hands on :: tye dye

Just in case you think that we farmwives ONLY knit or crochet, or spin, or dye wool with awesome homegrown plants…

I want you to understand that now and then, we let our freak flag fly.freak flag

My little sister is an ace tye-dyer.  She took time out to share the craft with us recently, and it was an absolute thrill to see these stained old duds get a new life – new color.

the clean and the not so clean

the cleanliness threshold, you know the one, the breaking point where you just absolutely HAVE to get down on your hands and knees and scrub. it is different for everyone and it seems we don’t necessarily marry or give birth to folks with the same threshold. so we charge through family life sharing space and knowing we might or might not kick one of our beloved over the edge with nothing but the best intentions.

before i go further with my story, i know it is time for some self reflection (and in case i wasn’t heading in that direction, my dear sister in law just read over my shoulder and reminded me to). my threshold is pretty high. paul’s is lower, madeline’s is higher. hands down the neatest member of the family is sasha, william is still too young to call. all of that is to say, i don’t love cleaning. i put it off. my daily to do list can be so long, once i power through each day, (which does include lots of said work: in addition to the basics of keeping a family of 5 fed and cared for, we milk a cow, lots of washing and sterilizing there friends!) i settle in to other, non tidy tasks. i am guilty of letting  the piles get bigger. the deep cleaning, the floor washing, the wall scrubbing, that sneaks further and further to the list’s bottom. i am not necessarily proud of this part of myself. i work hard at keeping a tidy home, really i do, but not as hard as others might like.


enter family time. each february our sister and brother-in-law with their daughter come for a mid winter break kentucky style. sometimes we are trapped indoors, but this glorious week past we have had near perfect conditions and tons of tasks have been made fun and delightful with our big family group. today, a sunny sunday, phoebe entered just past the crack of dawn, awaited the requisite hot coffee and got right to it. of all my friends and relatives, phoebe’s threshold is the lowest. she LOVES cleanliness and order so much, she even enjoys cleaning for others (or at least for me anyway). no family vacation is complete without an aunt phoebe do-over and boy has this been a good one. it was thorough. it was fun.


i think it takes a special amount of love in a relationship to handle some of these daily life issues. i am lucky to have a sister in law i know and love so well. i take no offense as she mercilessly scours my home for outdated toys, single shoes, dust bunnies. she judges me not when she finds and disposes of these horrors.


lest you think this family time was all scrubbing, there was plenty of farm based get dirty kind of fun.


we bid these dears a sad farewell tomorrow morn, they leave us with a heart full of love, another delightful collection of memories, and a clean house.


the farmwives kitchen… easy homemade laundry soap

So, maybe this recipe isn’t necessarily something to eat, it is nonetheless what is happening in my kitchen. Laundry soap.

I usually purchase an eco-friendly laundry soap through my local co-op. But that order happens once a month, and even though I have an entire month to make lists of household items and food we are running low on, I have this tendency to wait till the last minute to figure out my order, and well… more often than not I forget something. Ahem.

The laundry doesn’t seem to wait around for me to have soap, I’ve noticed. And I live in a location that doesn’t have a hip little health food store where I can zip in and grab what I need. In fact, the nearest jug of eco-friendly laundry soap is about an hour’s drive, one-way. It wouldn’t be very ‘eco-friendly’ of me to hop in the van to fetch my soap, now would it?

So, leave it to my dear mother… She’s been making her own laundry soap for years now. It was time I followed in her footsteps. So I got her recipe. The ingredients are relatively benign (except where noted) and readily available. (I’m not sure of the original source, but thanks to whoever deserves thanks here.) Without further ado:

Ingredients: 1/3 bar FELS NAPTHA laundry bar soap (grated) (I want to look for an alternative here, as this particular soap has “fragrance” and coloring agents, plus a few other ingredients I can’t pronounce, which is always questionable. I have used a gall soap (from here) as a stain remover in the past, and I suspect it would serve a similar purpose in this recipe, any suggestions out there?); 1/2 cup BORAX; 1/2 cup WASHING SODA; and a two gallon bucket.

Directions: Step 1) Grate 1/3 bar FELS NAPTHA (or other) bar soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat until soap melts. Step 2) Add WASHING SODA and BORAX. Stir until dissolved. Step 3) Pour 4 cups hot water into 2 gallon bucket. Add soap mixture. Step 4) Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let stand for 24 hours and soap will gel. *Use 1/2 cup of soap per load. (This is not in the original recipe, but the addition of an essential oil. like lavender, mint, or something citrusy seems like a good idea.)

How about you? Does anyone else out there have a laundry soap recipe you would like to share? If so, post a comment below. I would love to experiment…