Monthly Archives: October 2009

Beautiful Beans

Now that it is cooling down outside and we had ran out of canned beans, I decided that it was a good time to get out the canner, can some beans, and warm up the house a bit. I ended up canning black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans.  I ended up with 5 quarts of kidney beans and 8 pints each of black and pinto beans. Next, I am planning on making and canning some baked beans. They are so easy to do and so cost conscious as well.

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Canning Dry Beans

This is the easiest process I have found, just a little prep time is all that is needed. The kidney beans need to soak for12 hours and the pinto and black beans need to soak for about 6 hours. 

2 lbs of pinto/black beans will be enough for 8 pints. 2 lbs of kidney beans will do 5 quarts or 10 pints. 

 Measure out 3/4 cup of beans for each pint  or 1 & 1/2 cups for each quart jar you want to can. Then wash and sort the beans.

When your beans are washed and sorted, measure 3/4 cup of beans into each pint jar (1 & 1/2 cups for quart jar). Fill the jars with water, cover with a towel and soak  for the times mentioned above.

When done soaking (the beans will fill about 3/4 of the jar at this point) empty the water from the jars and refill with hot water to leave 1 inch of head space.  I added 1/2 tsp salt in the pints and 1 tsp salt in the quarts, this is optional.  Note: You may need to adjust some beans in the jars. I noticed that the kidney beans got very compacted in the bottom of the jars, so after soaking I had to remove them completely from the jars and refill. If you want, you can save and heat the soaking water that was in the jars. This leaves more nutrients, however, it also leaves more bean gas. I use new water.  After the jars are filled, put a lid and ring on each jar according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Place the jars in the Pressure Canner and process at 10 lbs pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.
By canning my own dry beans I saved quite a bit of money over a can bought from the store.  Here is just one of the cost breakdowns:
I spent $1.47 on my 2 lb bag of pinto beans, enough to make 8 pints of beans (18¢ per pint jar in beans). Lids are $1.49 for 12 (12¢ per lid). I had the jars so I didn’t factor them in this cost. So the pinto beans only cost me 30¢. These purchased at the store cost between .89 – 1.39 depending on the brand. Also, a pint of home canned beans is equal to at least two cans of store bought beans. You end up with a jar full of beans with little to no liquid – the store beans are a can of liquid with some beans floating around in it.

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Girls Day Out

Pumpkin Patch 011 Perfect outfit, perfect hair ‘pretties’, and new yellow boots…..all chosen 2 days in advance and then the day arrived.

A day for  a girls only outing, “no boys can go” is what was determined by my niece, Jorie. So we packed up, picked up Auntie Kristen and cousin Nikolette and headed off to the pumpkin patch. Fun was had by all – climbing the hay bale pyramid, crawling through the tunnel under the pyramid, running through the fields and collecting the perfect pumpkins. We saw the animals in the big red barn and shopped in the farm store.

                                      Pumpkin Patch 012                 We stopped for lunch – lots of giggles and good company.

 

 

 

044        Then it was time to collect the eggs.

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and feed the chickens…….042

and of course carve our pumpkin…..

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Jorie and her carved pumpkin 001

 

What a glorius day!

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Homemade Cleaning

 

Once I became aware of all the nasty ingredients that are in ALL of the cleaning products on the store shelves, I made a real effort to rid our house of all chemical cleaners. I use white vinegar and / or baking soda for nearly all my cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom. i will also use essential oils too, not just because they smell good, but because they add a natural antibacterial boost. Not only is it a tremendous cost savings over commercial products, it is nice to know I am creating a heathier environment.

 It may be a bit of the ‘mad’ scientist in me or because I don’t want to be so dependent on commercial consumerism, I think it is fun to create these cleaning products.

I learned of making laundry detergent and thought it was a great idea. I made a batch of the following liguid detergent and I LOVE IT! It was simple to make and it works just as well as the expensive store version. I haven’t done the exact math on this recipe, but I think it cost me less than $3.00 for the entire batch (without essential oil) – 10 gallons of detergent!  The only thing I will change in my next batch is to replace the Fels Naptha bar to either Ivory or Castille. I did not realize that the Fels Naptha is petroleum based (so much for chemical free) but I know for next time.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

4  Cups – hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

– Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

*Arm & Hammer “Super Washing Soda” – in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent – It must be sodium carbonate!!

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Scrubby Making

So today I began my declutter/organizing, maybe not wholeheartedly. I was actually searching for some material to make a scrubby pad for dishwashing. I knew I had some netting somewhere in my organized mess. I found it, so instead of cleaning (more of my procrastination) I decided to make my version of a scrubby. I searched the web for some ideas and found a simple one so I figured “no problem”, I surely have all the necessary items needed to make one. This is a crocheted scrubby and so I knew I had to have the size of crochet hook the instructions called for – I have many, many crochet hooks. I found 7 crochet hooks, 3 of the same size and 4 others – NOT THE ONE I NEEDED! This just reinforced the knowledge that I HAVE to be more organized – so much wasted money because in the past it was easier to buy new than search through my supplies.

This scubby is so simple to make and only took me maybe 30 minutes. The original version was made entirely of netting but I chose to do one side netting (tulle) and one side cotton yarn. I like the cotton on one side and netting on the other – dual purpose/wash cloth & scrubber in one….

Crocheted Scrubby  net side

 Materials: 

5 strips netting,  2″ wide x 117″ long – more strips if only using netting

Cotton Yarn, the kind used for making dishcloths

Crochet Hook size I/9

Rnd 1: Ch 4, 7 dc in 4th ch from hook, join to top of beg ch 3 (8 dc)

Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in ea dc around, join (16 dc)

Rnd 3: same as rnd 2 (32 dc)

Rnd 4: same as rnd 3 (64 dc)

Finish off.

Make 2 circles, one with nettting and one with the cotton yarn. Do not finish off 2nd circle.

Place two circle together with wrong sides facing, join with a row of single crochet.

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Crockpot Breakfast

CrockPot Breakfast

I don’t really enjoy cold cereals for breakfast – in fact I don’t really like breakfast unless I am up for a couple of hours. I do however like oatmeal and this recipe is so simple, yummy, easy and healthy. And the best part is it cooks while you sleep. You will need a small crockpot for this recipe, unless you double it.
1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1 T butter with an additional bit to rub inside the crockpot
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 T cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup sweetener (I used a mixture of honey and maple syrup, you could also use brown sugar)
1 apple cut up into small pieces (or some other fresh or dried fruit could be substituted-use 1/2-1 cup)
Rub the inside of the crock pot with some butter. Mix all ingredients together in the crock pot and cook for about 7-8 hours on low.  The oats do stick some, but after soaking it will clean without too much scrubbing.

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Fall(ing)

As summer has ended and the leaves are changing colors I feel a strong need to get back to basics. I yearn for a more simpler time. A time before the INSTANT lifestyle. A less rushed time. A time to reflect and just enjoy what life has to offer. I know I am not alone and I am sure there are others that have felt this way.

The past year has me looking for ways to cut back on spending or just a way to make ends meet.  I am aiming for a simpler life and this change will not happen overnight, it will happen in baby steps. This will be my journey and I will attempt to document it within these pages.

My first goal is to do something productive every day.  I must make a list and of course I will need to refer to it once in a while, something I tend to not do very well.

On my list:

  • Make a plan

It doesn’t make any sense to start this journey if I don’t know where I am starting from.

  • Reduce the clutter in my life

Nothing is more time consuming than trying to maintain the clutter in our home, car and life. Why should I spend hours cleaning, picking up or looking for something.  By decluttering I should be able to reduce the amount of work I make for myself and keep everything in it’s place. If I don’t use it or expect to use it in the next couple of months, I must get rid of it. Sell it, donate it for the tax write off, give it to someone who needs it.

  • Cook from scratch

Actually this one is not new for me. But I need to stock my pantry. I plan on making my own mixes (I used to do this years ago) instead of buying store bought. Mixes are of course a time saver and by making them myself I can control the ingredients. I can make pancake, brownie, cookie, rice mixes enough for 5 or 6 meals and store in containers and just add eggs or other liquids when ready. Just using basic ingredients like flours, salt, sugar, yeast, baking cocoa and dried herbs are always more cost effective than store brand pre-made mixes.  I can also control the food we will be eating and getting rid of unwanted additives, food dyes and preservatives. I will post my mix recipes once I begin the process and I will add more as I go along.

  • Ditch the disposables

This is not only good for the budget but will reduce the carbon footprint that I make.  I have cut back on using plastic wrap but I would like to eliminate it all together. I has probably been nearly two years since I eliminated all plastic storage containers in my kitchen and switched to stainless steel and glass.  I use canning jars quite often, but still find myself using plastic wrap and plastic storage bags. Even though I do use plastic storage bags,  I  wash and reuse them as often as I can.  I need to reduce my dependance on paper towels. I have cut back on using them but I need to cut back more. I will switch to cloth napkins and towels. I have lots of fabric pieces that I can make some napkins and maybe in my decluttering mode I will find things in my closet, like the cotton dress from 10 years ago that doesn’t fit or that older extra set of sheets.

– Knit some more dish cloths. These make great gifts and Christmas is coming (all too soon it seems). I will post the directions in a future post.

– I plan on making some cloth snack bags and lunch bags to carry lunches in. I am working on the pattern and once I come up with the easiest way to make these I will post the instructions if anyone is interested.

Make and use mesh or cloth grocery bags and produce bags.  I can make some prettier bags than buying store ones.

This is a short list for now, but at least it is a start. Now it is time to get busy. I am finding that I enjoy sitting here typing and thinking about all that I need to do instead of  physically doing what needs to be done. You will find that I am a horrible procrastinator and maybe I need to add this to my list…

  • STOP PROCRASTINATING

I know I do it…..I know life would be simpler if I didn’t…..but I just can’t get beyond this. This will be my biggest hurdle in my efforts to get back to SIMPLY BASIC…….

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A New Beginning

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” -Henry David Thoreau

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