Washing Antique Quilts

Ordinarily I would not recommend doing this, but of course it is up to the individual and the circumstances. I would like to showcase an example and let the reader make their own decisions as to whether or not they should perform something similar to their quilt.

I happened to have a quilt made by my great grandmother that I had appraised last year. It turned out to be valued low due to condition issues, mostly water and age stains, as well as a funny smell and a dingy fade to the overall quilt. So I figured if I washed it and it didn’t turn out so well, I wouldn’t have lost much. I mean, it is an invaluable heirloom to me, but I do have 6 or 7 other quilts of hers to cherish.

So I decided to test this product I’d recently heard of called Retro Clean.

The operation went in this order, specifically:

1. Filled the bathtub with lukewarm water and let it sit for 20 minutes (to let the chlorine evaporate).

2. Place the quilt gently into the tub, pushing it down into the water to ensure the water penetrates the fibers. At this point my bathwater turned very yellow, which indicated to me that I was already making progress.

 So I removed the tub drain to let the water out. I lightly folded up the quilt so I could push a bit more water out of it, once it had drained from the tub and removed the quilt to the edge of the tub.

3. Refill the bathtub with lukewarm water and let it sit for another 20 minutes. Resubmerge the quilt and gently move it around in the water. Again my water turned yellow, so again I drained it, and repeated the process again.

4. Moving along… Fill the tub, add the sample size pouch of Retro Clean and let it sit for 20 minutes. Submerge quilt. The directions state that the quilt needs to be completely submerged in the water for 2 days, preferrably in the sunlight. Well, I couldn’t get every bit of the quilt to stay under water without a towel laid over it, so that’s what I did. I let it sit for 2 days.

5. Drain the water. Now comes the toughest part. Removing the quilt from the water without damaging any of the fragile fibers is the most concerning step of the process. So I used the towel to encase the quilt and brought it outside. I used a white sheet to cover the trampoline out back and put the quilt over it. It was dry the next morning.

As you can see from the pictures, I had fantastic results in this case. My quilt was in very good condition (only one small tear), being assembled in the 1920’s.

Quilts from earlier periods may have material or thread that have migrating dyes or cuastic mordants, causing color bleed and material disintegration. To prevent these issues from occurring, you MUST ensure your quilt will react positively to a water bath PRIOR to placing it in one. The best test you can perform is to test a very small section of the fabric in each color with the water in advance. Or consult a conservation specialist.

So consider this a product review. If you DO make the decision to bathe your quilt, I would recommend using ORVUS soap or RETRO CLEAN. But before you take action, be absolutely sure you want to take this step.

Best of luck my friends!

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All Natural Hair Care

A few years back, I was reading through the internet news (if you’d call it that) and stumbled upon an article about all natural hair care. I read through the entire story and did a little research on the side, finding the information really interesting. I didn’t think with the amount of travel I had to do for my job that I could pull off doing the all natural hair care despite the need for few simple ingredients. Despite that feeling, I didn’t forget about the idea.

Fast forward a few years, and I decided to check it out again. So I searched the internet and found the simplest directions for my new regime. If you want to check it out first hand, do a search on “all natural baking soda shampoo”, and you’ll find a plethora of articles to peruse, all with instructions (they vary a bit) and LOTS of details on the perils of shampoo.

So for the past three weeks, I have been following this regime. After the first use my hair felt incredibly light, like years of waxy buildup from my conditioner had all been stripped away. About four days later my hair was a bit greasy, and then my scalp figured out the right amount of natural oil to produce and my hair has been fantastic ever since.

You see, shampoo is a detergent, and strips all the natural oils from your hair and scalp, which causes your scalp to produce excess oils, which is why your hair gets greasy after a day or so without reshampooing. I had to use conditioner to “rehydrate” my hair. Mass produced shampoo also contains very harmful ingredients to your health, such as sodium laurel sulfate and waste products such as mineral oil. Do you really want to put that on your body? See how great my hair looks now:

DIRECTIONS: This is so simple it’s ridiculous. And it’s VERY cheap. I take a glass measuring cup and put 2 cups of water in it. I heat it up a little (the first time I didn’t heat the water and it was sort of a shock to put the cold water on my head!) I then pour one cup of the water into my RINSE squeeze bottle, to which I add a little over one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Then I add one tablespoon of baking soda to the cup of water remaining in the measuring glass and stir until the baking soda has dissolved. I pour that into my SHAMPOO squeeze bottle.

Squeeze bottle? Yep, I spent a whole $2 for an empty ketchup and mustard squeeze bottle at the local grocer. They are the perfect size and work great!

Warm up your shower, get your hair and scalp thoroughly wet, and squeeze on your ‘shampoo’. Mainly focus on your scalp, it will inevitably get through your hair as well. I usually squeeze with one hand and rub it into my scalp with my fingers of the other hand. Then I rinse under the shower head.

To ‘condition’, squeeze the contents of your rinse bottle on your scalp in the same manner. Leave it in for a few minutes and rinse out under the shower water. As you do this you will find your hair easier to put fingers through to the ends.

Of course you can make this in larger batches if you like. I like to make it quick right before I shower, it’s SO easy.

Benefits? Money saving. My hair is lighter and more manageable. My hair doesn’t get greasy anymore. No chemicals and excess oils being put on my body. Better for the environment. I have been losing less hair. AND I only have to wash my hair every four days or so. The alternate days (like yesterday) I just rinse through my hair with the shower water.

Try it and you will be amazed. There is really no risk. Just gain! Enjoy!

Quilt Photos

I really wanted to write tonight, specifically about quilting, but have just been so busy that I didn’t really have anything prepared or on the top of my head as a topic. Then I remembered all the pictures I have of quilts I have recently quilted that are sitting hidden somewhere in the files of my laptop. So I thought I would simply share them.

Click on a photo to see more detailed information. Enjoy!

Roasted Organic Beets

Sprouts had a sale, and I was there. Their golden and red organic beets were on sale, so I loaded up and excitedly got to work on them as soon as I returned home. Not a fan? Try this recipe. It is not only simple, but roasting the beets brings out their natural sweetness, which compliments that wonderful earthy flavor.

I bought 6 medium-sized beets, three of each color (of course you can use all red beets if that’s what is available). I rinsed off the dirt and peeled the beets, cutting off the bottom and top ends. Then I cut them into approximately 1″ chunks, placing them on tin foil.

Once I was finished cutting, I drizzled the beet chunks with olive oil and sprinkled sea salt and fresh cracked pepper over the whole lot. I transferred the tin foil full of delight into a glass baking dish and baked them at 375 until they are tender, stirring a few times for even cooking.

NOTE: I have had better results by using clay baking dish, so if you have one of those, I recommend using it. The foil is not necessary, but keeps clean up to a minimum.

If you aren’t a beet fan, I hope you will give it a try, even with just one beet. I have made believers in my household (children and skeptical men included). Happy cooking!

Z BEST PIZZA EVER!

ZBQ Pizza

Heard that before? Ha, I’m sure you have. With the countless pizza chains and local pie shops to choose from, it’s inevitable that everyone has at least one personal favorite that they can’t imagine anyone else surpassing. But I really think this is it.

Once upon a time, I lived in the great state of Washington, and there was a road along Hood Canal through Seabeck that was one of my favorite Sunday drives. The town of Seabeck wasn’t really a town, more of a few buildings clustered together. But there was a pizza joint there, aptly named Seabeck Pizza. We stopped there once to try a slice, and never went to another pizza place after that. 

I can’t tell you specifically what it was about that pizza that I so much enjoyed. I just remember the proportions of wood-fired crust to fresh tangy sauce to melty creamy cheese being perfect. Or maybe it was just the view.Hood Canal and Olympic Mountains from Scenic Beach State Par

Then we moved. A few times.

Upstate New York is beautiful. The small town of Saratoga Springs is packed with visitors to the races in spring, but during the other months, it’s wonderfully quiet and serene. Going downtown is like stepping back in time, with street lamps along the sidewalk and shops and restaurants side by side standing tall and narrow, inviting you into the warmth within their doors. There were two establishments in particular that caught my fancy there: one was Mino’s Sushi and the other was the pizza place.

D’Andrea’s Pizza was amazing. This place was a single entity, i.e. non-chain restaurant, offering a wide variety of slices and in an eccentric environment, which was part of it’s charm. Once you entered, this place definitely didn’t seem like it fit in this little upscale town, but every time we went in, we left with a box of many slices and eventually had an empty box.

Fast forward about 10 years to Dallas, and a recent discovery of The Pure One. Yep, THE one. I’d actually tried their pizza before and honestly I was not really impressed. But then… Joey and I went there for something different for dinner, and have never considered any other pizza.

Their menu has a variety of choices. I chose the gluten free crust, not because I had to for dietary reasons, but because I wanted to try it. What they served me was an amazing, crunchy bottom, chewy top, slightly sweet, cornmealy crust which was perfectly fired. My topping choice was a menu selection: “Berkeley Vegan”.

Joe had the Thai pizza.

He said his was the best but I thought mine was better. I’d say that is a pretty good sign of good eats.

Their offerings are not limited to delicious pies on varying crusts. They also dish up salads, appetizer plates (I am really eager to try the Mediterranean plate), which includes olives, hummus, feta and more.

They also serve have pasta and warm and cold sandwiches as well. Just take a look for yourself! www.zpizza.com.

We have had them deliver since; Joe ordered the American, while I enjoyed the Napoli. I can’t wait to go back again and have another small pie all of my own; there are so many intriguing flavor combinations to try!

I truly apologize for tantalizing your tastebuds if you are so unfortunate as to have no Z nearby. But if you have your own pizza heaven, please share your favorite slice spot! Happy munching my friends!

A Feel Good Day

Today began like any other school day for me, but soon became a feel good day for me. What do I mean by that? Well… I’ll explain my morning and hopefully you can relate that to a day when you felt like I do now.

Usually after I drop the girls off at school I take the time to exercise, usually walking my favorite path.

Today I decided instead to get moving on my extensive “to do” list, which I figured would involve enough movement to get my blood flowing.

I loaded my car with my boxes and bags and drove first to the Goodwill. I dropped off clothing and toys the girls had decided they no longer needed as well as some adult clothing.

Next stop, the Post Office. I mailed off my most recently quilted Quilts Of Valor Quilt to the woman who will bind it.

I stopped in Petsmart next, as I wanted to ensure we had plenty of cat food before the weekend, and I still needed to pick up some litter. About six months ago, after seeing the commercials, I did some checking and found (just like they say!) that the food I was feeding my fluffies was full of just qabout everything BUT meat. So I switched them to Blue Brand, and they actually consume quite a bit less volume of food, so the increased cost is mitigated some, and the switch was well worth it.

As always, the first place I head in the store is to the back area that houses the Adoption Center. Today there was only one kitty. His name was Peanut, and he was an almost red tabby male that was soo adorable I had a hard time leaving him there. Unfortunately the shelter people were not present, so I couldn’t take him out to hold and pet and play. Since I was there, I picked up two little sucker fish for Amy’s tank, to help out with the algae. She’ll be pleasantly surprised when she gets home!

My next stop was to Sprouts, one of my very favorite markets. We’ve been eating what seems like bushels of apples lately, so I found the organic section and loaded up.

I have also been checking labels more carefully, especially on juices I buy for the girls (the vino is for me, not for them 🙂 ).

I could hardly believe that EVERY SINGLE apple/fruit juice at the local Kroger had apple juice from China. So I’ve returned to buying my juice from Sprouts alone, to ensure I avoid my girls ingesting excess chemicals. I purchased a few other healthy goodies for my family and headed out with my reusable bags filled to the brim.

Upon arriving home, I put away the groceries and watered all the plants. I finished stuffing my mini bell peppers and baked them for the weekend, as well as baking an acorn squash for lunch.

So although my activities today were in fact small tasks on my “to do” list, everything I did made me feel like I accomplished something positive. We donated clothing, I mailed a charity quilt that I quilted, did my best to give an adoption kitty some love, and bought healthy, organic produce for my family. I feel pretty good.

I hope you are feeling good about your choices today as well my friends! Happy day!

Baking. Well, sort of…

I’m not truly much of a baker. While I am meticulous about certain things being just so, that’s not at all the case when I’m in the kitchen. Countless times I’ve been asked to share a recipe that I cannot recreate because I didn’t measure anything when I was making it.

Regardless, I make my efforts and do love to create in the kitchen. So when I found this blog I was immediately HOOKED! I actually stumbled across it on Facebook somewhere, but perusing through her recipes is a daily delight. Please, give yourself a treat and check it out!

I’ve also discovered another bake shop, only this one deals with fabric, not flour. It’s a fun place to play, shop and find new things to make. The Moda Bakeshop has a bakery, measurement charts, free patterns for just about any fabric project, tips and even options to submit your own recipe! It’s a fun place to look through and you may find yourself wandering around the site like a culinary specialty store, unable or unwilling to leave.

Happy browsing my friends!