Felted Wool Dryer Balls

Felted Dryer Ball

I was recently snooping on the Mother Earth News and found an article on dryer balls. I had totally forgot about these! There’s not much to it and they’ve been around for years. Simply put they are a felted wool ball that you toss in the dryer. They tumble with your clothes separating them allowing the dryer to work more efficiently thus taking less time to dry. I’ve been told you don’t need to use dryer sheets when you use the wool balls because they soften your clothes during the tumbling. I still use the sheets because with our wood stove drying out the air we have a ridiculous amount of static and the sheets help.

Essentially, tennis balls would do the same thing. I use them to break in a new Carhart coat. Even though they would they would work to dry quickly and soften clothes, your clothes will end up smelling like tennis ball, not always the most appealing smell.

Using the clothes line in the winter kinda works. It’s how my grandma grew up doing laundry in the winter but I’m not that much of a die hard. I use the clothes line in the summer and dryer in the winter.

Here’s how to make your own:

Wool Scrap

I start with the scraps of pieces from previous projects and bits of wool that didn’t spin like I planned (I messed up). Wrap them tight to start the ball. Then continue to wind yarn in a ball as you would wind a skein to a ball. Normally I wind my yarn loose, I don’t like to lose the give in it. For the dryer balls wind them tight. The tighter the better.

Dryer Ball

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Once you’ve made your balls, place them in a pillow case and tie a string around the case to keep each ball in it’s own spot. If they rub together before they are felted the can unravel.

Toss the tied pillow case into the wash machine and was on with hot water and dry on the hottest setting in the dryer. (From what I’ve heard felting doesn’t work too well in the new wash machines with out the agitator. I don’t know, I’ve never had a new one)

Once they are dry and felted they are ready to use. Just toss them in the dryer and go! (The finished picture is at the very top.)

I use undyed wool yarn because I don’t want to worry about colors bleeding. You must use wool for it’s felting properties.

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Scratch Apple Cider Vinegar

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I could have sworn I wrote about making your own cider vinegar before. As I was reorganizing the recipe pages I couldn’t find the article. Apparently I just posted the recipes on the “What’s Cookin’ ” page. I guess I’d better get on it.

I generally make my vinegar in the fall when I make apple cider, apple butter and apple sauce. You can save your apple peals in the freezer through out the year and when you have enough thaw and ferment. Personally I never peal my apples, with the exception of pie and then they are usually given as dog treats.

By now you’ve probably heard about the million and one uses for distilled and apple cider vinegar. I have the beginning of a vinegar article started and I think that’s where I will leave the history, facts and tips.(Finished it here) So without further ado the easiest vinegar recipes:

Apple Cider Vinegar 1
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This works well with pears too!
Apple Cider Vinegar 1
Print Recipe
This works well with pears too!
Instructions
  1. Place apple peals, cores and scraps in a crock or bucket and cover with water.
  2. Place a plate on top to keep the apples submerged. An extra weight may be needed. A jar filled with water or a rock that has been scrubbed and boiled works well.
  3. Cover the crock with a tight woven cheese cloth or flour sack towel and move to a dark cool place.
  4. This will sit and ferment for about a month. A taste will tell if it's done. If it seems weak let it set for another week and try again. If it's to your liking strain the apple pieces and pour into glass jars for use.
  5. There will be some sediment at the bottom of the jars this is referred to as the "mother". It can be strained out through a coffee filter if you like.
Recipe Notes

**Adding some sugar or honey to your apple peals will give the good bacteria something more to munch on and will hasten and strengthen your vinegar.

** Do not use metal containers to ferment or store the vinegar.

**A piece of wax paper under a metal lid will help prevent corrosion of the lid.

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Apple Cider Vinegar 2
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This one I find to be a cheater recipe, but it does work.
Apple Cider Vinegar 2
Print Recipe
This one I find to be a cheater recipe, but it does work.
Instructions
  1. Any amount of Organic Apple Cider in a crock left to set on the counter will ferment in a week or less.
  2. Once fermented this can be bottled and finished as hard cider or left on the counter for another week or so (check after a week and let it set longer if needed) to turn to vinegar.
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Using a Tree For a Curtain Rod

Ok, so before Christmas I wrote “Don’t Mind the Tree in the Kitchen” and it was left “to be continued”. Well here’s the other half. It’s not nearly as big of a “Ta Da” as I had hoped.

curtains

This is a picture of the curtains in the kitchen. As you can see… you can’t. The wood shelf/valance that is there hides the rod. I was going to take it down but who ever put it up nailed it from every possible direction! Taking it down would involve filling holes, removing wall paper and painting. I will take on plenty of new projects but I am still sick of painting from when we moved in, so for now it stays.

above the sink

Using the drop cloth for the fabric has worked well. It got too cold much faster than I anticipated so I didn’t get the loops sewn to the back so they work as a roman shade rather than a tie back curtain. The one above the sink is done. Pictured here.

I still hope to use some brown paint and paint a silhouette of a tree with branches reaching through all three panels. That’s permanent and I haven’t got my game plan together yet.

work room

This window in our “work room” or craft room works well with the tree. You will have to excuse the curtains, the belong in a different room but for demonstration sake I hung them here. With a few twigs or a round of dried flowers or leaves for tie back they would be simple but kinda cute. For the mean time, it doesn’t get above -20 out, so keeping the cold out and the warm in is my goal. I plan to revamp the window treatments come spring, when it’s still frozen out but warming up.

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Her Cape in Disguise

Winter aprons

For the past while I’ve been in a rut. I just can’t seem to get as much done as I would hope during the day. This feeling drives me absolutely crazy! To the point where I get a bit short of patience. I needed a productive day and today was it. It’s -50 with the wind chill out but life doesn’t stop when it gets a little chilly outside.

It was a usual morning; get up, get the fire started for the day, start a load of laundry, get ready for the day, breakfast. Then I did something I haven’t done in a long time…I put on a apron. It’s been so cold I’ve been wearing sweatshirts and I can’t wear an apron over a sweatshirt; it’s bad luck or something. Today was an apron day.

There are three things I have more of than any one person needs; clothes hangers (an ungodly amount! I don’t know how we ever accumulated so many!), Cake pedestals (which I still collect even without the bakery) and Aprons. I have an apron collection that would put almost any granny to shame! I have seasonal aprons, one for farmers market, for gardening and animal tending, everyday ones, fourth of July ones, and Christmas ones. This is one thing I will probly never quit collecting. I used to wear an apron every day and need to start again.

Here’s a secret that I have never heard before but I now know is true: an apron is actually a cape in disguise! With an apron on, I was able to get ham stock going, eggs pickled, 15 bean soup on the stove, yogurt in the oven (my incubator), 3 loads of laundry done, kitchen cleaned and floor too, all before 1 pm! That was just the first half of the day!

Did you ever stop to wonder how grandma or great grandma managed to feed the family big meals all from scratch, keep up on the cleaning, the laundry which was all done by hand not to mention the gardening and other daily chores?! It was her cape in disguise!

Aprons did not start out looking as they do today. In the beginning fabric was not as easy to come by. People didn’t have closets full of clothes, they had very few. Aprons were worn by the working class to protect there clothes. The first aprons were very simple; a rectangular piece of cloth with ties. To add embellishments, ruffles and such was a waste of fabric.

Personally I believe all aprons should have ruffles and pockets. Not all of mine do but they still serve the purpose and I wear them until they are very worn out and then I wear them a bit more.

With the holidays done for the year I can now put on my apron and put the finishing touches on the projects I have started around here, like the tree curtain rod, a few leather projects, processing of some raw fleece, venison fat soap and then start a few more before the spring thaw and we move outside for the season.

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10 Tips to Keep This Years Resolution

 

writingIt’s almost the new year, store ads are boasting big sales on exercise clothes and equipment. Gyms are having new member sales. I had a gym membership before we moved out of town and I hated this time of year. I would simply not go to the gym for January and February. By March it was safe to go back as most the “New Years Resolutioners” had quit going.

I used to make a list of resolutions for the New Year. I would do as most other people and keep them for a short while and forget. The usual diet, exercise resolutions were the second to go. The first to go was practice my guitar and banjo every day. That never lasts and it’s one I made every year. There have been a few resolutions I have kept: quit eating fast food (with the exception of local sandwich shop), and get up when my alarm goes off are a couple.

In all my resolution making, keeping and forgetting I have learned a few tips to help you keep the resolutions you make.

Here we go:

1. Start Small
– Going to the gym or exercising every day or even every other is a big commitment and requires a lifestyle change right off the bat. Commit to exercising two days a week for a short time. Pick the same two days each week (ex. Monday and Thursday). Do this for January, February add one more day and a little longer time. Continue like this until you are doing the days and time you want.
– Same goes for dieting. All diets start “next Monday”. Your diet can start today! Don’t over do it though. Start small. Change one sugar drink a day for water, or one snack for fruit. Maybe you are going to start eating breakfast, start with something quick, banana or toast. By starting with something quick it won’t disrupt your current morning routine so you will keep it up.
– Another diet tip- eating a huge piece of cake on Sunday because your never going to eat cake again starting Monday will set you up to fail right away. Your body will need longer to “detox” if you will from whatever you gorged on the day before, giving you a craving feeling and making the start of a diet miserable.

2. Keep Reminders
– Whether it’s sticky notes on the bathroom mirror or an alarm on your phone to remind you of your goal. Simple really the more your reminded the more you remember to try.
I say “try” because having a perfect record is nearly impossible. A little slip is ok sometimes just remember what your goal is.

3. Set a Goal
-This is a multiple step. Set the big goal (run a marathon. lose 20 lbs, use up your current yarn supply) Then set a series of smaller goals each one leading up to the big goal (run 15 min a day, lose one pound a week, use this ball of yarn).

4. Do it With a Friend
– If your lucky enough to have a friend with the same goal strive to reach the goal together. It doesn’t matter if you make it a competition (who can knit the most sweaters by spring) or you go it at the same rate. Life moves fast these days you may not be able to get together to knit but you can call or send a letter, text or email of encouragement or show off and see how the other is coming.

5.One at a Time
– If your like me you wan to do it all… yesterday. Again setting yourself up to fail. I had very good luck one year when I had a stack of random projects I wanted done and others I wanted to learn how to do by making a calendar. January was the month of knitting, February was leather, March was banjo (fail), you get the picture. If I wouldn’t have set monthly goals I would have attempted everything in January and wouldn’t have got to far.

6. Want it!
– Talk all you want but until you really truly want it its not going to happen. Simple as that.

7. Do it for You!
– Setting a goal because of someone else is another set up for failure. This is true for most everyone there is always an exception for this one and loving parent doing something for a child but these cases are few and far between.

8. No One Will do it for You!
-Even if your working with a friend they can only encourage you they can do it for you! This is where Wanting it comes into play. It’s very frustrating when you try to help and encourage as best you can when the one your trying to help wont help them self.

9. Keep Trying
Everything takes time. It takes 21 days to make a good habit and 3 days to break it. Doing something new (again) takes time. Usually it takes trying and failing multiple times before your get it. Just like learning to ride a bike. Just keep trying!

10. Hey, There’s Always Next Year
– If you fail miserably this year try again next year! 🙂

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