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

Monday, February 14, 2011

All From A Little Warm Up ..

Before pic .. by Mrs Mac
So far this winter, we had our snowiest weather in November and December.  January was a mix of freezes and thaws.  February is halfway over and has been warmer than normal .. a mix of rain, gloominess .. and a few days of sunshine.  It's the sunshiny days that get me going .. soaking up a little natural vitamin D, listening to the birds chirp, seeing the colorful blue sky and mountains .. is a nice reprieve from winter's doldrums.

Spring cleaning is on my list of things to do starting in the kitchen.  I'm working on one wall space at a time .. ceiling to floor, wiping down walls and cupboards .. all the while emptying out and washing items we don't use too often.  This is a good opportunity to get rid of STUFF.  By the time spring rolls around it will be nice to have this sometimes dreaded chore put to rest.  It's amazing what crud collects in drawers and the pantry floor in between cleanings.  How often do you 'spring' clean?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dang TV

fresh baked bread and rolls .. pic by Mrs. Mac
We have been TV free for over two years .. saving $1,440 .. and giving us back countless hours of time to devote to renewing .. relearning lost life skills.  Now .. my son-in-law brought over a $10 TV antenna .. to get about eleven 'free' channels.  I'm finding myself getting 'sucked' into the TV vortex from the 'newness' of this old habit .. and must once again break free from it's hold.  I have put down the remote .. and will bake bread today!  Turn on some nice music .. and get to work.  Daylight is burning.  If I can just learn to monitor my viewing .. it will be a nice pastime to sit and knit after all chores are done for the day.  We get quite a few cooking, nature, outdoorsy shows to choose from .. plus local ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX .. etc.  If you're paying too much for cable or satellite TV .. you might want to make a small investment in a 'rabbit-ear antenna' and ditch your monthly bill.   

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How To Avoid GMO's

I've done a lot of reading about GMOs .. but am no expert.  Here is an incomplete list of ways to possibly avoid them.  Please leave a comment with ways you avoid the 'buggers' ;)

  1. Buy certified USDA organic products (I have much mistrust of the USDA ...)
  2. Stay away from ALL processed foods (salad dressings, mayo, crackers, hot dogs .. unless they are certified organic .. and then be skeptical .. it's not that hard to make your own dressings, mayo .. etc.)
  3. Buy produce from local farms where you can talk to the farmer about their farming practices.
  4. Avoid EVERYTHING with soy products .. again .. unless they are certified organic .. and soy sauce says naturally fermented.  Still ..use soy sauce sparingly.  Soy is hidden in so many things that say 'natural flavorings' .. it's a catch all phrase that the government allows .. I'm allergic to 'natural flavorings'.
  5. We now will have a problem with buying organic meat with the government's recent allowance to plant genetically modified alfalfa.  When the animals eat this stuff .. it passes on to us when we, in turn, eat them.
  6. Buy only single item foods.  Whole grains, beans, rice .. and be sure it's organic.  
This is just the tip of the ice berg about avoiding GMO foods and makes it nearly impossible to ever eat at a restaurant because most use processed foods to prepare their meals..  Take the time to get educated about this world wide threat.  The more the general public is informed .. and if enough people 'vote' with their food dollars to buy unadulterated whole foods, then the big FRANKENFOOD manufacturers will shrivel up and go away, clean up their act, .. or morph into some other evil entity!   Please leave a comment about how you avoid GMOs.


The Unhealthy Truth (about how our food is making us sick)
Warning to British Government about US practices of GM foods
Seeds Of Deception
GMO news at Natural
Organic Consumers Organization

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wake Up America

Are GMO's (genetically modified organisms) .. i.e. altered DNA plants such as soy, corn, beet sugar .. now the alfalfa being fed to farm animals making us sick .. and giving us allergic reactions?  Is there some big cover-up between the USDA and mega corporations .. perhaps payoffs?  I don't want to sound like Chicken Little .. but it's becoming more apparent as time passes that there is a skunk in the hen house .. and the government is turning a blind 'nose'.  I think the Pide Piper is more like it.  A melodic tune has captured the general public and turned them into robot zombies .. eating and consuming junk foods, processed foods, and not noticing the effects until they wake up one day with food allergies, type II diabetes, or a host of other maladies.  There is a big cover-up going on.  Start informing yourselves so you can, in turn, inform your families before it's too late.  Oh wait .. it is too late!  Pandora's Box has been opened and GMO crops are contaminating in mass force.  The sky is falling .. literally!

My sweet grandson Jake .. has a life threatening peanut allergy!
Food for thought:  Why do other nations around the world ban GMO's yet the USA allows them?


Saturday, February 05, 2011

Out And About .. the garden

Backyard compost bin .. November, 2010
Today I needed to empty the overflowing kitchen compost container .. in our garden bin.  I was able to uncover my snow/ice flattened covered tunnel of Swiss chard .. even with the weight pressing down on the plants left to over winter, there are new leaves ready to grow.  It's about the only green thing in the backyard (other than the pines).  I'm hoping in a few weeks to harvest a little for fresh greens.
Chard pic taken prior to snow ... November, 2010

salad/sandwich sprouts are easy to make each week.
This winter I've not purchased but two heads of lettuce from the market.  Instead I'm buying organic green and red cabbage .. it has a much longer storage life .. mine sits covered in a plastic bag and terrycloth towel on top of the freezer in our cold garage .. along with cauliflower, rutabagas and 25 pounds of carrots.  The garage is the perfect cold storage area for winter hearty veggies.  We eat a lot of tangy coleslaw during the cold months.  It's more filling .. and the cabbage doesn't mold or wilt like lettuce; none of it goes to waste. It's our green of choice chopped finely on tacos year round.  For sandwiches we're enjoying the salad sprouts grown on the kitchen counter.

While winter foods are hearty and filling just thinking about our summer garden is making my mouth water!  Eating foods in season .. sure gives a person cravings .. and an appreciation for change.  Do you eat seasonally .. or do you purchase out of season produce?  It's been ages since we had a good fresh tomato .. but I will longingly wait and savor summer's goodness all the more when  the time arrives.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Frugal (read cheap) Green Cleaning & Family Health

Mrs. Mac's Cleaning Arsenal
Since we ditched our anti-bacterial soap/cleaning products several years ago.. the family has had fewer colds and flu .  At one point in my homemaking career .. I tried to eradicate every germ on every surface with an arsenal of highly advertised products .. (liquid soaps .. scrubbing bubbles .. etc.)  Fast forward .. and remove yourself from current society .. just think back on how homes were cleaned a hundred years ago without modern products ... one has only to turn to the kitchen pantry to find alternative (cheap) cleaners.

For windows I use a recycled spray (window cleaner) bottle and fill it with one cup white vinegar with two cups tap water and a small squirt of dish soap (adding a drop or two blue or green food coloring .. so the family will 'think' it's effective;).  This can be used on windows .. stainless steel appliances .. sinks, bathtubs and toilets.

Squeaky Clean Tub .. pic by Mrs. Mac
For cleaning sinks/tubs .. try just a small drop of dish soap and sprinkle with baking soda .. use a soft clean rag and a little water .. rinse.

Toilets .. same as for sinks but use a few extra drops of dish soap.  Any hard water rings can be safely removed with a pumice stone.  Spray your window cleaner on another cloth to wipe down the seat and rim.

Mirrors .. a soft cleaning rag (lint free) and a little window cleaner is all that's needed.

Use caution on marble (any acid such as vinegar or lemon juice may dull the surface if not wiped immediately) .. I find no problem using the window cleaner on sealed granite counter tops .. just wipe well after spraying.

Three products:  Baking Soda, Dish Soap & White Vinegar will clean your home just as well as those expensive products .. saving you a ton of money .. and the environment each year. (2 gallons white vinegar & 13.5 lbs of baking soda cost under $10 and will last a very long time ... purchased in bulk at Costco).

Essential Oils .. a little drop goes a long way!  pic by Mrs. Mac
I often use a small drop of an essential oil on my damp cloth (such as Rosemary or tea tree oil) giving the cleaned areas that refreshing health spa aroma. 

More money saving tips:  Using cotton rags (made from old washcloths, torn up towels, flannel sheets, sweat pants, etc.) works better than paper towels .. if you stop using fabric softener (Downy or Dryer Sheets) .. and instead use 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the wash rinse.  Fabric softeners tend to leave a filmy residue on fabric and may streak mirrors. 

Bar soap .. and 20 seconds of scrubbing = clean!
When using bar soap, invest in a little footed insert for the soap dish .. it keeps the soap elevated and out of any water .. making it stay cleaner and last longer.  A single bar can be cut into four smaller sized pieces .. perfect for hand washing.