What The Hay

Crafty Hayseed Goodness!

Super Solar Clothes Dryer August 17, 2007

Filed under: environment,house stuf — clothespin @ 11:59 am

I love our bigger house.  More room to spread out and the house quite as full – more breathing space.  But, with more breathing space comes more space to cool and heat, more light-bulbs to power (even when using the CFLs) and more space to clean and a much bigger carbon footprint.

One of the great things about this place is that it has laundry  hookups in the back porch.  After visiting a very nice laundromat for years, it is so nice to be able to throw a load of wash in without having to drive anywhere or turn it into a massive expedition.  However, with the joys of at home laundry comes the pain of energy costs…


According to Consumer Reports, 90% of the energy used in washing clothes is in heating the wash water – not in running the machine itself.  That’s a lot of energy just to get warm water!  Happily, washing clothes in cold water works just as well and will save a ton on the energy costs.

While there is some concern out there that laundry soaps were made for warm water wash only, and while there are commercial detergents being made now for cold water wash, there is a problem with all of that.  They all generally use petroleum (yup, the same black stuff that we’re fighting for in the Middle East) to make the detergent.  Happily, there are laundry soaps being made that use vegetable oils instead of petroleum. Hubby and I have happily been using Seventh Generation for several years and haven’t noticed anything negative with their use – and have a slightly smaller carbon footprint because of it.

However, if you want to give a try at a far cheaper and environmentally friendly method of cleaning clothes… try making your own laundry soap.  It’s not hard and according to everyone I’ve ever known who have used it – works great.  And, for those of you lucky enough to have a High Efficiency laundry machine, this stuff doesn’t suds  and works fine in those fancy machines.


There are two versions out there- the powdered version (which I am planning on making) and the liquid version (and another version of liquid).  Both use the same ingredients, so go with whichever works better for you.  The other thing – nearly all recipes call for Fels Naptha soap.  This is still a petroleum based product, which in my mind, defeats the purpose of making my own soap in the first place.  I am using Dr. Bronners bar soap which is organic and vegetable oil based and should work just fine.

Seventh Generation does make fabric softener, too.  However, I’ve found that it is really not needed.  Instead, I use 1/2 cup of vinegar in the softener part of my washing machine.  Vinegar helps by getting rid of the last little bit of soap in the clothes during the rinse cycle and keeps static cling to a minimum.  Don’t worry about the vinegar smell, it isn’t present after the clothes have dried (hubby still hasn’t noticed if that means anything).  I’ve even heard of folks putting the vinegar into a Downy Ball and using it like normal softner.  Plus, vinegar will help keep your towels super adsorbent.

The last little bit in my laundry efforts was a project that involved hubby and his tools.  We put up a clothesline.  I grew up with one and never thought anything bad about it, but apparently some folks find this a symbol of the “lower class”… whatever.  Who cares what other people think?  It’s laundry – not the scarlet letter for pete’s sake.


Clothes dryers are huge energy hogs, add heat to homes in the summer and help your clothes wear out faster.  Clotheslines use no energy, the sun kills the little germs that are still on your clothes and make your laundry smell great.

Russ and I built this one by putting the posts into concrete in holes… and then using eye screws to string the clothesline through – provided a self tightening system that is working well.  The posts are set 30 feet apart and I’ve hung 3 loads of laundry out at one time on my line.

The best part about the clothesline?  It’s fun.  It reminds me of when I was a kid on the farm and it helps lessen my impact on the planet just a little bit.  I mean, why pay to dry clothes in a dryer when I can let the sun do it for free?


Bedside Table August 16, 2007

Filed under: house stuf,thrifted — clothespin @ 11:56 am

My new house is so much bigger than the last house! I thought that I had enough furniture, but with all of this space, it’s kinda looking a bit empty. And, I realized that I really need a bedside table to put a lamp on and a place to stash the glasses. So, I was at this thrift store mall area in a nearby town and next door to it is a Salvation Army thrift store. The stuff in it isn’t as pretty as other thrift stores, but it is also generally a lot cheaper. So, I found this great old school desk for $5! Cleaned it up a bit and I think that it looks pretty cute next to the bed.


Of course, Delilah was wanting to pose for pictures when I was taking the picture above, and considering that she is a thrifted/recycled dog, she had to be included, too.


I’ve also posted these pictures on Flickr for Thrift Thursday and hope to post more of my garage sale and thrift store finds as the weeks go by…


Green to Craft July 25, 2007

Filed under: Alabama,house stuf,projects — clothespin @ 11:13 am

So, I’ve been in Alabama for a few weeks now… and been busy unpacking.  Things have finally settled down and  the unpacking is nearing an end.  The Monster dog has a fenced yard, I have a new washing machine and soon will put up a clothesline!


The other great thing was the addition of a queen sized bed to our lives… both hubby and I are tall people and have needed a bigger bed for years.  Sleep is so much better on this!


 My favorite part about this house has to be the kitchen.  Aren’t the curly bits above the window just great?  Why do remodeling shows always demolish this?  The cabinets go all the way to the ceiling and while you short folks out there may not appreciate this – us tall folks love the space!

It is true that the kitchen wall color is not the greatest.  Auburn University does have the orange school color going on… though maybe not this shade of orange.  I had temporarily thought of repainting it – it would look so much better in a color like light green… And the floor would be so CUTE in the old black and white square linoleum… But, this IS a rental and who knows how long we’ll be here?


 Plus, after hubby realized that these quaint old circuit breakers aren’t just remnants but truly do work (!) he decided that we’re definitely not staying here longer than our lease.


The other deciding factor in not painting the kitchen is that I have decided that I don’t like painting.  You see, I painted the craft room.  The only room in the house with real hard wood floors, it also has real fake wood paneling!  This room is definitely an add on – you can tell by the number of plug-ins in the walls… and is my favorite room.  It has windows on 3 sides!  Great light, away from the rest of the house and a cute little closet (not in the picture) to hide craft stuff.


As I am a child of the 70’s and my parents still have the paneling up on their walls… I tend to not like paneling much.  So – I got the brilliant idea of painting the walls!  The landlady lets us take the cost for improvements off of the rent, which is really great – and she gets free labor out of it.  I really like the color of the walls now and will soon be filling in the rest of the space with the rest of my crafty stuff.


For now, I just wanted to let you see what it all looks like before it’s all cluttered.

So far, hubby is working like a fiend but does like his job.  I’m starting to look for work which stresses me out – I so hate job hunting.  The area around here is pretty enough and we have met some great people.  Change is good… and I hope to be sharing more of our new home town soon!


Lavender Friends June 25, 2007

Filed under: house stuf,Uncategorized — clothespin @ 10:42 am

lavendar from my garden



Lavender is one of my favorite easy plants to grow. This particular plant is about 3 years old and has survived my complete lack of attention to it – perhaps why it is so happy. In the spring and summer, it makes so many flower spikes that smell so yummy! The bees are buzzing around, dragonflies and damselflies visit – it’s nice to just go stand and watch the activity while soaking up the scent.


Sadly, this is a plant that is not making the move with us. It will stay in my garden here and I hope that whomever lives in this little house next will appreciate my purple friend. In the mean time, I hope to make a few mementos of my garden by making lavender wands. They should make the car smell wonderful during the 14 hour drive to Alabama. Hopefully, lavender grows in Alabama too…


local sewing club ladies


Recently, my friends and I met for one of our stitchy knit/crochet meetings at our local hangout. These are good friends that I met through the group (for the most-part) and whom I have been hanging out with for several years now. They have been with me through many tough times and many happy times and I will miss them when I leave. Like my lavender, this group of people I can’t take with me, though I can take the pictures and yarn and memories… And, I will hopefully find a new group of ladies who have an addiction to yarn and a love of life and beer.


What will I miss about this place I have called home? My lavender and my friends, among other things. Both of which I can find new ones of in my new town – neither of which I can replace.


Farm House June 20, 2007

Filed under: Alabama,house stuf — clothespin @ 8:08 am

So, the most wonderful and amazing friend that I haven’t yet met, who lives in Auburn AL, sent me pictures of my new house!  The most I had been able to see prior to this morning were pictures off of Google Earth…

house picture from google earth

Ms. Julie sent real pictures, and did it without my even asking.  She has to win the award for person going above and beyond the call of duty for a complete stranger…

It’s a farm house, about 6 miles away from town, and it is MUCH bigger than the house that I currently live in.  I don’t know how much bigger, but it is bigger.  (It is possible, though difficult, to find a house smaller than my current house, though not one with 3 bedrooms.)


I am excited!   I can feel myself stretching out into all of the wondrous SPACE!  I can be alone in a room and still have the hubby be in the house at the same time!  More importantly, the litter box will not be in the bedroom and we will have laundry machines!  Hmm… wonder where I’m going to put the clothesline?


We will have to build a dog fence still, and who knows where that will go, hopefully including one of the trees near the barn but also connected to the house some way.


Now, at least, I am able to dream more accurately about my future, which is  a mere 9 days away…  I will stay positive and happy about this all… even while I miss all of you here…  But, think of it this way, now I have enough space for a sleepover with my Texas friends!


Retro Chairs April 6, 2007

Filed under: house stuf,projects — clothespin @ 10:50 am

Thrift stores are great! I was in a local one looking for some mismatched china for a gift (it went over really well) when I spotted 3 of these:

Retro Chair

Two were in red, one was in blue. The lines were cool, kind of a retro-modern and they looked old. I sat in one, trying to talk myself out of buying them… They were comfy. A bit springy with a slight backward rock. The one in the picture was solid, too and aside from needing some love on the wood and a redo on the seating, the bones were in great shape.

retro chair sideretro chair back

I resisted, tried to remind myself that my tiny house, a mere 450 square feet and home to a hairy dog, a fat cat and one tall husband was already full to the gills. Where ever would I store them and WHAT would I do with them?

I asked the shop keeper how much they were, hoping that the price would be unreasonable and thus prevent my lustful cravings for cool retro things. $25 for all three, yes we take checks. Needless to say, I wrote a check and then left them there, returning today with hubby’s truck to cart them home.

Currently, they are sitting in the back of his truck (the weather people swear it isn’t going to rain tonight) waiting until he returns so that I can put them in the field lab at work. (He has the key.) They will sit there waiting until the glorious day when he finds/gets “the job” and we get to move away from our tiny, yet cozy, home into a slightly bigger house with a garage.

Until then… I need a bit of help. In looking at these cool chairs further, I realized that what I thought was old and peeling vinyl was in fact a slip cover velcroed over the original seating! The good news is, I can take that cover and use it as a pattern for new covers if I decide that that needs to be done. But, then I realized that the former owner had then PAINTED the chairs, vinyl and all it seems, first to blue and then to red. The paint covered the original seat part, too.

retro chair velcro

So, does anyone know how to get old paint off of a seat and edging material like that? I get the bad feeling that I may have to redo it all… and that may not be bad as I’m not the greatest fan of light pink, which is apparently their original color. But, I am concerned that my sewing machine is not capable of such heavy duty sewing and that it might cost a bit to have a professional do it..

(This is the blue chair with the original pink edging and webbing showing through the paint.)

.retro chair seat paint

Thoughts? Advice? Hay, I know I won’t be working on this soon, but would like at least two of them to go into a future house… Thanks for any help you can give!