My daughter’s room

Now I would count the items in this room but it’d take me forever.  She isn’t buying into the less is more mindset but as you look through the pictures please remember she had LOTS more.  I don’t necessarily think we spoil her by buying lots of stuff for her though we do frequently buy her stuff.  She is our only child.  For several years she was the only grandchild on my side and the only great-grandchild.  For even longer she was the only grandchild on my husband’s side.  My husband’s mom is a bargain hunting, yard sale junkie.  If there were trophies to be won for purchasing “bargains” she’d have them all.  What I’ve learned is that it’s not really a bargain if you don’t really need it.  I’ve also learned that you can’t base needs off of what a young child says they need.

My daughter absolutely LOVES all of her stuff.  Everything is her favorite and she remembers everything.  The squeaky turtle bought for her when she was two?  she remembers – where she got it and who got it for her.

She got bit by the clutter bug hard.  Gotta love my daughter – but she doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I always dread seeing certain family because I know we are going to be bringing home new “treasures”.  porcelain dolls, dollar tree finds, funky clothes, books, coloring books, their junk mail.  Yes my daughter falls in love with junk mail, catelogs, coupons and scraps of paper.  She collects rocks, coupons, stuffed dogs, squinkys, mighty beans, littlest pet shop animals, polly pockets, my little ponys, zhu zhu pets, leaves, books, candy wrappers (not laziness but because she likes them), pieces of yarn, paper, acorns, pine cones, winter gloves and Christmas socks.

I’ve asked my mom to do a lending library for books and toys so that I can bring them back to her for the other grandkids to enjoy.  She graciously accepted and understands how overwhelmed I get so she has cut back dramatically on gifts for my daughter to bring home.  – small measured doses.  His mom would flood us with yard sale treasures every Saturday.  Toys and items constantly flowing in for my daughter.  People give her stuff – every Polly Pocket item ever made? Check we got it for free.  More My Little Ponies than what 10 girls could play with?  check.  again for free.  Dora kitchen set, baby doll strollers, carseats, giant snowmen, check, check and check.

When we did that yard sale for a friend she told my daughter she could have whatever she wanted.  I cringed inside.

I’m complaining – they all mean well.  We’ve gotten so many things for free from who care.  I get flustered and overwhelmed but some of the things we really needed and couldn’t afford.  My daughter’s bed and sheets were all free.  We couldn’t have afforded such a nice mattress set for her and sheets are expensive.  Our couch and recliner, though not my style were free, given to us by his parents.  Our couch in our family room that I love also free courtesy of my mom, who gave it to my brother, who gave it to my sister, who gave it to us.  Many of my daughter’s beautiful clothes including her favorite pair of Uggs and some high end clothes given to us for free from my boss.   Winter coats to keep her warm.  It has really helped us stretch our money.  I typically only have to buy her 2-4 outfits when she outgrows her clothes because my boss’s friend’s daughter must go through growth spurts at the same time so when my daughter outgrows hers we always seem to get a new bag.

Our microwave? a wedding gift, our dressers? a yard sale find.  My daughter’s dresser? free from my brother.  I need to be a better guardian but I also can succeed by not letting the unwanted items linger in my home.  I’ve sold alot of stuff which often feels selfish as I should be blessing others but I sell the items super cheap.  I also donate quite a bit too.  My massive amount of clutter came in super helpful when my town flooded.  They needed clothes – I had a 100 white t-shirts from when I owned a tshirt press.  All the beautiful clothes?  there was a desperate need for clothes my daughter’s size.  Underwear – the extra packs I bought and were given to us put to good use.  All those unused coloring books went to children who had lost everything along with boxes of school supplies, art supplies and hygiene items I had unfortuneatly stock piled.  Bags of towels and sheets were donated – given to us by friends and family put to good use by people devastated by the flood.

That flood helped us.  It brought our community closer and brought my family closer.  My husband, daughter and I felt so fortunate that we didn’t lose our home and stuff.  We felt sorrow and grief for those who lost.  Countless pictures of lost and devistation called us to action to part freely with items that were just taking up space in our home.

Most people don’t know how much we had.  I was so ashamed by the sheer amount that I couldn’t have people in.  My storage unit was bursting and I made regular trips there to add more.  I couldn’t stop accumulating whether it was free, given to me or purchased.  I needed stuff.  People weren’t invited in when it was at it’s worst.  Pictures weren’t taken inside the house because I was ashamed.  ASHAMED!   I would love to have more before pictures but they simply don’t exist because I would never have taken them.  I have various pictures from the last two years but that’s after I found Fly Lady and then Miss Minimalist.

Here we go!

Embarassment awaits – I found some before pictures of my daughter’s room just now.  These are not before before but beginning of summer before.

This is what you saw when you were near her doorway.

This is what happened every time she played.

This was the top of her dresser.  There were too many clothes than what the dresser could handle.  Please note this room also used to have a student desk in here and a night stand (the one that is now in my room).

After!

This didn’t happen over night but rather over the course of 6 months.

Still cluttered but a lot less stuff.  The before picture was after downsizing.  This one is much better.  I’ll share what she chose to keep on her dresser – Goldie and Goldie’s tank and food.  A jar/ vase with a few rocks and shells from her collection.  the plants vs. zombies house, the signed bowling pin and birthday hat from her 6th birthday, a timer, a toilet paper owl she made at school, a rather large pack of C Batteries (bought with yard sale money) and a jewelry box that she rarely if ever uses.

Her purse hanges on the door, nothing behind or under.  Her two monster high wigs hanging on the door.  I HATE the stickers all over but you really have to pick your battles.

That massive white tower used to be full of Polly Pocket with an additional tote for Polly Pockets.  Now?  just the three bottom drawers, this also now houses her littlest pet shops, her squinkies, her jewelry and assorted small toys.  The black set of drawers?  her dress up clothes and dress up clothes for her babies and toys.

Not too bad – much less than what used to be here.  a box of for paper collection, and her musical instruments.  a shoe box hanging out next to the tv stand.

Her toy net and shelf.

her toys whittled down enormously

more floor space

her bed.  The two giant snowmen are not regular guests.  she typically has a small stuffed dog and small elephant, her dog happy napper and her dog pillow pet, two pillows and tons of blankets.

so definately not a minimalist room or even a Lagom room but no longer the room of a hoarder.  it’s a work in progress.

 

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My small bathroom

So my bathroom can be relaxing or stressful depending on the cleanliness of it.  We have two full bathrooms but only really use the small one.  Trying to convince my family that not everything has to go in the small bathroom was hard at first but has gotten easier as we’ve all learned that it functions better when only what we use on a regular basis is left in this room.

Here is what you see when you are walking towards my bathroom.  It used to have a really dark, thick shower curtain.  I thought it over powered the room so I switched it out for a thinner lighter curtain.  I really love the colors in this curtain.

We have two rugs – the dark brown rug is super soft and foamy.  it was by the shower but i found that it stayed wet forever and when the bottom got wet it became a slippery death trap so I just switched them and crisis was averted.  I love the stripes and the green and brown one.  there is a towel bar with two towels on the right.  There is a partial towel bar above it that needs to be taken down and gotten rid of.

The shelf is a new addition but not a new purchase.  Our towel shelf was in the big bathroom but we don’t use that bathroom.  this bathroom is right next to our bedrooms.  It was a real pain to get a clean wash cloth or towel and it didn’t make sense to carry the clean towels all the way to the big bathroom just to have to carry them to the small bathroom.  I’m quite happy with the shelf in the smaller room – my mom was surprised that it fit as the bathroom looked too small to fit anything let alone a shelf.  to me the bathroom looks cozier now the shelf is in there and i actually put the towels away now instead of leaving them on my dresser.

On the toilet is my new favorite lotion – Suave Advanced Therapy.  It feels great and doesn’t overpower with scent.  It’s been saving my hands this winter and I’ve been applying it after washing my hands.  This lotion is fantastic!

I have Suave conditioner and shampoo on top of the shelf – apple scented, and my shaving cream.  My daughter has two Avon bath paint roll ons.

Now I don’t typically use Suave but am really loving on it right now.  It smells good, works good and is way more affordable.

I also admit to owning too many wash cloths, hand towels and towels.  I don’t even have them all pictured because there are towels in the wash and in use.  Three shelves of bath towels, a shelf with hand towels and washcloths and one shelf for my daughter’s bath toys and some bubble bath.  So there are at least 5 towels per person in this house.  What I would really love is to donate most of these and get myself a matching set of luxurious towels instead of this mismatched bunch.  Aldi had a wonderful for about $20 but I would have needed 2 sets.  I couldn’t justify spending $40 on beautiful towels when I have plenty of good ones at home.  Eventually I will replace though.

Hidden is the toilet plunger and the toilet brush.  I converted a vase into a brush holder.  I keep the brush soaking in a vinegar solution with dawn dish soap and lavendar oil so it smells good and soap is always ready to clean.

Here is my sink.  My family loves to try to junk it up but it always gets removed.  hand towels, my bathroom cleaner (vinegar, water and essential oils), hand soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and my husband’s comb.  I like to store the toothbrushes and such in the pink bucket to make it easy to stash underneath when guests come over.  – yes I hide my toothbrush.  My daughter and my hairbrush are absent from the bathroom because we don’t brush our hair in there.  Also absent is any make up as I never wear the stuff.  My facial wash and moisterizer and contact solution is on a shelf just outside of the bathroom.  I find too much stuff on the sink makes it messier and harder to clean.

Just in case you thought I stashed everything under the sink – bubble bath, my husband’s face lotion, my daughter’s mouthwash, an extra bottle of shampoo, husband’s razer, two boxes of q-tips (i’m addicted), tampons, my daughter’s fish tank necessities, flea shampoo for both cat and dog (though we don’t use it in favor of blue dawn dish soap) and a scrub clean bathroom cleaner.

I could easily part with the cleaner (if favor of my homemade cleaner), the flea shampoos and the evolve shampoo but my husband said that it doesn’t make sense to get rid of it when we could use it.  So my plan is to use it and not replace it.  I’ve also decided that when my daughter’s fish eventually passes away we will not be replacing him or her.

In the shower itself a shower rack with Suave shampoo and conditioner (coconut), Suave body wash (apple), my husband’s bar soap and his shampoo.  I noticed that I have two razors – hmmm 1 to purge.

 

And finally – wall art mostly gone.  We bought bath crayons and I learned that if you don’t remove it right away that it almost becomes permanent.  My daughter fully decorated the walls one day and I loved the drawings so asked her to keep them.  Nothing worked on getting it off time i used baking soda and my vinegar cleaner.  I had the rest removed and almost had this one gone but then stopped myself.

It’s a picture of me smiling with my arms outstretched to give her a hug and I am holding flowers for us.  I love it and it makes me happy!

My living room – the update!

Living Room

Our living room is definately better.  More or less it’s similar to my previous numbers posting.  We have removed most of the video games out of this room. (now in the family room)

We kept the PS3 in this room so we can watch netflix and movies.  I liked the bins so much in my daughter’s room that I bought one for the living room.  I chose not to put the top two baskets in so that I could use the shelves as a place to display my favorite Christmas decorations.  I could never be a minimalist with no Christmas decorations but I did realize that I also don’t need four totes full.

Usually our living room is plastered with holiday stuff to where it’s overwhelming.  not so much this year.

As you can tell there is quite a bit less here than before.  7 of our favorite Christmas decorations are on the two shelves but my snowman sitting on the floor next to Jack’s bed.  The PS3, two controllers, tv controller and surge protector make up the other items pictured.  Want to know what’s in the basket?  Two Christmas collection DVD sets for easy access!  Hanging on the wall is my TV and my picture frame.  It seems cord heavy in the picture but we will have to make due.

Second view – our Christmas tree full of ornaments and a newly aquired tree topper to replace our beloved but broken tree topper.  our snowman tree skirt, a wooden santa, our recliner with my husband’s sweatshirt and coat.  Two pictures hang on the wall – will be moving them to a better location eventually.  Hidden behind the recliner are two folding tables for when we have parties for my daughter.

This is what you see when you walk into our living room.  our couch was moved because my husband wanted to see the tv better so it no longer rests flat against the wall.  my laptop and a tiger pillow on the couch and my cat sleeping.  9 pictures hanging on the wall and blinds but nothing hanging from the ceiling anymore.  Our cat’s tower against the wall.

behind the couch – jack’s crate with his blankets, toys and treats.  Our bench to the kitchen table and 4 of my daughter’s favorite toys for Christmas.

Hidden on the window sill are about 15 acorn squash and mini pumpkins.  I’m going to have to throw these in the woods soon as they will be rotten before long.

So another glimpse of my life – not minimalist, not a hoarder but comfortable and lived in.  My living room makes me happy

Minimalism, Lagom and Hoarding

I know you are probably wondering what minimalism, lagom and hoarding have in common – most would say that minimalism and hoarding are the complete opposites but I believe they have a lot in common.  Does stuff or the lack of stuff make people happy?  I imagine many would say yes.  I believe that with either it’s always about one more thing.  One more thing to acquire or one more thing to purge.  it never seems to be enough.  walking through the stores thinking will this item make me happy?  walking through the house thinking will this item need to leave my house?  Either way it’s about that strong urge to focus on stuff (or the lack thereof).

Lagom however is this wonderful Swedish word that roughly translates to just the right amount.  Hoarding can be too much stuff.  Minimalism can be too little stuff but Lagom is just the right amount.  If 100 items is just the right amount for you to where you don’t feel deprived and you don’t feel overwhelmed then that’s your number or those are your things that you need.  If 5,000 items is just right for you to fit your needs (a crafter maybe? with a large family) then that’s your number.  However it’s not about the number at all it’s more about having what you need no more no less.  For each person this is different.

So with Lagom it is okay to buy new things, it’s okay to own things and it’s okay to be at peace with things as long as it’s the right things for you.  Be happy with embracing enough, embracing equality and sharing of resources by donating items that no longer fit you and your lifestyle, resist the call for too much or too little.

I’ve decided that instead of trying to reach for this unattainable goal of living a minimalist life with my unwilling husband and daughter that I should strive for a Lagom life and be confident that if we keep what we love, enjoy and use that our home will be comfortable and happy.

My home update

I will admit that as I’ve been purging and decluttering that I am happier but is it about giving up the stuff or is it a combination of everything I’ve been going through.  I still think too much about stuff and I’m not okay with that.  I still feel the strong urge to acquire and have actually bought more since starting on this process.  I still feel the strong urge to declutter and get rid of stuff.  Now don’t get me wrong, the number of my items in my home have been steadily decreasing but some of the quality has been increasing.  quality involves more money put into the item.  We got rid of hundreds of items with our last yard sale.  so we rushed off to the store and bought a keurig.  we love it and my husband uses it daily.  so definitely a good purchase.  the kcups are expensive and although we have a reusable filter my husband prefers the cups.  reoccurring “luxury” costs.  still takes up less room than all the other stuff.  this awesome coffee machine creates the urges to buy MORE!  Now that we have this lovely machine sitting on our counter I want to buy a lovely display rack to store the cute little cups in.  We haven’t bought it but I want it.  Hate the wanting.  I want to not want.

The kitchen has less stuff in it but it still gets messy so fast.  I buy food that we don’t really need because I have a food obsession and often feel deprived based on the trauma of my past.  We have less dishes but still hate to wash the ones we have.  We have less bakeware – this one is hard for me as I want to buy more.  We don’t need more than 1 cookie sheet or 1 cupcake pan or more cookware than we have but I WANT it.  I am really trying to justify buying a few loaf pans but I don’t really need them.  When I was at my mom’s house I baked three delicious little loaves of bread so now I want them to bake bread at home but in reality I always have frozen bread dough but rarely do I ever make loaves of bread with it.  I use it to make rolls, or pizza, or pull apart bread or any number of things but very rarely would I make loaves of bread.

One recent purchase that I absolutely love is my rice cooker/ food steamer.  I use it frequently, it’s super easy to use and to clean and it makes more than just rice.  I made quinoa today and it turned out perfectly.

My daughter’s room

We got rid of lots in my daughter’s room but spent money upgrading her things.  We got rid of her rather large toy box and replaced it with this rather cute set of drawers which holds considerably less toys.  She is amazed at how much more room she has to play in her room.  She is spending more time playing now that she has less stuff!  The toy box she purged was one of those long outdoors storage benches made out of plastic – they hold a lot of stuff.  She is ready to get rid of it completely but I’m not.  We put it outside next to the shed and I put her roller skates, moon shoes and the fishing poles and tackle box in here.  Better than them being all scattered about.

She wasn’t ready to part with most of her toys though so I bought a large tote to store these toys in the shed until she is ready to part with them.  She was able to choose what toys went into the bins for her room and what toys went into storage.

One thing she purged from her living room was her bed frame.  strange – and sometimes i worry what people would think of my daughter’s mattresses being on the floor but she is happy with it and it makes her room look bigger.  I like it because nothing disappears under her bed anymore.  I also like it because we are not banging into the metal frame anymore.  (the polly pocket toys all fit in a bin so when her room is picked up the only toys you see are the three babies on top and the stuffed animals in her net.)  so her room bit by bit is getting to where it needs to be.

 

 

Happy

Watching the movie Happy today on Netflix – I love the opening quote “The Constitution only guarantees the American People the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself.”  The movie attributes this quote to Benjamin Franklin though I believe it to be a fake quote as it was the Declaration of Independence that had the right to pursue happiness and I don’t think Franklin would have made that error.  Regardless though the quote is fantastic because being happy is not a right – it’s not guaranteed but we can catch it if we try.

Great movie – “What do you want?”  To be happy.  It is what my blog is about and it is what most people want.  How much or how little do we really need to be happy?  It is a question I am always asking myself.  The movie shows a rickshaw driver who has very little but he is happy.  good neighbors, the love of his son, his needs are met even if it’s just rice and salt to eat.

I love how in just 30 years the field of psychology has bloomed into something more positive.  Happiness can help you reach other goals – If you are happy you will do better at your job, have better relationships because people will like you more if you are happy.  I have found through working in the social services field that when you focus on weaknesses or negatives then these are what people focus on but when you focus on strengths or positives people tend to be more successful.  I think the same is true in psychology – if you are always focusing on your depression then you are more likely to be depressed but if you focus on your accomplishments you are more likely to be happier.

The movie states that 50% of our ability to be happy comes from our genetics.  That means 50% comes from other factors!  Our circumstances only account for 10% – which means income, social status, where we live, social status and health.  We are focusing on the wrong things for increasing our happiness.  Intentional activity or actions we choose to do make up 40%.  Change is important so change things up even if it’s just going to work using a different route or changing up your exercise routine!

“Use it or lose it” – I didn’t know that as we age we lose dopamine synapses.  Pretty concerning as this is our feel good chemical.  So the best way to maintain healthy synapses is to do activities that encourage the production of dopamine.  Unfortunately for me however they recommend exercising – it always comes back to the exercising.  I really need to start – I know.

Novel ways are the best – they showed the gorilla run.  it made me think of the zombie run!  now that seems fun.  I think I would enjoy running (if i could) if it meant that I was avoiding zombie obstacles.  Run for your lives Zombie 5k has some videos on youtube that will show you how awesome this is!

I found an app called Zombies, Run! that I am interested in but it’s $7.99 which may not seem like much but I have this habit of not following through especially with exercise related things – the reason i think this game would be so awesome is because you use headphones and go for a run (walk) while playing the game and you can hear the zombies coming for you.  It’s an audio story game that you follow along with while you are running and you are gathering supplies for when you return home that you can use for your virtual base.

“try to work so you’ll be able to live your life in tranquility.”

They talk about being in the zone – it is one of the 50 things mentioned in Better than Chocolate – Flow theory (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) is comprised of 4 key components

  1. the activity is challenging
  2. it is clear how we are progressing – have very clear goals.
  3. it takes all of our concentration
  4. we are making progress and feel in control

It builds with time the feeling that life is worth living.  Flow can happen anywhere!  with family, at your job.

The ever-present discussion of money and happiness was discussed – to sum it up I really liked the answer.  Money doesn’t buy happiness is an untrue statement and money buys happiness is an untrue statement.  Basic needs must be met or else it puts a strain on your happiness.

I’m not familiar with the term hedonic treadmill  but belief in this can be detrimental to our happiness.  Kate Shaw wrote a pretty decent article called “Getting off the “hedonic treadmill” and getting happier.”  Another great article is “Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness

Close supportive family and friends appears to be important to happiness.  personal growth, relationships, desire to help are examples of intrinsic goals and are satisfying within themselves.  Money, image, and status are examples of extrinsic goals.  Studies are showing that people who focus on intrinsic goals tend to be happier.

I learned that Bhutan seems to be a great place to live – instead of GDP they focus on gross national happiness – it makes you think about what you are doing.  Denmark is also great as it is the happiness country – free education through college and free healthcare for life.  There are also co-housing communities.  They showed a co-housing community of 20 families living together – each family has their own space but they share communal parts of the home and share chores/ tasks.  So they share cooking – could you imagine only having to cook maybe 2 times per month?  Less work and less expense.  So about 4-5 hours one day of cooking and washing dishes instead of 2 hours per day doing the same. children at age 14 start with helping with the cooking.

Sharing your day-to-day life with others – i think it would be very overwhelming for me but i think in the long run it would be better.  Sharing my day-to-day life with my daughter and husband brings me happiness.  I talk almost every day with my mom now and I noticed that this brings me happiness too.

Cooperative interactions help.  Compassion leads to happiness. Counting your blessings on a regular basis helps.  Acts of kindness helps a lot!

 

Happy – Check it out – great movie

 

 

Follow Up Laundry

So I realized that there are tons of things to write about but I’m missing something (motivation maybe) that causes me to write.  I’ve learned alot about myself recently – they are blog entries of their own.  One thing however that I learned is I don’t really know what I love to do – hobbies, work, things to fill up by spare time.  I also realized that DIY most possibly is the one thing that causes a strong interest to start to well up.  Especially DIY for cleaning products which is hilarious to me because I’m not one of those super clean OCD folks.  OCD sucks and it affects us all differently – I hate to touch anything dirty so once my house gets dirty I’m screwed.  I also really hate not knowing what’s in all the products that we use.  I realized that I LOVE my homemade products – not only because I know what’s in them but because they actually work.

The last time I wrote it was about my daughter and I making laundry products.  Here is my rundown or progress report:

The homemade stain remover made with Dawn, ammonia, baking soda and water – I would probably grade it a C.  My daughter and I grabbed the large pile of stained clothing that I had been accumulating and treated them all to the stain remover.  Again as some of the stains were well set I couldn’t judge it by that.  It helped some of the clothes but not all of them.  I wound up throwing away several of our shirts including two of my favorites as the stains just didn’t budge.

Determined not to judge it on that pile I continued to use it.  It gunked up the spray bottle and the baking soda has taken up permanent residence in the bottom of the bottle.  Now I shake it and pour it directly on the stain.  My daughter’s favorite shirt is a stain magnet.  I treated the offending mark and let the shirt sit.  I washed it but the stain didn’t come out so I treated again and used my trusty Rubba Scrubba.  It came out and the day was saved!

Next time she wore this shirt she got chocolate pudding all over the top.  I used the stain out and the Rubba Scrubba.  In this case the chocolate pudding won.  So we are on round two.

The homemade laundry soap scored an A+.  I absolutely love this stuff!  LOVE IT!  I don’t think I’ll ever switch back to a commercial laundry product again.  Borax, washing soda, dish soap and sun oxygen with some hot water made a truly fantastic laundry soap.  Our clothes are clean and smell great.  My husband even loves it.  I recommend it wholeheartedly and will probably not make the powdered mix again as this doesn’t leave any occasional residue on our clothes.

Now the homemade fabric softener – I think I have never been a fan of liquid fabric softener.  A few times when I’ve used this I’ve had a rewash an item or two because of white marks left on the clothing from the softener.  This has been a problem I’ve encountered frequently with the commercial liquid softener added to the wash.  The marks on the clothing quickly have me running back to the sheets.  I would give this product a B though.  I bought a pack of white washcloths from Wal-Mart and have one at the dryer.  I’ll spray this down and throw it in.  It seems to work better than my trusty fabric sheets however it’s more time consuming (about 10 seconds more) then just grabbing one of the lavender scented ones still hanging out on the dryer.  When I run out of them though I’m probably not buying new.

I’ve also made my own Wool dryer balls!  Now I love these – a definate A for them.  I’m not seeing the full effect as it’s recommended that you use at least 4 balls per load and my daughter claimed two for herself.  I found that if I spray the fabric softener on these that my clothes smell great and they are definately soft.

So my husband decided that this year for christmas we are making everyone wool dryer balls so we picked up the yarn from Michael’s and I’ve been rolling the yarn so I can felt it.  His thoughts were that we could put all the balls in a bowl and let everyone pick the four they want.  Now this is a great idea as these are so expensive to buy.  I decided to order a case of empty 4 oz plastic bottles and 8 oz plastic bottles and will be including 4 ozs of homemade fabric softener and 8 oz of homemade laundry soap along with the wool dryer balls.  I figured 4 loads worth of laundry soap and a decent portion of fabric softener with these beautiful reusable dryer balls seem like a really great Christmas gift that will actually be used and not turn into wasted clutter.