Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Homemade Liquid Fabric Softener

I have known for a long time that vinegar is a natural liquid fabric softener. The only reason I never made the switch was because I was in love with the fragrances of store bought. I have been wanting to switch, though, in the effort to continue to cut unneccesary chemical usage out of my home, as well as for the purposes of cutting costs. I finally found a pleasing solution to that problem.

It is really quite simple, and I can't believe I never thought of it before! Basically what I did was to take a large jug of vinegar, and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of a fragrant essential oil. Before each use, I shake the jug, just to make sure it is all mixed up well. And for ease of use, I use a Downy liquid fabric softener ball to dispense my homemade fabric softener during the wash cycle. It has been working quite well for us so far, and right now my fabric softener is lavender scented. I won't be buying any more of the store bought liquid fabric softeners, although I will be buying some new scents of essential oils to experiment with :) While essential oils can seem expensive, since a little bit goes a long ways, they really do last for quite a while. For saving money on my essential oils, I order them from www.vitacost.com .

Monday, August 23, 2010

Canning Season

'Tis the season for an abundance of fresh produce! If you garden, have fruit trees, have a farmer's market nearby, or even hit some good produce sales at the store, you will have plenty to can and store for use during the rest of the year. At first, doing home canning kind of scared me, but I started learning how to do it about two years ago. I have successfully made and canned apple butter, apple sauce, chokecherry jelly, pickled beets, and homemade salsa. I'm just getting started this year and made some salsa yesterday. I am planning on making more chokecherry jelly, and trying my hand at wild raspberry jam, among other things this year.

Some things to keep in mind when canning are safety procedures to ensure safe food, elevation considerations, and having adequate supplies. It is very important to research what you plan to can by using tested recipes and by studying proper canning methods. If food is not canned properly, it can become contaminated with botulism and cause serious illness. Some foods are fine being canned using a water bath canning method, others require pressure canning to ensure safe food.

When canning, you want to keep your elevation level in mind. Living in higher elevations require longer processing times to ensure proper food preservation temperatures. You can usually do an internet search to find out your elevation level, and proceed accordingly. Last, but not least, make sure you have the proper supplies. A water bath canner/pressure canner to use for processing, glass jars with lids and rings, a funnel, and a jar lifter or set of tongs for removing hot jars from the canner. The jars and rings can be saved and used again, but you will need new lids every time you can something new in a jar.

Here are some links for some good general information on canning:

Here is a link for elevation guidelines:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yet Another Reason To Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Recently, there have been reports that have come out stating that women who use commercial cleaning products more frequently have higher rates of breast cancer. Many of the chemical ingredients in these cleaning products are harmful and toxic to the human body. And, because of government regulations, manufacturers of these products are not required to disclose all the ingredients in the cleaners. I have tried to read the labels of these products before, and I have seen many that said, for example, "Ingredients: Surfactants", and that's all it will list.

I started making my own cleaners mainly because of my asthma, as the fumes in the commercial cleaners really bothered my lungs. However, I also realized that making my own was quite a bit cheaper than buying them, and you also get rid of the chemical exposure when using natural ingredients in your cleaning solutions. Another reason I love making my own is because my children can safely use them when I ask them to help me clean, and because it is non-toxic to them (and pets!) when used as the main household cleaning products.

Here are some links to previous posts with homemade cleaning recipes:






For further reading on the latest reports on this subject:



There are several experts who disagree with the findings of the study, and report that since household cleaning product use was self-reported (after the patient was already diagnosed), that the information is skewed and unreliable. However, in light of that, I don't agree that the information should just be ignored. I don't trust using these chemicals in my home, for my asthmatic health reasons, but also because I do tend to believe that they are poisonous and do have the potential to cause harm to human bodies.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yummy Crockpot Split Pea Soup

This recipe is rather unique, unlike any split pea soup I have ever had before. I really don't care for traditional split pea soup all that well, but this split pea soup I find to be quite delicious! It is different, but oh so yummy!

Split Pea Soup

2 cups green or yellow split peas, sorted and rinsed
6 cups water
1/2 cup dry sherry or apple juice
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
6 bouillion cubes
3 cups firmly packed spinach leaves
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons fresh dill weed

Combine split peas, water, sherry/apple juice, sweet potato, onion, garlic, and bouillion cubes in crockpot. Allow to slow cook on low for 10-11 hours, or on high for 5-6 hours. Stir in spinach, cream, and dill. Cook for an additional 1/2 an hour.

I have also used a few substitutions in this recipe when I didn't have all the ingredients on hand. Sometimes I have used carrots in place of the sweet potato (about 2 cups), sometimes I have used regular milk or plain yogurt in place of the cream. It always ends up tasting great to me!

I adapted this recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook entitled "More Slow Cooker Recipes".