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Showing posts from April, 2011

Laundry Soap and Liquid Hand Soap

So easy and saves me oodles. Last week I did the math and this soap costs less than two cents a load. I use the kitty litter bucket when I double the recipe. 2 gal. water
1/3 bar of Fels Naptha -- finely grated
1/2 c. borax
1/2 c. Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)

Bring 1 gallon of water to boil, toss in grated soap. Stir and continue boil until fels naptha is completely melted.
Take off heat and add borax and washing soda. Stir. Add 1 gallon of water. Stir. Done. If I'm storing my laundry soap in plastic milk jugs, I wait until the soap as cooled. The soap will "gel up" over night. Stir before each use. 1/4-1/2 c. per load. This is a low suds soap so it is HE friendly!

I started making my own laundry soap not only to save money but also because I could. :)  I started to look at products that I used/consumed and asked myself, "Can I make that?" It's amazing the stuff I've learned over the past couple of years just because I asked this simple question. I …

Chicken Update















Last week I struggled with collecting eggs as a very protective hen guarded not only her eggs, but also the eggs of her housemates. I've since learned that this phenomenon is called "brooding chicken" or as my Grandmother put it, "The hen has turned clucky." My plan was to separate Henny and a roo so that she could fulfill her maternal desires....until two more hens decided to become her accomplices. So after doing the math: 1 egg laid each day x 3 clucky hens x 27 days (this is approximately how long it takes to go from egg to chick) = 81 eggs    ...that is a lot of eggs sacrificed to one clucky hen.
On Saturday I entered the chicken coop, determined to show those hens that I was boss. I decided I could no longer be afraid of my sinister hens. I must be bold. It worked. I fooled myself and the hens. They haven't messed with me since. Yesterday, all the chickens rushed to me when I came with my ice cream bucket full of treats (they love my vegetable scra…

The Joys of Wallpaper


Wallpaper is not my friend. Especially when I'm facing six layers of this dreadful stuff. A couple of weeks ago I decided to embark on a project that I've wanted to do for years - paint the office/playroom. This room has always been "blah". Not horrible but not great. I want it to scream, "Kids play here!"

Envisioning bright, lively walls (and looking for any excuse to avoid working on my taxes),  I took the plunge and began ripping off wallpaper. I'm still working on these walls....and all six layers of wallpaper. Taxes did get completed, I had no choice, yet the walls are only a little more than half stripped.

My house was built in 1905 which is one of the many things I love about it. However when it comes to a remodeling/redecorating project, I seem to always run into headaches. I have found that if I use a steak knife at just the right angle, I can get some of the wallpaper to peel off. For the more stubborn areas I have been using a spray bo…

Naughty Henny Penny

Raising chickens has been such a learning experience for me. Three or four years ago, when my son and I incubated those first eggs, I thought it was going to be a great science project. Little did I know that I would continue to learn so much more about chickens. My newest discovery is that hens can turn into aggressive, egg hoarders which I just learned are called by the name of a brooding hen. I have named my brooding hen Henny Penny.

Henny Penny is not only protecting her eggs, she is hoarding the eggs of her housemates. When I advance towards her she puffs up, both her neck and her rear, yet somehow she stays firmly planted on "her" eggs. Without moving, she skillfully lashes out with her sharp, quick beak. Last night, shielded by my scrap bucket in one hand and the scrap bucket lid in the other, she still managed to peck my finger. This did not please me. After several attempts I grabbed the shovel...don't worry, I only THOUGHT about whacking her on the head. Poking…

Making Yogurt

I make yogurt not only because it saves me money, but because it is so much healthier than store-bought yogurt. The typical store-bought yogurt is filled with extra garbage, not to mention the loads of high fructose corn syrup....and in case you didn't know, high fructose corn syrup is a bad word in my house.


There are many different ways to make homemade yogurt and I have tried quite a few. Sometimes with success, but sometimes quite unsuccessfully. Yogurt making has been a trial-and-error experiment. There are so many factors such as the milk used (skim, whole, raw), yogurt culture (always use plain yogurt with active cultures), temperatures, "incubation" factors and consistency (which I must admit, I'm not very good at). The following recipe has been tested multiple times. Only once did it not turn out great - the yogurt was good but very runny which was excellent for smoothies! 

Above is a picture of the equipment that I use. The stock pan is f…

Kefir Brews

Kefir
Full of probiotics (good bacteria) and good for you! Kefir is often tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant. Other benefits of kefir include regulating digestion, regulating blood sugar and boosting immunity. Kefir is similar to liquid yogurt. I use kefir in my morning smoothies and in making bread. If the batch is particularly tart, I add a little maple syrup in my smoothies to sweeten it up. Kefir is available in the dairy section at many whole food markets, Trader Joes and I've even seen kefir at Kwik Trip. However, it's usually overpriced and often over-sugared. Or worse yet, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. I'd rather regulate the sugar content myself.
I bought my kefir grains (both dairy kefir and water kefir - more on that later) from a "friend of friend" at http://www.savvyteasandherbs.com/ Savvy Teas also has a wonderful selection of teas and strainers that work perfect in kefir making.

Kefir Recipe
 **Make sure that jar and equipment…

Reading to my Son

I love to read to my son. I've been reading to him since he was a baby and even though he is now eleven and very capable of reading to himself, I still read to him. Reading is our nightly bedtime ritual and I wouldn't trade those precious moments for anything. Many of the books that I read to him when he was little are still ingrained in my mind. I can recite many lines from memory.  Phrases such as, "It's time for bed little mouse, little mouse. Darkness is falling all over the house." andanother all time favorite, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be." And how many parents can finish this sentence from the classic "Good Night Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown; "In a great green room lived a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of......."?

As Isaiah grew, our bedtime readings changed. He loved the adventures of "The Chronicles of Narnia", "The Hobbit…

Wildtree

Over the last couple of years, I've been more conscious of the foods that I eat and serve to my family. I know that our health is directly correlated with what we eat. Little by little, I've been making changes. Eating more fruits and vegetables, buying more organic and watching out for GMO's and high fructose corn syrup. Sure, we still occasionally eat things that we shouldn't (my husband has a love for donuts and store bought cookies) but change for the better is still change. Last fall, after a few years of using Wildtree products, I decided to become a Wildtree Representative. Wildtree offers products that free of additives, food coloring, MSG, and preservatives. This is important to me as I strive to feed my family "real" food.
My favorite Wildtree products are:



Guamole Seasoning Blend Smash an avocado or two, add 2-4 T. of the seasoning blend. BEST GUACAMOLE EVER! I make a lot of seasoning blends but have not been able to reproduce this one.



Italian Dressi…

Assumptions

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were sitting on the front porch enjoying our after-dinner coffee. As we chatted, a man and his son walked by. The man, in his early thirties and a tad overweight, was pushing his son, who looked to be about three years old, in a stroller. The father, with his elbows resting on the stroller and walking at a very slow pace, didn't appear thrilled about this activity. From his posture I formulated a judgement (I know, shame on me). Possibly he was tired out from his day at work. Perhaps he was lazy and unambitious. As I contemplated his "story", I decided that his wife had came home from work, shooed the boys out the door so that she could prepare dinner and this man was grudgingly fulfilling her wishes.

Sometimes our assumptions, or judgements, can be so off base. It's impossible to read into any one's story. I have since witnessed this man, always accompanied with his son, on a couple more occasions and have decided my assum…

Frugal Resources

I caught myself thinking the other day, "If I get money back from taxes (This is highly unlikely. I'm fantasizing here, as I know I will be paying in), I'm going to buy an ipad and one of those cool litter boxes (you know, the ones that do the scooping for you)." Funny how the prospect of receiving unexpected money changes my mindset. Instead of using the money to pay off a credit card or to finally get the roof fixed, I'm ready to spend it frivolously. Why is it that we I think that "extra" money should be spent on wants?
For months I've been debating about getting rid of the monthly internet payment so why would I need a new computer? In all honesty, I have decided that I would die without being able to check my email daily so the internet stays. However, my sometimes-trusty, old computer works most of the time. No need for a new computer. So as long as my computer continues to work, an ipad would fall under the category of a want rather than a ne…

Ah, Spring

In the early morning, before the daycare children arrive, I like to sit on my front porch with a cup of coffee. This ritual helps me to prepare for the day as I run through my head my list of to-dos, a menu plan for the day and which activities we will be running off to when the work day is done. But this morning, with the delicious smell of a spring rain and the sound of singing birds and the light pitter-patter of rain, I just sat and relished in the thought that spring has indeed arrived. Ah, I love spring and the sign of rebirth.

I searched this morning for a perfect poem to describe the early onset of spring. Just as I was about to give up change my google search to "How to write poetry" (I am not a poet), I stumbled across the following poem. Unfortunately I was unable to locate it's author.

peace is in all that surrounds us
as the gentle spring rain dances
on soft velvet petals
birds are softly singing
while a butterfly lands
listen to nature's sounds


gentle br…

Minor Accomplishments

Just a few things that I managed to accomplish this week (some weeks are more...or less productive than others). I made six meals out of one package of fryer chicken and one beef roast.
Saturday - Baked Chicken. I baked the chicken seasoned with Wildtree Lemon Rosemary Blend. Served with baked potatoes and salad.Sunday - Chicken and Rice. I cut up some of the leftover chicken and added it to rice and vegetables.Monday - Roast. During the day I threw the rest of the chicken and bones in a crock pot filled with water. In another crock pot I cooked the roast, seasoned with Wildtree's Rancher Steak Rub, and added potatoes and carrots.Tuesday - Beef Stew. I made a roux (melted butter and whole wheat flour) added a little left over broth from Monday nights stew and a little milk. Cut up leftover meat, potatoes and carrots (from Mondays dinner).  Served with homemade whole wheat buns (see earlier post). Wednesday - Chicken and Dumpling Soup. Picked meat off the chicken bones, diced up ca…

Green Freeze (as seen in Rochester Magazine)

http://rochestermagazine.com/laurie/byrne/green/freeze/story-837.html

THRIFTY OR GREEN? I don’t know which desire came fi rst, but striving to be a “non-consumer” has led me on a journey. With my small efforts, I know that I am not only saving money but also saving the planet.

I’m practical in my dress and keep a simple wardrobe. Most of my clothing comes from consignment stores, Goodwill, or garage sales—but I buy pieces that look brand new.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with making my own beauty and cleaning products out of simple ingredients, such as baking soda or vinegar. My window cleaner and all-purpose cleaner costs so little and is free of stinky, harmful chemicals. I save over $100 a year by making my own laundry soap. I also make my own shampoo, conditioning rinse, and lotion (which doubles as facial moisturizer, hand cream, and body lotion). Not only do I save money, but I also save many bottles of plastic from ending up in the landfi lls because I …

Exasperation

Today I stumbled upon the following essay which I wrote just over a year ago. I remember this time period well. I was often exasperated...or maybe I should be down right honest and say that I was ALWAYS exasperated. My husband was on his fourth month of unemployment (his company relocated and we decided not to follow) and the job outlook was bleak. I was like the Israelites. A big complainer. Yet God continually showed his faithfulness. He is always faithful to lift those burdens for us when we are unable. I continue to learn the importance of leaning on my Heavenly Father.

EXASPERATION

The definition of exasperation is the state of being exasperated; irritation; extreme annoyance. Are you annoyed or irritated by the responsibilities in your life? Are you tired of doing everyone’s laundry or making sure that your family is fed even when you do not feel like cooking? Are you tired of picking up after your kids/spouse? At your workplace, do you feel that you are carrying more than your fai…