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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lye Soap

I recently learned that my sister has a bar of lye soap that my grandmother made in a bucket in her basement.  I’ll have to admit that I’m a bit jealous.  After all, I did make my own soap recently.  How did she come to possess such a rare treasure, and what were her plans for it? 

After I got over my jealousy, I began to think about my modern convenient life versus my grandmother’s almost primitive way of living.   I made soap for the fun of it.  She made soap because that was the only way she would get it.  I had lots of questions, so I called my dad and began quizzing him about grandmother’s lye soap.  “I can’t give you much information,” he said.  “Making soap was woman’s work.”  I grunted.  “I don’t mean to be offensive; that’s just how it was back then.”
Here’s all he could tell me:  she made it annually using the leftover fat from butchering hogs, and she used the soap to wash clothes (in her wringer washer).  Those two pieces of information made me marvel at how industrious humans are.  According to soaphistory.net, people have been producing soap for nearly 5000 years.  The earliest recorded proof of soap’s existence dates back to 2800 BC in Ancient Babylon, where soap was made by mixing animal fat and tree ash to form a cleansing product.  How is it that someone would figure out that mixing animal fat with alkaline wooden ashes would create a cleansing agent?  As an obsessive clean freak, I am incredibly thankful for the discovery.

A number of sites shared information about soap use over time – like its use in 1500 BC in Egypt and ancient Germans mixing ashes with animal fat to produce soap.  In the 8th century, soap making was well-known in Italy and Spain. At the same time, France began using olive oil to make soap.  Obviously time went on and more discoveries were made.   The Industrial Revolution changed the way soap was made, and folks started buying it from a catalog or store.  Not my grandmother.  She was born in 1911, and I suspect that she learned how to make it as a young girl.  She continued to make it until the early 1980’s, and she used it until she passed in 1984.  And it still lives today – in a bucket in my sister’s basement. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tips to Help Reduce Fading

I’m a huge fan of black.  I wear it year round.  But one thing I hate about black clothing – particularly black pants – is the fading.  Then that garment quickly goes from one I love to one I never wear.    I seem to notice it most with black but fading is something to be mindful of when dealing with any bright colored garment.  Unfortunately, fading occurs not only when you clean your clothes but also when you wear a garment too. 

Regrettably I can't do much about the sun, but I can offer these tips for when you clean your clothes to help you keep your colors bright:

  • I know we’ve said this time and again but always check the garment’s care label and follow the directions.  Not following the care label is the number one reason garments are ruined.
  • Be sure to wash like colors together in cold water.
  • Turn clothes inside out.  This applies to both washing and drying.  Turning garments inside out will help for instance by reducing pilling on knits which dulls the look of the fabric.  Keep them turned inside out when drying – especially if line drying.  If line drying, don’t leave them out too long and strategically place them on the line so as to minimize sun exposure.  Consider avoiding the dryer completely on black items; I hang my black items to dry in the laundry room.  If you do opt to use a clothes dryer, don’t over dry your clothes.
  • Don’t overload your washing machine.  Clothes in overloaded washers don’t move around freely.  When they are removed, they may smell clean but still have stains and more likely, un-dissolved laundry detergent on them.

Now it’s your turn.  Do you have a garment fading story to share?  Tell us below or on Facebook , Twitter, or Google+.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

American Flags

Gray’s school begins each day with the Pledge of Allegiance.  We begin all his Cub Scout meetings with Presentation of Colors.  The National Anthem is played before each of his baseball games. 

As Flag Day approaches, I had this thought – does he know why we do these things?  So I asked him, and he did not.  It just never occurred to me to explain it to him.  After all, I’ve (as I’m sure you have too) been doing it all my life, and I was quite used to it.  But was I used to it or had I let it become routine and meaningless? 

I pulled out a book that we’d read several times before by Callista Gingrich called Yankee Doodle Dandy.  He knew the story, but this time we looked at it differently.  Afterward we talked about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, how every country has a flag as their specific symbol, and our flag represents the Constitution in action.  When we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we are saying we love and will defend our country, and we support what the Constitution states.  Oh goodness, there were lots of questions.
This little exercise reminded me not to take the flag for granted.  I asked Matt to take our flag to A Cleaner World so it could be cleaned, something we do free of charge for everyone every day, and ready for Flag Day and July 4th.  I am so proud that our company cleans American Flags for free.  It tells me how meaningfully the staff at A Cleaner World views the American Flag.  In fact, I once had a manager tell me that they considered an honor and a privilege to get to clean an American Flag.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lightning Strike

My son is absolutely petrified of storms.  This latest round of storms packed the threat of tornados along with a large amount of lightning.  As Gray and I, along with Bruce and Arrow, sat in the closet off the dining room, I did my best to calm his nerves.  I proceeded to tell him that the odds of a tornado coming through or our house being struck by lightning were so small. 

The storm passed, and I coaxed him out.  Life for us returned to normal the next day.  But I flipped on the local news at lunch to find that a house in our county had been struck by lightning, causing a fire.  Luckily firefighters were able to contain the fire to just the kitchen area, but the house did sustain a fair amount of smoke damage.

According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, 1 out of 200 homes will be struck by lightning each year, while 1 in 280,000 people will be struck by lightning each year.  Even with those statistics, the safest place is still inside.  The National Weather Service says, “You are not safe anywhere outside.”  They recommend that at the first clap of thunder you run to a safe building or vehicle and stay there until 30 minutes after the last clap.

The folks mentioned above were smart enough to have smoke alarms installed and in proper working order.  They made it out safely and will be able to salvage most of their things.  While we always say that a home is a man’s castle, we also know things can be replaced or repaired.  A Cleaner World is a nationally recognized leader in restoration dry cleaning and laundry services.  If you ever have a need, we can help.  Simply call Mike Feduale or Greg Henderson at 336-992-0700.

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