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homemade detangler

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Moms and kids have hated the hair-combing ritual since ancient times.

and in many lands.

The Damsel likes how this mom has sort of got her kid trapped on her lap in order to do the deed. The Damsel has used this move herself.

It’s true that some types of hair are harder to come out than others.

Baby-fine hair can be bad. Curly, fuzzy hair can be bad. But thankfully, we live in modern times when there is such a thing as “detangler.”

The Damsel bought this by the bucketful back in the day, to use on her darling daughter’s curly hair. There were some difficult moments. The Damsel is grateful that now this daughter is 25, she’s been combing her own hair for years.

It’s easy to make your own detangler, which thing the Damsel never supposed until it was everlastingly too late.

Simply commandeer an empty spray bottle. Fill it 1/4 full of conditioner, then top off with water. Shake well before using.  Go easy–a little goes a long way.

For a particularly bad snaggle, try rubbing a small bit of full-strength conditioner into the spot. Sometimes, the conditioner will make the hair strands slippery enough to untangle them.


There’s always scissors.

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or so she says

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The Damsel is guest posting today at Or So She Says… Check it.

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If you live in the northern hemisphere and are lucky enough to have a raspberry patch, you may notice little babies growing amidst the bigger plants. Raspberries reproduce freely, even more than the humans at the Cottage by the Mountains.

Some babies grow in line with the grownup plants. These are the good babies. But others grow willy-nilly, in the path between rows or even in your grass. You must do something with these. Otherwise, the babies grow up and start getting into trouble. They join gangs and hurt people. Your patch will get clogged with thorny plants until it’s pretty much impossible to walk among them without bleeding. The Damsel’s had problems with her raspberry babies in the past, so she’s passing on a word of warning. Don’t let your raspberry patch resemble the thorny hedge around Sleeping Beauty’s castle. This is her wish.

You can ruthlessly pull them up. It seems cruel, but you must remember that any plant that’s growing in the wrong place is a weed.

Or, you can use the babies to increase your raspberry kingdom. These plants aren’t that delicate, so they withstand transplanting well. Find a likely spot and dig about a bit, to loosen the soil. Make a hole to receive the baby, maybe six inches deep. Then simply dig the baby up with a shovel (not a hand trowel) and place it in the hole, disturbing the roots as little as possible. Add more soil if necessary and firm it around the baby. Water well.

If you’re making a row, place them at least two feet apart. The babies will grow into teenagers this year, and next year they’ll start making berries…and babies…of their own. Circle of Life.

If you’re local to the Cottage by the Mountains, (northern Utah) the Damsel is putting her raspberry babies up for adoption. It’s the right thing to do. Email her at mhovley at gmail dot com if you’re interested.

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a button, a button

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The Damsel’s sprog #2 has drawn this delightful button for the Old School.

You’ll see a version of this in the sidebar now, complete with the code you’ll need to snatch this for your own site. The Damsel happily promises extra credit for any student installing said button.

The button may receive a few tweaks in the next little while, but don’t worry. The button on your site will automatically update to the new tweak. The internet is magic!

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Pesky mayonnaise! Most of the time, making it with a stick blender works perfectly and quickly. (see this post)

But sometimes!

It makes nothing but a runny, disgusting, oily mess. Sometimes it can be attributed to user error (most commonly, being impatient about letting the egg come to room temperature) but sometimes it seems to be a reason unfathomable, like the phase of the moon or which side of your head you parted your hair.

It’s sad to throw out the ingredients and start over. A sad, sad waste. It’s enough to make a person completely lose control, throw up her hands and buy a bottle of mayonnaise.


Before you do something so drastic, the Damsel has recently come upon a fix. When a mayonnaise emulsion doesn’t work, they call it “broken,” and so it is. But if you’ll invest just one more little egg yolk, all will be well again.

Put a room temperature egg yolk into a container. Add the “broken” mayo to it drip by drip while whisking madly. (you can use your stick blender if you wish) You can increase the drip rate to a small drizzle after half of the liquid has been incorporated.

Magic has returned to the earth!

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Today’s class  is a little different. Today we’ll go on a field trip to meet an amazing young woman. You could search the world and perhaps never find a more inspiring person–someone who has made the deliberate choice to accept God’s will for her, even though this means that nearly everything she assumed about her life has changed.

The Damsel hopes you’ll find this clip inspiring and touching in all the right kind of ways.

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Have you come across a recipe that specifies bread flour instead of all-purpose flour?

The Damsel has, and until she found out what bread flour really is, she always quickly rejected any such recipe. Things are cramped in the Damsel’s pantry. She can’t keep a zillion kinds of flour hanging around. She needs the room for other important items like chocolate chips and cheerios.

Bread flour is in fact flour with a high gluten content. And if you have one magic ingredient, you can make your own so easily, you won’t ever pay extra for the stuff again.

The magic ingredient: Come closer, and the Damsel will whisper it in your ear: Gluten flour, or vital wheat gluten. This stuff used to be sort of hard to find, but it’s becoming pretty common in the baking aisles these days. It’s often used in whole wheat recipes to make them turn out more bakery-like, instead of doorstop-like, by increasing the percentage of gluten.

The vital wheat gluten comes in a sort of small package, so you’ll sacrifice only a little pantry real estate in trade for having a pretty versatile and somewhat magical ingredient on hand.

It’s ridiculously easy to make all-purpose flour into bread flour. Just add 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten/gluten flour per cup of all-purpose flour to your recipe. You don’t have to mix it into the flour ahead of time or say any magic words. Just add it as part of the flour measurement.

That. Is. All.

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cookie cutter winner

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Louise! It’s you!

Here is the winning comment, chosen by random.org:

Louise says:

Sunday, April 25th, 2010 06:24 pm GMT -6 at 6:24 pm

I loved the post on the uses for coffee filters! It is the one that prompted me to link a feed to your site when I stumbled onto it. I really enjoyed your sense of humor and irony. I enjoy reading every article the day it’s posted.
I don’t make cookies typically but I really liked the cactus.

Louise, congratulations. Give the Damsel an email hollah, and she’ll hook you up.

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planting potatoes

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The Damsel adores potatoes. They are her food of choice. You know how people talk about what food they’d choose to be stranded on a desert island with? The Damsel does not hesitate to say potatoes potatoes potatoes.

And she especially loves new potatoes, which means freshly dug and not monstrous. She feels it a tragedy of modern life that many people don’t know about the wonderfulness that is a new potato. She’d like to invite these people over for a taste. One at a time.

Potatoes are easy-peasy to plant. Experts say it’s best to buy seed potatoes meant for your area, but just know that many a potato plant has been grown from a regular old potato taken from the eating-stash.

First cut the seed potatoes into pieces. See the little dimple in the middle? That’s an “eye,” and that’s what the roots will grow from. It’s best if you can plan the cuts so each piece has three or so of these “eyes.” Even one is okay, but three is better.

Put some anti-fungal garden dust in a container such as a paper bag, and add the cut potatoes. Coat with the dust. (Shake the bag) You could skip this step, but your potatoes might not grow as well, and that’s too sad to think about.

The Damsel’s father once grew potatoes on a large scale so he was the font of wisdom for her. He told the Damsel many interesting tidbits, including the fact that poor folks used to plant potato peelings because they needed their potatoes for eating. And they’d actually sorta grow. He also used to mix the anti-fungal with talcum to make it go farther. It sealed the “wound” of the cut potato and stopped fungus from growing thereon.

Make a trench about six inches deep, but don’t fuss. Plant potatoes about a foot apart.

Note: The Damsel’s family is owned by a dog-shaped horse whose job is “fertilizing” the back yard, which he does with great thoroughness. One year, the potato trenches were lined with “fertilizer” as an experiment. The potatoes grew in lush abundance.

Cover the taters with a nice dirt blanky…

…and then tamp the soil down. Get the neighbor kids involved whenever possible. The Damsel has found that when she provides the damp earth, little boys are happy to provide the bare feet. Water well if needed.

Now then. After the potatoes sprout, there’s more to do. It’s best to add more dirt as they grow, etc. etc.. But for now, we’re just planting and calling it good. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

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It’s the Old School’s 1st birthday.

The Damsel is grateful her students haven’t transferred out of class as of yet. In fact, the Old School has grown and grown. Could it be because the Damsel allows chewing gum in class? That’s correct, go right ahead.

She’d like to say thank you to the thousands who have stopped by.

To celebrate, the Damsel is holding a little old giveaway. Remember the Vermont cookie cutters? The winner gets to choose from any of the 4 or 5 piece sets, or you can pick your own assortment of 4.

To enter, simply reply to this post and tell the Damsel which Old School post you like the best (or which one you’ve used the most.)

Extra entries (optional): 1. Go to Ann Clark Cookie Cutters and list your favorite shape.

2. Follow the Old School on Google FriendConnect. (The widget is in the right sidebar.) If you’re already a follower, please remind the Damsel of that fact since she has swiss-cheese brains.

The giveaway will end Wednesday at 10 PM MST. and announced on Thursday.

Have fun!

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