Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Basil Gone To Seed

First of all, thank you for all your prayers for the farmers and ranchers of South Dakota and other areas hit by the storm Atlas. I keep hearing heart wrenching stories from South Dakota such as the rancher who went looking for his sheep and hasn't found one alive as of last week. He has three hundred head. I guess pneumonia hit many after the storm and more were lost. They could use our continued prayers. Now on a lighter note. 
Basil, yum, yum! I didn't have time to fuss with mine so I let it go to seed. I can't imagine why, ha, ha. I learned Sunday that the grand kids were staying for the next few weeks. With 96 bags to get done by the end of the month, remodeling to do, and simply a busy life, I can't imagine why I can't keep up with a few herb plants but I can't. I rationalized that I was still progressing forward since I let the basil go to see. With
self-sufficiency being my goal I will need to know how to do this too so the learning goes on.
It is interesting how the leaf shape changes to a more slender form. Flowers spring forth from the stalks that sprout up. The green pods turn brown and little black seeds form inside.

I will have to keep crushing these pods between my fingers to release the black seeds and later I will use these seeds to start the plants all over again. I don't have a good place in this house for plants except in the living room window and that doesn't look nice when we are getting ready to sell the house. Hence, herbs and such in a window will just have to wait for the new place. One in which I have an eye out for just the right kind of sunlight exposure. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Homemade Version Of Dishwasher Soap

With very little dishwasher soap left in the container I began thinking about making my own. I'm finding the fewer reasons for going to the store means I spend far less. You know how tempting things are and you can't help but come home with more than you intended.  I'm thinking I really need to look up my food expenses because I rarely go to Walmart and the local grocery store doesn't see me but every two to three weeks. I've got to be saving money don't I?

Yes, these ingredients for laundry soap have to be purchased but a couple of them I use in my laundry soap and the canning salt I use in well, canning. They are definitely cheaper than the products meant for just one use. Multiple uses items have taken on a big deal as I am trying to figure out just what to put in my extended storage. There is only so much space. We have run out in this house and if something has many uses, it just rose in importance in my eyes.  

So instead of buying hand soap, laundry soap, dish soap, and dishwasher soap, and the myriad of other cleaners, why not just have a few ingredients and use them for everything? I have read several studies and they all say the same thing. We are being ripped off by advertising telling us that we need all these products to get our houses, dishes, and laundry clean. They want our money pure and simple, not to create something far superior or safe for that matter. I already have salt, citric acid, washing soda, and borax, I'm set without a trip to the store to make my own dishwasher soap. That means this formula is a biggy on my list because I buy these products anyway.

Soap recipe

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt (for scrubbing action)
Use 1 Tbsp per load (you can use a heaping tablespoon if you feel the need, but we do not).

This is the recipe I tried. I'm washing my second load of dishes right now with this formula. The first one looks as clean as the store product.

 If borax is something you wish to avoid, I found this recipe but haven't tried it. I've got to say I'm still on the fence about borax and so I'm using it.

So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:
  • 1 cup washing soda (old recipe used baking soda)
  • 1/4 c. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. coarse salt
  • 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional. Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
  • Distilled white vinegar (in the rinse aid compartment)
Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil. Mix again. Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.
Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads
From My Healthy Green Family

I definitely don't use any product with lemon or orange in it as it eats the finish. That is why you never use anything with lemon in it when cleaning silver. Orange juice left on cotton will eat the fabric. Knowing this, long ago I began avoiding all cleaning products with lemon or orange despite the fact that they smell good. Well, at least better.

I did find this bit about the use of borax as a cleaner.

From ehow.   Borax's grainy texture removes dirt, and its chemical properties kill microorganisms and eliminate odors. The result is a clean dishwasher full of clean dishes. Since borax is alkaline, it also softens water, decreasing mineral buildup inside your dishwasher. At the time of publication, you may use borax freely in place of commercial dishwasher detergents.

According to the chemistry department at Iowa State University, borax is dangerous when inhaled or ingested and may burn the eyes and skin. Never touch it with your bare hands, and handle it carefully to avoid producing dust clouds, which can enter your eyes, nose and lungs.

Have to say I touch borax and declump it through my bare fingers all the time. Of course my skin is more like leather than skin. So don't let this freak you out. As with anything use caution, natural things can be dangerous too if use improperly.

I happened upon some recipes that used baking soda versus washing soda so I went hunting.

The difference between baking soda and washing soda is water and carbon dioxide. Seriously. Baking soda s chemical makeup is NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, one carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). Washing soda s chemical makeup is Na2CO3 (2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). When baking soda is heated up to high temperatures, it breaks down to become washing soda, water steam, and carbon dioxide.

You can turn Baking Soda into Washing Soda by baking it. Below is the explanation on how you can do it.

The process is really simple. Just heat your oven to 400 F (or 200 C), sprinkle some baking soda on a shallow pan, and bake it for about half hour, until it changes composition. You should also stir it up occasionally, just so that it bakes more evenly.

Baking soda is powdery, crystallized like salt, and clumps together. Washing soda is grainy, dull and opaque, and is separate grains. (from rondagreig)

This made me wonder if baking soda is less expensive than washing soda? If so why not use baking soda instead. Don't get confused here because I don't know that baking soda is cheaper.

My next question is do you use equal amounts and what I found was that 1 cup of washing soda is equivalent to 1 1/3 cup of baking soda. The increase of baking soda needed would have to be figured into the cost to see which is cheaper.
  • Then I found out that the ph is different and this had me wondering again since you wouldn't use washing soda to substitute for baking soda just baking soda for washing soda.
  • Baking soda has a pH of 8 (7 is neutral) and is best known for its use as a leavening agent in cooking. It also can be used as a mild scouring agent, an antacid and an emergency kitchen fire extinguisher.
  • Washing soda is a caustic substance with a pH of 11. Because of this, you should wear gloves when handling it directly. Washing soda is used as a laundry additive and cleanser but never in food.
So there we have it. We are all completely confused. Well, I am anyway but for now I'm going to use the several boxes of washing soda I have. Then in the future I will decided if I want to buy enough for a full four gallon bucket for storage.

Right now I'm not wanting to have to move any more things than I absolutely have to.

I do know that I am completely in love with my home version of laundry detergent. It is the only thing I've found that gets out my grease stains. I'm a messy cook. Now if only I can tweak my lotion so that I have a less greasy version for a quicky softener instead of the greasy soak before bed while laying on a towel.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pray For Them

 I'm writing today to ask for your prayers. Usually I figure the news has gotten the word out and I need not say anything but on this they have been silent except locally. These prayers are for our fellow kin, those in the agricultural industry. The storm Atlas left many ranchers and farmers devastated for years to come. Click on the purple link for a sample of what one rancher discovered after the storm had passed. http://bigballsincowtown.com/storm2013.htm 

"Grubl says some ranchers have lost 20 percent of their livestock, while other losses are as much as 90 percent." one newspaper reported. Cattle, sheep, and horses ran through fences, hid in gullies, died of pneumonia, or under a collapsed barn or shed roof. Some heartlessly commented on facebook how their daddy never lost a cow in a storm. To which I reply, "Your daddy never had very many cattle and they never faced such a formidable force." My daddy managed 1000 head of sheep and a 1000 head of cattle. You don't have barn space for that many. You don't usually need it. For those with fewer head and could put them under roofs, many of those roofs collapsed under the weight of the snow.

Look at these numbers.

Lead – 55"
Deadwood – 48" on the west side of town
Sturgis – 35" on the east side of town
Piedmont – 35"
Rapid City – up to 31" on the city's southwest side
Spearfish – 26" downtown

I guess we got around 20 or more inches but three or four feet of snow.

 How do you fight against that in a raging blizzard? One rancher said with what cattle he had left it would take a couple years to get them back to their previous conditioning. Think this is over exaggerating? It's not. I've had several horses that took that long to reach full health. To the point where they became easy keepers not grain and hay guzzlers. Where they weren't susceptible to ticks, diseases and worms. With a large herd you can't put the money into restoration that you can with one, two, or three animals.

Think about the timing of this storm. This is weaning time, the time ranchers sell off their calves. The very ones that perished in this storm as they had less of a chance than the cows. Sheep, well, they are notorious for crawling in a gully and getting buried and suffocating. They are short and short doesn't reach above snows of this depth.

This is the time the corn crop is harvested. The one that is buried and ruined under the snow. Some ranchers said it would take days, weeks, and maybe not until spring if this keeps up before they have complete numbers of all they have lost. Now when beef numbers are down a quart due to years of drought and consequently prices to buy replacements are high these ranchers are in need. Sheep, well I haven't kept a close a track on them since we quit raising them. I do know this disaster came at the time when the tractor bills, the mortgage, the feed costs, the everything would be paid and the next years income secured. Like the Colorado flood, this will ruin lives. There will be those forced off the land of their inheritance. The land handed down for generations. Others who can hang on will scrimp for years to recover.

These are the guys and gals that provide our food. This is the heart of America and it took a big blow last week. So please send your prayers heaven word as these farmers and rancher weep and not just for their financial loss. 

My dad kept a little black book in his pocket. Inside were the ear tag numbers, history, and genealogy of every animal on the ranch. Flip through those pages and stories unfolded. How many calves or lambs each one had had. How the delivery went. What kind of a momma she was, illnesses, and yes, even the personality.  These animals weren't just my father's livelihood, these were his friends whom he often saw on a daily basis as he rode through the flocks and herds,  helped calve - lamb, and fed through the winter.

He once told me he never once dreaded getting up in the morning. He loved his job! So when I look at the pictures of the devastation and think of those effected, I imagine my own father had this been him, with his head in his hands, tears streaming down his face as he looks out upon the animals he loved and served.  

 So pray with me that answers may come to these men and women's pleading prayers, for the sure knowledge that the Lord is by their side, and for the heart to pick up once more and go on.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Snow Storm

 Look what gift mother nature brought October 4th. Interestingly the hail storm hit August 5th. Let's hope nothing new comes our way December 3th. This is proving to be an interesting year. A big reminder of who is in charge. If you haven't guessed, it isn't us. As I watched the leaders of our church today on General Conference the words "Storms are brewing all around us. Look up." struck me most poignantly. In the Lord we find our peace and guidance. The next speaker told us rather than solve our problems Himself the Lord wants us to exercise faith that we might learn to rely on him and become His partner.
We are definitely going to need a partner to get everything done and make wise choices in the future. And we are going to need the Lord's strength. On the fifth we ran out. After shoveling this heap of snow away from the walk and driveway, we piled into the hesitant truck, who didn't really want to go anywhere, and headed for the fire hall. Why there? You know the first roads they clear are around the fire department. And we had ruled out walking the mile and a half. This was a shorter route, not short.
Don't know just how many inches we received during this blizzard but in the town forty miles away they keep records and stated 15 inches. In Rapid City, South Dakota, three hours away, they said 19 inches. This breaks the old record of 1.4 set in 2005. Yes, we have had worse storms but the 4th of October - never. Now the end of October is another story.
We parked and watched a backhoe plowing a narrow path through large drifts just where we wanted to go. We studied the trail and decided it was a good temptation for someone to get mighty stuck. Even though the backhoe driver, whom we know, assured us we could probably get through, we declined. Even if we got through on this road, there was another heading south we had to traverse and we know how deep the drifts get there. Sometimes you just don't like surprises like getting stuck. Maybe that wouldn't be a surprise.  
Before we had time to strap on snowshoes, someone did pass by us and sure enough got stuck. They finally gave up and abandoned the truck to walk out for help. Beside the stuck truck, just off the road, stood another four wheel drive with its ------ oh man, I forgot the part again. You know the one that goes POP really loud when you are four wheeling and you know immediately what it is. I can't think of it but if it has happened to you, you know what part I'm talking about and when it goes POP, you go nowhere.
Funny how you hit fifty and the urge to four wheel isn't as strong. The thought just makes you tired. LOL
So though snowshoes would be lots of work too, it wouldn't involve the frustration of digging out and the possibility of damage to the truck. We need it badly right now and just don't want to take the chance of ours going POP.
 Got to tell you, I was feeling pretty smart even though it wasn't my doing. See, I'm not very humble. When the still small voice last year said buy snowshoes, I did. Kirk refused to allow me to buy him a pair. I'd just used the yellow plastic ancient ones from Kirk's folks that hung on our garage walls for years and years and years when the prompting came. I can see why he doubted. He hadn't just used snowshoes and he probably wasn't hearing voices. My daughter must of heard them too because together we bought two Red Feather shoes at a super bargain because it was the end of the snow year.  
Once again the Lord has shown his infinite wisdom. I just wish I'd listen more often.
See the claws on the bottom of the shoes? Love them as they really grip the snow and allow me to climb right over the tops of the steep four foot drifts with nary a slip. I did have to roll over the top of a couple drifts though as I'd taken my shoes off to climb fence and rather than buck the drifts I rolled. By this time Kirk and I had done our chores and two others and were on our fourth set. A little roll in the snow felt nice and cooling my steaming body. I was tempted to stay there in my state of exhaustion. Didn't know if our neighbors would make it to feed, water, or milk there critters the roads being what they were. Plus, a couple of them have health issues.
After sewing until midnight and stopping because I couldn't get the story of the two men in different fields working on their tractors out of my head. After midnight it is the Sabbath. The story goes that two neighbors were working late in adjoining fields. The one knew the other to be a worthy member in the LDS Church so he kept an eye on him and planned to stop when he stopped for he had forgotten his watch. The other neighbor was sorely tempted to keep working on through the night. There was so.... much work yet do be done but deciding he needed more the blessing from heaven he turned off his tractor at precisely 12. Later at church the watchless member commented that he knew he could count on him.Oh how glad he was that he had obeyed. 
But why couldn't I get this story out of my head? Who was I going to lead astray? My husband was asleep in bed. Yet, at precisely 12 
 I turned off my machine and went upstairs to bed.
Sleeping beauty woke me at five to take him to the bus stop for work. Unfortunately some jobs you just can't get out of on Sundays. I planned to take the truck to the corrals afterwards as the snow would have been crisp. Not so likely to slide me into paths of deception. Okay, maybe that was a little over the top but slushy roads full of snow have a tendency to take you where you don't want to go. Not being able to see beyond my headlights at such an early hour, I bucked small drifts and tried to stay in the narrow tire grooves until the necessary turn down the lane to the corrals. I was wishing I had not come at all. The beginning looked easy on the south bound road but sin often does and I could see drifts ahead. I backed out and four wheeled it back to the fire hall and home to safety. Yes, I could find a pretty good sermon in my morning and evening's adventure.
I waited until daylight and started hiking, my snowshoes slung over my shoulder. This nice little path you see before you had hidden pitfalls, ones that sank me knee deep two different times before I decided that the snowshoes would made more sense than breaking my neck.

The drifts at the corrals up our lane were no longer four feet, just three and so I would have had to find a place to park the truck and hike in anyway. Then I would have missed the morning light and meditation. Have a wonderful Sunday evening!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Huge Changes In The Wind

Since my life wasn't busy enough, I took on a contract to sew 96 knitting bags. Hear the sarcasm? My goal is to have them done and delivered by the end of the month. That way the store they will be in will have them for the holiday rush. And of course I will get my Etsy site up and running once more also.

Reason for the insanity, we need money. There are the medical bills of course and while they roll in we are remodeling the house.  Don't you always take on extra jobs while you remodel? LOL Couple medical bills, remodeling costs, and now moving costs and you have total insanity going on around here. 

We are determined to move and soon so that means we are putting the pedal to the medal on remodeling to get the house up for sale. I'll do the best I can with this blog but beware it is likely to change a bit for a time. Will I stop doing new things, hardly. I have been doing research on my resting time about growing fodder for chickens, hogs, goats, you name it. Basically it is sprouting grains. Won't likely be doing it immediately like I'd like to eventually but I'll still share my research, plans, and beginning steps and of course you can see the remodeling and such.

I started the yogurt and buttermilk cultures back up again and I've got plans to order a more tart yogurt culture for Kirk. Home-made will take on a greater need as we strive to save money for the remodeling and moving.

I believe I mentioned the bathroom is gutted. What a nasty job. The floor was glued down and had to be chipped up a small section at a time and then the floor sanded. The entire house is one dust bomb. Love to hire Mr. Clean, remember the guy with the bald head on the cleaning solution bottle in the old old television commercials? He could do the cleaning for me but alas, he's probably in a nursing home by now and he'd cost, so add clean house from top to bottom to my ever growing list of To Do's.  

This bathroom is NOT a repeat story of the other bathroom as the ceiling was also removed. We had a small mold spot that wouldn't go away. After gutting the whole thing we see it was mild but mold is a big no, no in this family of highly allergics. 

Ever taken a ceiling out? Interesting I have to say. I didn't know there was a light in the attic for one thing. My husband never would let me up there. Afraid I'd come down through the ceiling. My nickname is Grace and after all I did fall out of the truck a couple months ago when he had warned me not to. Yes, autistic people often have balance issues. I'll use that excuse anyway. Kirk drilled a hole big enough to put the broom handle through and while I help it up through the hole he climbed in the attic to scrape away some of the insulation. That stuff towers a foot and a half or more up there. Then he cut a bigger hole for it to fall through. We scooped it up into bags and stored it to put back on the new sheet rock ceiling. 

Another new insight is that there is no floor up there in that tight space, just blown in insulation on top the ceiling's sheet rock. Makes you realize just how important a good roof is-- roof leaks, ceiling comes down. Actually that happened one winter to two houses in town of the same pre-fabrication company. In a particularly nasty blizzard the soffit vents filled with snow and down came ceilings. That prompted a bit of redoing for us also as our insulation ended up blown away from the edge in our attic during that storm though not bad enough to fill the rafters with snow. We blocked some of the vents and then when they were replaced, fewer were put in on that side of the house where most storms come. One can't be too careful in a country where the weather has occasional tantrums.
Now we need sheet rock and cement board flooring so the tile can be put up. The set in bathroom tubs and showers might be easy but they aren't for us. Besides it just wouldn't do with wood and tile floors and granite counter tops. We bought the granite top for this bathroom years back on a super good sale along with a few other things we knew we'd need when we got around to remodeling it. Oh how I want a granite counter top in my new home even if it is just a section. I LOVE THEM!!!! The preboughts will help with costs but still nothing is cheap and there is plenty more needs buying.

If we want a chance of moving within a few months we'd better get with it and I'd better get to sewing.

Snow predicted to be up to 12 inches after it rains today. That is snow with 40 mile an hour winds. You seldom get the one without the other around here. What happened to fall? If you know could you send it our way, I badly need it right now. This is not our first snow as we had several inches that stuck and greeted us last Thursday when we came home from Mayo's. Surely winter can't be here already.

Snow does means a crackling fire and baking time to fit in with everything else. I've got applesauce to make with a box of apples sitting on the kitchen floor calling, "Get me done, don't forget me". The future is looking like I'm going to have to become a pro at freezer meals for a while too. Breakfast, lunch, and supper. Interested? stay tuned. Or chime in on ideas. I'm going to need them. Hopefully it won't be for too long but who knows, possibly a few months.  Stay tuned as I figure out how to create home-made versions that don't bore us to death with repeats. Yes, big changes are in the wind.