Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trash Picked Tuesday: Tricycle chopper, part 2

For those of you following Jayson's tricycle makeover, here is the finished project! He designed it himself, as well as doing the painting and parts of the assembly. (Adults used the power tools!)

Note the working headlight and tailight- they run off a bicycle generator. There is also a license plate and horn. We did not buy anything for this project except paint, and the thrifted stadium seat.

As a reminder- here is the starting point:

And the midway part (last week's update!)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Make it from scratch Monday: Laundry Soap

For years I have been wanting to make my own laundry soap. I have always felt that store-bought detergents were full of unnecessary chemicals and over-priced. And probably bad for our septic system as well. 

And in my quest to explore the ways of housewives gone before me, I always wondered what was used back in the day. Seemed like everyone's clothes turned out OK before 100 oz. Tide.

So I found several online tutorials for making washing soap (since this is so mild, you can't call it detergent) that focused on two different ways- a dry powder method and a gel method. Being the lazy housekeeper I am, the powder method seemed less time-consuming so I went with that. (For info on the gel method, head over to my pal Mary Deluxe's blog! )

First you need to grate a plain old bar of soap with a cheese grater. I usually use Ivory (since Ivory flakes were probably part of the original ingredient list back in the 1930s.) But this time I lucked into a few bars of real homemade lye soap that I picked up at the Goschenhoppen Folk Fest a few weeks ago.

I know you are probably thinking that it looks an awful lot like grated parmeggiano, aren't you? So did my daughter- she tried to eat some and found out it was most definitely not cheese! Both the kids helped with grating as well, and there was only one scraped knuckle between the 3 of us. It was very hard and dry soap, hence the powdery consistency- fresh Ivory tends to look more like shredded cheese.

Once you get a cup of soap grated (or 1 bar) add a cup of Borax and a cup of Washing Soda. Both of these are commonly found in grocery stores and cost under $3 a box. 

I use an old sherbet tub, which is about the right size. Then I just put the lid on and shake it to mix.

You only need one tablespoon of powder per load. Add it directly to the soap compartment in your washer. This soap is ideal for HE front-loaders because it does not produce many suds. It's also odorless and colorless. If you want to you could use scented soap or a bit of essential oil, but I prefer not to, especially because I line-dry and adore the smell of line-dried wash.

But the key question is, does it work? (This is like my own little detergent commercial...)

What do you think?

It gets things clean. But the stain-lifting power is not great, so I use Shout to pre-treat anything tough. And I'm on the lookout for some bluing- the whites do get a bit dingy after a while. But all and all, it's very effective and I have been using this for almost a year now with no complaints from the rest of the household, especially the one managing the budget!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Up to my eyeballs!

This is one of my favorite times of the year: canning season! The peppers, tomatoes and fruit are rolling in and it's time to get them put up for the cold months.

This is one day's bounty- and my sinks are true double sinks- 24 in square each. That is over 7 pounds of hot peppers, with a couple bell peppers mixed in.

We've had a lot of cherry tomatoes this year. While I love eating them, I don't can them. If I do anything, I'll dehydrate them and store them dried.

All those peppers! I only canned half of them and got all these jars of hot pepper relish. The other half went into the freezer. Peppers freeze really well- just cut them to the size you would normally use them fresh and put in a plastic bag. For bell peppers, I cut them into finger-length strips; the hots just get the tops trimmed off.
There are 3.5 quarts of crushed tomatoes there as well.

I had 12 pounds of peaches, so I made this peach jam (minus the cinnamon and added 2 T of vanilla extract). It was so good we ate almost a whole jar before it even got cool. Would be a great ice cream topping as well! I'm also quite pleased that all my jars sealed this week; I had been having some problems with sealing earlier in the year. I think it might have been a bad batch of lids.

I think there will be more tomato canning this week, but that's probably about it for now!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trash Picked Tuesday: Tricycle chopper!

You may remember this trike which I trash picked a couple of years ago. It wasn't in the greatest shape; the back platform was all wobbly and it could no longer be ridden. But nevertheless, I had held onto it out in the shed, intending to use it as a garden prop eventually.

Well, a couple weeks ago, my son (age 6) got this idea that he wanted to make a go kart. He is very good at taking things apart and fixing them, so I let him have a go at this trike and see what he could come up with. He took it apart himself and separated out the usable parts. He prepped them and painted them himself- even bought the supplies with his own money.

He had a very specific idea of what he wanted to do, but at his age, with limited drawing and design skills it was hard for us to communicate on what he wanted the adults to do with power tools! After a little frustration on our part, we finally helped him bend the frame out, attach a new rear axle and lay a floor for the kart.

This is what we ended up with- kind of like a tricycle chopper:

It's still not quite done- he wants to put on some plywood sides and two seats. I'll see if we can find two kids' chairs at the thrift that we can take the legs off, and we'll get the plywood cut. Then he gets to attach the sides and paint them- he's going for a yellow and black color scheme, aka the yellowjacket. (I just found out that I am severely allergic to bee stings, so we thought we'd bite back a bit!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Flea Market Friday: Rummage Sale Goodness

We/re getting back in the swing of things after a couple lazy vacation weeks. Hit a rummage sale today and found a few things:

A juice decanter which matches a couple of orange juice glasses I had:

My son made homemade lemon/lime ade with about a dozen lemons and limes to break it in. He had been wanting to make it for ages and it is a good lesson in proportions- not too much sugar/water vs. the # of fruit. He's been helping quite a bit in the kitchen this year.

A Fisher Price A-Frame playhouse. I had never heard of this set; I think I had just about all of them when I was a kid. My mom still has them at her house for my kids to play with. It's pretty neat and my daughter took a liking to it. (Heck, I did too!)

And last but not least, everyone's favorite paint-by-numbers subject:

This one is going to my Etsy store and I know you all are dying to own it! Watch for it in the next couple of days. Plus all my blog followers get 20% off by entering coupon code PIT20OFF. Wouldn't he be perfect for your bedroom? LOL

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ironing the Vintage Way

One of my least favorite household chores is ironing. I absolutely hate it. And as you all know, one of the drawbacks of vintage clothes and linens is that they usually need to be ironed. Blech.

So to make it a little more palatable, and for a true "vintage ironing experience" I've been acquiring and using only 1940s/50s household ironing implements. After I wash them with homemade laundry soap
(another post) and line dry them, the next step is ironing.

I don't know if this makes the actual chore better or worse, but it's more visually appealing at least...

Some time ago, my modern steam iron started to automatically shut itself off about every 2 minutes while I was ironing.  Needless to say, this was annoying; I had to go and unplug it and re-start it every time. I went to buy a new iron and was dismayed to find that I could not buy one that was made in America. (This is one of my pet peeves, and I prefer not to buy new things unless they support American manufacturing jobs.) 

So I began the hunt for a vintage iron. I found one not long afterwards at a rummage sale, and fell in love. I mean, how could you not love good old, American-made, chrome and turquoise (even if it is an iron? ;). Plus, at $1 it was far cheaper than the foreign-made dreck, and I'm sure it will last longer, since it already has at least 40 years under its steam plate.

When I am ironing, I prefer a big, heavy ironing board that won't tip over. This is a 1920s-vintage ironing board that I inherited. It really is a board, with a cotton pad over top and steel legs. It probably weighs 10 times what a modern ironing board weighs and is solid as a rock.

My new iron does have a steam feature, but many vintage irons do not. In order to get that extra moisture to remove stubborn wrinkles, most housewives used a laundry sprinkler. 

This is just a sprinkler top placed in a repurposed bottle. Mine happens to have been made out of a ketchup bottle, which was painted and decal-ed with a Mexican motif. I found this in a thrift store for a couple of bucks. 

I rarely use starch, either the spray or boil kinds. For things like tablecloths, which might be stored for a while, the starch can attract unwanted insects. Plus, I hate the smell.

Here is my new iron in action- I love how it lights up when it is hot. And it does get hot- way hotter than the old iron. Plus, it's at least twice as heavy. It actually makes the job go quicker- always a plus! 

 And the finished product- two sets of curtains, three tablecloths, and a couple dresses, shirts and blouses. Yes it was dark by the time I was done!