Sunday, August 25, 2013

Homemade Laundry Products

A while back, Tyler was diagnosed with eczema.  While he was undergoing treatment, I also began to rethink our laundry products.  I had read about making one's own laundry products to help with problem skin conditions, and all of the difficulties people can have with some of the additives to commercial products.  I thought I'd give homemade products a try.  There are tons of "recipes" out there, all very similar.  I think it is trial and error to find the best one for your needs.  So far, the combinations and proportions I used (below) seem to work well.

Powdered Laundry Soap

1 cup of soap flakes (I used Zote Laundry Flakes)
1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup of baking soda
1.5 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
(Mix all together, store in airtight container.  I used a cheap glass jar with a seal that I got at Walmart, along with everything else.  Use 2-4 Tbsp per load.  Note for front loading machines: be sure to remove the liquid detergent insert in your machine when adding this.  The homemade soap has to go in the powder cup or it will clog.)

Homemade Fabric Softener

3 cups of water
1 cup of hair conditioner (I used VO5 Freesia)
1.5 cups white vinegar
(Note: it is best to mix in a big bowl and stir well, or if mixing in the container you will use, gently invert the container back and forth to mix.  If you shake, it will suds up terribly.  Gently invert container back and forth before each use.)

This time around, since I am satisfied with the way they work, I used a double recipe of each homemade product, which nicely filled my containers to the top.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity - Costuming Adventure

My Tea Ladies and I went to the Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibit at Chicago's Art Institute.  If you haven't yet seen it - go.  It is amazing.  I understand now why one of my friends was brought to tears by it: upon entering the first room, you see a painting of a woman in a gown, across from it is an original gown which is strikingly similar (and in one case it is the actual gown that was worn for the painting) and incredibly beautiful.  Rooms and rooms with paintings and gowns, a costumer's delight.  This was one occasion where (for me) dressing up in costume was mandatory.  I worked very hard to complete a bustle gown using Truly Victorian patterns 208 and 400.

I got a lot of questions and comments.  Some thought I was an employee of the Art Institute.  Questions included: "How do you sit down in that dress?"  "Are you wearing a corset?" (I was).  Even, "How do you go to the bathroom?" (Really?!).  And, "Can I touch your bustle?" (asked by a woman, so I wasn't creeped out by it it, at least, not too much!).  I was asked to take photos with people outside the exhibit.  The funniest reaction was this: My friends and I were moving onto the next room.  We passed in front of a man and wife, I walked past first.  My friends told me after that the man had startled, then said to his wife, "It's like the Twilight Zone, like she walked out of the painting"!

The exhibit runs through the end of September.  Tickets purchased in advance is a good idea.  I would have posted a few photos from the exhibit, by it was forbidden.  Here are a couple of my dress:

Me with "Dad", also known as the painting American Gothic - my father looked almost exactly like the man in the painting!

Outside the exhibit.

A close-up of the bustle.  This was taken after the event, so sorry about the wrinkles.  I just love this bustle.

A better close-up, showing the clever sewing technique to achieve the bustle (along with the bustle pad worn underneath).  Truly Victorian patterns are some of the best historical patterns to work with!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Gentleman Rides a Horse

Through an unusual set of circumstances, Tyler ended up in a horseback riding camp last week.  He loved it!  He learned basic techniques, posting, obstacle courses, and even did a little bareback riding.  He wants to return next year. 

This is the very beginning of learning to jump.  

Tyler and "Herky", his favorite horse!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer's Bounty - Rainbow Chard

I usually plant Rainbow Chard in the garden simply because it is pretty (it's sort of scary-looking to eat!).  But as we are trying to eat more healthfully, we cooked some up last night, sautéed in olive oil, onion, garlic, and a little soy sauce.  Not bad!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Peplum for my Bustle Dress

Here is one of the cutest parts of an historical outfit I am working on: the peplum to my 1871 bustle dress.  The pattern is from Truly Victorian: TV 400.

This will attach to the back of the bodice, and sit on top of the bustle.
(Note: I originally posted a photo of this with the wrong side up.  Oops!  Now corrected.)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tea With Gerri

Last month, my Tea Ladies and I went to "Tea with Gerri", a lovely tea house run by a most gracious hostess, Gerri Gwarnicki, originally from Ireland.  We all enjoyed this outing very much, and plan to return again.

One of the table settings (A hilarious footnote: the overlay on this table is the same one I used for my Downton Abbey Dress overlay!)

Gerri pouring tea and explaining its properties

Hats abounded!

1940's dress, but a modern hat.  However, I love how they go together!

The simple elegance of Afternoon Tea