Learn to sew

Sewing 101 – Handy Sewing Tricks

Both my Mother and two Grandmothers were extraordinary seamstresses.  They sewed new clothes with or without patterns, reconstructed all varieties of used clothing to fit like it was tailor made and mended holes and seams on favorite stuffed toys and hand-me-down clothes.  Sadly, all three of them are gone now and with them went a wealth of knowledge.  It happens for not just this, but in so many other areas of life.  I was lucky enough to be Read More

how to make wood ash lye soap

Make Your Own Wood Ash Lye Soap

Almost two years have gone by since I originally set out to document our process of making soap from wood ash lye.  I’m not always sure where the time goes and I often don’t have anything tangible to show for it.  We burn wood as our only heating source in the living area of our house, so turning the buckets-full of ashes into something useful just makes sense.  Previously I shared how we make wood ash lye water for soap making and stripping fur from animal hides and finally I have our soap making process picture documented. Read More

Acorn cap whistles, fall crafts

Acorn Cap Whistles – Fun Nature Activity

Everyone loves a fun kid’s activity, especially one that you can participate in and that sparks a child’s appreciation for simple pleasures.  We live in an area with gigantic chestnut oak trees and for us, these trees, a member of the white oak family, provide us with a variety of assets.  We use the shade provided by their leaves in the spring and summertime to help keep our passive-solar home cool, their acorns in the fall to process into flour for food and their wood in the wintertime to heat our home with our woodstove.  A couple of years ago, a friend of ours, Bart Miller, added another use by showing us how to whistle by blowing into the empty acorn caps.   It’s really easy, but in addition to a written description how to do it, we’ve made a quick, very awful, video.  🙂 Read More

Make A Coon Skin Hat – Easy, Start To Finish Instructions

Making a coon skin cap is not as difficult a project as it would seem and here we have it broken down step by step, starting with the animal to be skinned and ending with a finished cap.   You can even skip down to step #10 and use the pattern instructions if you choose to make a faux coon skin cap with “fur” from the fabric store.  Our skin came from a raccoon that had been hit by a car just down from our house.  He was really fresh for lack of a better term, so I stopped and picked him up to make use of his pelt.  We respect and make use of all the resources out here so this was a good way to turn the raccoons unfortunate encounter into something appreciated instead of letting his life be taken only to lay in waste. The rest of his remains were returned to the woods to feed his natural predators that live in our area.  For this project, I decided to go the easy route and use a store-bought tanning product instead of brain tanning.   Obviously store bought tanning solutions are super easy in comparison.  Here we go: Read More

Brain Tanning Deer Hides

Brain Tanning Deer Hides

Buckskin made from deer hides is buttery soft, wonderfully flexible and useful for endless purposes.  It’s also something you can make using only resources that nature provides.  Brain tanning deer hides is an exciting and really, really rewarding process.  The finished product, “Buckskin”, is not named for a male deer (a Buck) but is named for the process of putting the hide in a lye solution called “buck or bucking”, so the hide can be anything, not just a deer.  Brain tanning is one of the more common ways of finishing the hide and oddly enough, the brain of an animal is typically exactly enough to tan the amount of hide it carries.  The ability to make your own buckskin adds value not only for people interested in making use of every part of an animal that will feed their family, but also for the prepper community and as a bartering tool.  I have a tutorial below with Read More

Cane Pole Whistles

Cane Whistles

A few weeks ago, my 5 year old and I did a really fun afterschool project; making cane whistles.  This all started about 40 years ago with my grandfather, (can it really be that many?) who would sit outside the back door of the house and make whistles for us from cane.  Truthfully, I’m not sure if it was cane or bamboo or what the difference is, but he always called it cane.  Oddly (or not so much if you know me), I still have the whistle my grandfather made and that’s what we used for our prototype.  We drove to the end of a nearby road where we knew there was a cane stand and plucked a couple of dried poles.  Once back home, Joe had a great time banging them on the ground to make them break apart… as any 5 year old would!  We picked a good solid looking section that was open on one end and still had the cane joint intact on the other end. Read More

Leaf Printing on a T Shirt

Leaf Printing on a T Shirt

Yesterday, my little one and I had some fun revisiting a craft that we first tried about 3 years ago; making leaf prints on a T-Shirt.  It’s super easy and fun for everyone because what kid doesn’t like to bang on something with a hammer!? The first time we did this, we used only fern leaves but decided to experiment with a couple of others on this shirt. Read More

Homemade Birdfeeder Suet Blocks

Ingredients For Homemade Bird Feeder Suet Blocks

Peanuts, Sunflower Seeds and Millet For Suet Blocks

I know I’ve done a ton of posts lately about all the things you can do with rendered deer fat, and I promise I’ll be finished soon, but I’ve got just one or two more.  We try to use all parts of the animal we’ve harvested and feel like not wasting any of it is part of being respectful of the life we took to feed our family.  Here we are making bird feeder suet blocks from the fat and using nuts and seeds grown in our garden.  Everything in these blocks came from right here on our land. 🙂  In hindsight, I wish Read More

Making Lye From Wood Ashes

how to make lye from wood ashes

Turning hardwood ashes into homemade lye for soap or stripping animal hides is really easy and is just as effective as the commercially produced product.  There is a difference in the two; homemade lye is Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) while commercial lye is Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) and you’ll need to keep that in mind if you are converting a soap recipe or making up a new one.  Potassium Hydroxide, homemade lye, typically makes Read More

Firestarter Disks

how to make a portable firestarter

These portable fire starters are an easy way to make use of things that would otherwise be discarded.  They are simple to make and can be used in an emergency or as a campfire quickstart that can be tossed in your hiking pack. The two ingredients in them, rendered deer fat and hardwood coals, are by-products of our everyday activities that have found a new life as something useful.  We use Read More

Jar Candles From Deer Fat

Deer Fat Candle

Deer Fat Candle

A couple of days ago, I posted about rendering animal fat and used deer fat as my example.  There are many, many uses for rendered fat, and although I know the birds are hungry for some suet and we need more soap, I decided to take the easy way out and highlight deer fat jar candles today.  So, without much instruction needed, here is how Read More