Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homemade Body Wash

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I have had the recipe for homemade body wash on my to-do list for a very long time. Although time hasn't been on my side lately and it got pushed to the back burner.  Well, when you're down the the last drops of shower gel and you don't want to pay the big bucks for a new bottle, you make time to cook up a batch.

The original "recipe" comes from HERE. It looked pretty straightforward.  I mean if I can follow a recipe for homemade bread I can for sure melt some soap in a pan with some water.  Haha!  I did figure out how to make it but there was some trial and error involved.  

The recipe is as follows.  

Homemade Body Wash
3 Bars of Dove soap
6 C. water
Grate the soap into the pan
Add the water
Heat on low and stir until all the soap is melted
Cool in mason jars (no lids)
Pour into body wash bottles or place lids on the mason jars

So here is where my troubles began....

"Just grate it" they said.  "It's so simple." they said. 

After 10 minutes of grating the first bar of soap my arm muscles were burning, my grater felt like it was going to break, and the soap was melting in my hot hand.  It was literally a hot mess!!  I turned to my trusty food processor.  I had read that some people grate their soap in it, so I gave it a try. 

You can't really see it in the picture, but the soap wouldn't budge and I ended up with soap all over the blade and nothing in the bowl.  I pushed the soap harder through the chute and my processor literally stopped.  I think I broke it, but I'm too scared to try and turn it on again. It got cleaned and put back in the cupboard.  (which by the way you would think soap would wash right off of kitchen doesn't!  It's so sticky!!)

 I resorted to chopping it up the old fashioned way and what I noticed is that the soap just breaks apart naturally.  I tried to cut the pieces into similar sizes so they would melt all at once.  

 After chopping all three bars of soap I added in 6 cups of water and brought the mixture to a low simmer.  I stirred pretty consistently with a whisk.  Now, I have to warn you.  If you do not like the smell of the soap in it's bar form, then you will be forced out of your home for several hours while the smell permeates your residence.  It was strong!!  It took about 15 minutes for all of the soap pieces to fully melt.  I then poured the liquid into mason jars to cool.

I filled two quart mason jars and let them sit for several hours while they cooled.  They will turn from a runny liquid to a thicker body wash type gel.  I then poured one mason jar into my leftover commercial body wash container and placed a plastic mason jar lid on the extra body wash.  

 I haven't done the math, but I am sure this is a great deal compared to purchasing Dove body wash for upwards of $6.00 a bottle.  It was a messy, soap smelling process, but I will try this again.  I learned what worked and what didn't.  I have been using the body wash for just over a week now and I LOVE it!!! I use one of those poof type spongy things and it foams up just like the store bought stuff.  And the Dove soap really moisturizes my skin.  I have not had that dry itchy feeling after my shower.  I am sure you can make this with any bar soap, I just had Dove on hand.  This was a to-do list win!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Post Disaster Meals - No Cooking Required!

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*This is a a re-post from Oct. 2012

{While talking to a neighbor last night this post came to mind and I thought it would be a good reminder for everyone. We were discussing what we would eat in the days immediately following a disaster.  Even those of us who like to eat fresh food most of the time, the hours and days after a disaster will require a different approach to eating.  The concept of having at least three days worth of food will go right along side your 72-hour kits.}

Post Disaster Meals--No Cooking Required! 

I read a great post over at Homestead Revival and it got me thinking about the minutes, hours, and first days after a disaster.  What would I be doing?  What would my family be eating, drinking, sleeping on, etc?  Amy, from Homestead Revival, described a situation just like Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath that ensued.  I was inspired by her words and her challenge to come up with enough meals for 3 days that required NO cooking.  This is definitely a challenge!  I do  have ways to cook without power, but in the hours following a disaster I don't know if I will be able to get to my butane stove, and have the sense to even want to think about cooking a meal.  

The first meal that Amy put together was tuna, crackers, a small container of mayo, pickle relish, canned fruit, and small bags of trail mix.  She keeps this in a Rubbermaid type container and has it labeled.  Everything required for the meal would be contained in the box, even a can opener, and there is no cooking needed.  Amy then challenged her readers to come up with their own meals to add to a disaster kit.  I sat and thought what could I possibly have on hand for breakfast, lunch, and, dinner without cooking.  Here is what I came up with......

Breakfast would include:
  • Cereal
  • Shelf-stable milk
  • bowls and spoons

 Lunch  #1 would include:
  • Tuna
  • Saltine crackers
  • Mayo
  • Pineapple (for in the sandwich or a side fruit)
  • Chex Mix

Lunch #2 would include:
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Oranges

Lunch or Dinner idea:
  •  Soup (different kinds for picky family eaters)
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Spoons & bowls
  • Pears
The soup wouldn't be warm, but it is edible.  

 Dinner would include:
  • Taco shells
  • Black beans
  • Olives
  • Salsa
  • Oranges
  • And I forgot the utensils in this pic :)

Now I need to put all this food into a water safe container with a variety of crackers, more silverware, napkins, and utensils.  I added some peanut butter and crackers at the top of the picture for a snack.  I might just add a few pieces of Halloween candy to keep our sweet tooth happy too!

And don't forget a......

What meal ideas would work for your family??  This is only the beginning, I will have to ponder this subject some more and see what else would work for us!  This idea will supplement our 72-hour kits nicely and having it all in one bin will allow me to rotate it easier, and I know that all our food is in one place.   

Friday, November 7, 2014

Butter Sale!

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If you have a Kroger grocery store near you then I have a deal for you!  Butter is on sale for $1.99 when you buy 10 participating items in their Buy 10 Save $5 sale.  Ronzoni and American Beauty pasta are also part of this sale and are only .49 after buying 10 items.  It's a great food storage stock up sale.  But there is only one problem....the butter sold out the first day of the sale! Butter has been really expensive lately so this is an amazing price! If your store is out of butter make sure to get a rain check to secure your price of $1.99lb.  

 Even though my store was out of butter, I took my store ad to Wal-Mart and price matched the butter.  This butter sells for over $5 a pound!!  That is crazy expensive!!  As I was checking out the checker noticed that there were coupons on the front of the package for .30 off of each box.  I got 10lbs of butter for $17.50! 

 I was so excited!  What a steal!  They went right into my freezer.  And I also have my rain check to get more when my store is restocked.  I hope some of you have a Kroger store in your area to take advantage of this deal.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Sneaking Dehydrated Veggies Into Dinner

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Dehydrating foods is one of my favorite ways to have food storage.  But sometimes I forget I have jars of it in my pantry.  This is just a quick tip that I used the other night for dinner. I added dehydrated spinach to my pizza sauce before spreading it on the dough.  I'm probably the last person on the planet to figure this out, but I figured I might as well share. 

I simply crumbled the dried spinach in my hand and stirred it into the sauce.  No one knew it was there!  Plus it added a subtle flavor to the pizza that I really enjoyed.  I also love sneaking all that extra nutrition from the spinach into the foods we normally eat.  It was a busy night when I made the pizza and it was a grab-n-go type meal.  A few of my kids were eating it in the car on the way to an activity.  So the pizza with the spinach was dinner and a veggie all in one!  This is just one more way that I use my food storage in everyday living.  Think of all the other dehydrated foods that could be powdered, in a food processor or blender, and then added to soups, stews, sauces, etc. You'll become known as the sneaky chef! Well, if anyone finds out that you're sneaking veggies into their dinner :)   And once you're done with the spinach, sealing up the extra spinach for use later on is so simple using a food saver.  Click here to see how that worksSimple, easy, quick ideas that use my food's a win!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Easy No Knead Artisan Bread

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Say you're in a situation where you have no electricity and you want to make bread.  Well, first you'll need to manually grind your wheat, then mix it all up, knead it by hand, (have you kneaded bread for 15 minutes?....not the easiest job) let rise, and then bake the bread over the fire, in a Volcano stove, or in a Sun Oven.  This is quite labor intensive! Kneading alone would have me making flatbread a couple times a week.  Have you ever tried out your manual wheat grinder?  It takes quite a bit of energy for a small amount of wheat flour. The girls over at shared a really cool bread recipe.  It makes a loaf of artisan style bread with no grinding of flour, no kneading, and needs no electricity to bake.  I wasn't sure I  believed their claims. So I HAD to try it out!!  

Look what the final product was!! I don't know why I was so shocked that it worked, but I was.  I couldn't believe how easy this was to make.  Here's how I did it.....

First of all I followed the recipe from exactly as they explained it.  Click HERE to see the recipe.  

The first step takes the longest, but doesn't involve any work on your part.  Crazy, right?!  
 The night before you want your bread baked, you need to mix up the ingredients.  It takes 12-18 hours for the dough to rise.  That's the longest part of this recipe, but it just sits on the counter and does it's thing.  Here's what you do:  stir together 3 cups of white flour, 1/2 t yeast, 1 3/4 t salt, and 1 1/2 cups of cool water.  It should be a sticky clump of dough.  Stir it well and then cover with plastic wrap. 

Then let the dough sit for 12-18 hours to rise.  This picture was taken in the morning after sitting for around 12 hours.  

Once the dough has risen for 12-18 hours turn it out onto a floured surface and let rest, covered, for 30 minutes. You may have to scrape the dough out of the bowl to get it into a ball shape.  I folded the dough into itself a few times to get it to stick into a ball shape. 

 Once it's fully rested, place the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and then into a round Sun Oven pan, that was heating up in the Sun Oven.  You can see my bread baking in the Sun Oven out in my yard.  

After about two hours, I took the lid off of the pan and let the bread "brown" for about a half hour.  I did mist it with water to help it brown a little.  Bread cooked in the Sun Oven doesn't get brown like in a conventional oven.  My oven hovered around 300° the whole baking time.  When the half hour was up, I took the bread out and was a little worried.  It almost looked like it wasn't cooked, but it was, and it did have a slightly hardened crust. 

I sliced up the loaf for dinner and was very excited that it worked so well.  It had a definite sourdough taste to it, so be prepared for that.  It isn't a strong sourdough flavor but definitely not a typical white loaf of bread.  It is great to know that even in a stressful, emergency situation that I could make bread for dinner without having to grind flour and then knead it by hand.  Now my next goal is to make this with wheat flour!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eton Radio and Smartphone Charger

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It's amazing what you can find in your 72-hour kits when you go through them.  Remember my funny story, click HERE if you missed it. We found many outgrown items, like diapers and baby formula, and I also found an old manual cell phone charger.  After looking it over I decided that it could almost be called a vintage piece of technology :)

This manual cell phone charger was purchased about 8ish years ago when I had a basic flip phone, and smart phones were few and far between.  The adapters in this kit wouldn't even fit the newest flip phone we had in our junk drawer. And with the smartphones we now own, I needed a new cell phone charger.  

After doing a google search I decided to purchase the eton hand turbine AM/FM/Weather Alert Radio.  What sold me on it was the USB charger on the back of it. It will charge both my Android and the Apple phones in my household. Plus, I can plug it into my Goal Zero unit for charging!  It has a radio, a flashlight, headphone jack, clock & an alarm clock, and is compact enough to fit into almost any backpack, car kit, etc.  Plus it helps support the American Red Cross. 

To charge a smartphone, plug the phone charger into the USB port on the back of the unit. The power from the internal battery will dump the charge to your device.  Once the eton battery is dead it will stop charging your phone.  The hand crank can also be turned to charge the phone, but I imagine that would take forever.  

There are several ways that the internal battery can be charged.  The solar panel on top of the unit, the hand crank, and the USB port.  The first time that I charged the unit I used my Goal Zero unit and the USB port and was fully charged in about 2 hours.  But you can use the hand crank or the solar panel as well.  If the unit has a low battery, turn the hand crank for 90 seconds you will have 5-7 minutes of radio time with the volume on low, or 20 minutes of the flashlight available.  Fully charged you will be able to listen to the radio for 3-4 hours with the volume on low. Using the USB adapter it will take approximately 2 hours to charge. To fully charge the unit using the solar panel it will take 10 hours.  

I purchased my eton radio from Amazon for around $50, but there are other websites that sell them. Click HERE to view the eton website.   Technology changes so quickly these days but I am hoping that this unit will serve its purpose for a while.  So use my mistake as a reminder to check your food storage and 72-hour kits for outdated items.  I don't want anyone to have to say "if I only had taken care of this while I could" in an emergency!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Many Uses of Vinegar

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Vinegar is quite the versatile liquid.  It's used in cooking, cleaning, first aid, and it's a green! Not green in color, but it's a safe, non-toxic way to clean your home.  Because of how versatile vinegar is, I feel it is one of the most important items to have stocked in your food storage.

I have a few favorite ways that I use white vinegar in my home.  Years ago I found  some easy "recipes" for cleaning, and they were so easy to make, because who wants to spend all day making cleaning solutions. These mixes are so simple, you'll be thinking that making homemade cleaners should be more involved, but that is the beauty of using vinegar.  Simple and easy!!!  We have also been conditioned to think that if a cleaner doesn't smell toxic, it isn't sanitizing.  Vinegar, when sprayed along side with hydrogen peroxide, will sanitize surfaces.  Yes, vinegar has a smell, but it won't harm your lungs like bleach or ammonia.  It dissipates after drying.

 Wood Floor Cleaner/Window Cleaner
The ratio is 2/3rd's white vinegar to 1/3rd water.
I marked my spray bottle on the side with black lines so I know where to refill it when it's gone.  
Add a few tiny drops of Dawn dish detergent.  
Shake before using.
Use on glass, wood floors, laminate floors, stainless steel appliances, etc. Wipe surfaces dry with cloth or paper towel. Use a microfiber mop on floors.

Disinfectant Spray
Fill one spray bottle with white vinegar
Add a spray topper to a hydrogen peroxide bottle.
Spray both onto counter top surface. 
Let sit for one minute before wiping.
Wipe with paper towel or cloth towel.
It doesn't matter which is sprayed first.  
Overtime it will also become less effective when mixed together in a spray bottle.
But when applied using two different bottles it will sanitize surfaces. 

Other Uses For Vinegar
  • This idea is for a situation when we are doing laundry manually.  Have a spray bottle of vinegar on hand and use it to refresh your clothes.  Doing laundry by hand will be tough, so to stretch the time between doing laundry shake clothes to free loose dirt and debris, hang up the clothing, spray with vinegar. Once dry, the vinegar will have deodorized the clothes and you can wear them awhile longer before a deep cleaning is needed.  The vinegar smell will dissipate after it dries.
  • Use a mixture of vinegar and a small amount of water to clean blinds and shutters.  Place an old sock on your hand, dip into the vinegar mixture and run your hand over the blinds or shutters. 
  • Place a bowl of vinegar on your kitchen counter  overnight to absorb the smells from cooking dinner.   
  • Add a small amount of baking soda to your drain and pour in vinegar.  This will bubble and clear out small clogs in the drain.
  • Spray straight vinegar onto weeds around your garden.  It will kill them! Be careful not to spray the plants that you want to keep alive :)
  • Run a cycle in your dishwasher with vinegar in the detergent cup.  It will clean and refresh the inside of your dishwasher, especially if you have a stainless steel interior. 
  • Add a cup full of vinegar to your rinse cycle when doing laundry.  It breaks down the alkalies in the detergent. 
  • Spray your fruit and veggies with vinegar and then hydrogen peroxide, let sit, rinse with water. This will remove unwanted pesticides. 
  • Spray a mixture of water and vinegar on a sunburn to soothe.
  • For minor kitchen burns. Run cold water over the burn for a few minutes, then place a cloth that has been soaked in one part water to one part vinegar, place on burn to soothe.  Repeat as necessary.

The ideas above use white distilled vinegar but there are so many other uses for other vinegars, like apple cider vinegar. The internet will fill you in on all those benefits.  But my love for vinegar in everyone's food storage is because it has an almost indefinite shelf life and it's cheap!!!  Everyone can afford to store vinegar.  Stock up the next time you head to the store!  Plus it's so liberating to skip the cleaning aisle. 
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