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Genius printer hack you won’t believe

Have you ever had to print a paper or mailing label NOW and realized your black ink cartridge is out of ink? As much as I try to keep an extra on hand, sometimes I run out without a backup. Something I’ve found that works in a pinch is to simply remove the black ink cartridge. This forces the printer to use the color cartridge to print the document instead.

With and without the empty black ink cartridge removed.
With and without the empty black ink cartridge removed.

The label on the right was my first attempt at printing a mailing label before realizing that I was overdue for a new black cartridge. The label on the right was printed with the black cartridge removed.

My printer will usually print one or two jobs this way without complaining, then I may have to put the old cartridge back in for a bit then remove it again if I need to print something else. Usually by that time I have been able to get a replacement cartridge.

It’s always better to be prepared, but in a pinch this trick works like magic.


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Quick Drawstring Bag Tutorial or How to Reuse Your SubEarthan Cottage Soap Wrapping

I wrap my soaps in fabric because it looks nice, it allows the soap to breathe (read here for why), and because it feels better than plastic. I often wonder what happens to the wrapping. I’m sure there are some that toss it. I know of one person who collects the fabric for quilts. For those of you who, like me, don’t want to throw away something that could be useful but don’t know what to do with it, I have a tutorial for a drawstring pouch, just for you.

This is done with the wrapping from one of my soaps, but you could make it in any size you like.

Materials
Cloth wrapper from soap (roughly 8×11 inches)
Jute string from soap (about 29 inches)
Thread

Tools
Needle or Sewing machine
Safety pin or Bodkin
Scissors
Iron

First, iron your fabric flat. Then, fold down a long edge about 3/4 of an inch to one inch and press. This is for the casing. It doesn’t have to be super precise.

Sew a straight seam along the bottom of the flap to form the casing. All the sewing can be done by hand or machine. I have no time or patience, so I choose machine. Fold your material in half with right sides together like a book.

The fold is at the bottom of this photo.

Next, starting just below the casing seam, sew down the side and across the bottom. I use anywhere from a 1/4 to 1/2 inch seam allowance for this. Again, it doesn’t have to be precise.

With scissors, clip the bottom corners, being careful not to cut your stitching. You could probably skip this step, but it helps the corners look square and crisp. Turn your bag right side out.

Now it’s time to thread the string. Tie one end of the string to a safety pin, large paper clip, or attach a small bodkin. This makes it easier to work it through the casing. Thread it through the casing, safety pin first.

Once you get the string to the other side, remove your safety pin or other tool and adjust the string so that the ends are even.

Knot the ends together once or twice to keep it from coming out.

Ta-da! It’s done! Perfect for organizing your purse, storing jewelry or other small items, or as a small gift bag.

Or holding your favorite bar of soap.

Tutorials are always a little complicated to write because it’s easy to overlook small steps in things you do frequently. If something is unclear, please ask. 🙂

If you have any other creative uses for a SubEarthan Cottage soap wrapper, I would love to hear it!

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Taking in a Blouse the Lazy Way

I prefer my tops to be a little loose, because it makes chasing a toddler much easier. Breezy tops also make hot, humid weather a little more bearable. I tend to avoid actual blouses because they either fit too snuggly for my liking or look like a giant tent.

To fix that, I take a too big blouse and add a little elastic across the back to make it look trimmer without sacrificing comfort. I can’t take credit for this idea. I found it years ago online, but have since lost the link to that tutorial. If that was you, I would love to link to your original, much better tutorial.

IMG_4540 Giant, but so comfy tent. *A note on the door. That is my craft room door. Yes, it’s supposed to look like that. We call it the “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” door. The door frame however… Let’s just say my house is one big diy project that is slooooooowly progressing.

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Cut a piece of elastic to the size you want your shirt to come in. I played around by stretching the elastic and pinning it to my shirt. I ended up with about 4 inches. Since this shirt has the two vertical seams on the back, I made the elastic attach at each seam.

For the most flattering location vertically, find where your natural waist is and attach the elastic along that line. I found that spot by putting the shirt on, eyeballing it and marking it with a pin. I also ended up with my elastic a tad too high, so you might want to go with a more accurate method, such as actually using a tape measure.

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Sew a straight line at each end to tack the elastic where you want it, then zig-zag along the elastic while keeping it evenly stretched. I like using a three step zig-zag on elastic, but a regular zig-zag will work, too.

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Finished result on Athena, my almost-twin dress form. Why yes, I do own an iron, why do you ask?

Clear as mud? If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments and I’ll try to clear things up for you.

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Tuesday’s Tip and a Video: Ants and Cap and Trade

Tuesday’s Tip: Ants, aka why NOT to drink diet soda.

For months now we’ve been fighting HUGE ant hills along our curb and front walkway. We’d rather not spread tons of chemicals on our lawn to get rid of them, especially with our aging dog, so we’ve tried baking soda and spreading ashes on the piles. I’d read baking soda worked (it did NOT), and I thing the ashes were just an idea Chris had while cleaning out the smoker. The ashes just caused them to move their hills a foot over.

Then, about two weeks ago I remembered hearing that Equal (aka Aspartame, NutraSweet, the blue packets, etc.) will kill ants. I found a few packs of Equal that we’d gotten from McDonald’s or someplace and sprinkled one each on three of the biggest ant hills in the yard.

We’ve been so busy lately that I’d forgotten to check on them until today while I took out the trash. To my surprise all of the ant hills are GONE. Not moved, not shrunk, totally gone!

This leads me to 2 conclusions:
1. I need to buy some NutraSweet to have on hand for future ant infestations.
2. Never EVER consume anything that has aspartame in it. I already knew that if I have it in a higher quantity than is in a stick of gum that it can give me a headache. Seeing such a small amount take out a giant ant hill, though, has brought it to a whole new level of scary.

Now for the video: My sister shared this catchy little music video on Cap and Trade with me. It’s almost as good as Schoolhouse Rock.

Have a great Tuesday!

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Tuesday’s Tip: Ceiling fans

With summer coming, anything that can help you keep cool and save money doing so is a great thing. If you have ceiling fans, now is a good time to make sure they are dusted and in working order.

Most fans also have a switch that can reverse the direction the blades spin. In warmer weather, you want the blades to turn counterclockwise to circulate cold air into the room. When the cooler air comes back in the fall, switch the fan to rotate clockwise to help warm the room.

By doing this, you can save energy and cut costs since running a fan requires less electricity than your heating and cooling system.

While we’re on the subject of saving money, I’m having a sale in my ArtFire studio. All the soaps listed in my shop are 10% off. Prices are already marked down for easy checkout. http://subearthancottage.artfire.com

If you’d like to join the SubEarthan Cottage mailing list, you can use the quick form at the bottom of this page or send me an email with your name and preferred email address to csloan@subearthancottage.com

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Tuesday’s Tip: Starting seeds

For cheap and easy seed starters, save egg cartons, fill with soil or seed starting mix and plant your seeds in them. If you get the paperboard egg cartons rather than the Styrofoam, you can just cut the sections apart and plant the whole thing once your seeds have sprouted.

And yes, I probably should have posted this tip a week or two ago.

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Tuesday’s Tip: Threading bobbins

Today’s tip is probably another “Duh!” for more experienced sewers. I’m just starting to use my sewing machine on a regular basis, though, so bear with me.

There is little that’s more annoying to me than running out of bobbin thread mid-seam. In my case, it tends to happen after dealing with a few other problems. Then finally I get a good rhythm going and the bobbin thread runs out.

My solution for this is to wind at least two full bobbins of the thread I’m using on a project. That way if it runs out, at least I won’t have to completely shift gears to wind the bobbin again.

I know, simple, huh?