"Terrorism has once again shown it is prepared deliberately to stop at nothing in creating human victims. An end must be put to this."

Vladimir Putin


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Do it yourself.

I try to be as self sufficient as I can manage.  If I can't make something, I keep large quantities of it on hand. Matches comes to mind. I can't make them but I keep plastic tubs of them , the large wooden kitchen matches. For now, I'll have to keep doing that.


I used to only buy the "Strike Anywhere" matches, but now they are hard to find, and when you do they cost up to four times as much as the same number of "Strike on the Box" kitchen matches. If anybody knows of a good, reasonable source of the "Strike Anywhere" matches I'd sure appreciate hearing about it.




I do make my own candles, but wicks are a problem.  I buy wicks on line, usually from the big discount houses or hobby shop web pages.  I've never really found any good, thick, prewaxed wicks. If there are candle makers out there, and you know a good place to get the good wicks, please give me a lead on it.





I've been reading about other people making their own soap. I keep a lot of soap stored, the kind where you get six or twelve bars for a few bucks .  But I'm going to try to make my own now. Why not? I have time for things I couldn't work on before, and some of these basic skills may well be important in the days to come.  That's why we did the experimental garden this summer. Next summer, we are going to plant a much larger space, and not with set up's, but with seeds. If that works, we can use the county canning plant and can our own vegetables.



On a more mundane level, we never left the place today.  I actually slept most of the day, since for some reason I was keyed up and never really slept last night.  It rained here, on and off, most of the afternoon which was very welcome. Outside now it's pitch black and so foggy you can't see 20 feet. Must be low clouds in the mountains.

It's Sunday so  I need to go call my mother and have a chat with her. She gets down on Sundays, misses my dad. I guess it is because they used to always do a little day trip or go out to dinner on Sunday evenings. At any rate, I  try to call on Sunday night. It's about six thirty there now, which is a good time.




Thought for the Day:


68 comments:

  1. Hope you are girding up for tomorrow's debate ;). Should be grand, I saw Hilary's folks were whining today that the moderator needs to fact check trump since she won't be able to do it. Sigh. Thank you for this blog, some days it makes my day much brighter and I really enjoy the signs and commentary. I am signing as anonymous since the only other choice i saw was my full name and that won't work in public. Not sure to change that.

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    1. I think most people us a "sanitized" google account to log on. I do have some friends who just sign on anonymously, and then at the end of their comment they put a hyphen and a first name or "nome de plume." But if you just want to stay anonymous that should be fine. Given the environment today, I am not sure I would even have a blog if there weren't so many other factors that already put me on Big Brother's list, like having a C&R FFL for the last twenty years. ;-)

      I am going to watch tonight, certainly. I hope Trump can resist the temptation to act like he's on The Apprentice again. Surely he knows that Shrillery is going to try to aggravate him so he loses his poise. As for her, I hope she comes across as the dried up, grasping, "Dorian Gray" that she really is.

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  2. 'oklahoma pastry cloth' web site has a clear tutorial on soap making.
    be careful with the lye. watch that pets and people are protected.
    good time to collect any free frying oil from restaurants for soap. filter and store in big buckets, which may be free in the bakery of large grocery stores. they get icing in them and sometimes charge a small fee or give them away.

    you might try 'ask jackie' at 'backwoods home magazine' for possible answers on the candle wicks. or the archives of 'countryside magazine' [and small livestock journal]
    [jd belanger].

    i pick up strike anywhere matches at the hardware store. you might write to the factor and ask if they will ship you a case or two.

    just a few thoughts.
    p.s.- read the book on soapmaking before you buy it. daughter got me one for a present but there was no soapmaking in it--just said melt boughten glycerin soap and put in molds. it was garbage.

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    1. Deb,

      I have a big stack of Backwoods Home here at the place, and I have a bunch more on digital media. I will look through them and see what I can find, since it's certain that anything there will be oriented towards self sufficiency and not towards "frilly."

      I can't buy strike anywhere matches in this county. When I ask, I'm told they are not made anymore, which is nonsense. I have been ordering them, at extortionate prices, from different web pages. I did contact Diamond and they told me they only sell to wholesalers, not to individuals.

      I don't know much about it but I know lots of people do make their own. I wish I still had my Foxfire books, but I lent them to my brother and he still has them.

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    2. If you don't know which oil was used, you cannot know how much lye to use for the soap. Each oil uses difference amounts of lye and if you don't know what you are doing your will have a disaster.

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    3. harry, i will check prices and if the matches are within reason i will buy them and ship them to you.

      order the foxfire books through your county library--use interlibrary loan and the books will come from anywhere in the state.

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    4. if you go to 'ask jackie' on the computer you can put the subject in a search box and it will bring all the info from the archives.

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    5. Deb, don't go to all that trouble. I can order them myself if you give me the contact point. I appreciate the offer, it's very kind of you.

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    6. Tewshooz, I'm not going to actually try to make any soap until I have my ducks in a row. Especially with lye, I want to be very careful to follow a proven recipe. I ordered a book that seems to fit the bill as a first step.

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  3. I've done much of that but have forgotten much too. That is the way we lived. I hope it's not needed again.

    I do save my soap chips even now. You can either grate them and add a little water, heat it and pour into a shape of your choice. I just put the end of a bar in a little water and use a pump dispenser to use every drop.

    I hate to admit, I never thought of matches. How do you keep them from gathering moisture other than an air tight container do you use the little packs?

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    1. I keep the matches in air tight tubs, and in environmentally controlled spaces such as my house, or my shop, or a section of my barn. I use humidifiers in winter, and dehumidifiers and air conditioning in summer, to maintain a temperature of 71 degrees, and between 45-50% humidity in the spaces. They come wrapped in air tight cellophane.

      For all that, I have some in my barn that I use when I burn trash. I keep one box on a shelf there. Those boxes are routinely exposed to very high humidity, and have lasted over a year in that condition. The problem isn't the match, it's the striker. That tends to stop working if it is exposed to humidity. So when I use up a box of matches that has been kept inside, I keep it in a big jug, so I can still use the strikers.

      I have big bars of laundry soap I bought from Lehmans, and much regular soap, stored away. But I want to have the ability to make it if I need to so I am going to give it a shot. I always keep the wax from candles that have been used up, and I have a lot of that in big pails. My thought is that over a very long period of time, I could run out of kerosene for my lamps, and have to use candles again. If you have wicks, you can pour the wax over and over again.

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    2. seems to me lehman's had a wall mounted striking plate for matches? dad used the sole of his shoe. don't know if that works with manmade sole material.

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    3. Deb, I can remember seeing people light matches on the soles of their shoes, with the old strike anywhere kind. I have Lehman's bookmarked. I will check on the striker.

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  4. Heh.
    I like that picture of you sitting there looking down at the town you don't have to live in...
    - Charlie

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    1. Charlie, there are lots of high places here with good views. In summer my view is obscured by the heavy forest from my front porch. But I can climb up the slope a ways to some granite boulders and look out to the horizon. It's a plus of living in the mountains.

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  5. I bought some old-fashioned candle molds years ago, but my claimed them for decorations and then socked them in the attic when she grew tired of them. I haven't seem them since!

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    1. I use jars, like olive and pickle jars. You can either leave the candle in them. or set the jars in a pan of hot water and then just ease the candle out.

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  6. I made a couple of these crisco candles this summer and I'm really impressed with them. I found pretty glass containers that were made of thick glass at thrift stores. I carefully melted the crisco and poured into these containers and added citronella essential oil then put in the wick in the still liquid crisco. I held it in place with a pair of scissors and held the wick without cutting. You are going to want to cut the wick anyway as most likely your glass container will be shorter than the wick. The containers I used were San Miguel recycled green glass containers that I understand were originally sold at Starbucks. LOL I paid a dollar for them. Remember to size your wick properly.

    https://snapguide.com/guides/make-a-45-day-emergency-candle-out-of-crisco/

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    1. That's really good to know. To be honest, I had never heard of this before. But Crisco is cheap, and I keep it stored in the cans for cooking. I am going to give it a try. It sounds a little bit like the "slush lamps" they used to use on old sailing ships.

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  7. PS, based of DJT's rally crowd numbers, I'm expecting a run on popcorn before 9pm debate :)

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    1. We had to ban popcorn in the house. My wife kept choking on it! We moved to potato chips instead. ;-)

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  8. OK, one more, about the matches, our local Menards has sales on these every now and then
    http://www.menards.com/main/search.html?search=matches

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    1. WSM, thanks for the link. I added it to my bookmarks under "preparedness."

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  9. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)


    They sell those matches at the Walmart in my area. I already have a few.

    Lots of rain here today. I have admit for the moment I am 'burned out' on the presidential stuff. Not that I don't care, its election fatigue. I feel I may sit out the debate tomorrow. I know I will vote for Trump already so everything else is redundant and hillery's shrill voice makes me ill. Really, hillery sounds like a seagull with a sore throat.

    I feel as if I get vertigo, or desiness when I listen to hillery. Maybe her voice is screwing with my inner ear. Now I can understand why bill had all the affairs he had:)

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    1. She makes my blood pressure go way up and I get nauseated. So I can wholeheartedly sympathize with you on that. I am going to watch tonight though, because it's so important. If only Trump can maintain his poise and not go into his "Apprentice" routine, he may actually be able to win the election and I'd feel 20 years younger. Not that the man is perfect but at least he isn't some greasy political slick like the rest of them, or an outright criminal and tyrant like Shrillery.

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  10. Harry - can you get long wicks - without the metal thingy at the end - the types used for making (tall) table candles? If so, perhaps you could weave the wicks together to make a thicker one?

    Matches and candles - you can never have enough of them :D

    Good on you - look forward to seeing the results of your soap making labours.

    How did you veggie growing go this year - been waiting for you to mention it...

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    1. Dani,

      We did really well with the tomatoes. We got lots of them, and they were delicious. But I made a mistake, in that when we bought them ( we bought set ups) we bought different kinds. Then when I planted them, I didn't record which plant was what type, so that was a wasted opportunity. Our squash plants grew really big but no squash. Our pepper plants did well, but not a single pepper. The watermelon plant grew but made no watermelons. I am not sure if it was because we don't have any bees around here anymore, or if the little creature of the night ate everything. We have possums, skunks, wood rats, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild hogs, wild turkeys, and bear who come here regularly, especially to the meadow where our raised beds were.

      I can get wicks like you describe. The problem for me is that the thicker wicks work better in thicker candles. I like the thick candles, but without the big , heavy wicks they tend to burn up the kind I can get on line and then the candle has to be recast. I know they are out there, I just haven't found them yet. I think the problem is that most people make candles for "ambiance" or gifts, as Gorges noted, and those work better with little thin wicks so that's what the stores sell.

      We cook with a regular stove and oven, but it works on propane. Over the long term, if the igniters wear out and I couldn't get more, I'd have to light it with matches. Then there's the fact that if you use candles for light, you use a lot of matches.

      In Kunstler's series of post apocalyptic novels, he mentions a process for making your own matches, but I would rather not have to add more chores to an already long list.

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    2. Go to Candlewic.com for all your wax and wicks. They will even make up custom wicks for you. They have it all.

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    3. Twoshooz, as soon as I finish working on the blog this morning I am going to look them up. They sound like just what I have been looking for.

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  11. Matches are OK but I think the Bick lighter has to be the slickest invention ever and it works even when wet. Pretty cheap too. They keep just about for ever.

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    1. I used to buy bic lighters for .25 each when Walmart put them on sale. I don't go to Walmart these days, but I still have a bunch. You can't really use them for lighting things like pilot lights, or candles after they have burned down some, matches work best for that.

      I have had the lighters go bad on me in storage, but not often. I don't know if they gassed out or were just bad when I bought them, but it hasn't happened often.

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    2. our forebears used spills to light fire.

      my mom, who lived through the blitz, used to twist a bit of newspaper for lighting.
      you get one fire going, using one match then light the spill to ignite whatever other flames you need. our Orthodox church supply sells wooden spills. they are a bit longer than those long fireplace matches.

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    3. I didn't know people still used them, though I was aware they'd been used in colonial times. I will see if I can find some to look at on line. I do have some boxes of the big long fireplace matches, but I hardly ever use them.

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    4. the candle lighting spills are much sturdier than the long matches. you keep a jar of sand and douse the spill in it, leaving the spill in there for the next use. they last pretty well.

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  12. My husband is one of those crazy people that had learned how to properly rub sticks together to start a fire. He seriously can do it fast now.

    I've made soap before. It was actually pretty fun. I only made bar soap, but wanted to try liquid hand soap, since that's what we use more. I also make my own laundry soap. I cut the recipe in 1/2 because it's a powder form, and it was clumping up too much before I could use it all. It's super easy to make though. I haven't tried dishwasher soap, but plan to someday.

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    1. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of skill to make a fire. Even Les Stroud was not always successful. I envy your husband that ability.

      Lehmans sells laundry soap pretty cheap, the old fashioned bar kind. I bought a laundry tub and a scrub board from them to use with it. But I think I should be able to make my own soap, since anything you store must eventually run out in the right circumstances.

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    2. did you get a tub for rinsing, too. makes it easier.

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    3. I just have a regular corrugated tin tub for that. The same kind you bath big dogs in.

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  13. I have done soaps before but can't make the type with lye because of Cort's asthma. My mom makes that kind, though, and keeps us well supplied.
    I will send you a variety of heirloom squash seeds for next year. I have some really good ones! I've been saving the seeds for a couple of years now and they seem to do really well. I always keep some in the deep freezer too.

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    1. I sure appreciate the offer of seeds. In 1999 I bought a big can of different kind of heirloom seeds, but I never opened it and I would imagine that now they are no longer viable. I have no idea how long you can store seeds in a can, but 17 years is probably pushing the envelope in most cases.

      If I can avoid lye I will, as I have a house full of animals. The cats and especially the ferrets get into everything. I don't need a tragedy!

      I trust your run this weekend went well? I wondered how you were doing from time to time.

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    2. lisa,
      what non-lye kinds of soap are there?
      i'd rather not use lye if i can help it.
      thanks.

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    3. In case she doesn't get a chance to read the comments, she has a nice blog at Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs. It's on my blog roll down at the bottom of the page.

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    4. All soap is made with lye, period. Lye and oil produces soap and glycerin. It is called saponification. The melt and pour stuff you buy from hobby shops or in bulk has already been saponified with lye so you can use it right away or heat it up and pour into molds.

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    5. Well, the melt and pour material would do me in one respect, since I would not have to keep lye around the place for one of the animals to get into and get poisoned.

      But then, I'm not really better off. There isn't much difference in having to store a lot of things, and just storing soap.

      How did people get lye in the old days. Isn't it something to do with using ash from a wood fire?

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    6. Yes, they leeched water thru wood ashes and a form of lye was produced. If an egg floated in the solution, it was strong enough, if not, they ran it thru the ashes again. It was what we now call potassium hydroxide and it was iffy at best. The resulting soap, if you did not know what you were doing, would take the hide of ya. It was used mostly for laundry. Also, in those days it was made in a kettle outside and cooked until it looked right. That method speeds up the process of saponification so that it would be ready to use pretty much right away. Nowadays, we call that hot process soap making. I make mine both ways, but not with leftover fats and oils,....whew, that can be pretty rank. Nothing like rancid bacon grease for soap,... Brambleberry.com or you tube have great tutorials on soapmaking. Check it out.

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    7. I'll take a look. It's beginning to sound like it's in the too hard category, like canning food with a pressure cooker. I got all motivated to try that but by the time I researched it I realized I wouldn't be able to do it without using a lot of propane, and I wouldn't be able to renew the jars if I couldn't buy them because everybody told me that you could only use the lids once, unless you bought these rare and expensive ones, and I just threw up my hands in despair. Soap making is starting to sound like it would be better to just buy a couple of hundred bars wholesale and store them.....

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  14. ☺☺ I love your 'Thought of the day!'

    summerdaisycottage.blogspot.com

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  15. Summer,
    That's an old cartoon but it's a funny one. It also highlights a point I've often wondered about. Why, when something goes horribly awry, do so many people just run and hide?

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  16. Check out www.candlesandsupplies.com

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    1. Sounds like a great place to look. I'll plug it in and see what they have.

      Sent you an email a week or so ago, hope you got it. It was from PhilipNolan53.

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    2. Sorry, did not get it or did not recognize the name. Maybe it went to Spam folder. Can you resend it, please?

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    3. I try to use the Philip Nolan email for correspondence, because a sent copy of everything I send is saved. Once I transmit, I delete it. But for reasons I have never figured out, my Harry Flashman email doesn't save a copy of my emails to the sent folder, so I am never really sure , later on, if I answered the person or not. If you get an email from Philip Nolan (the guy from "The man without a country" that's me.

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    4. tewshooz,
      computer told me that that server is not secure.

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  17. Love that Far Side.

    Getting some frosty mornings here, finally. Not that I'm complaining. Had company so I'm only now getting back to my pre-winter projects.

    I've reached the point where I've had to accept that while I know how to do many things, there are only so many hours in the day. Can't do everything all the time.

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    1. My current problem is gaffing things off I don't want to work on. Too easy to read a good book and it is suddenly dark.

      You're right. It's not possible to just keep plugging away every day, every minute without a break.

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  18. Years ago, when I was working at a restaurant, we had to light dozens of candles on tables. Instead of using dozens of matches, we would light a raw spaghetti and use that. Spaghetti stays lit and the flame is away from the fingers. It is a neat trick.

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    1. That makes sense. I remember Les Stroud showing how to use a single corn chip to start a fire because the chip caught easily and burned a long time, due to the oil in it.

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  19. I have a fair match "collection", as well, & prefer the strike anywhere though they're practically impossible to find. I'm thinkin' the "match police" are responsible for that outrage. Much like ammo, there's no such thing as too many.

    Around here, they were always called "farmer matches": probably because the old-time farmers rolled their own & always had a bib pocket full of 'em.

    You might remember the days when "real men" ignited those suckers with their thumbnails. Yes, they were real men until a blazing chunk of sulfur became embedded under their thumbnail & their knees buckled, as they whined & moaned for 60 seconds or so. :o) It as funny as hell --- until it happened to you.

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    1. I used to flip them with the thumbnail and start them, back when I had just gotten into a squadron and everybody smoked. I smoked a couple of years and then quit cigarettes, but still do a pipe once in awhile. I never had the misfortune of catching a hunk of match under my thumbnail,what a thought! I am sure such an event would have been greeted with laughter in the ready room.

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  20. I've been making soap since 2009 and have taught many others how to do it. I use a simple "Walmart Recipe", so-named because you can get all of the ingredients at Wally World. Lard, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and Castor Oil are the main ingredients, plus the lye and goat's milk (or any other liquid you choose.) I used to sell soap at the local farmer's market and did quite well. But, it turned into too much of a JOB, so I stopped! Pouring up $10,000 of soap per year took all of the fun out of it.

    Also, on the candle making front, I went to a local meat processor and he gave me a bucket of beef fat scraps that I rendered into tallow, added some essential oil for fragrance, and poured into various glass jars. The wicks I used were found on Amazon. Turned out really nice!

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  21. I haven't given soap making a go yet, still in the information gathering phase. But it does seem like something I should learn to do for myself, just in case.

    I have two large pails of melted wax, I'd guess maybe 40 pounds or so. I buy candles for ten cents or so at the thrift shops in North Georgia, and use the wax to make my own candles. I've never tried tallow. I do remember a social studies film from sixth grade back in the early sixties, where the monks at California monasteries made their huge candles out of tallow, it seemed straight forward and must have been practical as they used tremendous quantities of the candles in their missions.

    I used to buy from Amazon til they made me mad, now I get the wicks from Target most of the time, but I would like thicker, heavier ones that last longer and produce more light.

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  22. Beeswax make the best candles. I know it is expensive unless you keep bees or know a bee keeper. But, they burn twice as long and give off no toxic fumes like paraffin (petroleum) candles. Also give off more light. No soot, and churches use them for this reason. If you have asthma or lung condition (like me) beeswax will not bother you. I can only afford to make a few at a time, and have been doing so for years and now I have my stockpile.

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    1. I have a few beeswax candles that were given to me as gifts, but the vast majority of what I have is just regular wax. We had a beekeeper here, but he died and nobody took over his hives. I don't know of one now.

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  23. Deborah - the melt and pour soaps are from glycerin. You can add in different herbs and scents. If you wait until those 50% off coupons come out for the craft store, you can buy a huge block of the glycerin for $5. It goes a long way.
    Harry - my run went really well except for with the heat I didn't have as much water as I should have and suffered for it. I did have a Lifestraw just in case but we were having a dry spell and there wasn't much water to be found. Nevertheless, I had a fun time and I enjoyed finding my way through the "extra challenge" of 90 degrees without much water. Always something to learn! I wrote a blog post about it but it won't go up until October. I am still in the process of drying seeds but you can expect some from me at some point this winter. Your heirloom seeds might still be viable but they will probably take longer to sprout if so. But I just read an article where they were able to get seeds to sprout from some weird squash they found in a pot in an Egyptian tomb. In comparison maybe 17 years could be a piece of cake?

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    1. Lisa, glad the run went well. I wonder if you could run with a military style "camel back" hydration system. They are light and would resolve that issue, but I would not have wanted to wear anything that had straps on it when I was running. You could get heat stroke running in temps like that dehydrated. I look forward to the post when it comes out.

      I went to the Naples National Museum and saw the Egyptian collection with my wife. They had some tomb goods and in one of the jars they had some seeds which the museum stated had been tested for viability, and they were still good though they were 3000 years old. I never knew whether to believe it or not, because that particular museum was kind of strange. They had a lot of Roman erotic art in room that was closed to the public because the art was "indecent." But if you would pay the guards a "tip" they would take you to the room, and let you look through a peephole they had bored in the door and hidden under a sign. I figured I had better take the seed thing with a grain of salt, in that establishment. But it turns out it is absolutely true. On the other hand, some of the folks who are really good gardeners don't have a lot of faith in older seeds, so I am afraid to rely on the ones I have now. I appreciate your sending me the seeds and I will plant them next spring.

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  24. Harry, my hardware store here has boxes of Diamond 300 matches for $1.50 a box. I'd be happy to get some and forward them to you.

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    1. SC, I ordered a case of 12 large boxes on line this morning. If the Diamond matches you saw are not kitchen matches, but are strike anywhere matches, then I blew the movement. I paid about $2.29 per box including S&H.

      I appreciate the kind offer though. It's good of you to think of it.

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