Re-growing Vegetables: the Sequel

Several years ago on the blog, I shared how I had used the leftover scraps from my celery to re-grow some on my windowsill. You can read that post HERE

While I haven’t kept up with my celery, I did have a friend that reported to me that her family did, and they were able to plant it in their garden that spring. Kind of cool, right? 🙂

In my blog post I mentioned that I was going to try green onions, and for me that was easier and a huge success. It’s something I still do 6 years later 🙂

It’s really as simple as can be, and easy to maintain. When I get onions from the store, I put them in a glass with a inch or two of filtered water. I change that water every couple of days and rinse off the bottom of the onions at the same time.  Be careful not to go too long without changing the water, the onions will get slimy and gross, 🙂 I also keep the roots trimmed down, but if your goal is to plant the onions in a pot or your garden,  you would want to let those grow out.

The growth happens very quickly as you can see from this photo taken just 5 days later

I love using green onions in salads and in our omelets we make on weekends, and there is generally enough growth to use frequently.

I have not been successful keeping them going really long term, but even using them 5 or 6 times is more frugal than using them once and tossing. 🙂

Next up for me:  to try basil and cilantro. I haven’t had tremendous luck with growing herbs in my kitchen. I’m hoping to add  a small shelf in my kitchen window that would help immensely. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

If you enjoyed this post, and are looking for more frugal tips, I invite you to join The Frugal Pantry Facebook group. My friend Darcy from The Purposeful  Pantry and I will be sharing different tips that will help you in your homemaking journey. We would love it if you would join us!

a-wise-woman-builds-her-home

This post is part of the Wise Woman Link Up at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home. Click the link above for more great homemaking posts from around the web.

Decluttering and Labeling

After our daughter was settled in at college in the fall of 2016, and my days had settled into their new normal, I determined that I was going to tackle the clutter in our home once and for all. I had read and was intrigued by some of the principles of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and wanted to see if they could make a real difference in our home.

The KonMari approach is that if something doesn’t spark joy, you don’t keep it. And if you keep it, it must have a home and be well organized.

I have been ruthless in going through my things and getting rid of duplicates, things I have been holding on to “just in case” and things I just don’t need. Kitchen gadgets, craft supplies, clothing, nothing has been left untouched. Numerous trips have been made to the local thrift store to donate things I no longer want or need, and it truly makes me happy to see the clutter leave our home.

After decluttering an area, and finding space for the items I have kept, the final step in this process for me has been labeling items. Sometimes it is labeling a tub of seasonal items for storage, or a shelf in a kitchen cabinet. It makes it easier to return items where they belong, and I think it looks nice as well.

All of my labels use the same theme so everything matches throughout our home. I store all the labels on my computer (backed up to the cloud) so I can reprint labels or create new ones as needed.

Here is one of my kitchen cabinets with various baking and small appliance items.  I love that there is adequate space between each item, and that even if multiple things are out and being used, they are simple to put back in place when I am finished because of the labeling on the shelves. It truly makes me happy when I open my cabinets and see them so well organized.

Do you have goals to declutter your home in 2018? I encourage you to pick just one area to begin with, and really be ruthless in choosing what you will keep. Perhaps you will tackle your closet,  your children’s toys, or a storage area of things you never use. It’s worth the effort for the peace you will feel with a house that will feel more like a home.

Adding moisture and natural fragrance to your home

It has been bitterly cold throughout the US this week, with even colder air on the way this weekend. I noticed that the air in our home had gotten very dry because of running the furnace more, (we do not have a humidifier as part of our HVAC), but I didn’t want to haul out the big humidifier just yet.

So I decided to put a big pot of water to simmer on the stove to get some moisture in the air quickly. And it’s always nice to add a little something to the water to add a pleasant scent to the house as well, without harmful chemicals.

I looked around to see what I could find, and I found a lone orange on the back side of my fruit basket that was leftover from our family Christmas gathering. For drinks we had punch, mulled cider, with iced tea and water in clear beverage dispensers, and I wanted to make it look a little more festive so I added fresh cranberries and orange slices to the water. So pretty!

So I took the orange, (which was starting to dry out a little bit), sliced it thinly with my mandolin, and added it to my pot of water. Next I headed to my spice shelf and grabbed a couple of cinnamon sticks, and my mulling spices.
This spice blend smells amazing on it’s own and includes:  cinnamon, allspice,  cloves, mace and  cardamom seeds, which all compliment the orange wonderfully, I wish you could smell it!

***NOTE: a metal pan is best for this, I had some staining on my enameled cast iron after doing this.***

It was really pretty when it first began to simmer, but throughout the day as I added more water, the water got murkier as the cinnamon sticks began to breakdown. But do keep an eye on your pot and DO NOT let the water completely evaporate. If you are going to be out of the kitchen for an extended period of time, you might want to set reminders on your phone to add additional water to the pot.

For very little effort, in no time at all my house was smelling amazing, and it really did add moisture to the air. The humidity in our home went from 23% to 33% while the mixture was simmering on the stove. Give it a try this weekend and see what amazing scent combinations you can come up with.

Furniture Polish

As many of you know, I have been moving toward more natural cleaners in our home, as well as trying to make more real food choices. We don’t have any expensive wood furniture in our home, but the pieces we do have are dear to me (the garage sale coffee table that my Dad refinished for my first apartment, my great grandfather’s rocking chair, my mother in law’s china cabinet, and my high chair that my grandfather had handmade for me.) So when it comes to polishing our furniture, I had begun using olive oil instead of commercial polish. I was pretty happy with the results, but it still felt like some of the pieces needed more.

I was super excited to see this post on Crunchy Betty about making your own furniture polish, especially since I had the ingredients and could make some RIGHT AWAY! So I mixed up a batch and used it on the furniture in the living room. (Note: I actually used more olive oil than is called for, when my batch first cooled it was a little too firm for my liking. I just re-melted and used more olive oil.)

I was not impressed with the results right away. As much as I rubbed, the furniture still looked a little cloudy and streaky. I decided to wait a little while and see if things soaked in a little bit. And boy did they! My coffee and sofa tables have never gleamed like they do now!

So today, I decided to get my high chair and give it a good rub down and see if I could breathe some life into it. It took me about 20 minutes to rub it by hand into all the little nooks and crannies, and then rub it down with a micro fiber cloth, but I am super happy with the results!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (before and after cell phone pics)

I look forward to adding this polish to my cleaning arsenal, and giving all our wood furniture a good polish every six months or so. Be sure to pop over to Crunchy Betty and grab the recipe, and check out her amazing results with her wooden bowls!

Dishwasher detergent

I do not subscribe to the theory that if something is natural it is worth paying more money. That actually irritates me a great deal. If you know me at all, you know that I enjoy things that are natural and inexpensive. If I can make it myself, even better.

So over the years, I have tried several different “recipes” for making my own natural, inexpensive dishwasher detergent. I have tried using borax and washing soda . Besides the fact it didn’t work well long term, I am no longer comfortable using borax in our home, especially on our dishes. I have even tried using my beloved soap nuts. But nothing worked well long term. However, I really wanted to get away from all of the phosphates and chlorine in traditional detergents,  so after reading about it on several other blogs, I finally bit the bullet and tried Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder about a year ago.

The health food store where I purchased my first container was having a sale, but still, there was some sticker shock! (Currently $11.73 on Amazon) But I figured I could try using less than the recommended amount (always a good practice with anything- cleaners, medication, etc.) We started out using 1 tbs of powder, which is half the recommended amount. We now use 1/2 tbs and are still REALLY happy with how well this works for us. Now in the interest of full disclosure, our dishes are rinsed pretty well before being put in the dishwasher, but I have read on other sites about people that have great results without rinsing.

Still, is it worth paying almost TWELVE dollars for dish soap? YES- because we use so little, we can make 1 container last almost 4 months! (I know this because I am a total geek and wrote the date we began our last container on the side). We started our current container October 19th, and we have about 4-5 more loads left.

So, I can totally justify making this switch. Not only is it SO MUCH BETTER for our health, our budget doesn’t suffer either.

 

Still using my soap nuts

soap nuts for blog

In my first post about soap nuts I told you a lot about the nuts themselves and pricing information.

Now that I have been happily using them for a while, I thought I would share with you a review of sorts.

In the laundry, I have been very pleased. I am easily getting 7 washings out of a batch (five soap nuts). I only use cold water, so when I first use a batch I let it soak in a pint jar of  hot water for about five minutes, then I pour the water and the soap nuts in the washer.

After 7 or so washings, they go in a small pot on the stove with a little water and I make liquid concentrate. Warming the liquid to a boil and letting it steep all night seems to work well. I still have not had a soapnut that I would consider all used up, but after this, I really feel that I have gotten my money’s worth out them and I toss them out. (I do mash them as I am making the concentrate.)

My first batch of concentrate ( a weak one) worked really well for cleaning counters and mirrors, and hand washing dishes. I was not happy long term with the results in the dishwasher. I am hoping to try a stronger solution and see if I get good results, I’ll keep you posted.

Some things to remember:

Soapnuts are not a miracle detergent. Your laundry will not appear any cleaner than before, just clean. I still use an oxygen bleach like Oxiclean with each load.

Soapnuts are not a stain remover. Stains especially greasy ones, require pretreating.

Soapnuts have sweet smell to them, and the wet clothes from the washer will smell like them, but when dry, there is no scent, just clean and fresh.

There is very little sudsing with soapnuts, but if you take a peek in your washer while it is agitating, you will see it working.

Soap Nuts

I have been reading quite a bit about soap nuts around the internet. Many of the blogs I read deal with natural, frugal living and that includes making home made cleaners. One of the most popular tips I have come across is making your own laundry detergent using borax, washing soda and a bar of soap. Now, there are concerns that the borax isn’t really healthy to be using either. You can read more about borax concerns here and here.

Here is the company I have chosen to purchase from, after reading many reviews on the Internet.

NaturOil I have no experience with the company other than what I have read on blogs I frequent.I first read about them here at Passionate Homemaking. The writer has used other brands including the Maggie’s brand, but prefers the NaturOil, saying the are a better quality product. They sell a different variety, and the photos on their Amazon listing do look fresher than other photos I have seen. However In the interest of full disclosure, she is an affiliate for them. But she is also a godly woman and I trust her recommendation, and am happy to help her in her frugal journey.

It is my hope that I will be happy with the way that soap nuts clean, enough so that it can replace all my current cleaners. If it does, I will be buying in a very large quantity to help get my cost under 10 cents a load of laundry. Not as cheap as the home made laundry soap, but within an amount that my husband and I are comfortable with. Additionally, we use cold water to wash and I have read that can extend the life of the soap nut even further.

Here is the pricing break down:

4 oz (40 loads) 9.95

8 oz (80 loads) 12.75

16 oz (160 loads) 18.95

32 oz (320 loads) 28.95

48 oz (480 loads) 45.95

64 oz (640 loads) 58.95

Price comparison:

Tide 24 loads $10.15  (42 cents a load)

Purex 32 loads $7.00  (22 cents a load)

********If you are interested in trying a batch of these for yourself, please let me know, I am happy to share with you if you wouldn’t mind pitching in a dollar to pay for the cost of the muslin bag for your sample.*********

If you have read this far-THANK YOU, 🙂 I am really passionate about finding things to use around my home that are not harmful to us or our pets, and using something of God’s creation I think is even more exciting.

OAMC tip

I just ran across a great new (to me) blog called Once a Month Mom.I do not really “do” OAMC anymore, but I do incorporate some of its principles in my kitchen. One of those is browing all my ground beef at once.

Check out this post at OAMM for her fantastic tip that I plan to try next time I buy hamburger.

Being Prepared

from the King’s Missus, some great tips for planning ahead in our homemaking.

What are some tips for becoming more prepared? If you are totally new to being prepared, I suggest trying some of these ideas and incorporating them bit by bit (not all at once) into your life:

*Rising early to have time with God and prepare for the day
*Using a daily list (whether in your head or on paper), a home management binder, Daily Docket, or schedule to map out your day and write down things that need to be done
*Make supper in the morning so when the “pit hour” comes and all the kids are crying you can just heat it up!
*Making a Master List of your family’s favorite 50 meals that you can consult when you need menu-planning ideas
*Getting into the habit of making a weekly menu-plan and shopping once a week or less
*Making up a Master Packing List to look over when you are packing for trips so you don’t forget those important items for each person in the family
*Making a Master Grocery List as my friend Heather did to help avoid forgetting items on shopping trips
*Having a weekly “stock-the-diaper-bag” routine where you make sure there are a few outfits, a few diapers and some wipes, and some toys, etc. It’s no use taking a diaper bag if it’s not stocked!
*Making a weekly schedule or routine for activities you can do with your child (playdough one day, painting the next, etc.)
*Setting out the cups/bowls/cereal/bread the night before so breakfast goes smoothly
*When chicken goes on sale, cook 4-6# of it in a crockpot or in a roasting pan in the oven. Cool it, chop or shred it, and freeze it for a handy addition to meals when you are cooking. Do the same for cooking hamburger, dried beans, etc.
*Do a Baking Day to prep snacks and breads for your family so they are easily accesible.
*Buying a freezer chest that you can use to buy ahead when things go on sale.
*Having an emergency kit in the car, first aid kit in the house, and fire extinguisher handy.
*Pack a Park-Kit for the trunk of your car. Going to the park all the time in the summer? Don’t want to fuss with packing snacks and drinks every time? Fill an empty diaper box with crackers, bottled water, wipes, band-aids, sunscreen, sun hats, a blanket, sunglasses, kleenex, sand toys, etc. and then you will have it handy if you need it. Of course you will have to restock it now and then though!
*Have a few outfits that are older or faded that you were going to toss or give to the thrift store? Stash one outfit per person in your trunk of your car. Then, when you are at a picnic and your kid wets on you or you discover you forgot to stock the diaper bag, you won’t have to drive home! Just remember to put them back in the trunk of the car after you wash them.
*Back up all of your photos and home videos on CDs/DVDs/Memory card, etc. and keep them in a fireproof box with your important documents.
*Make a Travel Bag and fill with activities that your kids can do on long car trips.

*Pack separate bags for each day for a vacation. I love this idea I found online a while back! Instead of having 5 separate suitcases which Dad has to haul into the tent/hotel every day, pack an outfit for each person in one brown bag or tote bag, labeled DAY ONE. Then you just have to bring in blankets, diapers, the bathroom bag, and the DAY ONE bag. We do this now on some vacations/trips and it’s so nice to have everyone’s swimsuit handy in the swim bag when you want to go to the lake or pool or a church bag fully stocked with church outfits.
*Make a gift stash and add to it as you find great new stuff for cheap at yard sales, or on clearance. Then you can “shop at home” for someone when you want to bless someone who is having a hard day or give someone a birthday surprise.

Inexpensive Stainless Steel Cleaner

Source: Mandi EhmanSource: Mandi Ehman and Simple Nest

We love our stainless steel appliances, but with three little ones, even our “smudge resistant” brushed stainless steel ends up with streaks and smudges. The thought of paying for all of the stainless steel cleaner we would need to keep the appliances clean is NOT appealing to me, but fortunately we’ve found a great solution.

I now keep all of our appliances shiny with baby oil...

You can read the rest  of the article here at Simple Nest