I have been growing mint for a while now. I am trying to plant all edible plants in my flower gardens. I figure if I am putting in the work in the garden, I might as well get something out of it. Honestly other than making a couple of mojitos out of the mint I haven’t done much else with it. Once I get my dehydrator out of storage I will try some leaves so I can make some mint tea. Why not check out these great ideas for mint.
Generations of people have been canning their excess garden produce in order to enjoy the fruits of their labor year round. Canning is less common now than it was in years past, but some people still do can.
I only can certain items like tomato sauce, salsa, and pickles. I prefer to freeze beans, peas, and other vegetables. However, that is just my personal preference. There are some drawbacks to canning: you will need some supplies to can your produce correctly, and canning it does take some time. My personal opinion is that the drawbacks are negligible compared to the satisfaction I get opening up a jar of homegrown tomato sauce on a cold winter day!
In order to can correctly, you will need a large stock pot or a water bath canner, some tongs to life the hot jars out of the water, mason jars, lids, and bands. I would strongly encourage those just starting out to purchase a book on canning or contact your local agricultural extension office, or check the USDA website to get information on processing times in order to correctly can your produce. You can purchase a copy of the Ball Blue Book for canning here http://www.freshpreserving.com/pages/home/258.php?pid=292&product=304. You can also go online to get the latest information from the USDA here http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html
This is where I get my information.
You will also need a dry, cool place to store your leftover mason jars, supplies, and bands when they are not in use. This is important as the bands can rust if they are exposed to humid or damp conditions. Rusty bands can warp, which means that you will not be able to use them again.
While it can cost you quite a bit if you go out and purchase new canning supplies, you can find ways to reduce your out of pocket expenses. Try looking in Craigslist or with your local Freecycle group to see if you can find any mason jars or canning supplies. You might even find supplies at yard sales, thrift stores, or estate sales. This can lower your out of pocket expenses considerably. In addition, canning supplies often go on sale during the summer months. You might want to wait for the sale to stock up on your supplies.
Before you can your produce, simply clean your supplies and purchase new lids for the mason jars. Some people prefer to use “wide mouth mason jars” as it makes filling the jars much easier and quicker. If you decide to use the wide mouth mason jars, you will need to use bands and lids designed for this type of jar. Make sure that you purchase the correct supplies! There is nothing more frustrating that getting ready to can only to discover that you need to purchase more supplies because you have purchased the wrong ones. Some people prefer to use a mixture of regular mason jars and wide mouth jars. I find this to be slightly confusing, but use whatever method works best for you personally.
Although canning may sound like a complex and time consuming task. In reality, it isn’t. Once you get started, you will be amazed at how quickly the canning process goes.
Have you ever purchased a new toy for your child only to find that they actually prefer playing with the wrapping paper and the box instead of the toy? If you are working towards creating a simple lifestyle for your family, take heart knowing that your children aren’t missing out on anything just because they don’t have the latest plastic toy. Many toys can be made at home with your children, but I’ve listed just a few examples.
This toy is appropriate for children over 3 years of age. If you have young children, watch to make sure that they do not put the caps in their mouth.
In order to make the toy, collect the caps from soda bottles, milk jugs, or juice containers. Make sure to rinse out and dry the tops thoroughly. Also rinse out a coffee container and dry thoroughly. Children will enjoy tossing the caps into the coffee container. Yes, they really do. If you have younger children, you can allow them to stand close to the container; you also might want to find a bigger container that they can use to toss the caps into.
Homemade Play Dough
Store bought dough can be expensive–although it is nice for a special treat for the kids. You can make your own dough for the kids to use at home with ingredients that you probably already have on hand.
In a large saucepan, mix 2 cups of flour with 1 cup of salt. Add 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar to the mix. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and 2 cups of water. Note: If you want your dough to be colored, add food coloring to the water before combining it with the dough!
Heat the pan over medium low heat. Keep stirring the mix and watch it closely or it will burn. When all of the liquid has been evaporated, take the dough off the burner. In order to keep the dough pliable, keep it in a baggie or a container when not in use.
Make Your Own Crayons
Who doesn’t love a new box of crayons? Everyone does. Eventually, those new crayons become broken or worn down. Some people actually throw away the crayons and go out to buy a new box. Instead of doing that, extend the life of those crayons by making new crayons.
You will need a frying pan, old soda cans, and crayons. To start, simply peel the wrapper off the crayons. Cut the soda can in half. Be careful as the edge will be sharp and it is easy to get cut. Break the crayons into small bits and put them in the soda can bottom. Place the can in the frying pan and then fill the bottom of the pan with a small amount of water. Heat the pan and allow the crayons to melt. Once the crayons are melted, remove the pan from the heat and allow the crayons to cool. When the crayons are totally cooled, remove them from the soda can.
My children love playing with these crayons as well as giving them to their friends as gifts.
Challenge your children to create their own toys. You just might be surprised with the things that they create. Not only is this good for your pocketbook, it is also good for your kids because they will learn to use their imaginations and to think creatively!
If you are trying to simplify your life, or if you want to work on reducing the chemicals that are used in your home, you might want to make your own cleaning products.
Creating your own cleaning products are quite simply really. All you need is lemon juice to scent, baking soda, and some vinegar. Although I do use my homemade cleaning products, I have found that I still need to use a commercial product in order to deal with mineral stains and deposits. Depending upon where you live, you may not even have this issue.
Some people find the smell of vinegar offensive. Even though the odor is strong at first, it will dissipate with time. If you want to mask the odor, you can add tea tree oil to your cleaning supplies. Tea tree oil is quite expensive, but a little goes a long way. If you make your own laundry soap, you can also use the tea tree oil to scent your soap.
If you do a lot of baking or cooking, you know that you need a good oven cleaner. I like using natural oven cleaners because I do not have to worry about the smell of the chemicals. Simply make a thick paste out of baking soda and water. Add lemon juice if desired. Rub the paste on the bottom of the oven and on the other places where there may be hardened food deposits. Sprinkle a small amount of water on the bottom of the oven and then let the oven sit over night. Clean using a clean sponge and lots of water.
In order to clean dried food off the microwave, use hot water! Put a bowl full of water in the microwave and boil the water. Let the water sit in the microwave for several minutes until the water cools. Then, simply wipe the food off the sides of the microwave with a clean cloth.
You can make your own window cleaner by putting 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Add 2 teaspoons of vinegar to the water and mix. I add a drop of blue food coloring to the cleaner so I can tell it is meant for the windows! Blue coloring makes the mixture look like another popular window cleaning solution.
Getting Rid of Mold In The Bathroom
Straight white vinegar is great for getting rid of mold. Simply pour the vinegar into a spray bottle and spray on the mold. Let it sit for a while, and then wipe the vinegar and mold away with a clean cloth. If the smell of the vinegar bothers you, add some tea tree oil to the spray bottle. Ventilating the bathroom will help to dissipate the vinegar odor.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
I have had success cleaning my toilet bowl with bleach. If you do not like the smell of the bleach, or if you are allergic to bleach, you may need to use other items to keep your toilet clean. In this case, you can add 1 cup of white vinegar to the bowl. Add ¼ cup of baking soda and let the mixture sit for a while. Then, use the scrub brush to clean the toilet bowl.
As you begin to clean, you will discover that you can clean just about anything using natural ingredients!
Making your own laundry detergent is not for everyone. However, if you are interested in significantly reducing your laundry expenses and are up for a bit of a challenge, you might want to consider at least trying it.
There are many recipes and information available online for hard-core laundry detergent “cooks”. However, it can be difficult to sift through that information. Exactly what works and what doesn’t? Here is a recipe that I have used successfully over the years along with some tips I have found helpful. If this doesn’t work the way you like, consider doubling the first two ingredients or “tweaking” the recipe until you get the results that you want. This is part of the fun of making your own laundry soap!
In order to make the recipe, you will need a large 10 gallon bucket with a lid. You can check at your stores locally to see if you can buy such an item. You may also be able to get used buckets from a local restaurant. This part of the process may actually be the most difficult!
You will also need Fels Naptha soap, washing soda and Borax in order to make your own laundry detergent. All of these items can be found in the laundry aisle at most stores. Some places do not carry washing soda. If you find this to be the case, simply go to another store or ask the manager if he can order it for you. Note that washing soda is NOT baking soda! The brand I have used with most success if Arm and Hammer washing soda. I use 20 Mule Team Borax.
Once you have assembled your ingredients, you are ready to make your detergent. First, grate a bar of soap into an old large pot. Add some hot water to the pot and then stir over low heat until the soap is melted. You may want to designate a pot just for this purpose.
Then, fill a 10 gallon pail half full of water. Add the melted soap, ½ cup of Borax and 1 cup of the washing soda. Still the mixture well until everything is dissolved. Note that the shredded soap will not completely dissolve, but it will look more like egg drop soup! After this is done, fill up the pail with hot water. Make sure that you store the bucket in a safe place, especially if you have young children. I keep my soap in the garage where the kids do not venture without strict supervision. I then simply put some of the solution into an empty laundry detergent container to keep in the house. When I need more detergent, I go into the garage and refill the container.
I use about ¾ of a cup of this when doing laundry. However, we have very soft water. If you have hard water, you can use 1 ½ cups to start. You may actually need to use 2 cups of laundry soap.
If you do not like the smell of the soap, you can add essential oils to the mix. I use about 5 drops of oil per gallon. Again, you can add more or less depending upon your tastes. Some people like to add lavender oil, while others like tea tree oil. Use whatever type of oil you like.
Finally, you may be wondering if this stuff really works. Why waste your time and your effort to find that it doesn’t work! I can tell you that I found that it worked well to keep the clothes that my 6 children wear very clean. I think that fact alone means that the stuff really works.