Time to catch up on some mending and sewing projects

There has been a pile of mending and sewing projects draped over Perry’s chair in our bedroom for far too long.  The last time I resolved to get these things done, I sat down at the sewing machine only to discover that I didn’t have thread in the colors needed for most of the projects.

Now I have the thread I need.  I have no excuse.  Today is the day!

  1. Cut a full size comforter in half and finish the edges to make 2 narrow comforters for Perry Boy and Rachael’s beds.
  2. Redesign an oversized denim print skirt to create 2 (or maybe 3) skirts for the littler girls. I got 4 smaller skirts out of one big one!
  3. Make more cloth napkins out of an old red-checked sheet.
  4. Try to repair the handles on my mini-diaper bag, chewed by Lydia’s Australian Shepherd.
  5. Take in the waist on 2 very cute skirts, rejected by the older girls and loved by the younger ones.
  6. Patch a small hole in Perry’s jeans using a scrap from a denim skirt.  I might need to do this by hand.
  7. Take in the arm holes on a lovely sundress, rejected by the older girls and loved by the younger ones.
  8. Gather and reattach a loose ruffle on a darling dress of Becca’s.
  9. Finish trying to alter a shirt for myself and decide if I like the result.
  10. Take in the side seams a bit more on my sleeveless polos, bought large for maternity use but still my favorite shirts.
  11. Try this 30-Second skirt with an extra t-shirt that Perry doesn’t want. Hmm…I think this would have looked better if I started with a smaller shirt – maybe one in my own size? Well, I only lost 30 seconds, and it’s certainly worth a second try!

Am I the only one who finds it slightly pathetic that I can let a long list of jobs pile up, and then feel great accomplishment in just catching up on what I should have been doing all along?  Isn’t the human psyche a mysterious thing?

Games to play with an iron

Homemakers know how to have fun too.  Who said there was only one use for a hot iron?

  1. Telephone – A game to test your reflexes.
  2. Dodge-iron – It seemed like a good idea at the time.
  3. Limbo – How low can you go?
  4. Iron tag –  Of course “base” should be as far from an outlet as possible.
  5. Home tatoo parlor – Highly efficient, but the choices are a little limited.
  6. Tether-iron – Remember tether ball from grade school?
  7. Iron skating – safer than roller skates because they go slower.
  8. Soccer – You might want steel-toed boots for this variation on the traditional game.
  9. Create unique floor art – Not technically a game, but it bears mentioning because we’ve done this.
  10. Duck, Duck, IRON! – Just like the game you played when you were a kid, except not!

all images by 12yo Megan

Part of the Homemaking Link-Up

Essential oils: how do you use them?

Today while I was weedeating (notice how casually I slipped that in, as if I do this regularly?  Did I fool you?), I noticed a familiar scent.  The scrubby little weeds that had popped up all over our rocky yard were lavender!  Our only other experience with lavender until now has been the delicious lavender lemonade served to us when we visited Samantha’s lavender/blackberry farm last year.

When I was done weedeating, I uprooted a small specimen and brought it in excitedly to show the kids.

Of course we got right online to confirm my discovery and find uses for it.  We also remembered the bottle of lavender essential oil that we inherited when my sister moved into an apartment in town.

After exploring the many uses for lavender oil, we moved on to eucalyptus oil which Perry likes to use as an insect repellent.  Then we checked out tea tree oil just because we have some, and orange, peppermint and cinnamon oil because I’d love an excuse to buy some.

I was amazed at the variety of uses for these, which brings me to my question: do you use essential oils?  What are your favorites, and what do you do with them? How do you use them?

Making gloves

I’m not an experienced seamstress.  I know just enough to be dangerous.  Or just enough to muddle my way through a project.  Either characterization works.

Right now, I’m stitching up some gloves to complete hubby’s Oliver Cromwell costume.  You’re impressed, right?  Please tell me you’re impressed.  I didn’t know a real person could make real gloves until a few short days ago when hubby sent me a link suggesting that I ought to make some for him.  I was dubious, but willing to try.  Just a day later I was admiring the gloves of a certain young ship’s captain, and  I learned to my surprise that he had made them himself.

A 14yo young man made his own gloves.  How hard could it be?  When he offered to loan me his pattern, I jumped on the opportunity.  He warned me not to expect the first one to turn out just right.  He had made a mock-up first, then adjusted the pattern to fit better.

I had no idea what I was getting into.  After 4 solid hours, I finished a mock-up of muslin – just the hand, fingers and thumb, mostly handsewn because there was simply no room for a sewing machine.  I didn’t even try the fancy wide lace-up cuff yet.  I’m expecting that part to be easy.  You can stop laughing now.   I hope to finish the first real glove tomorrow.  You’re still laughing, aren’t you?

Let’s just say I have far more respect for a certain young ship’s captain whom some of you will meet at the Reformation 500.  Be sure to sneak a peek at his gloves, but don’t tell him I told you.

If you run into Lieutenant General Oliver Cromwell, on the other hand, kindly avert your eyes from his gloves which he may or may not be wearing.  Just check out what our 14yo Kaitlyn made: the awesome doublet with removable sleeves, the shirt, the breeches…you get the idea.

Who ever knew Oliver Cromwell was so handsome?

Frugal Friday: homemade laundry soap

Mother Hen just reminded me that today is Frugal Friday.  What new and frugal thing did we do this week?

Aaah…we finally made our own laundry soap!

What were we waiting for?!  It was fun & easy, and looks and smells just as nice as the liquids that I never buy because they cost too much.  Nicer, really, because the only fragrance comes from the bar of soap.  It’s not overpowering like the store-bought variety.  The texture is rich and creamy – we used a recipe that called for glycerin to keep it nice and smooth.

Cost? I think store-bought liquid detergents cost 15-40 cents/load, right?  I made 2 gallons for less than $2.  That’s enough for 64 loads if we use an entire 1/2 cup at a time, bringing the cost to a whopping 3 cents/load.  Really, we don’t.  We use more like 1/4 cup because we made ours slightly more concentrated than most.  I say whopping because we made the “expensive” kind, using glycerin.  It’s not really necessary.  I was just feeling frivolous and wanted that rich creamy texture.  Sometimes I’m crazy that way.

But seriously, if a person skipped the glycerin and used 1/4 cup for each load, the cost would be about a penny per load.

We haven’t been using it long, but we think our clothes smell cleaner and less perfumed, and we have noticed that forgotten laundry doesn’t get sour in the washer.  I can’t speak to the issue of whether the whites look gray because in our water everything turns gray after 2 or 3 washes.  A water softener might prove to be a wise and frugal investment for us someday.  Or we could just continue to keep our underwear hidden under our clothes the old fashioned way and no one will ever know.  Yet another point in favor of modesty.  🙂

Here’s what we did.  I don’t know who to credit with the recipe, because I think I combined several and they all look the same anyway.


  • 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha soap – my local hardware store stocked this at my request.  Very nice, but next I want to try Kirk’s Castile Hardwater Soap, because  if our water were any harder it would be a rock.
  • 1 cup borax – available at WalMart near the laundry detergent
  • 1 cup washing soda – also available at WalMart near the laundry detergent
  • 1 TBS glycerin – look for it near the first aid supplies

Just 4 ingredients, see?

Grate the soap; it’s easy, really.  It’s soft enough to easily grate it on a handheld cheese grater.  Heat til melted in 8 cups of water.  Simmer a few minutes to be sure it’s thoroughly melted.  Stir in remaining ingredients until thoroughly dissolved.  Add enough cool water to make 2 gallons.

You’re done.  What?  You thought it would be harder, didn’t you?

Just pour into a couple of gallon jugs.  Give it a stir or a shake now and then as it cools to keep it smooth and creamy.  It will thicken as it cools.  Ours looks a lot like a thin creamy shampoo, or a jug of heavy cream.  Yummy, but don’t taste it.  Just sniff.