Do-It-Yourself

Compost Tea – Perfect for Suburban Gardens

Posted by on May 15, 2016 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living | 25 comments

Compost Tea  – Perfect for Suburban Gardens

Compost tea is an inexpensive, easy-to-make, fast-working plant food that results in nutrient rich soil and strong, healthy plants. Every book or article written about organic gardening includes the need for adding compost to the soil. Easy enough to understand why since compost truly is a marvelous soil amendment – it improves nutrient retention of the soil while adding many beneficial organisms making for a more productive garden. However, most municipalities have bylaws that prohibit homeowners from having compost piles in suburban areas which makes compost tea such a great alternative.  A compost pile isn’t required. With compost tea only one or two purchased bags of top quality compost will do. Add non-chlorinated water (rain water is free and perfect for this) and the right size pail and you’re set to go. Before getting to the Compost Tea recipe, there are a few things to know: Compost Tea does not keep – when it’s ready you need to use all of it so make it in batches small enough to meet your immediate needs. There’s no sense wasting any. The finished tea should not bubble or have a foul odour. That may mean it could be anaerobic and not much good can survive in that. If it has become anaerobic, throw it out and try again. Make a test batch. A large coffee can or similar size container is ideal. Fill the can 1/3 full of compost, then fill the container with non-chlorinated water. Stir well with a stick, really move all the ingredients around. The stirring is extremely important as it aerates the tea and adds oxygen. Stir well several times a day for a week. After 5 days to a week strain through a cheesecloth or strainer, rake the solids into the garden and pour a cup of the tea around each of the plants you want to feed. To Make the Compost Tea: Work only with clean materials. You can use any size container depending on the size of your garden although a five gallon pail or garbage bucket is used most often. As in the test batch, fill the container 1/3 full with compost, then fill the pail/bucket with non-chlorinated water. Stir well. Place in a handy location so you don’t forget about it. The compost will settle on the bottom of the pail so stir 3 or 4 times the first day, making sure to move all the compost around, it needs to be well-mixed, then stir several times a day for the next week. Check often. After 5 days to a week, strain the tea. The easiest way is to line a cheap colander with cheese cloth and just empty the tea into a very clean pail or bucket. Dump and rake the solids into the garden. Use all of the tea to feed your plants, about 1 cup per plant. Strain some of the compost tea into a spray bottle, add 1/2 teaspoon of dish detergent and spray on plant leaves to deter foliar disease. Feed your plants and leaves every couple of weeks all summer long. This can also be used once a month on houseplants. Note:  You can increase the nutrient value of the tea even more by adding powdered seaweed or worm castings to the finished tea. Start a new batch brewing a week before you need more or better yet, split the garden up, feed half one week and the second half the second week and keep a continuous batch of compost tea brewing. Both the finished compost tea and the discarded solids will add valuable nutrients to your...

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Wine Making – Just For Fun

Posted by on Oct 18, 2015 in Do-It-Yourself, Recipes | 34 comments

Wine Making – Just For Fun

Wine making is normally considered rather a complicated affair, requiring special equipment and ingredients. But for the non-connoisseur, wine making can sometimes be easy and fun, using standard household equipment and easy to find ingredients. The first time I tried this, it was done more for the fun of doing it than for expecting great results. As it happened, the wine turned out much better than expected. Of course, you can’t expect it to compare to the high quality wines prepared by wine producers and aged for years, but I personally think it compares favourably to some of the more inexpensive wines you can buy. Wine Making 101: Sterilize a gallon container – glass preferred, stainless steel second choice; Gather the ingredients together; 6 cups sugar 1.36 L (about 1.2 quarts) bottle of Grape Juice – white or red 1/3 cup raisins 7 – 8 cups of cold water Heel of a loaf of bread 1 yeast packet Pour the grape juice into a stainless steel pan and add the sugar. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring until it becomes a light syrup; Remove from heat, pour into the prepared gallon container; Add the 7-8 cups cold water; Add the raisins; Place the bread heel on top of the liquid; Sprinkle the yeast on top of the bread heel; Cover lightly, DO NOT CLOSE TIGHT; Set the jar in an out of the way, preferably dark corner, and leave it alone for a week to 10 days – you’ll see little bubbles forming along the top of the jar; Line a colander with a double layer of cheese cloth, then place the colander over a large glass dish or stainless-steel pan; Pour the contents of the wine jar into the colander to strain; Rinse the wine jar to get rid of any sediment; Return the strained wine back to the clean wine jar1 (gallon container), cover it and refrigerate for a day; 1 You can also pour some of the strained wine into the empty grape juice container – just don’t fill it overfull – and close it with the cap. And that’s all there’s to it. Now enjoy – CHEERS!! Talk you you again next week,...

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Snackin Cake: Back to the 70s

Posted by on Sep 6, 2015 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Recipes | 41 comments

Snackin Cake: Back to the 70s

I don’t know how many of you remember the Snackin Cake Mixes that were so popular during the 70s. All you had to do was mix all the ingredients right in the disposable pan that came with the mix. We loved those mixes and with good reason. They were low-cost, easy to prepare, tasted good and basically no cleanup. Of course, anytime a commercial product hits the market, someone is smart enough to create a homemade version. That’s what happened here and the homemade Snackin Cake Master Mix soon made the rounds. This homemade version was even better than the original – it cut the cost of the snackin cake in half, tasted just as good or better and provided a lot more variety. Recently I came across a binder that still contained a large number of my old-time recipes, including this one. SNACKIN CAKE MASTER MIX:                           9 cups flour 6 cups sugar 5 Tbsp. baking powder 1 Tbsp. salt 1 lb (454g) shortening In large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Keep mixing until everything is well blended. Cut the shortening into the dry mix with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Store in airtight container in a cool, dry place for no more than 2 months.  Makes approximately 18 cups mix. Snackin Cake RECIPES: The directions for the snackin cakes below are all the same. Mix all the ingredients (except the topping ingredients) in an 8-inch cake pan until well blended. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the pan and to smooth out the top of the batter. If a topping is chosen follow the directions given. Bake in preheated 350F oven for 30 minutes or until cake tests done. I used non-stick pans and to prevent damaging them I used a plastic fork to stir the batter and my plastic lettuce knife to cut the cakes. Basic Cake:  2 cups mix 1 tsp. vanilla 1 egg, slightly beaten ½ cup milk Topping (Optional): 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup flour 2 Tbsp. butter Topping: Mix the brown sugar and flour, then using a fork mix in the butter until crumbs form. Spread over top of the cake batter before baking. The basic cake became a banana-chocolate chip cake by making minor changes. Milk was cut back to 1/4 cup, vanilla extract was replaced by banana extract and 2 mashed bananas and 1/2 cup chocolate chips were added. Yummy. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Spice Cake: 2 cups mix 1 egg, slightly beaten 1/4 cup milk 1/4 cup strong coffee ½ cup raisins 1 tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp.  each ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  Chocolate Cake: 2 cups mix 1 egg, slightly beaten ¾ cup ice water ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa 1 tsp. vanilla   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Coffee Cake: 2 cups mix 1 egg, slightly beaten 2/3 cup milk 1 tsp. cinnamon Topping (Optional): ¼ cup brown sugar ½ Tbs. cinnamon 3/4 cup ground nuts Topping: Mix topping ingredients together and spread over the cake batter before baking. I turned this into an almond coffee cake by adding 1/2 cup chopped almonds and 1 tsp. almond extract to the cake batter and used 3/4 cup ground almonds in the topping. It was really good, not overly sweet. You can be quite creative with these snackin cakes simply by adding different ingredients. For instance, to the basic cake you could add 1 cup finely chopped apple and 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon or 1 cup grated carrot and ½ Tbsp. cinnamon.  For the coffee cake, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped nuts (the same...

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Do More With Everyday Products A-Z

Posted by on Jul 5, 2015 in Common Products - Uncommon Uses, Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living | 16 comments

Do More With Everyday Products A-Z

Do More With Everyday Products A-Z, is a bit different from my usual list posts. Those focused on one specific product -this one has tips for how to do more with everyday products A-Z. No need to run to the store when you run out of something. Take a look around and you can probably find what you need right in your own home. Do More With Everyday Products A-Z: Aluminum Foil – Line a paint tray with aluminum foil and clean-up is a cinch. When finished painting, simply grab the foil and discard. No washing the tray. No need to buy liners. Bottles – Trap those pests. Partly fill a large soda bottle (2 litre) with a mixture of ½ cup sugar, 2 cups tepid water and 1 cup apple cider vinegar. Put the top back on and shake to mix really well. Cut a one-inch hole near the top of the bottle. Wrap a string around the neck of the bottle and hang from a tree or other place where yellow jackets and wasps congregate. Once it’s full of pests, discard and replace. This does the trick without resorting to chemical sprays. Cooking Spray – Lightly spray a grater with cooking spray before shredding cheese to make cleanup much easier. Dental Floss – Use this to slice cheese. Simply place a piece of floss under the cheese and slowly pull up. Emery Boards – Use to lightly sand the outer shell of seeds before planting. This speeds germination and allows the seeds to better absorb moisture. Freezer – Place musty smelling books in the freezer for a day or two to eliminate the bad odour. Garlic Press – The perfect gadget to smash up hard-boiled eggs. Hair Spray – Give your recipe cards a good shot of hairspray to protect them from grease and food splatters while you’re using them.  Ice Cube Trays – Bought extra eggs on sale and don’t know what to do with them? Freeze them in ice cube trays. Each cell will hold one egg. Once they’re frozen, remove them and store in freezer bags. Jar Lids – Keep one handy on the stove to use as spoon rest. Keys – Don’t throw those extra, unused keys out. They can be used as fishing sinkers or plumb jobs. Lemons – Add one or two tablespoons of lemon juice to the water in the humidifier. This doesn’t just deodorize the humidifier, it also adds a pleasant natural lemon scent to the house. Repeat as needed. Mayonnaise – Soften your elbows and feet by rubbing mayonnaise on them, leave for a little while, then wipe fairly hard (not so hard it hurts) with a face cloth and finally rinse off. Newspaper – Let wet boots or shoes keep their shape by stuffing them with newspaper while they dry. Oatmeal – Soak your cares away. Grind one cup of oatmeal in a blender and add 5-6 drops (more or less, personal choice) lavender essential oil. Put the mixture in a bath bag, old pantyhose or sock and tie closed. Hang from the tap as the tub is filling with lukewarm (not hot) water. Then just lay back and enjoy. Panty Hose – Cut in strips and use to tie plants to garden stakes. The ‘give’ in the hose won’t hurt the plants. Q-Tips – These make great little dusting tools for your keyboard, remote controls, and other delicate instruments. Rolling Pins – Place a hand-washed sweater between two towels then roll across the top towel with the rolling pin to squeeze out extra moisture. Remove the...

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Salad Dressing Doesn’t Require Chemicals

Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living, Health and Safety, Product Information, Recipes | 39 comments

Salad Dressing Doesn’t Require Chemicals

Salad without salad dressing is pretty blah, but have you looked at the list of ingredients on the dressings you buy? It’s enough to make you want to eat your salads plain. Most of the ingredients listed are either synthetic or chemical based. Check your bottled dressing against the list at the end of this post and see for yourself. Fortunately it isn’t necessary to consume these chemical-laden products. Salad dressings are easy to make using ingredients found in most kitchens. Homemade dressings also tastes way better and cost a whole lot less. TO MAKE: Basic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing: 3/4 cup light pure olive oil 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1/8 tsp. dry mustard (optional) Salt and pepper to taste. Blend all together until smooth. Pour into a glass jar with tight fitting lid and refrigerate overnight before using. Shake well before serving.  Balsamic Vinaigrette: Replace the apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar and the mustard with 1 garlic clove, minced. To make any of the variations below start with ½ cup of the basic dressing and add: Italian Salad Dressing: Blend in 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/8 tsp. each: garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, optional 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, optional 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes. French Salad Dressing: Blend in 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes, and ¼ tsp. each: onion powder, paprika, sugar, garlic powder. French Dressing Variation: Blend in 1/2 Tbsp. catsup, ¼ tsp each: sugar, onion powder, paprika..  Russian Salad Dressing: Blend in 1 Tbsp. chili sauce. Catalina Salad Dressing: Blend in ¼ cup catsup, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp. onion powder, pinch of paprika. Ranch Style Salad Dressing: ¾ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup milk 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1 ½ Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional) 1 ½ tbsp. fresh chives, cut fine 1 ½ tbsp. fresh parsley, cut fine Salt and pepper to taste Blend the first four ingredients together, when well blended stir in the herbs, salt and pepper. Refrigerate overnight before using. NOTE: Since homemade salad dressings contain no preservatives, it is best to make them up in small batches. They should be kept refrigerated for no longer than a week. See how easy this is? It almost takes less time to make salad dressing than it does to read all the ingredients on the commercial products. Common ingredients found in commercial salad dressing: Soybean, canola or corn oil – GMO products – will increase cholesterol Glucose –throws blood sugar levels out of whack and drains nutrients from the body Flavour or Artificial Flavour – made in a lab and may contain chemicals and preservatives known to be toxic Monosodium glutamate – can cause headaches, pain, nausea and asthma-like symptoms; severe allergic reactions in some people Phosphoric acid – several studies have shown a link to decreased bone density Propylene glycol – this is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water – it is used as a solvent for food colours and flavours Potassium sorbate – an easy to make chemical preservative Sodium benzoate – a synthetic preservative that may be linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and premature aging Polysorbate 60 – common contamination with 1,4 dioxane has linked this product to cancer in lab studies Calcium disodium EDTA – currently being studied for possible link to reproductive problems, birth defects, and cancer along with a host of other health related issues. Who wants to eat that stuff? Much better to head to the kitchen to make up a fresh batch of salad dressing – better tasting, lesser cost, no chemicals. Works for me....

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How I started An Etsy Shop

Posted by on Apr 19, 2015 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Herbs | 40 comments

How I started An Etsy Shop

 Guess what? I am now an Etsy Shop owner. That really wasn’t one of my goals for the year but sometimes life happens and you just roll with it. That’s what happened with my Etsy Shop. What is an Etsy Shop? Etsy is an online global market place where creative people come to sell and buy handmade or vintage items. It is also a social network made up of more than a million sellers and thirty million buyers. Since it is a social network, in order to have a successful Etsy Shop, it’s important to take an active part in the community, something I’m still learning about. If you want to take a peek at my shop, you can find me at: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/LavenderbyLenie How this all came about is rather interesting. It wasn’t so much that this shop was planned as that I was nudged into it. It all started back when I did a post on “Bring Back the Pollinators”.  http://frugalforeveryone.ca/bring-back-the-pollinators/  At that time I decided to increase my organic lavender garden by 120 plants to attract more bees and butterflies. Of course that many additional lavender plants would give me a humongous amount of lavender to play with. Making up lavender products seemed the obvious solution, but then what? That’s an awful lot of gifts, so……….why not sell them.  Etsy Shop – A perfect match. Planning products for sale naturally requires a sales outlet. eBay was the first consideration, especially since we already had an excellent reputation there with 100% positive feedback. That was worth a lot, but eBay fees have been creeping up and are now rather on the high side. Then Meredith came along to provide the answer and this step fell into place with no effort on my part. Meredith, a super creative member of my blogging group, had recently set up her own artsy shop on Etsy  – https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/ThePaletteMuse and wrote about it in a post on her blog. That sounded interesting and worth looking into as a possible outlet for lavender products. As it turned out, it was a perfect match. More learning required: At this point I had the raw material, ideas for products and a possible sales outlet, but more was needed. Since the customers can only view photos of the products, it was important to make those appealing. This was definitely one of my weak points and something I had been working on and learning about but it was slow going. Once again things worked in my favour. At my next visit to the Library, staff greeted me with information about free computer training they were offering they knew would be of interest to me. They know me well. For some time learning Paint had been on my todo list and here was the perfect opportunity. Of course I signed up. The really good part, once Paint had been conquered, was that it became easy to make up the labels and envelopes for the different lavender products, as you can see from the photo to the left. The Etsy Shop – Almost there: Moving right along on to the next step…learning about Etsy. Things again worked according to plan – if there had been a plan, that is. It turned out that the gal teaching the computer tutorials was a bit of an Etsy expert. She knew all about it and ran me through the whole process, from setting up the shop to listing items. And that’s how I simply coasted along to become an Etsy Shop owner. Want to set up your own Etsy Shop? I was extremely fortunate...

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