I go through slippers pretty fast. I’m pretty much home all of the time, so I wear mostly slippers. I’ve tried purchasing expensive ones and cheap ones. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I spend for them, they start wearing out around three months. It’s not the soles that go, but the fabric. I wash them a lot. Air drying or machine drying – both methods take an equal toll on the slipper fabric.
Cue my last pair of slippers. When the fabric uppers finally separated from the rubber foam soles, I had it. I’m tired of plunking down $ every three months. So, I did what I do well and I studied the slippers really hard. Then, I got out my seam ripper and began to disassemble my ratty slippers. When I was finished I laid the pieces out on the table. Ironically, this one pair of slippers contained TWO rubber soles. One sole was sandwiched between the upper fabric and the bottom sole. Hmm…that means using the soles from the ONE pair of ratted out slippers, I could make TWO pairs of slippers.
The easiest way to sew new house slippers is to take apart an old pair and use the pieces as patterns. If you don’t have an old pair, never fear – I am going to show you how to do it.
What you need:
Rubber foam or old slipper soles to reuse
Paper & pencil
Fabric for slippers
Fleece or felt for slipper liners
Interfacing for slipper upper lining
Iron & ironing board
To begin with, make your pattern pieces. You need 1 sole pattern (you can flip it over for right or left, so you only need 1), and a pattern piece for the slipper upper. You can download mine and adjust the size to your own foot (I wear a 7-7 ½) and print it out OR you can free-hand it by tracing around your foot like you used to when you were a kid making hand and feet prints in art class. If you don’t have an old pair of slippers to re-use the soles, like I did, you can find lightweight rubber foam at craft and/or sewing stores. You also might be able to find other sources like old placemats, etc.
Cut a right and left bottom sole for a liner – use an old fleece blanket, mattress cover, towel. I used part of an old pressed fleece type mattress cover. The liner will go between the foam sole and the fabric.
Now, you need to cut out the fabrics necessary to form the slipper uppers. For each slipper, cut 2 pieces of fabric that you have chosen for your slippers. I used a different fabric for the inside of my upper for variety. Cut 2 pieces of interfacing or fusible web interfacing or lightweight cotton. This lining will go between the outside and inside upper fabric to give the slipper upper some form. You will have 6 slipper upper shaped pieces of fabric when you are finished cutting.
To make your own double fold bias tape:
Measure around the bottom sole pattern piece with a tape measure. Add 3-inches. Cut 2 strips of fabric 2-inches wide by the measurement around the sole+3-inches Long. If you’re using pre-made bias tape, this is all you have to do for this step.
To create the double fold bias tape, with the print side of the fabric visible, fold each strip in half vertically and iron (you want a very sharp crease to go down the center of the entire strip). Open the creased fabric strips and position the strips so you are looking at the wrong side of the fabric (the “inside out” side). Now fold each vertical edge in until they align on each side of the center crease. Iron. You now have a strip of double fold bias tape for each slipper.
Please refer to the photos as assembling the slippers is really quite simple. I don’t want to confuse things with too many words.
Assemble the slippers bottoms:
Place the rubber sole on the table. Place the liner (fleece, towel, etc) piece on top of the sole. Place the slipper fabric on top of the liner. Pin together.
Use the zigzag stitch on your machine to sew the 3 pieces together following the contours of the sole.
Using a ¼-inch seam allowance, straight stitch around the contours of the sole inside the zigzag. This provides added support on the seam and lets the slipper fabric lay better. Set aside.
Assemble the slipper upper:
Place the interfacing on top of the wrong side of the fabric you have chosen for the inside of the slipper upper (the part that isn’t visible, but touches the top of your foot).
Fold the fabric top and bottom edges about ¼-inch over the interfacing and pin. Iron.
Place the pinned fabric/interfacing print side up onto the wrong side of the fabric of the slipper upper that will be visible when you are wearing the slipper.
Fold the top and bottom edges of the fabric that will be visible when you are wearing the slipper under ¼-inch, pinning the edges to the already pinned edges of the interfacing/inside slipper upper. The interfacing will be between the wrong sides of both fabric.
Using ¼-inch seam allowance and the straight stitch feature on your machine, sew along the top and bottom edges of each slipper upper. Remove the pins.
Assemble the slippers as they will look when you are wearing them. Fold the side edges of the slipper uppers under slightly and pin together.
Using up to ½-ich seam allowance (you judge depending on your fabric/placement, etc), and a straight stitch, sew the slipper upper sides to the slipper bottoms.
Slide the edges of the slippers into the fold of the double fold bias tape, pinning as you go around the contours of the slipper. When your bias tape ends meet again, cut to fit leaving 1-inch to fold under so there is no visible raw fabric. Pin.
Using the widest zigzag stitch, sew the bias tape to the slipper layers, making sure you are catching the tape beneath the bottom sole, removing the pins as you sew.
For advanced sewers, to skip the bias tape altogether, cut 1 sole pattern about 1-inch larger than the foam sole, snip the edges about ½-inch apart, following the contours, place the fabric sole on top of the lining, folding the snipped edges under and pinning. Sew, straight stitch or zigzag, the fabric, liner, and rubber sole together. Then sew and attach the slipper upper as directed.
- Current Mood: bouncy
Home-Crafted Liquid Dish Detergent
When choosing anti-bacterial ingredients to include there are a variety of natural choices: lemon juice, geranium oil, tea tree oil, citrus oils (such as orange, tangerine, etc), lavender, and my favorite – eucalyptus. These ingredients provide fragrance as well as disinfecting abilities. The vinegar is also a natural anti-bacterial ingredient. I purchase my essential oils on ebay, but you can find them in craft, whole food, wholesale, etc stores. Be sure you’re purchasing pure oils and not “scented” alcohol or “scented” liquid potpourri.
A couple of notes: 1) When I tested this formula and allowed my hand washed dishes to drip dry on the dish rack, I observed no film/soap residue on glass or plastic – however SOME metals – for me – non-coated pans – dried with a slight film. I simply buffed it off with a dry towel. I have not tested this detergent on silver or silver-plate. I did test it on my wine glasses with no soap residue left behind. 2) Detergent that is being stored and not actively used, will separate so there is clear water at the bottom of the container and all of the other ingredients will rise to the top. When you’re ready to use the detergent, just give the bottle a vigorous shake to remix the contents. 3) White vinegar is a natural grease-cutter, but will not cut the grease on your very greasy pans like store-bought chemicals will. I had to wash my very greasy pan separately in very hot water and rinse/re-wash a couple of times to sufficiently clean. This is where cutting the homemade detergent with store-bought is sometimes helpful.
This recipe yields about 1 gallon of liquid dish detergent.
What you’ll need:
8 cups water
1 – 4 oz bar of soap (I used Ivory)
2 cups white vinegar
½ cup Borax
¼ cup baking soda
½ cup washing soda (I use Arm & Hammer – this is not the same as baking soda. You can find washing soda in laundry aisles in stores).
1 Tbs glycerin (optional)
25-30 drops essential oil or ¼ cup lemon juice (fragrance/anti-bacterial)
1 gallon container
Very large pot (holds 2+ gallons)
Recycled dispensers or detergent bottles
Boil 8 cups of water in a very large pot.
Reduce the heat and add the grated soap. Add vinegar and continue stirring until the soap is dissolved.
Turn off the burner and remove the pot from the heat. Slowly sprinkle the baking soda into the mixture – very carefully as the baking soda will foam when it hits the vinegar mixture in the pot. This is why you need a BIG pot!
Add all other ingredients, continuously stirring until all ingredients are dissolved. Glycerin is added as a skin moisturizer and also acts as a mild thickener in the detergent. It's purely optional and the outcome of the soap will not be affected if you choose to leave it out. I purchase my vegetable glycerin from a seller on Ebay as I use it in a number of homemade products. If you notice in my photos, I was in a hurry and didn’t entirely wait for all of the soap to dissolve. This resulted in some soap clumps – which don’t bother me. If your soap clumps and you don’t like the look of it, you can pour it into a blender when it’s COOL and churn it until smooth. Personally, I don’t care what it looks like as long as it gets the job done.
Allow the hot solution to cool a minimum of 15 minutes. Add the essential oils and stir. Make sure the liquid is not hot enough to melt the container you are going to be pouring the soap into. Let it cool to at least room temperature before pouring to avoid burns, etc.
Use a funnel to pour/ladle the soap solution into a 1 gallon container. Fill the rest of the container with hot tap water (usually around 6-8 cups of water depending on how much of your solution evaporated, etc). You also can dilute the soap with white vinegar instead of water if you wish, but I chose to use water.
I am not a fan of math. The subject caused me untold misery throughout my life, brought down my grade point average in high school and college, and overall just sucked. I used to joke with my former husband that I married him solely to balance out my seemingly math-deficient gene pool for my future children.
Before my biological children were born I read over 400 books on infertility, pregnancy, fetal development, labor & delivery, and infant/toddler/preschooler/child development/psychology. And why shouldn’t I have? I studied for 4 years to prepare for and obtain a teaching license. Why shouldn’t I take as much time and concern to prepare for parenthood? Parenting my children is my most important career. If I performed poorly on a test in school, I could make it up somehow – extra credit, do better on another assignment, take the class over if need be; but there are no “do-overs” in Mommy world. If I perform poorly as a mother, my child reaps the consequences. I looked at my future role as a mother as THE most important thing I would EVER do in my life.
During this research, I realized that though I suffered through math and had failed to obtain the foundation I needed to see success in that subject, there was no reason why my children had to perpetuate my failure. But how to remedy that? Well, short of mingling my creative/artistic genes with a mathematically-gifted gene pool – which is never a sure bet, yes, it increased the odds, but there was no guarantee my offspring would inherit that mathematical gift. So…I went to what I knew: teaching.
Babies come into this world with a mind like a dry sponge. From the moment they open their eyes against the harsh light of the environment outside the womb, their mind begins sucking up information. Their mind begins storing data like a computer. Everything goes in: texture, sounds, color, tastes, and images – all of it. Studies have shown that even BEFORE birth, babies respond to familiar voices, touch, and in some cases, the food the biological mother consumes.
My first step in educating my children began in utero. I gathered all of the textbooks my former husband and I had in the house. Then I scoured the shelves of used bookstores for other subjects. Then, for at least an hour a day, I read out loud from the textbooks: Physics, Calculus, History, American Literature, Computer Science, Journalism, English Grammar, Spanish, Russian Literature, British Literature, Biology, Oceanography, Political Science, Art Appreciation, Psychology – and any magazines we happened to subscribe to (Archeology, Smithsonian, Time, Guitar Digest, Guns & Ammo, lol) Of course, there’s no way to tell if those early readings helped or not, but I needed to lie down anyway, I would have been reading a book anyway – so – what could it hurt?
BUT…I realize everyone isn’t as dedicated to textbook reading, or as comfortable with their own voice in a quiet room as I might be. So, you have this baby/toddler/preschooler here NOW…How do you teach your child math skills?
START AT BIRTH: Numbers 1-5
Why numbers 1-5?
Most babies/people (No jokes please. Do not take for granted that you or your child is fortunate enough to be born with all digits. I cannot count how many children we reviewed during our adoptions who, through fetal issues or grievous injuries, were not so fortunate) have five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. It’s the natural number to begin with because most babies have concrete examples right there on their body.
Baby does not know what you’re doing, but that’s okay. REPETITION is the key. COUNT EVERYTHING. When you’re diapering: count their toes. If you’re clever enough, sing the numbers to a traditional children’s song: Mary Had a Little Lamb, Row your Boat, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, etc. As you count, show the baby his/her finger/toes, saying the numbers with each touch. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. When you’re having bottle/nursing time – count babies fingers. Count your fingers. When you’re playing, count/hold up five stuffed animals, toys, diapers – whatever – just make counting part of your together time. Over and over and over again.
At 5-6 months, buy board books that have numbers (and alphabet, but that’s a different post J ) or use/make flashcards. I used a lot of flashcards. Designate 15-20 minutes at the SAME TIME every day for “school time”. Baby doesn’t know it’s school time. Baby thinks it’s mommy or daddy time. THAT is the key. Look at the book – or make flashcards with colorful photos you cut from magazines (See post for making flashcards: http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/15
When baby begins eating solid food, count bites. Count bowls. Count spoons. Count teddy grahams, snacks, whatever he or she is eating. Line the food up. Count it. Count it as the food goes into their mouth. Count it as you hold it out for them. Count it as you take it out of the box. Find a way to count EVERYTHING. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
At 1 year, it’s time to start making baby interactive. I know you’re saying, “What? But my baby isn’t talking!” Some babies aren’t. Your child does not need to be verbal (talking) to count with you. Babies comprehend language before their bodies are mature enough to vocalize. Both of my biological children could count to 5 at age 1 year. Some babies can hold up fingers and will instead of talking, or will with talking. Incorporate counting fingers into the game, use baby’s hand and your own to demonstrate.
Food is the easiest and most productive manipulative (thing to count) in my opinion. Why? Because with food there is something to count, and a reward in the end. ALWAYS GIVE THE CHILD THE COUNTING FOOD AT THE END OF YOUR COUNTING SESSION REGARDLESS OF THEIR PERFORMANCE. There should be NO punitive measures against a child for failing to comprehend or demonstrate. The key to success is REPETITION, FUN, TOGETHERNESS, and REWARD FOR BABY.
Get down on baby’s level. At a little table, on a blanket, etc. You should have FIVE of something baby likes to eat. We used goldfish crackers the most. Only five. Be prepared for some tantrumming until baby catches onto your SAME TIME EVERY DAY program. For the first few times, baby will just want to immediately EAT the tools. Baby’s internal clock will set itself to “fun time with mommy or daddy”. This is very important. In today’s world, so many families are running all over tarnation. Children thrive on consistency. Obviously, you won’t be on the minute every day. Not an issue. Strive for the same time. For us, it was around 2 pm, after they woke up from their nap after lunch meal/bottle.
Line up the 5 crackers (You use whatever you want. I’m using crackers for my example). I printed out a colorful sheet of paper that had the numbers 1-5 in circles. This visual sheet allowed baby to visualize the number in addition to learning to count the number. Whenever you can combine skills/senses, do it as it increases learning opportunities. I would put the 5 crackers, 1 on each numbered circle.
Now, count them, pointing to the crackers while saying the numbers. Take baby’s hand, and help her/him point to the crackers while counting. Use bowls, cups, etc to drop the crackers, one by one into, while counting. Hold the bowl, give baby one cracker, have baby drop it into the bowl (replace it if baby eats it). Count while baby drops it into the bowl. I would do this for 10-15 minutes, depending on baby’s tolerance that day. When you’re done counting, be VERY EXCITED and PRAISE baby for their GOOD COUNTING. Then let baby eat the crackers – while counting them for baby. Clap your hands, use your “oh my god this is the greatest thing EVER in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD” voice, and make a big deal out of baby counting EVERY TIME. Babies want to please. If they see that they have done something very important and good, plus they get to eat something yummy, they will want to do it again.
About once a week, try to make baby take the lead. Put the crackers on the paper, etc, and tell baby: “YOU count the crackers for mommy/daddy! Can you do it?” This is where the repetition pays off. Baby has watched you, and watched you, and watched you count the crackers. At first, baby is mimicking you. They’re like little monkeys. They might not yet get WHY they are doing what they are doing, but they begin to do it because they copy what they’ve watched you do. Continue to count everything and anything everywhere you are and go. I even sang counting songs for lullabies.
YOU vocalize for baby or with baby if your baby is talking. Count while baby “counts”. My oldest son was very verbal and would say the numbers (not always in the right order). My oldest daughter was not very verbal. She would point to each cracker and grunt, while I counted. That’s okay. She THOUGHT she was saying the number. For all I know, she WAS saying it in her mind. The key is to develop a sense of success in your child’s mind. If you’re successful at something, and there is a promise of a reward, you want to do that something over and over again because it feels good. That success builds your confidence. The same thing works for baby.
When mommy or daddy comes home from work, in the presence of baby, you should relate this HUGE accomplishment. Baby counted to five today!! Maybe baby didn’t. Maybe baby bashed each cracker with his fist and then licked the crumbs off the Little Tikes table like some kind of creepy licking demon-possessed horror movie baby….but BABY needs to think he’s counting to five and that he’s the smartest, most clever, most awesome baby in the whole wide world.
By 2 years, baby can perform simple addition. No, my kids were not writing math problems on papers. They demonstrated with M&Ms, teddy grahams, gold fish crackers, etc. Place 1 cracker on the table. Count 1. Have toddler count it. Put another cracker on the table. Say: 1 + 1 = 2. Push the crackers together. I stayed with 1+1=2 until toddler could do it on his/her own. Then we moved to 1+2=3, and so forth. Again, repetition. At 2 years old, I also introduced numbers 6-10, so toddler was now learning to count 1-10. We sang “1 little, 2 little, 3 little” (replace the now not so pc “Indian” with whatever it is you’re counting) everythings lol. Bath time, reading time, bed time, clean up time – whatever. Sing the song. Count. Count. Count. Make it into a game. Hold up 3 toys and ask baby to count them. Do this randomly throughout the day. Always test baby. If they’re comfortably counting to 4, nudge them just a bit, and sometimes hold up 5 toys. Toys are great for learning. Look around. Many of your child's toys already have numbers on them. Play computers, cash registers. My youngest son's favorite toy was his pretend telephone. We counted numbers on his phone all the time.
REPETITION & REWARD ARE THE KEYS
Okay, you’re saying. Well, ain’t that special. So you got yourself a couple of smart kids. Super. This can’t work for every kid. Well, here’s where my little educational foray gets a little more exciting. I didn’t stop at 2 biological children. I also have 2 adopted children. Gene pools entirely unrelated to mine by race, ethnicity, country, language, you name it. Not only was there no chance of crossed genes, but both children came to me speaking a language in no way similar to mine (English): Korean and Chinese.
My youngest son came to me at age 17 months old. My youngest daughter was 6 ½. Talk about having to change horses in mid-stream!
Immediately I started in with my youngest son. I started doing the same things I did with my 5-6 month-old babies, only he was 17 months old. Because he was older, he caught on faster, so we moved through the stages at a faster pace. Now, he’ll be 5 years old in 2 weeks and is working addition and subtraction problems involving numbers 1-15.
I obtained custody of my youngest daughter on July 18, 2011. I immediately started in on her even though she had NO idea what I was saying. I began counting everything. Over and over and over she heard me counting 1-10. I skipped the 1-5 stage and went straight to 1-10 due to her age, and memory skills. I sang numbers and letters to her all day in the hotel. I sang colors and shapes, and pointed to colors and shapes and said the English words. Mostly I sang numbers and letters – over and over and over again. She just thought I was singing. I knew I was uploading data into her brain.
My youngest daughter came home from China on August 1, 2011. She had to begin Kindergarten on August 20, 2011. I had 20 days to get her to a functional level. I employed the assistance of my two older children, in addition to my husband. EVERYTHING became an educational game. In 20 days, she learned how to SAY her name (we combined an English name with her Chinese name), WRITE her name, the alphabet (and some of the phonetic sounds), numbers 1-10, and the words/meanings of what I indentified as basic survival words: yes, no, hello/goodbye, potty, food, and water. She is now in first grade and is performing on, and in some instances, a little above, grade level.
This didn’t come easy. Her Kindergarten and ESL teacher worked with her at school. We worked with her at home for 1-2 hours every day after school. We worked with her for 3 hours, 4 days a week throughout the summer between her Kindergarten and 1st grade year. Her 1st grade and ESL teacher are working with her at school. And, until December, we worked with her an hour at home every day after school and on weekends. We have eased off now, and are letting her learn at a slower pace, confident that those crash course skills we all worked so hard to teach her are doing the job.
We used a LOT of flashcards with her. Flashcards for numbers, alphabet, colors, shapes, everyday items (furniture, clothes, food, etc), senses, body parts, etc. For her, much of it was language development. She knew her colors and shapes – she just needed to assign the English words to them.
But, again, I used the same techniques, repetition and rewards that I used with my 5-6 month old babies, to introduce counting with her. With a slight twist, coming from a neglected past of malnutrition, it was hard to convince her that she was ALLOWED to EAT the counting treats. I had to sit and count each one she ate. If I simply pushed them across the table after praising our session, she would leave them there. So, we counted each one she ate too. She counted socks, toys, crayons, even the number of times the basketball went into the hoop. Counting opportunities are everywhere.
Fingers, toes, food, toys – whatever you have to count, use these objects to introduce and then reinforce the presence of numbers, and later the concept of addition/subtraction with your babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Repetition and reward.
Give your children a happy, confident foundation in math and math concepts to take with them to school – but don’t let it end with school. YOU are an important factor in their education. The same techniques of repetition and song that you use when they’re babies to teach counting can be taken with them as far as college and beyond. Spelling words, science terms, whatever – all are easily remembered, memorized and utilized when learned to a tune, and sang over and over again.
Learning is a lifelong journey. Lay a confident foundation for your children as early as you possibly can.
Finally, don't forget the internet is an excellent source of free, printable worksheets and exercises geared toward early learning. When my children were babies, I had to make my own material. The internet has opened a whole world of opportunity to parents and care providers in the form of free educational idea sites and printable material. Some websites, but not limited to these, where good, quality material can be downloaded: Enchanted Learning, TLS Books, Kids Learning Station, Jump Start, Education.com, Kidzone, etc. Use a search engine to search for free, printable toddler or preschool worksheets. Searching for more specific concepts will also bring up exercises, such as toddler counting, shapes, etc.
With four kids, not mopping the floor is not an option. Spilled juice, shoe tracks from the backyard, dropped food at the dinner table – the list goes on. I loathe mopping. The water mess, the wet floor, so on and so forth. When Swiffer came out with their WetJet mop, I was so totally there – and I’m not usually the type that buys “newfangled” appliances or really anything that I can do myself somehow cheaper. But, I made an exception in this case. I love my Swiffer! The disposable, expensive cleaning pads, on the other hand, I do not love. I cringe every time I buy a box and every time I toss a nasty, used cleaning pad in the trash – Ca-ching! Throwing away money. So, as I normally do, I decided I was done with the money wasting and sat down to examine Swiffer’s cleaning pad and the mode of attachment on the actual mop.
What you need:
1 – disposable Swiffer Cleaning Pad (for the initial creation of your pads, if you are making additional ones, this will no longer be necessary)
2 – 11 ½-inch long x 5 ½-inch wide fabric rectangles
1 – 12-inch long x 6-inch wide pliable plastic rectangle
2 – 11 ½-inch long loop/soft portion Sew-in Velcro (hook and loop) tape
Place the plastic rectangle between the 2 fabric rectangles. The plastic rectangle is slightly bigger than the fabric rectangles because even with the fabric pinned well, it tends to slide around a little and if you can see the edges protruding from the fabric “sandwich”, it’s easier to sew.
Using a straight stitch and 1/2-inch seam allowance, sew the rectangles together. Remove pins. Trim the plastic so it is flush with the fabric.
Using a serger or the widest, tightest appliqué/zig-zag stitch on your machine, finish the edges. I double sewed mine just for strength. The cleaning pads will be taking a lot of abuse.
Place the fabric cleaning pad end to end with a disposable Swiffer pad. Pin the soft, loop strips to the fabric cleaning pad, using the disposable pad as a guide. Once you’ve made one pad, you won’t need to use a disposable pad as a guide. If you don’t have a disposable pad, measure about 1-inch from the edges and pin the loop tapes.
Zig-zag or serge the loop tapes to the cleaning pad. Make sure to sew every edge of the tape. The pad will be jerked, ripped, yanked off of the Swiffer and the loop tapes must be attached firmly and able to withstand multiple washing, bleaching and yanking. I'm not concerned with how awesomely spectacular the cleaning pads LOOK, but with how well they WORK. If you're more of a perfectionist, you can make sure every seam is perfectly aligned, everything is perfectly cut, etc.
And there you have it. I made 4 washable, reusable cleaning pads in about 20 minutes. To wash the reusable cleaning pads I toss them into a bucket with bleach, rinse and wash/dry or wash in hot water in the washer with other cleaning fabrics.
Liquid hand soap can be made using shredded bar soap and a few other common ingredients. Making your own liquid hand soap can be inexpensive or expensive, based on the bar soap you choose to use. You can use natural soaps, handmade soaps, broken bars of soap you found on clearance. If you buy bulk lots of soap off Amazon or Ebay (I once got a box of 5000 hotel soaps for 5.00 on ebay!) making your own liquid hand soap can be very inexpensive. You can use your favorite scented soap to create matching liquid hand soap, or you can do what I do and use Ivory or your collection of 1001 mini hotel soap bars. You didn’t think there was another use for those annoying little slip-out-of-your-hands soap bars, did you?
Older soap that has hardened from long storage can also be used to create liquid hand soap. The older the soap is, the drier it will be and will grate a little finer, more like powder. Fresh soap will be more moisture-filled and should glide over your grater pretty effortlessly. I haven’t made my liquid hand soap for about a year because first, I hit a sale at the local dollar store on liquid hand soap marked down to 50 cents per 64 ounces of soap. That was a pretty good deal and I stocked up by buying all they had on the shelf. In hindsight, the soap was probably irradiated or something, hence the markdown. Shortly after that bonanza, my local grocery store had four big refill bottles back on the clearance shelves marked to $1.00 a bottle. So I bought all of those….but all good things come to an end, and here I am needing to make more liquid hand soap. Over the years, I’ve tried several different recipes. About 10 years ago, I finally tweaked and tweaked some more until all of those recipes evolved into the one I use. This recipe makes 1 1/2 gallon of liquid hand soap.
What you’ll need:
4 – 3.1 oz soap bars, shredded (use cheese grater)
1 gallon water
Large cooking pot
4 TBS olive oil or glycerin
Essential oil * optional
Ladle or glass measuring cup
Empty liquid soap dispensers
Shred the bar soap of your choice on your cheese grater. I like to use Ivory. For this recipe I used a pile of hotel soaps and Ivory with Aloe. I generally use plain Ivory and I don’t add any fragrance as I have a lot of boys in my house who don’t appreciate smelling all fruity or flowery.
Fill a large pot with 1 gallon of water. If you’re making more than this recipe calls for, remember this rule: 4 cups of water per 1 (3.1 ounces) bar of soap. This is important to note. In the past, I’ve miscalculated and ended up with gallons and gallons of liquid hand soap in my attempt to make my congealing soap more “liquid”. Not a big deal if you do miscalculate, you can always use hand soap…as can family members, friends…neighbors. Bring the water to a rolling boil.
If you are adding fragrance DO NOT ADD THE ESSENTIAL OIL YET.
Once the soap is dissolved, you can add fragrance if you desire. 2-3 tablespoons should do the trick, but if you like heavily fragranced soaps you can experiment. Essential oils can be purchased at craft stores, online, and at some health food outlets. If you’re using fragranced soap, the liquid hand soap will smell like the bar soap you used. If your bar soap was colored, your liquid hand soap will be a lighter hue of the bar soap color.
Put a funnel into the top of a plastic jug (Make a quick funnel from a plastic 2 liter jug: http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/15
Ladle the liquid hand soap into plastic jugs. I use a glass measuring cup with a handle, but you can use a soup ladle as well. Fill the bottles.
Do not cap until completely cooled. Once cooled, cap and shake the bottle. The soap will not be super gelatinous like store-bought liquid soap, but it will feel thicker than water.
Fill empty, recycled liquid hand soap dispensers. If the soap thickens during storage, you can add some boiling water to the soap and shake it up.
Apply a label to the jugs for identification. I like to tape my labels to the jug with clear packing tape to ensure the label stays on.
The jug of liquid hand soap on the left was made with glycerin. The jug of liquid hand soap on the right was made with olive oil. You can see the slight difference in color.
This is an easy project older kids can help make. Incorporate this project into home-schooling, summer school or supplemental education as a math or science project.
- Current Mood: bouncy
- Current Music:Metallica, Enter Sandman
Eventually ironing board covers, even after multiple washings, and sometimes bleaching, end up unsightly. Heat and spray starch take their toll on the fabric of the cover. Edges become ratty or loose. Sewing a new cover can be accomplished quickly and without much measuring or time. Recycle a flat sheet, a fabric shower curtain, an old curtain, or buy fabric of your choice to use as fabric for your new ironing board cover. You can even save the cord in the current cover and reuse it; or if the elastic is still good in your current cover, you can reuse that. If you have an elastic cover and the elastic is stretched out, you’ll need to replace the elastic. Likewise, if your cover has a cord or string and the cord/string is broken, obviously, that will need to be replaced. Padding can be created with batting, a cut towel, or a section of an old bedspread (not a comforter though as the loft is too high to make a good, flat ironing surface).
What you’ll need:
Current ironing board cover
Seam ripper *optional
Flat surface – table, bed, etc.
Pen, pencil, sewing chalk
2 – safety pins
Cord, string, or elastic
Batting, towel, bedspread, etc for pad *optional
If you’re making a new pad for the ironing board, do that first. Set up the ironing board. Remove the current ironing board cover. Place whatever padding source you’ve chosen (old beach towel, bedspread, batting, etc) on top of the ironing board. Cut around the ironing board, using the edges as your guide. Some people tie or tape the pad down. I find it stays well if your ironing board cover is tight, so I don’t bother with those methods. It doesn't have to be pretty. No one is going to see it.
Wash and dry your current ironing board cover.
Remove the cord or string from the casing. If your cover has elastic, cut a small hole somewhere in the casing (the tunnel the elastic/cord is strung through) and pull out the elastic. Or you can use a seam ripper to open the casing by popping the stitches, and then remove the elastic. If your elastic is stretched out, and you don’t wish to reuse it, skip removing it. Just snip it so you can stretch the cover out flat with no gathered edges. Mine has this nifty little plastic cord keeper, so I removed and saved that for reuse as well.
Choose the fabric or source of fabric you prefer. Use a measuring tape to measure the length and width of your ironing board if you are unsure of the size you need. The easiest method is to lay your current ironing board cover onto the fabric to see if there is enough fabric to work with.
Lay your fabric onto a flat surface, right side up. Lay the current ironing board cover on top of the fabric, also right side up. Smooth the ironing board cover flat.
Measure 4-inches out from the edges of the current ironing board cover, along all edges of the cover, like an outline, and use a pencil, pen or chalk to mark it. I didn’t do that in my photos. I’ve made so many covers over the years that I just eyeball it. The edges end up under the ironing board and won’t be seen, so I’m not very concerned about perfection. Because I’m warped, I think of the pen outline like the outline around a dead body. This is a dead ironing board cover. Outline that sucka.
Cut the fabric along the outline you drew around the current ironing board cover.
Turn the edges under ¼-inch against the wrong side of the fabric and using a straight or zigzag stitch, hem it on the machine. I used blue thread on mine so it is easier to see in the photos. You can pin the edges before sewing if necessary.
Next, turn the hemmed edges under 1-inch against the wrong side of the fabric and sew a casing, on the machine (or by hand), for the cord/elastic. A casing is like a tunnel for something, usually elastic or a drawstring, to fit through in order to “fit” the item to something, ie: the ironing board. Leave a 1-inch opening at wide end of the cover for threading the cord/elastic through. Again, you can pin this before sewing if necessary. Remove all pins once you’re finished sewing.
Your cover will look too big. It’s supposed to. Remember those edges have to wrap around the padding, around the ironing board and have enough fabric beneath the ironing board to keep it all in place.
Take your cord or elastic and insert a safety pin through one end and pin it to one side of the 1-inch opening you left on the wide end of your new fabric cover. Insert a safety pin through the other end of the cord/elastic and feed it through the casing, through the 1-inch opening. Push the pin/cord/elastic through the casing, by feeling the pin through the fabric from outside of the casing…push, pull, push, pull…until the safety pin emerges from the other side of the 1-inch opening.
Place the new cover on top of the ironing board padding. Smooth it out flat. Crawl under the ironing board. Pull both ends of the cord/string until the cover is tight and tie it in several knots so the cord/string stays tight and stays put. If you’re using elastic, pull the ends of the elastic until it is tight and tie the elastic in a tight knot. You can hand sew it together, and sew the opening shut, if you desire, but it’s not necessary.
Voila! Fresh, new ironing board cover.
- Current Mood: cheerful
If you made the soap scrap saver (http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/16
What you’ll need:
Double boiler (or a metal, etc bowl that can withstand boiling water that fits into a sauce pan)
¼ cup water
Soap color or fragrance * optional
Soap mold (or box cut to fashion a mold)
Fill the boiler part of a double boiler with water. Excuse my double boiler. It is circa 1950s and keeps on keeping on…it doesn’t look pretty, but when the big bomb comes, this double boiler will still be standing.
Put your soap scraps into the top portion of the double boiler. Add ¼-cup water to the scraps if they are dry. I leave my soap scrap saver bag in the shower, so the scraps are always wet and squishy when I transfer them into the pan. The more water in the soap mixture, the longer it takes the soap to cure (dry out). So, you only want to use as much water as necessary to help the scraps dissolve into liquid.
Boil the water in the pan, stirring the soap scraps until they dissolve into liquid. Add any soap coloring or fragrance desired when the soap is liquid. I used a hint of green soap coloring that I had left over from a previous soap crafting project. It isn’t unusual for the soap to come out streaked, marbled, swirled, etc different colors if you’ve used several colors and textures of soap. I generally don’t use fragrance as I use a lot of cottage industry soaps that rely heavily on glycerin soaps and are fragranced by the soap crafter, and I tend to stick to similar fragrances so my recycled bar usually has enough fragrance left from the previous bars. Glycerin soaps are used by many home-based soap makers because of the ease of use in the heat and pour method.
When the soap is liquid, pour the soap into the soap mold. I happen to have molds left from a previous craft project. In the last 30 or so years, I have crafted and sold just about every craft known to man...starting with my foray into the market of Pet Rocks in the late 70s. Soap molds can be picked up inexpensively at craft stores or online. You can also find acceptable molds in the candy aisle of grocery stores and craft stores -- though these usually are smaller but are good for making guest soap type sized soap. The important thing your mold needs to have is flexibility so you can twist and pop the soap from the mold. If you've made a mold, it needs to be flexible or something that you are okay destroying if you need to rip or peel the mold from the soap.
If you don’t have a mold, make your own from a skinny box like a macaroni & cheese box. Cut it down to the desired size and insert a plastic baggy. Push the baggy into the corners of the box with your fingers. You can also just pour the soap into the box. The baggy method requires you to peel the baggy from the soap when the soap is solid. The box method requires you to rip and peel the cardboard away from the soap when the soap is solid.
Place the soap in the mold into the refrigerator overnight. Remove the soap from the mold and place it on a saucer, etc. Allow the soap to cure at room temperature for about 2 days, or until the soap is hard and not sticky to the touch.
Voila! You have a new bar of soap!
PS. Obviously, since you are recycling your personal soap scraps this craft is NOT suitable for gift-giving or for selling purposes, but should only be used by the person/persons who used the original soap and produced the soap scraps. :)
- Current Mood: busy
Easy Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie
Pot pie. Those two words conjure images of little foil pie tins containing a frozen hard crusted “pie”. When cut open the pie reveals neon green peas, very orange carrots and some lumps of what appears to be chicken, but might not be, all floating around in some sort of soupy sauce. Usually there is more soupy sauce than anything else. The frozen things never come out right: burned on the edges, frozen, or at least, cold in the center. Shudder. Homemade pot pie is nothing like the grocery store frozen aisle offerings, thank goodness. Using a ready-made, roll-out pie crust or your own homemade crust, this pie is relatively easy. This recipe is an excellent way to use up leftover chicken or turkey. You can even use canned chicken if you’re really in a pinch (or you just hit an awesome sale on canned chicken).
What you’ll need:
2 cups approx. chicken (picked off bones, etc, torn into small pieces)
2 TBS garlic powder
½ cup chicken broth (How to make your own from past entry: http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/17
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper
½ cup diced onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
2 TBS flour
1 can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (you can also use 14 ounces of gravy)
2 cups carrots, sliced or diced
2 cups green beans
1 cup sliced potatoes (I always use canned to make sure they aren’t crunchy when done)
2- 9-inch pie crusts (top and bottom)
Cookie cutter *optional
If you’re using leftover chicken or turkey, debone it and shred it into small pieces. Otherwise, boil the chicken until cooked. I put mine on medium and let it cook while I’m doing everything else. Usually about 30-40 minutes. To check if the meat is done, cut into it and check the juices. There should be no red blood, the juices should be clear and the meat should look cooked. When the meat is fully cooked, remove the skin, remove the meat from the bone, and tear into small pieces. Place into a mixing bowl.
Dice the onion and place it into a mixing bowl.
Add the carrots, green beans, and potatoes to the mixing bowl. If you’re using canned vegetables, drain the vegetables first. Mix the vegetables and onion (and meat if you’ve already added it).
Add all of the spices and the chicken broth to the vegetables. Mix well.
Unroll the crust for the bottom of the pie and stretch it over the pie pan. Use your hands to press the crust, molding to the pan. Don’t worry about the ragged edges yet.
If you haven’t added the meat to the vegetable mixture already, do that now. Mix well.
Spoon the vegetable, spices, meat, etc mixture on top of the crust in the pie pan. Use the spoon to level the mixture so there’s not a big mountain in the middle or anything.
Unroll and stretch the top pie crust over the vegetable/meat mixture.
Use a fork to smash the edges together, sealing the pie. Continue around the entire edge of the pie until completely sealed.
Slide a knife around the pie edge, using the pie pan as a guide, and evenly trim the sealed edges of the crust.
You can use the leftover pie crust dough, which you trimmed off, to form a cute center decoration using a cookie cutter. I used a snowman. Roll the dough into a ball and smash it flat on top of a paper plate or flat surface. Flip it over so the perfectly flat side faces up. Press the cookie cutter into the dough and peel away the extra dough. Slightly wet the back of the dough shape and press it gently to the center of the top pie crust.
Use a knife to cut 4 slits or teardrops, or hearts, whatever shape you desire, each measuring about ½-inch, evenly spaced around the pie top.
Form a long length of foil and wrap it around the outside of the pie pan. Fold the foil edges over the pie crust edges. Leave this foil on until the last 10 minutes of cooking, and then remove. The foil protects the edges from burning. The edges cook faster than the rest of the top pie crust. I place my pie onto a cookie sheet to avoid overspills.
Place the pie into the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden. I serve the pie with chicken or country gravy.
- Current Mood: bouncy
An Easy and Tasty Way to Use Oranges: Canning Orange Marmalade
My friend Holly recently teased me when I was making a batch of Orange Marmalade. She brought up the old childhood favorite, Paddington Bear, and his Orange Marmalade loving ways. I loved Paddington Bear and I still love Orange Marmalade on a hot muffin. Orange Marmalade is a yummy addition to scones, biscuits, muffins and toast. It is even wonderful as a pancake or waffle topping. This traditional jam spread is easier to make than you might suspect and uses every part of the orange except the seeds. Don’t skimp on the sugar! You can also substitute 6-7 lemons for the oranges/lemons and use these directions to make Lemon Marmalade if you get really adventurous!
What you need:
Water Canner or 10-12 quart pot
Water Canner rack or metal cooling rack style trivet that fits into the pot
2 Mixing bowls
4 medium or 5 small oranges
2 medium lemons
7 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 box Sure Jell Fruit Pectin (1.75 oz)
½ teaspoon butter (or margarine)
2 - Large saucepans (about 8 quarts each)
8 half pint or 4 pint jars (can be reused)
Rings (can be reused if no evidence of dents or being misshapen)
Lids (always use new lids)
Canning tongs or large tongs
Dishtowels or paper towels
Cut the oranges and lemons in half. Remove the seeds.
Slice the oranges and lemons into ¼-inch thick slices.
Make a cut through the rinds and peel the rinds from the fruit. Put the fruit in one mixing bowl and the rinds in another.
Fill your water canner or big pot with water (put the rack or trivet inside). Cover and bring to a boil.
Dice the orange and lemon rinds.
When the water in the canner/pot is boiling, add your clean canning jars and rings. The jars should not touch the bottom of the pan. This is why you have a metal canning rack that fits into the canner or a cooling rack style metal trivet that can fit into the pot. Using canning tongs makes your life simpler, but large tongs will work too once you figure out the trickiness. Leave your jars and rings in the boiling water until you are ready to use them.
Pour 2 1/2 cups water into a large sauce pan. Add the diced orange and lemon rinds. Add baking soda. Boil the peels and water for 20 minutes.
Leaving the orange and lemon fruit in the mixing bowl, use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the fruit into small pieces/pulp.
Add the fruit and juice to the sauce pan with the diced rinds. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Transfer 4 measured cups of the cooked fruit/rind mixture into your other large saucepan. Add 1 box (1.75 oz) of Sure Jell or other brand fruit pectin. Add the butter or margarine (this helps reduce foam). Stir while bringing to a boil. (I put any remaining cooked fruit/rind mixture in another jar and pop it into the refrigerator and use it later to make muffins, etc).
Add 7 cups of sugar, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat.
Remove the sterilized jars from the canner/pot. Drain the jars. Dry the outside of the jars and the rings. Prepare the lids. You should always use new lids to ensure the jars seal safely. Place the hot jars onto a dishtowel.
Ladle the hot marmalade into each jar leaving at least 1/8 head space between the marmalade and the inside jar lid.
Wipe the jar threads and tops of the jar clean. Place a lid on each jar and screw on the rings using finger tip strength. Do not over-tighten: air bubbles need to escape during the canning process. Lower the filled jars into the canner/pot with the canning tongs or large tongs. Make sure the boiling water covers each jar by at least 2 inches. If the water has boiled low, boil water in a kettle and add it to the canner/pot.
Boil the jars for 10 minutes. (High altitude dwellers should add 1 minute of processing time for every 1000 feet of altitude. For example, 3000 feet would result in boiling an additional 3 minutes longer.)
As the jars cool, listen for the popping of the lids. I count the pops – 1 pop per jar. Allow the jars to completely cool (this takes at least 4 hours). Some jars take awhile to pop. Others pop almost immediately. Once the jars are cool (this can take up to 12 hours), if you did not count a pop for each jar, examine your lids (you should examine any way to ensure all lids have sealed). The top of the metal lid will be flat and will not spring back if you push down on them in the center. If you see a raised bump on the top center, the jar did not seal properly. Jar lids “pop” as the contents/jar cools, creating a vacuum inside, which pulls the lid down, “popping” it. This also causes the flat top seen in a properly sealed jar lid.
For jars that did not seal you have 2 options. You can refrigerate or freeze as is. Canning jars are awesome in the freezer. Or you can remove the contents and bring to a boil. Sterilize another jar and ring. Use a new lid. Pour the re-boiled marmalade into the sterilized jar and reprocess in the canner/pot for 10 minutes. Remove and listen for the pop.
Orange Marmalade, and other canned jams, are good for a year before the product begins degrading in nutritional value and may separate or appear cloudy or runny – if you have any left by that time. My jams have a tendency to fly off the shelves and onto hot food in a rapid fashion.
- Current Mood: busy
Freezing Green Beans
Vegetables fresh from the garden are richest in vitamins and nutrients. Freezing fresh vegetables preserves a higher amount of these “good for you” attributes. Freezing is an easy way to put up vegetables.
What you need:
Scale * optional
Permanent marker *optional
Put the green beans into a sieve and wash thoroughly. I thought this photo turned out awesome.
Cut the ends from the green beans.
Cut the green beans into two or three even pieces (if possible).
Immerse the cut green beans into boiling water for 3 minutes. The green beans should be completely covered with water. I use a large enamelware colander inside my big pot, but you can put the green beans directly into the pot and then remove with a slotted spoon as well. Drain beans.
Immediately place the drained green beans into a bowl of ice water, completely covering the beans. If you don’t have a large enough bowl, it may be easier to immerse in multiple bowls. Allow the beans to remain in the ice water for 3 minutes. Drain.
Measure the green beans according to your needs. One 14-15 ounce can of “store bought” green beans really contains about 6-7 ounces of beans – the rest is water. My family of 6 typically uses 2 cans of whatever vegetable at any one meal. So, I measure 12 ounces of green beans per baggy.
Fill the appropriate-sized freezer zipper bag with your measured amount of beans. I am using a quart sized freezer zipper bag. Be sure to leave at least ½-inch of head space between the green beans and the zipper closure.
Press as much air from the bag as possible without squishing your green beans.
Date and label your freezer bag. Freeze. Frozen green beans are good for 8-12 months (check at 6 month intervals for freezer burn).
- Current Mood: drained