Foods that keep indefinitely

Who doesn’t hate food wastage? So irksome, right? There are a number of staple items that you probably have in your kitchen that will NOT spoil. 

1. Rice (stored in an airtight container)

2. Dried beans

3. Salt

4. Corn Starch

5. Sugar; granulated sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar (stored in an airtight container)

6. Honey (stored in an airtight container)

7. Real Vanilla Extract

8. Pure Maple Syrup (in the freezer)

9. Instant Coffee (in the freezer)

10. Hard Liquor

11. White Vinegar

12. Soy Sauce 

13. Powdered Milk

14. Pemmican 

12 reasons to stock up on vinegar

Beauty/Skincare/Health

  • Now that summer is here, chances are you or someone in your household will get a sunburn. Dampen a cotton ball or a soft cloth with vinegar and gently rub the toasted and roasted areas, your skin will instantly feel cooler!
  • Ugly corns on your tootsies making you pass on the sandals? Try soaking your feet in warm water and 1/2 cup of vinegar for 10-15 minutes, then rub the corn with a pumice stone. You may have to repeat this process every few days until the corn is gone.
  • Age spots (shudder) we all loathe them, right? Dab a Q-tip in vinegar, apply directly on age spot and leave on for 30 minutes, an hour, or more. Rinse face with cold water afterwards.
  • Next time you have a sore throat try mixing equal parts vinegar and honey, take 1 tbsp. of the mixture every 2 hours.

Laundry

  • Are you dying to wear those hot new jeans if only there was a way to soften them up, make them not so stiff and brand newish? Do not fret, there is a way! Throw the jeans in the wash with 10 oz. of vinegar and usual amount of laundry detergent and wash them like you normally would. Added bonus: jeans will remain colorfast too!
  • Who doesn’t hate those unsightly, gross underarm stains on t-shirts?! Soak the area with vinegar for 10-15 minutes then wash as usual. Stain and odor shall be banished! For really stubborn stains rub a paste of baking soda and vinegar on stain, then wash as usual.
  • Don’t ever buy fabric softener again! Seriously. Vinegar is cheaper and your clothing will last much longer! Clothes will not smell like vinegar.

Cooking

  • If you are like me, you never remember to buy buttermilk when grocery shopping. No worries. Add a little white vinegar to regular whole milk, stir, leave it set for about 10 minutes, voila! You’ve got yourself buttermilk!
  • Preserve sour cream by adding 1 tsp. of vinegar to a small container, and 2 tbsp. to large containers after opening.

Household Uses/ Cleaning

  • Forget buying those expensive and mediocre dishwasher cleaners. Just run an empty dishwasher with vinegar instead of detergent. You will be amazed at how clean your dishwasher looks and smells!
  • For weeds that grow in between the cracks in driveways and sidewalks, pour vinegar on them. Within a few days the offending weeds will die and will not reappear for months! And non-toxic so you don’t have to worry about contaminating your yard or your pets.
  • When the temperature gets freezing cold outside you can keep ice and frost off of your car’s windows by coating them with a mixture of 3 parts vinegar, and 1 part water.

Rattlesnake season

Now that summer is officially upon us, it’s that time of the year when rattlesnakes grace us all with their presence. Joy!

Rattlesnakes habitats are wide and varied, ranging from British Columbia to Argentina, and everywhere in between! They are found at sea level and at 10,000 feet elevation. That means they make their homes in mountains, deserts, prairies, rural areas, and suburban settings.

I have had numerous encounters with rattlesnakes, and I have not been bitten. I owe that to being cautious, mindful, and some dumb luck. From my experience, they are not aggressive. Contrary to popular culture they don’t attack unsuspecting humans without provocation. That’s not to say that they will not bite. If provoked or threatened, they certainly will! If you see one, back off! Give it plenty of space, leave it alone, walk away, and you should have no problem with the snake.

My most recent encounter with a rattlesnake happened about a week ago. It was about 9:00 at night. I was taking some soda cans to the recycle bin in our garage. As I walked down the steps that lead into my garage, I heard that all too familiar rattle. I stepped back into the house and called my husband to come and have a listen. He took a broom and started tapping around, and sure enough the sound started again. So he began moving things about looking for the culprit responsible for that sound. And there we saw it, a medium sized rattlesnake coiled up at the foot of the steps! Upon being exposed the snake quickly retreated behind the clothes dryer, all the while rattling away, warning us to back off. My husband continued to bang around trying to get it to leave our garage, to no avail. Mr. Snake stayed right behind the dryer. We knew we could not get animal control out at that hour, we also knew we couldn’t leave it in our garage all night. So sadly, we decided the only real option was to shoot the snake with a pellet gun. We go in and out of the garage very frequently. Our dogs eat in there.  If we’d have left it all night, there’s no telling where it would have hid. Nope, not safe for us or our pets. So my husband shot the creature twice. It took a few minutes to die, but when it was languishing  he pushed it out of the garage with the broom, and the snake did strike and bite the broom several times before it died.

Now, we don’t like senselessly killing animals. If there was a safe and humane alternative, we would have opted for it, but really there was not.

What I have learned from my encounters with rattlesnakes is:

  • They are not aggressive, however they are defensive and will strike if you mess with them.
  • Their rattle is used as a “warning system” to let us know: 1. I am here. 2. You better give me space.
  • Rattlesnakes can swim!
  • Always wear sturdy boots when outdoors this time of year as most rattlesnake bites occur on the feet, ankles, and hands.
  • Be mindful! Look where you are walking. Do not stick your hands into spaces where you do not have a visual because those are just the type of places snakes like to hang out.
  • Never pick up or touch a rattlesnake you think is dead! They can still bite and inject venom after death.
  • Watch your pets closely!! Dogs are curious and will inspect things that move. One of my dogs has been bitten, thankfully he made a full recovery. That full recovery cost us close to $1,000.
  • If you or your pet is bitten stay calm and seek immediate medical care.
  • Rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal to humans, especially when you get prompt medical care. However, a bite from a rattlesnake is still considered a medical emergency and should be treated as such.

DIY Laundry Detergent

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The end result! Use 1/2 cup for a FULL load, 1/4 cup for a half load.

Here is a simple and effective “recipe” for homemade laundry detergent.

What I like about it:

Very effective! I’ve used this stuff on darks, brights, whites, delicates, heavily soiled items, and everything in between. Works equally well on all of it!

It’s cheap.

It’s simple to make. Just 3 ingredients, all of which can be purchased at the grocery store, or major retailer such as Kmart, Target, or Wal-Mart.

 

What you will need: 

1 Bar of Fels-Naphtha, can be found in the laundry detergent aisle.

20 Mule Team Borax

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, also found in the laundry detergent aisle.

Cheese grater

A large pot or Dutch oven

5 gallon bucket

Directions:  Add 6 cups of water to your pot. Grate 1/3 of Fels-Naphtha bar into pot. Heat over low heat to melt soap. Stir frequently. Do not boil. Once soap is melted, add 1/2 cup of Borax and 1/2 cup of washing soda. Stir until dissolved, keep stirring until mixture thickens, this can take 5-7 minutes. If you are pressed for time, you can use a stick blender and be done in 15-20 seconds! Add 4-5 cups of hot water to 5 gallon bucket. Next add your soap mixture to the bucket. Give it another 30 seconds or so of stirring. Finally, add 1 gallon plus 6 cups more of hot water to mixture, stir for 1-2 minutes. Cover bucket with lid if you have one, if not that’s okay, let it sit overnight to “gel up”. Stir it in the morning to break up lumps and clumps. Now you’re good to go! Use 1/2 cup to wash a full load. Use 1/4 cup to wash a half load. Happy washing!!

A few things to note:

You can use stick blender in lieu of stirring by hand to save time.

You can add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. I do not do this. It it NOT necessary. This detergent will have your clothes smelling clean. 

This detergent will be lumpy, clumpy, and have a gel like consistency. It does not effect it at all. However, if that bothers you (it will look a little slimy and snotty) just stir, stir, and stir some more.

Use vinegar in place of fabric softener. Cheaper, and better than fabric softener in my humble opinion.  Your clothes will last longer, feel softer, and if you have a septic tank, your septic tank will thank you. And no, your clothing will not smell like vinegar! 

Safe to use in high efficiency washers, front loading washers, and all other types of washing machines.

Finished product will fill a 2 gallon bucket. I make a double batch which requires a 5 gallon bucket.

Safe to use on all fabric types.

Safe to use for hand washing, likely easier on your hands too.

From start to finish it takes 15-30 minutes to make.

A single batch will last 4-6 months. A double batch lasts me (I do LOTS of laundry) 9-10 months.

Cost wise it comes out to about 5 cents per load.

Baking Soda: Versatile, Cheap, and Effective

So, as someone who pays credence to both frugality and doing-it-yourself, I wish to share some of the many uses of a simple, inexpensive, household item you probably have on hand. Two words: Baking Soda. It is truly a do-all, miracle substance whose versatility and low price make it my “go to” item.

Kitchen: 

  1. Baking (may as well state the obvious first)
  2. Use to control strong odors in not only the fridge, but your pantry and the spice cabinet too.
  3. Use to clean and brighten grout. Just sprinkle a little on grout, grab an old toothbrush and dampen it with warm water, and scrub! Repeat as necessary. Rinse thoroughly.
  4. Got ugly black marks and scuffs in your white sink? Don’t you hate those?! Put in your drain stopper, put a generous amount of baking soda all over marks, cut a lemon in half, use lemon half to scrub the marks. Don’t rinse! You can leave baking soda and lemon mix for 30 minutes, 2 hours, even overnight. Rinse with warm water. Scuffs and marks should be a thing of the past, or at the very least faded drastically. I love this trick because; it really works, all natural ingredients are totally safe to use on food prep area, and your sink will not only look shiny and clean, but it will smell so, so nice, too!
  5. Stubborn pots and pans? Throw some baking soda on that mess, let it set for a few minutes, and a little warm water, grab a sponge, dish rag, scrub brush, etc., add a little elbow grease, and watch that crud disappear.

Laundry:

You probably already know baking soda is a great laundry detergent booster. But baking soda works just fine solo, too. Remember this next time you find yourself fresh out of detergent and you don’t feel like running to the store.

General Cleaning:

Fingerprints, dirt, and who-knows-what on your walls, yuck! Grab a bucket, add about 1/2 cup of baking soda, approximately 1/4 cup of white vinegar, and plenty of lukewarm water, mix it well. Grab a dampened rag, gently wipe down walls, and when the job is done, marvel at your walls.

In the bathroom, great for cleaning: Toilets, Showers, Bathtubs, and Sinks.

A trick you may not know; baking soda and vinegar work great on slow-draining sinks. Pour about 1/2-3/4 of a cup of baking soda directly into drain. Then pour in about half as much vinegar, place an old, damp rag over drain, wait about 15-20 minutes, finally flush drain with warm water for about 5 minutes. Voila! Cheaper than a plumber, and safe for pipes and septic tanks.

Carpet that smells not so fresh? Sprinkle with baking soda, wait approximately 10-15 minutes, vaccuum as usual. Smell that? No, I don’t.

Beauty/Personal Grooming:

Use with toothpaste to polish and brighten your smile.

I saved the best for last: baking soda is a fantastically effective, safe, gentle, exfoliant! Place a tablespoon or so in your fingertips, add just enough lukewarm water to make a gritty paste, apply with a circular motion all over face, rinse thoroughly. You will love the results! You can also use this method on dry, scaly feet, elbows, and knees.

Apology

ApologyI got married in 2004. The woman who is now my mother-in-law did not attend my wedding. She did not want her son to get married, least of all to me. She did not think our marriage would last. And, she just did not particularly care for me.

The way the whole thing played out was as revealing, as it was confusing. My hubby and I met in 2001. We got engaged about 9 months later. In the time between our engagement and our wedding, we stayed in my future in-law’s guest house for about 3 months, as we were finalizing the purchase of our own home. In hindsight, agreeing to stay there, despite my apprehension, was my big mistake.

She and I didn’t know each other all that well. We had spent some time together, but almost always at rather large family gatherings.  My husband and I come from pretty different upbringings. His mother was always very, shall we say- “involved” in his life. My parents and I were close. Once I became an adult however, they gave me the space to steer my own course. And I so appreciate that about them,  I wanted that,  I needed that. Naive me, I did not think those differences would ever be an issue. He loved me, I loved him. And that was all that mattered, right?

I foolishly believed that although our differences were numerous, as long as we respected and liked one another, living together would bring us closer together. It never entered my mind that she fully expected to get as “involved” in my life as she did with everyone else in her circle. To clarify, “involved” meant not only knowing; where I am, who I am with, what we were doing, and when I’d be home. She felt absolutely entitled to having a say so in these matters! She believed that she could, would, and should just take the reins from me and I would willingly allow her steer me in whichever direction she saw fit. And I believed she would respect my right to just be me. We were both wrong. Once it became apparent to her that I would not meet her expectations, or be putty in her hands; pliable and easily molded, everything changed. 

By the time the we closed escrow and the lender handed over the keys, she was as ready to get me out of her house, as I was anxious to get the heck out of there. The rapport we briefly enjoyed with one another had all but deteriorated. There was never a big, dramatic confrontation between her and I. We were able to maintain a politeness with one another. However, the tension between us was very much like the big, pink elephant in the room. It was obvious, it was undeniable, yet no one mentioned it, myself included. I was young, I was in love, and everything else about my life was stellar. I was engaged to a wonderful guy and had just bought a house. I was busy planning our wedding. I was just a few months away from finishing school. Surely she and I had some common ground and that was enough to build a relationship on. We didn’t have to be best friends. I was okay with that, soon I would find out that she was not. With her was “all or nothing”. You either surrender yourself to her control, or you suffer the consequences. So the wedding approached, she went into overdrive. She did not want her son to marry me, and the gloves came off. Her subversive, little digs she dished out with dinner became down right, and undeniably rude. I shrugged it off. She responded by not inviting me to her home anymore. She would invite my husband over, but only if I was working or otherwise busy. I didn’t let it bother me too much because, quite honestly at that point she could keep her “hospitality”. With our nuptials looming over her she decided to up the ante. She actually began pushing my husband into getting me to sign a pre-nuptial agreement. And for me that did it, she had finally found a way to come between us. By now I was very conflicted. I should have been relishing my status as bride-to-be, I had been planning every detail of my wedding day since I was a little girl. I was supposed to be beaming with happiness, and I was until a big, dark, doom cloud decided to rain on my parade. On one hand I felt bad for my husband because I knew, as hard as this was for me, it was harder for him because he was in the middle. On the other hand, this was his mother, and it was his place to put her in check. I certainly would have done so had it been my mother. He tried, she would not let up, so he arranged for she and I to talk, just the two of us, face to face. I thought okay, what a good idea. We will hash it out, really communicate, and move past this. How naive I was! What I did not know was she had absolutely no intention of moving past anything, she just wanted me out of the picture. Her exact words to my husband were “…watch and see, when I tell her what I think of her, she will leave you…” Now, does that sound like someone seeking a resolution?

Well, she told me what she thought of me. I did not leave me husband. We went ahead with our wedding. It was perfect, truly a perfect, fairytale like day. She and her husband chose not to attend. I must say if she had attended,  I believe it would not have been our perfect day.

Following our wedding, my new mother-in-law pouted and didn’t speak to her son for a week or so. He, being the loving and forgiving man that he is did not hold a grudge. After a month or so had passed, she decided we could all move on, and just pretend as though nothing had ever happened. As for me, I am not so forgiving, especially since not a word of acknowledgement, or regret, much less an apology had ever been uttered. No, I could hold a grudge. And I was not going back to having the big, pink elephant in the room!

To date, my mother-in-law has never acknowledged her hurtful actions and words and the effect they had. So needless to say, she has never expressed any regret or anything resembling an apology. I do not expect that she ever will. She and I will never be as close as she pushed us to be. I’m sure she realizes that she only has one person to blame for that, unfortunately that person is, always has been, and always will be me. Oh well.