Showing posts with label Household Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Household Tips. Show all posts

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vanilla Flavoring


I've started my next batch of vanilla beans soaking in vodka to use as vanilla flavoring. I like mine really strong so I don't have to use as much so I start it soaking when the jar I am presently using gets about half empty.  I also make lemon and orange extract the same way with my peelings and vodka. If you like to bake this is the easiest way to make your own.   

O Wise One keeps a small bottle of extract out by the rabbit pens during the spring and summer. If he has to handle the tiny babies for any reason he puts a drop or two of extract on the mama rabbits nose. By the time the vanilla scent wears off the human scent left on the babies has gone. 

My grandmother used to warm vanilla flavoring and put in your ear for an earache. 


Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Glass and Stainless Cleaner


As most of you know I rarely buy commercial cleaning supplies. I simply do not think they are a necessary expense as I can usually make something of my own that will do the same job faster and cheaper.  Glass cleaner is no exception. I use this cleaner on not only my china cabinet glass but also mirrors, windows, doors and stainless. On my stainless it seems to help repel those finger prints. I  simply mix this and keep in a squirt bottle but once it sets for awhile you will have to shake it as the corn starch wants to settle to the bottom of the bottle. Just give it a good shake to redistribute all the ingredients and you are ready to go.

 Glass Cleaner

1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 cups warm water
 1 tsp laundry bluing

And my favorite thing to use other than old newspapers is my microfiber cloth for glass.


Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Double Batching


O Wise One loves tuna casserole. You know that 1950's tuna casserole with mushroom soup, egg noodles, green peas and a crunchy topping. 



Since I had found a bargain on tuna the other day I made him one and one for the freezer. Should come in handy on a future canning day!


Now that our family is down to just the three of us many of those casseroles that make a portion to fit a 9 X 13 baking dish become 2 smaller casseroles. One for dinner and one for the freezer. Once Baby O leaves home those recipes will more than likely become 3 smaller casseroles.


Taken from the freezer and allowed to thaw  and the addition of cheese and some crunchy onion rings on top this becomes a hot from the oven meal on a busy day or in a pinch. I have even substituted canned rabbit meat, chicken or turkey for the tuna and it still tastes great.

You can find my go to tuna casserole recipe HERE


Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cleaning a Bathroom On A Budget


With spring cleaning season right around the corner I thought it the perfect time for this post. First of all let me say that this post is meant to give you ideas while sharing how I clean my house, safely and cheaply. There are thousands of sites floating out there on the internet about natural housecleaning and I am simply sharing what works for my family, my house, my budget and my lifestyle. Work at developing what works for you. I use very few of the products pictures above. Even with coupons many of these products are simply unnecessary in my opinion. Most things in my house can be cleaned simply with natural things out of my own pantry and cupboard. 

The Bathroom

I'm going to start on the bathroom because it is probably one of the two rooms in the house that gets cleaned the most. The other is the kitchen. 



First thing is forget those expensive paper towels. Old rags are your friend.  


What do you clean your toilet with?  How's that for a question?



I clean mine with cheap SOAP!! Many people like to use bleach and such but I just don't think that is necessary. I buy cheap Walmart soap. A huge bottle costs a couple bucks. Many use a natural liquid soap like Dr. Bonners to clean their house. I'm not paying that much money for natural organic soap to flush down my toilet. 


I put my cheap soap into a recycled dish detergent bottle. Squirt a little in. Throw in a half a hand full of baking soda and swish around then I let it sit for about half an hour swish again and flush. Then I follow that up with a spray bottle full of 1/2 cup dish detergent and the rest straight vinegar. I spray that onto the bowl and let it sit until it is flushed the first time. I then clean the seat and toilet base with the same spray. 


For the shower I use that same vinegar and dish detergent spray. Spray on and wipe off with my old rags. That spray will disinfect and cut any soap buildup. If you do happen to get something that won't come off with that spray simply make a paste of a 1/4 cup baking soda and enough liquid dish detergent to make a paste consistency. Use like soft scrub then rinse. As you can see my shower is almost 10 years old and look at the shine on it still.     

  
How do I clean the glass in my bathroom? Years ago I bought these glass cleaning cloths. You simply wet them with plain water and wipe the mirror down with the yellow side.


 Then shine with the blue side. Then rinse the cloth and hang in the shower to dry. Fold and put back into the bottom drawer until next use. Absolutely no chemicals and I do this a couple times a week. Usually after my shower when the mirror is steamed up. 

 On the sink I also use my baking soda and dish detergent paste on and then I spray the counter with my vinegar and spray and wipe. 


 I then make sure that there is plenty homemade soap available for hand washing and showers. 



I then knock down any cobwebs with my homemade swiffer pads and go over the light fixtures over the mirror. 



Last thing I mop the floors with a vinegar and water solution and my homemade mop pads. 

And that is how I clean my bathroom. Now about twice a year I do wipe down my wood cabinets with Murphy's oil soap just as my own mother did. And atleast once a year I wipe down the painted walls with a vinegar solution also. 

Okay homemakers out there I want to hear what you do differently!


Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Monday, April 15, 2013

Does Couponing Have A Place In The Homesteading Lifestyle


This is the time where you hear many people say that their goal is for their farm/homestead to be totally self sufficient. Personally in this age I don't think that it is possible. Their are so many things that I can't produce. Yes even I, the self reliance queen, still trail to the local town and burgs, reusable cloth bags in hand, to purchase those supplies. Things like my husbands heart medications top that list. Along with our vitamins and such personal care items as alcohol and peroxide, razors and feminine hygeine products. 

Other things that I buy include oils. Although I can produce lard easily I purchase olive and coconut oil regularly. Since I can not grow either olives or coconuts in my climate I don't see that changing. 

Dairy I can produce but choose not to. Instead I buy local when available and when not I buy from the local grocery store just like you. Rarely do I ever see coupons for milk. Because of our ages and health we choose to keep our livestock small and easily manageable and do not raise milk cows. We do raise chickens, turkeys, pigs and rabbits for meat. O Wise One hunts venison and fishes the local ponds, streams and rivers keeping us in bass, catfish and perch.  We occasionally purchase cold water fish such as tuna and salmon both high in Omega 3. We keep that to a minimum though concerned about mercury contamination levels. We will occasionally purchase a 1/4 beef from a local farmer if we feel inclined to beef which is not often.  These days we produce and smoke our own sausages and bacons.


In the kitchen I purchase thing like vinegar, baking soda, salt, canning supplies and occasionally cereal, foils and waxed papers. I continue to purchase things like dish washing liquid and occasionally paper towels.  I purchase grains in bulk along with baking supplies such as chocolate, coconut, sugars and flours. So you see just like you I am a consumer. For almost all these items I will occasionally find coupons. 


Do I spend 40 to 60 hours a week clipping coupons? No way! But I do buy a newspaper every Sunday for coupons. Before shopping I do print off any available online coupons I can find for the items I do buy. I never pass up saving money on those items I buy anyway.  I also get the Wednesday sale fliers for all the local grocery stores in the mail. They are also available online. What I do not do is purchase all those prepackaged fast foods. To me those items are no different than sitting down at McDonalds for 3 meals a day. I attempt to eliminate from my diet those dyes, preservatives and additives if at all possible. I think that there is no way that I can eliminate them all but I do like to think that I can eliminate a great deal of them. I do buy fruit such as citrus and bananas and occasionally potatoes, onions,  carrots, fresh cabbage and romaine. Many times I catch these on sale but rarely do you ever see coupons for these items.   

.50 for a pack of 8 at the Dollar Store with coupon

Now  I will be the first to tell you that I am very fortunate that I live near a small grocery store that doubles coupons up to 99 cents everyday. This amounts to huge savings sometimes on everyday items when I find coupons and I have walked out of the store saving 50 dollars or more at a time. Do I have rooms full of stashed coupon finds...no not really. Although I do stock up on some items occasionally when it is on sale. Do I venture to town every week. No way! I grocery shop about once or maybe twice a month. If someone is going to town to the library, to pick up feed or other errands I will get them to stop by the grocery and pick up the odd sale item on their way out of town. (they hate this!!!!!!)

SO IN MY HUMBLE OPINION coupons are just another tool  to saving money, but BEWARE they can also be a slippery slope to buying lots of frivolous things that are not necessarily good for you.  I always keep in the back of my mind that coupons are just another form of advertising made to lure the customer in and assure that sale. Stay strong and resist. Coupons can be a way to save money but they can also be a great temptation to spend money frivolously. 

So I am interested for a show of hands here as to how many of you homesteaders are also coupon divas? How often do you use coupons and for what ??

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Convenience Doesn't Have To Be Expensive


Pantry On A budget Part Two

It seems these days that everyone is looking for convenience. What they miss is that convenience doesn't have to necessarily be expensive if you make your own convenience foods. For instance I love oatmeal so every night when I make the coffeepot I put 1/3 cup quick oatmeal in my wide mouth pint jar. I add my sweet potato bark, honey, dried apple chunks, cinnamon, raisins or whatever flavor I am in the mood for then add 2/3 cup milk. Then I place the cap on it and put it in the fridge. The next morning I take it out and shake to mix and microwave for 1 minute and I have hot oatmeal for breakfast. No little packages but also much cheaper. 
   

When I make waffles I double the batch and freeze the leftovers. They microwave beautifully and taste so much better than the leading frozen brand. No preservatives, cheaper and they taste better. Make your own convenience. Same with pancakes and instead of buying those baking mixes try making your own. There are lots of recipes for homemade baking mixes available online.



Why not spend a Sunday afternoon making your own snacks for the kids lunches. Cheaper and healthier. Wait until chex go on sale then stock up and freeze them. You are going to toast them anyway.


Try homemade egg noodles. They freeze wonderfully and once you taste them you will never go back. 



Buy that day old french bread that is marked down then slice and freeze. It makes great garlic rounds for pasta. 


Instead of buying those expensive frozen entrees try making your own and freezing them. Stuffed shells and lasagna freeze great and you can take them out the night before or that morning and by the afternoon they are ready to pop in the oven. 


 When onions are cheap try freezing them. Just chop, bag and freeze. These are so convenient and I do hundreds of these when my onions are harvested from the garden. This also works with green pepper and celery. All of these spices dehydrated are easy and time savers also. Many spices such as basil, parsley, and chives are super simple to grow at home and can be either frozen in olive oil cubes or dried and stored very cheaply.


Try making and freezing your own pie crusts. They can be made very cheaply and make that unexpected dessert you need so much more convenient to make.  


Instead of that expensive cereal try making homemade granola for breakfast. Buy oats in bulk sweeten with honey or maple syrup. The one above has almonds, raisins and coconut. 


Stale bread makes great homemade garlic croutons so much cheaper. Salad dressings are so cheap to make from scratch. Try making your own mayo especially if you have your own chickens and lots of those home grown eggs. Try making homemade BBQ sauce it is so easy and much cheaper. 


The moral of this story is the more you make yourself and remove yourself from the consumer minded merry go round lifestyle, the more your grocery bill will drop. Period! You will be getting more for your money but you don't necessarily have to give up convenience. In many cases it is also much healthier without the preservatives added to make these items shelf stable to sell. Just make your own. I take one day a week and make enough salad dressing, croutons, bread, pie crusts and such items to last my family for the week.  

I'll challenge you to next time you go shopping for every item you pick up on that list ask yourself could I make my own cheaper and even healthier. 

I want to hear from all you homemakers out there now. 

What is your favorite homemade convenience food that you make.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Organization Please


An organized kitchen is so much nicer to work in. O Wise one built me some dividers for my gadget drawers in the kitchen and got rid of those cheap plastic dividers. No more contents sliding around as these drawers open and close. Made from scrap wood they didn't cost me anything either. 


This is the next drawer to get one. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Monday, April 8, 2013

Still Spring At My House



I may not be hip deep in gardening but I am still plugging away on spring cleaning chores. Just little things like wiping the cabinets out  on the inside and checking all of my stored dry goods. I rarely get pantry pests because I try to freeze all my dry goods for a week before it ever goes into containers to kill any eggs that might be lurking. I still try to check everything a couple times a year dusting and wiping off containers and watching for anything. 


All the spice containers are refilled with fresh spices. 


The wooden spoons are oiled with a combination of beeswax and mineral oil that I make. This spoon wax works great for wood and helps to prolong the life of these spoons that get used almost everyday. 


All these small projects get tucked into the spare moments of my days but add up to a well maintained and clean home. When I was younger I was able to do all my spring cleaning in a week or so. Now I just break it down to small increments everyday over a span of a couple of weeks. I do the same things it just takes me a little longer to get them done.    

Anyone else out there getting any spring cleaning done?

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Fires Are Burning.



Some people welcome in spring with the blooming of the crocus or daffodil. When I lived down south to me it wasn't spring until the azaleas bloomed. Here it is not spring until you start seeing the spring fires. For centuries the inhabitants have used fire to control the growth of unwanted species on the grasslands. Even the native americans burned around their villages for the same reason. Fire was a natural part of the prairie even before man. Today the farmers still burn off grasslands in the early spring clearing off all that dead grass and allowing new green growth to come forth. It also helps to keep down invasive blackberry and small locusts and invasive cedar seedlings from invading these pastures and fields. So once again we have started to see those plumes of smoke on the horizon as again this year the farmers burn off their fields. A smell of smoke seems to permanently hang over the landscape.    


As for me I am making my smoke contribution as well. It is office cleaning day for me. Dusting and cleaning book shelves.


Desk cleaning and organization aren't forgotten either. Some of that paper gets composted while other paper gets burned. All those old last years phone books and old magazines contribute to the smoke as O Wise One nurses our own fires.

My spring cleaning efforts continue as I await the day when I can throw open the windows, hang out the winter quilts and put them away and wash off the porch to get rid of that winter mud buildup. For now I resign myself to indoor tasks just one simple one every day. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Apologies And A WARNING To All Canners !!!!!



For those of you that also have blogs you will understand that I am contacted regularly from different companies and individuals wanting me to review products, books etc. My blog continues to be an ad free blog. I have no advertisers and no sponsors. I pay all expenses incurred by this blog myself. I write all the posts myself and take 99.9% of the pictures myself.   Occasionally I will write a review about a book or author that I like and I occasionally will recommend a deal that I find. I have only done a hand full of reviews in the years that I have been blogging. I have literally turned down hundreds. Last year I was contacted and asked to do a review on a new brand of canning jar called Legacy and I agreed to try these jars and write honestly what I thought of them. Since canning jars are so pertinent to the subject of this blog I agreed. I received no payment for this but rather was shipped one dozen half pint jelly jars with lids to use for the review of this product. 

On December 10, 2012 I wrote a post about these jars and my experience using them.



Like most new jars they came with lids and rings. You will notice in the picture above that the lids had a white rubber gasket ring as opposed to the red rubber ring that we are all used to on most name brand lids. Other than not having the lining they seemed the same weight. They did not have any writing on the lids like most lids either but were blank. 


I made one batch of blackberry jam for holiday gifts with these jars. They were processed in a hot water bath and seemed to perform just fine. There were a couple lids left over so I simply put them  into a box with my other jar lids for the next canning project. All was forgotten. 


Yesterday was a busy canning day for me. It was time to process some of the meat that I had frozen this fall and get it out of the freezer. My first project was rabbit meat. I also had came across a bag of pork fat that I had overlooked when I had rendered my lard last week. So I threw it in the crockpot to cook while I worked on my rabbit canning. I also had laundry on. Notice in the picture above the jar with the blue lid magnet on it. It is a Legacy lid that when I put lids on these jars of rabbit picked up out of the lid box that I store my lids in. 


Notice in the picture above that same lid on the jar that the jar lifter tool is on. All the other lids are Ball lids.  Now while my pressure cooker was building pressure and cooking I was folding laundry and watching my lard rendering in the crockpot.  As I sat at my kitchen table folding towels I heard a huge pop and considered hitting the ground for surely we were under  attack from something. My next thought was that I had blown a jar.

 Occasionally when processing in your pressure canner a jar will explode. Many times it is a jar that had a chip or crack in it that I didn't catch. Which is why it is important to check your jars thoroughly before filling them. Many times once that damaged jar gets in the canner and starts to heat up it will crack under the pressure. Figuring this is what happened I continued with my laundry knowing that my batch of jars in the canner only had a few minutes left to go and there was nothing to do but allow the batch to finish out. 


Once my batch had cooled down I expected to find a canner full of shattered glass shards and rabbit meat. I was suprised that when I opened the canner that the glass jar was intact. There was not one shard or even one piece of rabbit in the water. The lid had exploded. The flat canning lid had totally separated during processing. Notice the white rubber circle sticking to the side of the pot. The jar ring clear on the other side of the canner. The flat metal lid part was clear on the bottom of the canner under two jars.


In all my years of canning I have never seen this happen! Ever.....


The rubber gasket had literally separated under pressure and notice in the picture above how the flat metal lid part is bent.  Notice also how the ring is bent. The ring was also bent during the explosion. 





Thank God this had not happened while I had been taking hot jars from the canner and blown up in my face. This Legacy lid obviously did not hold up under the extreme heat of pressure canning. Of the twelve lids sent to me this was the only one that was used under pressure. 


Every other Ball jar lid used that day performed just fine. Now in the past I have occasionally had a traditional jar lid to buckle from over tightening ( when hubby helps: ) or even the occasional lid not seal. I have never had a lid blow completely off the jar and separate bending the ring outward and off the jar.

I have sent an email to the company that had contacted me to do a review immediately to inform them of this dangerous problem. Unfortunately this is the only legacy lid that went through the pressure canner as the initial test batch was jelly that was boiling water processed. I notified the company that sent me the free jars that these lids could potentially be a health issue and pose a danger to canners. As of the publishing of this post I have received no comment. If you have purchased these jars or plan to do so in the future for the purpose of using in your pressure canner please be careful. 

All you canners out there spread the word. We don't want anyone hurt!   

So canners beware that there is obviously some sort of issue with these Chinese produced Legacy jar lids. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter
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