Thursday, July 28, 2011

Homemade Soap the Easy Way

Reading a favorite blog recently, a gal shared a recipe for homemade laundry soap.

You can also buy a kit to make laundry soap from Lehman's.

The Lehman's kit requires cooking the ingredients in hot water to make a "gel," but this gal just mixed the ingredients dry, and she uses the soap that way. In her recipe, it calls for either Fels-Naptha soap or Zote soap. Fels-Naptha is more for stain-removal, and Zote is more for delicate things and to not irritate skin. The Fels-Naptha soap is dark yellow, the Zote soap is pink. You can get all these ingredients in the Lehman's catalog, either in a kit, or ordering seperately. I was able to get the three main ingredients at the local walmart for around half of what it would be ordering through the catalog. They had Fels-Naptha, but I don't think they had Zote. So anyway, I got stuff, and assembled it to make me some cheap soap. Heavy-duty washing soda, Borax, and the Fels-Naptha soap.

I knew there was a reason I bought an old, rusty grater at the thrift store, just because I liked the red handle! Here I have a plastic container, the grater, and the unwrapped bar of Fels-Naptha soap.

Grating the bar of soap into the container.

The recipe in this gal's blog called for half a bar of the soap, but I just doubled the recipe, and used a whole bar of soap. NO, THIS IS NOT GRATED YELLOW CHEESE! KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN.

The washing soda and borax added.

All stirred together.

Stored and ready to go for laundry day!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

MORE Blooms

My African Violet is just blooming like everything! You can see blooms, plus CLUSTERS OF BUDS beneath them waiting their turn. :) Beautiful!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dishware Finds

Sigh ... this certain thrift store and I ... we have an ONGOING relationship. I just have to stop in there every so often ... you NEVER KNOW what you'll find. I actually took things over these last two times, so I'm gaining on that. Today, I found several pieces of classical piano music to help replace the library I once had. (Forty cents apiece - can't beat that!)

A week or so ago, I found a very nice citrus-green Pyrex casserole dish, and a small "Fire King" Jadite bowl. Casserole - $3. Jadite bowl - $1. The Jadite bowl had a scum of lime on the inside as if water had sat in it (probably why it was so cheap), but a good scrubbing took care of that. Voila! I have my first piece of Jadite dishware! Made a Jell-O salad in the casserole, and that worked great.

Then just a day or so ago, I found these nice little saucer-dishes. One has an "antique" look with a flowery design. The solid pink and yellow ones say "Lu-Ray Pastels" on the bottom. They made me think of Fiesta Ware, though they aren't. Price? Thirty cents apiece.

This embroidered dish towel is one I have, I'm pretty sure my mother made it. And today's Friday! Ha!

I also found another blue Grannyware pitcher.

It's a little bigger than the first one I found at another shop, but still on the "small" side.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I just talked about my African Violet plant, and how I hoped it would bloom soon. Lookee what I found today - a beautiful bloom AND a bud underneath!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Stuff may be scorching outside, but inside, my African Violet is coming along just fine. I helped a lady with a chore this last late winter/early spring, and she had started some leaves in pots. So she gave me one for helping her. When I brought it home, it was just one big leaf stuck in the dirt, with maybe a hint of some teeny-tiny starting leaves at the bottom. Now look at it! Very cool. Now to see some blooms, hopefully.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Strange Salads

Now, the salad pictured above isn't that strange - it's just cherry jello with bananas cut up in it. Mom fixed that a lot when I was a kid, usually also with mini marshmallows sprinkled on top. Very refreshing. Hmm ... It's been over 100 degrees for so long we're all wilted, maybe I should go fix some. Lime jello with pears is also good.

But there are some jello salads that have very unusual ingredients in them. One that's not so bad is lemon or orange jello with pineapple and SHREDDED CARROTS in it. It's a good way to get your daily dose of fiber! But it actually is delicious.

Some very simple fruit "salads" Mom used to make once in awhile included a couple that only required fresh fruit and one or two other ingredients. One was to slice a banana in half lengthwise, spread some mayonnaise on, then sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Now that may sound like a strange combination indeed, but it was ... kind of good. Fruity, nutty, tangy. Another combo was to take a pear half, rounded side down, and pile on a bit of shredded cheddar cheese. That may be similar to how I've heard of some places eating a slice of cheddar cheese on their apple pie.

One VERY STRAGE salad I've come across several times in looking through cookbooks and recipes is an old-timey recipe called "Perfection Salad." To me, it sounds perfectly icky! A version from Mom's '50's-era Betty Crocker cookbook contains jello, lemon juice (or vinegar), cut-up-fruit-veggies-or-seafood, salt, finely shredded cabbage, finely diced celery, finely chopped pimientos and 6 chopped sweet pickles. I think someone just wanted to clean out the fridge and pantry!!!

I do have one favorite salad that sounds a little different and looks awful while you're actually mixing it up. I mean, it looks like barf. But if you can get past that, it sets into a nice-shade-of-green salad that is quite good. It's Lime-y, fruity, tangy and sweet. This was shared in a church cookbook from my original home area by a friend named Beth. I made it for a work carry-in meal once, and it turned out good. Plus I took it to a more recent church meal where we live now.

(That's the name of it!)

1 sm. pkg. lime Jello
1 sm. pkg. lemon Jello
2 c. boiling water
1 can crushed pineapple
1 1/2 c. cottage cheese
1 c. evaporated milk
1/4 c. mayonnaise

Combine Jellos and dissolve in the boiling water. Combine evaporated milk and mayonnaise; add to the Jello. Stir in the pineaple and cottage cheese. Chill until firm.

One salad I had awhile back was kind of unusual, but very good and rich. It kind of reminded me of a Waldorf Salad, but just a few simple ingredients. It seems it was red and green grapes and nuts (pecans?), in a kind of whipped cream-cream cheese mixture. Simple but good! Often, simple is best. Just ask that Perfection Salad!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Freezer Jam

When life gives you strawberries and peaches ... make freezer jam! Well, actually I purposely got the strawberries and peaches from the store. Plus some instant pectin.

Up to this point, I'd never used my potato masher for anything but potatoes. But so often I read on the 'net about mashing the fruit with a potato masher, so ...

... mashed strawberries, ready to add to the sweetener (*Splenda for the strawberry jam) and instant pectin, then be stirred for the required time and put into jars.

Then, mashed peaches for another batch. (Each envelope of instant pectin makes 2 small jars of jam.)

Most fruit gets added to the sweetener/pectin mixture, but the peaches are a little different. They get sweetener (regular sugar this time) and a little lemon juice added to them, then stirred and sit for 10 minutes. THEN they get the pectin stirred in for the required amount of time, and put into jars.

Finished strawberry and peach freezer jam. I made the strawberry with *Splenda, as that's Hubby's favorite flavor, and he's diabetic. Next will be to give all this a taste test!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chocolate Tradition

Happy July 4th!

Somewhere along the way, I got into the tradition of making some kind of chocolate cake for the Fourth of July. Perhaps Mom made one one time, and it just stuck with me. My favorite cake is CHOCOLATE.

At wallyworld, they had cake mixes & frostings - white cake with red and blue confetti, and vanilla frosting that came with red and blue sprinkles. But I decided to make a CHOCOLATE cake and put the frosting combo on it.

This is a chocolate cake you mix in the pan. You measure the dry ingredients into the pan, then make 3 holes and add vanilla, vinegar, oil and water, then mix it all with a fork IN THE PAN. It's pretty dense, but hey, it's homemade chocolate cake!

The frosted cake.

Ready to cut a piece of cake for a snack.

Cake and milk, a favorite combo.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Freezer Jars

I found something neat at wallyworld the other day - "freezer jars." They're not glass, they're heavy-duty plastic (BPA free) with sturdy plastic screw-on lids. The package says they're good for freezer jams, desserts, sauces, single portions, snacks, etc. But you could use them for all kinds of storage purposes. This photo shows the 5 jars that came in the package - three stacked for storage, one with a lid on, and one with the lid seperate. They're about the size of small jelly jars, 8 ounces.

Here's a recipe that was included on the back of the label, which says it makes about 5 (8 oz.) half pints.


You will need:

4 cups crushed fruit (apricots, berries, cherries, grapes, pears, plums or other tender fruit)

1-1/2 cups sugar or Splenda* No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated

1 pkg. Ball* Instant Fruit Pectin

1. STIR sugar and pectin in a bowl.

2. ADD crushed fruit. Stir 3 minutes.

3. LADLE jam into clean jars to fill line. Twist on lids. Let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Tip: When using frozen fruit, thaw in the refrigerator just until soft enough to crush with a potato masher (some ice crystals will remain).

The recipe says to refrigerate up to 3 weeks, or freeze up to 1 year.

The recipe also shows a website called