Saving soap scum

Do you reuse the soap scum from your shower or bathtub? Great! Neither do I.

For some time now I have been keeping those slim bars of soap that are almost ready to turn into scum. You know the ones, the kind you set down into the soap tray that turn into a sloppy mess by the time you pick up your washcloth. I’ve been keeping the soap slivers in a container in the back of drawer that holds the new bars of soap. My thought was that I could turn them back into a bar and prevent soap scum (at least some of it).

This all stayed in the theoretical project stage until my favorite brand of bar soap has refused to go on sale. For quite some time too, since I have a whole drawer for hoarding soap in.

It was time to get serious and chop up those slivers of soap and make them useful!

After chopping, I got my hands wet and packed the soap together to form a ball. I needed to wet my hands after each layer and found that packing the soap too loosely would create a crumbling soap-scum-super-starter.

Ball of packed soap flakes

If you have any small plastic toys laying around, they can be covered with soap flakes for a shower surprise at a later date. I am fortunate enough that I can surprise myself these days.

Plastic snake waiting for a soap shell

Stitch a little stitch

I’ve been working on embroidery for at least a year. Here are some of my recent projects. These flowers are adapted from a design by Clare Youngs in the book Scandinavian Needlecraft. It was noted how similar this design is to some Ojibwa designs.

Flowers embroidered on a towel

This Día de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) inspired design is my own. The design was sketched during a Wisconsin Library Association conference. (I contend that I can listen better when my hands are busy with a repetitive task.)

Embroidered Day of the Dead Skull

I was pleased with the results. The first attempt was freehand on the towel, which didn’t please me very much. Part of the problem was that the hoop was quite a bit smaller than the design, so I couldn’t see it all at once while I was working on it. Perhaps I will “fix” it someday by adding some pretty brains, but now I am interested in other projects.

Embroidered Trial Skull

Here’s another freehand, doodle design. I would like it better if the flowers had been based on actual plants.

Embroidered Square Flowers

The tree design was adapted from one by Aimée Ray in Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection. There is a design to inspire almost anyone in this fun book.

tree small

An upcycling project that I had been considering was to make a rug from old t-shirts. The process of cutting the strips held me back, even though I use a rotary cutter. Enter one of my favorite thrift stores, The Clothes Closet of Hettinger, North Dakota. I purchased two latch hook rug canvases, fabric strips, and a latch hook tool for one dollar! One rug was started, with a fabric strip for each “hole” in the canvas. It was bunched-up, but I thought that might be due the small size of the started rug. I added more strips. It didn’t get better. I took apart the rug and washed the fabric strips in a lingerie bag. The washing made the fabric curl up and easier to latch to the canvas. The Crafty Woman blog has detailed instructions on how to make a jersey rug and spacing the strips made the rug much easier to hook and it laid flat right away. The fabric strips that I used are 3/4″ wide by 6″ long.

T-shirt Rug

A project that I want to start is re-covering the cracked vinyl covers on four kitchen chair seats. Jenny suggested that I should cover the fabric with a clear vinyl so that they are easy to clean. What a great idea! If you have any suggestions before I start, please let me know. Here’s the fabric that I picked up  for the chairs at another favorite thrift store, Waupaca Thrift Store.

Chair Seat Fabric

While I was writing this post, I was listening to an audiobook until it got too difficult to write and focus on the story. Turns out that I can fold the laundry, but not compose, while listening. The book is The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken by Tarquin Hall, featuring the fictional private investegator Vish Puri. Besides the great title, the book provides a great description of contemporary India, detailed characters, and a good mystery without being too cozy or too violent. I highly recommend it to mystery readers. If you are a Wisconsin resident with a library card in good standing, you may download the audiobook through Wisconsin’s Digital Library. There is no additional cost for Wisconsin residents to check out this book, since it has already been paid for through taxes.


Worn out and patched jeans

At the end

I try to purchase most of my clothing at thrift stores and spend way too much time looking for just the right piece. Function and appeal are top decision makers, but there are a few brands that I love. My Carhartt jeans are one of my favorites. I wore and patched my first pair until they were so thin that I would need to line them with patches to continue wearing them. The next step was to take them to my friend Jerry who makes custom rag rugs. He had questions for me…should the jeans be matched with cool or warm colors? what size of rug would I like? I’ve seen enough of Jerry’s rugs to know that he would come up with something wonderful. He did!

Jerry holding rug he made from jeans

Jerry and the jeans rug

The jeans were woven with an old gray work shirt and striped green sheet. Jerry even un-patched the jeans and used the belt loops to make the rug, which is way beyond the  work I expected him to do! Jerry asked me where I planned to use my rug. I don’t know…I just loved my jeans so much that I didn’t want to get rid of them!

It's all in the detail

A few other things that deserve mention:

Robbie, Charlie, and I went to our first donkey basketball game featuring students, teachers, and firefighters. Charlie couldn’t miss the opportunity for a silly smile.

Close-up photo of Charlie with a silly expression

Charlie smiles

How to spell that word that describes something that is marked with or having stripes? Is it striped or stripped? I use the Google “define” tool often when writing. To use it, go to a Google search box and type define: word followed by the enter key. You will get a definition followed by links to associated websites.

Yoga class is held on Wednesdays and I almost always look forward to it. During the cool months class is held in a building that once was an Odd Fellows hall. Steep and narrow stairs lead from Main Street onto the second floor of the building. The room has wood floors, a high ceiling covered with stamped steel sheets, and marquee lights around the edge of the ceiling. It was hard for me to photograph. It is a wonderful space, despite the peeling paint, dead light bulbs, and after-market wiring.

Lights on ceiling in yoga room


Book hangover material: Marcelo in the Real World. The New York Times review of it in LibraryThing is a good one. If you read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and enjoyed it, you will probably like Marcelo. Both books are coming of age stories narrated by a character with high functioning autism.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my cousin Jessie was a good sport and let me decorate her pregnant belly with henna. She’s a great sport because I’m slow and not-so-artful. We talked about a professional henna stylist who decorated my arms in India and how fast she was. Here’s a video clip of it that I uploaded to YouTube.