Category Archives: Simple Living

How to use a Soap Cozy

soap bags

How to use a soap cozy

What is a soap cozy? Simply, it is a little bag to put your bar of soap in. It can be used for:

  • soap storage

  • as a washcloth, without even having to remove the soap

  • put your soap ends in it and tie it shut, to use them up

  • use the tied up soap to scrub your sink or shower. What removes soap scum the best? Soap. Just make sure you rinse it off well.

soap cozy

Soap cozies can vary in size. At 4″x6″, 4″x5″, 5″x6″, they make great gift bags for small items. Also a nice pouch for carrying your cell phone or spare change and lip balm. Mrs. D’s soap cozies are made with cotton or cotton blend fabric and have long 10-12″ ribbon ties.

You can sew up a dozen of these in about an hour if you’re so inclined. Any scraps of the appropriate size (you are welcome to make them larger or smaller) will work. Trim them to a large rectangle or two smaller rectangles. I make mine about 4″x6″ give or take, or fold an 8″x6″ piece in half.

First, sew the top hems. Fold the fabric down about 1/4″ at the top and iron. Fold and iron again. This is the top of your bag. Now stitch away to hold the hem in place. I use a built-in decorative stitch for this. I do not cut the thread on each piece, I just pull it out a bit and start the next one. Then I cut all the threads when I’m done.

Next, make your bags. With right sides together and top hems together, stitch one side and bottom seam (or just one seam if you are folding). Trim threads if you are sewing several bags at once like I do.

Now for the ribbon ties. You can use the bags without them, but I like to add them because I use them to close the tops. Cut 2 12″ pieces of ribbon for each bag. Hold or pin them about 1″ down from the top of the bag, with the long ends inside the bag and coming out the top. You are leaving a tiny bit on what will be the inside of the bag to hold it there. Stitch the last side of the bag. Trim all threads.

Finally, clip corners and trim seams if necessary. Turn bags right side out and poke corners with a ruler, chopstick, pen, or another corner turner. Iron if desired.

Use and enjoy your soap cozy. Give as gifts. Or sell them at your next craft fair!

 

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How to use Bar Soap

The humble bar of soap.

Sometimes it seems like everyone has forgotten how to use bar soap. Since most people I know use liquid soap in tidy pump dispensers now. Yet bar soap is gentler, more economical, and does a better job of cleaning. Bar soap is truly a multi-purpose cleaner.

In order to make myself clear, when I speak of bar soap, I  am speaking of handmade soap. Rather like the kind I make, with all natural ingredients you can actually recognize. Like coconut, palm, and olive oils, milk, water, and essential oils, herbs, etc.

Sodium hydroxide (lye) causes a chemical change in the liquids and oils that soap is made with. This saponification neutralizes the lye and, as a result produces the familiar, sudsy soap that washes away grease and grime. Grease that washes away grease.

 

First of all, let me debunk the antibacterial myth:

Friction kills bacteria.

That’s right. Not soap, not hot water. Friction. Rubbing your hands together when you wash them creates the friction that kills the bacteria. Soap loosens foreign particles and oils from your skin, and water washes them away. But friction kills bacteria.

 

Now let’s move on to the truth about bar soap:

  • lasts a long time as long as you keep it dry in between uses. (use a handy soap saver)

  • does not harbor bacteria and grunge as long as you keep it dry between uses. (don’t let it sit in a puddle of water)

  • can be made with ingredients you recognize and with none you don’t.

 

Finally, what are the advantages of bar soap?

  • lasts a long time as long as you keep it dry in between uses.

  • can also be used to wash your hair.

  • makes a great pet shampoo.

  • is an all purpose cleaner. What removes soap scum best? Soap.

  • makes a great laundry soap. In this case, it needs to be grated very fine and mixed with some other ingredients, but that is a whole nuther post.

  • is a gentle soap for hand washables.

 

How do you use bar soap?

Same as liquid soap, use bar soap for washing your hands. Keep a bar of soap next to your sink in a soap dish or saucer. It is best to elevate it a little to keep it dry. Many soap savers are available for this purpose.

First, wet hands and soap with water. Then rub soap between hands and replace on soap saver. Finally, rub hands together, spreading soap as desired. Continue rubbing hands together as you rinse the soap off with water.

That’s it! Now go out and support your local soap maker or make your own!

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Easy Potato Soup

easy potato soup

Cooking from scratch is easy! Throw this Easy Potato Soup in the crock pot in the morning and it’s ready for dinner when you get home from work. Or whatever.

easy potato soup me

When we filmed The Potato Soup Movie for YouTube, it seemed to only make sense to put it here in writing, as well. I am including a number of things here that clarify and add to the info in the video. Proportions are for a 6 quart crock pot.

chopping potatoes

Easy Potato Soup

8 large (about 5 pounds) potatoes, any variety

1 large onion

5 large cloves garlic

2 quarts bone broth or chicken stock

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or fat from bone broth

water to cover ingredients

milk, heavy cream, or half and half (enough to thin blended soup to desired consistency)

chopping onions

Dice potatoes into bite-sized pieces and put them in the crock pot. I leave the skins on but you can peel them if desired. Add bone broth, set crock pot to high. Peel and slice the onion very thin or dice. Peel and coarsely chop garlic. Saute onion and garlic in butter until translucent. It is okay for it to be slightly browned or caramelized. Add to crock pot. Add water to cover all ingredients. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.

sauteed onions

 

When potatoes are soft, turn off the crock pot. Soup will stay very hot for at least an hour.

potato soup in the pot

You can eat the soup just as it is or make it creamy.

making cream soup

 

To cream the soup, ladle or spoon potatoes and a bit of broth into blender container. Fill about half way. Be careful, as you don’t want to shock a cold container and have it crack or shatter. Let the potatoes cool a minute or so and slowly add about a cup of milk or cream. Place lid on blender container and blend at high speed about 30-60 seconds, until creamy. Return mixture to crock pot and repeat until soup is as creamy as you like. If you run out of milk or do not like dairy, chicken broth or water can be used. Use less milk if soup is not thick enough. Stir well and serve.

grandpa approved

One important thing I left out of the video: add-ins. Some of these could even be added into the soup while it is cooking. Sour cream, chives, and bacon make a particularly nice “Loaded Baked Potato Soup”. Put some of these on the side for people to choose from.

Add-ins:

  • Sour Cream

  • Chopped, cooked bacon

  • Chopped green onions

  • Shredded cheese

  • Salsa

  • Chopped tomatoes

Eat fresh and stay healthy.

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Urban Oasis?

 

urban oasis

Rain is greening up Southern California.

It’s wonderful. Green. Before the next round of drought and water restrictions starts, I want to say my piece. Brown is not the new green. We need green spots in the city, especially with all the brown lawns.

workout equipment

We need spots where children can play,

and people can breathe. Places where dogs can run on the grass, and those with disabilities can have a day of serenity, outside of the facility. The cement and linoleum facility. We need places where people who can’t afford gym memberships can work out. Where parents who don’t want to leave their children for yet another hour or three, can work out. And city parks have always been those places.

urban oasis play park

We need places with shade,

where mothers and grandmothers with young children can take them to play in the quiet mornings. When older children are in school, and young adults are sleeping off the night before and are not yet out in the park.

urban oasis child play

Before the rain ends and the temps heat up, we need to start addressing our water problems.

We need better solutions.

Gray water filtration systems for irrigation and toilet flushing. Desalination plants – there’s an ocean out there. There are so many options for solutions. So many low-cost solutions. It’s time to put our water needs above corporate greed. We need our urban oasis.

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How to use Cloth Produce Bags

cloth produce bag

Cloth produce bags are an old idea whose time has returned. They are simple and sanitary. You can keep a dozen on hand and they take up barely any space. Produce stays fresher and mold-free for longer. They can be used damp or dry, depending on what you are storing. They go in the fridge, on the counter, in the pantry or cupboard.

Cloth produce bags reduce packaging waste and let produce breath so it doesn’t spoil so fast.

cotton muslin bags

They can be washed, bleached, sun-dried, or dried in the dryer and used over and over again. Cloth produce bags are so versatile, you will wonder why you didn’t think of using them before.

How do you use Cloth Produce Bags?

Cloth produce bags come in many sizes. You can even make them yourself and customize your size. You can use a cotton kitchen towel and forget all about the bags. But we’re focusing on bags, here. On the homestead, wherever we happen to be, we use plain muslin bags, with no ties, approximately 12″x14″.

  • wash bags in hot, soapy water and air or tumble dry

  • insert produce

  • place in fridge or cupboard

  • when empty, turn inside out and wash in hot, soapy water…

That’s it! For leafy greens, you may want to keep the bag damp, depending on your storage conditions. I find that keeping greens in a damp bag makes them stay crispy longer. I usually wash them and put them in the (dry) bag, still wet. Then I dampen it under the faucet when it dries out.

muslin potato bag

What kind of produce can you keep in a produce bag?

Any kind! Okay, just about. Berries are kind of messy and should be kept in a bowl. Cut tomatoes, beets, prepared salads, and such should probably also be kept in bowls. Most whole fruits and vegetables can be kept in cloth produce bags. Unless the fruit flies are about, I keep most whole fruits in a large bowl on the counter. A basket in the pantry holds potatoes, onions, hard squash, and garlic. Greens and most other veggies go in the produce bags in the refrigerator.

 

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