Overhauling Laundry: Dryer Sheet to Dryer Balls

I have learned over the past month, that one cannot spend too much time on Whole30 recipe sites without being overwhelmed with information about chemicals.  Chemicals in foods.  Chemicals in skincare.  Chemicals in cleaning supplies.  And, yes, chemicals in laundry products.  So Many Chemicals.

I’m sure not all these chemicals are the harmful, silent killers that draw their victims into a slow & painful death that the websites might have you to believe.  But I bet some of them are.  I’m sure there are some that are linked to all kinds of awfulness.  It’s just so hard to know the absolute truth on such things.  This is the point where you have to decided if the risk is worth it.  And, honestly, depending on how inconvenienced I am by a substitute, will often determine whether that risk is worth taking or not.  Sad.  But true. And you know you fall into the same category so turn your judgment-alert light off.

Back to laundry.

My overhaul began with the beloved dryer sheet.  Dryer sheets do 2 things in my opinion.  First, they get rid of that pesky static electricity and second, they make clothes smell clean & freshly laundered.  But according to the internet, {which we know tells the truth always & is to be believed at all times ;)} dryer sheets are fairly close to Satan and are to be deeply feared.  {another article to keep you up at night here}.  How can something that smells so wonderful be so evil? I decided to research alternatives.

Welcome Dryer Balls.

dryer balls

To make:

I made up a batch of these balls one afternoon.  The process is quite simple.  Using 100% wool yarn, roll it into a ball until it is about the size of a tennis ball.  Tuck the loose end way inside the ball using a crochet hook.  Soak each ball in a bowl of hot water for 15-ish minutes.  Place the balls in a nylon to hold them together.  Then dry on high heat in your dryer.  Viola!  Dryer Balls.  You can also purchase felted wool dryer balls on sites like Etsy.

dryer balls 2

To use:

Throw them all into the dryer with your clothes & dry as normal.  The dryer balls bounce around in between the clothes to fluffen {is that a word?} and separate.  I’ll warn you, they are loud bouncing and banging around in that drum for the whole cycle.

Review:

I very much like that there are no chemicals in these.  I do think that they do a good job of fluffing the clothes.  I said that I felt like dryer sheets have two purposes; remove static & make clothes smell fresh.  First the freshness.  Dryer balls do not make clothes smell fresh.  I have tried suggestions of adding essential oils to the balls at the beginning of the cycle, at the middle of the cycle & towards the end of the cycle.  Mattered none.  No scent was left on the clothes.  However, I have come to think that I like that.  I don’t want to smell like the laundry aisle at Target.  I’m coming to the liking of no scent is a good scent.

Next let’s talk about static.  I don’t think that they eliminate static the way that I would like them too.  {read, at all}  Luckily I ran across another dryer ball user with the same concern.  She told me about her remedy – safety pins!  Simply take a hand towel and pin a safety pin in each corner.  Throw it in with your dryer balls and wet clothes.  I’m not kidding.  This works!  I am sure there is a brilliant scientific explanation to it, but I’m a little short on science knowledge, so I’ll just leave it at “It works!”.

I don’t know if dryer sheets are “bad” or not.  But I think the alternative I’ve found is as effective & doesn’t cause me a whole lot of extra work.  So I’ll stick with it.  And if I benefit from not having chemicals rubbing against my skin all day everyday that might cause me harm later on – winner, winner!

Signs of the Marathon

June 5, 2015.  I began a training plan for my fifth half-marathon in August.

June 19, 2015.  Tweaked my training plan from a half to a full.  Just maybe I could do this.

July 3, 2015.  I upped it all & officially completed the registration for the Twin Cities Marathon.

October 4, 2015.  Crossed that line & finished my first marathon!

The Twin Cities Marathon is chalk full of spectators.  I don’t know if other marathons are like this {I’ve only run one} but there are people literally every step of the way.  With cow bells, with candy, with bananas, with music, with beer {yes, beer}, with dogs, with high-fives and with loud cheering. And many have signs.  So many signs.  You could completely read your way through these 26.2.  Here are some of my favs:

  • in the early miles I remember seeing Punch to Power Up.  It usually had some sort of bullseye & the holder would point for you to punch the bullseye to get added power to power you through the remaining 21 miles of the race.  This was fun for the first quarter of the race, touching the spot as I flew by {yes, I was flying at that point *wink, wink*} hearing the crowds cheer as I touched their sign & flew on.  This became absolutely stupid at all points past 17 miles.  Stupid.  Not only would I expend a ridiculous amount of effort just getting to where I could actually touch the sign, but to get my arm up to punch the bullseye…shut up! And seriously there was zero power in that sign. Stupid.
  • everywhere along the course was Seems Like A Lot Of Work for A Free Banana.  The first time I saw this sign I chuckled inside.  Clever.  And, gotta tell ya, that banana at the end was the best banana I’ve ever eaten.  As was the fruit cup, the power bar & the chicken broth.  Who knew chicken broth would rock at the end of 26.2.
  • nearing the finish, I saw Because 26.3 Would Be Ridiculous.  And it absolutely would be.  There was no way I was willing to add even an extra step to this thing.  At 26.2, I was done.  Finished.  Complete.  Actually at about 25, I was done.  Thankfully the path to the finish was lined with tons of cheering people.  And I knew my honey and my littles were there somewhere.  I moved forward mostly to get across that line, get some food and love on my family.  With tears and excitement and pain and joy, I was a sweat-mess of emotions.
  • Humpty Dumpty Had Wall Issues Too. Let’s talk about the Wall.  I didn’t know.  No one told me.  The Wall is a thing.  Really.  A big thing.  I had a big wall.  It lasted many, many miles.  It began at about mile 17.  And I think I made my way through it at finally about mile 24.  That, my friends, is a 7 mile wall.  Ugh!  It didn’t help that beginning at mile 20 is a huge elevation change {read:hill}.  Legs like cement do not move swiftly.  Each step is a reminder that this is hard.  And not really all that much fun.  Hard.  Also with each step came pain, which moves me to my next favorite sign.
  • I saw it first at about mile 2.  Blisters are Braille for Awesome.  I laughed when I saw it at first.  I also laughed at the first jar of Vasoline I saw on the course.  Blisters are for babies, I was thinking.  Which pretty much makes me a baby now.  One has no way to know the disastrous way one’s feet will react to 26.2.  I had one blister the entire 4 months of training. One!  But from mile 18-26.2, I added several more, enormous, painful, nasty blisters.  Good thing they’re braille for awesome!
    me on the far right in the orange hat :)
    me on the far right in the orange hat 🙂
  • And the very, very, very best sign I saw on marathon day was FINISH.  It was an unbelievable sight.  To see the actual finish, even as far off as it was and realize that I was going to make it.  All the hours and miles that pounded the pavement over the past 4 months was going to achieve what it had been meant to achieve.  I scanned the crowd to find my loves.  When I heard my name, I looked to the left and could feel the smile take away any fatigue in my body.  I threw my arms up and yelled {quite loud and obnoxiously} “I did it!!!  I actually, actually did it!!!”I was in disbelief that I had made it.  I crossed the finish line, awkwardly received the finishers medal and cried.  Big, huge alligator tears.  Joy, relief, amazement.  It was all there in that moment.  FINISH.

The finish line

I wish I could completely understand.  Or even just understand a smidgen. But as much as I spin and spin, I just cannot get my head wrapped around this.

It has been reported that the marathon I plan to run this weekend along with thousands of my closest running buddies is going to be the site of a “disruption” by the group Black Lives Matter.  Swell.

“We don’t plan on having any physical contact with runners, but we do plan to make ourselves the finish line,” said Turner.

Print

Well, at least they aren’t planning to have any contact with the runner.  Phew!  {I need a sarcasm font}  They plan to become the finish line.  The images of exactly how this will turn out in my mind are not pretty ones.  After 26 miles I don’t think too many folks are in their completely right state of mind {please read about my state of mind after only 20}.  And everyone I know is running this for the thrill of finishing.  Actually crossing the finish line & getting a time.  Guess that’s the point for the Black Lives Matter protesters…disrupt the dream.

I understand that the Black Lives Matter protesters feel that this is what has happened to them.  {maybe} The dream has been disrupted.  And it’s been disrupted because of the color of their skin.  I’m way out on a limb…as I said earlier I am having a hard time understanding.  Please, supporters of this moment, what is the point of this?  What are you hoping to accomplish by  shutting down a marathon?

“Black Marathon will disrupt, Black Marathon will bring awareness, Black Marathon will bring us closer to ending white supremacy and the institutions that enable it,” the group said in a statement.

All I see is Black Marathon causing me to not understand you at all. It’s causing me to shut down more, to push you aside and wish you’d just go away.  Rather than making me want to actually get inside your thinking & have a chance at seeing it from your opinions, to walk in your shoes, which is the first step towards making a positive change.  Any positive change.  Right now, this morning, all I see is dislike swirled with anger & sprinkled with eye rolling.

“There’s a lot of money involved. Unfortunately, we live in a country where the right people don’t create change until their money is affected,” organizer Rashad Turner tells Twin Cities NBC affiliate, KARE 11. “People who feel like they can sit around and be silent and not participate in bringing white supremacy to an end, they are just as guilty as the systems that perpetuate white supremacy.

Hmmmmm  “people who feel like they can SIT AROUND…”  You’re disrupting a marathon!  No one participating in this thing has been sitting around for the past 4 months.  We’ve all been out running.  {more sarcasm}  But really, how exactly is marathon running = white supremacy? Explain to me, please, how people training for a marathon are guilty of causing white supremacy in this nation of rolling forward? Are you calling me a white supremacist?  You don’t know me.  You have no idea what I think, where I’ve been, what I do?  You have no idea what I fill my time with when I’m not running. Perhaps I’m your biggest ally.  You have no idea.  But is seems you are assuming that because the color of my skin is light that I am a white supremacist or that I support white supremacist ideals.  Uh, Oh!  That sounds like bigoted racism!

I have an idea.  Instead of causing disruption, how about sponsoring a water stop?  Stand out there in support of the folks running by {all color and size and socioeconomic folk}.  Hand them water.  Give them a cheer.  Wave a cowbell.  I’ll give you a high five.  I have to admit I’d be MUCH more likely to sit down, listen to your thoughts and rally your cause knowing that you’d given of your time to help me at a difficult & weak moment.  But perhaps that is not what you’re really seeking.  Perhaps you’re not looking for actual supporters who have the ability to make the positive changes that you’re wanting.  Perhaps you’re looking to divide further.  I don’t know.

I do know that there is a great divide in this country.  And it’s wrong.  That’s true.  But I think the answer is to treat everyone the way that I would want to be treated. Rather than treat everyone the way that I feel they’ve treated me. Treat everyone with compassion, respect, equality & love.  Everyone.  Black, White, Cops, Runner, Homeless, Store Clerks, Wealthy Business Owners.  Everyone.

The Insanity That Is A Runner

Twenty.insanity

Ridiculous.  Stupid.  Crazy.  Dreadful.

Miles 1-9.  I was rocking it.  Rocking it!  I was enjoying scenery.  You know it’s a great run when you can gander into the glorious beauty that you are running by. I was light on my feet, the pace was comfortable, the morning glorious.  I enjoyed my water and my energy beans…it was like a dream.  I was rocking it.

Mile 10.  Half way.  Time to come on home.  Right on track for time.  A smile on my face.  I love running!

Mile 11.  Still smiling.  Started talking to myself.  ‘i’m doing great.  this isn’t so bad.  my last long run was just really humid.  i can do this.  easy.’

Mile 12.  Still smiling.  I waved at a guy on a tractor who moved off the shoulder so I could keep running.  ‘what a great guy.  i’m so glad he didn’t run me over.  nice guy! great run!’

Mile 13.  Not as fast as my fastest half, but doing really, really well.  ‘this is amazing.  i love running!  this is a great, great day!’

Mile 14.  I approached an occasional store out in the middle of nowhere.  Because when you live in a tiny town and you have to run 20 miles, you end up in the middle of nowhere.  This occasional store, that’s occasionally open, was open today.  And apparently it’s a very popular occasional store.  {perhaps they should consider being more than occasionally open}  There were cars everywhere.  Cars filled with women.  No car had only one woman going to the occasional store.  Oh, no!  Two, Three, Four, Five.  They were like clown cars.  Women squashed into every inch of these SUVs and minis dumping out onto the county road blocking my path with their doors and bodies and laughing and general jovialness.  Women sure are a happy bunch in groups going to occasional stores.    I understand a crazy woman out in the middle of nowhere running is not what you’re expecting to see when you’re focused on an amazing find at the occasional store, so i’m not blaming them.  But because of the droves of women {and the one guy I saw, who didn’t seem excited at all to be there} I had to shuffle my steps and slow WAY down.  But not to worry, I thought.  After all, I have been rocking it.  And I only have 6 miles to go.  Pewwwwfwww  No worries.

Mile 15.  Bad.  Side ache.  I’ve never had a side ache before.  I drank some water and downed a gel.  I hobbled along hoping my side would improve.  ‘why does my side hurt.  if it wasn’t hurting i’d be moving along at a great clip.  ugh!  get better side!’  

Mile 16.  Side ache disappeared.  Praises!  I’ll pick up the pace and make up that lost time.  Time lost on the occasional shopper obstacle course & the side ache.  ‘it’s ok.  i’m going to be a ok.  i love to run!’

Mile 17.  all sorts of ugly has arrived.  I am now talking out loud to myself.  Loud.  Over my headphones so I can hear what I’m saying.  Loud.  Back in town.  Insanity defined.    ‘i don’t want to run anymore.  why can’t I teleport?  i want to teleport.  my DI team must develop teleportation this year.  i want to be done.’  A blister was forming at lightening speed on my left baby toe. ‘will my toes still fit in my shoe?  i think it’s going to poke out the side of my shoe.  what do you do when your toe pokes a hole through your shoe?  this is awful.  stupid blister.’ Ridiculousness.  ‘i never want to run again.  as long as i live, i will never put on running shoes again.’

Mile 18.5.  The crying begins.  Weeping really.  Ugly crying.  And I’m still talking to myself.  Loud.  In town.  With people near.  And I may have used some non-PG words.  Maybe…or not…I plead insanity.   Hot mess defined.  ‘i’m not doing it.  i am not doing the marathon.  i don’t care that i’ve done all the hard work to train, running is stupid.  i’m not doing it.  i hate running.  this is not fun.  nothing about this is fun.  nothing.  this is horrible.  i hate running.  i hate people who run.  all people who run-hate them.  i never am running again.’

Mile 19.5.  Crying ceases.  I proudly declare with definite resolution ‘i’m not doing the marathon.   i’m just not.  i’ll just say i don’t want to do it.  it’s stupid anyway. running is dumb.  i hate running.  it’s not even fun.  why do something not fun for more than 4 hours.  not doing it!‘  

Mile 20.  smile.  ‘done.  i did it.   but I’m never doing it again. running shoes are never being tied onto these feet.  ever.  running is dumb and so are runners.  so i’m not running.’

Ice bath.  Hot tea.  Lots of water.  Lots and lots of food.  Stretching.  More food. ‘never again!’  More food.  Sleep.

Wake up.  Legs feel good.  Blisters are disappearing.  Smile.  ‘i wonder if i can do better next time?  i bet i could push through without a side ache & then i’d be good.  and there will be no occasional store shoppers for the race.  i can do it.  i can.  i know it. i can’t wait for the marathon. i love running.  i love bring a runner.  running is great!  yes!  can’t wait for the marathon!’

The insanity that is the runner.

Good Run

Finished up those 8 miles soaked {i am a cheater & a liar! it was only 7.56}.  I looked like I just jumped into the river with all my clothes on.  Every step was squishy under my feet, water bubbling up between my toes.  It was a hard fought finish complete with strange looks from passerbyers, water logged everything & a bee sting.  Yes!  A bee sting.  At mile 2.   Sucks to be a runner.  Why exactly am I torturing myself this way & then taking to the screen to complain about it?  Well…

IMG_2143Twin Cities Marathon.  At the time it seemed like a challenge worth trying.  Today?  It seems stupid.  Stupid!  Who, in their right mind thinks that 26.2 miles of running will be fun?  It’s not.  Well, actually I wouldn’t know.  At this point I have no idea how it will be to go 26.2 miles.  I’ve never gone that far. {and it seems I lie about how far I do actually go-so there’s that}  But I can say with all certainty that the training leading up to those 26.2 miles is dumb.

But I’m doing it, ’cause, well, to be completely honest, I’m a list crosser-offer & I have a training plan with everything listed out & I MUST cross each & every mile off {with rounding allowances of half a mile}.  That and I paid the money to do it.  See, it gets even worse.  Not only am I planning to run 26.2 miles, I actually had to fork over cash to be tortured.  Who does this?  Who?

I know.  I know.  It will be so worth it when I finally cross that finish line on that cool autumn morning {or afternoon, realistic expectations here folks}.  But today, dripping & swollen from that darn sting, yeah, not so much.

And it worsens!  I’m sitting on the edge of a 15 mile training run this week. {rain, rain go away!}  I have never run more than 13.1. So a new distance.  yay {sarcasm dripping heavy!}  Another several hours of my life left on the pavement.  I suppose I’m a little excited to reach a new goal, to set a new record.  To hear my little purple gps watch profusely congratulate my accomplishment, {love that encouraging lil’ gadget}.  But as quickly as it’s said “way to go!”, it’ll tell me to go farther next week.  Never satisfied that purple watch is?  never.

But I am.  I am satisfied with where these little shoes take me. Around the bends of our tiny town & out the gravel roads to the barns & corn fields. It is good.  I’ve been running for over a decade now.  It began as sanity & has morphed into insanity {just kidding…or not…you decide}.  Runners’ high.  I get it & I love it.  Every time.  Even soaking wet with a swollen bee stung shoulder.  Love it.  When it’s over. {it’s true!}