Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chemical Free Cleaning

There are lots of recipes out there on the internet that utilize four key ingredients for chemical free cleaning. Vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and baking soda are usually the most listed. These are cheap, easy and work very well. Recently, I took it to the next level.


What do you mean nothing? I mean a wet washcloth. With a twist.
Put it wet in your microwave on a plate. Microwave for 30-50 seconds depending on how powerful your machine is. Voila. Wipe your counter, wipe your floor, wipe your sinks, your appliances, anything.

It's easy. It's fast. I tried it on a linoleum floor that I wash frequently but because of high traffic of people and animal form it never seems clean.

You've seen those fancy steam cleaners on television on late night commercials. Same principles. Less money. It's amazing.

Try it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baby Food - Peas and Green Beans

A quick steam in the microwave and any kind of frozen peas or green beans can become baby food in a relatively simple manner.

Cook the bag of frozen veg as you would to eat for yourself. Steam in a pot or in your microwave. Place in your blender. Add a little bit of the water and blend.

Freeze in the ice cube trays and then pop out later in place in a freezer bag labelled with the date.

Wasn't that simple?

Need the math. My grocery ad this week sells a 40 ounce bag of frozen veg for $3.99.
The number one jars of baby food equal 2.5 ounces. Therefore, the per serving cost is 25 cents per 2.5 ounce serving.

I don't know any store that sells that jar for 25 cents.

This adds up quick. Also, you can make it faster than you can drive/walk to the store. Why wouldn't you?

Pre-made baby food doesn't save time or money.

One small caution: The above does not apply to carrots. This is the one exception you should not make at home.

Baby Food - Apricots and Pears

A quick addition to the recipe for peaches. Apricots and Pears can be processed in exactly the same manner. We'll do some veggies next.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How to Make Baby Food - Peaches

One of the things that annoys me about our advertising filled world is how much of what we buy is completely unnecessary. Why would you buy baby food? Baby food is made from products you already own and stored in containers you already have. I have taught several friends to make baby food. It's fun. It can be done in advance or on the fly. And, it's so much cheaper.

No. There are no cute jars with the adorable baby label. Wait a minute. You throw away or recycle those cute jars anyway, don't you?

Let's start slow and easy. Peaches. One of the first foods most people introduce. I've never heard of anyone being allergic to a peach so I know it was always the first fruit I began with all of my children.

At the store: Buy canned peaches packed in water or juice.
At home: Open the can, do not drain, pour in your blender. Blend.
To store: Pour the blender pitcher into an ice cube tray. Freeze.
Next day: Pop the cubes out of the ice cube trays into a freezer container or freezer bag of your choice.

Wow. That was tough wasn't it?

Here's an additional step that's completely optional but might surprise you.

If the little jars of step one food cost 79 cents in your grocery store and you use 10 of them that's $7.90.

A freezer tray will garner you about the same amount and will cost you the price of two cans of peaches $1.90. I don't figure the cost of the freezer because it is not additional to food you already store there.

That's a difference of $6.00 for ten servings. A savings of 60 cents per serving.

How many servings of baby food does your baby eat in one week? If it's 3 meals a day times 7 days a week then 21 servings multiplied by 60 cents a serving is $12.60 for the week.

Almost $50 a month. That's enough for a nice dinner date with your husband.

More soon! Happy blending.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Some Assembly Required

We can discuss my wonderful basketball hoop that I built yesterday with help from my neighbor. I ordered a portable hoop off of It said it was easy to put together and had lots of good reviews. A lot of reviewers were parents or grandparents of eight year olds and they said that the hoop was the right size for them. The company said it was easy to put together. Which was probably the most important factor in my decision making. They lied like a rug!

The trouble started when I opened the box. The top sheet of instructions was a bright orange piece of paper. This orange was the color of warning labels. It was hunting vest orange. It was obviously important. More than imporant - SUPER important, super duper important. It was in big bold print. It screamed, "Pay attention or your child might lose an eye" important. It was also in Chinese. I did what any other sane mother would do, I threw it away.

I gathered the 1/2 inch wrench, hammer and screwdriver that the box said I would need and it was on to step one. After throwing away the other instruction manual, also helpfully written in Chinese, I found the English and French. So I got the middle pole or MP out of the box. The top pole or TP was helpfully shoved inside the MP. It was also encased in plastic. This appears to have been done on purpose. As there was a helpful picture of a tall man cheerfully pulling the plastic encoated TP out of the MP in one fail swoop. Alas, that was also a lie. The MP had been thoughtfully dented in transit, saving me the trouble and it made it impossible to get the TP out. I did figure out what the screwdriver was for though. I came up with two uses. One, to use as a weapon when I go to take my frustrations out on the person who wrote the instructions. Two, to jam in a tiny hole and use as a lever to try to remove the pole. I think it may be biologically impossible but I'm willing to give it the old college try.

Forty five minutes later I have the pole out with a few gouges taken out of the paint and few more from my fingers when it slipped. I have three quarters of the plactic removed and I have increased the children's vocabulary with many new colorful expressions. Should they want a careet in the merchant marines, they have half the classwork done already and probably could made a season veteran of the high seas blush.

Now, because English and French is obviously a second language for the writer, I match the pictures of the nuts and bolts up so I know how to fasten things. I study the diagrams with the intensity of a 21 year old vigin studying the Kama Sutra for the first time before a big date. I decided to try the French directions hoping that they can give me a clue. Since all the French I know consists of the phrases, "eat shit and die" "do you want to sleep with me tonight" and "shut your mouth" it wasn't that helpful. I give the book to my eight year old daughter and she figures it out. I swear some more.

I have the pole attached to the base. I have the wheels on. I have the brackets in place. Now comes the hard part. Previously, you just had to finger tighten the nuts. Which in my sleep addlede brain sounds like what you would do on a date. I think I may have done that last Saturday, I am not sure. I will need to check the manual. Now comes the time to tighten the nuts for real. Seriously, they need to be tightened or something horrible will happen. It could cause serious injury or death, if the impressive orange Chinese warning lable is to be believed.

By this time, I have a crowd of eight children anxiously surrounding me, jabbering non-stop and bouncing basketballs perilously close to my head. My eye starts twitching which should be a signal, to my kids at least, that it is time to make yourself scarce. They fail to take the hint.

We tackle the backboard next. We are flush with success and have visions of getting it done in the next fifteen minutes so the kids can play while it is still light out. We pore over the instructions. We see that there are two tall people putting it together in the pictures. They appear to be smiling while they do this. We take it as a good sign and one hour later we realize that the tall men in the picture have either been given shock treatments recently or are heavily medicated.

We get the backboard on and we assemble the hoop and get the bolts in places that are actually too small and angled to seemingly go. We get four of the six bolts on and forget the other two in our herculean struggle. We decide that it will work. It stands up and doesn't fall over. I call the kids out in triumph.