Washing Dishes and Scrubbing Pots Along with a Giveaway

Rada Scraper

Do you like to wash dishes? I know some folks despise having to wash dishes. Makes me think of Madge and her cure for dishwater hands. Remember her?

I actually don't mind washing dishes. We don't have a dishwasher so we wash everything by hand. There is something relaxing about sticking my hands in hot soapy water as I look out the window. I get a very satisfied feeling when I've washed all the dishes, put up all the leftovers, and wiped down the counters. 

Yet, there is one aspect of washing dishes that I don't like...I don't like to scrub pots and pans. If there isn't much scrubbing to be done I don't pay it any mind, but if there's a thick layer of cooked on food I hate to scrub that stuff off and more often than not I'll leave it soaking till the next day.

Rada Pan Scraper

When I think of pots that are hard to clean I immediately think of the one I use to make yogurt in. Even though the milk doesn't scorch, it leaves a thick gum over the entire bottom of the pot. 

Did you happen to notice my new white scraper in the photos? Its the Rada Pan Scraper.  This is what Rada says about it: 

Pan Scraper
3" wide by 2 1/2" tall
Nothing gets pans and other kitchen utensils cleaner than the Rada Daisy PanMate Scraper!

This nylon food scraper is used to help remove food residues from pans and other cookware. They feature rugged edges that scrape even the toughest foods off your pan, making cleaning easier than ever before.

The daisy cut-out design ensures easy gripping, while the corners feature different shapes to ensure that pans of different shapes and sizes are cleaned with equal effectiveness. Hard-to-reach places will be a snap to turn spotless, while other tricky surfaces, such as the ridge around your kitchen sink, will also benefit from the crevice cleaner extended edge. You get two per package, so you’ll have more than one handy come cleaning time!

Rada was nice enough to send me a Pan Scraper to try out. I couldn't wait to use it on my yogurt pot. Over the holidays I made more yogurt than usual so I really got to put the scraper to the test-it worked like a charm. And just like the Rada description says, the scraper is also really good at getting into the crevices and ridges that some pans and pots have.

Another thing I like about the pan scraper is using it doesn't make my teeth hurt. Sounds silly uh? I know it sounds weird but using a metal scrubber on a metal pot or pan makes my teeth hurt. Sort of like the nails on a chalkboard feeling.

The nice folks at Rada generously offered a free Pan Scraper to a Blind Pig and the Acorn Reader. To be entered all you have to do is a leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends Monday February 29.

Jump over to the Rada site and look around. You can order directly from them-and if your kids or grand-kids are looking for a fundraiser for school events they can help you out with that too!

If you'd like to see how I make yogurt go here


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Homemade Fabric Softner

Homemade fabric softner

After Miss Cindy started making our laundry detergent, I figured there were probably recipes out there for laundry softener as well. A quick google told me I was right.

There are several recipes on the web. Wanting immediate gratification I chose one with ingredients I already had on hand-which were:

  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups hair conditioner

Fabric softner recipe

I don't use fabric softener all the time-and when I do use it-I'm not worried about the softness of our laundry-I HATE static cling. But thankfully, it seems static is only a problem for us during the winter.

To be honest with you-I was totally not impressed with the softener I made, and I never made it again. 

Since then, I've read many people (including some of you) use vinegar in their rinse water to soften their laundry and combat static cling and are thoroughly pleased with the results. 

I don't mind doing laundry. I think it's because I can see I've accomplished something-or maybe it just makes me feel more in control. The Deer Hunter and I had the same washing machine for many many years. Nothing special-but it did accomplish what it was supposed to do. 

Well over a year ago the old machine finally bit the dust. We were slightly shocked when we went to pick up a new washer. We were shocked by the prices! But we were also shocked that we couldn't find a washer like our old one. Every washer looked like a space ship and touted it's energy and water efficiency.

I'm all about saving energy and being more efficient-but I'm also all about having a washing machine that actually washes. But what could we do? We came home with a new washer and I've disliked it since that very day.

The washer 'senses' how much water you need. There isn't a small-medium-large-extra large setting like my old washer had. The sensing would be great-if it actually got the clothes clean-sometimes it doesn't even get the washing powder dissolved all the way. 

And as for adding something to the rinse cycle-forget about it. The washing machine locks its self shut and will not open until the wash cycle has been finished for about 15 minutes. Did I mention it was slow as Christmas?

Anyway now that I've pitched a fit about my washing machine: how about you-do you use fabric softener? Have you ever made yours? Do you use vinegar in the rinse? 


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Clean As A Whistle

Clean as a whistle

Most everyone has heard the saying "clean as a whistle" but do you know where the common phrase came from?

According to the book Why You Say It, written by Webb Garrison, in the old days when whistles were more common and were often hand made it was very important for the inside of the whistle to be clear (or clean) of all debris. Even the smallest particles lingering on the inside could considerably change the sound of a handmade whistle. 

So a good whistle had to be absolutely clean which = the saying "clean as a whistle".


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How Do You Clean Your Face?

Wash your face with coconut oil

Several years ago, Miss Cindy told me she had discovered 100 % pure coconut oil was the perfect makeup remover, and she suggested I give it a try. Although I had my doubts about how good it would work, I gave it a go and discovered I liked it as much as Miss Cindy did. 

Remove makeup with coconut oil

As long as the coconut oil is kept in a cool place-it stays in a solid form. But as soon as it gets warm, it turns to liquid fairly quickly (be careful if you pack it to take on a trip).

I keep mine in a small container that sits on my bathroom counter-top. When I'm ready to remove my makeup, I take a pea size amount of coconut oil and allow it to melt slightly in my hand. After smoothing it over my face, I wipe off the excess with a soft towel or toilet paper. The coconut oil really works well-and it doesn't burn my eyes like removers I've used in the past. 

Homemade face scrub

Miss Cindy also showed me how to use the coconut oil as a scrub. She mixed up vitamin C complex powder, kelp powder, and plain vitamin c powder-all of which are good for the skin. Take a small amount of coconut oil-about the size of a nickel-and add a small amount of powder; mix well (I mix it right in the palm of my hand). Use the mixture just like you would any other scrub. 

Using coconut oil for your face is economical as well-it takes such a small amount-that a jar lasts a really really long time. 

Coconut oil can be used for lotion and a whole host of other things-go here to read about 101 uses for coconut oil


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Sugar Scrub

Old red barn company sugar scrub

Did you know you could clean yourself with sugar? I didn’t until my friend, Dana, told me.

When Dana and I first met she told me about her soap making business, but when she told me about her sugar scrub I was a little confused. I said “How could you clean with sugar? Wouldn’t you get all sticky?”

I happen to be visiting Dana’s booth at a local festival when she told me about her sugar scrub. So she said “Here try some. Rub it all over your hands really well and then I’ll rinse you with water.”  (Dana will do that for you too if you visit her booth-her booth is very cool)

Anyway-Dana made a believer out of me-sugar scrub leaves your skin feeling great and it does indeed clean your skin. I asked Dana to tell Blind Pig readers about her sugar scrub, and she generously donated a $20 Gift Certificate for her Old Red Barn Co. Store for me to use as a giveaway. So read what Dana has to say, and then stick around for the giveaway details.


When my girls were very little I started making soap. Mostly because I had studied up on the awful ingredients in skin care products and figured I could make something better. The sugar scrub came about much for the same reason. I didn’t invent the idea of sugar scrub. You can go to any mall and find dozens I’m sure. I just wanted a more natural alternative to what can be found in stores.

Sugar scrub is great because it exfoliates and moisturizes all in one step and you don’t need any other lotions or creams when you’re done. Lotions are loaded with preservatives and making sugar scrub is my way around using all those preservatives on my skin. Sugar is the world’s finest natural abrasive. Rub the scrub on moist skin and rinse. The sugar scrubs away the dry skin – while the oils in the scrub moisturize and leave you silky smooth all day long. 


Wish you could try Dana's Old Red Barn Co. Sugar Scrub? Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a $20 Gift Certificate for Dana's Old Red Barn Co. Store. (*Giveaway ends on Monday July 15, 2013)


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Shaving Soap

Jerry Pap Wilson

Pap 1970 something.

A few days ago The Deer Hunter and I were watching some silly reality tv show, I believe it was Ax Men. One of the 'tree hunters' is really more of a swamp hunter. I'm sure it was to add to the craziness of the show or to highlight the oddity of his character, but he was shown barreling down the water in a boat shaving with a razor at the same time-only he was dry shaving.

The Deer Hunter remarked "Ouch-that had to hurt!" While he was wincing with sympathetic pain, I was thinking of Pap. Just like in all areas of his life, Pap never thought about spending money on himself-not even for something as needful as shaving soap or a shaving brush.

Seems like it was only yesterday that I could stand on tip toes to watch Pap lather up a bar of Ivory soap then smooth the bubbles across his face-from the tops of his cheek bones to the curve of his chin. Then with sure fast strokes starting at the same spot on the ridge of his cheek bone he wiped it all off with the end of his razor only leaving behind small lines of soap that disappeared as soon as he wiped his face with a towel. 

I don't know if it was the era Pap was raised in or a hold over from his days of being a Marine, but I have never seen him with a beard or a mustache. I've rarely seen Pap with even stubble on his face-he keeps it smooth and clean shaven.

Most of the time my brother Steve has a mustache, but every once in a while he'll shave it off. 

Unlike Pap, Paul, and Steve, The Deer Hunter doesn't have to shave every day since his beard grows much slower. Oh he wished he did though! I'm secretly glad he doesn't-because if he could he'd grow a beard that ended at his waist. 

The Deer Hunter goes from having a mustache-to not having one-to having a goatee-to not having one-to having a beard during deer season-to not having one. In other words he changes his facial hair about as often as the wind blows. The first time the girls seen him without a mustache they cried. Actually they pitched a fit and wanted him to put it back-which of course he couldn't. It was a real ordeal-2 toddlers running through the house screaming, crying, and refusing to listen to us explain anything to them. All over a mustache.

The Art Of Manliness tells you how to shave like your Grandfather did-go here to read about it. 

Want to make your own shaving soap? Check out these links:

Wellness Mama

Blue Aspen Originals

And please if you make shaving soap or have any other tips about shaving leave a comment about it.


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Lye Soap

Today's guestpost was written by Carol Isler-who happens to be a dandy soap maker!

Carol Islers lye soap'

Soap Making written by Carol Isler.

My first interest in soap making came from watching Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies stir the contents of her soap pot out by the cement pond. I imagined my great-grandmother doing the same thing in the yard by the Green River up in the North Carolina mountains.

The first year Dollywood opened up in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, my husband and I took our young daughter. There was an old granny-looking lady dressed in period costume out in front of a log cabin facade stirring a pot of soap over glowing embers. I stood to the side and watched while she explained what she was doing to a little group of tourists right in front of her. When they left she acknowledged me with a nod and a grin, and I just stood watching for a long time. It was late in the afternoon and hot. She looked a little haggard, and I guessed she didn't want to waste her breath on only one observer. I asked what the soap was made of because I had missed the beginning of her demonstration.

“Lard and lye.”
“That's all?”
“That's all, except for water.”
She reach over in a basket and handed me a small chunk of soap that she had made that morning. It looked and felt like white American cheese. But it didn't smell like cheese.
“This will eat my hide off, won't it?”
“Naw. Nothing gentler than lye soap.”
“Really? Nothing?”

She went back to scooping the hot soap from the cauldron into wooded soap molds and packing it down. I bought a bar from her for five bucks, a lot of money back then. That began my love affair with homemade lye soap. It made my skin feel good and I wanted to keep that. I was determined to find out how to make lye soap for myself, back before there was this thing called the Internet.

Soap made by carol isler

The only book I could find on making your own soap was Ann Bramson's Soap: Making It Enjoying It. I think I ordered a copy form Pick-A-Book bookstore at the mall. That book told me you could use other fats besides lard. I began saving my beef fat so I could render it for tallow soaps (which makes the best soaps, in my opinion). I looked for olive oil on sale and stocked up when it was. Coconut oil was kind of hard to come by around here back then. I had to drive to town to get it at an organic store way on the east side.

At school, I ran across an old high school chemistry lab book that had a soap making experiment in it and studied up on the chemical reaction of soap making, saponification.

I thought it would be fun to make some for Mother’s Day presents, like the plaster of paris hand prints you do at Bible School. But when I looked through all the chemistry lab books I had for saponification labs, they all said to throw the soap away when finished since it would be too harsh. Most gave the amounts in volume measurements, not mass. That didn’t make sense to me because chemistry is all about stoichiometric relationships. I wanted my students to be able to carry home a chunk of lye soap to use. Back then, I could only find one book on making lye soap at home with lard or tallow and Red Devil Lye. Now there are dozens of books from the experts.

I started with my Chemistry II class. That first batch was plain lye and lard, measured to the nearest tenth of a gram, a perfectly balanced chemical reaction. We added about a half cup of olive oil for extra moisture. When it was stirred enough, the hot, lye-fat mixture resembled custard. One kid said it made him hungry for banana pudding. We poured it up in a Rubbermaid shoe box, wrapped it up in an old quilt to insulate the exothermic reaction, and left it on the lab bench till class met again on Monday. It was hard for me not to peek, but I promised them I wouldn’t. When the first of the students came into the classroom, I had to swat a few hands (you could do that back then) to keep them from peeling back the quilt before everyone got in the class.

I pulled the still-warm box from its covers and lifted the lid. The hardened block of soap had pulled from the sides of the mold like a cake pulls from the side of a pan. It looked and felt like greasy provolone cheese. We flipped it out of the box and cut it into bars with a butcher knife (something else you can’t have in school nowadays). The book said to let it cure for a couple of weeks before using, to dry and harden. We laid the bars out on borrowed, green plastic lunchroom trays and placed them on top of the storage cabinets to dry, out of sight out of mind. I did manage to sneak a bar and kept it under the big lab sink. I quickly learned that if you wash your hands with a good, balanced lye soap you don’t need hand lotion.

Well, that was the beginning of my obsession with lye soap making. Once I tried to make soap the old timey way, by leaching the potassium hydroxide from wood ashes. I saved our fireplace ashes all winter in metal buckets in the garage. A lady who did lye soap demonstrations at Walnut Grove Plantation and Musgrove Mill told me how to do it ,but didn’t tell me the amounts. My experiment was a mess. I was able to make an egg float in the ashes-water, but without the precise lye measurements, I wasn’t sure about how much fat to use. The soft soap was excessively greasy. And within a few months it smelled rancid.

Soap by carol isler

Once I mastered formulating, I entered some of my recipes in a contest at the South Carolina Soap Makers Conference. In 2000, I came home with Best All Round Soap in SC for my multi-layered Oatmeal Apricot Scrub Bar and The Ugliest Soap for my unscented Goat’s Milk Castile, which was baby-poop yellow.

I've been making and using soap personally for twenty years. I wish I had this knowledge and skill back when Daddy was still alive. He always had dry, itchy, skin. He rubbed his back against the door frame to scratch the itch. I started calling him Dusty. If I didn't use handcrafted soap, I would be in the same fix, probably leaving a trail of dust every where I went. Handcrafted soap helps my skin behave like it should.

If you haven't tried handmade soap, do me a favor and contact me to try some. I love making soap for people. I'm sure you would like it. Make your skin happy. Let me be your savonnier.


Tygerheart fine soaps by carol isler

I hope you enjoyed Carol's guestpost as much as I did. You can check out Carol's Etsy shop Tygerheart to see her soap selection. I've been lucky enough to try Carol's soap myself-and its fantastic.

Carol generously donated the soap in the photo above for me to giveaway-want a chance to win it? Just leave a comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway. (Giveaway ends Wednesday July 3rd)


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Warsh And Rench

Warsh and rench

A good while back, Chatter and I helped Granny clean up some of her old canning jars so she'd be ready for this year's canning season. No matter how hard you try-sometimes in the world of canning and preserving-jars of food go bad. 

Granny hadn't cleaned out her old jars in a few summers. We carried them from the basement up to the back yard so we could empty them; wash them in a big bucket of soapy water; and then sit them in the sunshine to dry.

In Appalachia the word wash is often pronounced with an 'r' sound added in: warsh. And the word rinse is often pronounced as rench

I still hear both usages on a regular basis.


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Appalachia Through My Eyes - Mamaw's Sprinkler

My life in appalachia mamaws sprinkler

We called Pap's mother Mamaw. By the time I came along there were 7 grandchildren ahead of me so her moniker was already well established. Mamaw died when I was in 5th grade. 

Even though I was so young, I have great memories of Mamaw. She babysat me for Granny so I spent lots of time with her. Some memories are sharp and clear, most are soft and hazy; but all my memories of Mamaw make me feel safe and loved.

One time Papaw told me he loved me because he remembered how Mamaw fell in love with me when I was born and that I was always her favorite. That made me feel so special...until I heard Papaw tell 2 other grandchildren the same thing! But that was Papaw-and in reality the statement was true in his mind. He loved all his grandchildren and I'm sure each grandchild was Mamaw's favorite as well. 

Pap is a lot like Mamaw-and I'd like to think I am too. She was quiet and reserved, but could laugh about stuff too. Mamaw never seemed to get excited even the time her bathroom door had to be taken down because Paul locked himself in there somehow-the little rat! Looking back, I can see Mamaw's life wasn't the easiest, but I think she enjoyed it. 

Mamaw had heart problems. A week before she died (way to early at the age of 66), she told Granny she had had a good life-she'd lived to see her children grown and married and even lived to enjoy her grandchildren. 

One of my sharp Mamaw memories: 

I was standing on the couch looking out the big window where the black crouching panther set on the sill. I see Mamaw getting her ironing board out; hear the screech of sound; notice the dust motes dancing in the sunlit air and smell the scent of fresh brewed tea. I remember the drops of water that plopped on fabric as Mamaw used her sprinkler to dampen the clothes before she ironed them. I said "Why are you doing that?" Mamaw explained why and then let me turn the glass coke bottle upside down to sprinkle the clothes myself. 


Appalachia Through My Eyes - A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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Give The Dog A Bath

Ruby sue

Most of the time Ruby Sue is a sweet little girl. Although her need for attention sometimes gets on my last nerve. Ruby thinks she's got to be right in the center of whatever's going on in the Blind Pig house. Until...she hears the word bath. 

Dogs hate baths

Ruby Sue becomes a mean little girl the instant she hears the bath word-she tries her very best to disappear behind or under something and is very disagreeable with whoever tries to remove her.

Sometimes I put the task of giving Ruby Sue a bath off on Chatter and Chitter-who dislike the chore almost as much as Ruby dislikes the bath. 

The Pressley Girls 2013

Recently The Pressley Girls used their dislike of bathing the dog as inspiration to write a song: Give The Dog A Bath.

We're all huge fans of The Smothers Brothers-and this catchy little tune reminds me of them. I must warn you-you will be singing it in your head for the rest of the day if you watch the video. 

(*Before you watch the video you need to stop the music player-the music controls are along the top of this page on the far left side-just under the Blind Pig logo. Click the center round button to stop the player.) *For those of you who have trouble viewing the video-go straight to youtube to see it by clicking here

Hope you enjoyed the song!


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