Category Archives for "Making Home"

8 Home Tour Summer 2017, RV 5th Wheel

Home Tour Summer 2017

It occurred to me recently that I started this blog with the intent of sharing my home “inside and out”…but most of my posts have been outside! Now, that’s not entirely surprising, as I do spend much of my time outdoors. However, I do want to share the inside of my home with you as well. So that’s what I’m doing today!Tour our 1997 5th wheel RV

Welcome to my home!!

Come on in and enjoy a cup of coffee with me. Time for a home tour of my 36′ Alfa Ideal 5th wheel which has been our home for the past 3 and 1/2 years. We downsized from a 1000 square foot modular home to our current 325 square foot RV.

Large slide out RV decor, 1997 5th wheel.

This view of our largest slide out is what greets you as you step inside our tiny RV home. Half living room space, have dining room space. The dining table and chairs are an antique store find. Shabby Chic Dining table and chairsThe drop leaf style table works perfectly for our small space. When we are not using the table, we just fold it down and have room to turn the chairs around as extra seating for guests. During occasions where we have multiple guests for dinner (yes, that does happen in our tiny home!), we can easily pull the table out into the middle of our living room and seat 6 people quite comfortably.

You can view the video tour of our home on YouTube as well:

My little cozy up corner occupies the other half of this slide out. I love a good rocking chair, and I finally came up with the perfect “inn table” solution to house my lamp, books, computer and other personal things that I use on a daily basis.Office space in a 5th wheel My hubby had built these sturdy wooden crates out of scrap wood for garden produce during harvest season. I just love them and have used them for so many things! They make a perfect little bookcase, with space to organize a few other items and place a lamp (and a cup of coffee!) on top.

The Office

Moving around the room to the left, we have our “office”, if you can even call it that! Home to the printer, electronics/chargers/paper clips, etc.. This is also one of the few spaces in the house that I get to decorate. With so many windows (9 BIG windows in the living area!!), there is scarcely a place to hang a picture. So our favorite beach picture found a home where the TV used to be.

I would say this is one of the less than appealing sections of the house, and we have talked of tearing these cabinets out and re-designing this corner MANY times. But it has never happened, mostly because we live here and there just isn’t room for remodeling, especially when you have clients coming into your home for music lessons on a weekly basis!

I should mention that we purchased this RV with no furnishings. All the original furniture had already been taken out. I was glad of this because I wanted to re decorate anyways! The RV style window treatments were the first to go!! I replaced them with regular curtains and bamboo window blinds.

The Cubic Mini Wood Stove

Our newest addition to our small home is this adorable wood stove from Cubic Mini Wood Stoves. We have enjoyed the cozy warmth from this stove immensely!! If only we had known about these tiny stoves sooner! Our electric bill was through the roof the two winters before we purchased this stove. This past winter, not only did we save on our electric bill, we stayed warmer and cozier too!! We are so thankful for our wood stove.

Music studio in a 5th wheel RV

RV Style Music Studio

As you probably know, I am a private violin coach and teach private music lessons on a weekly basis. When we first toyed with the idea of moving into an RV, one of my biggest concerns was my piano. Ain’t nobody putting a full size acoustic piano in an RV!! Oh my was it ever a debate between my husband and I! Between his back trouble, our mission to downsize, and dreams of tiny home living, we had some decisions to make regarding my musical instrument situation. Full size Piano in an RVIn the long run, we decided to go with this Yamaha Digital Piano and I have to say, I am in LOVE with it and it is the nicest piano I have ever had.

Have you ever seen an RV with a full size piano AND a wood stove!? Pretty awesome I think. When people walk into our house, one of their first comments is something like, “Oh wow! You have a piano in here!!” I think a piano adds a very “homey” feel and just really helps the atmosphere of our home. I’m so thankful I didn’t have to say goodbye to owning a piano!

Oh and, in case you were wondering, that’s Beethoven Bear and Mozart Mouse hanging out on the music stand of the piano. They help me teach the little musicians!
Bookcase decor
We only have room for one bookcase in our little house. But then, who really needs to own books these days anyways? When you look them up on Amazon, you can get a copy of most books for pennies! And of course there is always the community library too. These books are either for reference, or sentimental in some way.

Again, I’m glad for a small space to decorate and display. I just love the glass doors on this bookcase. Seeing as this sits right beside the piano, I keep a lot of my music books down there on the bottom shelf for accessibility.

My Favorite Kitchen

And then there is the kitchen. You know, this is the smallest kitchen I’ve ever had, but it is by far my favorite! I have space for exactly what I need and nothing more. Letting the dishes pile up is not an option. Everything is within hands reach, and everything has a specific place. I’ve never had a more practical or organized kitchen. I also love that it is right close to the living room, so I can visit with guests while I work in the kitchen to finish up dinner.RV Kitchen

I don’t have a picture of it, but we do have two propane refrigerators in here, a pantry cupboard, and some extra storage above and below the refrigerators. I tend to have a “self sufficient” mindset and do lots of preserving and canning. I also like to stock up on certain pantry items when I find a good deal. Thanks to an extra chest freezer that we keep outside, I’ve never had to hold back on putting up food.

RV decor

This picture shows a bit of my storage spaces, including an extra canning shelf that my husband had built for our previous home. I’m thankful we were able to bring it with us into the RV.

We did replace the flooring soon after moving into our 5th wheel. It used to be a laminate floor with a bit of southwestern flair. I kind of liked it! But it was old and getting chipped in multiple places.

Hubby installed this flooring as a birthday gift to me one year. I really love the grey wood look, and they are so easy to clean! We had thought about ripping out the teal carpet (I kind of hate my teal carpet!), but alas, we decided to keep a little bit of cozy carpet in part of the house. I try to ignore the carpet color, but it kind of dominates my decor options!! Nothing against teal, it’s just not very suitable as carpet.

A Bedroom for Two

RV bedroom decor

Next up is the bedroom. Folks, it’s kind of hard to make a cozy haven of a bedroom when it is this cramped! This has been a bit of a frustration for me as I really value making a special place for me and my hubby to relax. But, I’ve made the most of what I have to work with.

Cozy RV bedroomWhen things are this tight, it gets messy VERY fast! I am always cleaning the bedroom, and tidying up in here, and yet it seems like it is always messy. Or shall we say, “lived in”?

This is about a cozy as it gets in here. We have room for a few special quilts and blankets, which kitty Macchiato uses as a bed, and some extra throw pillows. I’m pleased that we also found space for my cedar chest that my dad built for me as a high school graduation gift.

You can’t see it in the picture, but there is a llama engraved into the top of this chest. Inside are some of our keepsakes, and a couple more blankets.

The Practical Rooms

Looking back from the bedroom towards the living room, you see that the bathroom is between the two. Both of these doors close either direction, which is very handy.

5th wheel decor

After complaining about too many windows in the main part of the house, I find it humorous that I “added” a window to the bathroom decor. It just seemed fitting for a space that felt so cramped! Here are a couple pictures from the bathroom/laundry area.

I just love my Splendide Washer/Dryer Combo!!! We drove through a snow storm to pick this gem up during the first January we lived in the RV. What an adventure! Love having memories like that behind the things I own. Anyhow, this amazing machine works like a charm. You put the clothes in dirty and take them out clean AND dry! There are a couple down sides to it, such as TINY loads of laundry, and the frustration of not having a lint screen.

All my extra linens fit in the closet space above the washer, which would normally be very limited by a double stacking washer and dryer set.

A Wooded Front Yard

Last but not least, I had to share a few pictures from my front yard as I do consider this a big part of my home. We both spend a lot of time outside and we really enjoy our unique front yard that is much more like a small park.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! We feel very blessed to have been able to live here for the past 3 years. If you enjoyed the tour, please consider sharing this post via social media. And don’t forget to leave me a comment and let me know how you enjoyed your visit to my country home!!

Home Tour of 1997 Alfa 5th Wheel

How to mend jeans in 5 easy steps with pictures

How to Mend Jeans in 5 Easy Steps

For some, ripped jeans are right in style and they actually purchase them new with rips and tears!! Well, I have a hard time keeping mine in working order. I have to tend to those torn jeans before long or I don’t have a pair of jeans to speak of anymore! Now, if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my post stating that dealing with the mending pile is one of my least favorite house chores. But, that is what I tackled this week and now I’m going to share with you, in 5 easy steps, how I mend my jeans.

How to mend jeans in 5 easy steps with pictures

I had some wool felt in my sewing cabinet, leftover from when I made my Crazy Cat Quilt. I thought this would work well because it would be fairly soft against the skin and not likely to unravel over time.

How to mend jeans in 5 easy steps with pictures

I cut a piece of cloth about 1/4″ larger than the hole I was patching on all sides. Then I reached inside the jeans to place the patch where I wanted it. I like to work from the side that’s actually going to show.

How to mend jeans in 5 easy steps with pictures

Intending to do a zigzag stitch, I almost forgot to set the seam by starting with a forward and back straight stitch. The zigzag seam is nice because it buttons down all those loose ends that are trying to unravel.

How to mend jeans in 5 easy steps with pictures

I reverse stitched right back over the top of my first zigzag seam to be sure I caught all the threads. And I was too lazy to pull it out of the machine, and restart going forward when I could just hold the reverse button down. LOL!

How to mend jeans in 5 easy steps with pictures

This is something I had to learn the hard way. The first few times I patched my husbands jeans, I soon discovered the patch cloth was unraveling, folded over, and frankly very uncomfortable. To avoid this, I always stitch all the way around the edge of my patch to secure all sides and prevent any unraveling. Not that wool felt would unravel! But it depends what type of fabric you use. This tends to make the patch look a little messy, but it gets the job done. I don’t know about you, but I’m more worried about getting the job done than caring how it looks.

How to mend jeans in 5 easy steps with pictures

Aw, the wonderful feeling of knowing I resurrected something a lot of people would have thrown in the Goodwill or even the trash. I really don’t think the patch is very noticeable. It would have been a lot harder to see had I used blue thread…but once again, I was too lazy to change out the spool and bobbin for a different color! Simply because it doesn’t matter to me. These are my work jeans now and the plants in my garden really don’t care.

How to mend jeans in 5 easy steps with pictures

 

 

2 White washing terra cotta pots.

White Washing Terra Cotta Pots

I’ve been noticing white washed pots in a lot of farmhouse decor and white decor homes. Ever since joining Instagram a few months ago, these white pots just keep showing up in my feed. Every time I see them I just think how much I like them and would love to have some pots like that! Well, I decided I was going to have white pots for my kitchen herb garden this year.

White washing terra cotta pots

why i went with terra cotta

At first I planned on purchasing my white pots, but as I started shopping around, I noticed that nice pots were about $10-$30 each. Then I noticed the terra cotta pots. I’ve always liked these pots anyway and I loved the variety of shapes and sizes to choose from. I’d seen a lot of people showing off their painted Terra cotta pots on Pinterest, so I decided to give it a try. I picked out 3 medium sized terra cotta pots that I thought would fit nicely on my dinning table. I went home with my 3 pots for less than $10 total. I knew I could use leftover white paint we had at home to decorate these pots just how I wanted.

White wash terra cotta pots

This project sat on the kitchen table for a couple weeks waiting for a break in my schedule. I’ve found that I have to make breaks for my projects, that is the only way I can get them done. There is always more “work” to do, always some responsibility that tries to stay ahead of my efforts to create a homemade life. We all have the same amount of time in each day, and we have time for what we make time for. One Sunday, I chose to make time for my white pots.

White washing terra cotta pots

a whiter white wash

Most of the white washing I was finding on Pinterest was very thing. So thin that the orangish terra cotta color was still very present. I wanted more of a solid white, but with the textured look that white washing gives. This was my first attempt at white washing anything so I wasn’t sure how much I should water the paint down. Since I knew I wanted a solid white color with texture, I decided to try the normal thickness of the paint first.

supplies to white wash terra cotta pots

I gathered my supplies together: paint brush, old paint can, an old rag, a shop towel to protect the table, and my pots. As I was getting things set up, my husband commented that I might want to change out of my nice clothes before I started painting. I brushed it off at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew it would just be silly to accidentally ruin my nice clothes with a splotch of paint. I took an extra minute to run in the bedroom and change into some older clothes with some rips and tares before continuing.

three tries a charm

Throwing the shop towel over the kitchen table, I spread out my workspace. When I was shopping for my pots, I went ahead and purchased the little coaster bases for each pot. So I had three of these bases to test my white washing skills before I had to work on the more visible surfaces of the actual pots. I painted the first one solid white and then tried to use my rag to wipe some of the paint off in ares to create the textured look I wanted. Well, this didn’t work out so well! The paint soaked right into the terra cotta and wasn’t going anywhere by the time I grabbed the rag to do some texturing.

White Wash Terra Cotta Pots

Next I found a disposable ziplock container and poured about 5 tablespoons of paint into the container. Then I added 1-2 tablespoons of water and mixed it together thoroughly with my paint brush. Grabbing the second planter base, I tried again. This time I got exactly what I was after! Nice white color, but thin enough to leave the marks of the paint brush trailing behind. When blended with the rag it was perfect! Exactly what I was hoping for. I perfected my blending skills on the third planter base but I still felt a little nervous about painting the pots themselves. Oh well! Time to get it done! It would either work or it wouldn’t, either way, I could still plant my plants in the pots just fine.

White washing terra cotta pots

blending the texture with a rag

Starting from the bottom of the pot, I did three rows of painting. I found that my paint brush had enough paint to get all the way around nicely one time. Then I had time to blend the texture how I liked with the rag before the paint dried or soaked into the planter too much. I found that the watered down paint didn’t soak into the pot quite as fast, which is exactly what I needed, to give me time to blend and touch up.

White washing terra cotta pots

I carefully set the pots aside to dry after painting the outsides of them. By the time I had finished painting all three pots, the first pot was basically dry. I picked it up carefully and turned it upright to paint the inside rim, just deep enough to reach the soil depth. This was one of the messiest parts of my task. Since I had already painted the outsides of the pots, any excess paint that ended up on the lip of the pot tried to run down the outside. I caught onto this on the first pot, so I was quick to grab up my rag to wipe the rim after running the paint brush around on the inside. Of course, it was also difficult to make a clean sweep with the brush on the inside of the pot, but it didn’t matter because the soil would cover the rugged edges of my painting. It was messy, but also the least visible part of the pot, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

the final product

White wash terra cotta pots

From start to finish I’d say this project took me about 45 minutes. Most of that time was spent prepping my work space, and coming up with a plan. It was a very easy project and turned out just how I imagined. For my first time white washing, I was pretty pleased.

8

Bit by the Spring Cleaning Bug

Anxiously anticipating spring for all of February, I got a little ahead of myself last weekend when the sun came out for two days in a row. I take one day each weekend to unplug from electronic devices and social media and it always surprises me what I fill my time with instead. This time it was spring cleaning!

It all started with a thorough cleaning behind the stove in the kitchen. In order to wipe down the back splash, I had to move the sugar bowl, cinnamon sugar shaker, recipe box, and some other items that somehow just ended up behind the stove.

Jonathan built this shelf from recycled materials, and then modified it to fit in our current home.

When I finished cleaning, I just couldn’t bear the thought of cluttering it back up with these little items so I decided they needed a new home. Turning around I decided to make room for them on my canning shelf.

As I started to re-arrange things on the canning shelf to make room for the new items, I noticed there were a lot of empty jars collecting there. Now it was time to clean and organize the whole shelf! I removed all the empty jars, surprised to notice how much of our canned goods we actually have been using. I make all this canned food, and then it’s easy to feel like we aren’t using it. The empty jars are proof that we really do use our home canned goods!

After wiping everything down, I traded some full jars from storage for the empty jars to restock the shelf. As usual, Cat in the Country had a great time poking her nose in everything I was doing. She thought the empty spaces in the shelf were just the right size for her. She loved playing around on top of the shelf as well! I took the opportunity to snap some cute pictures of her. I did appreciate having a work buddy.

The next day I decided it probably wasn’t going to freeze again (I was wrong!) and it would be safe to put my precious Geranium and Fushia plants that I had been overwintering back outside for some of the lovely sunshine. What resulted was a spring cleaning session in the front yard! One thing always leading to another. After hanging up the baskets, I noticed a lot of moss building up on my other planters, front porch, steps, and even the side of the house. After scrubbing all of those down, I removed the pieces of lattice from around the base of the hydrangeas and replaced them with a thick layer of wood chips. The lattice was placed there to keep the chickens from scratching in the potting soil I had used when I transplanted the hydrangeas to their permanent location. For some reason the chickens are extremely attracted to the little white beads of perlite in the potting soil. I’m hoping they’ll leave the wood chips alone!

Once the yard was spruced up as best I could in this wet, Pacific Northwest region full of moss and mud, I came back inside and decided it was time for the winter decor to come down. Away with the snowmen and out with the bright colored….wait. Hmmmmm. What was I going to do for spring decor? My new curtains I made last summer completely clashed with the purple hibiscus garland I’ve used in previous years. As I pondered my spring decor options I noticed all my curtains were looking a bit dungy so I stripped them all down and into the washer for a freshening!

With the curtains down and in the wash, it looked like a great opportunity to finish my project of shortening my new bamboo blinds. I moved all the furniture to the opposite side of the house to give myself room to work, spread out my tools, and brought the blind down to shorten it. More about that project in another post!

Now that my walls were practically naked, I noticed they were also in need of some cleaning. Out with the scrub brush and some cleaner! Wrapping that up was perfect timing for the dryer to finish up my curtains which I then had to iron before I could hang them back up. As the day went on, one cleaning project led to another until I was completely exhausted and collapsed in my chair in the middle of trying to hem some of my oversized curtains to fit the window. (I don’t know why I didn’t do that a long time ago!) This hemming project was just going to have to wait until another day.

The spring cleaning continues, section by section I will get this house sparkling clean again to match the bright and cheery sunshine that comes with spring. What has the Spring Cleaning Bug inspired you to do this year? I’d love to hear some of your cleaning tips/projects in the comments!

2 Crazy Cat Quilt by Buggy Barn

Crazy Cat Quilt by Buggy Barn

Near as I can figure, it was 3 and 1/2 years ago that my sister invited me to attend a Quilt Show with her. I invited my mother-in-law along and we made a day of it. So many quilts to see but my eyes landed on one in particular.
The Crazy Cat Quilt by Buggy Barn. The lady who made the quilt was deaf yet she still communicated with us. Her quilt just stood out above all the others! The color scheme was perfect and the cute fabrics she choose fit in with the cat theme. I was inspired! I wanted to have that quilt and I knew the only way I was going to get it would be to make it myself.

img_3756

My mother-in-law bought the pattern book from Buggy Barn and gifted it to me for my next birthday. I needed the perfect fabric though. I knew that I had fallen in love with the quilt because the fabrics were put together so well. We shopped and shopped. Nothing appealed to me. And so the quilt went on the back burner for the first of several times.

One day I realized I had several fat quarters that I loved sitting in the cupboard. They were all from the same line and matched the color scheme I had envisioned. And so it began…on December 4th, 2014, the cats were cut and over the next several months, I pieced them together. They went under the bed to rest on several occassions.

2015-12-25 17.33.18When they were finished, I had to go to the store to buy fabric for the flowers. Craft Warehouse had just the fabric. I had been feeling like my colors were too dull. The fabrics for the flowers really brightened things up nicely!

With the quilt blocks all finished and pieced together, I had finished the most enjoyable part of the project. The thought of quilting the thing intimidated me. I had only done little baby quilts up to this point. And only the jig saw puzzle stitching. Trying to make a decision for designs to quilt on here baffled me. And, I hadn’t found a backing fabric I liked yet. On the back burner it goes again.

My mother-in-law asked about the quilt from time to time which reminded me I wanted to finish it up. I searched Pinterest high and low for backing fabric. I fell in love with this one fabric from Red Rooster so much so I just had to have it! My quilt would not be complete without that fabric! After hours of searching the internet I learned that it was an oldimg_3533 pattern, no longer being printed or sold. Ugh! I knew I couldn’t find fabric I loved as much as that. One day when my mother-in-law was over I showed her the fabric on pinterest. I had given up hope of being able to have that fabric. But she went home and got busy! Next thing I knew she was calling me on the phone saying “I found you’re fabric! It’s at a quilt shop in Nebraska!! They’ve got 5 yards, how much did you want?” Dumb founded I said “Buy it all!!……how in the world di you find it!?” I guess a quilt lady knows what to look for just as a musician knows how to find that certain sheet music they’re after. I still couldn’t believe it. We both half expected to get an email notice that they had made an inventory error and actually did not have the fabric afterall. But it showed up in the mail! Now this was motivation!! I set out to FINISH that quilt.

We won’t mention how long it took me, but finish it I did!! This is quite an accomplishment for a girl like me. Sewing is totally not my thing….until I want something specific. Something I can only make myself.


2 Cold Process Soap Making

Soap with On Guard

I was inspired to make my own bar soap a long time ago. Rumors about Lye always scared me away. I started seeing recipes for “Homemade soap without Lye” so I looked into that. This is usually Castile soap. I attended a Farmers Market in a nearby town and met a lady who made all types of soap, including Liquid Castile Soap. I purchased her last bottle of this soap and started talking to her about soap making. She couldn’t over emphasize how easy it was, saying she used to be afraid of using lye too, but it isn’t as bad as people make it sound. She admitted that she has gotten pretty relaxed while using it and actually wears shorts and flip flops while making her soaps! Then she showed me a couple minor burns she had gotten from the Lye. I’m not sure WHY exactly, but somehow that helped me overcome my fear of lye. Seeing first hand what a burn from lye looks like, and talking to someone who had actually used it and gotten comfortable using it helped me face this fear.

coming up with a recipe

The Castile Soap left much to be desired, in my opinion. I didn’t feel like it was a good degreaser and I didn’t like how it smelled. So I started researching homemade soap making. After tons of reading, Pinterest, and YouTube videos, I finally felt knowledgable enough to make my own soap. The first time took me 5 hours from start to finish as I was carefully reading and re-reading my directions to be SURE I got everything exactly right. I followed the cold processing method from The King’s Roost for my first batch: Basic Cold Process Soap Making.

Homemade bar soap with On Guard

This time around I decided to use some Shea Butter I had leftover from when I made Lotion Bars and Chapstick with my sister. After sifting through several recipes, I decided to modify the Lots of Lather recipe for a really hard bar of soap from The Soap Queen. Using this Lye Calculator, I put in the amounts for the different types of fats I had so that I could safely calculate exactly how much Lye I should be using.

a few words about lye

Lye is poisonous and should be handled with care. It can burn you easily, so it is important to do some research so you know what you are dealing with. I recommend covering your skin and eyes with protective gear before you bring out the lye. Also keep it away from food and drink. I keep my soap making pot, containers, and utensils separate from my regular cooking dishes.

KOH Flakes for Liquid Soap


When making hard bar soap, you want to use Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH). For soft liquid soap, you would use Potassium Hydroxide (KOH). It is important to know which type of Lye you are using because each will be calculated a little differently depending on the fats you are using. It is also important to weigh your fats and lye using ounces or even grams for a precise measurement.

Sodium Hydroxide for hard soap

No matter how many times I have read it, I still re-read it every time I am making soap. Always add lye to WATER (Never water to lye!) 

Use a spray bottle of vinegar to deactivate lyeIt’s helpful to know that Vinegar deactivates Lye. So if you accidentally get some lye on your skin while you’re working, have a spray bottle of vinegar handy and squirt it immediately! This was very comforting to know the first time I made soap!! You will also use the vinegar to spray down your work surface, and mixing containers/utensils.

measure your soap ingredients into a large pot

Homemade Soap Recipe
With my special soap making pot ready to go, I measured my fats and lye using my digital food scale from Portland’s Kitchen Kaboodle store. It is recommended to measure in grams, though I went ahead and measured in ounces for this recipe.

Somehow we missed the picture of 7 ounces of Castor Oil as well. After carefully measuring these, they were combined in my shiny red pot and moved to the stove to heat to 100 – 120 degrees. In the mean time, I used my special lye containers to measure the lye and water and then mix them together adding the lye to the water and NOT the other way around. Adding the water to the lye can cause a sudden, and dangerous reaction.

Safety gear for safe homemade soap making.gearing up before working with lye

Before I touch or open the bottle of lye, I cover as much of my skin and eyes as possible. Yes, those are ski googles. 🙂 They make great protective eye wear! Gloves, long sleeves, long pants, shoes…if you can cover it, do so. I know I’m not very excited about getting burned by a stray piece of lye!

With the lye and ice water measured according to the recipe, I carry them outside before combining them as they create a toxic vapor that is not best to breathe. You should mix your lye into the water either outside or in a well ventilated area such as under the hood vent on your stove. I prefer to keep it simple and do it outside.

Mixing lye with water for soap making

The lye will quickly dissolve in the water and heat up rather quickly. I was surprised by this the first time I made soap. I knew there would be some kind of a chemical reaction but I didn’t know exactly what to expect.

While the lye is dissolving in the water, I melt the oils together over medium heat. You want to get the oils between 100 – 120 degrees. I like it to be at about 112 – 116 degrees. Once the oil gets hot, it climbs in temperature fast so keep a close eye on it. If you are using a gas stove, like the one I have at home, when you turn the burner off, the heat is off. But when using an electric stove (Like I used this time at my MIL’s house), you need to take the pot off the burner in order to get it to stop raising in temperature, even if you turned the burner off.

time to add the lye to the oils

At this point, I am ready to combine the lye mixture with the oils. I always get a little nervous of splashing at this point. I am still wearing all my protective gear as well. The bowls I use to mix the lye with the water are small enough that I am able to lower the lye down inside my soap making pot before pouring.

Adding lye to oils while making soap

Add lye mixture to oils to make soap

You want to stir as you pour and get it all mixed up evenly. Next you are going to use an emersion blender to mix the soap until you get what’s called “trace”. The first time I made soap I didn’t own an emersion blender. I read that you could just stir it by hand, or mix it with a regular mixer, or use a drill with a mixer inserted…(yes, I tried that)…or just go buy an emersion blender already! LOL. You have no idea how long it took me to get trace that first time I made soap! Probably part of the reason it took me over 5 hours to make my batch of soap. One of my husbands favorite things to say is, if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to have the right tools for the job. And he is right! It is worth it to get one of these stick blenders!

understanding trace

So what is all this soap talk about trace? Well, it’s basically the point where the lye and oils are fully blended and truly turned into soap. You will notice the color of the soap mixture change from a darker liquid to a more lemony pudding that is thick. You’ve reached trace as soon as you can stop the blender, stir the mixture and leave a “trace” as you lift the blender out of the pot. Here are a few pictures to show you what I’m talking about.

 

I’m always tempted to over blend and make it too thick. I’ve learned not to stress over it too much, it is really obvious once you have reached trace. It is at this point that I usually add whatever essential oils I will be using. I wait until the lye is mixed in and activated with the oils to make soap before adding essential oils. Because the lye is so hot when I first combine them, I don’t want to just burn up all the natural goodness of the essential oils. So I usually add about 30 drops of each oil I want to use, and then blend it just a little bit more to make sure the essential oils are mixed in evenly.

why I chose On Guard

What do you use soap for? Cleaning dirty things off your hands, right? Germs, dirt, etc. Well, On Guard is a great anti bacterial oil so I really liked the idea of getting a little dose of On Guard goodness EVERY time I wash my hands. I work with kids during the week and am often reaching for the On Guard after a full day, just to give my immune system a boost and avoid getting sick.

I also love the citrus scent of On Guard! It is so fresh. However, I was pretty disappointed with this batch of soap because I can’t smell the On Guard AT ALL in the finished product. 🙁 I may not have put enough in for it to be noticeable. But I’m still hoping that it’s enough to add the anti bacterial effect!

pouring the soap into molds

Ahh, finally! It’s time to use those super cute soap molds!! I did make a fairly small batch of soap this time, but I still didn’t have quite enough soap molds for all of my soap mixture. So I just used a couple old ziplock freezer containers and they worked great!

My favorite of these soap molds is my silicone soap mold. I’m a huge fan of silicone to start with (I love how it feels and I think it’s amazing stuff!), and the soap came out of this mold SO easily! The other mold I have here is made of stiff plastic and I had a terrible time getting those bars of soap to come back out of there in one piece. The ziplock containers were easy enough, I just loosened the soap around the edges with a knife, and the chunk of soap came right out. Then I cut the brick into 4 even bars.

an attempt to dye my soap

One of these days I’m going to figure out how to dye my soap naturally! I know there are kits out there with dye, and there is always the regular food dye, but it is full of chemicals. This time I spent a pretty penny for some natural food coloring from Whole Foods. It did blend in, but I combined blue and red with the already yellow soap mixture and ended up only achieving a darker yellowish brown. Let me know in the comments if you have any dye ideas for me to try in my next batch of soap! I’d love to hear your ideas!!

Well, there you have it folks. Another batch of soap made of simple, wholesome ingredients. Here are a couple more pictures to conclude the process. You can see the darker, food colored soap in the picture below on the left.

All ingredients and finished product of homemade soap

Completed homemade soap project

 

Fixing a zipper with broken or missing teeth, step by step with pictures and video tutorial.

How to Fix a Zipper with Broken Teeth

Flannel is oh so cozy in winter, wouldn’t you agree? About two years ago, my husband splurged on me and bought me a pair of Carhartt Flannel lined jeans. I was so thrilled with how warm they were. I’ve never gotten used to wearing leggings, though I’m starting to venture down that road now. Just as I was getting used to my warm cozy jeans, after only 2 weeks of wearing them, the zipper broke! Since it was my fault the zipper broke, I didn’t feel right returning them to the store. I also didn’t feel right about throwing out a $60 pair of brand new jeans!! So I tossed them in the mending pile thinking I’d figure out how to fix them in the near future.

How to Fiz a Zipper with broken or missing teeth

Around my house, things can stay in the mending pile for quite some time! In this case, my flannel jeans had to wait about 2 years before they were rescued! I pulled them out a couple times, to ask sewing advise from my MIL, or to try and come up with a solution. They always ended up back in the mending pile.

Last week, as the weather turned very cold, I decided it was time. I was either going to fix those jeans, or send them on their way, and I was really hoping for the prior!

What was the trouble? Two teeth had broken off the zipper, about an inch up from the bottom and the zipper pull was now only attached on one side.

How to Fix a Jean Zippers With Broken Teeth

Before diving in and doing anything too crazy…(I had thoughts of making the fly button instead of zipping)…I decided to do some research online. After finding just a couple people with a similar problem, and reading their solution, I felt confident to tackle this jeans repair.

Step 1 – Encouraging the Zipper Pull off the chain.

First thing to do was get the zipper pull OFF the pants. This proved easier than I was expecting because there was no stopper at the top of the left side of the chain. Lucky for me! One less step. Normally you would find a stopper (pictured right) on both sides of the zipper tape.

There are a couple things you can do to encourage the zipper pull off the chain.

  • There is usually a stopper at the top of each side of the zipper chain.Use pliers to open one side of the mouth of the zipper pull
  • Loosen a few stitches in the hem with a seam ripper
  • Take a couple of the teeth off the top, with the intention of putting the stoppers back on just a little lower.

Step 2 – Taking the Stopper off

Next I had to remove the stopper from the right side of the zipper chain. Quite the little challenge! You need to bend the stopper a little to open it up.

After having played around with this, I now know that the best thing to do is place the stopper upright (U shape) in the mouth of the pliers and gently squeeze to widen the opening. Then it will slip right off the zipper tape.

Be careful not to damage the fabric around the stopper. If you pull at it or work too roughly with the pliers, you can weaken the fabric and loosen the weave which would make your zipper floppy.

Step 3 – Putting the teeth back together

Putting the teeth back together on a broken zipper.With the zipper pull and the stopper removed, I proceeded to carefully piece the teeth of the zipper back together manually. This was also a frustrating task because, try as I might, keeping these together while playing around with the fabric, stitching, etc., was nearly impossible. I had to re-do this step at least 5 times before my repair job was completed. (Yes, my thumbs were feeling very sore and irritated by the time I was done.)

All this practice taught me the easiest way to push the teeth back together is to lay the zipper on a hard surface. The arm of a sewing machine proved very useful in this case. That is, in fact, the only thing my sewing machine ended up being useful for in this project.

Stack the two sides of the zipper on top of each other, overlapping almost too much, and then press them firmly together with your thumb.

Step 4 – Sew heavily to create new bottom stopper

To ensure I didn’t loose all the effort I just put in “zipping” the two sides together, I went ahead and created my new bottom stopper just above the broken teeth. Yes, this means loosing an inch of space in the zipper. This is unfortunate since woman’s jeans don’t really leave much room to spare, but to me it was a much better alternative than giving up on this lovely new pair of jeans.

My first attempt was to do this with my sewing machine. I’m not a big fan of hand sewing! I can cross stitch all day long, but somehow hand sewing is a different story. But this mending project required a good old fashioned needle and thread and some strong stitching. Back and forth repeatedly and making sure to stitch wide enough that the zipper wouldn’t just slide over the top of it.

(If I was to do this project again, I would go ahead and purchase a new bottom stop like pictured and linked above.)

Step 5 – Working the zipper pull back onto the chain.

With the zipper “zipped” back together and secured above the missing teeth, I started working the zipper pull back onto the chain. This time I really thought I was going to need to do some seam ripping to make room above the teeth to work the pull back onto the tape. But the more I fiddled with it and thought about, I decided that if I had gotten the zipper pull off without removing any stitching, I should be able to get it back on the same way.

Unfortunately I had to allow the zipper to pull back apart so that I had room to work the pull onto the left side. Better than using a seam ripper though! After bending the fabrics out of the way as much as I could, I somewhat forcefully worked the zipper back on to one side.

With it back on one side, I pressed the zipper back together once again, and then prayed I could get that zipper pull to grab the other side and connect back to normal. It is very tight, no room to work, and just takes a whole basket of patience!! Keeping the teeth together I just kept playing with it until it finally slipped into place. Hooray!

At this point I knew my jeans would be in working order shortly!

Step 6 – Putting the stopper back on

Don’t drop this itty bitty stopper on the floor! (I did it twice…) Simply put the stopper back in place above the zipper teeth, and gently squeeze it together with the pliers. This keeps the zipper pull from coming off the top of the chain. It should tightly clamp onto the fabric at the top of the zipper. If you have a hard time getting it back on, you may need to open the mouth up even more than needed to remove it.

This project took me about an hour from start to finish, pliers, scissors, needle and thread, and a whole lot of PATIENCE! But I am so thrilled to have my Carhartt flannel jeans fixed and ready to wear.

What kind of zipper troubles have you run into? How did you fix them? I’d love to hear your zipper solutions in the comments!