Saturday, June 30, 2012

Recipe: Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

In an attempt to be a little more frugal, make due with what I have on me and get a little creative all at the same time I made a vinaigrette that turned out to be super good. I put all of the ingredients into a mason jar for storage also making for an easy to shake to container.

1/4 c.Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tbl spoons of Honey
Chopped basil
pinch of thyme
dash of kosher salt
dash of black pepper

Shake well.
Serve over the most beautiful salad you can make.

Apples compliment the depths of balsamic really well.

Hope you enjoy this quick and simple vinaigrette. It definitely has me thinking I'll never go back to store bought dressings again!

Friday, June 29, 2012

For the Love of Baking Soda

As parents we're constantly battling and on many fronts losing this grotesque war against the Chemical Industry who sees nothing wrong with manufacturing products that are known to be horrible for us and the Environment. 

Many cleaning products as well as personal hygiene products contain cancer causing carcinogens and/or toxins that cause a variety of abnormalities. They're lurking in everyday things..Shampoo, Deodorant, Household Cleaners. 
Most of the time we think as long as the product isn't being ingested then all is safe but the sick truth is our skin and respiratory tract are taking most of it in without us even really paying much notice. And whats worse is that our kids are being subjected to heavier concentrations of these toxins because simply they're smaller than we are and not fully developed.

Having a clean home and smelling okay shouldn't kill you in the long run. It's just not a fair trade. So why not get back to the basics?

There was a time before everything just had to smell lemony fresh that clean was clean. If you've ever seen a big ol' box of baking soda at your Granny's house then you just might know what I'm talking about. I use it to bake with and clean with.. It's so all around, I've come to depend on it. What makes it just the ultimate of all ultimates is how safe it is. 
Baking Soda has been around for a while, garnering it much credibility. It has roots all the way back to Ancient Egypt. Whats more is that it is naturally derived. There are no hidden or hard to pronounce ingredients. In it's most simplest explanation it's aerated salt. 

It is so versatile the list of ways to use it could stretch out very long but here are a few uses for Baking Soda I choose all of the time.

1. It makes a beautifully mild face and body scrub. Not too abrasive at all and whatever the skin type, it does what it was born to do....neutralize! You'll walk away with your skin feeling all kinds of clean without the residue left behind by synthetic ingredients.

2. Jewelry Cleaner. I put 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a mason jar containing 4 oz. of water, stir and put my bracelets in and let them sit for a few. Whatever bit of tarnish or dullness there was, is now no more.

3. Pot and Pan Scrub. Yep, when I'm standing over the sink working on the pot that stayed on the stove a little too long or the pan that wasn't oiled enough I get out the baking soda. Baking Soda and elbow grease combined will get your cookware back in tip top shape!

4. Toothpaste and Mouthwash. As a gentle abrasive it scrubs away plaque and neutralizes the bacteria that hangs out on your tongue and gums. If fluoride already freaks you out, this makes an excellent alternative.

5. Laundry Detergent booster. I add a 1/2 cup of baking soda along with the recommended amount of detergent according to my settings. It boosts the cleaning power and aids in neutralizing the bacteria that causes the odors.

So there you have it. 5 Simple to implement uses for Baking Soda that I hope you give a try. In many cases Baking Soda will clean 10 times better than many commercial products but most importantly you will be reducing the amount of toxins you bring in to your home. It's a hard battle but well worth it. 

Other uses:

Shampoo booster
Kitchen sink scrub
Tub Scrub
Taking the sting out of a bug bite when mixed into a paste.
Chrome Cleaner
Oven/Range Cleaner
Battery Cleaner
Carpet Deodorizer

Friday, June 15, 2012


It has rained nearly everyday now--I love and appreciate not having to turn the sprinklers on for the garden. Working that pump just a little less, saving energy and money!

A previous idea of putting the (rain) barrel by the garden for large scale worm tea turned out to be not a good idea....So I'm moving it to the front of the house--where there's a gutter--to collect all this rain!
40% chance today. Happy about that.

Picking okra and eggplant daily now. I'm really happy about how the eggplant are growing. Last year we grew them using 5 gallon buckets as a self-watering system. It gave us plenty of eggplant BUT the plants themselves were restricted....growing them in the ground has given them ample space to branch out. The plants are good and big, so much so, that with the rain we've been having they've been staked up to keep them from falling over and keeping the fruit off of the ground.
Frying eggplant for Father's Day:) Yum!

I'm picking tomatoes while green and letting them ripen on the counter. Some of the tomatoes are bursting open from so much water--rain. What I've learned is to take my chances with the frosts and start seeds in January. With tomatoes AND cukes. We didn't get any where near the amount of cukes we've harvested in previous years--it was pitiful--and the only difference was in previous years I was on it, had seeds starting in the closet underneath a light when it was still "winter"...this year I wanted to play it safe with these heirloom seeds---lesson learned!

There's a large section that was recently tilled--We're going to plant legumes a'plenty...More black eyes, green beans and even some limas.

I've got 4 blueberry bushes that have been seriously cut back. I'm researching the appropriate soil for them to determine where they should be planted. I'd love to have at least one side of the garden lined with berry bushes. Still have plans for a small orchard one day.

It's easy to get distracted most of the time. There are so many small plans that are had to lead up to, or in making up, the master plan: To be self-sustained. I figure if we can tackle as many small things as possible eventually we'll get there....But there are also other things to take care of.

Self-sustainability and frugality go hand in hand. Much of the problems we face financially as a society are caused from people living essentially beyond their means. Wanting "things" causes the most suffering, I've discovered. But my wanting a wholesome life for my kids overrides that. I ache for them to appreciate the little things and not to take anything for granted. Sometimes I feel like I'm failing--but other times I feel so hopeful that they're "getting it".

Sometimes I worry that by us moving out here, we've solidified a future of solitude.  But that can't be. If anything we've moved to a place that could become a haven for other's. A place to go to for a smile and maybe even a full belly. Possibly?

Really all I know is I want to learn to feel the seasons change on my skin and to teach my kids that working with the earth, trusting in her to provide by offering our humble sweat is the best start for any lifetime full of gratitude and appreciation. That slowing down provides more time to see and appreciate all of the beauty. I don't want them to be afraid of work--I want them to jump in, get dirty and get stuff done.

Here's to the journey!