Wednesday, August 30, 2006

make your own laundry detergent

This recipe will make 2 gallons of liquid detergent for about 75 cents, maybe even less. That's 75 cents for the TOTAL 2 gallons! It doesn't take that much time and it's kind of fun to make. Oh, plan ahead and have something to store it in, like an empty liquid laundry detergent bottle. Or store the bulk of the mixture in a sealed container and the rest in something pretty like a glass jar or jug.

You'll need:
1/3 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
1/2 cup Arm and Hammer super washing soda
1/2 cup Borax

Grate the Fels Naptha Soap. Put in a pan with 3 pints of water. Heat until dissolved. Stir in 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup Borax. Mix and heat until all ingredients are dissolved. Continue cooking for 15 minutes. It will be the consistency of honey. Remove from heat.

In a large bucket (3 or 5 gallon), put 1 quart of hot water, then add the soap. Mix well. Add 5 1/2 quarts cold water (or enough to make 2 gallons total mixture). Mix until well blended. Set aside for 24 hours. The mixture will eventually gel.

Use 1/2 cup for each load.


Fels Naptha Laundry Soap is a bar and is usually located in the laundry section of the store.

Borax can be found near the laundry prewash. (It is called 20 Mule Team Borax)

Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (Not Arm and Hammer detergent) is in the detergent aisle of your store, near the Borax.

I've had good luck finding all of the ingredients at older grocery stores or Walmart.

Sometimes the detergent doesn’t really gel up or even reach honey consistency as described. Don’t fret, dearies. It will still work.

The gel tends to separate in a couple of days. Just give it a stir each time you use it. You can keep it in a detergent bottle like liquid detergent comes in and give it a shake each time you use it.

This detergent will not suds up in the washer, but it is still getting your clothes clean. They say that store-bought detergent has ingredients put in it especially to make it suds so you will think it is cleaning.

The Fels Naptha Soap does have fragrance added so the laundry soap is not fragrance-free.

If you'd like you can add essential oils to customize the scent to suit you.

Cost per load: 1 shiny penny.

Monday, August 28, 2006

swiper, no swiping!

My credit card company called me yesterday to verify that I was repeatedly charging $200 at a time in a Walmart in Georgia.

No. I wasn't charging $200 repeatedly. Not at Walmart. Not in Georgia. No.

Checking my wallet, I found my credit card securely wedged in with its friends. It wasn't was right there. Right?

Here's what my credit card company thinks happened. When I used my card recently at one of my favorite local establishments, anywhere from the drug store to the grocery store, the store clerk stealthily swiped the card through a "scheming device". This device took all of the information from the card and sent it to someone somewhere who used this information to make a fake version of my credit card.

I'm imagining someone with cauldrons of melted plastic bubbling over in their kitchen pouring it into tiny credit card molds. I mean, where, how do these people make fake credit cards? Is it a big elaborate operation, with fake employees who clock in every day to make silly fake versions of my credit card?

In the end, everything is okay. The credit card company guy cancelled my card on the spot. I'm hoping they sent some sort of message to Walmart so that the next time this buzzard tries to use the fake version of my credit card they nab him or her and put them in the Walmart slammer (well, that's only if it is a Super Walmart)

I don't have to pay any of those $200 a pop Walmart charges. That's good news for me. But doesn't someone have to pay it? And whether it is the credit card company that's paying it or Walmart, believe me, we will all end up paying it. Now I am sure that the kind of people who make fake versions of credit cards, however crafty the art, do not read my blog. If they did I would tell them to stop.

But since I'm fairly sure they do not read my blog, I will address this, dear and gentle reader, to you. When your credit card company calls to verify real charges, try not to be annoyed. You'll be forever grateful when they call some lazy Sunday afternoon to report repeated charges at some random Walmart states away from you.

Secondly, check your credit card statement often. The best way to do this is online since the charges show up there so quickly. Make it a part of your day. It'll be good for your budget too. It's kind of like how writing down everything you eat will help you on your diet.

And lastly, be alert. If someone tries to perform some sort of magic, slight-of-hand trick with your credit card, let's see through the smoke in mirrors. I wouldn't suggest confronting them. I don't think shouting "Swiper, no swiping!" like Dora does will be helpful in this case. I would just whip out my little pink cellphone on my way out of the store, call the number on the back of my credit card, and let them take care of it.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

the view from here

Marion had asked to see a bit more of the little collage box that I showed yesterday. You can click the image to see it a smidge bigger. I bought it in March at a shop that was going out of business. It's signed by Cheryl Kuhn. I don't know Cheryl but when I did a search for her name, I found that she indeed has an Etsy shop...isn't that fun? Click here to visit.
I put this sweet Halloween girl out today. She was a gift from my friend Debbie. So cute! I think I'll add a few Halloween decorations here and there this week.
Last time I visited, my mother gave me a crocheted lace panel with a bird on it. When I told her today that I'd put it on the back of my sofa, she laughed and said that I was just like an old lady.
Maybe so...but I think it looks rather nice there. Who knows, I might cover the cushions with plastic, too.
I took everything out of my china cabinet today, windexed and polished the doors and shelves, and then restocked it. Here are some pictures of what's in it. The china is Haviland Limoges. I was really lucky to get it. When I'd first bought the cabinet 7 years ago, I didn't have any really pretty china. My mother asked a friend of hers, Delores, who owned an antique store, if she had anything that I might like. Well, Delores started pulling out these after another after another.
It's 12 placesettings, plus dozens of serving pieces. And there are even a dozen little butterpats. When she said that she could give it all to me for $400, I had no idea what a bargain that was. Of course I bought it and was so excited to have so much of it at once. I found out soon after that the set is worth much, much more than I paid. I'm still on the lookout for a teapot, sugar and creamer. I will probably end up paying more for those 3 pieces than I did for the entire set!
What makes me happiest about it is to imagine the young bride who registered for the set back in 1905 or so and how she might have added to the set through the years. This set is definitely one of my favorite things.
I also added tiny little vignettes inside the cabinet. I have so many itty bitty treasures that I love. The caketopper was my parents'. They kept it under a little glass dome on a high shelf in the kitchen. I remember pulling a kitchen chair up to the shelf and carefully, forbiddenly, lifting the little dome and touching it. When I was planning my own wedding, my parents gave us the caketopper for us to use on our wedding cake. It too is one of my very favorite things.

Friday, August 25, 2006

junk food junky

When I talked to my sugar today I told him that I thought what might make me feel better is a grocery bag filled with junk food.

So, here is what he brought home:

I think I'm on the mend already.

oopsie daisy

I'm feeling a little under the weather today. It's not anything serious...just a little under the weather. Thank goodness it's friday because I always feel a little more free to slack off on fridays.

This morning while I was chatting on the phone with my mother I busied myself rearranging this little shelf in my living room. Just a little mindless task...

Well, just look at what happened! The poor little frozen charlotte (who had already broken her arm years before) fell to the floor. Her little head broke off! I will glue it back on and it will be fine but it did make me scream and then make a little mournful sound.

There are tons of frozen charlottes on ebay, if you're interested in getting your very own. Just do a search for them.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

butter me up

Did you know that you can very easily make your own butter? Using your kitchen mixer? Oh yes!

All you need is heavy whipping cream. You just put the cream (1 to 2 cups) in your kitchen mixer fitted with a flat beater or whisk (or you could use your processor). Set the speed to medium-high, sit back and watch the show.

You'll make whipped cream first, which is fun to do too. The whipped cream will get very firm. Then, suddenly, something very fun happens. The cream seizes and collapses. Everything sloshes around again and you'll see bits of butter. But wait...then a big mass of butter will form and separate from the liquid. That liquid is buttermilk...did you know that? Drain the liquid and press the solid butter to get more liquid out. You can add salt and herbs if you'd like. You can also press the butter into molds to make fun shapes. I like to form it into a half-sphere so that it fits nicely into my Haviland butter dome, and I put a little violet in the center.

How 'bout that? Butter without a churn!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

lucky charms...

More lucky charm bracelets are just in...and they are sure to sell fast. Click the images above to order.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Just take a gander at this swell new desk with hutch that just arrived at the Cottage. Can you tell from the pictures how wonderful it is? The "Miscellaneous" lettered across the top was from an old courthouse. Do you love it?

Desk plus hutch is only $898!

mo jackson doo dads are used in this post with permission.

answer the question

I don't know why this is but I'm terribly neglectful about answering questions people leave in the comments.

I went back all the way to July and found all the questions...and answered them here:

crazycatladymel, from the camping post asks
What kind of set-up is that? Me: It's an inflatable mattress on a stand so that it is off the ground like a regular bed.

Clarice, from the camping post, asks
Do you mind sharing where you got your sink and black wire table?
Me: Here's a link to it.

*jenny, from the sweet sweet so sweet post, asks
Is this the sweet Rosanna who is in Club Little House?
Me: Yup. The one and only.

Janet C. and countless others:
Money book instructions?
Me: If you didn't get the directions, here they are:
from "A Gift for Giving" by Donna Lang.
page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4

Tracey: Do you guys completely empty the Cottage for the Flea Market?
Me: Believe it or not, no. They have so much stuff at the Cottage that we can spread it out between there and the Big Flea.

Bonnie: Please tell me how you add those beautiful white borders to all the pics you post.
Me: I use Mo Jackson's doo dads, which are digital elements that you can add to your photos to pretty them up.

DivaDeb: Where did you find those darling Tinkerbell bottlecaps?
Me:They are scrapbook embellishments. I bought them from a scrapbook supply store.

Lisa, of the buttons I bought sewn to collages: Will you be able to make yourself use them?
Me: as of yet, no. But gee they are pretty!

*jenny and kate and danielle: Please tell me you didn't actually SEW all those buttons on there?
Me: Yes! I did. I mostly just did a once-through for each one. I've worn them plenty so far and they are staying on!

Tracey, on the chloe letters: What are the letters made from? Wood? Foam??? How large are they?
Me: They are made from mdf and are each 9" tall.
I am planning on selling these online so I hope you don't mind if I don't disclose the source or directions on how to make them.

emma (from the post where I model the necklace Tammy made me): Amy, I must know where you got your top! Or is it a dress?
Me: It is, indeed, a dress. I picked it up at Marshall's for a song and I wear it over jeans.

Laura (of the ballerina cupcakes): Did you make the base,too?
Me: Yes. The base is a little box.

Soleclaw: Where did you get the ballerinas?
Me: Guess what! I think I'm going to offer them online. Stay tuned this week.

Cerri and Lucy (of the charms): Where di you find the little holders you are using?
Me: I bought them here.

Do you have any other questions to ask me today? Post them as a comment and I will answer them right away, I promise. Ask me anything...

Monday, August 21, 2006

vote for me?

Hey, friends...guess what! guess what! guess what!

I have been nominated to win a Plummy! Me! A Plummy!

I am so excited. I don't think I've ever won anything like this before in my whole entire life. I'm not joking. And I'm not teasing when I say that my smile is ear to ear and my eyes are full of happy tears.

As they say, it is enough to be nominated. I will be so happy if that's all that comes of this.


is there a chance I could win? Could I really?

I do have a lot of friends. Will you vote for me?

Click here to cast your votes. You need to submit a complete ballot in order for it to be counted. Inspireco is nominated as Best Miscellaneous Craft.

venice, virtually

Care to take a virtual trip to Venice this afternoon? My friend Rosanna sent me these snapshots from her recent visit to Venice, Italy on the way back from a holiday by the sea.

Siteseeing, shopping, espresso-stops, gondola rides...


get your groove on

Click here for a little monday morning diversion...

Use your keyboard to make Pipecleanerman dance. Change the music using the letters to the left and right.

and then get back to work!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

sweet sleep

My doctor wants me to do a sleep study to make sure that I'm getting a good night's rest.

A few things happen while I sleep. The first thing is that I make clicking noises constantly throughout the night. The other thing is that I wake up in the middle of the night very confused about the ceiling fan or the pictures on the wall. Or I think that I see something in the bathroom or in the corner or hovering above me when there is, of course, nothing there.

One night I thought there were pretty garlands strung all over the room with apples hanging from them. I woke Rich up telling him how much I loved it and asking him when he did it. Remarkably, even though it was the middle of the night, Rich was tickled by this and played along. He said "Oh you like it? I'm glad you like it."

It's a bit embarrassing to admit this problem to you. My doctor thinks that I'm not sleeping deeply enough and that I'm still a little awake while I'm dreaming. Something like that. It'll be nice to fix this and finally get full nights of sleep. And, I have to admit, I'm excited about this sleep-study adventure. Nervous but excited. And I ask you, how in this good world am I going to sleep in a strange place knowing there are strangers watching me when I have trouble sleeping in my own safe home with nothing but imaginary things watching me and imaginary decorations all around?

crafting, cont.

I'm still working on these. They are little charms that will go in the ballerina cupcakes for Rosanna that I showed you Friday. I found a whole bunch of photos of children with teddy bears, cut them to size and started applying liquid glass to some of them. I think I'll add a little flower inside each one and tie a little bit of ribbon to the top. I'll also add a backing with the name of the event and date. I think they are turning out nicely.

These two are part of a project that I've been working on for a long while...a stack of birthday gifts! Just imagine this...12 gifts stacked one on top of the other, all about celebrating your birthday! I'm really excited about this idea. I'll tell you more about it soon. But the teeny birthday banner and birthday girl pins are your sneak peek.

These are some rings that I made using vintage plastic jewelry pieces. The are oh-so-mod, no?

Friday, August 18, 2006

act one

My friend Rosanna asked me to make ballerina cupcakes to give as favors for an event she's hosting in September. Can you believe the sea of ballerinas and pink fluff? 25 to be exact.

I'm pausing from my craftapoolza weekend just long enough to show you these pictures. As I finish each project, I'll post pictures. I hope I get lots of fun things made!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

one lump or two?

I have a dream. It's a silly sort of dream, but a dream through and through. I would like to someday live next door to someone who stops by for tea or coffee regularly. I'm imagining that she'll be someone like Alicia or Lucy's Ethel or Betty from the Flintstones. We'll have a nice easy friendship with lots of laughter. Our tea or coffee visits will last just long enough to finish the tea and then we'll get back to our respective homes and busy lives. And I think we should wear frilly aprons.

Do dreams come true?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

bundle of joy

Rich's baby sister, Beth, just gave birth to her first little one, Samantha. We met her tonight. I love brand new babies. Well, I love all babies to be sure. But the newest ones, the way they nudge and smile and are like just little baby birds! And Samantha is so very sweet. She slept the whole time but made sweet little noises and faces.

I thought maybe I would show you how I put together the basket of gifts for mama and baby.

Here's what I bought:

It was one-stop shopping at my neighborhood discount store. If there are a lot of babies due to arrive in your life, I recommend frequenting their baby section for good buys.

Here are some tips for putting together a basket like this:
Keep an open mind. Look in areas other than the baby section. For instance, I found a beautiful quilted throw that I thought would make a wonderful play blanket for the floor.

Take all of the hangers off the clothes. They just make the clothes look cheap. Fold the clothes with a piece of tissue either inside them or behind them. It'll give the clothes a little body. And tie each bundle with a pretty bow.

Think of covering these bases...something practical, something heirloom-quality, something cute, and something to read.

Add details (like her name in the bin's slot)

Get the cutest and softest stuffed animal you can find. Take off any annoying tags that detract from his look. Use him as the anchor for your basket and put things in his arms, tie things to his wrists. You could even put some of the gifts on him, like a bib, hat, booties.

Use items like blankets to "fill" the bottom of the basket so that the items don't sink.

Don't just mark through the tags, especially if they are from a discount store like these were. Just remove the whole price tag. It looks better without 'em.

I didn't have time for this, but it's extra cute to use yards of tulle in baby-shades to "wrap" the basket. Put the basket in the center of the length of tulle. Bring the shorter sides in and tuck into the basket if you can. Bring the two longer ends together, making sure to keep the shorter ends tucked inside. Use a rubber band to secure the two longer ends together. Tie with a pretty satin bow. Tulle also makes a wonderful veil for Easter baskets and the result is so much softer than shiny plastic.

a little bit o' happy

It's no secret how much I love getting gifts. I can't help it. I love it. And if someone says they want to send me something, I get so giddy that I have to sit on my hands to keep from jumping up and down and saying "yippeee!"

Tammy Gilley sent me the nicest email last week saying just that. She had a little something that she thought I might love, love, love.

It arrived today.

And guess what? I love, love, love it!

She calls it a "gumball garlands" and it is so very sweet and cute and funky. I put it on right away and I love how it looks on.

I haven't perfected the art taking a picture of myself with one arm outstretched. You should be happy that I cut my head off. Believe me.