Girl Guide Cookies

It’s Cookie Time!

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It’s spring, which means it’s time for those classic Chocolate and Vanilla wafers of joy, Girl Guide Cookies.

No, don’t roll your eyes at me…

…please don’t roll your eyes at me?

I know, I know, “yet another fundraiser”, but before you dismiss me out of hand as being part of the cookie mafia, let me tell you a little about why this twice-yearly fundraiser is so important…

Because… Reasons!

Community-building through a shared experience

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Selling cookies is about more than just getting the dollars in the door. It’s also about encouraging Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers to contribute to their Guiding community. By having this shared activity, something that each Girl Guide can participate in across the country, it means that no matter where they’re from, these girls have something in common.

And what better way is there to get to know your fellow Guides than by talking about cookies? Preferably over a campfire!

Nurturing Responsibility

Responsibility is something that grows from experience. As adult Guiders, we give Guides the opportunity to achieve a clear goal and we rely on them to contribute to their Guiding community.

The benefit is tangible (funds for the unit and greater organization), and the experience of being responsible for that positive impact is so very valuable.

By giving back something meaningful to their community, Guides can be proud of their actions. They can continue forward knowing they’re a contributing member of that community.

…assuming, of course, their parents don’t sell their cookies for them.

Because that doesn’t happen, right? (Yes, I’m talking to you, Guide parents…).

As a non-profit, all of the “profits” go right back into Girl Guides programming

At the unit level (where the girls actually meet), we keep a fair portion of the funds raised to put it right into our unit’s activities. Camp gear, craft supplies, the cost of outings, most of it is covered by cookie money.

Beyond the unit, there are also funds that go toward the district, area, provincial, and national regions. Each region provides valuable support for the unit, making sure this volunteer-run organization can continue to offer programming that’s meaningful for each of the girls.

Extra funds help support those who can’t afford it

Not everyone can afford camp expenses. Fundraising by selling cookies helps support those in our community who might otherwise be left behind. Girl Guides is about inclusion, so this is a great way to ensure no one is excluded based on income.

How you can help

The next time a Girl Guide (or Spark, Brownie, Pathfinder or Ranger) show up on your doorstep, consider buying a box of cookies. It’ll help our future leaders grow more independent and confident.

You can also find out more about the Girl Guide Cookies program from the official Girl Guides of Canada website.

You know what else? Cookies are pretty tasty. They just might be the best five bucks you’ll spend all week!

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Food Alphabet: 26-Pages of Colouring Sheets

A is for Apple, F is for Fish, X inside flax and all are delish!

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Within this PDF are 26 pages of food-based alphabet fun. Each food word corresponds to a letter of the alphabet, each with a fun colour-able food illustration, all made by yours-truly.

Easy-to-remember classics like “A for Apple” and “B for Banana” are mixed with new favourites like “U for Udon Noodles” and “X in flax”. Each illustration is carefully crafted to thematically link with the others, sharing line weights and a similar wabi-sabi asymmetry.

Not that it matters when little crayons go to town, and lines become suggestion-only…

May these pages bring you joy, and many moments of creative fun!

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Making Detergent

How many bottles of liquid laundry detergent did you make today? Me? I made 3!

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I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m a bit of an oddball. Between my natural oddball tendencies and Pinterest, I’m a regular wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube-man of fun!

Now that we’ve been properly introduced: Pinterest told me I should make my own laundry detergent.

So I did.

I found a site with a few variations that were tested side-by-side (I love the scientific method!). The best results came from the liquid version, and seeing as I use liquid laundry detergent anyway, that’s the recipe I went with.

There are a few other powder recipes, but according to the author’s results, they weren’t as good as liquid. I’m also squidgy about using my food-based kitchen equipment for processing soap.

Plus, I like liquid laundry detergent. It feels regal. Because royalty does their own laundry… right?

Anywho, I had trouble finding “Fels-naptha soap” but I did find an equivalent at Wal-mart: “Sunlight Pure Soap” in bar form. I had to buy a two-pack, but a box of Borax and Washing Soda goes a long way, so I figure the extra bar will come in handy in the future.

Did I mention that I bought the ingredients 6 months ago? No?

Well, to be honest, I actually meant to do this last summer but, frankly, I forgot. The ingredients have been sitting my a shelf in my laundry room for 6 months. I only ventured to try this experiment because (a) if it sits on the shelf any longer, Gord’s gonna give it the old heave-ho, and (b) I took a vacation day, so what else would I do with a full day all to myself?

I like trying new things!

I especially like trying new things when there are no witnesses!

Makin’ Detergent

The recipe I tried can be found on houselogic.com . I like the author’s side-by-side analysis of each of the detergents using a mustard-stained strip of cotton. It’s a vibrant way to demonstrate the cleaning power of each of the detergents.

Now, on to the soap-making!

Ingredients:

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  • 1 bar of Sunlight Pure Soap (NOT hand soap. You need washing soap: Fels-naptha is the American brand to get, Sunlight Pure Soap is the only one I could find in this-here Great White North)
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
  • 13 Litres of Water

Other materials:

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  • An cheese grater
  • An old 1.5L saucepan/pot (bigger is fine, the 1.5L boiled over at one point)
  • An old wooden spoon
  • A large bucket 15L or 20L
  • A measuring cup – I set aside an old powder detergent scoop and marked off 1/2-cup intervals
  • several old liquid laundry detergent containers for storage (optional)

To make the detergent is quite simple:

  1. Grate the soap. I have a grater set aside just for soap. This will never touch food again.

  2. Boil 1 Litre of water in the saucepan. When it comes to a boil, turn it down a bit. Otherwise, it’ll agitate the soap and boil over. Don’t let it boil over or you’ll be cleaning soap off the stove. Trust me on this one…

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    Add a small sprinkling of grated soap at a time and gently stir it into to the pot. It doesn’t have to be dissolved all the way, but it shouldn’t glob together. If it does, just squish it against the side of the pot and stir it in. Repeat as necessary.

    How do I know this? Thanks for asking, fictitious audience-plant! Well, I added a huge glob of shredded soap and it made a large gummy wad that took a bit longer to melt.

    Learn from my mistake: Take your time. It’ll melt.

  4. While the soap is dissolving, dump 1/2 cup borax and 1 cup washing soda in the bucket and add 12 Litres of water. I used hot tap water to make sure it dissolved thoroughly. It might work with cold water, but I haven’t tried to find out.

  5. Give the bucket a good stir with the soap-spoon and make sure the powder is all dissolved.

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    When the soap is all dissolved in the saucepan, remove it from the heat and dump it directly into the bucket. Give it another stir with the wooden spoon (dig deep!) and cover for a day (24 hours).

  7. The next day, stir up the thicker gooey liquid (it’ll be a little like jello. That’s good!) and portion it into the smaller containers. Make sure it’s mixed evenly so you don’t get one bottle super-thick and another super-runny.

  8. Use 1 cup liquid detergent per load of laundry. The end.

Cost breakdown

This makes about 13-14 litres of liquid detergent because I’m fast-and-loose with the water. Recommended usage is 1 cup of solution per load, so that’s about 55 washes.

Materials (omitting my time) cost me:

  • Borax – $6 for 2kg (9.5 cups – 19 portions) –> $0.33 per batch

  • Sunlight bar soap – $3 for 2 bars (2 portions) –> $1.5 per batch

  • Washing Soda – $4 for 3kg (14 cups – 14 portions) –> $0.28 per batch

  • That comes to a total of: $2.13 for 55 wash loads, or $0.04 per load for homemade liquid detergent.

    Compare that to $13 per 96-load bottle, or about $0.14 per load for store-bought liquid detergent.

    So what about the other costs?

    It took about a half-hour of my time (5 minutes to grate the soap while the water heated, and another 25 to melt the soap evenly). But there were only 55 loads worth of detergent, so I’d have to do this twice to achieve the same quantity as that $13 bottle.

    Comparing the two, that’s $13 for store-bought detergent minus the $4.26 in materials for an equivalent home-made detergent – so that works out to just under $9 for an hour of my time, plus the hassle of dealing with the (admittedly minor) cleanup.

    Not a bad savings if I have nothing else to do. If I’m busy? Well, that cost might just be worth it. Like homemade bread: great if you have the time.

    There are a few other things I needed that can be reused, so I didn’t count them in the cost. They could be an additional one-time purchase of $10, or simply some re-purposing of otherwise-discarded household items:

  • I bought a new grater for $4 at the dollar store. I could have used an old one but I didn’t have one that wasn’t in use.

  • I happened to have a spare 1.5L sauce pan – otherwise, this would have cost me $5 at the dollar store. You can technical use one of your good pots, but it’ll take a solid scrub to get all the soap off of it.

  • A scoop for measuring the borax and washing soda could be salvaged from a yogourt container or an unused measuring cup. I had an old bucket of powder laundry detergent, so I used the scoop from that.

  • A wooden spoon for stirring the soap – if you need to buy one, use the new one in your kitchen and set aside an old one.

  • A large 15-20 Litre bucket might be harder to come by. I happened to have an old bucket of powder detergent. You could use a salvaged fondant bucket (Tim’s alum right here!) or *shudder* buy one.

  • Liquid laundry detergent containers are also something you can just hold onto. I mention this is optional above, because you could technically scoop from the large bucket, but it clumps up so you’d have to make sure you stir each time you use it. It’s easier to just shake a small container before pouring out a measure.

  • The Results

    The question you have to ask yourself, is 60 minutes of your at-home time worth $9 in savings?

    Maybe.

    Put another way, though: is a fun activity with the kids once a month worth $4.50 in savings and a half-hour of your time? I’m always looking for fun and unique things to do with my daughter so…

    Yow-za is it ever worth it!

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Manuel’s River – Great for a Girl Guides Sleepover

Known for its abundance of trilobite fossils, Manuel’s River has a great facility for kids sleepovers.

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Every week I volunteer with the Girl Guides (a girls-only volunteer organization similar to the Scouts, with less focus on knots and more glitter-glue). Along with my fellow volunteers, I spend an hour or two each week planning activities, doing paper work, and getting supplies for whatever the week’s activities are. Most meeting nights we try to expose the girls to things they wouldn’t normally see or do.

So, what’s the best place to show the Guides new things? Why, Camp, of course!

Camp is, hands down, the thing I love most about volunteering with the Girl Guides. Sometimes it’s “camp” at a facility (more of an overnight sleepover with really cool activities). Other times it’s the traditional camp in the woods, sleeping in tents, using an outhouse and learning how to best maintain camping spaces for future visitors.

One of my fellow volunteers has introduced our unit to the “leave no trace” approach to camping. I’ll be talking more about this when I prepare for summer camp, but basically it’s about camping in a way that doesn’t impact the space you’ve visited (for example, using existing fire pits, taking out everything you’ve taken in, garbage included, and so on).

For camping of the “overnight sleepover” variety, Manuel’s River (officially the Manuel’s River Hibernia Interpretation Centre ) offers an overnight program perfectly suited to this type of indoor Guide camp. My Girl Guide unit went there for camp last night and I’m definitely making a note to go back to that place again!

It’s a Wacky World!

We participated in the “Wacky Science” program, and the girls were thrilled! It started, as many of these things do, with fun-and-games. Icebreaker fun let the Guides get acquainted with our hosts and the facility.

Next, we moved onto some fun science activities – making a room-temperature lava lamp and then on to how to make film canisters – gasp – explode, along with some other amusing and messy experiments. (side note: I had a laugh when I overheard one of the hosts say to her colleague: “you gave them how much? I guess this will be really fun…”).

Nothing thrilled the Guides more than waiting for each canister to pop apart, some flopping over with a small -poof-, others jumping apart with a satisfying, ceiling-hitting -POW-.

Once the commotion from explosions (EXPLOSIONS!) had died down, the girls got to unwind before bed with some non-science entertainment. Manuel’s River has a nice theatre where the girls got to view a movie and have a pre-bed snack.

In the morning, we all had breakfast (using washable, “leave no trace”-approved dishes) before we headed out onto the trail for a guided hike and a game our hosts called “trilobite tag”. If you’re familiar with “freeze tag”, then you already know ninety-percent of “trilobite tag”: All but two people are trilobites. A person who’s “it” turns the trilobites into fossils by tagging them (like being frozen in “freeze tag”, fossils can’t move). A person who’s the “paleontologist” discovers (unfreezes) the fossils, again by tagging them. Rinse and repeat.

I’m pretty sure we’ll be playing “trilobite tag” for the rest of the year.

Staff and Facilities

The hosts were knowledgeable and informative, quickly answering all of the oodles of questions that the girls could think of. On the hike, our hosts offered a few historical tid-bits of info as we walked, as well as educating everyone on some of the differences between Fir and Spruce trees.

If we had had more time indoors (say, if the trails weren’t available) we could have also visited the facility’s exhibits. Unfortunately, we played one too many rounds of “trilobite tag”, so I don’t have much to say on this side of things. From my quick glance around, I’m intrigued enough to take my family when we have some down time in the spring.

Regarding the cost, they charge a reasonable rate for the overnight (which includes breakfast and all the activities, plus a large room to camp in as a group), however they do charge for adults over a ratio of 10:1 (for every 10 kids, they offer free admission to one adult). At Guides, we have a minimum 8:1 ratio for camps, so keep this extra cost in mind if you’re planning to visit with a group.

In a nutshell

In general, my measure of a camp success involves a tally of: how many times someone cried; how many times someone sat in a corner refusing to participate; how many kids went home early; and how many injuries were incurred. I’m happy to report that this time around the count was zero across the board.

Overall, the Manuel’s River experience was a positive one, due in large part to the well-organized program and knowledgeable hosts. The girls thoroughly enjoyed their overnight stay, and we’ll definitely be going back for camp in the future.

If you’re looking for a spot to bring a gaggle of kids overnight, Manuels River is a great place!

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Eating Healthy-ish… The Infographic

See this infographic for an easily “digestible” perspective (get it? get it? ah?) of Eating Healthy-ish.

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See my post on Eating Healthy…ish for a less… um… unintelligible abstract version of my take on this topic.

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Most of the icons used above were provided for free by icons8.com. (All I had to do was post this link!). The other graphical elements… they’re all me!

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