Reviving an Old Leather Wallet

Cooking and Household

A loved one inherited this leather wallet. They like it, and, since I have the supplies, I offered to clean and condition it so that it can stay nice for longer. This process took a few days to complete.

All of my cleaning and polishing rags are repurposed, threadbare cloths that came from other things: towels, shirts, flannels pants (excellent texture for polishing!). I try to avoid using paper towels whenever I can be reusing old things. Leather conditioning rags don’t go in the wash, but general household cleaning rags can be reused and washed quite a few times before they go in the trash. This practice reduces household waste because I’m not buying as many paper towels and my completely worn-out clothes have another use.

First, I wiped off the dust that had accumulated in storage. Then, I used saddle soap and a soft cloth to really clean the leather, as it was old and well-worn. I followed the directions on the tin, then I let the wallet sit quietly for an evening, then buffed it in the morning. The small gap in the ID window was protected with an expired membership card to avoid marring the lining.

After that, I dug out my old mink oil and boot sealant. I generously applied the mink oil, taking care to work the mink oil into the seams and creases of the wallet. The leather soaked up a surprising amount of oil. I left a thin layer on it overnight, just enough to make it tacky to the touch. Almost all of it was soaked up by the next day, leaving very little for me to buff off when I next took up the project.

Next, I used my boot sealant- there was just enough left to complete this project. The sealant is a brand that uses lanolin, beeswax, and coconut oil in a thick blend to protect leather shoes from bad weather. This wallet will definitely have to earn its keep, so I think that a protective application of sealant will help it stay nice for even longer. I applied the sealant, carefully working it into the seams but not applying it too thickly, then gave the wallet a final buffing the next day.

Originally, the wallet was dull and had a dry feeling to it. After I finished working on it, the leather is pleasantly soft and has a little bit of a shine to it!

You won’t have to go out and buy more things if you take care of the things that you already have!

Slippers from Nothing but Scraps #2

Cooking and Household, Sewing

Remember my nice warm slippers from last time? They’ve been working great! I don’t feel the chill from the floor on my feet at night.

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A loved one saw my slippers and wanted a pair for himself. I made them from wool and denim scraps. The sole is crocheted rag tshirt yarn with cardboard stacked like plywood for stiffness. I used a half-double crochet for these soles. To check my work, I would compare the size of the sole to the size of an existing shoe.

This iteration, I figured out a better method of attaching the top of the slipper to the sole, shown in the progress pictures here.

The slippers are quite thick, which provides excellent insulation from the cold floor. The fabrics I chose are thick and sturdy. The whole thing should hold up to plenty of use.

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My decision to use a nice, warm wool for the slipper came with a drawback: the underside of the slipper is very slippery! I used a bottle of puffy paint and drew designs on the bottom of the slipper, and it greatly improved the grip. He won’t have to worry about slipping in the night with these slippers.

Slippers from Nothing But Scraps!

Cooking and Household, Sewing


P1030953 - CopyI am not a slippers person, but I recently got up in the middle of the night, and the floor was so cold I dug around in my sock drawer for my (handmade) warmest socks to brave walking about. I haven’t had need for a pair of slippers since I was a kid (I’ve made do with a pair of sandals when needed), but I want a pair now. I’m not going to buy one, though!

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This is a project that I’m not using a pre-made pattern for. I made it up as I went, using the crocheted slipper padding as a guide for the size and shape of the whole slipper. It was pretty fun to hunt through my scrap pile for just the right piece of fabric- the right size with the grain in the right direction.

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It’s satisfying to see so many useful projects come together for no additional money cost. I’m spending my time, sure, but I enjoy making things and I enjoy using the things I make. I don’t have to wait in line and spend my hard-earned money on things that will wear out soon and get thrown away too quickly.

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The inner padding is a thick yarn from my slipper socks. It is double crocheted in the shape of a footprint. (Knowing what I know now, I would recommend half-double as it can make the yarn go further while still feeling plush.) I also made an extra heel padding circle from the very last scraps of that yarn. The padding pieces were stitched together by hand. I used whatever thread the needle was already threaded with, as it doesn’t actually matter; the padding will be covered in the completed slipper.

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The bottom of the slipper is made from an old towel that was so old I was cutting it into cleaning rags. I think I’d prefer a towel texture for the bottom rather than a tightly woven fabric. It may be somewhat slippery no matter what, but I think the texture of a towel will provide slightly more grip on the floor.

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Do you recognize the fabric of the sole and top of my slipper? I love this calico! It’s a sweet purple with those little white flowers. I never got around to wearing the dress I made and it’s up on my etsy now because I think someone else can give it a better home, but I’m enjoying working with the scraps from the process of making that dress!

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I have used these slippers daily since making them and they’re holding up well. It’s satisfying to be able to make something out of what I already have available!

Second Pair of Crocheted Socks: Slipper Socks!

Cooking and Household

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These socks are my second try at crocheting my own socks. I am making my own winter socks this year rather than purchasing socks that will fall apart way too quickly and likely be made by workers living in terrible conditions who get barely any pay. The yarn is what I have already had, so this project does not create demand for anything nor does it cost any money.

The yarn this time was fuzzy and thicker. The socks are thick enough that they stand up on their own, like slippers, so I’ve made them slipper-shaped. While the transition from heel to ankle was slightly uneven on this pair, the toes are mostly even and similar-looking. These toes are rounded but still a bit too boxy. The thickness of the slipper socks makes it look like I’m wearing cartoon shoes, but I can’t feel the coldest part of the floor in an unheated room- not even a little! The warmth of these slipper socks is fantastic.

I started this sock-making project a while before posting about it to give me time to test my socks in various ways. The first pair washes great and has been holding up well to frequent use around the house. This pair took a while to air dry but the stiffness of the slipper socks has decreased a bit with washing.

Hand-Woven Coasters

Cooking and Household

After my pen case project, I went on to try weaving a pair of coasters. They have been in frequent use ever since I made them.

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My first try is on the left, and the second try is on the right. You can see how I learned how thick to make the weave and how this affects the final pattern.

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I struggled to tie the warp ends off properly, but I had a yarn needle to tuck in the ends for each time I switched colors.

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I used a ramen box as my loom, with notches every 1/2 inch.

P1030837 - CopyI quickly found that things work better when I cut the cardboard shuttle into a more traditional shape.


Delicious Mousemelon Harvest

Cooking and Household, Gardening

This post may be slightly out of season, as the garden has now been put to bed, but as I plan the next year’s vegetable garden, I want to shine a spotlight on the delightful Mousemelon Vine I grew this year.

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It was very slow to germinate, but managed to fight off weeds in my survival-of-the-fittest gardening style. This plant hails from the southern part of our continent, so it’s a bit slow to grow, in my opinion. The harvest was a small basket full- maybe a couple cups in total volume, and most were eaten in the garden. All the tiny fruits were eaten before I could make them into a dinner salad. Delicious. Being perfectly honest, I could have probably increased my harvest if I had spent more time cultivating and babying the vine, however, I prefer plants that are strong enough to make do on their own.

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The fruit are so tiny and cute! They really do look like mouse-sized watermelons. The taste is a most refreshing blend of cucumber and lemon, though it is not related to either. You can generally find mousemelon seeds in the cucumber section of your seed catalog. Make sure you get a catalog that provides heirloom seeds. Not only will you be supporting our agricultural heritage and encourage biodiversity, you’re more likely to find unusual gems in their selection, such as this mousemelon.

Wild American Persimmon Harvest

Cooking and Household, Nature Walks

Along one of the places I walk, there are some wild American persimmon trees. These persimmons are different than the ones you see at the grocery store, which are Japanese persimmons, generally. American persimmons are smaller, about the size of a ping pong ball, and a much more muted orange color, like the color of pumpkin butter. T The alligator bark on the very tall but somewhat thin trees is unmistakable. Persimmons grow way up high, so you’ll have to pick yours off the ground.

They are ripe when they look overripe- when they are so soft and squishy that their skin wrinkles slightly and splits or squishes easily when touched. You’ll think that you’ve gotten to them too late, but that’s exactly when a persimmon has reached its perfection. They have a texture like homemade jam or over-evaporated fruit butter- not solid and very thick without exactly being a liquid. There are about 4-6 seeds in each fruit, and they are large and easy to pick out while eating.

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There are many things that a persimmon can be made into, however, I’ve only eaten them raw so far. I took a very small harvest this year, dodging drunk wasps who also feast on the (slightly fermented) fruits. These persimmons were delicious.

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Purple Potato Harvest 2019

Cooking and Household, Gardening
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Cross-section photo taken mid-slicing for dinner.

I grew some purple potatoes this year. They were delicious potatoes that had purple skin, purple marbled with white insides, and the whole thing turned a deep purple when cooked. I was told that purple potatoes apparently originated from more mountainous regions, with the pigment to protect any potatoes near the surface of the soil from the sun due to the thinner atmosphere. The purple pigment is a sign of the higher content of healthy compounds in the potato!

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I love how cool and whimsical this type of potato is, and it is used just the same as any other potato. Cooking with them makes my dinners more interesting visually.