Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Laundry SOAP ;0)... Plain, Simple, Economical

If a chore or project can be done with simple directions and/or ingredients, I'm usually on the bandwagon trying new methods at home.  Laundry is one of those chores that can put a big dent in the budget if you buy store bought detergent, stain remover sprays, fabric softeners, etc.  Here is the recipe I use for making laundry soap at home.  I have a standard washing machine (after my new high efficiency model broke down the second time .. I opted to replace it with an old fashioned one without a computerized brain) ... something similar to what my grandmother used with push pull type dials. 

#4 Powder Laundry Soap

2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (or Ivory soap, Sunlight bar soap, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile,or Zote)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

  • Grate the soap on a fine cheese grater. 
  • Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.
  • Use 2 tablespoons per full load.
Here is a link to the website I found this soap.  There are all sorts of other recipes .. as well as directions/instructions on adjusting the amount that may be necessary for your type of water.  Tipnut/10 Laundry Soap Recipes

Do some research on your own should you decide to try this at home.  For our laundry, I found that after several months of continual use (and not using any fabric softener) .. our clothes felt clean.  I had come to hate the overpowering smell of fabric softener .. let alone the expense.  My washer was always grimy .. so I concluded that some of that grime was being left behind on my clothes/towels/sheets.  Using the homemade product has virtually cleaned the inside of my machine, I'm happy to say.  The ingredients are very inexpensive to buy and are usually readily available at the grocery store.  Over the course of a year, I've spent about eight dollars on materials ... and still have enough to make a few more batches.   Homemade laundry soap is extremely cheap to make.  I've tried both liquid and powder recipes.  Powder is easier for our family as the liquid often times needs to be stirred before use ... and you know how kids are when they do laundry ;) ... powder is easier for them. 

For stain removal or pre-treating spots, I simple use the Fels-Naptha bar soap, gently rubbing the stain with the soap and some water ... at times I even use my old washboard in my laundry room sink.   To give extra softness and freshness to towels, I use 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the rinse (DO NOT USE WITH BLEACH).  I put it in the fabric softener dispenser (do so at your own risk;) .. or in a fabric softener dispenser ball that you can plop in at the beginning of the wash cycle.  Using the cycle that includes a soak is helpful for extra soiled clothes .. as well as dark fabrics as it allows the powder to completely dissolve and work more efficiently. The savings are worth the effort.  Here's a guy that makes a liquid version ... and has done stain removal and price comparisons.

Hazards of fabric softeners

To dispense static electricity from your clothes in the dryer .. try wadding up a few balls of aluminum foil and dry clothes as normal  (shut the laundry room door because it's a bit noisy;)

Next year I hope to dabble making laundry soap from the soapwart plant growing in my garden :)

Non toxic cleaners .. including a recipe for soapwart laundry soap

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reusable Canning Jar Lids - Update

 Gearing up for canning season, I came across this link promoting BPA free reusable canning lids.  This product has been around for quite a long time ... just wondering if you have heard about said lids?  Here's a link to the Tattler Reusable Canning Lids ... and the Homestead Revival blog that has a drawing to give some away.  I entered the drawing ... and am seriously thinking about making a purchase.  If you have experience with Tattler lids, leave a comment.  Thanks

Update:  Maria asked a good question about whether or not the rubber seals are reusable .. here's what the Tattler Faq/Testimonial part of their website says

Q:  Are the rubber gaskets reusable, and how long will they last?
A:  Yes, the rubber gaskets are reusable and will seal numerous times when used as directed.  When cared for properly, many years of use may be expected.  Testimonials from our satisfied customers report use of rubber rings for more than 20 years! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Making Stick Deodorant .. In Cold Weather .. Part 2

A few days ago I posted about making homemade stick deodorant.  I started making this product last summer ... when it was hot.  When I used the recipe linked this week it was a lot harder to get the ingredients to incorporate .. because it's still cold outside (and inside:), coconut oil is solid at 76 F .. but turns liquid at 77F.  To solve the problem, I warmed the outside of the mixing bowl by dipping it in my hot dishwater.  Putting the coconut oil in the bowl first and then adding one tablespoon at a time of aluminum free baking soda, mixing well using the back of a soup spoon against the bowl  .. then one tablespoon of organic corn starch .. mixing it in well .. repeating until you have at least 3 and 3 tablespoons of powder to 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil.  If you can work it in, add an extra tablespoon of baking soda and corn starch.  Add the 10 drops of tea tree oil last .. mixing it well.  You can even knead it a bit by hand.  You may have to play around with the exact proportions;  I can't tell you how temperature affects this product!  If you live in a hot region, store the deodorant in a screw top jar and use your fingerstips to apply.  It takes a few days for the product to set up.  A little goes a long way ... you may even need to smooth it on after application.  This deodorant is worth the effort.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

On Top Of Old Smokie ...

We had a rip roaring bon fire yesterday ... fueled by tree trunks that were strewn on our property probably when the neighborhood road was put in.  Massive trunks ... uprooted ... eyesores that were cut up and hauled to our fire pit to burn.  We gave ourselves five years to clean up the property and turn it into a natural park like setting, with our well manicured front yard and home carved out of the wilderness.  Our yard is a work in progress.  I have a vision of a small vineyard along one side that will displace some of the grass.  It's enjoyable to take the time to get a feel for the layout and develop the landscape after living on the land for awhile.

Photos:  top .. bon fire, middle ... small fruit trees in moose proof enclosements, bottom ... apple blossoms.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Homemade Stick Deodorant

It's not that difficult to make a very effective stick deodorant  right in your own kitchen.  At first I was skeptical of using this ... but a year later, I would  not switch back to a store bought product again.  My daughter, Ann, is in the health field and works up close with patients ... she loves this product and feels confident using it everyday.

Here are the ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup organic corn starch
  • 1/4 cup organic baking soda (marked non-aluminum)
  • 2+ tablespoons LouAna brand coconut (solid) coconut oil
  • 10 drops tea tree oil (or you could use lavender oil - I LOVE tea tree oil)
For directions and pictures, check out this link for quick stick deodorant.

I chose to use organic corn starch because it's non GMO (genetically modified) .. and organic baking soda as I've read that regular has aluminum in it .. where as organic does not.  LouAna brand coconut oil is available in the grocery store; I prefer it to organic as it does not have a coconut scent.  Coconut oil is solid at room temp (up to 76 degrees).  If you live in a very warm climate, you might need to refrigerate this product .. or store in a cool spot.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Living Life ...

... takes time.  We have been in a state of flux at the Thrifty Garden/Home.  Nice weather prompted lots of planting in the garden .. then the rainy weather returned and made everything grow rapidly .. mostly the lawn and the weeds.  Having only one nice warm day predicted this week, that meant doing two days worth of (killer) yard work in one day.  With that out of the way for a few days, I've resorted to working inside most of this week.  Getting comfortable with our budget .. and committing it to memory and practice ... less paper and theory ... discovering that $350 is quite a lean food budget for my family and may need some adjustments upward.  Sometimes my ideas are greater than reality;)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weed & Whacked

This past week found plenty to do around the Thrifty Garden/Home.  Weeds galore ... of the noxious variety ... the type we are encouraged to eradicate from our property.  So .. with a steel blade, hand held gas grass cutter, I traversed the hills around our home knocking down the offenders.  It's impossible to pull them all by hand without the help of a small army; and I refuse to use any chemical sprays.  This is an ongoing war of the weeds.  For the past few years I have attacked different areas ... cutting them down to the nubs so I can get a mower in to keep them in check.  (These weeds are only in areas that have had the soil disturbed from grading years ago.)   In the areas that have previously received this knock-em-down-keep-em-mowed treatment, some non-invasive native plants and grasses have started to take over.  I have a feeling this battle will be going on for a long while.  Thank goodness for Sunday and a day of rest.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Growing Tips for Organic Apples

I planted two apple trees several years ago and am always on the lookout for good organic growing advice. Last year I bagged the apples on the trees using small ziplock plastic bags.  The apples were pest free and delicious.  Today I came across this organic apple growing article and thought I'd share it with you.  Be sure to view the little pop up windows showing how to use brown paper bags and how to thin the apples.  A novice I am ... but hope to give my trees a good chance at being organic.  Proper root stock and apple variety is also helpful.  Placing insect traps will help alert you that the pests have started arriving as well.  If you have a good organic apple growing tip ... please share (pretty please:).  Now I'm off to stock up on little brown paper bags.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Old Fashioned Inspirations

Hubby and I are watching Season One of the old TV series, The Waltons.  There are a lot of simple lessons to learn ... just by watching how this family struggles through the Great Depression with barely two nickles to their name.  I love watching the interactions between the grandparents .. the parents .. and the children.  John Boy is always weaving family history as he writes down lessons learned.  Parents have authority over their children and guide them with love and discipline.  There are many lessons to learn just by watching this amazing family working together for the good of the family unit.  Some evenings I even catch my daughter, Ann, watching an episode (don't tell her I told you so;).  Inspiration from another era ... it's a good thing! 

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Canned Beans (By Request)

The following recipes are for canned .beans.  You must be familiar with pressure canning to attempt as these are a low acid food.  I taught myself how to use a pressure canner and do water bath process canning a few years ago.  A good place to start is by getting the book:  Ball ... Blue Book of Preserving.  The following recipes are from this cookbook.

Boston Baked Beans

Yield about 6 pints or 3 quarts

1 quart dried navy beans (about 2 pounds)
1/2 lb salt pork, cut into pieces
3 large onions, sliced
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2/3 cup molasses

Rinse beans and sort out any foreign objects.

Cover beans with 3 quarts water; let stand 12 to 18 hours in a cool place.  Drain.  Cover beans with 3 quarts water in a large saucepot.  Bring beans to a boil; reduce heat.  Cover, simmer until skins begin to crack. Drain, reserving liquid.  Pour beans into a baking dish or bean pot (I used a large Dutch oven).  Add pork and onions.  Combine remaining ingredients and 4 cups reserved bean liquid (add water to make 4 cups if necessary).  Ladle sauce over beans.   Cover; bake at 350F for about 3-1/2 hours.  Add water, if necessary, as beans should be soupy.  Pack hot beans and sauce into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust two-.piece caps.  Process pints 1 hour and 20 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 35 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.

Follow all recommended safety practices.  Be sure to allow for altitude adjustments.

Pork and Beans

Yield about 6 pints or 3 quarts

1 quart dried navy beans (about 2 pounds)
1/4 pound salt pork, cut in pieces
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 quart tomato juice

Sort through beans removing any foreign objects

Cover beans with cold water and let stand 12 to 18 hours in a cool place; drain.  Cover beans with boiling water by 2 inches in a large saucepot  Boil three minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes; drain.  Combine onion, sugar, salt, spices and tomato juice; heat to boiling.  Pack 1 cup beans into hot jars; top with a piece of pork; fill jar 3/4 full with beans.  Ladle hot tomato sauce over beans, leaving 1-inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process pints 1 hour and 5 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 15 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.

Be sure to follow all safety precautions ... allow for altitude adjustments

Today I made the  Boston Baked Beans ... they look and smell very good .. but I haven't tried them yet.  Last year I made the pork and beans ... they were very good.  It's nice to have canned beans in the pantry ... and by making them at home ... you know the quality of the ingredients used.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

While Waiting for the Real Spring to Arrive ...

... Mrs. Mac has been busy cleaning up after a horrific windstorm on Monday ... mowing and reseeding parts of the lawn, canning baked beans and making lists of what needs to be canned or frozen for this coming winter.   Spring ... the real spring ... where are you?