Do-It-Yourself

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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Food Safety – Summer’s Best Practices.

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone | 47 comments

Food Safety – Summer’s Best Practices.

When I was still in the workforce I participated in a number of community injury prevention initiatives. At the beginning I was really surprised to learn that most injuries are predictable and preventable, but participating, researching the stats and talking to survivors, you find out how true that is. With summer here, a major risk for preventable injury is food related. Summer brings heat and humidity, conditions that bacteria thrive on and which greatly increase the risk of food poisoning. Add the more casual approach to food handling with barbecues and picnics and the risk increases even more. I developed this best practices list as a reminder of food safety practices and to offer a few useful tips to help keep everyone safe this summer. The obvious place to start is with shopping and transporting foods home. The precautions taken for that depends in large part on how far you need to travel. In my case, food can easily sit in the car for two or three hours from the time I leave home to the time I return. It doesn’t take long for a car to heat up, as shown below, and opening the windows a bit really doesn’t help a lot. Leaving food sitting in that heat, without taking precautions, is asking for trouble. From 80F to 114F in just 30 minutes –  From http://www.ggweather.com/heat/ How long does it take for a car to get hot? Outside Temp. Time It takes to reach In-Car Temp. 75F/24C 30 minutes 120F/49C 85F/29.5C 7-10 minutes 100F/38C 100F/38C 15 minutes 140F/60C According to: www.dfps.state.tx.us/seeandsave/hotcars-stats Best Practices – Food Shopping and Transporting: Plan the shopping trip so that buying groceries is the last activity of the day, with the return home right afterwards. There are a lot of low-cost containers available to help protect food while in transport, including coolers, ice packs, insulated bags, and reusable bags. Instructions for making the shopping binder can be found in MY SHOPPING BINDER – A Frugal Shopper’s Organizer. The most important food safety fact  – Keep foods out of the danger zone – between 40F (4C) to 140F (60C). That is the temperature range where bacteria will grow the fastest, posing  the greatest danger. At the store: Make a habit of picking up all the non-perishables first, the refrigerated products next, then the deli items and finally the frozen foods. Carefully place easily bruised produce – bananas, tomatoes, berries, etc. in a separate bag so nothing heavy gets put in with them. Bruised products deteriorate faster, especially in hot weather. Double bag all meat and fish products in those cheap bags used for produce and keep all those items well separated. Some stores, like Walmart, still provide plastic bags free of charge. Collect a few of those to line your reusable bags to avoid dripping and cross-contamination and place high-risk products, such as meat and fish, in them, but keep those foods well separated. Using those bags as liners also prevents bacteria growing in the reusable bags, especially in hot weather. Place the bags with the high-risk products into the cooler with ice-packs. If there was any leakage, discard the plastic bag and replace with a clean one. Place a freezer pack or two in the bottom of plastic-bag lined insulated bags for the dairy products. Open the egg carton and move the eggs around to make sure there are no broken eggs which will speed up the spoiling and possible contamination process. Buy deli items towards the end of the shopping trip and keep away from other foods. Designating one or two reusable bags...

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20 Tips for Healthier Eating, Some Savings.

Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Herbs, Recipes | 56 comments

20 Tips for Healthier Eating, Some Savings.

Over the past few years I have started getting rid of things, including old recipe notebooks from the time our boys were still at home. With seven of them, the only way to keep on top of things, and stay on budget, was to make up monthly lists to organize meals. At the time, this was a lot of work but it did help me feed them healthy meals, stretch the food budget and turn ‘blah’ into ‘this is good’. The following tips are based on that experience: Whipped Butter. Some restaurants serve those nice little pats of butter that are soft and easy to spread – the good news, you can make your own. Have ingredients at room temperature – if the butter or milk is too cold, they won’t blend. Use an electric mixer to whip 3 Tbsp. slightly warm (not hot) milk into 1/2 cup butter, softened, until creamy. This decreases the calorie and fat content and increases the butter amount. Keep refrigerated and use within a week. Sour Cream. Substitute an equal amount of yogurt for baking – works as well, has fewer calories and costs less, a lot less if you make your own. Less Egg Yolk. For every 2 or 3 eggs called for in a recipe, discard one of the yolks to cut down on the cholesterol. Less Sugar. Cut down the sugar in recipes by up to one quarter. You won’t notice the difference, but you will cut costs and calories. Less Salt. Many of us have gotten into the unhealthy habit of using too much salt. Slowly cut back on the salt and increase the use of herbs. Herb Salt. Mix together ½ cup salt, 1 ½ Tbsp. each of dried parsley, dried chives (or minced onion) and dried basil. Over time you can decrease the salt even more to 1/4 cup and increase the herbs to 2 Tbsp. each. Italian Seasoning. Seasonings do have an expiry date so it doesn’t make sense to buy a pack of Italian Seasoning if you only use a tablespoon once in a while. Make up your own from the seasonings normally found in the pantry. Mix together ½ tsp. of each of the following dried herbs: basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage to make 1 Tbsp. Italian Season OR mix together ½ Tbsp. dried oregano, ¼ Tbsp. dried basil, 1/8 Tbsp. onion powder, 1/8 Tbsp. garlic powder (+1 tsp. red pepper flakes – optional) to make one Tbsp. Italian Seasoning. Lemon Juice. Place the lemon in a measuring cup, completely cover with boiling water, let sit for 15-20 minutes, drain off the water and the lemon will now yield double the amount of juice. (Also works for oranges). Confectioners Sugar. Just grate ordinary sugar in blender. Cinnamon Sugar.  Add cinnamon sticks to sugar in an airtight container. Vanilla Sugar. Add one or two vanilla beans to sugar in an airtight container. Wheat Germ. Use this healthy food more often. Next time you need bread crumbs for topping or breading, replace 1/4 of the crumbs with wheat germ. Wheat germ is also great sprinkled on ice-cream, yogurt and in salads. Over-ripe Bananas. Peel, wrap well and freeze for smoothies or baking. Potato Flour. When a recipe calls for potato flour, grind instant mashed potato flakes and add 2 Tbsp. of this to every cup of flour called for in the recipe. Ground Beef Extenders: To 1 lb. ground beef for hamburg patties or meatloaf – add 1/2 cup of shredded carrot or 1/2 cup shredded zucchini or 1/2 cup applesauce. Sauteing Meat. Add...

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