Make a Rug from Old Blue Jeans, Cut Up Credit Cards for Guitar Picks, and More Country Lore

Remove nails from wood-stove ashes for icy driveways with a cattle magnet, warm the greenhouse in the winter with hot dryer exhaust, keep family pets warm with an infrared lamp, support houseplants with extendable curtain rods, and other tips from MOTHER’s readers.

| November/December 1989

  • Braided Denim Rug
    Lois Sloan's beautiful braided rug features light and dark shades of blue denim.

  • Braided Denim Rug

A Use for Old Blue Jeans

My wife, Lois, is a great example of what you can do if you just put your mind to it. She made a beautiful braided rug out of 92 pairs of old blue jeans! She used just the legs, cut into three-inch-wide strips. As she ironed these, she folded each one twice to become one inch wide. She took three strips for each braid, and whipstitched all the braids into an oval design. The rug will last for many, many years, and it will be perfect for the new dome home we plan to retire to in the mountains of Tennessee.
—Doug Sloan, Swartz Creek, Michigan 

Pad Your Mechanic's Creeper with Foam Insulation

When I'm making repairs underneath my car, I use a piece of foam insulation either right on the ground or to pad my mechanic's creeper. It gives me more balance, cushions my back, and keeps me warmer in the wintertime.—Pat Juenemann, Clements, Minnesota  

Remove Nails from Wood-Stove Ashes

Ashes from the wood-stove take the slip and slide out of icy driveways, but there's one problem. If, like most countryfolk, you burn scrap lumber for kindling, you're likely to end up with nails and tacks in the ashes. My solution to this was to purchase a cattle magnet, a powerful little magnet that a cow ingests to prevent harmful metal items it has swallowed from passing out of the first stomach. As I remove each bucketful of ashes from the woodstove, I swirl the magnet through them. No punctured tires on our drive!
—Kit Hewes, Canaan, New Hampshire  

Keep the Greenhouse Warm with Dryer Exhaust

My husband and I had been concerned whether our attached greenhouse would stay warm enough to protect our plants through a hard winter. After giving serious thought to possible solutions, we saw that the layout of the house would lend itself to installing our clothes dryer next to the greenhouse. Upon accomplishing this, we hooked up a divertor that directed the hot exhaust air into the greenhouse, but that redirected it outdoors whenever the desired temperature for good plant growth was reached. It worked so well we now schedule the laundry for cold, cloudy days.
—Barbara Prather, Baton Rouge, Louisiana  

Clean an Enamel Stove Top with Toothpaste

For stains on my enamel stove top, I dip a toothbrush in hot water, squirt on a little toothpaste, and scrub away. Not only has this method removed tough stains that expensive cleansers couldn't, but it doesn't pose the environmental threat that the caustic products do.
—Diane Thorne, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma  

Drain Whey with a Coffee Filter

Thanks, MOTHER, for the yogurt recipes. I've been making my own yogurt cheese for years now, and I have a tip for those cooks who don't have a yogurt strainer to drain off the whey. Just use a plastic coffee filter; line it with filter paper, set it over a widemouthed jar or a bowl, spoon in the yogurt, cover it, and set it in the refrigerator till all the whey is drained. The disposable filter paper makes for very easy cleanup.
—Janelle Finley-Moore, Ramona, California  


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September 12-13, 2019
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Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


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