Sunday, July 25, 2010

Re-using/Refurbishing/Remodeling things

One of the best ways that we save money on furniture items is to transform something old into something new for us.  I have been wanting to purchase a food server for our patio.  We like to entertain, and there is never enough room for the food.  We end up going in and out of the house multiple times.  Recently I saw at a yard sale an old computer desk.  It cost me $5.00.  It was the perfect height, and the perfect width for where I wanted it to go.  So, my husband and I went to work. We painted the metal to match our patio set.  We then tiled the top and shelves.  It turned out perfect for what we want to use it for!  And, it only cost about $30 total!  Can't beat that.
We painted the metal to match our existing patio set.
We then started placing the tiles.  We used the fake tiles that just stick on.  No hardi-backer, or grout!

The finished product

Like Grandma Mazie used to say, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Organizing "stuff"

It seems that in my house, every inch has to be used efficiently to maximize space.  One thing that I LOVE to use is shoe holders!  However, I don't use them for shoes.  I hang them on the backs of my doors for various things.  In my front closet, the pockets hold various seasonal things.  In the summer it holds hats, sunscreens and other things that the kids can come get. In the winter, the pockets hold mittens, scarves, ear warmers etc.  Each kid has a whole row for themselves, so they always know where their stuff is.

In the bathroom, the organizer holds bows, barettes, hairsprays, brushes, combs, etc.  I like the clear ones so I can see exactly where everything is.This is especially helpful as the kids know where each thing goes- and they can put it away where it goes.

In my kitchen pantry, the organizer holds our cell phones, chargers, sunglasses, ipods and all the little electronic gadget-y things that I use in the kitchen and with my computer in the kitchen.  I know the pantry seems an odd place for this, but that is where I use it.

These wonderful shoe organizers have helped us save space, and be organized.  Each one is only about $7-9.00 at Walmart or Target.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Hard Boiled" Eggs in Solar Oven

Can your solar oven do this?  Wow! 

Simply put eggs in black enamelware pot.

Put in preheated solar oven.  Let cook for about 30 minutes (35 for extra large eggs).  They are PERFECT hard boiled eggs!  And even better, there is no green ring around the yolk!  Have I said how much I love using my sun oven?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sealing Mylar Bags (Food Storage)

After attending a class given by the director of the LDS dry-pack canneries, I decided I would try to incorporate more mylar bags into my food storage.  Why? Mylar keeps light and air out better than plain old 5 gallon buckets.  Since I store much of my bulk items (oats, flour, rice, etc) in 5 gallon buckets, this will extend the shelf life considerably. 

Put mylar bag inside 5 gallon bucket.  I ordered my mylar bags online.

Put product in bag.  Fill it a bit more than what you think will fit.

Add oxygen absorbers.  You need to add 1 absorber per gallon of product.  So, if you are using a 5 gallon bucket, use 5.

Try to get as much air out as possible.  Now, straighten the seams of the bag.  Lay flat on surface of bar or ironing board.  Using medium high heat, seal across top, leaving the corner unsealed.

Smash as much air out as you can.  Now seal the corner.

Leave for 24 hours.  The product should be hard now, as the oxygen has been absorbed.  Put lid on, label and store.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

Our stake recently had an opportunity to purchase supplies to make our own laundry soap.  I finally got around to doing it. I must admit, I am a laundry soap snob, and really like Tide products.  However, I really don't like paying for Tide products.  So, I thought I would give it a try.  I told myself that as long as my clothes are clean, I would be OK.  The thing that I was most excited about was the cost!  It ends up costing about .70 cents per BATCH, and each batch makes 2 gallons.  You only use 1/2 cup of detergent per load.  The final cost is  approximately .01-.02 cents per load.  WOW!  However, if you are unable to order the bulk quantities, it will cost more than that.  Even paying retail for products at the grocery store, the homemade stuff is only a fraction of the cost.  Our supplies (borax and soda) came from in Odgen, UT.  A 50 pound bag of borax was $24.17, and a 50 pound bag of washing soda was $11.50.  This also included shipping.  I purchased the Fels Naptha bar at Macey's grocery store for $1.59.

The recipe:
1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of laundry bar soap
1/2 cup washing soda (It MUST be washing soda- baking soda will NOT work!)
1/2 cup borax powder
*You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size*
(I tripled the recipe and did it in a 5 gallon bucket.  Obviously if each batch makes 2 gallons, and I tripled it, that would be 6 gallons.  I omitted 1 gallon of water, making it a little stronger concentration.  Hence, I use a bit less than 1/2 cup per load).  

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.  Now add your soap mixture and stir.  Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  You use 1/2-3/4 cup per load.  You can also add some "blueing" agent for whiter whites, available at most stores on the laundry aisle.  I did not do that.  The verdict?  After trying the soap on colors and whites- I really like it!  The clothes smell nice- a good clean smell.  The fresh Wendy's Frosty stain on my sons shirt is gone.  Everything looks good!

A few things to not about the soap:
  1. The finished soap will not be a solid gel.  It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an "egg noodle soup" look.
  2. The soap is a low sudsing soap.  So if you don't see suds, that is ok.  Suds are not what does the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap.
  3. If you want your soap to have some sort of scent you can add 1/2-1 oz of essential oil or fragrance oil to your batch.  
  4. You can pour into empty milk jugs and store that way.
Grated Fels Naptha


Washing Soda (It MUST be washing soda!  Baking soda will NOT work!!)

Fels Naptha Bar

The Fels Naptha and water in pot. 

The finished product before putting in gallon jugs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Earthquake Preparedness

Several of my friends and I get together monthly to discuss and implement emergency preparedness ideas.  This past week we discussed EARTHQUAKES!  Since we live on the Wasatch Front, home to the Wasatch Fault, this is a very real threat to us.  Below are the handouts we received.  They are wonderful!  Thanks to my friend Jenni who put them together for us.

This first one was taken from an area fireside on Earthquakes.  Here are her notes:
Earthquake Fireside

This second one is filled with fabulous information taken from the North American Emergency Management team.  Good Stuff!!

Home Earthquake Information
This last one is a list of resources on the web for more information.  It is one thing to read about and gather information about preparedness.  It is another thing to implement what we learn!  Lets get to it!!
Earthquake Resources