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Fluffy Towels – without the chemicals – Yes Please!

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How to get soft, fluffy towels without fabric softener

Because sometimes it’s the little things…

In this edition of First World Problems, we present rough and wimpy towels. Because hey, if we are going to have the luxury of indoor plumbing and a hot shower, few things are better than following it with a heavenly cloud of a towel.


Given the popularity of fabric softeners, I know I am not alone in this preference. Unfortunately, fabric softeners are spiked with synthetic fragrance and other ingredients that have no business being in our laundry. But here’s the secret; you don’t need commercial fabric softeners, hurray.

Some people love the stiff feel of a line-dried towel – and that’s great, since letting the sun and air dry one’s laundry is the most sustainable way to go. But if you are after soft and fluffy, here is what to know – and bonus points for all of these since they should help to increase the longevity of your towels as well.


The Washington Post recommends washing towels in light laundry loads dedicated just to towels.“The key is to really separate properly,” says Gwen Whiting, co-founder of the beloved Laundress. “We really recommend washing sheets and towels separately from each other. They need their own attention, so you don’t want them jammed in with loads of stuff. You need a good cleaning environment.”

Which makes perfect sense. If you’ve got a load of wash that includes a fitted sheet, towels, tee-shirts and some socks, things will get uneven attention.

Lighten the load

Likewise, stuffing too many towels in the wash also invites problems – a fact that, in my quest to be efficient, I never seem to learn. But crowded towels don’t have room to move around, meaning that the heat can’t reach the tangled creases; the damp pockets become stiff and scratchy when they dry outside of the dryer.Shake each towel out before putting it in the dryer to ensure that wadded-up creases don’t get “ironed” in by the dryer. Along with giving towels the room to dry properly, you can also add tennis or laundry balls. And if you can open the dryer and untangle entwined towels halfway through the cycle, all the better.

Skip the fabric softener!

Oh what tangled webs we weave – despite the promise of commercial fabric softeners, they do not always deliver in the “soft and fluffy towel” department. Read it and weep (from The Post): “Fabric softeners coat a towel’s exterior and often contain oils and petroleum-based ingredients that hinder its absorbency. This filmy coating may mean more frequent washing, which breaks down the towel.” Say no more.

Use almighty vinegar instead

Vinegar is a laundry workhorse superstar! Use 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar in the fabric softener compartment of your machine – it softens towels and helps removes bacteria, a much better option than coating said towels with synthetic chemicals. If you want fragrance, you can add a drop or two of pure essential oil to your laundry balls. I have a dedicated washcloth that I add a few drops of essential oil too and toss it in with my towels as kind of an ersatz fabric softener sheet.

Ban the bleach

I don’t like having bleach in my home at all; and for towels, it’s not even good anyway since it flattens the loops that make a towel fluffy and absorbent in the first place. Vinegar will help brighten, but if you need to bring out the big guns, you can use a bleach alternative like OxyClean.

Resist over-soaping

Another counter-intuitive one, but too much detergent can affect all laundry, not just towels. It can made clothing dingy; for towels, it can make them crunchy. Try using half the recommended amount. Carolyn Childers, chief home officer of Handy, tells Real Simple, “If you must use extra detergent for very soiled towels, make sure to change the washer settings, so it’ll have an extra long rinse cycle.”

Don’t cook them

Towels seem like the perfect candidate for the hottest wash, rinse, and dry – but Barton Brass, president of the Turkish Towel Co., tells The Post that that is a no-no. “Heat is probably the worst thing you can do to a towel in the laundry,” Brass says. “Cotton itself is a very soft, cellulose material, and if you burn it or cook it, it’s going to flatten out and it will never get soft again.” Washing and drying at medium heat is the happy place where towels get clean without battering the fibre.

Respect the loops

Since towels made of terrycloth are woven with long loops to absorb the water, maintaining the integrity of those loops is vital for a well-functioning, good-feeling towel. Leaving a damp towel on the floor can not only attract mildew, but the loops can be crushed if left like that for too long. Towels can be damp before laundering, but they should be completely dry upon removing them from the dryer. That said, over-drying them can be hard on the loops as well, so don’t err on the side of too long in the heat.

Top Tip from reader:

I will repeat the laundry tip i gave a while ago. White vinegar in rinse cycle. It softens, removes soap residue, and cleans your washing machine. Kills mould buildup. What more could you ask for. And oh very very cheap. There is no vinegar smell…. have done this for 30 years now

Some brilliant DIY tips

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Modern Brickies are ‘Taking the Pee’

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‘Liquid gold’: students make world’s first brick out of human urine.

The bio-brick created by students in Cape Town mixes urine with sand and bacteria, which they say is a world first. Article from The Guardian newspaper.

Urine bricks created by students at the University of Cape Town.

Creating a truly sustainable construction material is now a possibility

Vukheta Mukhari

“Students in South Africa have created the world’s first brick made from human urine.

The bio-brick was produced by students from Cape Town, who collected urine from specially designed male urinals at the university’s engineering building and mixed it with sand and bacteria.”

More from the article … “Bio-bricks are created through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation, said Randall, similar to the way seashells are formed. Loose sand, which has been colonised with bacteria that produces urease, is mixed with the urine. Urease breaks down the urea in the urine, producing calcium carbonate, which cements the sand into shape.

While regular bricks are kiln-fired at temperatures of 1,400C and produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, the bio-bricks do not require heat.”

Original article:

11 Really Useful Cleaning Tips – without chemicals.

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Excellent tips – using (mostly) only baking soda and vinegar.


Kongress "Wasser, Wälder, Wölfe" – natürlich mit dem Bogen!

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Excellent review of some aspects of the European Shamanic Workshops – So pleased that the writer really ‘gets’ the Shamanic aspect of archery. It eventually leads to a very meditative state when done right.
Some of the Google translation here is poor eg “Aim small to miss small” is the correct phrase in the introduction. But all in all I’m really pleased to read this 🙂


Diese Konferenz wurde ausgerichtet vom Schamanischen Netzwerk Europa.

Wer sich darunter eine Ansammlung seltsamer Esoterik-Tanten vorstellt, hat wahrhaftig schamanisch und spirituell Tätige noch nicht kennen gelernt! Die meisten sind ganz bodenständige Menschen, die eine tiefe Verbindung zur Natur und Umwelt haben. Und genau dort ordne ich mich ebenfalls ein, auch wenn ich wenig geübt in der schamanischen Praxis bin. Der Kongress war glücklicherweise offen für alle Interessierten! 😉

Zum Glück war ich am Donnerstag bereits um 14:30 Uhr da. Denn die Listen zu den Workshops füllten sich zusehends. Leider war das Programm so komplett umgeworfen worden, dass ich mir alles neu zusammensuchen musste. Meine Vorbereitung war also für die Katz’. :>>
Mit etwas Improvisieren und Grübeln konnte ich trotzdem ein stimmiges Programm für mich zusammen stellen.
Natürlich gruppierte ich alles um “mein” Thema Bogenschießen!

Traditionelles Bogenschießen als ein Mittel für Konzentration & Focus
In diesem Workshop…

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Strange Facts and Life Hacks

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Things They Didn’t Teach You in High School

1. A Strawberry isn’t a Berry but a Banana is.

2. Avocados and Watermelon are Berries, too.
3. Cashews grow on Trees like this:

4. And Brussel Sprouts grow in long stalks like this:

5. Chocolate Milk was invented in Ireland.
6. Ketchup used to be sold as Medicine.
7. Carrots were originally purple.

8. McDonald’s sells 75 Hamburgers every second of every day.
9. Yams and sweet Potatoes are not the same thing.
10. Ripe Cranberries will bounce like rubber balls.
11. An average ear of Corn has an even number of rows, usually 16.
12. Betty White is actually older than sliced Bread

13. Humans share 50% of their DNA with Bananas.
14. Honey never spoils. You can eat 32,000-year-old Honey.
15. Peanuts are not Nuts. They grow in the ground like this, so they are legumes.

16. Vending machines are twice as likely to kill you than a shark is.
17. Coconuts kill more people than Sharks every year. So do Cows.
18. Pound cake got its name from its original recipe, which called for a pound each of Butter, Eggs, Sugar, and Flour.
19. The probability of you drinking a glass of Water that contains a molecule of Water that also passed through a Dinosaur is almost 100%.
20. Honey is made from nectar and Bee vomit.

21. Pineapples grow like this:

22. Quinoa is the seeds of this plant:

23. Kiwis grow on Vines:

24. Ginger is the root of a Plant:

25. And Cinnamon is just the inner part of this Tree:

26. And Artichokes are Flowers that are eaten as buds. This is what they look like when flowered:


27. “Spam” is short for spiced Ham.
28. Popsicles were invented by an 11-year-old in 1905.
29. Apples, like Pears and Plums, belong to the rose family.
30. The official state Vegetable of Oklahoma is the Watermelon.
31. Peas are one the most popular Pizza toppings in Brazil:

32. There are over 7,500 varieties of Apples throughout the World, and it would take you 20 Years to try them all if you had one each day.
33. The twists in Pretzels are made to look like arms crossed in prayer.
34. Canola oil was originally called rapeseed oil, but renamed by the Canadian oil industry in 1978 to avoid negative connotations. “Canola” is short for “Canadian oil.”
35. And no matter what colour Fruit Loop you eat, they all taste the same.


You may not know















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A brief history of Europe as told through the peculiar observations from college students’ papers.

Editor’s Note: One of the most popular Wilson Quarterly essays ever (and by far the funniest) was Anders Henriksson’s brief history of Europe as told through the peculiar observations he had culled from papers written by college freshmen he had taught in Canada. As we wrote in introducing the piece in the Spring 1983 issue, paraphrasing George Santayana, “Those who forget history are condemned to mangle it.”

History, as we know, is always bias, because human beings have to be studied by other human beings, not by independent observers of another species.

During the Middle Ages, everybody was middle aged. Church and state were co-operatic. Middle Evil society was made up of monks, lords, and surfs. It is unfortunate that we do not have a medivel European laid out on a table before us, ready for dissection. After a revival of infantile commerce slowly creeped into Europe, merchants appeared. Some were sitters and some were drifters. They roamed from town to town exposing themselves and organized big fairies in the countryside. Mideval people were violent. Murder during this period was nothing. Everybody killed someone. England fought numerously for land in France and ended up wining and losing. The Crusades were a series of military expaditions made by Christians seeking to free the holy land (the “Home Town” of Christ) from the Islams.

In the 1400 hundreds most Englishmen were perpendicular. A class of yeowls arose. Finally, Europe caught the Black Death. The bubonic plague is a social disease in the sense that it can be transmitted by intercourse and other etceteras. It was spread from port to port by inffected rats. Victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks. The plague also helped the emergance of the English language as the national language of England, France and Italy.

The Middle Ages slimpared to a halt. The renasence bolted in from the blue. Life reeked with joy. Italy became robust, and more individuals felt the value of their human being. Italy, of course, was much closer to the rest of the world, thanks to northern Europe. Man was determined to civilise himself and his brothers, even if heads had to roll! It became sheik to be educated. Art was on a more associated level. Europe was full of incredable churches with great art bulging out their doors. Renaissance merchants were beautiful and almost lifelike.

The Reformnation happened when German nobles resented the idea that tithes were going to Papal France or the Pope thus enriching Catholic coiffures. Traditions had become oppressive so they too were crushed in the wake of man’s quest for ressurection above the ­not-­just-­social beast he had become. An angry Martin Luther nailed 95 theocrats to a church door. Theologically, Luthar was into reorientation mutation. Calvinism was the most convenient religion since the days of the ancients. Anabaptist services tended to be migratory. The Popes, of course, were usually Catholic. Monks went right on seeing themselves as worms. The last Jesuit priest died in the 19th century.

After the refirmation were wars both foreign and infernal. If the Spanish could gain the Netherlands they would have a stronghold throughout northern Europe which would include their posetions in Italy, Burgangy, central Europe and India thus serrounding France. The German Emperor’s lower passage was blocked by the French for years and years.

Louis XIV became King of the Sun. He gave the people food and artillery. If he didn’t like someone, he sent them to the gallows to row for the rest of their lives. Vauban was the royal minister of flirtation. In Russia the 17th century was known as the time of the bounding of the serfs. Russian nobles wore clothes only to humour Peter the Great. Peter filled his government with accidental people and built a new capital near the European boarder. Orthodox priests became government antennae.

The enlightenment was a reasonable time. Voltare wrote a book called Candy that got him into trouble with Frederick the Great. Philosophers were unknown yet, and the fundamental stake was one of religious toleration slightly confused with defeatism. France was in a very serious state. Taxation was a great drain on the state budget. The French revolution was accomplished before it happened. The revolution evolved through monarchial, republican and tolarian phases until it catapulted into Napolean. Napoleon was ill with bladder problems and was very tense and unrestrained.

History, a record of things left behind by past generations, started in 1815. Throughout the comparatively radical years 1815–1870 the western European continent was undergoing a Rampant period of economic modification. Industrialization was precipitating in England. Problems were so complexicated that in Paris, out of a city population of one million people, two million able bodies were on the loose.

Great Brittian, the USA and other European countrys had demicratic leanings. The middle class was tired and needed a rest. The old order could see the lid holding down new ideas beginning to shake. Among the goals of the chartists were universal suferage and an anal parliment. Voting was done by ballad.

A new time zone of national unification roared over the horizon. Founder of the new Italy was Cavour, an intelligent Sardine from the north. Nationalism aided Itally because nationalism is the growth of an army. We can see that nationalism succeeded for Itally because of France’s big army. Napoleon ­III-­IV mounted the French thrown. One thinks of Napoleon III as a live extension of the late, but great, Napoleon. Here too was the new Germany: loud, bold, vulgar and full of reality.

Culture fomented from Europe’s tip to its top. Richard Strauss, who was violent but methodical like his wife made him, plunged into vicious and perverse plays. Dramatized were adventures in seduction and abortion. Music reeked with reality. Wagner was master of music, and people did not forget his contribution. When he died they labled his seat “historical.” Other countries had their own artists. France had Chekhov.

World War I broke out around 1912–1914. Germany was on one side of France and Russia was on the other. At war people get killed, and then they aren’t people any more, but friends. Peace was proclaimed at Versigh, which was attended by George Loid, Primal Minister of England. President Wilson arrived with 14 pointers. In 1937 Lenin revolted Russia. Communism raged among the peasants, and the civil war “team colours” were red and white.

Germany was displaced after WWI. This gave rise to Hitler. Germany was morbidly overexcited and unbalanced. Berlin became the decadent capital, where all forms of sexual deprivations were practised. A huge ­anti-­semantic movement arose. Attractive slogans like “death to all Jews” were used by governmental groups. Hitler remilitarized the Rineland over a squirmish between Germany and France. The appeasers were blinded by the great red of the Soviets. Moosealini rested his foundations on eight million bayonets and invaded Hi Lee Salasy. Germany invaded Poland, France invaded Belgium, and Russia invaded everybody. War screeched to an end when a nukuleer explosion was dropped on Heroshima. A whole generation had been wipe out in two world wars, and their forlorne families were left to pick up the peaces.

According to Fromm, individuation began historically in medieval times. This was a period of small childhood. There is increasing experience as adolescence experiences its life development. The last stage is us.

Anders Henriksson is a professor of history at Shepherd University, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. In addition to scholarly works such as The Tsar’s Loyal Germans (1983), he is the author of Non Campus Mentis: World History According to College Students (2001) and College in a Nutskull (2010).