With a population of 80,000, I would not necessarily call Asheville a large town. Actually, outside of the little town in Central Alabama where my alma mater is located, this is hands down the smallest town I have lived in. Bruce and I have toyed with relocating over the last couple of years, but chances are if we eventually move, it would be to a much bigger city. Asheville has been changing for a couple of years. And while we both have had the urge to migrate with the artsy liberals to the new hippie mecca, Bruce is starting a business as a therapist. His support network here is strong. It is his turn to retool his career into something he can really get excited about. Asheville is very therapist friendly. It just makes sense to stay.

But, at one time or another, both of us had big dreams of buying a house with some land on the outskirts of town. And while dreams of a fiber farm are lofty, the reality is I really do not believe I would be able to manage so much land properly. Hell, I struggle with my 6th of an acre lot and 900 sq ft house. And besides, I don’t think that real estate in rural Western North Carolina is any cheaper than in Asheville. It is actually just as overpriced, AND you have an added commute therefore consuming more fossil fuels.

With the economy in a recession(or maybe even a depression), and the movement towards local, organic sustainable, is it any wonder that urban homesteading is on the rise? All the dreams of making soap and canning garden veggies like Laura Ingalls Wilder, are rising out of the 70s revival and into the hipster scene. Add the internet’s vast network of resources and community of homesteaders(urban and otherwise), and it is easy to see how I am suddenly hit with the urge to go sustainable.

Now, I have always been pretty crafty, and love crafting the practical. Being gluten free generally means I am cooking from scratch(since wheat is evidently in EVERYTHING). Um…Gluten free bread is $6.00 for a loaf of 10 slices. And the search for a gluten free bread that is not the consistency of a brick has been long. I have finally found a good loaf recipe here. But even better, it is a refrigerator dough!!! In other words, I can make a batch, bake a loaf for now, stick the rest in the fridge and pull out what I need throughout the week for things like cinnamon rolls, pizza, pocket sandwiches!!!

So, recently I made laundry soap. It seems that several of my twitter peeps had done this. It sounded easy. And I had a pile of soap ends I got for cheap(I was making felted soaps with them). Awesome. I went to the trouble of making liquid laundry soap, but really you can just mix together the dry ingredients and put it in a container. Here is a recipe for that:

2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (finely grated – but really any soap that is NOT full of perfume would work)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

So the liquid recipe I used is here. It took all of 20 minute to make:


Ideally you would use Fels Naptha, but I would have to use way to many fossil fuels tracking a bar down…okay really I just do not see it in the stores here, and I have the soap fuglies on hand… so I used them.


Heat the grated soap in water until melted.


Add washing soda and borax.


Add to bucket of warm water, let fester overnight. I just refill our laundry detergent bottle. I do add more water to the bottle to dilute 1/4 cap full to be a full cap full, only because careful measuring does not always happen in our house. But undiluted 1/4 cap full is what I use in our hE washer.

My intro to urban chicken’s workshop is on Saturday…