Thursday, March 31, 2011

Almost Free Seeds!

I was watching tv and found

where they were giving away 25 packages of organic seeds for only $5 postage. I couldn't resist, and after checking their website, I realized that most of the seeds sell for more than $3 a package, so I hope I got a good deal. Supposed to be a variety of veggies, herbs, and flowers they will be sending me. I am hoping the seeds are all heritage varieties, so I can grow and save the seeds for future use also. I also hope the seeds get here soon, so I can start them inside if need be. Oh, I am so excited!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 88: Pocket Change

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, March 28, 2011

Now We're Cookin! With Sun!

I did it! After 2 years of researching, thinking, and just generally procrastinating, I finished my first solar oven. As soon as it stops snowing, I will attempt to cook in it, probably baking some bread first, using a recipe that I already use. No use wasting time attempting a new recipe! I first took 2 boxes, one slightly smaller than the other, and set the smaller one inside the larger box. I then cut off the lid/flaps of the smaller box. The space left between the 2 boxes were then filled with shredded paper from the paper shredder and covered with strips of cardboard to keep the paper in. I then made a top out of extra cardboard. Using an utility knife, I then cut an opening the same size as the smaller box and covered it with 2 layers of plastic (actually the liners from cereal boxes). Two layers is supposed to be better for the heating aspect. (Glass or plexiglass would work better, but I didn't want to waste $ on it if this project really bombs.) Next, I covered the opening lid flap and some other leftover pieces with aluminum foil to act as reflectors. Also painted the whole thing with black high temp paint that I actually already had on hand. The paint should also help preserve the cardboard, in the likely hood it gets a little rain on it. Here is a look at the inside. I did paint it all black, but will probably line some of it with foil for more reflective heat. I still need to get some kind of grate to put in the bottom under the pans for heat flow under the pans. But the oven is big enough for my 2 long loaf pans, Or a large-ish pot with lid and a very small loaf pan. I spent a whopping 90 cents on the whole project. All the items I already had on hand or was able to get for free(boxes), except for the aluminum foil (of all things.)

Will keep this updated with all my trials/errors, but this should be alot of fun. And energy saving! Thanks MJ for "egging" me on!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pocket Change

Be ashamed to catch yourself idle.
~Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Pocket Change

A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.~Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Washing on the Outdoor Clothes Line

Spring will soon be here, so I am expecting alot of rain. I get excited for rain, I like to see the rainbarrel filled up. I was thinking of how else I could use the rain, and have come to an idea. I think I will hang the light weight towels, sheets, and pillow cases on the outdoor clothes line before it rains, and let the rain rinse them for me. Not every time they need washed, but maybe every other time. Heaven knows those items don't really get dirt dirty, so they probably only need a rinse out. I know how good sun-dried sheets smell, I wonder if they will smell better being washed with rain water. I'll have to time it right, so the neighbor's outdoor furnace isn't running, to keep the smoke off, and so the laundry doesn't hang on the line for days waiting for the sun.

Before you think I'm completely nuts, I have sortof done this before, maybe you have also. Remember the time you forgot the laundry was on the line and it hung there until it started to fade from the sun? (I have a rug to prove that.)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

You Freeze THAT?!!!

March is Frozen Foods Month. So in honor of all frozen things, I thought I'd explain my freezer usage. You name it, I have tried to freeze it. With a great success rate also, I might add. My theory is if the big food companies can freeze it, I can also. Waffles, cookie dough, bread, applesauce. Veggies, milk, sour cream (but only for cooking, not glopping on tacos) and of course any meat, cooked, seasoned or raw. I have a Food Saver machine to shrink wrap the meat, but the bags are sooooo expensive for it, I have a hard time justifying the cost vs. double wrapping the meat in plain Saran Wrap. We eat the meat so fast, it usually doesn't get a chance to freezer burn.

Now some things are just easier to make than to take up space in my freezer. Pancakes for instance, I never freeze.

Most herbs you can dry, but some are not meant for drying. Dried chives for instance, turns into tasting like dried hay. But if you freeze them, bingo! they are great.

Did you know you can freeze eggs? Take a dozen eggs, whisk lightly, and pour into an ice cube tray. One large egg will fill an ordinary ice cube square. (This doesn't work when your hens insist laying jumbo sized eggs, like mine do) Use them for baking, although we have made scrambled eggs from these with moderate results.

The weirdest things I've successfully frozen?

  • Shredded slaw mix(used it in egg rolls)

  • Chocolate Easter Bunnies found on clearance and saved a WHOLE year for the next Easter(what's most amazing about this, is that Chocolate Boy didn't find them for a whole year.)

  • yogurt, especially plain, individually frozen in ice cube trays for "starters" for homemade yogurt

  • fishing grubs, oddly the fish don't seem to mind (believe me, the grubs in the freezer was NOT my idea, Fishing Boy likes to "try" new things.)

  • paintbrushes full of paint. I'll explain: When I have to stop painting in the middle of a job, I don't rinse the brush out, I just put the brush into a plastic grocery bag, press most of the air out, and then freeze. The next day (or week) when I am ready to paint, I take the bagged brush out, let thaw out, and I'm ready to paint. Also works with paint rollers. Saves tons of water/cleaner fluid. I have also heard that you can use the frig instead of the freezer, which makes sense.

Things that don't really work well frozen:

  • mayo

  • lettuce

  • canned goods, unless you partially open them first

  • forgotten cans of pop (soda) unless you crave cleaning out your freezer afterwards

Our freezer is an upright. I know chest freezers are supposed to be more energy efficient, but I feel that all the time I spend rummaging thru a chest freezer negates the efficiency, so I chose an upright that I can organize easier. In case of power outtage/freezer defrosting, I organize the freezer in this order:

  • top shelf: breads, frozen french fries

  • middle shelf: veggies

  • bottom shelf: meat store wrapped (rolls of hamburger, turkey burger, bologna)

  • bottom drawer: meat in saran wrap, freezer paper

  • door shelves: bagels, flax seed, boxes of rice, flour, graham cracker crumbs(mostly short term storage, just to kill off any bugs that might be packaged in the grains)

I say "in case of freezer defrosting" because if we do have a melt down, at least the meat juices won't leak onto anything and contaminate the bread or veggies, which could still be used if thawed out. This also helps me to be able to send the kids down to the freezer for something, if I try to keep the items in the same spot all the time.

Now, I'm off to enjoy the last frozen month before spring!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Pocket Change

Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What's a sun-dial in the shade?
~Benjamin Franklin