Puttering around the house

I put these blueberries in the freezer last Summer when they were cheap.

I put these blueberries in the freezer last Summer when they were cheap.

I had some ripened bananas on the counter, so last night I took a handful of blueberries out of the freezer, set them in a colander to thaw. This morning I dumped them into a batch of banana bread batter. Chopped up some whole almonds in there too, cause I’m just nuts.

I have to pat myself on the back for a job well done.

I call this, “Good Job Juanita!”

My husband and I worked all weekend and most of yesterday so today we’re puttering around the house. On puttering days, I just like to look around and say, “what needs doing?” Any silly task there is usually no time for, that is a putter.  You know, those things that only irritate you when you don’t have time to deal with them. That used to frustrate me, but I started keeping a notebook with a “stuff that bugs me” list. Genius!

Here’s a good one: don’t you hate paying good money for soap and then it dissolves down to this pretty good size piece that isn’t usable anymore? You try to keep using it, perfectly good soap, but it slips out of your hand, breaks, etc. I know that is not just my freak because I’ve been in other women’s bathrooms and found their “soap too small to use but too big to throw away” stash. 

I used to save those pieces for travel, but they weren’t any easier to use in a motel bathroom. I’ve tried squeezing the old small bar onto the new big bar, with not much success.  I know a lot of people are with me on this because I’ve read/heard plenty of tips – use that bar of soap for this or that other household task – it all seemed to be a lot of trouble to go to just to avoid throwing out an old piece of soap.

I was raised by my grandparents, with that mentality that there was always another Great Depression around every corner and you should NEVER throw away anything that was still in any way usable. My grandma had drawers in her kitchen for rags, old containers like tin cans and dairy tins, a sewing drawer full of stuff like jars of old buttons and zippers clipped  off tossed away clothing (which filled the rag drawer). My grandfather saved bits and pieces in very carefully sorted and arranged piles on the floor of his shop – he had a pile of bolts, a pile of nuts, etc, and on the wall he had right gloves hung on the right and left gloves hung on the left. Everybody knew Andy Dillard never drove his truck over 15 mph because he was looking for stuff laying alongside the road.  And yeah, not only did my grandfather use that stuff when he had the need for it, our friends and neighbors knew where to come and look for something they needed, and would very often find it without having to drive all the way to Willows or Princeton or Colusa to a hardware store.

So scuse me for being such a pack rat. I  really try to fight that urge, and I’ve learned that if I can’t use something, I should toss it.  I noticed my finer olive oil based soaps just plain got rancid after a while, so I stopped saving those bars, and eventually quit buying them.  I finally figured out my soap dilemma when I started using this really nice soap – available at most grocery stores – Clearly Natural. It’s made with nothing but vegetable glycerin, which is safe for most people’s skin. I don’t know what they use for fragrance, but I’ve never had any trouble with it. It’s one of the cheaper soaps at the store too. My favorite “flavors”  are Vitamin E and Aloe Vera, which are very lightly scented. And here’s the thing – glycerin melts, and then it solidifies again, just like it was before. 

I put these old pieces of soap into a pyrex bowl and set it in a pan of water on a very low heat.

See, there’s plenty of good soap left here, but these pieces are too small to use. So, I put them into a Pyrex bowl and set it in a pan of water on a very low heat.

Isn't that something!

Isn’t that something! You need to stir it as it goes, but this happened in less than 10 minutes. And it still smells very nice.

Let me tell you, as soon as you turn off the heat, the soap starts to solidify again, you have to move fast.  I also save egg cartons.

There are a lot of things you can do with old egg cartons.

There are a lot of things you can do with old egg cartons.

It seems messy, but remember, it’s just soap. I had enough  for almost five tiny “egg bars.” They set up in less than an hour, and then the egg carton peels off.  The shape is nice, it holds up good to my loofah. 

Here's one of our homegrown loofahs. The egg carton shape is good for rubbing up a lather.

Here’s one of our homegrown loofah. The egg carton soap shape is good for rubbing up a lather. It will last about a week.

Yeah, it will rub down to an unusable nub too, and then I’ll put it in the plastic container until I get enough pieces,  and melt them down again. Life eternal. 

On puttering days I also like to do experiments, things I’ve been wanting to do. Since I’ve been making my own goat milk yogurt, I’ve been looking at a soft cheese recipe in the instruction book, and I’ve been wanting to try it. The yogurt maker even came with a neat-o cheese bag – a cheesecloth with a draw-string to hold it over a pot. So, today when I get my fresh batch of yogurt out of the machine, I’ll have to take out a good size scoop and hang it in the cheese bag, see what I get. Should come out somewhat like cream cheese, from what I hear.

I’ll keep you posted.

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