How I Do Laundry By Hand

I recently moved across the country to Kansas… it was a move that downsized me from a spacious 1,000 square feet of multiple rooms to a small studio apartment. And so, there is no washer and dryer available except at the laundromat. It might be just me, but I personally think that spending $40-$45 a month to get my underpants clean is a little exorbitant. For contrast, my monthly water bill was only $9 for dish washing, showering, laundry, etc. Big difference!

Breathing Mobile Washer


I picked myself up a Breathing Mobile Washer (this thing is amazing at agitating and washing clothes), two buckets from the dollar store, and got down to business. Luckily my bathtub is a pretty large square, so I just climb right into the tub to get everything clean.

  1. Put about 1-2 teaspoons of laundry detergent in the bucket. Shake out your dirty laundry a bit to remove large particles, then put it in and fill with water. I will use hot water for underwear and socks; if the clothes are really dirty, I will also add about 1/4 cup white vinegar to disinfect. (If there are clothing items with stains, I have a brush just for laundry that I will use to scrub and get everything clean.)
  2. Then, use the breathing mobile washer to agitate for a few seconds, just to get all the clothes soaked and wet, and let sit for about 30 minutes to loosen the grimy stuff.
  3. Come back, agitate with the washer, I usually go for about 2-5 minutes, and then pour out the dirty water. It will dirty/filthy/disgusting. I’ve found that the breathing mobile washer is incredible at getting everything clean.
  4. Add more clean water. If it’s stinky stuff, (e.g. husband socks) I will add about 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Agitate it a bit to dissolve and distribute it, and then let it soak for about 30 more minutes. Baking soda is great at taking out smells. (I’ll even sprinkle it on my carpet, let it sit, and then vacuum. Awesome.)
  5. Agitate to rinse, and then pour out the water. And then rinse it a second time. I find that the second rinse just makes everything… more excellent. The whole process doesn’t really take a lot of water, and the second rinse is worth the extra clean and softness.
  6. After dumping out the water from the second rinse, wring clothes and hang to dry. I find that either pressing the clothes against the side of the bathtub, or pressing them flat against the bottom is easier than twisting in my hands.

I hang my clothes to dry on a clothesline that I had my husband put up in the apartment. It consists of eye hooks, a carabiner, and a cleat so that it can be taken down and set up in a flash. And it only cost me under $10, including the cost of the clothesline.

Also, one of my favorite stores is Lehman’s. They provide a lot of merchandise to the Amish and non-electric community, and their products are awesome. You can grab the hand washer from them for about $20, and they sell a lot of ingredients to make your own laundry detergent.

Can you tell that I’d feel right at home in a cabin by the sea? One day… one day.

(Since moving to Kansas, the only thing I really miss is the sea!)

Easy Vegetarian/Vegan Slow Cooker Chili

I love veggies, especially if they are spicy! Here is the recipe for my super easy slow cooker chili. It takes 10-15 minutes to prepare, and was perfect for my busy Sunday.


  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 small bag frozen corn (or whatever vegetable you want)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 green peppers (you can really put any kind of fresh vegetables into it… whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • I had some Tuong Ot Toi (Chili Garlic Sauce) on hand, so I put 3 heaping spoonfuls in, but you really probably don’t need it. Just put in some garlic instead. Or make your own instead.
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder (I like it really hot so I might use more.)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • some sprinkles of black pepper

Put in slow cooker for 6-8 hours. Yum!

My Take on Apple Crisp – Part 2



I made it up a bit as I went along, but it came out delicious!


  • 4 -5 baking apples, sliced and peeled (I used Golden Delicious)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup softened/melted margarine
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • About 2-3 teaspoons of Laird’s Apple Jack Brandy
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. I used non-stick baking spray on an 8×12 pan.
  2. Spread out the apples in the pan, and sprinkle the Apple Jack over the apples. I may have used more. I kind of threw it on.
  3. Mix together everything else in a large bowl. Sprinkle it over the apples.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  5. Eat immediately for maximum joy! Review #2

A few years ago I downloaded a few patterns from hoping that it would be as convenient as I hoped it would be. It took me a long time to fiddle with the website and get my patterns printed out… in that time alone, I could have gone to the store, bought the pattern, and have been done with it. In truth, I had only entertained to get my “instant gratification” fix… and boy, was it NOT worth it. The whole operation is barely functional, and printing out the patterns is a nightmare. All of the patterns I bought was wasted money: I will never try and print them again. Consensus on the web seems to be a resounding: never use So here’s why I think you should opt for the paper patterns instead:

  • I keep my paper patterns filed in plastic, waterproof bins. I never cut them, only use them to trace copies from in all sizes. This way I can use them over, and over and over again, alter the patterns, etc. I will trace onto wax paper or freezer paper. (Freezer paper bonus: you can use it as an iron on stencil, and buy the rolls inexpensively in bulk online.)
  • If the paper patterns start getting icky, or if I got them secondhand and they are cut/crinkled/full of holes, I will iron them onto a lightweight or medium interfacing. Fixed! (I learned this the hard way: if you are ironing interfacing or anything onto something with holes… the adhesive will seep through to the ironing board and/or get on your iron. I have taken to using waxed paper to protect everything!)
  • If the paper patterns are beyond repair, I will iron them out flat to the best of my ability and then trace them onto brown Kraft/butcher paper to keep.

Pattern problem: solved.


So… Husband and I are getting into salad. It’s pretty convenient, yummy, whatnot, but we needed croutons. And here you have it, the first thing I ever learned how to bake when I was in seventh grade:


  • Old bread
  • Melted butter or olive oil [I used melted butter, but hated everything about using it. Next time… I will go with the olive oil.]
  • Pinch of garlic salt [I didn’t have it, so I didn’t use it. But wished I did.]
  • Parsley Flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Cube the old bread.
  3. Toss lightly with a melted butter/olive oil until lightly and evenly coated. Pour it in slow. [I hated everything about melting the butter in the microwave and having to keep doing that over and over again until I coated my odd assortment of bread cubes. I’m just going to use olive oil next time – it’s already liquid and I like how it tastes a lot better.]
  4. Also throw in the garlic salt and parsley. I just kept dumping the parsley in until it looked pretty/smelled good. [It was a very scientific process.]
  5. Spread the croutons out in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet – I always use the baking spray – and bake for 15 minutes. [Preferably… a cookie sheet with little SIDES to it. Those crumbs go EVERYWHERE.]
  6. Check to see if they are sufficiently dry, crunchy, and golden, if not, bake another 15 minutes or until done. [I had them in for a little over half an hour. Your mileage may vary.]


The Search for The Perfect Apple Crisp

I made Betty Crocker’s Apple Crisp last night. I ended up doubling the crumble/crisp because it did not sufficiently cover the apples to my liking. Next time, I will  also use light brown sugar instead of dark… it was way too molasses-y for my taste. I also put the apples in Apple Jack, however, instead of using the apple wine that they make, I ended up getting the apple brandy by mistake… and it was… very strong flavored. [The apples tasted like they were jacked up on… apples. It’s pretty delicious now that I think about it.]  It also came out SUPER nutmeg-y. BLECH. GROSS. YUCK. So next time I will also be substituting a cinnamon-spice mix that they sell already mixed in the baking aisle. That stuff is a lot more mild and yummy. Oh, and also I’ll try using a deeper dish. My apple layer was pretty thin.

But all in all, it’s apple crisp. I like it.


  • 4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups) [I used 4 large apples of whatever variety it was that I got at Shop Rite. Rome something or other. I didn’t know that different apples have different baking results… but the apples were good, anyway!]
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar [I ended up using dark brown sugar, but next time I will use light brown sugar. The dark color was… very dark. The taste was… very molasses-y. So, no more dark brown sugar. Ever.]
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats [I used old-fashioned… but what is the difference, anyway? Everyone on the internet seems to swear by old-fashioned, so I’ll stick to that, I guess.]
  • 1/3 cup butter/margarine [I used Land-O-Lakes baking margarine, which is 80% vegetable oil. Apparently the more it has, the better it is for baking… I don’t really notice though.]
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg [BLECH.]
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening. [I didn’t have a square pan, and it sounded really small anyway, so… I used a rectangle and that low-calorie, no-fat baking spray stuff.]
  2. Spread apples in pan. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients until well-mixed; sprinkle over apples.
  3. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork.

Basic Preparedness for Short Term

When Hurricane Sandy hit, it really made me think about preparedness and how I would handle a larger disaster/emergency, or even permanent off-the-grid. Luckily, I like to camp, so I was pretty set for the few weeks of Hurricane Sandy Recovery. But here’s a list of some basics that I would really recommend having on hand at all times for small power outages.

  • Water – 1 gallon per person, per day. (If I know that some weather is coming, I fill up gallon jugs and all kinds of containers. Tap water has enough chlorine [& stuff] in it that it will keep for some time so don’t worry about it going bad. I really want to start getting a water purification setup going at some point in the near future for a more sustainable solution.) 
  • Food – 3 day supply of non perishable. (Use on a first in, first out rotating basis so it never expires and is always fresh. I like to label the expiration date in thick, black, permanent marker so I can see it with a quick glance.)
  • Flashlight & batteries for short-term, I also keep a large collection of candles on hand with lighters.
  • First aid kit and any prescription medications.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio.
  • Sanitation/personal hygiene items.
  • Blankets.
  • Important documents in one location, together.
  • Cell phone with chargers. (I have a small solar charger that I take camping with me that will charge my cell phone.)
  • Extra cash.

And always know where to meet your loved ones in case of an emergency – where to go if the house is on fire, where to meet if you have to leave the area, etc. During Hurricane Sandy the cell phone tower for my area went out and panic ensued! Always try your best to keep in contact!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmmm… perfect for autumn! Or anytime!
I made these and they were delicious right out of the oven.


  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I just used the whole small bag [about 12 oz.]  that I got from the store)


  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
  2. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts if you want.
  3. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

Irish Scones

Mmmmm… I love scones. It makes me feel so British or something.
I have no idea if this is period for the SCA, but it’s still something yummy to make outside on the fire.

Makes 6 Scones.


  • 1 cup white flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ pound butter, softened
  • 2 ounces sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 ounces milk
  • walnuts (optional)

Mix flour and baking powder.
Add butter, blending until mixture is butter-colored.
Add sugar and continue to mix well.
Add half the beaten egg and all the milk, add nuts if you want, mixing well to make a sticky dough.
Turn dough onto floured board and knead at least 5 minutes or longer.
Cut dough into rounds and place on greased baking sheet or hot frying pan.
Brush tops of scones with remainder of beaten egg.
Place walnuts or whatever on top, if you want.
Bake at 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 – 20 minutes, or until brown.

*If preparing over an open fire, heat frying pan until very hot. Places scones in pan and cook 7-8 minutes. Turn and cook 7-8 minutes more. Will attract friends during an SCA event. In that case, you can make the dough ahead of time and bring it with you.

Plastic Stencil – DIY & Pyrography

I recently finished up some bar stool pyrography:

It was very easy! I used the Creative Woodburning Value Tool from Walnut Hollow. You screw in the tip you want to use, (I used the cone and shader), wait about 5 minutes, and go! Like anything, the temperature will fluctuate, but I found out the hard way that it’s more of an art than a science. The design will come from time, pressure, and apparently, finesse, but I don’t think I did too bad of a job!

But first, my design needed to be sketched on with a stencil, and I found a few easy ways to do it:

  • Draw your design, or print it out. Outline in black permanent, or dark marker if you drew it.
  • Grab some stencil plastic, cheap translucent binders from the office supply store… any sheet of thick plastic.
  • Trace with permanent marker!
  • Grab a craft/utility knife, and start cutting over either glass (with taped edges so you do not cut yourself, trust me!)  or a cutting mat.