DIY

No More Clotheslines

With three boys, my husband and myself there is always laundry. Sometimes lots of laundry. Thanks to the modern conveniences of washers and dryers it is no longer a long and arduous task. That is until something fails.

We had purchased a new washer and dryer 8 years ago when the hand-me-down ones finally bit the dust. Nothing fancy or overly newage with a bunch of computerized dodads and gizmos. The set served us well up until May of this year. The timer button on the dryer slowly began to die. You could set it to 50 minutes and it would work. Then after a few days the timer had to be set to 43 in order to work. A week later it was 35 minutes. You see a trend forming don’t you? When it got to the point of being only able to set it for 20 minutes of run time I gave up on it.

It was time to get the clothes line out. The weather had become warm and sunny for the summer so it was no big deal. I have always enjoyed drying things out on the line. In fact when I was a kid I always thought there was something magical about running through the fabric as it was waving in the breeze. There were too many days with rain, or more laundry than we had capacity to hang, even after running extra lines from the swingset to the fence and back. After a month of line drying I decided to see what could be wrong with the dryer.

I knew it was not the heating element because heat was no issue. Maybe the connectors rattled loose over the years? Why not, with the number of times it had been run and some of those with shoes in it. So the slightly daunting task of tearing open the dryer commenced. They do not make them in a way that anybody can rip them open. After pulling the dryer from the wall and disconnecting the power I went at it with pliers, screwdrivers, etc. I managed to only mangle up the back in minor ways during the process.

Here is the biggest tip I can give-TAKE PICTURES. Take pictures of everything before you tear things apart and keep little bowls around for holding the screws, bolts and what not(trust me you don’t want to loose them).

13315749_10209116129720932_590566965008311174_n.jpgWith a bottle of alcohol and some swabs I disconnected and cleaned all the connectors and their receptacles. Once they were fully dry I reconnected them. In lieu of fully closing up the back for fear of having to get right back in there, The back panel cover was reattached only with a couple of the bolts. Plugged it back in and tried it out with my fingers and toes crossed….no improvement.

At that point with the disappointment I quit for the night.

The next day I decided to do some internet research. I was almost certain it had to be the timer but needed to make sure that that was the likely culprit. After hours on Google reading forums and such I figured that it had to be the timer. I just had to figure out what I needed and where I was possibly going to get it. Back down to the laundry room to disassemble the control panel again. With the dryer timer piece in hand I returned to the computer to see if I could possibly get this part.

Found the exact part needed and a few places I could get it from. Most were places that would ship it to you and happily one place in my town had it in stock. I drove down to Dey Parts with the timer in tow. There I was greeted by a very nice and knowledgeable man. I explained to him what had been happening with the drier and showed him what I needed. He agreed with me that it sounded like the timer went out. I hoped he was right because there was no returning the part after I installed it.

It took no time to put the part in and reassemble the housing on the dryer. With a huge amount of hope I set the timer on the dryer to 50 minutes and pushed the button…IT WORKED!!!!!! I apparently squealed with delight loud enough that my family misconstrued the sound as I did something to hurt myself and came running. They came barreling down the stairs to witness my happy dance.

I am sure some are wondering why did I go through so much instead of just getting a new dryer. Did you miss the part about 3 kids and a husband? Needless to say we don’t have money just lying about to replace appliances, let alone hire repairmen everytime something goes wonkey. I guess I am just a firm believer in trying to do for yourself as much as you can. I may not know how to do somethings but there is Google to give me tips. So what it boiled down to was rather than drop over $600 for a new dryer or spend a few hundred $ for a repairman to just look at it, I decided to spend $80 on a part and hope that it worked. This time my plan worked out and that may not always be the case, but I was lucky.

 

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DIY Laundry Soap

I have been asked by some friends about the items I make for my family’s use. At first some of them think I’m a bit funny for doing it until I explain to them how with a little effort, every once in awhile, I save our family hundreds of dollars a year. After that they ask for the recipes so I thought I would also share here in my blog.

laundry soap

4 1/2 gallons of laundry soap for $1.08 is soooooo worth it. 

Ingredients:

-1 bar of Fels Naptha
-2 cup of Borax
-2 cup of Super Washing Soda
-4 1/2 gallons of hot H20
*I use a big canning pot but just use the biggest pot you got

Directions:

Grate the Fels Naptha into the pot and add hot water, heat on stove and stir until melted. Then add the borax and washing soda. If your pot wasn’t big enough for all of the water divide your soap mixture between empty containers then add remaining water needed. I recommend shaking your soap container before use just to make sure there is no ingredient separation.

The initial cost for the borax and washing soda is nominal with the number of batches it will make over time. Been doing this for a few years and it cleans really really good. At 1/2 cup per load this recipe makes enough to wash 144 loads of laundry. Even better is there are no harsh perfumes that would aggravate my son’s eczema. 

Easy Cinnamon Apple MonkeyBread

Generally I like to cook and bake from scratch, with my family it is always the more cost effective option. Sometimes though I am LAZY. I admit that sometimes the last thing I want to do in the world is…well much of anything. On those kind of days I will happily cheat my way to use the least amount of effort possible.

We love our sweets, any kind of sweet. For example if I make 3 dozen cookies they may last three days in our house. That is 36 cookies for a family of 5, so you see why I dont make sweets too often just for the sake of our health. Ok, for the sake of my waist band and my husbands cholesterol.

Today was one of those days where I knew that my husband and three boys would probably want something for supper (How unreasonable, right?). In the fridge I found almost enough left-overs for supper but just not quite enough to keep them from rummaging in the cupboard or fridge an hour after dinner looking for something more.

This where I pull out one of my top secret lazy treats. It is a great way of making them think I worked for hours to provide them with some fabulous labor-intensive treat. Today’s secret lazy recipe was Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread. It is real simple and always a hit. All you need is a few apples, frozen or tube cinnamon rolls, a little butter and brown sugar.  Thats it.


 

For this batch I used 12 cinnamon rolls. If you use less adjust your pan size and apple amount as needed.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Rhodes Cinnamon rolls (12 rolls)
  • 3 apples
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/8 cup (approximately) cinnamon sugar mix
  • icing

 

How it’s made:

Take your cinnamon rolls out of the tube or in this case out of the freezer bag and cut them into pieces.

cinnapplemonkey

Peal 2 or 3 apples, I chose to use 2 macintosh and 1 grannysmith, and cut into 3/4″ pieces. Toss them with a little Cinnamon and sugar.

I used a 9 x 13 which I sprayed with some non-stick cooking spray. In the bottom of the pan I sprinkled about a 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Then I drizzled a 1/4 cup of melted butter over top of that. This will make a nice caramel like goo after it is done baking.

Next alternately put you apple and cinnamon roll pieces into the pan.

cinnapplemonkey2

Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm area to rise. I lightly spray the top with cooking oil so it doesn’t stick to may towel. I used frozen rolls so it takes about an hour in the oven set at warm to double in size.

cinnapplemonkey3

When they have risen preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove cover, place on center rak and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. I suggest checking them 10 minutes early, depending on your oven.

Most rolls come with icing, but if it doesn’t or you want more simply mix powder sugar with a little water until you get the consistency and amount you like. I like to put the icing on while they are still warm because it melts into all of those yummy pockets between the apples and roll pieces.

cinnapplemonkey5.jpg

If no one was around or at the least not paying any attention they will believe that you are some sort of baking wizard, and it really was kind of cheating.

But that can be our secret.

cinnapplemonkey4.jpg

 

Kindles Killed the Couch

Im not going to say that it is all their fault, but it sure is mostly their fault. I mean how can it not be their fault?

Ok, here is the whole storey.

I never grew up in a home with any furnishings that did not come from an estate sale, a garage sale or a thrift store. Not complaining just stating facts here people. When I got out on my own I knew where to get furnishings for my new “adult” apartment. Boy did I love that 1960’s eight foot long couch in cream & gold, with coordinating teal and gold club chairs. I’m serious they were awesome and in great shape. It was obvious that the little old lady, who’s estate sale it was, never ate anything while sitting on them and probably didnt sit just floated above them. Then when I and my now husband moved in together we had wonderful hand-me-down furniture from his mother and my grandparents. Then down the road after marriage and three kids we exchanged previously used furniture for previously less used furniture as needed. Why buy new when you have two boys in diapers and potty training at the same time, lets face it there will be accidents…lots of accidents.

It wasn’t until after we had out third (and final) boy most of the way potty trained that we considered buying new. Really there was no “we” my husband has a million wonderful qualities but seeing a need to replacing things is not one of them. Basically, I desperately wanted to have a couch that didn’t have permanent stains and holes that had to be covered with strategically placed throws and pillows when guests stopped by. So started looking into what was available, affordable and washable. Remember there are three boys, a husband and a cat living in this house with me.

I decided on what we needed. Something with a low profile so as not to block the windows, nothing puffy that will look battered and deflated after a year of kids rolling on it and leather so messes can be wiped up with ease. I found a wonderful deal on exactly what we needed, a couch and a love seat that would fit perfectly in the living room. It was on sale too! So I called up Nana, my 80 year old 4’10” spit fire ally-in-mischief, and asked if she wanted to go shopping. She thought it was great fun and I felt so grown up and proud buying my first new set of furniture. It was everything I had hoped for…for 6 years.

During it’s last year my boys were given kindles by my mother-in-law, whom I truly love, and they reveled using them. Their friends had kindles too so any given day I could find my three boys and up to another four or five other kids happily playing with them on my couch. Did you know a couch does not like being sat, bounced or plopped on by eight or so butts off and on all day for a year. It gets tired. The couch develops wear such as in cracks. 2016-01-25 13.20.46

Comes to be that the couch is a compound leather and is fabric backed. I tried repairs but they didn’t last. I certainly didn’t want, nor could justify buying another set of furniture so I thought about it for a few months.

In December I received a sale/coupon flyer for the local fabric store. There were great deals for 40 to 60 % off fabric on top of their sale prices. So I went down to take a look, Nana in tow. As per usual I walked past all of the regular bolts of material and went straight to the clearance section. The first one I saw was perfect! Damask and in colors to coordinate with everything in our 100 year old craftsman bungalow. $29.99 marked down to $8.99 a yard and with my additional coupon and some quick math I was thrilled, I could get 8 yards for $38. Way cheaper than a new couch and Nana thought I was “such a cleaver girl”.

It took a week of pondering and cowardice before I got up the nerve to tear the cushions out so I could figure out how to do this. I have never reupholstered couch cushions in my life and if I screw this up I am not only out of a couch I just wasted $38 on fabric. YouTube is a wonderful thing! After some videos for research and a glass of courage(wine) I attempted the first of five cushions. No lie it took me all evening but it turned out perfectly. The next day since I had the hang of it I did the remaining four.

2016-01-25 13.11.14

Over the years wisdom has snuck into me despite all of my resistance and I ScotchGuarded the heck out of them. With luck they will survive another 6 years. Since I over bought on the material, not knowing what I’d need, there was enough to redo the side chair and the throw pillows. My dear friend and neighbor Cheryl came over and thought it was marvelous. She said she would be to scared to do it and I told her “I was terrified” but I know you can never do more than try your best and accept that you may fail. Goodness knows there are many failed fixits I’ve attempted but those are another storey for another time.

How I did it…

  1. Using an X-Acto knife I carefully cut through the stitching on the couch cushion so as to have the individual pieces that comprised the original cushion.
  2. With those pieces I got out my roll of brown paper and made a pattern. (In the past I have used wrapping paper for this purpose)2016-01-25 13.24.30
  3. I knew I would need two of each(side, front(back), top(bottom) to make an entire cushion.
  4. For sewing them together I made certain to find the center of the top(bottom) and the center of the front(back) so they would line up properly. marking the fabric with pins.
  5. With a seam guide marked on my machine, to keep me even throughout, I first sewed the front, back and side panels together.
  6. Carefully lining up the centers previously marked I next sewed the top on with reinforced seams.2016-01-25 14.07.12.jpg
  7. Turning inside out I repeated the process but purposely not sewing the back piece shut so the cushion could be inserted.
  8. This is where I realized I could put a zipper in but really didn’t want to…I know lazy
  9. Turning the cover right side out I could now wrestle the cushion into the new cover.
  10. I found that the corners were not as full as I wanted so I filled them with fiberfill.
  11. To close the cushion back I simply folded the seam inwards, and pinned them in place and hand stitched them shut.

For the chair it was similar but markedly easier. Take apart, make pattern, but them staple it on no sewing needed.

This precess I repeated 5 times and the finished project looked pretty good if I do say so myself.