Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Every since Isaac's hands went from looking like this...

to this...

They're actually even better than this now.  Read about what we changed to get them healed up here.  Anyway, I've been wanting to learn how to make our own natural soap. 

You can't make soap without lye.  Guess who can't find lye?  Evidently, it's getting harder to come by in the stores because - wonder of wonders - it's not only an ingredient in soap, but it's also used for making Meth.  Hmmm... can you sell that on Etsy?  Just joking, people.  Geesh.

Well, looky what some really smokin' hot married man was able to acquire for me this past week:

That is 8 pounds of lye right there.

And a butt load of essential oils.

Guess who's going to be learning how to clean up her act in the not-too-distant future?  I'll be keeping you updated.

Happy Homemaking!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I am a homemaker and I take my job seriously.  That's right I said JOB.  Because it's WORK.  I feel that part of my job as a homemaker is to find ways to stretch our one income as far as it will go.  This is an on-going procedure that is constantly being tweaked as I learn more and improve my homemaking skills.

One of the easiest areas I've found to shave $$ is in the laundry room.  I began making my own laundry soap probably a year or so ago.  I began using straight vinegar in the place of fabric softener about that same time.  Oh, we tried going back to store-bought fabric softener a couple of times 'just to see' - but, we  like what the vinegar does for our clothes better.  It's really much better at cutting down on static, too.  Not to's way cheaper. 

Well, a few weeks ago I ran across a recipe for homemade fabric softener that piqued my interest.  I wish I could remember where I saw it, because I would give credit where credit is due.  But the recipe was so simple I remembered it.  It used vinegar, water and baking soda. 

My homemaking wheels began to churn.  I pay $2.69 for a gallon of vinegar.  If I could successfully dilute it, then I could stretch my vinegar further - therefore saving some fundage.  So, I tried it yesterday.  I don't have any pictures, but really, there's not much to see.  Just use your imagination.

I used an empty gallon sized vinegar container to make it in.


1/2 c. baking soda
6 c. vinegar 
8 c. water.
10-15 drops of essential oil.

First, put the baking soda in your gallon sized container and add the vinegar.  Shake a little at a time to incorporate baking soda without cause an eruption. Not that I did that or anything. OK. Yes, I did. I was lying. Sue me.:0)  Well, not really.  Anyway...  add the water already. 

I don't think that the essential oil would be necessary, but I had it so I went ahead and added some.  It smells sooo good.

I haven't completely worked out the economics of it.  But, I figure I can get at least two batches out of the vinegar this way cutting my cost from $2.69 to about $1.35.  I have the added cost of baking soda, but I can get that for about $.50 per box and only need a 1/2 cup per batch.  So, I figure that the cost for a gallon of fabric softener would come in around $1.50 - probably less.
I washed our sheets with this new fabric softener yesterday and my husband said that he thought they felt softer.  I thought they did, too.  I don't know what would cause this - unless the baking soda has some sort of effect on it.  But, I'm pretty pleased with it.  I'm sure I'll continue to make it.
Happy Homemaking!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


When I was a kid... make that teenager... heck, who am I kidding?  Up until the past year or so I had huge aversion to most things with the name 'salad' in it. Oh, I liked salad-salad alright.  You know, lettuce with veggies, croutons, bacon bits, dressing and a great selection of other toppings that we're told nullify the point of eating a salad in the first place.  I also liked chicken salad, tuna salad, and pasta salad - but only the stuff I made.  You could certainly keep your macaroni salad, potato salad, spaghetti salad, egg salad and even cole slaw for all I cared.  But, here of late, I am branching out.  It's time to grow up.

I found a recipe in my Patchwork Potluck cookbook by Gooseberry Patch.  It made a really yummy lunch for me and Isaac today.

Hard boil 6 eggs and peel them.

Give them a rough chop.  I suppose you could use an egg cutter and get really small egg bits, but I want to actually bite into something.  As you can see, I've yet to master the art of hard boiling an egg without that tell tale green ring around the yolk.  Please, help me.  I'm really not yellow yolk intolerant.

To your eggs add 1/3 cup of chopped celery.  I chopped a little bit too much celery up - so, we're gonna take a celery induced bunny trail.  Mkay?

If you find yourself having chopped too much celery or onion, pepper... just bag it up, label it and stick it in the freezer.  It comes in really handy when you need just a little of something to put in an omelet, potatoes, soup, or what-have-you.

Do you often find yourself with embarrassing, LCS or Limp Celery Syndrome?  Then, have I got a cure for you!!!

Wrap up that fresh, firm celery in aluminum foil and you'll have firm and crisp celery for weeks to come!  Disclaimer: Using aluminum foil to wrap your celery in will NOT cause the following side effects; runny nose, pussy eyes, IBS, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts,  canker sores, lymphoma or blindness.  But, it may cause extra money in your grocery budget due to lack of wasting rotted food.  Now, back to our regular broadcasting...

Add 1/3 cup chopped onion.  It doesn't matter what color.  I just had a red one going because we used some on our pizza last night.  Plus, it's pretty.  Who doesn't like purple vegetables?  Why don't we call them purple onions?  Anyone?  Alrighty then...

1/2 teaspoon salt.

1/4 teaspoon pepper.

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard.

1 whoppin' tablespoon (3 tsp.) dill weed.

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.  Does anyone actually know how to pronounce this stuff?

1 to 2 teaspoons mustard.  I like 2.

3 to 4 tablespoons mayo - not Miracle Whip.  Ew.  My philosophy on the white stuff?  Less is definitely more.

Mix it all up and refrigerate for about an hour before you eat it...

on homemade French baguette...or...

homemade multigrain bread.  Or, regular bread, crackers, whatever.  It's really good.  The next time you're hankerin' for some egg salad give this a try.

Happy Homemaking!

Monday, February 15, 2010


When I was writing on the freezer bags that held my bone broth the other day, I got a little bit of blue Sharpie on myself.  I tried to wash it off with soap and water.  This is what I was left with...

I remembered my sister telling me about a family Christmas fiasko a couple of years ago where one of the kids wrote with a Sharpie marker all over my nephew's face and what her MIL did to get rid of it.

Enter...olive oil.

I rubbed some on the spot...

I used my finger nail to really get it in there.  And when I washed it off, this is what I was left with...

You can still see a slight blue mark, but it is barely noticeable.

So, the next time you're on the losing end of a battle with a marker - grab your trusty bottle of olive oil.

Happy Homemaking!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


If you don't make your own meat broths - you are missing out on not only financial savings, but health benefits as well.  Many people today may not realize how simple and virtually effortless it is to make their own stock.  That's why I'll walk you through the process of making chicken stock today.

95% of the time I buy whole chickens instead of boneless, skinless breasts, parts or what have you.  I do this because it's cheaper, the meat stretches into several meals and I can use those precious bones to make nutritious and delicious bone broth.  If you make friends with your slow cooker it is pretty painless.

First, you want to rinse the chicken in cold water and put it in your crock pot.  I simply seasoned mine with a little salt and pepper and added water and a bay leaf.  I started mine in the morning with intentions on making chicken soup for supper, so I cooked on high for 4 or 5 hours until the chicken was done.  Another easy way to do it is to put the chicken on low before bed and it will be ready for you to continue when you wake up.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a plate to cool.  Leave the cooking liquid in the crock pot.

While the chicken is cooling, roughly cut some veggies to put in your pot.  Here I have an onion, a couple stalks of celery, a couple carrots and a few cloves of garlic.  You can add more of what you have on hand; a potato, parsnips, herbs, etc...  When I have parsley growing I always add that.  Not only will your veggies flavor the broth, they will infuse it with their nutrients.

Once your chicken has cooled enough to handle, begin picking the meat off the bone and cleaning it.  This is the method I use: I have my crock pot to throw the bones and cartilage back into it, I have a bowl for putting the cleaned meat into and I have a plastic grocery sack to throw the skin and any uckies from the meat in.  From there, I can either use the meat immediately or bag it up into whatever serving sizes I desire for freezing.  The plastic grocery sack is easily thrown away.  And the pot is nearly ready for turning into stock. 

You can see in the above picture the bones on top of the veggies and that I added a few red pepper flakes.  Now it's ready to put the lid back on and cook it on low.  Since I started my chicken in the morning - it was now evening, so I cooked my broth all night.  If you cooked your chicken at night - you'll cook the broth during the day.

When I woke the next morning the veggies and bones had done their job well.

Time to strain the broth.  I saved the carrots.  I put them in a bag in the freezer.  They can be used for stews, pot pies or whatever in the future.  Or, you could go ahead and eat them for breakfast.  I won't judge you if you do.  The rest of the bones and veggies have served their pupose and can be tossed.

At this point I put a lid on the bowl and refrigerated it until it was cool.  This time of year you could let your garage or your porch act as your fridge if you live in a cold enough climate. 

The thing to remember here is that you don't have to set a timer, you don't have to watch it like a hawk.  It will be waiting for you when you're ready to deal with it.  No pressures.

Once it's cool, the fat will have risen and solidified on the surface.

Just scoop it off and dispose of it.

What you have left is rich, delicious and nutritious bone broth.  It doesn't look like the canned stuff you buy.  The color is much deeper and it is a gel.  This is actually a good thing.

I have read from several sources, that our moms were right about chicken soup being so good for us.  The problem that we have today is how we prepare it.  The substance in the bones that causes homemade stock to gel is where all of the rich, nourishing properties lie.  So, when we only buy canned stock instead of making our own, we really end up short changing ourselves in the health arena.  I should have probably pulled out my books and researched for you the exact specifics of how bone broth helps your body, but I'm just a little too lazy for that this morning.  We'll just call it good homework for you, MKay?  I'm guessing you could google it.  It's really very fascinating, though. :0)

The last thing left to do is bag it up. 

Ummm, I'm pretty sure you don't want to do it this way.  See that bag of broth?  Yeah, I stuck it in the freezer and then it slid down over each one of those wires and froze that way.  Now, I have a gallon of homemade stock that I can not get out of the freezer.  Believe me, I've tried.  I even took everything off of that shelf thinking I could lift the whole shelf off and let it thaw in the sink until I could get the bag loose.  Wouldn't you know it?  That shelf doesn't come out.  So, don't be a dork, like me.

Save yourself some heart ache and do it this way.  A can of broth holds about 1 and 3/4 cups.  Bag it in 1 and 3/4 cup portions, then lay it flat on something until it's frozen.  When you need a can of broth, just pull a bag out of the freezer.  It will thaw in no time.

You can see here how I got the equivalent of 4 full cans of broth and 1 extra cup (which I marked) out of what many people throw away.  Although, it took a while to complete the process - I barely had to mess with it at all.  And, most of the time, I didn't even have to think about it.  My slow cooker did all of the work for me. 

If you eat leg quarters or just the drumsticks or thighs - save those bones.  You can freeze them until you have enough to make stock.  You can do the same thing with beef or fish bones (if you eat it that way), too.  I suppose that pork bones would work, too.  But, I always freeze those to cook in various pots of beans.

Another option that I've done with a turkey carcass was to roast the carcass with the veggies in some olive oil in the oven before making stock.  Boy, was that ever yummy.  I'm usually too lazy for that, though.  My point is - there are many variations to making your own stock.  Don't be intimidated by it.  Just do it.  You can't mess this up.  But, you'll reap the rewards in your taste buds, your budget and your health.  What are you waiting for?  Go make some stock already!

Happy Homemaking!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


These two kitchen money savers are super simple.  I can't believe I've never done this before.

First, I had a loaf of bread not rise properly about a week ago.  I didn't know what to do with it.  It was about 3 or 4 inches high - not really big enough for toast, but I didn't want to waste it.  We've been eating a lot more salads lately, so I decided to turn my perfectly-fine-except-it's-a-little-shallow bread into salad croutons.  You could use day old bread for this, too.  Just freeze it until you have enough to make a batch of croutons (about 4 cups).

The first thing I had to do was cube my bread up.  Then I chopped up 4 cloves of garlic in the food processor (a garlic press would be great) and mixed it with 2/3 c. of olive oil.  Use the cheap stuff here  (not virgin).  I actually used grapeseed oil because I didn't have regular olive oil. I really don't think the type of oil that you use is vitally crucial.

Pour the oil/garlic mixture over your bread cubes to cover completely, but not saturate. A few of mine got saturated and it was fine.  I just squeezed the excess oil out and cooked them for a little longer.

Lay your bread cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you wish.

Bake for about 10 minutes on 275 degrees, turning a couple of times, until dry.

I got 2 pans worth of croutons out of my mis-shapen loaf.  I stored them in canning jars.  It yieled about one and a half quarts.  Free and a little healthier than what I would buy in the store.

Next up:

I regulary make a couple of different soups that both call for a can of Great Northern Beans.  They aren't always easy for me to find at every store.  When I do, I pay between 89 cents to a dollar per can.

Last week, I saw a large bag of dried Great Northern Beans at Dollar General Market.  I don't remember if it was a 2 or 3 pound bag.  I just remember paying $1.75.

I sorted the beans and soaked them yesterday.  Then, last night before I went to bed I threw them in the crock pot with about an inch of water to cover and cooked them on low all night.  This morning when I woke up the kitchen smelled so yummy and the beans were done.  I unplugged the pot, then after they were cool I drained them.  I put 1 cup worth (what you get in a can) each in freezer bags.

I have 11 bags here just waiting to be put into the freezer.  That is the equivalent of 11 cans of beans for $1.75.  Plus, I have the added benefit of knowing exactly what went in them and the ability to control the sodium content.

The next time I'm ready to add Great Northern Beans to soup - all I have to do is grab a bag out of the freezer.

I am going to eliminate buying canned beans of every variety from our pantry and do them all this way from now on.

Both of these examples cost me very little effort or time in the kitchen but rewarded me with big savings - both financially and health wise.  That definitely works for me.

I'm linking this post up to Works for Me Wednesday.

Happy Homemaking!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


This sugar scrub is something that I've used for years.  I always keep it made up in a Lock-N-Lock container in my shower.  I use it everywhere - from my face to my feet and all the spaces in between.

There is no set formula - it all depends of the size of the container you use.  It's definitely not rocket science.  But, it feels oh-so-good!

Pour a little lemon juice into the bottom of your container.  The lemon juice has alpha hydroxy acids in it and helps loosen dead skin cells.

Pour in some sugar.  This is your abrasive - it helps remove all those dead skin cells.  I read once where a dermatologist said that you should never put anything on your skin more abrasive than sugar.  My thought:  Why not just use sugar?  Yes, I am simple minded.

Stir it together to make a thick paste.  You may need to add a little more sugar or lemon juice to get it to the consistency you want.

Add a little bit of olive oil.  This will help moisturize your skin.  You can also add honey.  Some people wash their faces with straight honey due to it's cleansing and anti-bacterial qualities.  Sometimes I add it.  Sometimes I don't.

Stir to combine.  Viola!  You're done.

Put a lid on it and stick it where the sun don't shine - I mean stick it in the shower.

I use mine about every other day and it does a great job of keeping the dry, flaky skin away - even on those tough places like knees and elbows.

Happy Homemaking!