Thursday, May 28, 2009

All purpose cleaner (I thought I posted this... )

I couldn't find it, so maybe I put it somewhere else... anyway, this is the all purpose cleaner I use most of the time. It sometimes takes a stronger version, but this one does almost everything and it's a lot cheaper than commercial cleaners.

1/4 cup of ammonia (lemon scented makes it smell nice)
1 teaspoon of good liquid dish detergent
3/4 of a pint of water.

Mix with a spoon - don't shake to mix because it will suds a lot. I keep mine in a spray bottle.

And if you find it already posted on this blog, let me know!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Electric traditions revisited

If you read the post, "Electric traditions," did you join us in making an enviromental statement a frugal one?

If you did, how's it going? Once a week? More? Once a month? Less?

To be honest, I forgot to do it on a regular basis. I sometimes do it just because. It's on my calendar now, once a week. Maybe more.

Not only does turning off the electricity make us aware of the times we waste it, it makes us appreciate it when we need it. Turning it off for an hour will save a dollar or so on the electric bill in most households and that's more than vacuuming the refrigerator coils. Four times a month times 12 months... do the math, then increase or decrease it to suit yourself.

It's an easy way to save a buck and it can be an opportunity to teach your kids, create a family time and relax and reflect.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Egg drop soup

I have no idea of why, but I got one of those sudden urges for egg drop soup! I looked up a few recipes for it to be sure I remembered what was in it, and discovered that there are many variations. Now if that isn't an open door to experiment, I don't know what is and I've never been one to shut the door on something like that, so...

First, I put in a couple of tablespoons of rice, three cups of water and a couple of chicken bouillon cubes. While that was cooking, I went to the back yard and got a fistful of dandelion leaves, lambsquarter, salsify leaves and a few stalks of chives. Once the rice was cooked, the greens went into the soup and cooked briefly while I beat an egg, the dropped it a little at time into the boiling water.

And that's all there was to it. With a slice of homemade bread it made a surprisingly filling meal. I haven't calculated the exact cost, but with the price of eggs now, it was very cheap - potentially less than a dime a serving.

I know not everyone can step outside their back door and pick wild greens (or even domesticated greens), but you can use whatever you happen to have. Spinach, radish tops, mustard or turnip greens or even cabbage will do.

It may not be genuine Chinese egg drop soup, but it's a very good Americanized substitute!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garden ramble

My mind has been on the garden and the weather for the last few weeks. I have everything out: tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, beans, onions, beets, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, spinach, peas and a few potatoes. I also started rhubarb and Jerusalem artichokes. Growing from before is horseradish and strawberries.

Hopefully this year I'll be canning tomatoes, zucchini with tomatoes, green beans and beets. I'll have onions to braid and hang, and a few meals' worth of potatoes. If I'm lucky, there will be a few peas left to freeze, corn to freeze as well as make cornmeal from, peppers to dehydrate and tomato sauce and tomato juice to freeze.

Not bad for a city backyard, but I'd like to grow more. With prices still going up and up and up, anything you can grow yourself will save money. Even if it's a few herbs in pots, if you don't have to buy them, you save.

The more you can grow, the more you save, of course, but don't not garden because your soil is like fired brick or beach sand.

Compost, compost, compost. Spring, summer and fall are the times to compost, so now's the time to start. It doesn't take much of anything and you don't need a fancy composter. Just designate a piece of dirt (or a container of dirt) and start putting in used tea leaves, a few coffee grounds, chopped raw vegetables, cooked vegetables if they don't have salt or butter, a few grass clippings, leaves, shredded paper... keep it damp but not wet and turn it now and then, whenever you think of it. Soon it will turn into rich soil.

Mix it into your garden area and make more. And more. Nature is bountiful. Not only does it create new, wonderful dirt from what we call trash, it grows wonderful, healthy food from the same dirt. Trash to food. Can't beat that. That's the original recycling plan and it works.

What a miracle of life, to watch and be a part of the entire cycle.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Those of you who follow this blog know that my Mother died last September, after a battle with Alzheimer's. The last two years of her life were painful for her as well as her children. Before that, Mom was still Mom and as Mother's Day comes around again, I find myself remembering the good years and letting the bad years slip through my memory with little impact.

Mom was a wise woman. When we had trouble with relationships, she had the answer, although she never gave advice until we asked. When we didn't know what to do when life pounded us as it will now and then, she set our attitudes back on track. She was calm, logical and loving in all her wisdom.

She raised 8 kids on a ranch hand's salary, but she never complained about that. Instead, she rose to the challenge with dignity and energy. Wild food, shopping skills and knowing what was important and what wasn't, allowed us to live high on the hog when we didn't have one. Everything we had was used to the utmost.

Being poor, people gave us things. Clothes, mostly, and often clothes that no one, including us, wanted. Mom was gracious in accepting them and then she made them into something we did want and need. Sweater sleeves were made into mittens, rags into rugs, skirts into aprons.

Mom was shy all of her life. She never went places she didn't have to go, but the school Christmas program was a have-to. I always thought she was so pretty, sitting there alongside Daddy with a small smile on her face.

After I grew up and got married, I still turned to her, as all her kids did, for grounding in reality. She never once spoke against any of our spousal choices. Her daughters in law called her "Mom."

Everyone respected her. I'm not sure how that happened; I can't isolate any one thing she did to cause it. Daddy told us one time, "Your Momma's a lady. Don't you ever forget that." And she was.

I'm not the only one of the kids who turn to the phone to call her when life gets the best of me before I realize she's not there at the other end any more. She is still "there" in my mind, though. There are some things death cannot take away from you.

So, on this first Mother's Day after you've passed over, Mom, I know you're waiting for us. I just want to say Happy Mother's Day. I love you.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Eating logically

In America, we've become accustomed to a great variety of food from around the world. While that's great for a treat, eating it as a matter of course takes the pleasure from it and adds a lot to the food bill.

It used to be that eating locally was the normal thing. People didn't have cranberry sauce in areas where cranberries didn't grow, except for holiday meals. Olives were the same... only at special meals.

At home we seldom had dessert except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter and when we did, it was gooseberry pie or chokecherry jelly on toast. On very rare occasion we'd have ice cream or cookies - never both.

We had candy once a month, when Mom bought groceries; soft drinks were the same. Mom was a good cook and we ate a variety of food, but much of it was homegrown. Of course at the time, deer were plentiful and my brothers liked to hunt so we had good meat, too.

Is eating locally healthier? Probably so. Is it cheaper? Definitely. Frugal living looks at every aspect of every part of living. Look at your total food bill... and see if eating a little closer to home will decrease it.