Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Wishing everyone a glorious day on this Easter Sunday with these words from John:

Jesus said unto him:
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

  John 14:6

Friday, March 29, 2013

Make Your Own Lotion

Making your own hand lotion is very easy! Although it takes a few minutes of prep time, the actual time it takes to combine all the ingredients together is less than 10 minutes! I know there are lots of hand lotion recipes on the Internet, but you won't find this one anywhere, I made it up myself!

Before we start making the lotion, we need to sanitize the lotion containers. If you use glass jars, you can sterilize them by boiling. I use plastic bottles so I need to sanitize them with bleach. I pour one cup of bleach into a sink full of water and add the bottles and the bottle tops.

Swish them around a bit and let them soak for a few minutes. Then, take out and let dry. I usually do this the night before I make the lotion.

By the next morning, everything is dry and ready to go. Let make some lotion! Here is the recipe:

Kate's Silky Hand Lotion
42 oz. water
10.8 oz oil  (This can be any oil: olive, canola, cocoa butter, anything!)
2.4 oz glycerin
2.4 oz emulsifying wax
1.8 oz. stearic acid
.4 oz citric acid
1 -2 TBS Vitamin E oil

1 TBS Germaben II
6 tsp. scented oil (I usually use Almond scent but you can use anything you would like.)

Each ingredient adds something to the recipe.Over the years I have made this, I found that you can't leave out anything and still get a good quality lotion (like what you would get in the stores only better). That includes the scented oil. You can use essential oils from a health food store if you would like but it needs to be there.

All of these ingredients are measured by weight not volume.  Having a good scale is a critical part of my soap making/lotion making tools so I want to be sure to mention it in case you don't have one.

Start with the water. If you use boiling water everything will melt together nicely. If you don't start with boiling water, you can heat the water on the stove as you add the other ingredients. You can use the oil(s) of your choice. For this batch, I used olive oil, cocoa butter and shea butter. (I actually added a total of 11 oz of oil not 10.8 oz because I didn't add it up correctly when I was weighing it!) Here is what all of the other ingredients contribute to the lotion:

Glycerin: An emollient to soften the skin. I have read on the Internet, not to use too much because it can be drying to some people. That isn't a problem with the small amount used here.

Emulsifying wax: This wax is necessary so the oil and water mix together and stay together.

Stearic acid: This helps to add body to the lotion and gives it a thick creamy feeling. You can also do that by adding more of the expensive oils like cocoa butter and shea butter, but if you over do those they have a tendency to make the lotion a bit greasy feeling. A little stearic acid goes a long way so using this is cheaper than adding more of the expensive oils.

Citric acid: I use a lot of citric acid in making cheese, hand lotions and bath salts. I buy it by the bucket (food grade only since it goes in cheese!) It helps adjust the PH level of the product to help prevent mold from growing.

Germaben II: This is a product that is added as a preservative.  If you only make a little lotion at a time and use it up fairly quickly, you don't need this. The citric acid by itself will do just fine. However, my lotions can sit for a year or longer (for example - I keep one in the car but don't use it that often.) There isn't any way the lotion would last without this preservative. It is made from some of the common preservatives in store bought lotion.

Now you might be thinking, "Where on earth can I get all those ingredients?"  Actually they are easy to purchase. I got all of them at Majestic Mountain Sage. I have been purchasing both soap and lotion supplies from them for over 20 years. Go to the search field and key in each ingredient and it will pop up. You can also go to the catalog and look at all the lotion supplies. I get no compensation for mentioning them, I am just a satisfied customer.

Add all the ingredients to the pot except the Germaben II and the scented oils. This is what it will look like before everything gets hot. 

You can see the emulsifying wax, stearic acid and some of the oils (I didn't add them all before I took the picture) sitting on top of the water. You will heat the pot until everything melts and the water turns milky white. It doesn't need to boil.  Here is a picture of mine when everything was melted.

To get the oils to mix into the water, you will need to use a Hand Blender. (I have never tried using hand crank egg beaters so I am not sure if they would work or not. I should purchase another set of beaters, just for lotion making, and try it.) 

All you need to do is pulse it a few times to get it to incorporate.

Let the lotion cool down a bit. It should be very warm but not so hot you can't touch it. Then, add the scented oils and Germaben II (if using it). Pulse again a few times to incorporate. Let it cool a bit more and pour it into the bottles.

I use a funnel and ladle to spoon it into the bottles. (Be sure to sanitize the funnel and ladle too.)

When finished, wipe down the bottles and add the bottle tops.

This is by far the best lotion I have ever used! Make some of your own, you will love it too!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Be Content With Less

Living frugally is a mindset, although sometimes you have no choice. Money doesn't go as far as it use to a few years ago.  Think about past generations, how frugal did they have to be? Did our great-grandparents have all the fancy 'conveniences' we have? So, how frugal can you be? Do you really need all the latest electronic gadgets?

I say "NO!" It is time to start being content with less. I found an article at Frugally Sustainable that gives some ideas on how to change your mindset: 10 Ways to Live in Contentment and Have Enough .

I think an easy place to start is by being content with what you have. Then you can go from there, before the world economy forces us all to do so!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Garden Update

I have not been pleased with our weather for the past few weeks, it has been consistently inconsistent. It seems more like January weather instead of March weather. This is having a huge impact on my garden. It has taken more time than normal to get anything to germinate. My fear is that it will go from cold to hot without enough warm days for me to get a good harvest!

This is what I planted:
Garlic - Garlic is doing better than anything else. That is because it is planted in the fall here and will be harvested sometime around June. Here is a picture of mine.

Peas - The peas are up! But only barely.  Normally they are a few inches tall by now. Here is a picture of mine.

Carrots - Nothing yet. Carrots are very erratic when germinating. Even under very good conditions, they can take up to three weeks to germinate. Less than good conditions and you will have a very long wait! I planted hybrids that can take a bit of our hot weather, so I expect to get something later in the spring. However, if they don't make an appearance soon, I think the carrots will be on the small size when I harvest.
Spinach: My spinach is starting to make an appearance. Spinach is a quick grower so I know I will harvest quite a bit before the hot weather comes. Here is a picture of mine.

Broccoli - Nothing yet. I may have to resort to buying seedings at the big box store! (Boy, do I hate the thought of that!!) If they don't make an appearance, we could decide to just do without until fall. I am debating with myself on what to do here. 
Onions - The few sets I have are off and running. The seeds have not made an appearance yet. Here is a picture of one of my onion sets.

The summer seedlings are doing well. Generally, they can go in the garden at the end of April/beginning of May. I am not sure if that time frame will work this year. I definitely have to put them in bigger pots soon to keep them healthy.

I am praying for consistently warm, sunny weather soon!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Home Made Chicken Stock

I know when most people need chicken stock or chicken broth, they reach for a can or carton that they purchased at the store. What I don't understand is why. It is so incredibly easy to make! And superior (in both taste and nutrition) to what you can find in the store.

Let me show you how to make it!

I started with a small chicken. I was cooking it for Molly. It was a beautiful sunny day so I put it in the Sun Oven.  

Once the chicken was cooked and used in the recipe I have for her, all I had left was the chicken carcass. This is what you use to make the stock. Don't just use the bones though, use everything that you have left over: skin, leftover meat, neck, gizzards, everything! Put it in a pot and cover with water. Only add enough water to cover the bones. If it is a small chicken, you can freeze the bones until you have another and then cook them both together. Sometimes I do that when I am busy. 

You can also add any leftover vegetables you may have. I use carrot tops, the ends of green beans, peas (if I have them), and parsley. You can add any spices or other herbs you would like as well. Next time you chop up some vegetables for dinner, save the discards and put them in the freezer. When you go to make a batch of chicken stock, use all the discards you have saved. To help get all the nutrients out of the bones, add a couple tablespoons of vinegar as well.

This is where I differ with some other directions you may find on the Internet. I have read that you should bring the pot to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer. I don't like my chicken stock to boil, it turns cloudy and you get this icky foam that you need to skim off. To keep the chicken stock clear (like the store bought stuff), simmer it on low. A crock pot works really well here. You can simmer it all night while you sleep!

You can also put it in the Sun Oven. In my opinion, the Sun Oven slow cooks better than a crock pot (and it doesn't use electricity!) I use the inside piece of my crock pot and the cover and put it in the Sun Oven. This doesn't even need me to turn the oven every 30 minutes to redirect it at the sun. Slow cook means I can turn the oven every 2 hours or so. In the summer, I can point the oven where the mid-day sun will be and leave it there all day.  I let mine stay in the Sun Oven for a total of about 8 hours. 

When it is done, use a colander to separate the bones, vegetables and anything else you added to the pot. You can discard them now. What you have left is the best chicken stock you have ever tasted! This stuff doesn't last long at my house! 

You can freeze it or can it if you would like. Next time you cook, reach for the homemade stock instead of store bought. Not only will you notice the taste difference in your meal, but you also won't be getting any artificial ingredients in your food - just good wholesome nutrition.

What a cool idea it is to make something so good tasting (and good for you) from things that would have gone into the trash!

 Now that is being frugal!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Do You Do With All Your Newspapers?

Some days I feel overwhelmed with all the paper that comes into my house. Newspaper subscriptions, free local newspapers dropped off at my driveway, the never ending junk mail,  I can't keep up! 

I have a few bins in my garage where all these papers go - until the bins are full. Then it is time for me to deal with them. Now of course I can send them to the curb for recycling, but I prefer to to stretch my dollars and use the newspapers for something else I would have bought instead! So, today I thought I would show you some of my favorite ways to use all that paper:
  • Fire logs. I wrote a separate post about how to make your own logs out of newspaper. You can see it here. They burn just like a real wood log! This is where I use the majority of my newspapers and junk mail. More so if it is a cold winter.
  • Starter Seed Pots. I wrote a separate post about how to make your own seed pots. You can see that here. One of the good things about using newspaper to make seed pots is you can just drop them right in the garden (or into a bigger pot) when the time comes. No need to purchase those expensive peat pots!
  • Garden Mulch. This one is so easy! It keeps the weeds out of your garden and the moisture in. Doesn't matter if it is the vegetable garden or the flower garden! Spread out the newspaper on bare ground between your plants and cover with mulch. I usually use two or three sheets together to make a thicker barrier. If you want, you can wet them before you add the mulch.
  • Packing Material. Run the paper through the shredder and use the strips to pack fragile items for shipping. In addition, I routinely pack away my Christmas things in newspaper. If something delicate needs to be packed, I usually wrap it in tissue paper first. I have found that I can get at least two to three years of packing duty out of the newspaper before I need to replace it.
  • Fire Bricks. I mentioned making these in a post for the series Cooking without Electricity: Alternative Fuel Sources. At the time I wrote the post, I didn't have a chance to make these. I have now corrected that error! I must say they are a breeze to make and burn quite efficiently! They can be used in a Kelly Kettle, volcano stove, to start the charcoal grill, or even as fire starters when camping. Here is how you do it:
    • Shred your newspapers or junk mail. You can shred by hand or machine. There isn't any difference in the quality of the bricks. Be sure not to shred any credit cards or other plastic in the batch you will use to make the bricks.
    • Place the shredded papers in a pail with water. Soak the papers well. If you shred by hand, you may have to soak them for a few hours. If you shred by machine, you don't have to wait that long. 
    • The papers will reduce down a lot. Stir and let them soak for a few minutes to a few hours. Stir again. Break up any lumps. The lumps are not saturated with water yet. If you had to break up a lot of lumps, wait a few more minutes and stir again.
    • Compact the shredded papers together (allowing the water to drain out). There are a couple of ways to do this.
      • Get a mold. You can purchase a paper brick mold on You can see what they look like here and here. I wanted to reuse something I already had (an old cookie press) to save money. When filling, compress the papers every so often then add more. Your brick will be bigger this way. Add the top and squeeze the handle. Remove the cookie cutter and squeeze the handle until the brick comes completely out.
      • You could also use your hands to compress the paper, the same way you would make a snowball. It isn't hard, I have osteoarthritis and I did just fine. 
    • Let them dry completely. They are going to take a couple of days to dry. If you used the mold from Amazon, it could take a few weeks. That's it! You now have some paper fire bricks that you can use to cook food or use to help you start a fire. Here is a picture of one I did with the cookie press and one I did by hand.

Looking for new ways to use (and store) these papers is something I do quite often. Here are some web sites I found to do just that:

Consider the many different ways you can re-use newspaper!  I bet it will help you save money!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Self-Reliance is More Than Food Storage

Food Storage (along with water storage), gardening, preserving the bounty from your garden as well as the ability to prepare and cook those foods are topics I cover extensively on this blog. However, that is not all there is to be self-reliant. In the uncertain times the USA (and the rest of the world) is currently going through, we need to be prepared with more than food and water. 

Here is a quote about being self-reliant from one of my Church's leaders:

"We become self-reliant through obtaining sufficient knowledge, education and literacy; by managing money and resources wisely, being spiritually strong, preparing for emergencies and eventualities; and by having physical health and social and emotional well-being." (Julie B. Beck, "The Welfare Responsibilities of the Relief Society President, Basic Principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance (2009), 4-5)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a plan to help you start on your way to complete self-reliance (and you don't have to be a Church member to read what they have to say.) It includes five basic areas:
  • Education
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Finances
  • Health
  • Home Storage
Let me give you my interpretation of my Church's counsel on each of these:

Education: What this means is education and literacy. I am going to describe it as a lifetime love of learning. (That is my term, not the official Church description.) The bottom line of this is you can't support your family without a good job. You can't get a good job without an education. This doesn't necessarily mean college - it includes technical training as well. 

A love of learning helps in this situation because when you love to learn, you will be willing to invest the time needed to continuously update your skill set. The best jobs go to those who have skills in the latest technologies!

Emergency Preparedness: I do cover Emergency Preparedness on this blog. You can read more about it here. At a minimum, you should have a plan to answer the following questions:
  • What would you do if you get stuck in your car in a snowstorm, rushing flood waters, ice storm or an abandoned stretch of road? 
  • What would you do if you had to leave your car and walk to get help on a very hot summer day? 
  • What would you do if you were ordered to evacuate your home for a period of time?   
  • What would you do if you experienced electric or water disruptions for a lengthy period of time?

Finances: Do you have a rainy day fund? How do you plan to handle it when the car breaks down? You can't avoid it, even a new car will break down or require repairs eventually. What about when your TV breaks? Or what if you drop your computer and need to replace it? Unexpected things happen to us all the time. You need to be prepared with savings in the bank so you can weather life's storms. This also includes living below your means. I heard Dave Ramsey say once that we all need to "act our wage". I think that statement is quite profound and I have never forgotten it. Of course it isn't possible to do this if you are watching every dollar that you make go out the door to support a lifestyle heavy with debt. If your answer to this is that you don't make enough money to get out of debt, let me refer you to the first bullet point on Education.

Health: I don't think I mention health enough. Other then eating foods that are grown chemical free, switching to whole grains and removing chemical cleaners from your home, I haven't mentioned how important it is to take care of yourself. In Church yesterday, one of our speakers was talking about how your body is a "Temple of the Lord." It is! AND it is the only one you are going to get! Take care of it so you can get the maximum mileage possible from it.

Home Storage: Home storage includes a storage of food as well as other necessary supplies you need to live (without a trip to the store) for an extended period of time. How long? I am counseled to have a minimum of three months worth of storage of everyday items. One year's worth of storage for life sustaining basics like wheat, rice, oats, powdered milk and honey. You can read more about food storage here

If all this appeals to you and you think being self-reliant is something you are interested in doing, you can see more information about each of these areas on the following web sites:
If you Google the term "Provident Living" you will see many other resources as well. The journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step! Start your self-reliant journey today!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cooking with Food Storage: Mini Apple Pies

I love making these pies!  Everyone who has ever eaten one of these tells me how much they love them.  Although my favorite is apple pie, this crust works well with a savory filling too! The best part is, the way I make the pie crust, it only has only four shelf stable ingredients.

I used shelf stable cream to make two of the ingredients needed for the pie crust. You don't have to do that if you don't want to. I got this recipe from the King Arthur Flour web site. Here is a link to the original: Love Flaky Turnovers?  The whole point of using this crust recipe is it's super easy. I have modified it somewhat to be food storage friendly. I will point out the differences between my food storage version and the King Arthur Flour original version as we go along. Here is the original recipe:

Mini Apple Pies
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour (I used freshly ground soft white wheat berries.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter (I made my own butter. You can see here how to do that with shelf stable cream.)
1/2 cup sour cream (I make my own sour cream. I used kefir cream in place of sour cream for this post. You can see here how to make kefir milk. You would make kefir cream the same way only using cream instead of milk. You can also make real sour cream with sour cream cultures. You can see here how I make yogurt with yogurt cultures.The process would be the same for the sour cream cultures.)

The biggest difference between the food storage version I make and the King Arthur Flour original is the need to use very cold butter. Since I use freshly made butter (and since I don't refrigerate my butter) the butter used in this recipe is room temperature. I have made this pie crust both ways: cold and room temperature. When you use cold butter and cold sour cream, the crust is noticeably more flaky. However, the taste is the same. So if you would prefer your crust to be more on the flaky side, just use very cold butter and sour cream.

Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Then add the butter. If you add cold butter, you will cut it into the flour. The flour will look crumbly.  If you add room temperature butter, you will cream it in (more like when you make cookie dough). Then add the sour cream. Here is a picture of mine before I mixed in the sour cream.

After mixing in the sour cream, turn the dough out onto a piece of freezer paper and flatten with a rolling pin. If your ingredients were all room temperature, the freezer paper is necessary because the dough is quite sticky. The freezer paper also makes it easier to fold the dough. Sprinkle the paper with flour before you start.

Now, you are going to fold the dough into thirds, just like you are folding a letter. Fold it with the freezer paper, then peel the freezer paper back. 

Once you have folded one side, then fold the other. This is what it should look like.

If you are using cold ingredients, you will need to repeat the folding process a total of three times. If your ingredients were all room temperature, your crust will perform better if you fold it eight to ten times. The more you fold it, the easier it is to work with. Here is what mine looked like after folding it ten times.

Now, roll it out one last time. You are now ready to cut the dough. Over the years, I have done this a few different ways. Most of the time, I use a cereal bowl and knife to cut the dough.

Then, place a few teaspoons full of your favorite filling and fold the dough over. I used apple pie filling that I canned myself.

 Seal the edges with a fork.

Last fall, I went to a local apple farm with some ladies from my church. While I was there, I bought one of these mini pie makers. 

This seals the pie a bit faster because you don't have to press the edges with a fork.

You can sprinkle some sugar on top of the crust before baking if you would like. I have done it many times this way and they are quite good with just a pinch of sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. If baking in a Sun Oven, you may have difficulty getting the temperature to 400. (I can't seem to keep mine consistently at 400 so I bake at 350.) The pies will need to bake a bit longer at the lower temperature. I usually bake mine in the Sun Oven for about 45 to 50 minutes. 

I didn't sprinkle mine with sugar this time because my husband wanted frosting instead. While the pies were baking, I made cream cheese frosting. I had some left over cream cheese that I made a few days before and I used that. Cream cheese doesn't incorporate into the frosting that well with just a spoon so I used my hand crank beaters.

The final result!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Homesteading 101

It is popular today to want to live a self-sufficient life style and get back to a more simple way of living. I know people who tell me that they wish they could purchase property out in the country and then they would start to live a self-sufficient life. Many say that they have so many things going on right now, they can't possibly do it. It turns into a 'someday' plan.

I have a different point of view about homesteading. I would also like to have some property out in the country so I can have chickens and a cow. (I will truly consider myself 'arrived' when I can have my own cow!) Right now I live on a small lot in a neighborhood that does not permit animal husbandry. Does that mean I shouldn't even try? Heavens, no! As I said, I have a different point of view about homesteading!

To me, homesteading is a frame of mind. It is approaching life from a self-sufficient, frugal point of view. It is a journey, not a destination, and you can do it no matter where you live. Start small and grow from there. Ideas like eating at home more often, growing some simple vegetables in a pot, or thinking of a way to reuse something instead of throwing it out will all start you on a homesteading journey.

Lehman's has a blog called Lehman's Country Life that I read every so often. Last week they ran a post on their blog called Homesteading Wherever You Live: Part I and Homestead Wherever You Live: Part II that gives lots of ideas on what you can do if you want to be a bit more self-sufficient.  

Each year at our house, we challenge ourselves to live on less money then we did the year before. To make that happen, I have to get creative and find new ways to be frugal and self-sufficient. I can honestly tell you that having the attitude that I must '"use it up, wear it out, make do or do without" goes a long way towards living a homesteading life-style! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Garden Update

The seeds are up! All the seedlings I have started so far are up and doing well. Here is a picture of one.

This is one of the vanilla marigolds. It is the prettiest marigold I have ever seen. It is a super light yellow color, almost an eggshell color. And it has a lovely carnation type scent! I also have all my herbs started, two different kinds of tomatoes, parsley, tobacco, and strawberries.

The weather here has not been very pleasant the last few weeks. So much so that I have not wanted to go outside to start the cool vegetable garden. Well, yesterday it turned for the better and I got lots of stuff planted: peas, carrots, onions,  spinach, and  broccoli.

As soon as something comes up, I will take a picture!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent Boosters

I love OxiClean. I use it every time I wash clothes. I have been buying it on sale and stocking up so I always have it.  Well, lately it hasn't been on sale and I am noticing the price keeps going up. (Is it just me or is the price of everything going up faster and faster?) Well, I finally put my foot down and said "No more!" I will no longer purchase OxiClean. I am going to have to use something else or make my own. 

That started my search for a homemade version. I have read about a few and decided to try the ones that sounded like they would work. I really wanted to use regular household items so I don't have to purchase any new ingredients and store a year's worth of something else. I have all these ingredients listed below in my food storage program now. 

Let me also add that I don't use commercial laundry detergent. I make my own. You can too! Here is the recipe:

Homemade Laundry Detergent
1 bar Fels Napa soap, grated (I use my own homemade soap. You can see that recipe as part of the series Make Your Own Soap. Here is the link to Part I: Make Your Own Soap, Part I   . The recipe for the laundry soap is listed in Part IV.
2 cups Washing Soda
2 cups Borax

I melt the soap in a few cups of boiling water and then add the washing soda and borax so it will dissolve. Place it all in an old liquid detergent laundry bottle and add warm water.  Use the biggest bottle/tub you can find. I use one of the super big bottles that sits on its side and has the spout.  If you don't have one of these, divide the concentrated recipe up among a couple of bottles, then add water. This makes a nice gel that dissolves well when you add the clothes.

Back to the stain removers, here's my research, results and comments:

Homemade OxiClean Recipe #1 (Overall Detergent Booster):
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
1/2 cup washing soda

I read that this recipe works best if the clothes are left to soak for a few hours. I decided to try it both ways: soaking and non-soaking. I used 2 loads of white clothes so I could compare to see if the soaking did any good. I only soaked for 30 minutes. The non-soaked clothes came out good, similar to when I add a scoop of OxiClean. The soaked clothes came out very bright! All I can say is WOW! I am impressed. I really didn't expect 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide in a full tub of water to do it, but it did! I also did a cost comparison on an ounce for ounce basis and the liquid hydrogen peroxide with washing soda is much, much cheaper than OxiClean. 

I also want to mention that I have, and use on occasion, Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing. This stuff has been around since 1883. It works great if you have a stain on whites that is set and won't come out. (Hanging the item in the sun to dry will also help to remove a set stain.) I don't use the bluing that often. My bottle is a few years old and I haven't even used half of it yet. I did not use it in the test washes.

Homemade OxiClean Recipe #2 (Pre-Treat Specific Stains):
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup vinegar

I use OxiClean gel to pre-treat oily stains on our clothes. I get lots of them on the t-shirts I wear around the house.  (Teaspoons of fish oil are part of Molly's daily diet for her allergies and I usually end up squirting some on my shirts.) To make sure I was doing what I considered a 'fair' test, I treated one shirt with OxiClean gel, one shirt with Resolve spray and three shirts with the lemon/vinegar combo. Then I washed them together in the same load. These were fresh stains, I actually squirted the oil on the shirts so I could test this. I let the stain sit about 5 minutes. It took about 5 minutes to pull a new bottle of vinegar out of the storage closet, then I made the lemon/vinegar mix. So I guess all the stains sat about 10 minutes total before treating. I did not try this with 'old oil' stains because I didn't have any dirty t-shirts that were stained waiting to go into the wash. All the shirts came out clean.  All of them! I rubbed the lemon/vinegar mix in a bit. I didn't use any other laundry booster, nor did I use a scoop of OxiClean powder. Just my homemade detergent and the pre-treated clothes. This is another surprise for me. I honestly didn't expect the oily stains to come out.  I will no longer purchase OxiClean gel nor Resolve Pre-Treat! You can't find a cheaper stain fighter than lemon juice and vinegar! 

I am very pleased with my results. And thrilled that I found a cheaper way to get my clothes clean!

Here are some other laundry ideas I found while researching.  I haven't tried these yet:
  • Sponging stains with peroxide will remove many simple stains. Peroxide will not injure wool or silk and is not dangerous to use. It may affect the color of the material so test on the fabric first.
  • To remove coffee stains, mix the yolk of an egg with a little warm water. Rub on the stain with a sponge. For stains that have been set in, add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to the egg and water.
  • To remove candle wax, apply ice to the wax so it freezes (you can also put the item outside in a dry area in the winter). Chip off all the frozen wax you can. Lay brown paper over the wax and press with a medium hot iron. Move the paper as it absorbs the wax. Take care not to redeposit the wax in another area of the fabric. Continue as long as any wax shows up on the brown paper.
  • Perspiration stains are removed with a mix of vinegar and baking soda. Apply the vinegar, then sprinkle the baking soda on. While it is fizzing, scrub in gently with a brush.
  • Grass stains will dissolve with an application of rubbing alcohol.
  • For extra-dirty work clothes, add a cup of ammonia to the wash (do NOT add ammonia to any wash water that has bleach in it).
  • Vinegar and water will remove salt stains from shoes and boots.
What an easy way to go frugal!

April 2013 Update: I have discovered that the spot remover of lemon juice and vinegar is not as effective on old 'set in' grease stains as it is on fresh stains. I have been doing some more experimenting. I have found the lemon juice and vinegar stain remover is more effective when the item is washed in very hot water, when you use fresh lemon juice, and when allowed to soak into to the clothes overnight. Still, I am somewhat frustrated with it's performance. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The search for a frugal stain remover continues...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Make A Family Name Cloud

Isn't this cool?  This graphic is called a Family Name Cloud. You can make one for your family too at  All it takes is a few minutes!

Now, I will admit that you can't create one of these in just a few minutes if you don't know who your ancestors are. First you will need to find them. But, even that isn't difficult. All you need to do is go to and key in the name of your parent or grandparent. Use as many of the search criteria as you can and press Enter. What will return are all the records the family search database has about that person or other people with similar names . The more details you enter, the less information you will get about people not related to you. I am amazed each time I use Family Search because the system always returns information about my ancestors. It can be difficult to find some of my ancestors because they have very common names like Mary Smith, Tom Howard and Julia Young.  However, Family Search always manages to find some information I didn't have. I bet in an hour or two you can find information about three or four generations of your own ancestors!

The next step is to create a FREE account in Family Search and add the names you find to your family tree. Once your family tree is set up, go to Tree Seek and create your Family Name Cloud! You can also create a pedigree chart or a fan chart that can display nine generations of your family tree. Tree Seek also supports family trees created in I can't give you any details about Geni because I don't use it, but I believe you can create a free account there as well.

Make a Family Name Cloud for your family and hang it in your home. It is impossible to know where you are going if you don't know where you came from!

Take some time to get to know your ancestors. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a FREE web site that you can use to help you locate your ancestors: This web site has all sorts of tutorials and on-line help if you don't know where to start. It has records from all over the world! Anyone, from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, can access this site to search for their deceased family members. If you want even more help, stop by the family history center at your local church. You do not have to be a church member to use your local family history center. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Deep Conditioning For Your Hands

I wash my hands a lot during the day. When I am in the middle of a lot of homesteading chores, I can wash my hands up 20 times in one day! All that hand washing takes its toll on my skin. My hands usually end up dry, cracked and quite sore.

When my hands are this sore, nothing seems to work to smooth them and provide a more permanent relief. Regular lotions from the store are a joke at this point. I have even tried quite a few commercial lotions specifically targeted for farmers and homesteaders but have not been overly happy with the results. 

The best way I have found to solve this problem is to treat your hands the same way our great- great- grandmother's did. Here are the steps:
  1. Submerge your hands in warm water. Sometimes I combine tasks and do this when I am hand washing dishes. Right after you get out of the shower is good too.
  2. Dry your hand quickly. They should feel somewhat damp.
  3. Put on lotion. An oily lotion works best in this situation. Vaseline is my favorite. I have also used cocoa butter, olive oil and liquid vitamin E.
  4. Cover your hands with some old gloves. Our great- great- grandmother's used cotton gloves. Sometimes I do too. Sometimes I go high tech and use disposable vinyl gloves.
Go relax for a few hours. Take a nap or read a book. When my hands are really in bad shape, I will do this at night and sleep with the gloves on. After a few hours, take the gloves off and marvel at how soft your hands are!

Then, try to remember to use lotion more often during the day so your hands don't get so dry in the first place! I admit, I have a hard time remembering to do this. I have a bottle of lotion at the kitchen sink but I still don't remember to use it as often as I should.

By the way, I have a wonderful everyday lotion recipe that is easy to make. I am running low on lotion so I need to make some more in the next few weeks. Watch for a post on that soon!