Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I will admit I have a Swiffer mop and two dusters.  Yes I have two, the original one didn't have an extension handle on it and I desperately need an extension being only 5'4" and shall we say vertically challenged at times.  I love certain aspects of the Swiffer products, but I absolutely hate the cost of buying all the pad refills and then throwing them away.  It just goes against that strong frugal streak I have.  Recently I started looking into re-usable options and there are surprisingly quite a few.  You can sew, knit, or crochet replacements depending on your area of interest or ability.  I will mention here that I do have reusable covers that I have bought for other models of mops but the cost to purchase more was stretching my frugality too far.  I have been known to break down and use old washcloths in a pinch.

I found several crocheted and knitted patterns on Ralvery and decided to make a crocheted version.  I bought supplies almost two months ago for this project and just got to it Saturday.  The cotton yarn was leftover from a dishcloth yarn buying spree and the terry/chenille was a new purchase.  While Matt was working Saturday morning I decided to watch a couple chic flicks on Netflix and crochet a Swiffer cover.  The pattern I chose can be used either as a dust mop or as a mop.  It ended up pretty thick so the next time I will use only one skein of yarn instead of two.  I used a cotton Peaches and Cream and a terry/chenille type yarn.  I believe I worked this with a size 8 hook.  The pattern I loosely followed was called Reversible Swiffer Sock.  It took me a total of about four hours to work, so I got to watch two chic flicks.  In my defense I will state I was also doing laundry so I wasn't being total lazy.  I had figured one skein of each should be plenty, but of course I was wrong and ran out of both.  I did have a partial skein of the cotton but ended up changing the terry/chenille to another yarn and color.  The resulting cover isn't necessarily pretty but it is quite functional. 

Now my next project will be re-usable covers for the dusters!  Hopefully Matt will have a couple Saturdays he'll be working so I can knock those out along with a chic flick or two.


Matt decided two weekends ago that him and I needed a date day.  Other then going out to eat of late there hasn't been much we have wanted to do.  We haven't been interested in seeing any movies of late, at least not until Harry Potter comes out.  My friends' band hasn't  been playing locally so we haven't been able to hang out with them.  So Matt decided it was time to remedy the fact that I have never been to Greenfield Village or to the Henry Ford Museum.  Our focus for this trip was just to visit the Village.  It was a beautiful day out with temperatures in the low 70's.  Great weather for a lot of walking because this place is HUGE.  The tickets are a bit pricey at $22 pp for adults, but we used a coupon out of the Entertainment Book that saved us roughly $5.50 a ticket.  We did end up turning the tickets in for credit towards a membership before we left.  If you live close, the memberships are definitely the best bargains and include admission to the Village as well as the museum and also including free parking and discounts in the stores and IMAX theater.

Our first stop was to the working farm.  This was probably my favorite section of the Village.  The farm was divided into the house, barn, pens/pasture and garden areas.  The workers were just finishing up with lunch in the house and appeared to enjoying sitting back and chatted with visitors.  We discussed the types of crops and livestock they raised.  They raise various heritage breeds.  I'd heard of heritage seeds for gardening but found it interesting that people are now trying to bring back older breeds of livestock.  The heritage sheep they are raising are wrinkled merino sheep.  I've knitted countless merino wool socks so I knew about merino sheep, but never knew there was an older breed that had wrinkles all over their bodies.  The wrinkles have been bred out of them to make it easier to sheer them but are now being bred back into them.  Like heritage vegetables, heritage breeds of animals are often more disease resistant and hardier then their modern day counterparts.  They also raise chickens, turkeys, and pigs.  There was a woman in the family room of the house and her and I discussed battenburg lace, tatting, and knitting.  I found it amusing when she told me I should come work there.  Of course it might have to do with my explaining what tatting was to her since she'd never heard of it.

We spent the day enjoying various areas of the Village.  We especially enjoyed watching the glassblowers.  I was disappointed that they didn't have more of a demonstration with the weavers.  There was no spinning of the wool which surprised me although they had a carding shop.  The carding shop didn't have any wool so they weren't able to do any demonstrations of the carding equipment either.  The Thomas Edison Menlo Laboratory was another interesting stop that took us a while to get through.  I'm not sure the size of the Village but in the 5+ hours we were there we got roughly only about 2/3 of the way through the Village.  I had hoped to take tea in the Tea Shoppe but we never got to that section.  There was a tavern of sorts where they had beer, hard cider, and home style sodas and I can highly recommend both the cream soda and the hard cider.  We took a brief snack break and enjoyed watching the birds swoop into the building hunting pretzels and such on the ground.  The stores throughout the Village were great to browse in.  They sell various items including some items that are made in the Village like the pottery, glass and woven fabric.

I'm looking forward to going back and finishing our visit of the Village as well as exploring the museum.  Matt says they decorate the Village for Halloween so our plans are to visit again and see it decked out for my favorite holiday and also for Christmas.  There are events nearly weekly.  The Local Roots Blues, Brews & Ales is scheduled for August. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


About two weeks ago I was checking out my Facebook page when I noticed the Fix-It and Forget-It blog page had a Crockpot Apple Pie recipe posted.  As I had been thinking earlier in the day that apple pie sounded good this was perfect timing for the recipe to pop up, not to mention the 92' temps we were having.  I know if I didn't have to turn an oven on to bake we would be having a lot more apple pies in our home.

 I modified the original recipe, but if you'd like their recipe just go to  They also posted a tutorial on how to put the pie crust into the crockpot.  I used a smaller crockpot, I think it's a 1.5 quart, then they did so my portions are different.  I also didn't have any carmels in the house so I made a plain apple pie.  This has been a HUGE hit with Matt and my son and I've already had it requested twice since I made it.  It's great to put into the crockpot when I get home and serve up after supper.  The next time I make this I plan on trying it with sliced apples instead of apple pie filling. 


1 refridgerator pie crust (Pilsbury)
1 can of apple pie filling

Lay out the pie crust on a board.  Cut about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottom of the crust off (keep).  Now slice the larger piece in half.  Place the pieces so that approximately 1-1/2" to 2" of the crust is going up the side of the crockpot.  Use your finger to splice the sections together so the entire bottom is covered.  Pour in apple pie filling.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the top to taste.  Take the small piece of pie crust and cut it into 1/2" lengths.  Use these strips to make a lattice style crust on top of the pie filling.  Cook on high for approximately 3 hours.  Serve with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream.  The picture below is prior to cooking it. 


We've had a common problem with older homes, a bathtub that no matter how much you scrub or what you use just doesn't look clean.  The previous owner had put rubber decals on the bottom of the tub and they'd etched themselves into the enamel.  Matt had gotten the actual decals scraped off but they'd left major etching and glue that would not come off.  In the picture on the left you can see how badly these were etched into the bottom of the tub.  The picture shows just a small area but the whole tub bottom looked like this.  i apologize that the pictures aren't better but the lighting in the bathroom isn't that great.  Matt had tried everything he could think of to get the glue and the etching off the tub.  Chemicals didn't work.  Wet sanding didn't work.  Someone suggested Lysol toilet cleaner with bleach and that didn't work either.  We had basically come to the conclusion that we had two possible remedies - replace the tub, which we couldn't afford at the moment, or reglazing the tub, which we weren't sure would work. I love to take baths but this had caused me to curtail my bath taking because the tub just looked gross to be honest.

About a month or so ago on a  Mary Jane's Farm chat group someone posted that they bought old claw foot tubs and then used citric acid to clean them up.  She said to dissolve 1/2 cup of citric acid in hot water and let sit overnight.  Sounded way to easy.  I've toyed with trying it just to test it but doubted it would work.  We went to the brewery store Saturday and I noticed they had large bags of citric acid so I thought what the heck I'll give it a try.  I filled the tub Saturday afternoon with hot water and dissolved 3/4 cup of the citric acid in the running water.  We let it sit for over 24 hours.  Looking at it the next day we both concluded it was one of those myths and hadn't worked.  How wrong we were.  After we drained the tub, Matt for some reason decided to see if it had smoothed the bottom of the tub at all and ran his fingers over the bottom.  What he discovered was a layer on top of the enamel that smeared.  He then scrubbed the tub with Comet and a scrubbie leaving us nothing less then shocked at the wonderfully clean and nearly totally unetched tub.  The picture on the right is after the treatment.  Unfortunately there's a lot of shadowing from where I'm standing when I took the picture but you can clearly see there's no flower motif etched into the bottom any longer.  After the tub dried we did notice very faint etching still visible in a couple spots but we think we can probably get that cleared up with one more citric acid treatment if we decide to bother.  Pretty impressive tub save for about $2 worth of citric acid.  I had a very long bath Sunday night in my wonderful looking bathtub and I foresee a lot more baths in my future.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Sunday was a productive day for us.  Matt was able to work on his truck and repair some issues with it.  We did a Home Depot run and picked up some more caulking for the exterior of the house to prepare it for painting later this summer.  I also picked up some tomato cages and some plant supports (for my mums) as well as a couple packets of lettuce seed.  I installed the tomato cages and mum supports and even managed to get the living room cleaned, swept, and mopped.  Considering how fatigued I've been from the bronchitis, this was a major victory for me.

My poppies have continued to burst into bloom and are beautiful.  I would love to have a huge section of them just like my grandmother did.  Our clematis has also burst into bloom.  Matt's sisters got this clematis for him several years ago and we thought it had pretty well died when I moved in but it has come around nicely with fertilizing and regular watering.  It's strange that the clematis for the past two years has bloomed in September or October, fairly late in the season we thought, and this year it bloomed in June.  I've had to cut back my chives, oregano, and thyme already. 

Last night Matt was in a pasta and cheese mood so I made my cheeseburger mac and green beans for supper.  It was extremely tasty and hit the spot for both of us.  If you don't have tomato soup on hand you could use tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce for this too.  If you don't have stewed tomatoes they can be omitted.  This is a pretty versatile recipe.  Leave the cheese out and you have beef-a-roni.  Use chili powder instead of Italian seasoning and you get chili mac.  This recipe is GREAT with garlic bread to sop up any sauce.


1# hamburger
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz macaroni, cooked
2 cans tomato soup
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 -3 tsp Italian seasoning

Put water on to cook macaroni.  Fry hamburger with onion until almost done and add garlic.  Add Worcestershire sauce, stewed tomatoes, tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings.  Reduce to low and let simmer while macaroni cooks.  Break up stewed tomatoes as it simmers.  Drain macaroni and add to hamburger mixture.  Add cheese and stir.  Simmer until cheese melts.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


The pups and I had our first herding lesson yesterday.  We all enjoyed the afternoon outdoors and the pups got some much needed exercise.  This is something I have wanted to do for years.  My daughter and I both spoke frequently of enrolling the dogs while she was showing but it just never got worked into the schedule. 

Lacey, who we thought would be the better herder instinctively, is over focused and we will have to work to get her to see the herd better versus a single sheep.  This is a characteristic that has evolved from her herding Tip while he plays ball.  If we had gotten her into classes earlier this trait probably wouldn't have developed with her.  Our trainer uses a rake instead of a shepherd hook to direct the dog's direction as she feels it's easier for a newer dog to see and to get their attention then a thinner shepherd's hook would be, which makes sense to me.  I was concerned about how Lacey would react to the rake due to her history of abuse and how she still reacts to brooms in the house.  It was something I should not of worried about.  She barely acknowledged it even when we touched her with it.  I was very proud of my girl.

Tip definitely surprised us as he has never exhibited the strong herding drive like Lacey has.  He instinctively went to the sheep's heads to control them, which is extremely good.  Due to his agility and obedience training he is what they call a one sided dog - one that prefers to work from one direction only - and that will also need to be worked with.  This trait is common among dogs that have been previously trained in agility and/or obedience so it was not a surprise at all. 

The pups had a lot of fun, which was my goal.  It was harder then I thought for me.  Trying to stay right next to a person and not knowing which way they would move is difficult.  Once I get to the point I'm the only one in the ring with them it will probably be a lot easier.  It will come though.  I am pretty sure that the pups are looking forward to the next lesson.  We need to get some more weight off of Lacey as it was slowing her down speed wise.  I need to lose some pounds also so her and I will be exercising together.