As I’ve said in previous blog posts, I love to create and am always looking for something a little different to make. I’m a practical person, so I usually stick with “useful” things, rather than dust collectors. When I discovered this new scrubby yarn, I decided to give it a try. To my delight, it makes excellent, nonabrasive, very effective scrub pads that are MUCH less stressful to make than those made with nylon netting. Hence, I’ve added them to the collection of merchandise on my website.
These scrubbies or scrub pads are simple yet very effective at removing dried food and residue from dishes, pots and pans, glassware, ceramics, silverware, etc. They are nonabrasive, so they can easily be used on nonstick cookware, dishes, crystal, glassware, silverware, you name it! I’ve shared them with friends and neighbors and they’ve come back wanting more! They are soft on hands, yet they have a scrubbing power greater than cotton dishcloths alone.
Each is made with two strands of yarn…a cotton yarn plus a scrubby yarn. The new scrubby yarn has little “extensions” that gently remove food from dishes. That yarn is made from 100% polyester, so it does not bleed when washed. I couple it with cotton yarn for absorbency and together they make a real workhorse for washing dishes!
I’ve found that the blend of polyester with cotton makes them more durable than cotton alone, and they don’t tend to sour like all cotton does. When it’s laundry day, simply toss them in the washer and dryer along with other towels and they come out good as new. I prefer to put mine in a laundry bag since they are rather small compared to a bath towel.
The size is roughly 4-1/2 inches square, so they are a comfortable size to handle when doing dishes. Not too big, not too small. They wring out easily too, so they’re worth trying if you’re looking for something a little different that’s new, very effective, simple, nonabrasive, and gentle on skin.
I make crochet dishcloths to sell online and at local craft shows. During shows, I’ve had many requests for dish scrubbies. I’ve tried making them with nylon netting that I cut into long strips and found it a real struggle to work with for a number of reasons. Consequently, I haven’t made many of them from netting. So, when I recently heard of Red Heart’s Scrubby Yarn, I had to give it a try! I’m pleasantly surprised as to how easy it is to work with and yet it’s also effective at scrubbing dishes. With that, I thought a complete review may be helpful to others who are considering the yarn. Here it is…
Size of skein. The skeins come in a net weight of 3.5 oz (100 g) with 92 yards (85 m) on them. The knit scrubbies I’ve made with this yarn (when coupled with a strand of cotton or cotton blend yarn) measure about 4″ wide x 4-1/2″ long. One skein makes 7 scrubbies of that size, with a little yarn left over.
Cost. Watch prices online as they do vary from site to site. I’ve seen prices for this yarn ranging from $4 to over $9 per skein. It pays to shop around!
Cotton Yarn (bottom) vs Scrubby Yarn (top)
Construction. This yarn is interesting in itself. It is made of 100% polyester and has a thin central strand with little “extensions” along the strand. The thin central strand appears to be too thin at first, but it actually works well when making a dish scrubby (especially when coupled with one strand of cotton yarn).When looking online at pictures of a skein of this yarn, to me it looks more tangled than a bowl full of angel hair pasta. It’s hard to distinguish one strand of yarn! However, once you get used to it, the yarn is easy to work with. Importantly, I have yet to encounter any tangles at all. In fact, it “flows” easier than most traditional yarns I’ve used. Literally, no knots or tangles. Amazing!
Color fast. Since it’s made with polyester I suspected it would not bleed its color. But, I tested it nevertheless. I placed a strand in hot water and let it sit for a while. No color loss at all! That’s very impressive to me, considering how much color loss there is in some of the cotton yarns! Also, I have not noticed any color loss with the one I’ve been washing dishes with for a while.
No color loss!
Scrubby yarn in very hot water
Effectiveness. The little “extensions” act as fine scrubbers when removing stuck-on food particles from dirty dishes. They are simple and effective for medium tough jobs. They cannot take the place of a steel wool pad on a really tough burnt-on food mess, but they are effective when washing everyday dishes. As advertised, the little “extensions” make the scrubbies more effective than using standard crochet or knit dishcloths for removing food particles from dishes.
Knitting with Cotton Plus Scrubby Yarn
Knit or crochet? Because this yarn has little “extensions” on it, I found that it’s easier to knit with than crochet. The “extensions” seem to get caught easily on the crochet hook. Knitting with this yarn seemed to be a smoother task. However, even with knitting it does take a little time to get used to working with it. Once you do, speed picks up and there are fewer dropped/split stitches. [Hint…Knit loosely!] Perhaps given some time, one could get used to crocheting with ease with it.
Use alone or with cotton yarn. As per Red Heart’s suggestions, this yarn can be used alone or coupled with cotton yarn. A scrubbie or dishcloth made with this yarn alone has a totally unique character and feel. It is quite stretchy and has little absorbency. To me, it resembles some sort of clothing accessory [like a nice scarf] or part of a child’s toy rather than something to wash dishes with. However, THAT’S just my opinion and the next person may love using it that way.
Thickness of scrubby
I found that I like it much more when coupled with cotton or cotton blend yarn. The cloths have a more sturdy, thicker feel with much more absorbency. I like that sort of feel when washing dishes. However, coupling it with cotton/cotton blend yarn does extend the drying time quite a bit.
Substitute for nylon netting? When considering if this yarn could substitute for nylon netting in scrubbies, I’d say no. Why? Because it’s simply different. It’s not as scratchy as nylon netting, so the scrubbing effect is more mild. Netting seems more appropriate for those tougher jobs where you almost need a steel wool pad. Scrubbies made with this yarn are wonderful for those not-quite-so-tough jobs. They scrub more effectively than dishcloths, but not quite as well as scrubbies made with nylon netting. So, here’s my rendition of the most mild to the toughest scrubbing power among various options: cotton dishcloths, scrubbies made with scrubby yarn, scrubbies made with nylon net, green scratchy commercially made scrub pads, steel wool pads.
Honestly, I’ve been washing dishes for a while now with a scrubby I made with this yarn (coupled with cotton yarn) and I’m very happy with it for everyday needs. It’s much easier to work with than nylon netting. All things considered, I recommend this yarn for making scrubbies what would meet most everyday needs. Perhaps have a few other things on hand in your kitchen arsenal for handling those occasional really tough jobs that come along. However, this should meet your needs most of the time! Thanks Red Heart!
Many people have gone gluten free by choice. Others MUST choose gluten free options for health reasons. I fit into the later category, although I haven’t been that way my entire life. In recent years I learned I developed a serious health issue that is triggered by eating anything with gluten in it. Hence, I’ve become gluten free. This is NOT a choice for me.
Eating a gluten free meal becomes very challenging when faced with eating out in restaurants. This is particularly so when faced with menu items that appear to be gluten free. One case in point is “herb rice.” I would expect “herb rice” to be rice mixed with specific herbs and flavorings to make a delicious gluten free dish. However, many restaurants serve an “herb rice blend” that is actually a mix of rice, flavorings and orzo, a tiny pasta made from wheat. THAT’S the problem.
Unfortunately, many restaurant workers, “servers” in particular, are uninformed as to what their “herb rice” actually contains. They’re under the impression that it’s just flavored rice. I have been faced with this TWICE now since I’ve been gluten free. Note that I have nothing against the rice blends they use…they’re actually delicious. HOWEVER, they’re not just rice…they’re NOT gluten free. And with the innocent ignorance of waiters/waitresses, wary customers may be served foods they shouldn’t eat. My personal experiences are cases in point.
First, years back when I newly discovered that I should avoid wheat, I was at a restaurant/bar-grill. I choose something with “herb rice” in it, innocently thinking it was just rice. I asked the waitress if it was just rice and gluten free. She insisted that it was just rice, so I ordered it. After eating about half of it, I realized it had orzo in it…wheat pasta. When I spoke with the waitress about it and said I couldn’t eat the dish, she still insisted that it didn’t contain wheat and was only rice. We had a bit of an argument and she finally brought me the box it came in. Of course, when reading the ingredients list, wheat pasta was listed as one of the components (I’m not ignorant when it comes to food and it didn’t take much to find a wheat product in the ingredients list). When I brought this to her attention and asked for something else to replace the rice, we settled on refried beans. She was obviously not happy with me. I was brought a blob of refried beans, straight out of the can and unheated. I told the manager about the episode when we paid for the meal and I got little response in return. Needless to say, we’ve never been back there again.
Secondly, just last night we were at a different restaurant and they presented us with their new spring/summer menu. A wonderful dish was listed and I opted for it. Again, it was served with “herb rice.” I asked the waitress about it and she was very polite in saying she thought it was just rice, but wasn’t certain. I opted for hash browns instead of the rice. (They were out of the rice blend anyway and I was already planning on ordering hash browns since I suspected the “rice” was not just rice.) Nevertheless, the waitress DID offer information for me…the brand name of the blend. I looked it up and here’s the ingredients list…
Parboiled long grain rice, orzo (macaroni product made from wheat flour), salt, autolyzed yeast extract*, onions*, garlic*, turmeric spice which imparts color.
*dried CONTAINS WHEAT INGREDIENTS
I’m thankful that the waitress was kind enough to at least offer the information to me so I could check for myself. I also appreciated her humbleness in admitting she was not certain of the ingredients. Unfortunately, apparently restaurant owners and chefs don’t inform their workers about these critical aspects of their food. For most patrons, it’s not an issue at all. But for those who MUST avoid certain ingredients, it’s important for the wait staff to be knowledgeable of what’s being served. Sadly, that’s usually not the case, so it’s up to the patron to be informed and wary of what they order.
Unless you really know the restaurant and how they prepare foods, wait for the herb rice until you get home and make it yourself!! Don’t order it in a restaurant.
I hope this information helps someone out there to avoid ordering some food that can cause health issues. Again, if you can eat gluten, the herb rice blend is a delicious option. But if gluten presents a problem, don’t be fooled by the name. It’s not just flavored rice.
We’ve all seen our favorite chefs at work on TV. Most of them use extra virgin olive oil. Why? Because it’s one of the healthiest oils to consume. However, they rarely say what brand they’re using (unless they’re being paid to advertise for that company).
Good quality olive oil can be one of the healthiest oils to use. It helps correct blood cholesterol problems and is high in vitamin E and antioxidants, fighting harmful compounds in the body. Olive oil plays a vital role in the Mediterranean diet, which we know is very healthful.
So…when we get to the grocery store, choosing which olive oil to buy seems about like choosing a breakfast cereal! There are MANY to choose from…too many. It’s just too confusing. So, I’ve done some research to help us all pick the best olive oil from the array we have to choose from at the moment.
It’s important to know that not all olive oils were created equal. In fact, MANY that are typically on our grocery store shelves are not healthful oils at all. Many have been “refined” (a process that involves heat and/or chemical solvents), have been on the shelf for extended periods of time and hence are not fresh, or are older oils that have been blended with fresher oils to mask their rancid flavor. Yuk!
Because eating old or rancid oils is actually damaging to health, I decided to put together a list of things to look for to help you choose which oil is best among those that are available to you at the moment when shopping. There may be higher quality oils out there in wherever-land, but they’re not the ones you’re looking at for the moment when you’re starring at the huge array on the grocery store shelf. You NEED to know which one to choose NOW! Copy this list and carry it with you the next time you shop for olive oil.
First, it’s important to know that ANY extracted oil is highly perishable. Light, heat and oxygen can interact with the oil and cause it to age or even spoil, creating compounds that are harmful to our health. So, keep this fact in mind as you make your way through the steps below.
When at the grocery store…
Put your “blinders” on! First thing, DON’T look at the price right away. IF you shop for price only, you’ll probably choose the cheapest oil on the shelf. Mistake #1. That oil is very likely refined and not the most healthful. That’s not what you want!
Choose oil in a small dark glass bottle (or packaging that shields the oil from light). Unless you’re going to use a LOT of oil FAST, go for the small size…one that you know you can use up in a relatively short amount of time. Be sure the bottle (glass, not plastic) is dark, helping to protect the oil from damaging light. Otherwise, if you know you need a lot of oil and will be using it up quickly, opt for oil in a large can.
Be sure the cap is sealed and air tight. Well, duh. This should be a “given.” However…it’s worth checking because you never know what you might come across in a grocery store.
Choose “extra virgin olive oil.” Extra virgin is the highest quality olive oil. Now…DON’T take the front label on the bottle for it’s word. Turn the bottle over and look at the ingredients list. It should only say “extra virgin olive oil.” It MIGHT list refined oil and extra virgin olive oil. If it does, put it back on the shelf. It’s a blend of less-than-healthy refined oil, most likely mixed with fresher oil to improve the flavor. Not your best option.
Look for “first cold pressed” or “mechanically pressed.” This is the natural way to extract oil from olives. Otherwise it was probably extracted using heat and/or chemicals, which is not desirable and not the healthiest oil around. Choose a naturally extracted oil.
Some bottles say “organic.” Organic options in most any foods are good. However, “organic” alone with regard to olive oil is NOT the only thing to look for. Check out the other components before deciding that it’s your best option.
Look for quality seals on the label. Not all oils will have them, but they are helpful in ensuring the oil was produced according to set quality standards. Some seals you might see include:
COOC (California Olive Oil Council)
North American Olive Oil Association
International Olive Oil Council
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin…DOP in Italian)
PGI (Protected Geographical Indication…IGP in Italian)
Look for an expiration date or “best by” date. Try to select one with at least a year left before it expires. The further out the date, the fresher the oil. Freshly produced olive oil will last up to 2 years from the time of harvest, IF kept under ideal conditions (which is often not the case). AND we don’t know the time lapse from harvest to production and many dates are based on production dates, so there is some mystery here. So…the more time left in the dating, the fresher the oil.
Look for the producer and place of origin of the olives. Ideally, it’s best to find an oil from olives that were grown, processed and packaged in the same location. However, that would RARELY be found on our grocery store shelves. Just note that oil will be freshest and of higher quality under those circumstances. That translates into less transport time, less chance of spoilage due to less-than-ideal conditions along the way, etc. However, MOST if not all of what we’ll typically find on our grocery store shelves will not meet this criteria. It’s good to look for it anyway. IF you manage to find one…latch onto it!
NOW…After having looked for oils that meet the above criteria…it’s time to compare prices. Now you’ll know you’re getting the best deal on your olive oil AND the most healthful option you have to choose from at the moment.
When you get home…
TASTE the oil when you get it home. Ignore the color because the color will vary depending upon the variety of olive used and when it was picked. The color does NOT reflect the quality of the oil. When tasting, the oil should smell and taste like olives, and should have a slight bitterness and possibly pepperiness. This indicates the presence of the polyphenol compounds…the healthful compounds that we WANT in the oil! Hopefully the oil you selected will meet this criteria. If not, it’s back to the drawing board the next time you shop for oil.
Store your oil wisely. Store it away from light, heat and oxygen (close the bottle quickly after using it). Use it up quickly…don’t try to store it for a long time.
Get the most health benefits from your oil. Use the oil unheated as much as possible to get the most health benefits from your carefully chosen product. When using it to cook with, heat it the least amount possible to keep from destroying the polyphenol compounds and breaking down the oil (which is not healthful).
Here’s a video that I produced on this subject. Hope this helps!! Happy eating, Judi
The other day I was ironing my husband’s shirts and discovered a BAD case of ring around the collar! It seems I should have noticed this well before now, but it just snuck up on me. I did a little research then got creative and came up with a VERY easy and EFFECTIVE way to get the stain out. This works whether the shirt has been worn (and not laundered), or even freshly washed, dried AND ironed. (Yes, really!)
Supplies needed: One old toothbrush, a small bowl of water, a little dish detergent that is a good grease fighter, and one dirty collar.
Lay the shirt so the collar lays open and flat. The shirt can be dry…no need to wet it down first.
Dirty shirt collar
Put a little bit of dish detergent on your toothbrush and scrub the dirt line along the collar.
Scrub collar with dish detergent and toothbrush
After you’ve done a little scrubbing and worked the detergent into the fabric, wet the toothbrush and scrub the dirt line some more, working up some suds.
Wet the toothbrush
Work up some suds
After you’ve scrubbed the dirt line to your satisfaction, the shirt can be laundered immediately in your usual laundry detergent in whatever water temperature you normally use. IF the shirt was exceptionally dirty and you feel your dish detergent is not a great grease fighter, it may help to allow your shirt to sit for a while (up to 1 hour) before laundering it. Note that the collar does not need to be rinsed out before placing it in the washing machine. IF you feel you used a LOT of dish detergent and need to rinse some of it out, go ahead and rinse.
Washed, wet shirt…See how clean!
After it comes out of the washer, take a quick look to be sure all the ring was scrubbed out. If not, repeat the process. If so, dry it as usual.
Dried shirt…good as new!
This is a fast and easy process that makes shirts look good as new! The real benefit is that you don’t need to buy extra chemicals to do the job. You should already have what you need on hand!
To see my video on this process, click below. Enjoy! Judi
I recently stumbled upon this easy way to remove lingering odor from kitchen dishcloths. It works with any type of cloth…crochet or knit cotton, microfiber, standard kitchen dishcloths…whatever!
It’s better than bleach for a few reasons. First, bleach is quite toxic so should only be used when absolutely necessary. It will quickly remove color from any cloth it comes in contact with if you use too much (which is very easy to do).
Also, (and I know this for a fact), bleach destroys cotton fiber. Yes, really. I learned this during my undergraduate degree in a textiles lab. We took a small piece of cotton fabric and soaked it in 100% bleach. The fabric disintegrated! Moral of the story…Don’t use bleach on cotton if you care about the fabric!
New trick…boil those smelly yet laundered dishcloths. Place them in a pot of water. Bring it to a boil and boil them for a minute or two. Then leave them on the burner and turn it off. Allow them to sit for 5 to 10 minutes to cool down some and continue killing any remaining germs. Then drain the cloths and add cool water until they can be safely handled. Wring them out and (if desired) dry them further by wrapping them in a clean dry towel. Then toss them in the dryer until they are dried. Done!
It’s really very easy and effective, AND no toxic chemicals involved! Here’s a video on the topic! Enjoy, Judi
I enjoy making quilted table mats and hot pads! Piecing fabric together in assorted ways allows me to get my creative juices flowing and try different color/pattern combinations and designs. I find it fun, relaxing and even therapeutic.
The featured image (above) shows my latest set of hot pads or pot holders, finished just in time for Christmas! They can be purchased at my website HandmadeinIowa.com. Shipping is free! Check it out! (Scroll down the page to see the listing for this set.)
I recently had someone ask me a question, which sparked an idea. Since I have a lot of food, nutrition, and Family and Consumer Sciences education and experience, I’ll put that to work for YOU!
I’ve decided to make myself open to researching answers to YOUR QUESTIONS related to food–be it cooking, baking, preparation, preservation, or nutrition– and household issues, such as cleaning.
Most people know HOW to find answers to their questions, but simply don’t have the time for the research. I’ll do it for you. Answers will likely come in the form of a video. They may also be in a blog post, or simply a reply to a posted comment. Whichever is most appropriate will suffice.
Below is a link to my video offering this service. Feel free to comment below the video on YouTube or below this post! I’m happy to help!
Fall is here and apples are being picked. People are beginning to think of the holidays. One of the things that comes along with the holidays and fall is the warmth of delicious food spiced up just right. Sweet potatoes come to mind here, fixed in too many ways to recount.
I decided to try sweet potatoes with apples. Oh my! It was well worth the effort. I came up with a VERY simple yet VERY delicious and easy way to fix them. And it’s fast too, so no extra time is spent hovering over the stove.
This recipe is totally flexible. It can easily be increased or decreased, and flavors adjusted to fit your family’s preferences. The following meets our taste preferences, but feel free to alter the ingredients as suggested and you can’t go wrong!
Delicious Sweet Potatoes with Apples Makes 4 to 5 Servings
2 small sweet potatoes (or 1 large one)
2 medium apples, any type
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp water
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
1 Tbsp raisins (optional)*
1 Tbsp butter
Cinnamon, to taste
Salt, to taste
Cayenne powder, to taste
Heat a modest amount of water in a large skillet with a lid. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into serving size small pieces. Spread out the sweet potato pieces in the boiling water in the skillet. Cover with lid and allow to cook until they are 2/3 to 3/4 done. (This doesn’t take long, depending upon the size of the sweet potato pieces.) Drain off most, but not all, of the water. Place skillet back on the stove.
As the potatoes are cooking, peel and cut the apples into bite-size pieces. Toss in the lemon juice and water to keep the apples from turning brown.
After the sweet potatoes have been partially cooked and excess water drained from the skillet, place the tablespoon of butter in the skillet and allow it to melt. Add the apples WITH the lemon/water mixture. Add walnuts, if using them. Add raisins or other sweetener (*) if desired. Sprinkle with cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne powder (or amount desired), and a little salt. Stir to combine.
Cover skillet and allow the potatoes and apples to steam for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the potatoes finish cooking and apples are warm, but not mushy. Serve immediately.
*Added sweetener is only optional with this dish (it’s yummy even without it!). However, if sweetener is desired, some choices in place of raisins may be a little brown sugar, maple sugar, maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar. Add according to your taste preferences.
Below is a link to my video showing how to prepare this dish. Check it out! Judi
So who’s not interested in saving money on expenses?? We have fixed expenses and discretionary ones. We don’t have a lot of flexibility in those fixed expenses, but we have many choices in our discretionary options, like what we buy at the grocery store. Honestly, if you look at what you spend in a month, most people spend the majority of their discretionary money at the grocery store. It really adds up, so I look for any way I can cut that back.
So, why not make reusable dryer sheets? That not only saves money on buying them over and over, but also helps reduce what goes into our landfills. All you need are two old T-shirts that are a medium-weight fabric (one light colored and one dark colored), a pair of scissors, and your favorite fabric softener. (In another write-up, I’ll share how to make your own fabric softener).
Simply cut a 6-inch square of fabric from each T-shirt. When you’re ready to use it, moisten the cloth with a little of your favorite fabric softener and toss it in the dryer with your wet clothes. Use the light colored cloth with your light laundry, and the dark colored cloth with your dark clothes. Simple! They can be reused over and over again! How easy is THAT?
Check out my video on making these cloths. Enjoy! Judi