Thursday, April 25, 2013

Treasures from Grandma

A couple of weeks ago I was in Port Angeles, Washington, at my grandparents' house for a few days.  I was helping sort and pack things up so the house can be put up for sale.  Grandma and Grandpa are getting older now (Grandpa is 90!) and they have moved in with my aunt and uncle who graciously offered a part of their home, and Aunt Marilynn helps Grandpa with the care he needs for his diabetes and anything else they need.

While I was there, Grandma told me that I could go through all of her fabric and take whatever I thought I could use.  In fact, she said, "Please! I want someone who I know can use it to take it, because I won't be using it anymore."  Grandma has been a quilter for years and years.  She has also sewn her own clothes, clothes for her 7 children, and gifts for her grandchildren and many, many other people over the years.  So you can imagine the huge supply of fabric and scraps that she had built up!  There were huge bins and boxes to go through!  My Mom and I and my Aunt Joanna had a great time going through it all, and I set aside my favorite pieces as we went through it.

Now, keep in mind, I live in Delaware, and this was taking place in Washington State.  I had to be selective about the things I set aside because I had to ship it all home to myself!  I limited myself to two boxes.  It was so much fun opening the boxes when I received them a few days after I got home from my trip!  

My boxes were full of fabric pieces of all sizes...some larger ones that are a yard or two, some medium sized pieces, a lot of smaller ones that are maybe the size of a "fat quarter", and some really small ones that I just couldn't pass up because they were so cute.

Here's one with cute little mushrooms all over it:
And one with little children gardening:
And here are some pre-cut quilt pieces that I didn't even know were in the box!
These little scraps are so cute, but so tiny! I'm not sure what I'll do with them:
Maybe I can get some ideas from this little booklet:
I've begun a new collection in my Etsy shop called "Violet's Treasures".  My Grandma's name is Violet (I just love her name!). Every item that I make that incorporates any of the fabrics that I got from Grandma will be a part of this collection.  Here's the fun part: everyone who is related to Grandma gets a 25% discount!  So, if you're related, just contact me before you order, and I'll give you a coupon code.  To find the items in my shop that are part of the collection, just type the words "Violets Treasures" into the "search this shop" box.

This little wristlet clutch is the first in the Violet's Treasures collection.
You can find it here in my etsy shop.

These scraps of fabric are truly treasures to me because they're from my Grandma. I'm so excited to see what I can create with them!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Clean, Healthy, Beautiful: Homemade Laundry Soap

Until a few months ago, I didn't know that I could make my own natural cleaning and beauty products.  The thought just never even occurred to me.  For several years now I have been slowly trying to phase out the harsh chemicals in our home.  For a while I was a loyal customer of a company that makes wonderful and very pricey natural products using tea tree oil, but they require you to buy a certain amount every month, and when we made some serious budget cuts last year (daughter in college...enough said) the super expensive tea tree stuff was the first to go.  So, out of necessity, I looked for some alternatives. I discovered that Pinterest has tons and tons of recipes for DIY cleaning, health and beauty products!  Who knew? (Not me!)  I now have a Pinterest board called "Clean, Healthy, Beautiful"  where I've pinned lots of recipes and ideas that I want to try.  I've already tried a few, so I thought I would share them here on my blog, just in case any of you are like me and didn't even know this could be done. (And also because my mom asked me for some of the recipes. Here ya go, Mom!)

One of the first things I tried was laundry soap.  I looked at lots of different recipes and came up with what I thought would work for me.  Here's what I tried:

You need:
1 bar of Zote laundry soap (I found this at Big Lots where I live, and I've seen it in Walmart in other places)
2 cups of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
2 cups Borax
1 cup Oxyclean or generic oxygen cleaner

Grate the entire bar of laundry soap with a cheese grater. I think you could also cut it into smaller pieces and grate it in a food processor, but I don't have one.  I grated it, and then ground it up smaller in the blender.  It worked much easier when I added some of the powdered ingredients to the blender, too.  Then I just mixed everything together.  I had a big gallon jar and it only filled the jar halfway, so I went and bought another bar of Zote (I think it was 97 cents) and made another batch.  It filled the jar perfectly.

This laundry soap is SO inexpensive, and it works great! You only need to use one tablespoon for each load! Yes, you read that right, just one tablespoon.  I made my double batch back in December, and it's maybe about halfway gone now in April, doing laundry for three and sometimes four people.  Also, I've read that this type of laundry soap is perfect for HE washers, because it makes hardly any suds.

Now for the fabric softener.  I decided to stop using those dryer sheets coated with nasty chemicals.  For fabric softener I use a quart of white vinegar with about 10 drops of lavender essential oil and a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol.  I add about one-half cup to each load in the little receptacle for fabric softener in my washer.  The rubbing alcohol helps the vinegar and essential oil blend together.  The essential oil and alcohol aren't really necessary, but I love the fragrance of lavender.  You can just use straight vinegar if you want, and once your clothes are dry they won't smell like vinegar at all...just fresh and clean.  This works great as a fabric softener and also gets rid of any leftover soap in the rinse cycle.  The only thing it doesn't seem to do is control static. I'm still trying to figure out what to do for that.  I've tried dryer balls, but they're not working for me either.  It's a good thing the weather is getting nicer, and I can start hanging my laundry out on the clothesline again!

Coming up next...Homemade Face Wipes