Does It Work? DIY Toilet Cleaner put to the Test

Last year I purchased citric acid for use in making a DIY dishwasher detergent. Though I still haven’t done that (I lost the recipe), I did experiment with using citric acid, both alone and combined with baking soda, to clean my toilet. Here’s the before, during, and after photos, all of which were taken a few weeks before monkey girl arrived.

This is the result of toilet neglect, otherwise known as “I’m pregnant, throwing up, and everything that has a smell makes me throw up, so I can’t even do the laundry” syndrome. Months and months of throwing up, combined with one of my sons being a “mystery pooper who won’t flush” left this much calcium build-up. Gross, right? I am not proud of it, to say the least.

To begin, I measured out, oh, about 1/2 C each of the citric acid and the baking soda, mixed them together, and poured them in after turning off the water and flushing out all the water I could. Fizzing commenced.

And nothing happened. I have 3 lbs each of the baking soda and citric acid, so I experimented 3 times with an increase of each, even leaving the last batch in for a solid four hours before trying each ingredient separately. And yes, between attempts I scrubbed with a toilet brush in an attempt to agitate the scum. I also added vinegar to the mix. Nothing changed. This solution is likely best used with light soil deposits, and toilet maintenance between regular cleanings. It has done nothing for my heavy calcium deposits.

Even now, months later, nothing has changed. I am able to clean (more) regularly, but I have yet to discover the solution to remove the calcium deposits.

I suspect the answer lies in a water softener. Even the humidifiers have developed calcium buildups much more frequently than they did prior to our move to this area. Those I am able to treat with vinegar left in the humidifier base overnight, and most of the calcium is gone.

“So Sarah,” you may ask, “Why don’t you try just the vinegar?” The answer? I have!! It isn’t working! I’ve seen it work on the humidifiers, why isn’t it working in the toilet? Maybe it’s the quantity of vinegar and time (not enough of either)? Probably. But thats for another post. Trust me, I do intend to get to the bottom of this. Pun not intended. My toilets reputation depends on it.



Art Wall

My boys have been begging me to “glue” their drawings to the wall. I remember being their age and using tape and sticky tacky with disastrous effects on the paint. I told them, instead, that I would make them each their own “art wall” in exchange for a promise never to draw, color, tape, or otherwise mar my brilliant chocolate shake colored wall.

At the time, I was 8 months pregnant with monkey girl (and clearly insane). I had “scrap” wood leftover from their bunk beds (which have since been separated due to their large upper room having such a low ceiling). To each of these “scraps” I stapled 5 pieces of twine, two of them were  3 feet long, and three of them were two feet long. I created loops every 8 inches, to which I attached paperclips. They can simply use the paperclip to attach and change their wall without any damage to the actual wall.

The wood itself has picture hangers attached to it, complements of amazon. I did install wall brackets, but if thats the most damage that wall gets in the next ten years, it will be well worth it. These little boys are destructive! But I love them. And they probably aren’t as destructive as I am, truth be told. After all, not unlike Buddy from the movie “Elf,” I technically created this art wall using leftover bits of furniture . . . My husband assures me that I am, in fact, a crazy woman. I tell him its just the creative process at work, and he needs to appreciate how unique I am!


Lazy Friday’s Tip of the Week: Nailpolish in the Shower

One of my favorite all time tricks for retaining the perfect shower temperature, introduced by my Godmother years ago: Nailpolish.

During a bath or shower, I use an eyeliner pencil to mark the trim piece attached to the wall, and then I make another mark next to that on the shower handle. When you are done showering and the water has dried, apply a dot (or in this case, a line) to both of those marks and voila! The perfect, fuss-free temperature, every time.

The only drawback was actually purchasing nail polish, since I didn’t actually own any. I justified the purchase with the subsequent reward-I no longer had to help my six year old find the right temperature, which means he can now shower completely independent of me, freeing my hands for baby monkey and dragon boy, both of whom still need a lot of my time.

I wonder if I can re-gift the nail polish. Or is that tacky?

Anita B Gorman Discovery Center Presents: Tracks and Signs

Prior to today, I had never actually been to the Anita B Gorman Conservation/Discovery Center. And I have to tell you, this is an underemphasized Gem just minutes from the Plaza, Kaufman Memorial, and the Nelson Atkins Museum.

Like many of the child-centered events featured at Burr Oak Woods, the events here are walk-ins, registration not requited. That makes it truly convenient (and something of a relief) for busy parents who still struggle to make it anywhere on time.

We were there today for their “Tracks and Signs” presentation. They had four activity stations set up. The first one was a table of furs and skulls, with a quiz sheet asking the learner to identify which skull matched which fur. The easiest was the most obvious-a very large Bison hide clearly fit over the largest skull on the table.

Unfortunately that was about the only one I was able to identify on my own. Luckily a staff member showed up and proceeded to give my four year old a personal tour of the animal pelts, lifting each on off the table one at a time and letting him “pet them”. He also gave us tips on how to identify what type of animal they were based on a close inspection of the tails, ears, and feet.

Next on the list? Animal Scat! That’s right! The Fecal matter from ten different mammals native to missouri (most of it was made from silicone casts, but there were actually a few real specimens)!

I’m no scat aficionado, so I willingly admit my ignorance that hair and bone will be found in the scat of a predator. I also didn’t realize that bears, though omnivorous, actually do prefer the nuts, fruits, and seeds to the meatier options at their disposal.

The third station involved making casts from animal footprints. This was dragon boys favorite station, hands down!

His only complaint was that the footprints took “too long to dry,” so he wasn’t able to play with them until the next day (we were provided with a brown paper “to go” bag to place them in). We left with four different casts-the black bear, opossum, beaver, and squirrel.

They let me take a picture of the recipe, which involves sawdust, among other things (like I’m gonna purchase sawdust! Way too cheap for that)!

Last on our list was the “Mammal tracks” station, which involved paper, stamps, and ink. This one was Tiger boys favorite station. He tried out nearly all the footprint stamps, creating “tracks” all over his paper. Next time they do this presentation, I think I will bring handcrafted thank you cards, and embellish them with deer tracks . . . Why purchase stamps when you can wait for a children’s event and use them for free? Ah, yes, another battle of “the cheapskate within . . .”

Having found out about seedsavers last year, I’m surprised I never bothered to look up the Discovery center before. That’s another great service provided by our great state of Missouri, and the topic of another post in the near future. January 21st, 2017-annual non-genetically modified free seed exchange! I’m gonna be there-will you?


 Maybe its just the eyes and the eyebrows, but I think my mixed-race baby girls looks a little like my Swedish grandmother (though there is a small chance I’m missing my grandmother, and most of this is wishful thinking).

Apparently very few (if any) Asians have a cleft chin, because my mother in law likes to point out that there is “something wrong” with her chin (naturally there must be “something” wrong, but she has pointed that out in the other two as well, since they also have a “weird chin”). But I don’t she’s entirely lacking in her daddy’s features. The nose, for example, is decidedly Asian!

As I have stated before, It doesn’t much matter to me. She is 100% human, and 100% my beautiful little girl!


Freshen Up Your Home With A New Coat of Paint!

I don’t hate my house, I just hate a few specific things about my house. Like the color.


Do you see what I mean? Not such a bad house, but those colors? Together? Really?? Ug. No wonder we got it for such a good price . . .

Last year we purchased some exterior paint from Sherwin Williams, but never had a chance to start painting the house. We had no intention on living in the house for over a year with this horrid color up.

But life happens, and since I was pregnant and literally couldn’t do anything by the time the weather was appropriate for painting, my husband started in June.

He has the front mostly finished, parts of the sides, and parts of the back. But doesn’t it look a hundred times better?


Its amazing how a little paint can totally transform a house from an ugly fixer upper, to a place I’m beginning to feel proud of calling home.

Next up are new doors in the spring, shutters (all a dark navy color), and flower boxes. wouldn’t spring flowers in every window be a lovely touch?

Discounted Kansas City Zoo Membership

The best time to get it? After Halloween. Not specifically November 1st, but sometime in November and December. I just purchased mine today and it is valid through March of 2018, and only paid $109 for the whole family (rides included). When we were there saturday, it was $125 and only valid up to next march (that’s five months, and all of them during the cold months)!!

Our first membership was purchased during Boo at the Zoo four years ago, and only cost us $69 for two adults (children under 3 are free), including free rides. Since a renewal is typically more costly, we like the idea of letting the membership lapse for a year and then renewing it the next year . . .

What can I say, I’m cheap!

Can you name this plant?

My sister couldn’t remember what it was. When she brought it to my house last year, it had already finished blooming.


This year I was greeted with a slightly drooping blossom, and a sort of cilantro/parsley/strawberry shaped leaf.

Using the app “Like That Garden”, I think this may be a Columbine? I took this picture back in may and completely forgot about it until recently. Now it has a bunch of brownish seed heads that I plan on collecting once baby girl is born.

Can you Identify this plant?

Flowers like dandelions, thorny leaves, and most of them are anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet. I have a handful, and they weren’t there last year.


I had two packages of wildflower mix from walmart, and I’m wondering if there is a chance these were mixed in with those? Personally, I think its a weed, maybe a thistle, but the leaves aren’t quite right, and the short spines are only at the edge of the leaves. I have a few of them I need to pull. But I am so close to my due date, and squatting down is impossible. That, and the Liatris is the only thing in bloom right now, so it makes for a nice contrast, up close, the purple liatris and the yellow  . . . . whatever this is.

I guess I’ll have to kill these next year. The boys have been pulling the volunteer maple trees (those are easy), but they aren’t about to touch this thorny monster. Not that I blame them. I suppose I have to ask myself (if it is, in fact, a weed), how much I really like it? The answer is, I just don’t.

Free nature and wild-life magazines from the state of Missouri!

We had a few good reasons to be at the IRS in late March, and in spite of getting there early there was still a decent sized line. While waiting, I decided to peruse their reading materials. They had a large selection of nature and wild-life magazines, and I happened upon the Missouri “Conservationist,” a nature and wild-life magazine sponsored by the state of Missouri, that is free to residents (in case you are interested, they also have one for children, called “Xplor“).

This magazine is amazing! I had completely forgotten about it until I did a search for free fishing lessons, and found their website, the “Missouri Department of Conservation.” The website gives you access to all the fishing lakes, hunting reserves, nature trails, parks, etc across the entire state of missouri, as well as a search engine for classes and activities in your area.

I finally signed up for both magazines, one for myself and one for the kids. They were an instant hit with both of my sons, ages 3 and recently turned 6.

If you are are a resident of missouri, in search of a free kids magazine, or merely want to educate yourself on local plant and wild-life, these magazines are a valuable resource. The best part is, they are totally free!