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Salt is not just for seasoning

Getting back to the basics and living a simpler life is a learning process.

One lesson I've learned over the last several years is that you do not need to buy all the latest cleaning chemicals. There is a cleaner for EVERYTHING! These cleaners take up lots of room.

I stockpile 3 basics. Baking soda, vinegar and salt. All three are cheap and do a great job. And it is so much easier to store just these three items than all those cleaners.

Here is a long list of uses for salt. It's a good idea to print this out and keep it handy. I have a hard copy in my household management planner that I can refer to at any given time.

Sixty Uses Of Salt

• 1. Soak stained hankies in salt water before washing.
• 2. Sprinkle salt on your shelves to keep ants away.
• 3. Soak fish in salt water before descaling; the scales will come off easier.
• 4. Put a few grains of rice in your salt shaker for easier pouring.
• 5. Add salt to green salads to prevent wilting.
• 6. Test the freshness of eggs in a cup of salt water; fresh eggs sink; bad ones float.
• 7. Add a little salt to your boiling water when cooking eggs; a cracked egg will stay in its shell this way.
• 8. A tiny pinch of salt with egg whites makes them beat up fluffier.
• 9. Soak wrinkled apples in a mildly salted water solution to perk them up.
• 10. Rub salt on your pancake griddle and your flapjacks won't stick.
• 11. Soak toothbrushes in salt water before you first use them; they will last longer.
• 12. Use salt to clean your discolored coffee pot.
• 13. Mix salt with turpentine to whiten you bathtub and toilet bowl.
• 14. Soak your nuts in salt brine overnight and they will crack out of their shells whole. Just tap the end of the shell with a hammer to break it open easily.
• 15. Boil clothespins in salt water before using them and they will last longer.
• 16. Clean brass, copper and pewter with paste made of salt and vinegar, thickened with flour
• 17. Add a little salt to the water your cut flowers will stand in for a longer life.
• 18. Pour a mound of salt on an ink spot on your carpet; let the salt soak up the stain.
• 19. Clean you iron by rubbing some salt on the damp cloth on the ironing surface.
• 20. Adding a little salt to the water when cooking foods in a double boiler will make the food cook faster.
• 21. Use a mixture of salt and lemon juice to clean piano keys.
• 22. To fill plaster holes in your walls, use equal parts of salt and starch, with just enough water to make a stiff putty.
• 23. Rinse a sore eye with a little salt water.
• 24. Mildly salted water makes an effective mouthwash. Use it hot for a sore throat gargle.
• 25. Dry salt sprinkled on your toothbrush makes a good tooth polisher.
• 26. Use salt for killing weeds in your lawn.
• 27. Eliminate excess suds with a sprinkle of salt.
• 28. A dash of salt in warm milk makes a more relaxing beverage.
• 29. Before using new glasses, soak them in warm salty water for awhile.
• 30. A dash of salt enhances the taste of tea.
• 31. Salt improves the taste of cooking apples.
• 32. Soak your clothes line in salt water to prevent your clothes from freezing to the line; likewise, use salt in your final rinse to prevent the clothes from freezing.
• 33. Rub any wicker furniture you may have with salt water to prevent yellowing.
• 34. Freshen sponges by soaking them in salt water.
• 35. Add raw potatoes to stews and soups that are too salty.
• 36. Soak enamel pans in salt water overnight and boil salt water in them next day to remove burned-on stains.
• 37. Clean your greens in salt water for easier removal of dirt.
• 38. Gelatin sets more quickly when a dash of salt is added.
• 39. Fruits put in mildly salted water after peeling will not discolor.
• 40. Fabric colors hold fast in salty water wash.
• 41. Milk stays fresh longer when a little salt is added.
• 42. Use equal parts of salt and soda for brushing your teeth.
• 43. Sprinkle salt in your oven before scrubbing clean.
• 44. Soaked discolored glass in a salt and vinegar solution to remove stains.
• 45. Clean greasy pans with a paper towel and salt.
• 46. Salty water boils faster when cooking eggs.
• 47. Add a pinch of salt to whipping cream to make it whip more quickly.
• 48. Sprinkle salt in milk-scorched pans to remove odor.
• 49. A dash of salt improves the taste of coffee.
• 50. Boil mismatched hose in salty water and they will come out matched.
• 51. Salt and soda will sweeten the odor of your refrigerator.
• 52. Cover wine-stained fabric with salt; rinse in cool water later.
• 53. Remove offensive odors from stove with salt and cinnamon.
• 54. A pinch of salt improves the flavor of cocoa.
• 55. To remove grease stains in clothing, mix one part salt to four parts alcohol.
• 56. Salt and lemon juice removes mildew.
• 57. Sprinkle salt between sidewalk bricks where you don't want grass growing.
• 58. Polish your old kerosene lamp with salt for a brighter look.
• 59. Remove odors from sink drainpipes with a strong, hot solution of salt water.
• 60. If a pie bubbles over in your oven, put a handful of salt on top of the spilled juice. The mess won't smell and will bake into a dry, light crust which will wipe off easily when the oven has cooled.

Our Simple Farm

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Garden Update 2012

Saturday and Sunday was fairly nice although windy. I worked for several hours in the garden over the course of the two days.

I pulled back the straw mulch on three beds and planted a bed of two different kinds of lettuce, a bed of two different kinds of carrots and one bed of bunching green onions.

I've never had trouble growing lettuce, but the carrots and onions are a different story. My thoughts are I have been planting them too late, so this year I planted them real early.

After planting the beds I cover them with some type of wire mesh to keep cats, dogs, rabbits, etc from disturbing my seeds. After the plants are well established I take the wire off.

I've been doing research on potatoes. There are so many different kinds! Early, mid, late; red skinned, russets, blue, purple. It makes my head swim. Determining the best to grow in my area is still on the table. I have already bought yukon gold and red pontiac. I'm wanting a late versatile. One that is good for baking, frying as well as mashed potatoes. Anyone have any suggestions?

What have you planted in your garden as of now? Anything sprouting yet?

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Store Bought Laundry Soap vs Homemade Powder Laundry Soap

Making homemade powder laundry soap is easy. There are lots of different "recipes" for this but the ingredients are the same for all. 20 Mule Team Borax ($3.38), Arm & Hammer Washing Soda ($3.15) and Fels Napthia bar soap (1.99) for a total of $8.52.

Grate one Fels Napthia bar with a cheese grater. I used my attachment on my small food processor and it went quickly.

When I dumped it in my mixing bowl it measured 6 cups.

I then started adding and mixing the borax and arm & hammer alternately. I added a total of 8 cups of borax and 5 cups of arm & hammer. This was not the full box of either one. I had already used a couple cups of the arm & hammer and there is probably about 1/4 box of borax left.

It made a total of 13 cups. I dumped it in a container big enough that I could shake it and roll it around to keep it mixed.

So to comapre prices. My normal detergent is $5 for 50 loads (certain loads I only use half as much as recommended).

This cost me approximately $2.53 (3/4 box borax), $2.63 (5/6 box of arm & hammer) and $1.99 for the Fels Napthia for a total of $7.15 for 13 cups.

What will determine if this will save me is how much I will have to use per load for my laundry to come clean.

At 1/4 cup per load, I'll get 52 loads at .14 per load. Higher than my .05 to .10 a load for normal deteregent bought.

If I use 1/8 cup per load, I'll get 104 loads at .07 per load. Cheaper than my .10 a load for normal detergent BUT are my clothes going to be clean?

Some report that they only use 2 tablespoons per load. I will have to try it and see for myself with my hard water if it will work.

A couple other thoughts of mine regarding this.
1) I still have the trip to 3 different stores to get the supplies = MORE TIME AND GAS
2) The disposal is two boxes and some wax paper as opposed to one plastic bottle. Cardboard vs plastic has its pro's and con's.
3) The time of grating, measuring and mixing this together.

The whole point of me making anything homemade is to save money and be more sustainable. I'm not convinced this is true with this particular subject and I don't want to loose sight of my mission.

What is your thoughts on homemade laundry soap? Do you think it is cheaper? Does it clean your clothes as well?

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Annoying Wally World Pop Up

I think I have finally gotten rid of what ever was causing the annoying Wal Mart pop up on my site.

If anyone is still experiencing this, please don't hesistate to let me know.


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Printable Vegetable Garden Calendar

Do you know when is the best time to plant what in your garden?

Here's a great printable Kansas Garden Guide by Charles Marr, that shows the best planting and harvesting periods for zone 5.  

Be sure to click on the calendar to bring up the image 100%. Clicking on the link above will open the pdf file, go to page 76 and you can print it full 8 1/2 x 11 size there.

post updated 4-23-13

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Kitchen Gardening

Here's what I am trying to grow in my kitchen on the counter.

Basil.  I needed some fresh basil last week and had to buy "living" basil.  I stuck the left overs into a pot of dirt.  I've been watering it but it isn't looking good.  Anyone have any suggestions for me?

Celery!  I read in several different places that you could re-grow celery.  I think it was originally posted HERE.  After two days, I have a couple roots shooting out the bottom.  Very cool!

Onions!  I also have read about this in several different places. 

I'll post an update in a few days.  The celery is what I think will be really great if it works. 

Are you growing anything inside?  Have you tried growing any of the above?

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Thriftstore buys

I had a chance to go to a couple thrift stores last week.  I was looking for a blender to make the blender soap and I picked up a few of these for a buck a piece...

Wool sweaters.  I'm going to make felted soap

Here is a picture...

(pic courtesy of Pure N Simple Soap)

Have you made any felted soap or used it?  What other things have you been wanting to try felting?

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Making Handmade Soap in a blender

Today I made Blender Soap!

The reason I chose to make it in the blender was you don't have to be as accurate on the temperature of the lye or oils, the time to trace is MUCH quicker, separating is greatly reduced and smaller batches are made.  Most recipes only make a 1 pound batch at a time.

So today I dove in.  I got all my supplies out, prepared my molds and measured out all my oils first.

The most important thing I learned about making ANY kind of cold process soap is to mix your lye solution outside while wearing rubber gloves, safety goggles and a respirator mask.  I found my goggles and medical type masks for $1 at a dollar store.

Here is my lye solution after being mixed outside and waiting for the small smokey fumes to clear.

I mixed my lye with a herbal lemon tea that was brewed with distilled water.  When using water in soap always use distilled water.

This made the soap a caramel color.  I'm not sure if it will remain that color after curing, we will have to wait and see.  I also mixed in the tea grounds at trace. That's the spots/specks you see in the soap. The smell so far is lemony. 

My soap is now curing on my counter.  I hope it comes out well considering I think I blended it too long or used too mach castor oil.  It was super thick and did not pour.  It was the consistency of a very thick Dairy Queen blizzard shake.  You know the ones you can turn upside down and they stay in the cup! lol  Time will tell.  I hope it feels good on my skin and isn't as drying as commercial soaps.

The recipe I used:
All measurements are by weight

Lemon Zinger Tea Soap
5 oz soybean oil
5 oz olive oil
3 oz lard
3 oz castor oil
5.28 oz distilled water steeped with two lemon zinger tea bags
2.9 oz lye
The contents of the two tea bags added at trace

Next I think I will be making a coffee bar. 

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Jalapeno Mini Poppers

I love this recipe because more people can eat them than a stuffed whole jalapeno. I served them on Superbowl Sunday. They are not as hot as a eating a whole stuffed jalapeno and they are fun to make!

1 8 ounce block cream cheese, softened
8 ounces parmesan cheese
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped jalapeno peppers
2 large egg yolks
1 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Combine cream cheese, parmesan, jalapeno peppers and egg yolks. Mix to form a paste. Shape into 1/4" balls and roll in bread crumbs. Place on a large ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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How to Repurpose Tshirt into 5 strand Headband

I love repurposing tshirts, don't you?

Today I repurposed a tshirt into a 5 strand headband. It was pretty simple to do. The headbands are soft and perfect for anyone with tender heads!

For step by step instructions check out Make It and Love It.

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Have you tried OrGREENiC saute pans?

I've been searching for a saute pan or skillet that will not warp when used on my ceramic top stove. I prefer non-stick skillets but the last three I've bought has warped within a few uses.

I seen the commercial for OrGREENiC pans. They claim no more sticking, no more grease/oil, no more chipping but say nothing about warping.

Does anyone have any experience with this product?

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Foraging and Eating Cattails

Foraging food is not just for survival in an emergency situation, it's a great way to supplement your food budget. In the last few years I've learned more about edible mushrooms and wild asparagus to go along with the knowledge I already had of certain weeds such as dandelions and polk. Be sure to research anything growing wild before eating. There are always dangers, and you need to familiarize yourself with them.

The latest that I've learned about is cattails. Did you know you can eat cattails? Me neither.

The cattail is one of the most important and common wild foods that is foraged. Being most important because cattails provide edible food all year round, provide calories and starch! Here is what I've learned.

Stalks/Stems/Shoots - Best from early spring through early summer. The stems have a cucumber like flavor. People say they are great in soups, salads, peeled and eaten raw. Eat the stem starting at the white end, as you go up, peel away more leaves to get to the tender center.

Flower spikes - Best late spring. Gather when green. Boil for a few minutes. They say they taste like corn on the cob. Wild Blessings will show you how. The 3 Foragers teach you how to make Cattail Flower Griddle Cakes. The recipe can be found here.

Pollen - Flour. For a short time in late spring or early summer, before the flower spikes turn brown, the green pollen can be gathered by carefully bending the flower head into a bag, and shaking it gently. The flour will fall into the bottom of the bag. Pollen is high protein. It can be combined with flour to make pancakes, muffins and biscuits.

Corms- Best in the fall. Can be eaten raw and are said to be great roasted.

Rhizome/Root - Best harvested in the winter. This can be dried into flour and even made into jelly. Tactical Intelligence has excellent instructions on the flour process. Also check out this great article fromMissouri Conservation. It has all kinds of recipes for each part of the cattail and other edibles!

Our pond has cattails and I'm going to try them. What do you think? Do you have a favorite that you forage for?

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