looks like right now, and to resist the temptation to just put a few things away first or straighten the couch cushions.

It's not a pig sty.  If you called right now to tell me you would be visiting in 20 minutes, I could probably have it pretty clean by the time you got here.  With 30 minutes notice, I could probably have a tray of cookies in the oven too. But it isn't spotless either.  We are in the middle of living life in this house and it shows.

So if you have somehow gotten the impression that I am some sort of super-mom who's house is always clean and the kids are perfectly groomed and that I manage to do it all while growing twins and somehow still have energy left over to whip up a pie, that just isn't the case.  When I give advice on how to keep a home, it is with the absolute awareness that sometimes things just don't happen like that, and that although a clean and inviting  home is important, it is not all that matters.

What we are is a happy family living a blessed life in a lovely little home that we thank God for every single day.  And we are seriously imperfect.

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I am totally still wearing my pajamas...
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