Thursday, May 30, 2013

Seven Creative Uses for Chalk

I know Thursdays are supposed to be devoted to teatime, but I’ve had to postpone social activities temporarily. What with all the time spent in the garden, some inside chores have “gone begging,” including pressing clothes and the dreaded ironing of cottons.
Credit: commons.wikimedia
Today I’m getting caught up inside and might even have time to iron the tea towels in preparation for our next tea gathering. I’m thinking we should have a late afternoon/early evening event in the gazebo, where I’ll show you my new LED string lights strung around the gazebo's perimeter. Quite lovely if I do say so myself!

Credit: lamplust.com

Meanwhile, I want to talk about chalk. Yep, the kind you used on the blackboard and on sidewalks when you were a kid.



I’ve been searching for chalk in the paper/school supplies sections of various stores. I had begun to think they don’t make the stuff any more, and realized yesterday I’ve been looking in the wrong department. It’s to be found in the Toy Department, and it caught my eye in Walmart because it was included in a center isle display highlighting summertime activities for children.



You may wonder why I need chalk? It seems I’m going through a DIY creative phase (thanks to Pinterest!) and I have a clay flowerpot project in mind which requires chalk. But that’s another post – when (if) I get around to it!

Robert Browning via poetryfoundation.org

I’m sometimes reminded of these words of Robert Browning:
 “Ah, but a man's (or woman’s) reach should exceed his grasp,”
 (from Men and Women and Other Poems),
 each time I go off on a tangent with some new project.

I bought the chalk, which includes several colors, although I only wanted white. So now I have all this chalk and what else to do with it -- other than my flowerpot project.

So here I give you what I've learned about some other ways chalk is useful around the house; definitely going to try these:

Removes Stains
Rub chalk on nasty grease stains on your clothing and the chalk will absorb the oil. Sometimes you have to rub it on more than once for the stain to be removed. The dust helps absorb the oils, making the stain easier to clean.

Stops Tarnish
Wrap chalk in cheesecloth and store with silverware or jewelry to absorb excess moisture, which causes tarnishing.

Steady a Screwdriver
Rub chalk over the handle of a non-rubber screwdriver to prevent slipping.

Keeps Ants Away
If ants are trotting into your house, draw chalk lines around their entry points. Many chalks contain calcium carbonate, which repels ants.

Hides Cracks
Cover hairline cracks and watermarks on walls and ceilings as a temporary fix until you’re ready to paint.

Prevents Rusting
Put a few pieces of chalk in your toolbox and it will get rid of moisture, preventing your tools from rusting.

Create Texture in Art Projects
Place thin paper over a unique texture. Rub paper with chalk so that the texture of the object appears. (This may be of interest to Darla at her Bay Side to Mountain Side blog, since she is very involved in numerous art projects.

So.....now if I don't get around to my chalk flowerpot project I have other ways to use my chalk stash.

Wow, who knew?


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In a Lather Over Pears’ Soap


I found Pears’ soap a few days ago – in all places – in a Dollar Tree store for $1.00. It was the first time I’ve bought it in quite a few years and I’m not sure why. Because I love it!


Well, let me say I used to love it, but this bar is different from the Pears’ Soap I remembered. My curiosity got the best of me so I did a bit of research and found out why it doesn’t feel or smell exactly the same.
This and all images below are vintage Pears' Soap advertising posters via Pinterest


You see, this soap – the world’s first registered brand and therefore the world’s oldest continuously existing brand – is no longer made in England, but by a company known as Hindustan Unilever, in India.

There’s a fascinating history of the company at wikipedia, which provides a  history of the company; details about how the soap is made; and why the current version is different from the original.



My memory of Pears’ dates only to the 1970s, and it’s funny how I came to find it. I was reading a horror novel (yes, I actually read that type material back then!), Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon – a New York Times bestseller that was made into a television miniseries. The novel's narrator made many references to his wife bathing with Pears’ Soap and the wonderful way she smelled following her bath. 

I had to find that soap! This was in the days, of course, before ordering anything the heart desires via the Internet was possible, so I had to inquire at several pharmacies before I found it.


Once I tried it, I was sold on that transparent soap redolent with the scent of clean laundry and herbs (rosemary and thyme) from the garden. And it's such a clean and refreshing feeling after a bath with glycerin soap containing only natural ingredients.   

The following quote is from the Wikipedia article:

“In October 2009 the formula for the transparent amber soap was altered from the original to become 'Gentle Care' wrapped in an inner cellophane covering. The new soap was slightly softer in texture and lasted half as long, but its most noticeable difference was its scent. The aroma of the classic transparent amber bar, which used to be characterized by a mild, spicy herbal fragrance, had been altered to a stronger aromatic scent. The "Hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic" claim was dropped because of the new ingredients. Furthermore, the 3-month aging process described on the original box does not appear on the box of the 'Gentle Care' formula, suggesting that the "improvements" were made so that the soap could be produced more quickly and with cheaper ingredients, therefore increasing profits.

On 6 January 2010, after a Facebook campaign, it was reported in the media that Pears planned to abandon the new formula and that by March 2010 a new version would be available that is "much closer to the original". On 8 January 2010, it was reported in the media that Pears would not abandon the new formula but "make further improvements, by delivering a scent that more closely resembles the original formula. However, this has not occurred.”



It’s sad when products one loves and has grown accustomed to change – all in the name of mass merchandising and higher profits.

I’ll finish the bar of Pears’ Soap but I doubt I’ll buy it again – even if it only costs one dollar.

Have you, or do you use Pears’ Soap? Do you find the current version any way comparable to the old one? What is your favorite soap and why? Please share. Thanks!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Black Gum Toothbrush

I lingered a few days ago in front of the Black Gum tree that grows on our property. It is a very pretty tree, with glossy, deep green leaves. I suddenly remembered that in the “olden days” people made toothbrushes from Black Gum twigs – especially for the purpose of dipping snuff.


In order to get my facts correct, I contacted my source (mother). Yes, her mother-in-law and my paternal grandmother -- who was a snuff dipper – used a Black Gum twig to move the snuff from the box or can to her mouth.

Credit: villagecraftsmen.com

She also reported that older people used the twigs on occasion to clean their teeth, along with baking soda and salt.

Her oldest sister, born about 1902, was a snuff dipper and used the Black Gum twig. Another sister, who did not dip snuff, preferred the twigs as an aid for teeth cleaning well into her older years.

From what I can learn, early settlers to this area likely learned of the twig's usefulness from the Native Americans.  Twigs from Birch, Sassafras and Willow trees also could be used, but Black Gum made a firmer brush that could be used several times.



A twig about the size of a pencil was stripped of its bark and one end was chewed to form the brush.

This is just one of the many old Appalachian Folk Ways now lost in the mists of time.

Even when I was a child I remember that (usually) very old women dipped snuff and many men chewed tobacco – rather nasty habits both. Nevertheless, children (including me) would ask mothers to make up "play snuff” (cocoa and sugar) and we’d grab a twig and pretend we were dipping snuff.


Can you imagine a child being amused by such play today?

Wikipedia reports that snuff originated in the Americas and was in common use in Europe by the 17th century. By the 18th century, snuff had become the tobacco product of choice among the elite, prominent users including Napoleon, King George II's wife Queen Charlotte and Pope Benedict XIII. 

Vintage snuff box for sale on ebay for $15


The taking of snuff helped to distinguish the elite members of society from the common populace, which generally smoked its tobacco. It was also during the 18th century that an English doctor, John Hill, warned of the overuse of snuff, causing vulnerability to nasal cancers. The John Hill report is quoted to this day in some medical reports. Snuff's image as an aristocratic luxury attracted the first U.S. federal tax on tobacco, created in 1794.


Credit: dangerousminds.net
Snuff is still dipped today I suppose, but I don't know how prevalent the habit is. The only time I see it practiced is among baseball players! 

Now that I've shared more than you likely want to know about Black Gum toothbrushes, the next time you go camping and find you've forgotten your toothbrush, you can search for the nearest Black Gum tree!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Sounds of Summer

Today, Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor and pay tribute to those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. There are many ceremonies, laying of wreaths on graves, parades and speeches.



Memorial Day also is the unofficial start of summer. It's time for wearing white clothes, going to the beach, picnics and other enjoyable outdoor activities.

My day was spent -- as is my habit these days -- outside. Finishing up the planting, tidying up and watering, as rain is needed. It was a rather hot and humid day but in the late afternoon it cooled down and was a pleasure to be out of doors.

The most interesting sounds can be heard after dark during the summer. Crickets, frogs, cicadas and birds tune up and it's a wonderful sound to enjoy. 

I thought you might enjoy hearing the symphony performed on my front lawn. With the last remnant of red in the western sky, I pointed my phone toward a small stream flush with frogs.  With three kitty cats at my feet, this is what I heard.

(Turn your volume up)

video

I had wanted to get a short video of lightening bugs, or fireflies, but they did not cooperate tonight.

What is your favorite part of summer?



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Moon Walk


Darkness had descended, but we had only just finished outside chores, eaten our dinner and about the do the clean up. Coming in after taking out the trash, my husband said, “It’s such a gorgeous night, and the honeysuckle smells wonderful; let’s go for a walk!”

Credit: fineartamerica




I quickly changed my shoes and was ready to go. So were the dogs. We rarely take them for walks after dark, but they’re always up for an adventure.

The moon was waxing toward fullness and cast a stunning light on the landscape. We followed the usual route – out the side gate and down the path that runs behind the potager garden.



Overhead along the path, the privet hedge and  twisted honeysuckle vines have created a canopy over the years. They almost meet the red cedar trees on the other side of the path, with barely enough space for the tractor to navigate.

Along the path, the constant shade creates a soft mossy carpet.



In this enclosed space, the intoxicating scent of honeysuckle almost overwhelms. Meandering along the trail I was assaulted by the intoxicating scent. Nothing smells better than honeysuckle, especially when inhaled during the cool of the evening.

The honeysuckle is visited by nocturnal moths, a pollinator attracted by the sweet smell.



  

Friends, if I could bottle this scent, I would do so.

After we came out from under the overgrowth and into the open field, we were treated to the sight of hundreds of fireflies in mid-air, here, there, everywhere. It was my first sighting of them this year and it's always a fascinating experience, first time or not. The tiny, glittering orbs of undulating light are just somehow magical.



There comes a moment when all you can do is stand and stare in awe and breathe in all the goodness and beauty of life. But then my thoughts went to Oklahoma and all those who are suffering so badly and have lost so much. And for a moment I felt guilty in my contentment.

The contrasts, the dichotomy of life. And we wonder when the diurnal axis will turn on us. It was a thought I was pondering when we realized the dogs had wandered off, chasing some good night scent. A whistle was all that was required to bring them back underfoot. They are not fond of the darkness.

By the time we came round to the tree covered front lawn -- the last leg of the journey -- I became aware of something I’ve never noticed before: the shadows cast by the moon! Great swatches of light filtered through the tree branches. White light creating a mosaic on the dark earth.

I would not have been very surprised should there have appeared in front of me a white winged unicorn!


My excitement over seeing moon shadows was comparable to a child on Christmas morning. My husband chuckled, saying he was totally surprised that I, of all people, who notices everything, had never seen moon shadows. 

I said it's because I don't take walks in the moonlight often enough.

Tonight I walked into the darkened front lawn to check on moon shadows. I gazed into the sky, but a misty haze surrounds the moon. Fog is settling in. Rain tomorrow. But I was rewarded anyway with a cool evening breeze, the cacophony of the night bugs and the magical fireflies.




Monday, May 20, 2013

Grandma Caroline’s Peony Rose


I grew up with this rose. Mother called it “Grandma’s Peony Rose,” her grandmother’s (Caroline Jenkins Howard) pride and joy plant.





Mother took a root from the original plant and grew it in her garden for many years. But alas, with the neglect of the garden that inevitably come with aging, her rose is no more.

Luckily, I took a sprout from her rose bush and planted it shortly after we moved into our current home, some 20 years ago. It has never been a great performing rose for me – subject to blackspot disease and given to legginess and weak canes. But perhaps I’ve never nurtured it, although it is a special heirloom plant for me. This year I shall do better.

When this rose blooms it will almost take your breath away! Ah, the old-rose fragrance is like no other I’ve known! The blooms are quite large with many petals. The color is deep pink, with a tinge of magenta.

I have noticed this year that my little bush is struggling, competing with the errant cherry tree seedling that have fallen into the flower bed, as well as the daffodil bulbs nearby.


Today was the day I decided to do something about it. I gingerly inserted a shovel all around the stragglely remaining root and dug it out. It’s being conditioned right now in a pail filled with water and Epsom salt, and later today I will plant it in a different location.

Sarah Caroline Jenkins Howard (this picture taken in the 1930s when she was well into her 80s. She died in  1942  at the age of 91)
I am wondering if this struggling plant is the lone offspring remaining of Grandma Caroline’s Peony Rose. I do not know if any of my mother’s siblings got a start from the original plant. I think it would be a shame to have it die out, so once the plant recovers, perhaps next year, I’m going to take cuttings (or ask my sister to, for she is far better at rooting plants than am I) for rooting and sharing with other family members who have an interest in preserving this plant.

Later today, I shall take these two lone roses blooms the bush produced this year to my mother. That will make her happy – to know that Grandma’s Peony Rose has survived.


We have no idea of the real name of this rose. If any rose enthusiast out there should see this picture and is able to identify it, please let me know. Thank you!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Scoop on Epsom Salt


There’s a great deal of information out there concerning the healing aspects of Epsom Salt. It seems to be taking Internet health and beauty interest boards by storm.



I’m always interested in learning more about natural products and procedures as an alternative to traditional medicines and chemical-laden beauty products; my interest in Epsom salt is no exception.

And because I have been taking Epsom salt baths – for detox and to soothe aching muscles – for years, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of the product for that purpose.


Credit: care2.com

After a day of intense physical activity and the sometimes resulting sore muscles, it’s time for a good soak. Fill a tub with warm water, add two cups of Epsom salts, swish around to dissolve and soak for 20 minutes.

You may add a favorite essential oil for scent, but keep in mind that the salts’ purpose is to eliminate metabolic wastes through the surface of the skin, and it cannot absorb essential oil effectively if it is busy throwing off toxic wastes through the profuse sweating effect that results from Epsoms. So save your therapeutic aromatherapy bath for another time

Another thing about the Epsom salt bath: Don’t use soap, as it can interfere with the beneficial action of the salts. If you want to combine your soak with your daily body cleansing procedure, simply follow up your 20-minute soak with a shower. If that isn’t convenient, drain the tub, soap your body and use a plastic bowl to splash water all over yourself. In any case, I'm told you should always rinse yourself after the Epsom soak, as it can cause dryness if allowed to remain on the skin.
Credit: tsfitnessnyc.wordpress.com

It is recommended that if at all possible, you rest at least an hour after your soak.

I refer to The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy by Chrissie Wildwood (1996) as my source guide for all things related to essential oils, and in the case above, Epsom salt baths.

Caution: Avoid Epsom salt baths if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition. If in doubt, consult your physician.

Epsom salts in the garden

Credit: epsom-salt.org
I have been using Epsom salt in the garden for a number of years as a fertilizer. It helps seeds germinate, makes plants grow bushier, produces more flowers, increases chlorophyll production and deters pests such as slugs and voles. It also provides vital nutrients to supplement your regular fertilizer.

Here are guidelines on how to use it:

Houseplants: 2 tablespoons per gallon of water; feed plants monthly.

Roses: 1 tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks. Also scratch 1/2 cup into soil at base to encourage flowering canes and healthy new basal cane growth. Soak unplanted bushes in 1 cup of Epsom salt per gallon of water to help roots recover. Add a tablespoon of Epsom salt to each hole at planting time. Spray with Epsom salt solution weekly to discourage pests.

Shrubs (evergreens, azaleas, rhododendron): 1 tablespoon per 9 square feet. Apply over root zone every 2-4 weeks.


Credit: epsom-salt.org

Lawns: Apply 3 pounds for every 1,250 square feet with a spreader, or dilute in water and apply with a sprayer.

Trees: Apply 2 tablespoons per 9 square feet. Apply over the root zone 3 times annually.

Garden Startup: Sprinkle 1 cup per 100 square feet. Mix into soil before planting.

So what exactly IS Epsom salt?

Credit: ehow.com

Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral. It also is known as magnesium sulfate and is sold at pharmacies, gardening specialty shops and other stores. It is composed of rock-like crystals and is relatively inexpensive.

(The following information is from the saltworks website)

“Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Long known as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, Epsom salt has numerous health benefits as well as many beauty, household and gardening-related uses.

“Studies have shown that magnesium and sulfate are both readily absorbed through the skin, making Epsom salt baths an easy and ideal way to enjoy the amazing health benefits . Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body including regulating the activity of over 325 enzymes, reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function and helping to prevent artery hardening. Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins and help ease migraine headaches.”


Credit: onegoodthingbyjillee.com

Other health benefits claimed from the use of Epsom salt

Epsom salt has been well known for hundreds of years and has beneficial properties that can soothe the body, mind and soul. Some of the countless health benefits include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating cold and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body.

According to research done by Leo Galland of the Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory, Asheville, N.C., the magnesium in Epsom salt has been shown to ease stress, improve concentration and increase the quality of sleep by having a depressant effect on the central nervous system. It also reduces inflammation, relieves pain and muscle cramps. It is beneficial to soak either the entire body or just the feet in Epsom salts approximately three times a week. 


Credit: epsomsaltbath.com
Epsom salt is used to treat different conditions of the body in a variety of ways. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath reduces the swelling in joints such as ankles and knees, helps reduce the discomfort of injuries, helps clear up foot odor, athlete's foot and toenail fungus and as a diuretic. Consult your doctor prior to using it as a diuretic.

Other uses for Epsom salt:

Hair
Epsom salt, according to the Care 2 website, has many uses for hair. Mix equal parts Epsom salt and deep conditioner and heat the mixture in a pan. Use the mixture to coat your hair and rinse it out after 20 minutes for volume. To remove hairspray from your hair, combine one cup of Epsom salt, one gallon of water and one cup of lemon juice. Cover the solution and let it set for 24 hours before pouring it onto dry hair and shampooing out after 20 minutes. To remove excess oil from your hair, mix a half-cup of oily hair shampoo with nine tablespoons of Epsom salt. Apply a tablespoon to dry hair and, after rinsing with cold water, apply lemon juice for between five and 10 minutes.

Bathroom tile cleaner
When mixed with liquid detergent. It is also useful as a splinter remover, as soaking the affected area in an Epsom salt mixture will help to draw the splinter out. Some people also use it as a slug deterrent and for regenerating car batteries. For car batteries, add a mixture of one ounce of Epsom salt in warm water to each battery cell.

Remove splinters - Soak affected skin area in an Epsom salt bath to draw out the splinter.

Helps muscles and nerves function properly
Studies show that Epsom salt can help regulate electrolytes in your body, ensuring proper functioning of the muscles, nerves and enzymes. Magnesium is also known to be critical in the proper use of calcium, which serves as a main conductor of the electric impulses in your body.

Helps prevent hardening of arteries and blood clots
Epsom salt is believed to improve heart health and help prevent heart disease and strokes by improving blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, protecting the elasticity of arteries, preventing blood clots and reducing the risk of sudden heart attack deaths.

Makes insulin more effective
Proper magnesium and sulfate levels increase the effectiveness of insulin in the body, helping to lower the risk or severity of diabetes.

Ease discomfort of Gout - Ease the discomfort of gout and reduce inflammation by adding 2-3 teaspoons of Epsom salts into a basin and immersing the affected foot/joint. The water should be as hot as it is comfortable. Soak for about 30 minutes.

Exfoliate dead skin - In the shower or bath, mix a handful of Epsom salt with a tablespoon of bath or olive oil and rub all over your wet skin to exfoliate and soften. Rinse thoroughly.

Exfoliating face cleanser - To clean your face and exfoliate skin at the same time, mix a half-teaspoon of Epsom salt with your regular cleansing cream. Gently massage into skin and rinse with cold water.

Dislodge blackheads - Add a teaspoon of Epsom salt and 3 drops iodine to a half cup of boiling water. Apply this mixture to the blackheads with a cotton ball.

There are many other uses and you can find them with an Internet search. 

How about you? Do you use Epsom salt for anything?



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tea at the White House


First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden were hosting an afternoon party for military mothers, grandmothers and children at the White House in Washington on Thursday, May 9, when a “surprise” visitor showed up.



Prince Harry, a Captain in the Army Air Corps in the British Armed Forces -- on a weeklong visit to the U.S. – showed up in the East Room to pay tribute to the guests.



The First Lady's guests responded with cheers and applause from seats at round tables for ten containing an elaborate menu of sweet and savory treats, including finger sandwiches, intricately decorated cookies and mini cupcakes sprinkled with confetti, and "White House Garden" tea made with chamomile grown in Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden.



The Tea menu was a contemporary version of High Tea:

Smoked Salmon

Pickled Red Onion and Creme Fraiche on Pumpernickel Toast 


Smoked Chicken Salad on Reggiano Puffs


Corn Madeleines with Jalapeno and Cheese

  
Watercress, Tomatoes, and Radishes on Wheat Thin Bread

  
Vegetable Spring Wrap in Jicama Paper with Red Wine Vinaigrette

  
Assorted Cookies

  
Chocolate Bonbons

  
Mini-Cupcakes with Confetti Garnish

  
"Black Dahlia" Darjeeling Black Tea with Floral Notes

  
"Confetti Fruit" Strawberry And Peach Tea, Balanced with Citrus and Rose

  
"White House Garden"Light, Herbal Blend Featuring Chamomile From The Kitchen Garden





A military harpist played as guests enjoyed honey harvested from the White House beehive. Rose petals were scattered on each table. Butlers constantly replenished the treats and re-filled glasses.

Pastel tablecloths covered the tables set with the cream with gold border Clinton State China, the only Presidential set that features an image of the White House rather than the Presidential eagle.



Floral arrangements were different on each table – some featuring low arrangements of yellow, cream and green blooms with ivy, including tulips, roses, and ranunculus in square vases.  Other tables featured bright pink, magenta and purple blooms with ivy.


Mrs. Obama said the prince has focused on honoring the sacrifice and service of veterans and military families and when he heard about this tea and all of you he wanted to be here to personally thank you for your service. 


The 28-year-old bachelor Royal arrived at the White House party after visiting the U.S. Capitol, where he'd caused an outpouring of excitement on Twitter, and swooning among mobs of female staffers. His visit includes promoting the anti-landmine charity the HALO Trust, continuing the work of his deceased mother. 

(All photos and information from the Obama Foodorama website here.)



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Burdock, Beggar's Lice and Velcro


I read yesterday that it was on that date, May 13, in 1958 that Velcro was patented. Velcro was invented by Georges de Mestral, an electrical engineer from Switzerland.

Credit: askville.amazon.com


(Parts of the information presented below is from The Writer’s Almanac Newsletter
http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/ )

Mestral’s idea for the invention began in 1941, when he went on a hunting trip with his dog in the Alps. He passed through fields dotted with the burdock plant, whose spiny seeds latch themselves onto anything or anyone passing by. When Mestral got home, he was picking the burs off his dog's coat and his own clothes, and wondered how burdock was so effective.

Burdock


Georges de Mestral, Velcro inventor 

He placed the seeds under his microscope and saw that each bristle was a tiny hook that was able to catch in the loops of clothing. He realized that by copying burdock he could create a way to simply bind materials together.

Most people Mestral told about his "hook and loop" cloth thought that his idea was stupid, but he kept on with it. It took him 10 years to get it right. With the help of a talented weaver, he was able to make a workable product, but the cotton didn't hold up to wear.

Credit: wikimedia
Then he discovered that nylon sewn under infrared light made the perfect set of loops — but that meant sewing hundreds of loops per inch, a slow and inefficient task. Eventually, he was able to mechanize the whole process, and 10 years after his walk with his dog, he applied for a patent for his invention: "Velcro," which combined the French words velour (which means velvet) and crochet (which means hook).

Lately as I walk the dogs, tiny green seed-like particles attach themselves to the dogs paws and my clothing. I don’t know if it’s burdock; I am not that familiar with names of plants/weeds that grow in the fields and woods.

Traditionally, any seed of this type that attaches itself to clothing in the fields and woods, we call "Beggar's Lice."

Whatever its name, it’s quite a painstaking task to remove these sticky seeds from dog fur. And from my clothing.

I wonder….. could I apply Velcro to the seeds to remove them? Might be worth a try.

Velcro. What a great invention that was!

Are you familiar with Burdock or Beggar's Lice? Is it a problem for you while roaming around in the great outdoors?



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Creative Uses for Coffee Filters

I’ve been seeing information around the Internet about the multiple uses of coffee filters – those round ones that don’t fit my coffee pot. But I’ve been buying them to use in various ways.



I use them to drain herbs after washing: 


And to blot vegetables before tossing into salads: 




Below are some of the other uses of coffee filters around the house. Some I've tried; some not, but all seem to be great uses for the filters. They are cheaper than paper towels and come in handy in oh so many ways.

  • Clean mirrors; much better than paper towels because they are lint free.

  • Holders for dry snacks; saves messing up bowls.

  • Nail polish remover. If you run out of cotton balls, the filters are softer than a paper towel and will allow you to rub your nail without leaving the residue of a paper towel behind.

  • Cover food in microwave to prevent splatters.

  • In the bottom of flower pots to prevent soil from leaking through the drainage holes.

  • For the kids. Poke a hole into a coffee filter and slide it up the length of a Popsicle stick. It’ll help prevent the Popsicle from dripping and making a mess.
  •  
  • Cut up a stack of filters, place them in a small tin and you’ve got a set of face blotters perfect for your purse and last-minute shine control.

  • Good-quality coffee filters are made from 100 percent virgin paper, so you can use them to clean your glasses without leaving lint.

  • Clean computer monitors, television screens, and windows. They clean without leaving residue.

  • Line the bottom of cookie tins.

  • Strain bacon drippings by pouring them through a coffee filter into a ceramic bowl or mug. The brown bits, grains, etc will stay in the filter. Also works well for recycling frying oil.

  • Dampen a coffee filter with white vinegar and a few drops of essential oil and place in the dryer. Your clothes will come out smelling fresh and the coffee filter reduces static.

  • Food holders for tacos, hot dogs, pita sandwiches, etc

  • Make homemade tea bags by filling coffee filters with a selection of loose tea leaves and dried fruit peels. Tie together with string and use just like normal tea bags.

  • Wrap jumbo dill pickles in coffee filters to prevent dripping when eating.
  •  
  • Use as a sandwich wrap (inside the baggy or plastic container) so your sandwich doesn’t get soggy in your lunchbox.

  • To hold small parts when working on a project.

  • Place herbs in a coffee filter, tie with string, and stick in the soup pot while cooking. Makes for quick and easy removal later.

  • Polishing leather shoes. Apply a dab of polish and use the filter as an applicator.

  • To remove the silk from an ear of corn. Dampen a filter and wipe it in one stroke from the top to the bottom of the shucked ear of corn.

  • Place in the bottom of a cast-iron pan to absorb moisture and prevent rust.

  • Put a couple of coffee filters in your pocket when you are working outdoors or going on a hike. They work great to wipe sweat, dirt and oils off your face.

  • Use filters to bake jumbo muffins or mini cakes in the oven. Fill the filter 1/3 full with batter and place in a shallow circular pan to bake

  • Wrap cut celery stalks (or any other vegetable or herb) in a coffee filter before putting them in a plastic bag to store in the refrigerator. The coffee filter will help absorb any moisture, and keeps the celery crisp longer.

  • If you have a small cut or even a razor nick, grab a piece off of a coffee filter and put it on with pressure to stop the bleeding. Your coffee filter will work similar to a styptic pencil but without the stinging.

  • Place a few tablespoons of baking powder in a filter and twist the top together with a rubber band. Place in shoes, gym bag, closet, refrigerator, or anywhere else that may have developed some less-than-pleasant odors.

  • To sprout seeds, dampen a coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a zip-lock plastic bag.
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  • Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.

  • Keep in your car glove box for window cleaning, to use as napkins and for quick cleanups.

  • Since you have a package in the glove box anyway…..the next time you need to check the oil level in the car, use a filter to wipe the dipstick.

  • In the bottom of the kitchen compost pot. It keeps messiness from sticking to the bottom of the pot, and goes right into the compost pile outside along with the pot of compost when emptied.

  • Make hats for dolls.

  • Line a colander or strainer with a coffee filter, place the strainer in a bowl, fill with regular yogurt, and let sit in the fridge overnight. Fresh Greek yogurt for breakfast!

  • Use a coffee filter to spot clean your clothing. Use white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and the spot will be greatly reduced if not disappear completely.
  • Separate tortillas for freezing.

  • To prevent holes in your clothes when wearing a pin, try putting a piece of coffee filter inside your clothing as a “stabilizer”. It makes the cloth sturdier and the pin is less likely to snag.

  • Use a filter as an easy-to-tear backing for embroidering or appliqueing soft fabrics.

  • Make a flavor packet to add to your sun tea. Take a filter and center the contents in the middle. Gather the edges, twist and tie with string. Drop into your jar along with tea bags and let it brew as usual.

  • Get spills out of carpets, before they stain. While the spill is still wet, cover it with a coffee filter. They will wick up the spill.

  • For perfectly heated tortillas, spritz a coffee filter with water and lay a tortilla on top of it. Spritz a second coffee filter and put it on top. Heat the stack in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, and your tortilla will be warm and still pliable. You can use the same ones over and over.

  • Wrap Christmas ornaments for storage. 
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  • Coffee filters make great blotting paper for pressed flowers. Simply place the flower between two filters and put them inside of a phone book or any other object with weight.

  • Diffuse the flash on a camera.

  • Great in the tool room when separating nails and screws then use in to bottom of containers to remove moisture and prevent rust.

  • Use as a “pre-filter” for your water purification system to help extend the life of you water filter.

  • Put a filter in the bottom of a metal fruit bowl to prevent brown spots on your fruits or vegetables.


Have your used coffee filters as a paper towel substitute in any of these ways? Do you use them in other ways? If so, please share.

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