Do-It-Yourself

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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NATURAL REMEDIES FOR COMMON AILMENTS

Posted by on Aug 31, 2014 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living, Herbs | 38 comments

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR COMMON AILMENTS

It used to be that using natural remedies to treat minor illnesses was just part of a well-managed household. But today many minor ailments are being seen by a doctor and treated with pharmaceuticals. Why? Natural remedies often do the job just as well, if not better, and at less cost and with far fewer side-effects. Shouldn’t we take responsibility for our own health whenever we can and leave the more serious problems to be dealt with by doctors and drugs?This article discusses the use of natural remedies to treat many minor ailments, always keeping in mind that the purpose of treatment is to relieve discomfort and to do no harm. I’ve only included safe, familiar products, easily found in the home or at a health food store, to be used in treatment. When dealing with serious illness, severe allergies, chronic medical conditions, or if in doubt, always call the doctor. NATURAL REMEDIES: Acne: Acne is most prevalent during the teenage years, just at the time when looks are considered to be important. As a result, teenagers afflicted with this skin condition can really suffer. Rather than go into detail here, anyone interested in further information can visit the Mayo Clinic:  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acne/basics/definition/con-20020580 While there are drugs available to treat acne, trying natural remedies first is always the better choice. Many may  find relief by adhering to the routine below: Acne is caused by the excess production of sebum, the oil that lubricates the skin. Naturally, this means the first step is to get rid of the excess oil by keeping the face super-clean. Only oil-free, non-drying soaps, like Dove or extra-sensitive baby soap, should be used. Lavender has natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and regenerative properties. This would suggest that Yardley Lavender Soap cleans the skin while promoting healing of the acne lesions. Be careful when trying any new product – if a rash or redness develops, stop using it immediately. Once a day, fill a sink with hot water. Position face over the steam and drape a towel over the head to keep the steam in. Steam away for about five minutes, then lightly pat dry. Soak a cotton ball with basil vinegar and pat on face. Do NOT dry off, but allow it to evaporate. Apply a yogurt mask once a week. Mix together 1 tsp. each of plain yogurt, honey and finely ground oats. First steam the face as above, then apply the mask, using all of it. Leave for 15 minutes, rinse off with warm water and finish with a splash of cold water to close the pores. Carefully pat dry. Finally, do not wear make-up. It will aggravate and highlight the problem. To make basil vinegar, click on my previous post: http://frugalforeveryone.ca/culinary-cosmetic-antiseptic-and-more-basil-does-it-all/ A severe or sudden outbreak of acne could be a symptom of a more serious health problem or a drug side-effect. Consult a doctor immediately. Colds: Fall is the beginning of the cold season and sooner or later most of us will fall victim. Fortunately there are natural remedies that work, both in preventing and treating. The best preventative, as far as I’m concerned, is mullein tea. Mullein is a large plant that grows wild in farmers’ fields. We always dried enough of the large mullein leaves to see us through the fall and winter. Every night, when our boys came home from school, they would have mullein tea, sweetened with honey. As long as we had the tea, they never had a cold. If we ran out though, which often happened around April, the colds would start. Mullein is now available from most...

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Back-to-School…Ready, Set, GO

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone | 34 comments

Back-to-School…Ready, Set, GO

Back-to-school…..those words bring back a host of memories, most of them good. It was our tradition to take the last two weeks of August to prepare for back-to-school. There was always so much to do….clothes to sort and new ones to buy; school supplies checked, topped-up or replaced; haircuts to get and annual medical/dental checkups completed. To get everything done for all our boys, took quite a bit of planning and coordination. But with a lot of goodwill and use of a checklist, we always got them ready to go back-to-school in plenty of time. Back-To-School To-Do List: 1. Back-to-School – Clothes: Clothes are a hugely important part of a school-child’s life, so it always made sense to start there. We followed a checklist to perform the following chores: All clothes were removed from closets and dressers; Their condition was checked – the ones still wearable where put in piles according to size; anything no longer good enough was discarded; To freshen everything, the whole lot was washed and line-dried; Everything was checked for loose seams and hems, missing buttons, etc. and all needed repairs made; The clothes were tried on to see which ones fit what child; Finally the clothes were returned to the appropriate closet/dresser. Once all that was completed we knew exactly what clothes we needed to buy to fill gaps, which prevented over-spending. We didn’t even consider shoes – it was just an accepted fact that they needed to be replaced every year before going back-to-school.  2. Back-to-School – Supplies: It always amazed me how school-bags, crammed with school supplies at the end of the school-year, always ended up empty at the beginning of a new school-year. With all the boys in different grades, outfitting them with the correct supplies was interesting – the higher the grade, the more specialized the need. However, getting those supplies was definitely made easier by our practice of taking one child at a time for their back-to-school shopping – they always knew exactly what to get and where to get it. 3. Back-to-School – Keeping Track: These last couple of weeks before school were also used for haircuts and the annual medical/dental checkups. To avoid a lot of waiting around, this took a huge amount of planning and proper scheduling. A large calendar to keep track of all the appointments was invaluable, not only at this time, but throughout the school year.  A large family calendar made it easier to schedule all the activities, appointments, and school events and kept us on track; Everyone could add their own notes and scheduled events, which simplified things and made scheduling easier; To show the kind of really neat calendars that are available, I’ve included this link: http://www.moretimemoms.ca/family-magnetic-calendar-p-37.html Back-to-School – GO 1. Back-to-school – Storage: In order to keep all the school stuff in one area, my husband built individual lockers in the back porch for each of our boys. This was an incredible time and mess saver. There were hooks for hanging coats and backpacks, shelves for books and sports equipment, plus the shoes and boots went on the bottom. Not everyone has the space or the handy husband, but here are a couple of suggestions for other simple ways to control clutter: One of our boys asked my husband to build a ‘kid-size’ coat rack. They hung this child-height, right inside the door, with a boot tray placed underneath to hold shoes and wet boots. That has been a big success – because it’s so handy and easy to use, the children do use it all the time. I found a...

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MICROGREENS: Superfoods You Grow Indoors

Posted by on Aug 18, 2014 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Herbs, Recipes | 39 comments

MICROGREENS: Superfoods You Grow Indoors

It was a great day when I discovered MICROGREENS, superfoods you grow indoors the year round. Microgreens are baby herbs and vegies, very easy to grow on windowsill or counter-top. They are fast producers, harvested within two to three weeks of germination, when the plants are only one to three inches tall. I had been thinking about the produce that would be available come Fall, really just a choice between expensive organic or less expensive chemical-laced. Not exactly great choices, that is, until microgreens came along giving us another option, one that is both super healthy and inexpensive. Microgreens are nutritional powerhouses because all the nutrients the plant needs to grow to maturity are stored in the tiny plants, waiting to be distributed as the plant grows. But as microgreens aren’t grown to maturity, it means all those extra stored nutrients – protein, antioxidants, beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and K – are available for consumption when the plants are cut. Growing Microgreens: Remembering chia pets, I decided growing chia would be good place to start. I found an old berry clam shell which would work for a little greenhouse. Since it already had drainage holes in the bottom, it just required soil, watering and seeding. It only took a few days for green shoots to appear and a few more days after that I was cutting chia microgreens to add to salads, sandwiches and hamburgers. That was easy and fun, enough so that expansion was the next step. Knowing plants germinate and grow at different speeds it seemed smart to give each type of plant its own growing container.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, but at the same time wanted to set up a continuous use system. That actually turned out to be easier and less expensive than expected. Preparing the Microgreens Containers: Shown above: Cook’n’Carry aluminum trays make perfect drainage trays. Plastic containers of the right size were found so that two could fit into each tray. The plastic cover that comes with the tray serves as a mini-greenhouse cover during the germination stage. I started by drilling six quarter-inch drainage holes into the bottom of each of the the plastic containers; Next two inches of organic, nutrient-rich growing mix was added, watered well and tamped down, enough to smooth out the soil, but not pack it; A moisture meter was used to keep a check on the moisture content. Once the meter read 5, the seeds were liberally sprinkled on top of the soil, lightly tamped down to ensure good soil contact and covered with vermiculite. (It doesn’t have to be vermiculite, it can be a light layer of soil – I just happened to have leftover vermiculite); The containers were then placed into the drainage tray and covered with the plastic lid. The lid actually sits on top of the plastic containers, leaving almost an inch of space underneath which, as it turned out, provides good air circulation. Germination, Growing and Harvesting the Microgreens: During the germination period, the seeds do not want light. Since I use the large window in my dining-room for my ‘indoor farming’, it was easiest just to leave the trays on the dining table, away from the light, until the green shoots appeared. Once that happened, the plastic cover was removed and placed under the aluminum tray, and the entire unit moved to the windowsill; When the plants are growing, they need a minimum of 6 hours – more is better – of light each day. If a window sill isn’t available, a table in front...

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BASIL Does It All- Culinary, Cosmetic

Posted by on Aug 3, 2014 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living, Herbs, Recipes | 49 comments

BASIL Does It All- Culinary, Cosmetic

Basil is one of my favourite herbs. I love the many different ways to use it – as a culinary herb, invigorating tea herb and, in a minor way, a cosmetic/medicinal herb.  Most everyone knows that basil and tomato are an unbeatable combination and that basil is the main ingredient for the traditional pesto sauce. But not everyone is aware that basil can also be used in omelets and scrambled eggs, salads, rice dishes, mushroom dishes and any chicken dish. It perks up many soups, and adds pizazz to pizza. Some General Information. A useful fact to remember for all herbs is that 3 measures fresh herbs = 1 measure dried herbs. Tearing the leaves releases more flavour than chopping them, which is fine for adding to salads or sliced tomatoes, but for some foods, like soup, butter or dips, I much prefer to bruise them before cutting them into very small pieces. Basil, garlic and parsley are three terrific mix and match herbs. Any two – or even all three – go well together. Most herbs should be added to cooked foods at the end of cooking – basil is one of those herbs. Basil Culinary Uses: A great way to flavour pasta or rice – heat a small amount of olive oil in a saucepan, remove from heat, stir in some finely chopped basil; add the cooked pasta or rice to the basil-oil, stir well and serve; If lemon basil is available, make up lemon basil-oil mix as above and stir in cooked rice – this is excellent served with fish; Use either of the basil-oil mixes as a dipping sauce for freshly baked bread. Use this basil-oil to replace butter on crusty rolls or bread; Add basil to cold rice or pasta salads; Finely chopped basil is terrific when added to a ham quiche or a tomato pie; Mix low-fat cream cheese with finely chopped basil and use on baked potatoes. Garlic or chives can be added to the cheese-basil mix. Make it a frugal product by using yogurt cream cheese, which actually makes it even healthier; Add to chicken stuffing; Add to any ground meat mixture, such as meatballs or meatloaf; Add to omelets or scrambled eggs – for each egg, add 1 Tbsp. fresh, finely chopped basil; Add a snippet to steamed zucchini or carrots. Always add basil at the end of the cooking; Add some finely cut basil to sauce for cauliflower; For a very simple dip, blend 2 Tbsp. fresh finely cut basil with 1 cup yogurt. To make the best basil vinegar for salad dressing – use ¼ cup fresh, torn basil to ½ cup red wine vinegar. When working with herbs and vinegars, glass containers should always be used – no plastic or metal. Give it time to steep and flavours to blend (a week or more is great) – strain and use as is – not necessary to add oil or anything else. Or use purple-leaved basil with white vinegar to make a beautiful red salad vinegar. French Herbal Boursin: Boursin is an easy-to-make mild French Cheese Spread, which is delicious when used as an appetizer and spread on crusty bread or crackers. Can also be served as a dip with breadsticks. To make the Boursin: In a food processor, combine 2 or 3 peeled garlic cloves with 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup fresh chives and 1/4 cup fresh parsley. Blend in 1 cup (8 oz./250g) cream cheese  – yogurt cream cheese may be used – until mixture is well blended and smooth. Chop 1/4 cup black...

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