Monday, September 26, 2011

My turn

Lots of folks i know through Etsy and Twitter have tried making their own laundry detergent lately; i finally got round to giving it a go, and to doing a bit of field testing after.  They've been using the recipe here, but if you've read any of my recipe posts, you know that i'm an inveterate tinkerer, and have to fiddle with anything i try.

The original version calls for Fels-Naptha soap, but even though it no longer contains any napthalene, the label is disturbingly vague about what it does contain.  I decided - knowing you can get soap flakes of various things like Ivory in the laundry aisle - to try using a plain, unscented Castile soap.  The other ingredients are washing soda and borax, both cheap and readily available at the grocery store.  Since i was using an unscented soap, i also added in a few drops of lavender essential oil.

The sum total of the procedure is to grate the soap and then mix it with a cup each of the borax and the washing soda.  I used about 10-12 drops of lavender oil to scent the whole batch, and mixed that in well before packing it in a couple of small mason jars - i was tickled to find in my stash of pint jars one that reads "Naturally Fresh," so of course i had to pack some in that.  You only use about a tablespoon per load (got myself a cute little coffee scoop at the thrift store that works very nicely for measuring).

The report from the field test? It works, and it works quite well.  I tried it on an musty set of sheets that was still smelling funky after three rounds with the commercial detergent, and the sheets came out de-funked.  It looks like it will be significantly cheaper than the stuff i was buying, and it doesn't take much time to prepare.

Notes for next time: add a little extra soap - the Fels-Naptha bars are 5.5 ounces, and the bar i used only 4 ounces.  It's supposed to be low-sudsing, but i think it could use a wee bit more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coming attractions

(PressingNeeds edition)

I've been having fun with block printing on the wonderful little Moleskine pocket notebooks - i've got a couple listed in the shop, and some others that have been given as gifts.  I'm hunting for a new source for the blank notebooks, though - i'd been getting them through my sister, who worked at Borders and could count on a decent discount on a package of notebooks.  Now, obviously, that source is sunk.  I can find them locally, but not at a price that makes selling printed ones look tremendously viable.  So i hope to be able to do more, but for now, this is one of the last few that will be making its way to the shop:
I have to admit, i really like that turquoise ink, especially on the brown kraft cardstock.  I think i need to find more excuses to use that color.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Grandma wasn't what you'd call a shy violet, and some of her jewelry tended toward the... dramatic.

But some pieces are more sweet and traditional, like this charm bracelet.  Her father made it for her - he was a jewelry designer and diamond setter by trade - when she was a teenager, and she in turn gave it to me:
Disclaimer: my photography here really doesn't catch the detail etched in the charms... even the links in the chain are etched, every other one.  Also, fair warning, if you try calling me "Suzy" i will not answer politely.  Grandma got away with it, but she was the only one.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Carnivores, eh?

Some days i really wonder just how much English the cats understand... today, the phrase "i'm baking fresh bread" motivated an indecisive Winston to suddenly leap up off the porch step and dash inside. 

Winnie (on the bottom of the tabby stack, there) is an abject carb slut, and cannot be left unattended around bread, flour, potato chips, or anything vaguely pastry-like.  He will rip through any packaging - the bread i bake is now kept in a hefty plastic loaf keeper, inside a cabinet with a strong magnetic latch.  So far, it's kept him out, but i worry...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Speculative yardage

I try really hard not to buy fabric just because it presents itself.  After a couple of years working at G Street Fabrics, i have enough stashed for several years' worth of sewing projects, boxes and boxes of stuff, from interesting cotton prints to plaid silk taffeta to an insanely-gorgeous-but-totally-impractical linen lace (with a lily pad motif, no less...).

But there are certain circumstances wherein the rule is bent.  And finding nice quality Belgian linen at $2.00 a yard on clearance is one of them.  I bought eight yards.  I'm actually not that keen on the color, a pale seafoam green, but for $2.00 a yard, i'm willing to consider overdyeing it, or - since it's fairly sheer - underlining with a different colored fabric to shift the color a bit.

And since i was already bending the rule, i also bought the remainder of this piece of madras (alas, there were only 2-1/2 yards on the bolt).  I hope it keeps its slight sheen once i've pre-washed it, it's very pretty as it is.  Trying to decide between a breezy summer blouse and a pair of pajama pants...