Life in Lape Haven

Archive - June 2015

Tried It Tuesday: Wool Dryer Balls

Tried It Tuesday: Wool Dryer Balls

When I worked in an office, I used to get all nerdy excited when I figured out a new shortcut in a program, such as finding a quicker formula in Excel or learning how to write a new script in Filemaker. With so many things to do in a day, finding easier, more efficient ways to accomplish a task was awesome for me.

Now that I’m a stay-at-home mom, my to-do list for a day is even longer, and my excitement when I find something that helps in even a miniscule way to get something checked off that list is even greater. Instead of nerding out over program shortcuts, I’m seeking out cooking tips, how-to-entertain-your-toddler “life hacks,” creative organizing ideas, and cleaning inspirations. When they work, my super dorky happiness is kind of embarrassing.

I recently tried out a very simple laundry aid, and according to my nephew, I went “all infomercial spokesperson” on my family when I told them about how impressed I was with it.

What was it? The wool dryer ball.

If you’ve visited the land of Pinterest over the last few years and searched for anything laundry related, you most likely have seen a picture or two of what look like yarn balls that people use when they are knitting or crocheting. I’ve seen companies that sell them as well as plenty of DIY pins for making your own. I read about how putting these little wool balls into your dryer with your laundry would help dry clothes faster, prevent wrinkles, and reduce static in addition to acting as a natural, chemical-free fabric softener. (Here’s the link to the site that got me interested in giving this a try.)

Finally I remembered to add “100% wool yarn” to my shopping list, and using the weekly 40-percent off coupon from Hobby Lobby, I picked up a skein of brown & white 100-percent wool yarn for about $3. Following the site instructions, I made three cute little wool balls. (I didn’t have a crochet hook, so I just tucked the ends under other strands until it was completed covered and secure.) As soon as they were washed and dried, I was ready to test them out. And, yes, kind of excited to do so.

 

Tried It Tuesday: Wood Dryer BallsFrom my first load on, I have loved them.

They do, in fact, shorten my dry time. I know that one cycle is all I need no matter what’s in the load, and most of the time, I can set my dryer to a shorter cycle. The downside to that is that now if I hit the restart button when I can’t fold the clothes right away (or just don’t want to), I kind of feel guilty because I KNOW they are dry.

They also do, in fact, help with wrinkles. Hubby has a particularly annoying pair of pants that love to come out all crinkles and twisted onto themselves no matter what I do. Dryer balls to the rescue! While the pants still have wrinkles, they are far, far fewer and much more manageable. Yea!!!

Probably the most excited I got was when I realized that they do, in fact, reduce static. With warmer weather finally here, I had one last load with sweaters and such to wash. While I do have some sweaters that I lay out to dry, there are some that can be tumbled dry on low. When I reached in to unload the dryer and didn’t hear the familiar crackle and pop of static or feel the shocks, I was shocked in a whole different way! I actually called my 5-year-old in to see how static-free the sweaters were. Seriously, I did. (He wasn’t as excited as I was.)

Something that wasn’t mentioned as a selling point, but that I will add, my boys love to help me with unloading the dryer now. (No, really. They do.) They like finding the wool balls among the clothes and tossing the balls back into the dryer. It makes a very satisfying “thunk.”

Sadly, since they are made of wool, the balls will shrink over time and eventually wear out. I opened my dryer recently to find a mound of unwound yarn where one of the balls had come apart. It might be because it wasn’t tucked in really well initially. I’m not sure. But it lasted through hundreds of laundry cycles, and the other two are still going strong, so I think it’s been worth the $3 for sure.

So, yeah. Wool dryer balls are a simple, effective aid with my laundry now. I even made some to share with mother and mother-in-law. I love that it’s something that I don’t have to think about but that makes my life easier. I can get seriously nerdy excited about things like that.

A Life Lesson from My Backyard

Life in Lape Haven: A Life Lesson from My Backyard - Butterfly on Butterfly Bush

When we bought our home almost six years ago, one of the things that I loved was the yard with its cute little white picket fence and simple but pretty landscaping. During our first spring in the house, we were surprised almost daily by the flowers and plants that would pop up and beautify our outdoors.

My two favorites were easily the gorgeous coral-colored roses that flourished beneath and up to my kitchen window and the huge butterfly bush that took up at least a third of the space in the flower bed along our side back fence. They were beautiful!  I could look out the kitchen window, past my lovely roses and the birds perched among them, and watch the butterflies and hummingbirds flitting around from one blossom to the next on that big butterfly bush.  They were the crowning glory of our backyard, and I looked forward to their blooming every spring.  *Happy sigh*

Life in Lape Haven: A Life Lesson from My Backyard - Rose growing below kitchen window

One of the roses that grew right below and up to my kitchen window.

 

Life in Lape Haven: A Life Lesson from My Backyard - Butterflies on Butterfly Bush

Butterflies loved our butterfly bush. (I guess it was appropriately named.)

But then… Grrr. Two winters ago it got really cold. I mean, it does that here every winter, but this time it got really, really cold. Stupidly cold. Horribly, stupidly cold. And when spring came around, and all of God’s creation came back to life in a glorious display of color and sweet smells and amazingness, my fabulous roses and my ginormous butterfly bush did not.  There were a few short, little offshoots that bloomed meekly at the base of both plants, but nothing like the grand display we were used to.

At first, I was hopeful that they were just slow in waking up, maybe pouting over the bitter winter that they’d endured.

Only they hadn’t endured. They’d died.

It took my sweet grandma visiting and point-blank telling me that my roses were dead for me to realize that they weren’t coming back – that and watching the sad, dry branches of my two favorite plants sit there, barren and ugly all season long, right through summer and far into fall.

It was just plain sad.

So this spring, once new growth started to show everywhere else, I had Hubby take the saw to the dead, brittle branches of my once-delightful butterfly bush and the thorny brown remains of my roses.  Some parts didn’t even need to be cut, just shoved.  The dead pieces cracked off clear down to the base.

When we were done, the backyard looked empty and bare.  Looking out my window, I missed them, even as the dead plants they had been in the end. In the spot where my butterfly bush had reigned for years, there was only one skinny little green limb left standing.  The roses fared better, with a remnant of maybe six or seven shoots to continue on this year.

I sent my mom a picture of the emptiness, and she replied, “If they still have life in them, they will grow really well.”

And I know she’s right.  I knew that last year, when we first realized they weren’t going to make it, but I just didn’t want to let go of what they had been.

Silly, isn’t it, to hold onto something dead instead of embracing and nurturing the new life that is there?  (Yeah, there’s a lesson here among brittle, breaking branches and fruitless limbs…God’s good like that.)  How many times do we do that in life, and with much bigger issues than a plant in the backyard?

God wants us to grow, continuously. To become more and more like Him. To let go of the things that are fruitless, dead, and honestly, downright ugly. Of course, change is never totally fun.  Letting go of something that was once great (or seemed great) is hard. But do we really want to allow it to take up a place in our life when there is something new and vibrant ready to grow in its place?

When we let God remove those decaying things from our life, you might think it will feel emptier, in a way, just like my backyard looks to me now. Loosing relationships, changing habits, sacrificing whatever God has asked – it WILL feel different than before. But that’s a good thing.

Sure my yard might look emptier, but it also looks healthier than it did, even somewhat larger. Everything that’s left is growing and green. And now I have hope for the future growth that will come where once all I could see was death and the past.

Isaiah 43:18 & 19 says, “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Whatever God is calling you to let go of, do it. Make room for and embrace the new. Look forward with hope to what He wants to spring forth in your life.

From my window, a single thriving bloom is much more beautiful than an entire shrubbery of lifelessness.

Life in Lape Haven: A Life Lesson from My Backyard - New rose blossoms

Healthy, new blooms are thriving this summer.