Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day, A little help for Spring-cleaning and getting rid of electronic clutter

Electronic recycling from EFORCE,

Ask those who love me how I do with cleaning, and they may reply, “Marcie has some trouble there,” or “Marcie’s place is a friggin mess.” Sadly a major paradox of my life is that I love neat, tidy, and warm spaces and yet I am thrown into a panic at the thought of cleaning. I avoid, I fret, I poor a class of wine, maybe write a blog post… and I find better things to do than keep my home clean and decluttered. Now there are several things that do end up helping me, one of which is having the knowledge that things I get rid of will go to a new home or be properly broken down and recycled.

       Electronic items often pose difficulty here, as most thrift shops won’t take them and I am loathed to add them to waste in landfills. Happily, for those of us in Philly and the surrounding areas there is EFORCE recycling. They accept and will recycle any items that can be battery operated or plugged in. They sponsor events in both the public and private sectors, and there are a slew of free collections happening over the next several months! Notably, Whole Foods in Devon (April 28th) and Jenkintown  (April 129th) will be holding collections this upcoming weekend, and WXPN will be hosting one May 4th. Go ahead, declutter your life and rest assured your electronic items are being responsibly recycled and broken down! Celebrate Earth Day and your new freedom from electronic clutter!

Items EFORCE accepts:

Electronics, batteries, lamps, mercury devices, furniture and equipments, paper, bottles, cardboard, and glass 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Darkening up Without the Nasty Chemicals & a Brief History of "The Tan"

Current price of natural sunless tanners at Whole Food, spring 2012

I am one of those gals who never tans; I’m a quintessential light(ish) haired freckly gal who burns after approximately ten minutes in the sun. Well actually if I allow myself to get repeated sun burns I may darken a tick or two before the end of summer, but why risk the damage? We all know skin cancer is real, and it’s not just the pale guy and gals who are susceptible. People of all shades and color skin can develop skin cancer. So why bother getting darker? Well truth be told, even when we know skin without a tan is perfectly healthy, darkened skin now speaks to being active and fun outdoors.
There is an interesting cultural shift among western white folk that has occurred the last hundred years, and I’m not going to give you historical footnotes here, but this is what I remember from past research. At least as far back as the Renaissance pale skin, especially for women, was seen as highly desirable. Reasons were both classist and racist. Having light skin allowed a women to distinguish herself as wealthy, as evidenced by any lack of a tan she would surely have were she poor and forced to work in fields. Additionally, it announced her “purely” European ancestry by denying and mix of subjugated people’s in her background. This was the status quo for centuries until the advent of the Industrial Revolution. With the proliferation of factories and women’s subsequent employment in them, the average white working-woman was now, as a rule, pale. Couple the desire of the wealthy to maintain class distinction with the rise of “leisure time” (sports, bathing, and tourism) and suddenly being tanned became a status symbol of vitality, youth, health, and wealth.
And now that we’re all feeling ambivalent and uncomfortable because of the unpleasant history of skin tone preference…Let’s just admit most pale light-skinned folk, myself included, would like to be tan. But, we’d like to do so without increasing our risk of cancer or our exposure to nasty chemicals contained in conventional sunless tanners. Nature’s Gate and Alba each make a naturally derived sunless tanner. I have tried both, and was actually happiest with the less expensive Natures Gate. The lotion has a dark tint, making it easy to see where you have already applied, and it gives a nice warm natural looking glow. The Alba is slightly orangey looking and because of the clear nature of the lotion, I had increased streaks and missed spots. Now, Alba says it has improved the formula, so it may be better than last year. Both last about a week and can be purchased at Whole Foods, Amazon, and hopefull Essene Market and Cafe on S.4th Street will have some coming in soon.  So, if you are looking to darken up without loading up on cancer causing ultra violet rays or crazy chemicals (the affects of which we do not know) try Nature’s Gate! And whatever your skin shade, go ahead, love yourself and slather on that sunscreen!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You might leave out your steam iron for a day or two and find ants are using it as a watering hole….

The insect Carnage post rade on my iron...

The little guys "taking a swim"
 True story: Last week, in the process of tidying my living room, I reached down to pick up my iron that had been reposed in the corner for maybe a week (or two or three….) and I recoiled in disgusted yet fascinated amazement at the sight before me. A tiny yet determined little army of ants was crawling in and out of the water intake funnel. Apparently my iron was a water oasis in the midst of the desert that is my apartment. Upon further investigation I could see clearly through the water level window there were tons of the wee invaders in there!

      Now I am a peace loving {mostly} vegetarian {just started eating some seafood after fifteen years of being flesh free} but this was plain gross and I needed my iron! In case ants should ever take to hanging out in your iron, because apparently this can happen to you, here’s how to go ballistic on their little asses and got rid of the enemy forces:

  1. Turn on the iron and place the steam setting to, “HIGH”
I know this may sound cruel, but allowing the temperature of the air and water within the iron reach death inducing heights seemed the most expedient way to handle the insurgence.

  1. Stand with thumbs poised to squish any six-legged warrior who managed to escape boiling death trap.
Again, sounds cruel, but very necessary, as I could not allow any to flee and return with reinforcements.

  1. Set homemade Borax and sugar traps for the scouts will invariably come investigate the fate of their comrades.
Total annihilation needs to be the goal here. Borax, though toxic, is far less damaging to the environment at large than many ant traps. For recipes and suggestions check out this page. Since it is reasonable to suppose most ant home invasions will not be focused on your iron, this is actually your most needed resource for a counter attack on your insurgents.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Nerding Out: Essential Oils

Toddler Melissa doing "homework."
I used to like doing homework. A lot. It was satisfying to come home from a long day of school and practice what I had learned. Perhaps I would fill in the blanks, or circle the one thing that was not like the other things, or, in later years, solve for x. I didn't always get the right answer (especially when it came to finding x), but I was grateful that there was a right answer, and that I could tune out all the surrounding chaos at home and try to find it. 

Fast forward to today. Here I am, a much older nerd, about to isolate the essence of cinnamon by extraction with methylene chloride. See how laughter and joy is just pouring out of me? 

Wouldn't this make a great passport photo?
In fact, isolating natural products is cool, if a little tricky. There's a real art to distillation technique. It made me want to do it at home without using toxic chemicals. If you decide to make your own essential oil don't ingest it. That would be gross. 

Here's how we did it in the lab:

1) Take a cinnamon stick and break it up into smaller pieces. The pieces were placed in a round bottom flask with 4 mls of water and a boiling stone.

Use stick, not powdered cinnamon for better results.
 2)Attach a still and condenser to the flask, heat it in a sand bath at 150-160 degrees C. 

Hickman still and air condenser.

3)A milky distillate forms in the still. This was removed using a syringe and placed in a centrifuge tube.

4) The organic layer of essence was extracted from water in the distillate using methylene chloride.

Milky layer of plant matter.

5)We evaporated the methylene chloride over gentle heat, and analyzed the product. 

Yay a graph!
Essential oils smell great and distilling them has been a human endeavor since the early days of alchemy. I find it fascinating that the way a molecule is shaped determines how it tastes or what odor it has. 

Have you ever chewed spearmint gum for a really long time and noticed it eventually tastes kind of like rye bread? Carvone is the molecule responsible. In one form it is the flavor of spearmint, but its mirror image is the flavor of caraway seeds. 

Somehow I manage to out-nerd the graph.

There are so many flavors to experiment with. If you don't have a still (who does?) you can use jojoba oil, add some crushed flower petals, or the rind of an orange, or fresh mint leaves. Let the plant material steep in the oil for a day or two in a closed container. Strain the oil and repeat until you get your desired pungency. 


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Asparagus Season

I know it's barely asparagus season, but since we are having an early spring and all... I couldn't help myself from sauteeing up this delicious lunch.

I chose relatively mature asparagus with resilient stalks and cut them up into bite-size pieces. Then I heated some butter in a pan, added the asparagus, chopped basil, a little salt and pepper, and finally some whole grape tomatoes. Garnished with parmesan. The key is to cook the asparagus until it is tender, but still leaving enough crunch to keep the texture interesting and satisfying. Asparagus and butter is divine, but olive oil could work too.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

10, 9, 8 76ers!

Last night my boyfriend took me to see the 76ers play the Utah Jazz. It was not so much a date as it was an opportunity for me to witness a guys' night out. So out of place was I that one fan assumed I was the designated driver of the group.

I haven't been to a sixers game since I was 16. Allen Iverson was the star of the team then. Now people love Andre Iguodala. Say that name aloud - Andreiguodala. It just rolls off the tongue. 

Plus, look at this cute logo. It's nice and retro. It reminds me of converse hightops and those basketball socks that approach your kneecaps. I approve of the new (since 2009) jerseys. When it comes to logo design less is more:

Too much going on here: this logo is lame 1997-2009

Allen Iverson is happier in retro chic block letters.

Basketball is my favorite game to watch. I like sports where the ball is in play close to 100% of the time, and scoring happens every 20 seconds. AND I played third string point guard in junior high, so clearly the sport is dear to my heart. 

At these games you enter into another universe, where giant men hold giant balls upside down in the palm of one hand. Smaller men dunk baskets as they flip off trampolines. Toddlers, teens and grown women do slutty dancing for MY entertainment. Welcome to Comcast Country, as the sign above the court reads. 

Hearing the 76ers oldschool anthem was definitely a highlight in an evening full of highlights. I can't decide if I prefer the oldschool song or G. Love's nineties interpretation (ahhh halter tops and brown makeup - very Friends-esque).    

The 76ers beat the Jazz, 104-91.  I'm not even going to pretend to be able to interpret the game. For more information, I refer you to sportshouting.

Confession of total ignorance: I thought the Jazz were from LA or at least somewhere more Jazzy than Utah. I was grateful when a friend pointed out that the Jazz were originally a New Orleans team, which makes a lot more sense.  

I hope to get to another game this year. The Phillies have all the attention lately, but I think the Sixers are way cooler. 


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Channeling Your Inner Prep: Classic American Mail-order

From L.L. Bean Signature

From Land's End Canvas

Marcie: Let's face it, most middle-class kids have had an L.L. Bean or Land's End catalog darken their door. 

Melissa: I definitely wore an all-cotton, forest green turtleneck religiously as a tween.

L.L. Bean Deluxe Book Pack
Marcie: Sure, who hasn't hauled around a giant backpack with MBL (or your initials) on it? But by the time I had my braces taken off I had to accept the fact that oversized polo shirts and crisp khakis weren't going to earn me any street cred.

Melissa: Yes, even though I LOVE the high quality cotton fabric of a Women's Boat Tee as much as the next girl, for years I have held back the urge to have one delivered to my doorstep. 
L.L. Bean Signature Wool Blanket Coat, Plaid

Marcie: Well hold back no more! In my search for appropriate work clothes I have discovered that both Land's End and L.L. Bean are moving beyond unflattering front pleats and polar fleece. 

Melissa: Marcie it's true! L.L. Bean Signature holds on to that woodsy, conservative, classic style we have always loved, but now their designs are utterly wearable for young urbanites.

Women's Lightweight Slouch Chino's from Land's End Canvas
Marcie: And Land's End Canvas has an even more extensive collection of hip, high-quality weekend wear that I can rock in Philly. 

Melissa: I am a sucker for "investment pieces." When I buy something that's good quality I want to be able to wear it for years. I love this brushed lambswool cardigan in blue (below). It's the kind of sweater that you can wear season after season. 

Brushed Lambswool Cardigan from L.L. Bean Signature
 Marcie: The Land's End line seems to be more casual (not to mention less expensive), while the L.L. Bean line ranges from casual to dressy.Melissa, I'm so glad we got to have this little talk.I like embracing my inner WASP ;)

Melissa: And I'm so glad we get to recapture our childhoods and channel our inner prepster ;)

*Marcie and Melissa are major fans of these clothes and hope you find the humor in this "Stuff White People Like," inspired post. Remember to watch for Marcie and Melissa cruising the mean streets of Philly clad in their newly aquired, quality, casual New England weekend wear.*

Shawl Collar Cardigan from L.L. Bean Signature

Friday, March 2, 2012

“Leap Day comes around every four years, but a girl like you only once in a life time.”

This is real life! Actor Dan Hodge kissing his new fiance, Krista, at the end of Wednesday's "The Mousetrap."
 I am a huuuuge Agatha Christie fan, and for those of you who happen to be under ninety who probably aren’t familiar with the delightful Dame Aggie, she happens to be the most published author of all time!{check out her books here!} Quintessentially British, she wrote in the post WWI era, and penned delightfully wry and astute observations of human nature throughout her works. 

       Philly’s Walnut Street Theater is rapping up their rendition of her murder mystery The Mouse Trap, with their last show being March 4th. This play just  happens to be, “the longest running show of any kind, in the world,” and Wednesday, the elusive February 29th, Melissa, my sister Tegan, and I sat in the cheap seats (ten bucks!) for this delightful “who dun it.”    Walnut St’s rendition was solid. And, I must say it was a joy and a delight to spend time with two of my favorite gals and be pulled into quaint 1950’s England- it’s looks,  humor, words, mannerisms, and murders (their murders of course being allot more civilized than ours…)
        At the curtain call the actors of course requested we keep the secret of the identity of our diabolical murderer, and of course I will. But one surprise I must share! Wednesday night’s audience was treated to an event I suppose those who go for the remaining performances shall not get to see- the proposal of Dan Hodge (who played Giles Ralston) to his totally shocked and thrilled girlfriend, Krista! The crowd was equally wooed as Mr. Hodge got on one knee and declared, “Leap Day comes around every four years, but a girl like you only once in a life time.” As if the crowd could have loved the couple more, they promptly dropped the ring and upon recovering it, both remained on one knee. Love, delightful love, and an ending Aggie would have been proud of! Go check it out while there’s still time! 


Monday, February 27, 2012


I went back to my family home in Bedminster, PA this weekend. In a wave of nostalgia I started going through the closet in my childhood bedroom. I tried on my prom dresses (pathetic? weird? you decide!) and flipped through pictures from junior high school. In my school we used to give wallet-sized copies of our school pictures to our friends with messages written on the back. We shared a lot of inside jokes. Jokes so remote that I've completely forgotten why I once found them funny. "Always remember Reese's clipboard" reads the back of one photo. Well, I'm sorry, but I have no memory of what that's about. "And always remember all the indoor golf." Again, nope, indoor golf not ringing any bells. 

I found some tokens from my more recent past:  $65 worth of renminbi, from when I was in Beijing after college. I don't know why, but seeing them reminds me of Chinese Starbucks Lattes made with UHT milk. Does Beijing have fresh milk these days? I wonder... 

Don Draper once told me in Greek nostalgia means "the pain from an old wound."

When I was little I used to play outside as soon as I got home from school. We lived on ten acres, and I didn't have any neighborhood kids to play with, so I would explore the backyard wilderness alone. I didn't have a camera. I never took any pictures of what the land looked like then. This past weekend I took my phone with me and snapped some shots as I revisited this unconventional piece of land. The landscape has changed a lot over the last 25 years. It's filled with trees that are just a little bit younger than I am. My dad planted hundreds of them, so I guess that's why I feel so nostalgic about them. They are where they are because of my family. I can just about remember when they were all saplings, and today a young forest is there.

Here is some moss, and in the background out of focus is some shale. 

 The moss is growing on a cylinder of concrete. 

Below, a young deer has been killed and scavenged. (Possibly by my dog).


And here is the young forest, with grasses that are dead from winter.

The crocuses are coming up. These are at the very back of the property. I was too early to catch any blooms. 

And here is more moss, growing in electric green. 

Cattails growing in a pond.

Deer fur.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Free Cabin Porn

There's been hardly any snow this winter, and I've finally come to accept that I won't be going skiing this year. It feels like spring is here, and whenever the seasons change I start to get pangs of wanderlustSince I can't get away from my work long enough to travel anytime in the near future, I am grateful for all this free cabin porn out there on the interwebs. Trolling through page after page of cabins is highly addictive. I recommend you play the following game:

1) Look at the photograph of the cabin without reading the caption below.
2) Try to guess where it is. (I was caught off guard when I thought Slovenia was Montana! How humbling.)
3) If possible, do this with a friend. Backpacking alone is dangerous.

Reader Submission from Stanley Tislavold:
Cabin in Tykostølen, Suldal, Norway
From Stanley Tislavold via Cabin Porn.   


Friday, February 24, 2012

Nature is Amazing

Good morning! I was going to open this post with some angry words about Rick Santorum calling global warming a hoax,followed by more angry words about the gas-drilling industry's invasion of my hometown, but it's the weekend and anger is not my Saturday morning emotion of choice. 

Last week I learned in school that nature is amazing. The earth's atmosphere is full of oxygen because of bacteria that lived two billion years ago. Oxygen in the atmosphere made it possible for lots of exciting new creatures to evolve. Two billion years. Two billion years ago the most general type of cell that we are made of did not even exist yet. Life on earth was completely different. How can we even grasp how long two billion years is? We humans get maybe 80 years, 100 years if we are lucky. That is nothing compared to the age of the earth. 2 followed by 9 zeros. Just think about what it means in time for 2 to be followed by 9 zeros. It's rare for people to get even two zeros in their age. We hardly get any time to live on this amazing planet. 

Look how amazing this network of rivers is. The green parts are mangroves. 
From the BBC series Planet Earth, episode "Freshwater."

And these are snow geese migrating up the east coast of the United States. I love the way the geese look like a low wispy cloud, and the way the marshes contrast with the blue of the water. It's like an analog of what earth looks like from space. 
Also from the BBC series Planet Earth, episode "Freshwater."


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Easy DIY Paper Flower Valentine's Necklace? Yes, Please!

I'm I big fan of paper flower making {here's a number of books that are great resources!}. I've been dabbling in it for the last fifteen years or so (I know you're impressed, but remember the Chinese have apparently been doing it for two thousand years, and the Mexicans have been making them with gusto for centuries....) For Valentine's this year I thought I'd get crafty and make myself a snazzy paper flower pendent. If you're interested in creating something similar, here's my how to:
The finished product!
What you'll need: 
sturdy and beautiful magazine pages 
or pages of old books
a metal necklace chain or embroidery floss/string

1. Decide the size of your flower, and cut four large petals {as with all things in nature, variation in flowers is the norm, so there's no need to be obsessively precise}. 
2. Cut three smaller petals 
3. Over lay large petals so they touch in center, sew securely together {don't worry about stitches being perfect. But since you are sewing on paper, try not to put the stitches too close so as not to rip the paper}. 

4. Roll the smaller petals into loose cones, and sew each, one at a time, into center of flower. 

5. Lay out necklace chain, or string/ embroidery floss you have cut to size, and place flower where you would like it to lay. 

6. Sew flower to necklace. 
7. Sew bead to center for finishing touch. 
8. Go have dinner with your sweet heart! 

* Marcie

Friday, February 3, 2012

Can we take a moment… and welcome my new CareWearShare partner, Melissa?

Melissa and Marcie in Fay's car, c. 2001
   Picture it… Perkasie… 2000. Two young ladies, who had been in classes together for years, finally saw one another- finally recognized the insane amount of latent friendship potential within. Melissa and I began our acquaintance in Junior High, at the famed Pennridge Central Middle School. Sitting in the lovely Mrs. Kosa’s English class I remember thinking, “aw, this bobbed hair smiley girl is so cool…” Me?  Not so much. Or rather, I was “o cool” inwardly, but was fighting a formidable shyness and lack of a centered self back in those days. But, I digress…
    Aside from a few interactions in Mr. Daniels’ Barbershop select Chorus and the time on a field trip to six flags when riding a roller coaster (which I hate doing by the way) I happened to look over and see her holding the hand of the boy I liked * insert heinous pop song depicting woeful teen heartache* we didn’t have much contact. We moved in our own little spheres until in twelfth grade, life and Mr. Denton Ponzle’s AP Euro History flung us together. With our friend Fay we created a little triad of fun and mayhem.
     Together, we may have shed the shackles of our upright rural exultance; we may have run just a wee bit amuck. We may have left school to go swimming in-between classes, or called out sick and gone to Philly. We may have seized the day and engaged in little glorious acts of rebellion that can only be savored by those whose lives were as Green Gables-sque as you’re likely to find this day and age. Way may have been just about as bad ass as one can be and still make the honor roll ;) And if we were, I have to say it was good for me.  My relationship with these gals and my other high school friends helped me to open up, be freer, and be more me.
     Fast forward ten years and you’d get to the point in the story where our once joy-filled friendship had dwindled to nothing. With the college and subsequent life we had lost contact, until out of the blue I happen to see a message from my Mel-iller saying she was moving to Philly and asking to get together. I made my reply in the affirmative, but it was not without a little trepidation, “What if things were awkward. I mean it had been like ten years….” I had my fears, but on that fateful spring day in 2011 when I opened my door and saw that same bobbed hair and smiley face, I knew it was the same! In these many months since our reunion I've come to see Melissa being back in my life is such a huge blessing! I’ve gone through my share of rough times, and the rekindling of my friendship with Melissa has been an incredible reminder to be open to the unexpected blessings the good Lord may send my way, even in the midst of chaos. Thank you Melissa! And thank you to all of my friends who bring me so much joy!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Toast, To Getting Older

On a muddy riverbank south of the Thames there is a pub called The Ship. I am thinking about this pub today because it is my birthday, and because last year this time I was living in London, toasting white wine and sharing a plate of chips with good friends there. My 7th grade crush, now a US air force pilot, came to celebrate with two of his buddies from the force. They were stationed in Germany and up for an adventure to London. Then there were my Aussie friends, who always represent on a night out. Friends who I've worked with, studied with, danced with were there. My friends whose shoulders I cried on re: relationships that weren't working out, they were there too. When I think of all the friends I've had over the years I am overwhelmed. The more I move around, the more my friends begin to represent all that I've done in my life.   

So a year on, my life looks completely different. The setting, my hairstyle (long hair, bangs), not to mention the age (29 gasp!) have all changed. In the past year I have 1) resigned from a career, 2) moved from Europe back to the U.S., 3) become a full-time student, 4)gone from being single to being in a relationship, and 5) felt serene about all of these changes.  Like a river rock, never surrounded by the same water but still a rock (with bangs) - that is how I feel right now. It's as if I have reached a new plane of emotional wholeness I didn't know I was capable of reaching. Getting. Older. Is. Awesome.

Marcie and I often find ourselves taking moments to appreciate what is going on in our lives. When one of us begins to say, "can I just take a moment..." our partners inevitably roll their eyes at our sentimentality. But talking about stuff we appreciate is a way of life for us, and no degree of mocking will stop us. So now I'd just like to take a moment... to appreciate all of my friends old and new, and wherever you are in the world. May you drink deeply from the Starbucks cup of life and never want for adventure. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to Remove an Ink Stain

There are always millions of tons of dust in the air, just as there are millions of cubes of air in the earth…And sometimes there is a ballpoint pen in your washing machine, which explodes and does this to your bathrobe:

The culprit

Eight of us went for a very muddy hike at Lake Nockamixon, so afterwards we did a load of laundry. A couple of loads later when I pulled the exploded ballpoint pen out of the machine, I knew immediately it was Ben's. He had already claimed a handful of loose change and a set of keys from a previous wash that day. He must have been distracted when he put his pants in the wash...

Anyway, men are like this right? Always forgetting to empty their pockets.

But why did it have to be the load of whites? Some quick googling turned up an effective solution: rubbing alcohol. When it comes to stain removal always remember the chemists' adage, like dissolves like. Soap and water will work on water based stains. This is also why your nail polish dissolves in nail polish remover (acetone), but not in water.

We did everything we could to save Papa Smurf, but the bleeding was unstoppable.

First I  panicked and started to liberally douse the bathrobe in rubbing alcohol.This produced two results. One, the ink stain immediately dissolved in the rubbing alcohol like magic (yay!). Two, the excess ink began to spread out all over the fabric (crap!). To remedy the situation I had to get organized. I folded paper towels into blotters and laid the fabric down on top - this part was tricky because the robe had two layers, and so I had to tackle each layer separately while being careful not to let stained portions of fabric touch unstained portions of fabric.

Then I used more paper towels to section off the stain from above. Now when I poured alcohol on the robe, the excess ink was trapped on the paper towel blotter.  

 Paper towel blotters and rubbing alcohol.

After the excess ink was blotted away there were still some faint blue marks. Using toothbrushes, hydrogen peroxide, and some soap, Marcie and I got to work removing as much of the remaining ink from the fibers of the fabric. 

Then we used a bleach pen to treat whatever discoloration was left. Finally we sent the robe through the wash cycle on cold, twice. 

Using a bleach pen to get the last of the ink out. Success!

The final result was great. You could barely tell the robes had been stained at all. There were points along the way where we thought we were going to have to buy replacements. Fortunately, instead of shelling out hard-earned cash, we were able to salvage them with chemistry and a little elbow grease!