Tag Archive | Housekeeping

(From the Archives) A Handmade Life–Sewing For The Kitchen

This is part 2 of the “Handmade Life” series here at Sunny Patch.  Today’s post involves sewing and creating for your home.

Sewing seems to be an art that is coming back to life as things become more and more expensive commercially.  The quality of factory made things really seems to be heading down hill, and as soon as you purchase a piece of clothing or fabric based item, it needs mending or ravels or rips.  Sure, there’s folks who will never get beyond the stigma of “homemade” items, but for the rest of the world who appreciates quality, a hand made high quality item is much better than the factory made.

This brings us to sewing for the home.

There’s many things in the home that are made of fabric that we can make ourselves.  Think about what you use in the kitchen: potholders, apron, tea or dish towels, dish cloths, curtains/valances, etc.  This is opportunity to not only save on expense, but also create a kitchen that suits your personality.

Today I’m focusing on potholders and aprons.

For the seamstress, making a potholder is probably one of the simplest projects one can do.  In it’s simplest form, a potholder is batting or some sort of filler sandwiched between 2 pieces of fabric and stitched together.  Of course this can be embellished, patched, made with just about any non-melting fabrics (second and third degree potholder burns just don’t sound too appealing, so use your cool polyesters for other projects).

Tipnut has a page of around 30 patterns just for potholders (free, I might add).  So why not whip out some scraps or fat quarters and try a couple of patterns out.   If you enjoy crocheting and/or knitting, this is a great time to break out some cool stitches and make your own potholders too!  I like to make mine double thickness, using 2 strands of medium weight yarn and crochet.  🙂

Aprons are also a wonderful cost effective items to sew for your kitchen.  Think about it–cooking can be messy.  If it isn’t in your kitchen..are you enjoying what you’re doing????  LOL!  I love my aprons, and really need to add more to my collection.  My son Mr. Kevin has inherited a more “manly” one to use when he helps me in the kitchen (he’s my little cook in training–he has helped make pizza from scratch, and then here recently helped make cinnamon biscuits with Christmas cookie cutters).  His apron gets flour all over it in under a second…perfect reason for him to inherit one. 🙂

Aprons are really easy to make.  Seriously.

At it’s simplest, it’s a square with ties to go around the waist.  At the more complex, it’s a fully covering garment that is as pretty as a beautiful dress.  But, the overall idea is the same–to keep the clothing underneath from getting dirty and stained up from working in the kitchen.

My own aprons are a bit complex.  I use pieces from the Country Cape Dress by Candle on the Hill to build mine.  I use the cape part of the dress and half of the skirt, add ties and a snap and have a fully covering apron.  Ok, it’s a little time consuming, but it works out for my purposes.  I follow directions similar to the ones found at Shepherds Hill with modifications to tie in the back.

Wearing these, I honestly feel more feminine, as well as tend to get more work done.  To me, this is a uniform.  My job is to tend the house and work in the kitchen, why not have a uniform that goes along with that?  I also tend to put an apron on first thing in the morning, and use it through out the day.  It helps open up the oven and in a pinch when I can’t find the potholders it becomes the potholder.  It keeps my clothes from getting totally soaked when doing the daily wash on the washboard and then doing dishes at the sink.  It keeps my handmade clothing from getting stained up and covered in sauces and flour and cooking sprays when I cook our meals.  And it makes a great hand towel when I can’t easily grab one and need it quickly to dry hands and catch the phone or help that child who has to have mom right now.  In the garden during the spring and summer it becomes a make shift basket to hold freshly picked veggies.

The kids see me in my apron, and they seem more at ease.  It’s like a comfort thing for them.  They also know mom isn’t going anywhere when her apron’s on.  They wait and watch for the apron to come off to see where I’m going…like maybe somewhere cool like the park or the store or something.  🙂

So, this is part 2 of the Handmade Life series….  I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse into our handmade life.. 🙂

Tip Junkie handmade projects

WestBow Press


This Handmade Life Part 9–Rockin’ The Washboard

This morning I tackled part of a job I do just about every day.  It usually involves standing a long while, getting wet, and dealing with someone’s dirty underwear.  It is….(drum roll please)…scrubbing laundry.

Now, ya’ll who have never done this, it really isn’t that bad.  Ok, the poopy underwear isn’t pleasing…I will admit that.

I’ve been using this Dubl-Handi washboard for nearly a year now.  I found it at a local antique shop for $4, with some wear, but plenty of use left.  Believe me, with 5 people in the family it sure gets it.  When I bought it, it still had all the pretty writing (in red) saying the Dubl Handi name and some other little things about the sturdiness.  This all went away when I put the first bar of Fels Naptha on it.  I like this little board.  It is just the right size to use in a sink (say if we ever once stay at a hotel), bucket, or other small space.  It also has a second side that is for silks, handkerchiefs, nylons, etc.

The main side has extra ridges on the metal, allowing for water to get in the fibers and wash out dirt and grime as the fabric is rubbed against the board.  If used roughly, it can and will put holes in clothing if too much elbow grease is used.

I’m lazy.  I like to let my homemade soap do most of the work.

There are benefits for using a simple washboard…seriously!  Sure, it’s physical work, but there’s reward.  In using a washboard, there’s no need for an expensive washer and dryer.  You do the work of the agitating the clothing against the board to get the dirt out.  You have a portable “washer” you can take anywhere.  You can get out stains and dirt that you didn’t realize was in your clothing.  It saves trips to a laundrymat if you don’t have a washer/dryer.  You can wash without having electricity.

Now, I can hear some ladies saying “that’s hard work!!”  Well, yes, you have to use your shoulders, arms, hands, and back.  You may even break a nail or two, or scrub them off on the metal.  You may get tired.  I know I am after a day of rocking the board!  But after seeing crisp clean whites hanging out on the line, bright colors drying in the breeze, smelling the scent of fresh air in the clothes, it’s worth it.  The monitary savings is very much worth it, as is showing my children and husband that I’m willing to work hard.

How do you use this simple little board?  First, fill up your basin/bucket/tote/sink with water (your choice of location, just make sure you have room for your clothing).  I use hot water, with some liquid Fels Naptha laundry soap I’ve already made.  Set your board in legs first, and add in a couple of pieces of clothing.  As in a regular washer, too much clothing doesn’t leave room for agitating and they won’t get clean…the same principal applies here too.  Take up one piece of clothing and have it flat against your palm and fingers, and then do circular motions with it across the board until you feel it’s clean.  I’d say 2 to 5 times max for one area.  Then, go across all areas of the piece.  It works for something as small as a dishcloth all the way to sheets and blankets.  Heavier stained areas will need more work.  Since most folks don’t get out and filthy dirty, like you’d see with farm work or mechanics or the like, most clothing won’t take long at all to get clean.  I personally do get farm work dirty (even though we don’t live on a farm, I do the outside work here, and there’s plenty to do), at least sometimes, and so I have to work a little harder on my own clothing.  Of course I keep some older raggedy type pieces for that type of work so it’s not so hard on my nicer clothing.

After you wash your piece(s), you put them in a bucket of clean rinse water.  This allows the soap to rinse out of the fibers.  Many folks use fabric softener in their laundry, especially in regular washers, or they feel stiffness and static in their clothing.   The reason this happens is that the soap doesn’t get totally rinsed out of the clothing, leaving a stiffness and residue.  I personally set up 2 buckets most days, or one that is changed out very often if I don’t have room for two.  A nice long dip in the rinse water takes out the soap, leaving your clothes nice and soft, even when put on a clothes line!  Even my towels come out soft (when I’m not rushing and let them sit in the rinse water a while).

The hardest part comes here.  Wringing clothes by hand is not for the faint of heart.  Twist em, squeeze em, do what you have to do to get the excess water out!  This is the equivelent of a spin cycle in the washing machine.  You can spin if you want to. 🙂

Next, haul it all to the line.  This is God’s dryer.  This was used long before the electric ones that heat up the house.  Believe it or not it can be used year round too!  A warm breeze and sun works great, but clothes will get dry even in the dead of winter when humidity is low.  I found this through the winter when using the line even well below zero.  I did get hit with some freeze dried clothing, but they all eventually dried and my hands warmed up. 🙂

I’ve found that hanging pants by the bottom hems work great.  I’ve also found hanging shirts by the bottom work nicely.  Socks I hang by the toe area.  Skirts I put up by the waist, merely to save room on the lines.  I have 6 dedicated lines and occasionally I use hubby’s dog run (a large cable that runs from my T poles to a tree), making 7 lines.  It takes a full day of scrubbing to fill them up, but does get a lot done.

Some days, I admit I get weary in scrubbing.  When I hear ladies complaining about their HE or top loading washers, I think of my little simple scrub board.  It never leaks.  It doesn’t grow mold.  It never needs a repairman.  Should anything happen to it, replacing it is as easy as going to the antiques shop or to the Columbus Washboard Company’s website.  Or Etsy.  Or Ebay.

After nearly a year, I have to say, I don’t think I’d really want to have a washer or dryer again.  I use less water, as one tub of water can do a lot more wash than one run in the washing machine.  rinsing takes longer, but again, uses less water.  I have no electricity (except what it takes to heat the water) need when I wash this way.  I can take my board and buckets outside and enjoy the warm air in the summer and work outside if I desire.  That is something I enjoy in the hotter months, as the sun warms the water, I can take things directly to the line just a few feet away, and I get to be outside.  Ok, so I get some odd looks from folks driving by, but that’s fine.  It’s my back yard and I’ll wash if I want to.

Well, I needs get back to the wash!


Hoarders, or “Do I Really Want To Let This Go?”

I saw a rebroadcast tonight on ABC about a show called Hoarders.  I’ve never seen the show before, hadn’t really heard of it, but was intrigued by what I saw.  I seldom watch tv, as in the network stuff that comes in by digital antenna (we don’t have cable or satellite), so this was new to my sheltered little world.

People had hoarded everything under the sun in their homes, to where there was no place to walk, no place to sit, no area to cook or do dishes, etc.  We’re talking trash, diapers, food, clothing, papers, books, you name it.  Mountains and mountains of this stuff decaying into compost inside the homes.  One home even had 2 decayed cat carcasses INSIDE the house.  There were interviews with people who grew up in those homes, and how they were now.

The children of the hoarding parents didn’t live like that.  They kept clean and tidy homes.  Genetic link?  Probably not.  Granted the notion was put out that the people hoarding had a genetic problem and “it really wasn’t their fault”.  Of course not, we can’t take responsibility for our own actions, now can we?

I will admit that the spot on ABC did get me to thinking.  And looking.

A quick sweep around the house and I have come to the drastic notion–we are low level hoarders.  Oh no, not the kind where you have to scoop shovel out a path, have mountains of junk piled up the ceiling, boxes of 50 year old magazines piling up type thing.  We’re more like papers that are put to the side to read later (but never gets done), things purchased because it was on sale and we might need it, old medicines kept because they may still have some good….10 years expired, keys to places we haven’t lived in or been around in years, etc.  Minor stuff, things that can be easily gotten under control.  But it is a wake up call that turned on the light for me to see it.  It’s more than a clutter thing, it’s letting things go and retraining to not let those things happen again.

It’s also a heart issue.  Are we putting more stock into material things than into what the Lord promises in taking care of us?  Instead of holding back for the “what ifs”, why not use what we are given, and what we don’t need anymore, pass on to those that do.  If it’s garbage, put it out in the garbage.  If it’s useful, find it a new home with folks who can use it.  If it’s paper, shred it, burn it, do something to get it a new home somewhere besides yours.  Do we need to hold on to things as a security blanket?  No.

I will admit it.  I’m guilty.  I’ve shed many things over the years, with moving, downsizing, getting tired of moving tons of junk.  But there’s more to do, especially after marrying a man with some hoarding habits that increase as time passes.  Sure, we both come from homes that had little, with parents who had basically nothing when they were growing up.  But does that mean we have to keep every shred of paper, book, grocery bag, plastic cup, etc that comes into the house?  NO!

Would you like to join us as we begin our own trip down Hoarders’ Lane and declutter along side us?

I’ve already started in the past week or so, with giving away all of my hair clip making supplies that I haven’t used much of, as well as bags of fabric scraps I’ve held on to “just in case” I get a chance to use them.  I’ve given books to the thrift shop, as well as other items have left our house.  I’m guarding against bringing any more back in that can’t be used up immediately.

I imagine this will be the first of many posts on our new adventure….decluttering!


Home Sweet Home

It’s late at night and the house is quiet.  Not a creature is stirring, except for the little Blue Russian kitty.  The wind is blowing hard outside, up to 45 mph gusts that shake and rattle the house.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

I had opportunity to spend some time this weekend endulging in some Waltons dvds, and noticed the ongoing theme of how mom (Olivia) and Grandma were home bodies and tended the home and the needs of the family.  They made home cooked meals, washed on a washboard (til John Boy worked his hiney off and bought mom a second hand wringer washer), made their dairy products with milk from their own cows, ironed clothes, made clothing on a treadle sewing machine and by hand, etc.  The 2 women stayed busy all day tending their home and family.  No going and gossiping with the local ladies, no chatting on a phone (or computer) all day long.

Ok, I know that the Waltons is a fictional series.  But there’s somethings that can be gleaned from even the fictional lives played out there.  We’re in a society that tells us women we have to go out and work 80 hours a week at a job we don’t like for a boss we hate and then come home and work on maybe throwing a take out meal together and sleeping.  We’re told to hold off on families, to limit the number of children we should have in order to keep climbing “the ladder”, and if we get pregnant, to abort that interfering child.  We’re told that we’re liberated, that we should wait until later to marry, but go ahead and test drive some men from our teen years on up til marriage.  Our society even tells us to go ahead and test drive a woman or two as well.  We’re told we need to be a size 6 or smaller, we just have to have all the latest fashions on the catwalk, and if we don’t look like an anorexic runway model, we’re too fat for any man out there.

What happened to the days of old?

I hate to say it, but not too awfully long ago, I was too of the mindset of this world.  I was one to hold down a full time job and a part time one as well to earn as much money as I could.  I didn’t NEED it, nor did I have dependents that needed me to earn.  I just WANTED it.  I also fell into the false theory of test driving the car before buying, only on a dating scale.  I bought into the feminist lie that you must go out with and even sleep with many in order to find that elusive “one”.  I bought hook, line, and sinker, every single lie of the world, that things make you happy, children are a burden, and work work work work and build the bank accounts first and foremost and make that an idol.

NO more!

Today, I am blessed.  I am able to stay at home, to cook home made, from scratch meals for my family.  They may not all like what’s fixed, but there’s hot food on the table.  I am blessed to have constant dirty dishes, as they show that I have food to eat and family to sit around my table and enjoy a meal.

I am blessed to be able to stay home.  I do not have the desire or drive to work multiple jobs and long drawn out hours away from home.  I can go days without leaving home if need be.  There’s plenty of work to be done around the house, it is in itself a full time job.  Sure the monitary pay is minimal to none, but the rewards are more than money can buy.

I am blessed to have the family around me.  Some days they drive me insane, and the thought of spending a nice relaxing vacation at the local psych unit has crossed my mind, but they are my family nonetheless.  Had I stuck with the mindset I had, I would not have them.

I am blessed to have a husband who doesn’t care that I am not a size 6 or below and am absolutely not anorexic.  I do not have to be a stick thin model for him.  I can have curves and padding, an imperfect non-airbrushed body that real women have.  He doesn’t expect me to be the epitome of fashion as well.  I don’t have to have high end clothing and 100 pairs of shoes to have what I need.  A simple dress and pair of shoes suffices.

We really need to look back behind us, to the women who came before us.  We’d do good to learn from the days gone by, from the Depression era when women had to stretch everything to make ends meet.  We need to learn to do more on our own, from cooking to sewing, to homemaking and being there for our families instead of out of our homes.  The lies of the feminist movement have taken so much from us, but we women don’t have to believe the lies.

I fear I’ve rattled on….  It’s late into the night and morning comes so soon…  You all have a blessed night and good morning to come!



The Need to Clean

Have you had the need to wash something, to scrub down a floor or wall, just get your hands going in something that cleans your home?

I’m in that mode right now.  Hubby’s scared.

When I get into this mode, it means that he will be hauling trash outside.  It means decluttering, getting rid of old and useless things, finding dust bunnies of multiple generations, washing things that haven’t been given attention in a while.

I find this rewarding.

I may be an oddball, but I actually am enjoying standing on my head scrubbing the floor with a scrub brush.  I do not do hands and knees due to arthritis in both knees (ouch)..but I get the same affect just in different position.  The scent of the Mr. Clean Febreze liquid cleaner trails through the house.  Soon when I run out of Mr. Clean, Pine-Sol will be filling the air.  Anyway, I’m enjoying seeing little things that the mop misses, like the paper that got stuck under the dishwasher (portable) and got wet and dried to the floor, the little bits of this or that which has been missed with the mop, all brought up by the bristles.  I get to see the “clean” up close.

I also get hubby’s smiling approval for a job well done.

Next comes countertops.  Oh how they get so cluttered.  Small spaces seem to garner more clutter, or at least this is true in our home.  I keep my necessities: the dish drainer (I prefer handwashing my dishes over the leaky portable dishwasher with the butcherblock top–I use it for my bread baking station and storage), the coffee pot with a constant fill of coffee, the stand mixers (hubby insists I keep them handy yet I seldom use them).  Oh, and the radio so I can listen to KVCY out of Ft. Scott.  It is so easy to let these get cluttered and overfilled and unusable.  This happens often here.  For this, I’ve rearranged, decluttered, cleared out drawers and cabinet spaces, and all the extras have new homes.  Yay!!

The countertops I wash down wish a bit of Mr. Clean.  Ok, so it’s not organic and homemade and all that, but I like it, and it works.  I use this and a scrubby and scrub down the old cabinet doors and drawers.  The cabinets are original to this house, which is a good 100 years old or so.  While we are in this rental, I would like to keep them nice looking. 🙂

Our stove is another clutter point.  Our kitchen doesn’t have much room for storage, so many clean pots and pans stay either on top of or in the stove.  It is old.  It is gas with pilot lights, 2 burners no longer work.  They are in the back, so I’ve covered them with with a strip of folded foil, put the burner grates back on top, and it keeps the back of the stove from getting dirty and nasty, and provides storage space that doesn’t get quite as hot on top when the oven is going.  To clean, I just remove and replace the foil in the back, and wipe down the front half and oven front.  Inside the oven, I use foil to put down on the bottom and catch spill overs.  When I bake, I tend to put pans on a pizza pan or baking sheet as a precaution.  I also keep a cheap bread pan (Dollar Tree and Dollar General generally have these for a low price) full of water in the oven, and it seems to help keep things from burning on to the grates and provides the moisture needed to keep things from burning and turning in to concrete.  You all know what I’m talking about.  I’ve not used oven cleaners in my oven.  Those things scare me.  Instead, I use a little soap and water, and a little plastic scraper I picked up at a Mennonite store in Missouri.  For 99 cents, that little thing has been a life saver!

In other rooms, I use a nice little Bissell vaccuum, with the lowest setting on it.  I found this at WalMart for $35 a year or so ago.  I put drops of potpourri oil in the bag (I have tried the cannister vacs and really do not like them), which creates a lovely scent when using the vaccuum.  My carpet powder is home made:

  • A cup or two of cornstarch
  • A cup or borax
  • A cup of baking soda
  • A few drops of Essential Oil for scent
  • Put all this in a covered container and mix well, getting the powders slightly damp.  Let sit unopened for a few days to let the scent permeate the powder and let the powder dry.  Use as you would commerically made carpet powders.

As you can tell…I love using scented items in my home.  I enjoy smelling something that makes me think “clean”.

I grew up with the smell of Pine-Sol.  In my little world, the smell of pine equates to clean.  Yes, I know…odd…but that’s just me.  I can’t stand ammonia, as it reminds me of a litter box.  I already have a litter box and fight with the scent with 3 cats using it…ammonia isn’t something I want throughout the house.  But pine, flowers, lemons, and so on–I love it!

Air freshners are something I use a lot of as well.  I live with hubby and 2 boys (and a girl who tries to be like the boys).  Beano doesn’t work with this bunch.  So, an essential oil and water blend helps combat what Beano will not.  I love drops of rosemary and mint with a little water sprayed around the house.  Also, a half and half mix of water and liquid fabric softener in your favorite scent is great to use.  It makes the carpet fibers feel a little softer too if you spray the floor. 🙂

I hope this has been a little helpful in going about a little cleaning!  My goal for this year is to do more hands on cleaning and get into the deeper cleaning more often, as well as teach the children more about cleaning on their own.


Removing The Clutter

As I’ve been taking out boxes of books, removing some old school desks, and bags of new or unused sewing patterns and putting them all in the truck, I’ve had time to think about the simple act of removing clutter.

The clutter–we all have it, even if in small amounts–that builds up in our homes, our day to day lives, our minds, our hearts.  It permeates if not tended to, taking up precious space and collecting dust.  It creates a look of chaos in the home, the feeling of chaos in our minds and hearts.

Today I am decluttering our house.  At least one room anyway.  Our main living area is our dining room, and so it collects everything.  I do mean everything!  Papers, toys, clothing, shoes, books, dishes, you name it.  If it can grow legs, it collects there.  This is my work area today.

Do you have a lot of clutter in your life?  Do odd and end things pile up in a corner over there, stack up on a table over here?

It’s easy to talk about the physical clutter and how to clean and get rid of that.  Now, what about the clutter in your mind and heart?

Do you have clutter in your spiritual life?  Do things piled up–thoughts of life and all the things to do, worries of finances, health, etc, clutter up your mind and heart and leave a chaotic space?  Do the thoughts that invade from the world clutter up your prayer life?

Just a few things to think about today as we go about cleaning and working on our clutter. 🙂