Making It Yourself: Why Bother?

Kathy's homemade soap. Find the supplies you need to make yours at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Kathy’s homemade soap. Find the supplies you need to make yours at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

I recently taught a workshop on soapmaking at our local folk school. I was telling a friend about it and she asked a pretty profound question: Why do you bother? Continue reading

The Value of Dirty Socks: Loving Your Laundry

A couple pairs of these rugged socks will see you through seasons of hard work, indoors or out. (Or, sew your own piece of Americana: the legendary sock monkey.) USA made for over a century.

A couple pairs of these rugged socks will see you through seasons of hard work, indoors or out. (Or, sew your own piece of Americana: the legendary sock monkey.) USA made for over a century.

I read recently that, in spite of a plethora of “time-saving” appliances and gadgets, we actually spend more time on household chores than people did 100 years ago. Vacuum cleaners are certainly easier than beating carpets but a century ago, carpets were only cleaned once a year rather than every day. Families had far fewer dishes and washed up after every meal. Now we have dishwashers but we have so many dishes, pots and pans and we snack so much that running a full load twice a day is not unusual in large families. By the time you scrape, rinse, load, and unload, it may take less time to just wash your dishes by hand. Continue reading

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5 Skills Your Grandparents Had – And You Should, Too

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A sock darning ball makes it so easy to repair socks or gloves. Slide the large end of the “ball” end into the sock to support the area needing repair.

Talking to my grandmother is always enlightening, but especially so when she speaks about living through the Great Depression. She was the baby in a family of seven children and has many memories of those hard times. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” is an axiom that has stuck with her for 85 years, and a good reminder for all of us Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, Gen Y’ers, Millennials and so on.

Generations ago, almost everyone had the following skills and many, many more. Some will save you money, some are eco-friendly, some are healthier for you and almost all will come in extremely handy in an emergency or power outage. Here are a few simple ways to start doing something with your own two hands, today.  (Your grandparents would be proud.) Continue reading

6 Small Ways to Simplify – and Enjoy It

These days, who isn’t looking for a little more “simple” in their life? I know I am. But

Make fresh, nutritious pickles, sauerkraut and more right on your countertop – no heavy crocks, cultures or cooking required.

Make fresh, nutritious pickles, sauerkraut and more right on your countertop – no heavy crocks, cultures or cooking required.

sometimes knowing where to start is daunting. I’m not ready to plow up my half-acre yard for a garden, put up a hundred quarts of canned food, or chuck my electric washing machine to the curb. Yet.

But there are lots of small steps I can take on the “road to simplicity” and still know I’ve done something with my own two hands (that doesn’t include typing or swiping on my phone). Here are 6 ways to start: Continue reading

Always wanted to try ___? Start smart with a kit.

Contrary to popular opinion, it just isn’t possible to make a living selling some

Our starter set includes everything you need to make several batches - enough to wash more than 800 loads at less than 7¢ per load.

Our starter set includes everything you need to make several batches of homemade laundry soap – enough to wash more than 800 loads at less than 7¢ per load.

honey, maple syrup and candles at a farm stand. I have to do other things — many, many other things — to avoid leaving home and hearth to pay the bills. I do a fair bit of writing and I teach a lot of workshops. Some have to do with my work with children impacted by abuse, neglect and foster care (my other life) and many are focused on teaching traditional skills like soap making, candle dipping, food preservation and making herbal salves and ointments.

I teach classes on how to do these things the traditional way, but I’m definitely not a purist. In fact, I’m a big fan of beginner’s kits. There are all kinds of kits available for all of the skills mentioned and just about any other you can think of. In fact, I got my start in mastering a lot of skills by purchasing said kits. Continue reading

Thrifty Laundry Soap Recipe (From a Mother of 7)

As the snow piles up around Barefoot Farm, my outside chores come to a complete halt.

Our starter set includes everything you need to make several batches - enough to wash more than 800 loads at less than 7¢ per load.

Our starter set includes everything you need to make several batches – enough to wash more than 800 loads at less than 7¢ per load.

My husband does the necessary animal care and keeps the stove burning, but mostly February is the time of year for reflection and preparation. I look back on what worked, what didn’t and what I can do to make the coming year flow more easily. This year, in particular, as we adjust to higher costs for electricity and food as well as reduced income as we work less, I am concentrating on ways to save money without sacrificing the things that matter to us. Today is my day to examine the laundry. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

From all of us at Lehman’s, our very best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.

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