Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Where's the beans??

I don't know when the cheaper brands of baked beans started being canned as a big lump of beans swimming in a sea of liquid, but now I have encountered it twice, once in a store brand, and once in a brand from one of the largest ag companies.

In the latter case, I pulled out a strainer and measured:  just about exactly half of the can's contents by volume were pourable liquid.

I hate washing strainers.

This reminds me of early in the pandemic, when dried pasta suddenly started taking much longer to cook for some reason.

In other activities, I was able to repair watchbands for two children.  I took a toy apart and pulled some dust out of it that was getting in the way of the mechanism.  I altered a swimsuit so that it would fit for another season.

I knit a dishcloth from acrylic yarn rejected by a child, who also went through a substantial fabric stash and burn-tested samples to separate out the ones with synthetic fibers.

I finished one section of crochet for my curtain project.

Several pairs of pants were retired for being too far gone in the seat, and there is at least one more that needs to be retired, now that I think of it.

My husband dehydrated some cabbage.  I learned that you can freeze tomatoes whole.  Children have been growing mint.

My husband also brought home a vintage metal-frame chair similar to three that we already own.  They are very child-resistant, except for the vinyl seats.  My longer-term plan is to redo them in sturdy leather.

A family from church is making big changes to their diet, and they gave us several boxes of food from their pantry that they could no longer eat.  It was good to get a change from our usual and somewhat tedious simple foods.







Monday, July 4, 2022

Independence Day

We took some popcorn and lemonade and went to see fireworks last night.

I've been progressing with the old-lady-style crochet, but not so far as to want to practice holding the thread properly.


I took a short barrel-style upholstered chair from the fifties that I patched up a while back, and stripped all of the upholstery off it.  The most recent potty-trainee had frequently used it as a place to quietly go without immediate detection, and I am not in favor of unwashables in the home.

As usual, it was a messy and somewhat hazardous process, but very satisfying in its own way.

The chair turned out to have two sets of springs in the seat and cushion, which explained the chair's other popularity as a trampoline.

The looseness in the frame turned out to be from two bolts, easy to deal with.  Beyond that, the structure is fine except for the beginnings of a crack along the top.

I am thinking of building the bare frame out a bit with wood, doing some shaping and sanding, and then finishing it simply with Danish oil (fast) or linseed oil (slower).  For the seat, I am replacing the springy cushion with a washable pillow, and keeping the bottom springs.  Some amount of new padding and cover will have to go over those.

I saved all of the tacks that I pulled out of the chair while stripping it down, which will be useful for other chair projects, especially since our main staple gun is currently nonfunctional in some non-obvious way.


As a research project, I tried mixing acrylic paint with dryer lint, to see what I could do with it.  I found that the lint, mostly cotton, absorbed a lot of the water from the paint, so it dried very quickly and was different to even mix through the lint.  Kneading the two together (wearing rubber gloves) was unpleasantly like handling freshly-vomited cat hairballs, and the dried result is very much like painted hairball.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Sheets and a wreath

My mother-in-law came up with a good set of secondhand sheets from somewhere, which were very welcome here. 

She also brought a box of very nice natural-fiber fabrics and clothing for my eldest child to repurpose.  Child is currently disinterested in any clothing styles less than 200 years old.

Child also went through dozens and dozens of balls of yarn and took samples for burn testing to determine fiber content.  Acrylic and other synthetics melt and drip and curl up while burning, and some of them burn like a cartoon fuse.  

It certainly made me reconsider allowing my family to wear synthetic fibers around open flames.

Cotton, linen, and wool burn much more slowly.  Wool smells like burnt hair.  Cotton sometimes has a small ember still burning at the end when it is blown out.  Linen tends to leave a tiny gray string of ash still hanging

Other children have been busily and ingeniously constructing role-play items from cardboard.

We were given some sweet corn, and my corn huskers left the husks strewn all over outside.  After a couple of days, I separated the leaves and braided them up into a wreath, letting the ends stick out.  The braid was long enough to make two full turns around the wreath; I tied them together with string, and wove a twig through across the top for support.

I still have a little cornhusk wreath that I made last year.  That is now on the back door.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Mending a quilt and a sheet

The quilt I mended by appliqueing leaf shapes over the pulled-out seams.  I sewed around the leaf edges before cutting them out, and then sewed them onto the quilt by hand.

The sheet I mended by a combination of darning and patching.  Darns for the small frayed areas, and patches for the rips, after first closing them with an "antique seam"

The sheet lasted for two whole days before tearing again.  I am not quite ready to purchase a replacement sheet at current retail prices--and accessibility since we are still vehicularly-challenged--so I'm patching it again. 

In the meantime, an old cotton blanket and the large piece of cotton upholstery fabric that I formerly used as a rug are filling in.  It is like camping at home.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022


For various reasons, I've spent the month very much at home.

I've done a lot of the usual recycling of one thing into another:  new cloth diapers from a flannel sheet, and kitchen wipes from worn-out diapers.  I'm making toddler pants out of some 25-cent yard sale sweatshirts.

I laminated some more pretty papers and fabrics for shelf liners.

I decluttered some things that needed to go.

We made a bunch of birthday decorations from paper, including paper coffee filters.  Most of them are still up.

I got a small crochet hook, so now I can crochet my crochet cotton properly.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Porch chair

A project that I planned last year, but didn't do, was to create some kind of a seat for the front porch.

I started thinking about it again, and looked at a couple of broken chairs that I was thinking of combining and re-making.

It turned out that a wood folding chair just needed one small piece of wood replaced--and that piece was held on only by screws.

Replacing the piece--with wood from an armchair that I de-constructed some time ago--actually went as well as expected.

Then I painted the whole thing, after washing it.  That did not go as well as expected; I gave it three coats of paint and it really needs another.  

I also replaced the hinges of an old suitcase that we use for toy storage, with strips of leather, attached with screws and washers.

Thicker, vegetable-tanned leather would have been better, but I used what I had, and I expect that it will stretch and possibly tear at some point.  The leather wanted to twist and spin as I was driving in the screws. 

The other thing I've been working on is teaching myself needle tatting, using shuttle tatting instructions as a reference, but mostly just figuring it out as I go.

I'm not having the tension problems that I was with a shuttle.  The downside of using a needle is that it keeps running out of thread.

Speaking of thread, I find that when I am doing much sewing, the handed-down spools of thread that I am using run out of thread almost regularly.

What looks like an ample supply of thread, may not be.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

New diaper covers

Recently I retired some of our cloth diaper covers, the last of the ones that we bought for our first baby.  I had been extending them for the last baby, who had outgrown them, by pinning them on with the diapers, but the baby started escaping from them regularly.

To replace the diaper covers, I made several new ones:  two layers of fabric with a layer of plastic enclosed in between. For a pattern, I traced around a secondhand pocket diaper that we use as a diaper cover.  It has no elastic around the leg openings, yet it manages to achieve a decent level of containment.  

For plastic, I used ironed-together chip bags for one, and stole my bulk rice bag sewing machine cover for the other.  The rice is both tougher and more flexible.

The sewing procedure is very similar to making prefold cloth diapers, which for some reason I can't find any decent directions for, so:  take the fabric for one side, sew the innards to it on the "wrong" side, then add the fabric for the other side with the "right sides" together and sew around the edges--but leave a gap so you can turn it right side out, and then once it is turned, sew the gap closed. For diapers, I also topstitch around the edges to keep them from inverting in the wash.

For closures, I experimented with using elastic ponytail holders and large (coat) buttons, sewing on the elastics where the tension would keep the loops secure on the buttons.

In practice, this works fairly well, although it would be better to have two elastics per side, so that the back edge doesn't pivot outward and make a gap around the leg.  The buttons I used are large enough that no additional buttons are needed for this.


Then I made a new cover for my sewing machine, using a nice fabric remnant that was handed down to me, that was too small for a pillow cover.


I took some water bottles that were getting in the way, filled them with water and two drops of chlorine bleach each, and put them aside for use in emergencies and outings.

Buying chlorine bleach at the grocery store was annoying.  New versions have been introduced since the last time I bought any, in the Pre-Covidian Era.  Now there are fabric-preservatives and new scents added to most of them.

I also use bleach to turn black cotton clothing into brown cotton clothing, socks in particular.  The key is to use very little bleach in sufficient water, and to rinse thoroughly right afterward.