Tag Archives: handmade

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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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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The 5 Gallon Bucket Book

5-Gallon Bucket Book
This is quickly becoming my favorite go-to book for anything and everything that can be done with a 5 gallon bucket. Of course, I already was familiar with the composting toilet, the washing machine and the planters. This book contains more than 50 projects for around the homestead (and the home) that can be completed with 5 gallon buckets! Including a trash compactor, wine rack, and toddler swing.
I have currently gathered supplies for making the manual washing machine – handy for the rv or any off-grid situation, and the rolling composter – a design that I think is much more efficient for our rving homestead. I just need the time to make them. Be sure that I will be posting pictures and such when I do! Inspired by, but not included in the book, is a design for a spin-dryer for clothes, that I am going to experiment with. Details to follow when I get to that one.
All the projects in the 5 Gallon Bucket Book come with detailed instructions and lots of pictures. Also supply lists for each project and how it is supposed to work and be used when it’s done. Many of the projects are perfect for off-grid applications; some use electricity.  The 5 Gallon Bucket Book is a great investment for any do-it-yourselfer looking for more economical solutions to everyday issues in the home and garden. With this book and a few simple tools, you can make dozens of practical upgrades to your homestead.
The 5 Gallon Bucket Book, by Chris Peterson                                                                                                                                             (c)2015 by Quarto Publishing Group                                                                                                                                                                 http://www.quartoknows.com/books/9780760347898/5-Gallon-Bucket-Book.html                                             Paperback, $19.99
Thanks to the good folks at Quarto Publishing for providing me with a free review copy of this book. No other compensation was received for this review.
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Amish Medical Sharing

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At the Amish Auction, there are many, well, Amish people. Dressed in Amish clothes, believe it  or not. As a modest dress fashionista – is that possible? I am fascinated with examining the Amish costume. I admire the talent these women possess, to sew clothes for their entire families.

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Many are color coordinated, obviously sewn from an entire bolt of the same cloth. The colors are muted, but beautiful. The styling is loose and flowing, full coverage and yet pleasing to the eye. The prayer kapps are pure white or black and stiffly starched. Straw hats for nearly all the men, though one or two winter black hats are in evidence. I marvel at the women and children who can walk and run around on these sticker and gravel strewn fields bare footed. I remember as a child walking around on hot asphalt and cement, barefoot, all summer. We even had contests to see who could tolerate the hot black asphalt on their bare feet the longest. I guess we must have had some pretty tough soles back then. I have tried going barefoot at the Homestead – much the same landscape with stickers and gravel and rocks – but do not seem to have the stamina, or desire to toughen up my feet these days. Some of the women and children are wearing shoes and hose, but most are barefoot. This goes a long way toward conserving the shoes and stockings for the colder months.

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Another Amish event here, which is open to the community, are their benefit dinners. The Amish do not participate in government programs such as social security or medicare and now, mandatory insurance. But they do pay their taxes and they help their own with medical bills. Several times a summer, the Amish community will hold benefit dinners, with homemade Amish food, to help raise funds to pay medical bills for one of their members who may be having a hard time. There is no suggested donation, so it is left to each one’s heart to help out as they can. I don’t think anyone is refused a meal, yet there always seem to be a good amount of funds raised. These dinners are followed by a quilt auction. Frequently including the other same small items as the community auction – hand woven rugs, kitchen sets and handmade baskets. There are also usually baked goods for sale.

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If you go to the Amish auction or benefit dinner, bring cash. The auction may take credit cards for auction items, I don’t know, call and check. But the Amish, themselves, only take cash (maybe checks but I bring cash just to be safe). You’ll get some great tasting, homemade food and quality, handmade goods and you will also be helping out some hard working folks who believe in sustainable, off grid living and community.

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