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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Upcycling an old sock

My daughter had a favorite pair of socks that had stood the test of time.  But on wooden floors, they're bound to give out eventually.  The hole was beyond repair.  So I stood here pondering what I could do with the top of this sock because it still looked like new.  Could I turn it into a craft of some sort?  It's not big enough for a bag...Eureka!  She's heading off to college and trying to make green choices, (literally and figuratively!) so she's taking along a supply of used plastic grocery bags to recycle as liners in her garbage can.  Why not sew it into a bag holder that she can hang in her closet!?  That way it's still useful and she gets to enjoy her favorite sock a while longer.  It was a simple job to cut off the toe of the sock just past the hole and sew it together.  Folding the sides into themselves made a fuller top rather than a wide flat one.  A piece of bias tape made a good hanger and I sewed it into the seam.  At the bottom, I wove a piece of bias tape in and out around the end to make a drawstring. Very, very simple and voila!

This post is linked to
Simple Lives Thursday
Alphabe-Thursdays Letter "U"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Notes from the kitchen and garden

The garden is looking good although I haven't had any ripe tomatoes yet.  Lot's of squash though!  WE have had spaghetti squash a couple times and several zucchini, a few yellow summer squash, and I'm watching the sweet dumplings with watering mouth!  Several pumpkins getting bigger in all this rain but no sign of my gourds.  The vines are growing but no fruit, yet.   The ground cherries are going to be ready soon and it looks like some of the tomatillas will have fruit soon. 

Because of the amount of zucchini we generally have, I decided to dry some.  The chips turn out very crisp and easy to chew.  They taste so good that I want to dry all kinds of veggies now!   And of course the wonderful, Chocolate Zucchini Cake that has become a tradition each year. It's not overly sweet so it is nice to have for a treat. 
Would go great with a cup of Zach's coffee!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Post 40
Because I started my seeds early but didn't actually get the garden planted until much later than usual due to other things in my life, harvest time is a little later for me than most folks.  So I'm proud to say that I picked my first zucchini and await the followers with much expectation.  We have lots of varieties of squash this year.  Of course there are the standard summer squash; zucchini and yellow crook neck but I'm also hoping my ronde de nice globe zucchini will produce soon.  I can see spaghetti squash that are about plum size and growing quickly.  We have a few winter squash and pumpkins too.  And gourds!  Bushel basket, big apple and luffa.  The rest of the garden is mostly tomatoes!!! Lots of varieties and colors and I can't wait until I pick the first ones!  Orange/yellow tomatoes with a splash of purple on their cheek or all green ones; yellow, red, orange and purple; cherry size and giant ones that fill a plate!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Post 39

Earlier I wrote about gathering herbs from our garden, field, and woodlands in the next week.  My thought was to dry them for use in herbal teas but we've been enjoying the smell of burning incense lately and I wonder if I could make smudge sticks.  We do have some sage and others that would work well.  Experimenting time!

Harvesting herbs

Post 38
Harvesting stevia, basil, stinging nettle, lemon balm, mints and horehound this week.  The gardens are improving and I'm hoping to harvest summer squash by the weekend.  Tomatoes are coming along and I think we'll have some green ones to fry up by Monday. 
Hoping to make up some herbal tea blends soon.I need to make soap again.

Whatever Happened to Fels Naptha Soap?

Post 37
We've enjoyed making our own bars soap for a long time.  It's so much nicer to use than store bought soap because it still contains the glycerin that is a by product of the saponification process.  More on that later..

Another use for our bars of homemade soap is laundry soap. There are lots of recipes online and numerous books available.  Here's what I do:

I grate 3 bars of our homemade soap.
To this I add
2 boxes of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1 large box of Borax
After mixing together, I add essential oils of my choice.
Some favorites are grapefruit or lavender.

I've written about this before but the twist on today's post is that traditionally, many of the recipes I found online used Fels Naptha as the bar soap.  I remember Fels Naptha from my childhood as a hard, brown bar of soap that nearly turned to powder when it was grated.  Recently I purchased 2 bars to use in my laundry soap to give it a little added cleaning power for some tougher clothes washing jobs.  I my surprise and dismay, the bar of soap inside the familiar wrapper was not anything like I remembered it.  The strong perfume smell hit me as soon as the waxed paper label was opened.  The soap I thought I was buying was a mild, old fashioned lye soap smell.  The bright yellow color and soft texture were not even close to what I wanted.  The ingredients list on the label was very vague listing cleansers, degreasers and other generic terms for my old fashioned favorite.  After making a batch of laundry soap with this bar of soap I'm wondering if I'll be able to tolerate the smell and what kinds of toxins I'm putting into my washer.  This calls for a little more research.  I wonder if I can find the old variety anywhere?!

Tweaking the deodorant recipe

Post 36

After testing the deodorant recipe for a few days we've decided to make a few adjustments.  It seems to be effectively controlling odor but being on the oily side is leaving marks on our clothing.  They launder out easily but are rather obvious.  We've experimented with adding some witch hazel and vodka as well as some stearic acid instead of more beeswax.  We've also added a little borax, water and lecithin.  Tomorrow we'll test this one.  It feels a little creamier to touch but the real truth will come with daily wear.  If we like it better I'll post the final recipe.

Garden coming along nicely.  Should be seeing a boom in produce soon due to all the rainy humid weather.  Cabbage caps seem to be working well so far.  Early yesterday morning I noticed a lot of snails on eveything so I need to spread more diatomacious earth around when it's not going to rain for a day or two.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Additive free deodorant recipe

Post 35
To avoid exposure to aluminum which has been shown to relate to Alzheimer's, a problem that haunts me, I'm trying to come up with a recipe for deodorant that actually works but doesn't stain my clothes.
Here's the latest try;
1-1/2 oz. of beeswax
1/2 oz cocoa butter
3 oz coconut oil
1/2 TBS castor oil
3 tsp sodium bicarbonate
Melt in a double boiler

Add any essential oils (approx. 4 tsp.) that you choose for their deodorant properties and aroma.
My batch used
fir needle
tea tree
Pour into deodorant tubes and chill until set.

We made this recipe last week and so far the results seem good.  The only problem is the little bit of oily residue that remains on my clothes but the good side is that it washes out in the laundry.  The trial continues...

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The Woodwife's Shop

Preparing small batch natural, additive free products for beauty, health and home right here in our kitchen since 1991 from herbs grown organically in our garden, wild crafted in nearby meadows and woodlands or purchased from reputable, like-minded companies. Dried everlasting wreaths, arrangements and potpourri. Herbal salves, tinctures, soaps, teas and more.