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Blog Description:

A blog about homesteading and getting back to a simpler lifestyle. Posts include subjects such as cooking from scratch, backyard gardening, canning, cooking, crafts, sewing and household DIY.
Blog Added: January 17, 2015 07:23:21 AM
Audience Rating: General Audience
Blog Platform: Weebly Weebly
Blog Country: United-States   United-States
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Total Visits: 1,363
Blog Rating: 2.90
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6 Ways to Say Good Bye to Summer

Say Goodbye to Summer and Have Fun Doing It! ​I know it seems hard to believe but summer is coming to a close. The long, hot, lazy days have already gone bye bye for many people and the cooler temperatures are taking over more and more frequently. Autumn is arriving and even though that is exciting, have you said good bye to summer?​ How can you say good bye? Here are 6 fun things you can do, before the leaves begin to fall. Notice I said FUN....

Say Goodbye to Summer and Have Fun Doing It!

I know it seems hard to believe but summer is coming to a close. The long, hot, lazy days have already gone bye bye for many people and the cooler temperatures are taking over more and more frequently. Autumn is arriving and even though that is exciting, have you said good bye to summer?


How can you say good bye? Here are 6 fun things you can do, before the leaves begin to fall. Notice I said FUN. This list does not include chores!

1. Do your morning (or evening) exercise routine outside on your exercise mat. Enjoy the smells and sounds of the season.

2. Eat watermelon in the backyard with your kids and their friends. Remember eating watermelon when you were a kid?

3. Play outside with your kids after supper. Soon it will be dark by suppertime.

4. Pick the rest of your vegetables from your garden and make Summers End Soup for dinner. It's easy to make:
  •     6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  •     vegetables from your garden
  •     1 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh grated garlic if you grow it
  •     1/2 teaspoon basil
  •     1/2 teaspoon thyme
  •     a handful of pasta or rice whichever you prefer
  •     Put everything but the pasta or rice in a big soup pot and bring to a boil
  •     Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes
  •     Toss in pasta or rice and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until pasta or rice is done
  •     Serve with bread sticks or crackers and fruit
If you don't have a garden this year, visit a farmers market and pick up some veggies for your soup. Any vegetables you like will work like potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, peppers.  Whatever you love! 

​The farmer will appreciate the business and your family will appreciate the soup!

​5. Go the the lake or beach, one last time. Even if it is too chilly to swim, take off your shoes and walk along the shore in the water. Collect pretty rocks or shells. Say goodbye to 
the water until next year.
Picture

​6. Have a summers end BBQ. Cook and eat outside (even if you have to wear sweaters) Enjoy the company of friends in the outdoors. Don't forget the 
s'mores!

What would you add to this list of end of summer activities?  How do you say goodbye?

Jade    :)

Images:  ​https://www.flickr.com/photos/kstatelibrarian/4020352074/sizes/z/



How to Make A Magic Eraser Type Sponge

If you have ever tried a Magic Eraser Sponge, I bet you were amazed.  I know I was.  At our old house (before we moved to our homestead) we had a shower enclosure in the second bathroom. The bottom of it was always dirty from my husband showering after work.  He is a diesel mechanic and many times he arrives home quite black, and it seems that most of that black ends up on the shower floor.  I tried so many things to clean it and it just took old fashioned elbow...

If you have ever tried a Magic Eraser Sponge, I bet you were amazed.  I know I was.  At our old house (before we moved to our homestead) we had a shower enclosure in the second bathroom. The bottom of it was always dirty from my husband showering after work.  He is a diesel mechanic and many times he arrives home quite black, and it seems that most of that black ends up on the shower floor.  I tried so many things to clean it and it just took old fashioned elbow grease to scour it off.  The older it got, the harder it became to get clean.  That is, until I tried a Magic Eraser!
 
It still took a bit of elbow grease, but it came clean with what I would call a minimum effort.  It was pretty awesome.  The only bad thing about it was the cost.  Magic Erasers are like $1 each or more; not cheap considering they are only good for one use.  Actually I used at least two for the shower floor.  It irked me that they were so expensive, so I decided to do some investigation and see if there was a way to make them myself.
I found out that Magic Erasers and other products like them are made from a certain type of foam called Melamine foam.  It looks like any other sponge but it is really much more dense.  At the microscopic level, Melamine resin is cured into foam and it becomes very hard, but it is still pliable because of it's open cell structure.  It almost performs like super fine grit sandpaper.  It makes quick work of stains, but it also means it can damage some shiny surfaces.
Magic Eraser type sponges should never be used on wood.  Because it's surface has scratchy threads, it will damage wood surfaces by scratching off the clear coat and damaging the wood underneath.  The same goes for glossy paint, it can be dulled and scratched if scrubbed with these type of sponges.  I would not recommend use on appliances, either.  Stainless steel or the new dark gray or black appliances are especially susceptable to scratch damage or worn spots in the finish.  I would also recommend caution if you have a really shiny countertop, like granite.  You can damage the finish, if you are not very careful.  Alway take care to try a test spot on any surface you are not sure about.  Better to be safe than sorry!
To make your own Magic Erasers, you will need to buy some Melamine sponges.  I found them very reasonably priced on Amazon, at 100 pieces for less than $8.00.
While Mr. Clean claims they do not put any cleaners in their Erasers, I put a mild soap in mine.  I think it helps clean better and you don't have to use so much energy scrubbing.

 There are two ways you can use the cleaner:

  1. Soak your sponge in it before using
  2. Make the cleaner and keep it in a spray bottle and spray it on the sponge before using

​I prefer to soak mine, the amount below is perfect for a one time use.  I just make it and put it in a bowl and then drop the sponge in and let it absorb the cleaner.  Wring it out and you are good to go.


​Ingredients:


That's all I have for today, have a great weekend, and don't forget to check out our new recipe blog:  Jade's Homemade Recipes

Jade    :)

Images from Amazon for products sold on this page.  
Amazon Affiliate Disclosure



12 Grilling Tips I Bet You Didn't Know

​There is at least another month of grilling time left this summer.   Have you felt your grill skills have been a bit lackluster so far this season?  Do you feel that other grillers know tips and tricks that you are not privy to?  Then you have come to the right place.  Below are some grilling tips guaranteed to put you on the road to being the neighborhood grillmaster! Grilling Tips ​​1.  Use cupcake tins to put hotdog and burger...


​There is at least another month of grilling time left this summer.   Have you felt your grill skills have been a bit lackluster so far this season?  Do you feel that other grillers know tips and tricks that you are not privy to?  Then you have come to the right place.  Below are some grilling tips guaranteed to put you on the road to being the neighborhood grillmaster!


Grilling Tips

1.  Use cupcake tins to put hotdog and burger fixins, if you need more than those little wells can hold, make two, or three.

2.  Use a disposable paper cup  to hold your barbecue sauce when grilling.  You don't want to save the leftovers since it has been contaminated with your grill brush covered in meat juices, so just use a paper cup and toss it when you're done!
3.  In a time crunch for cooking food on your grill?  Partially cook it in the microwave, and drastically cut down on the time it takes to grill it done.

4.  Make "veggie packs" and grill them before your guests arrive, then leave them on the outer edges of the grill to stay warm till your vegetarian or just veggie loving friends request one.  To make them, simply put peppers, onions, zucchini, potatoes or any other veggies you have on hand, in tin foil with garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, and a pinch of 
salt, and seal.  Grill for 15 or 20 minutes.


​5.  Soak hickory wood chips in water for 30 minutes and wrap in double aluminum foil and seal, then poke holes in it with a toothpick.  Lay this packet on top of your gas grill's burner to get delicious flavor.
6.  After heating and cleaning your grill, rub a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil over the rack.  This will help food not to stick to the rack when grilling.

7.  If you don't have a grill thermometer and need to know if your grill heat is high, medium or low,  hold you open hand, palm down about 5 inches above the rack.  How soon you have to move it will tell you the temperature of your grill:  2 seconds and your grill is high (450 to 500 degrees F)  5 to 7 seconds and your grill is medium (around 350 degrees F) and 10 to 12 seconds and your grill is on low.  (250 to 275 degrees F)

8.  When grilling fish, seal each piece in an individual foil envelope, than way it is easy to cook and you don't have to worry about it falling apart.  It also helps keep the fish moist, 
and you can add a lemon slice and seasonings for flavor.

​9.  Use a small 6 pack cooler to keep extra dogs and burgers warm and away from insects.  Just take them off the grill and put them directly into the cooler which has been lined with aluminum foil.
10.  Don't over flip, in other words, don't constantly flip  your meat because you are bored or impatient, it will cook even slower if you do.

11.  Grill some fruit!  Put sheets of aluminum foil on your grill and brush pieces of pineapple, apple, melon and cantelope with honey. Grill on both sides and serve warm.
12. When grilling shish kebobs, cut your meat and vegetable pieces bigger and use two skewers per kebob.  Your pieces will be much less likely to fall off or spin on the skewer so one half is always toward the fire and burnt.  Don't forget to soak wood skewers in water before use and cover the ends with foil so they won't burn while being grilled.
I  hope you have a great rest of the summer and some awesome barbecue!

​Jade    :)


If you want to learn more about grilling, I recommend this book.  It has all kinds of grilling techniques and easy to make recipes.  I learned a lot from it!


Image Credit:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/pegwinn/3495345784/sizes/o/



5 Fun Things to Make with Corn Husks

Fall is my favorite time of the year for crafts.  I know its not really fall yet, but I can wish, can't I?  I can also get an early start in making some end of the summer and autumn projects.  Nature is just full of things that are great to use for crafts like pine cones, branches, leaves, pussy willows and my personal favorite:  corn husks.  ​ Corn husks are so versatile you can make so many different things with them! ...


Fall is my favorite time of the year for crafts.  I know its not really fall yet, but I can wish, can't I?  I can also get an early start in making some end of the summer and autumn projects.  Nature is just full of things that are great to use for crafts like pine cones, branches, leaves, pussy willows and my personal favorite:  corn husks.  

Corn husks are so versatile you can make so many different things with them!   I have made all different kinds of toys, some really beautiful home decor items, even some really cute holiday items for Halloween and Christmas.

If you don't know a kindly farmer that will give you his corn husks, you can buy them.  Actually, for crafting purposes, buying them is really preferable because they come all the same size, which is very important for some projects like wreaths.  When I buy corn husks, these are the ones that I buy, they are inexpensive, not so dry that they fall apart, and they even smell good! 

I want to share a few of my favorite corn husk projects that I have made.  Dolls, flowers, home decor most all of them are very easy, so don't be afraid to try them!  
I got this from the BLDG 25 Blog.  This doll is so easy to make and quick too.  Check out this easy tutorial!
This tutorial from Positively Spendid, is so simple to do, it's even great for kids!  The end result is a really cute tree, that you can decorate in dozens of ways!  
Cosmos, daisies, sunflowers and more!  With a bit of hot glue, some husks and stems, you can make the most beautiful corn husk flowers.  I found this tutorial on Martha Stewart's website.
This adorable witch tutorial can be found on the Everyday Dishes website.  With a bit of hot glue and a few other materials, you can have this cute witch adorn your home every Halloween season!
This garland, from the site Domestically Speaking, is very easy to make with just corn husks and a bit of floral wire
I hope you enjoyed these tutorials and plan to try some of them, I think you will really love the results because they are so different from the same old stuff you can buy at the store.  

Have a great week!

Jade    :)


This is a really fun book for kids or adults that like to make crafts that use nature bounty as materials.  This book has not only has crafts, but also has gifts and recipes!


This is a wonderful book that has lots of fun to do projects that are made with things you find right outside your door!  Perfect for Sunday crafting after a Saturday nature walk!

Image Credits:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/isg-online/6099280003/sizes/l
https://www.flickr.com/photos/amarsesh/3999281018/sizes/l
​https://www.flickr.com/photos/luckyrob/1721419008/sizes/l



Smooth and Thick Homemade Salsa

​Last week I made my first of the season salsa.  I like my salsa in a kind of unusual way:  smooth, but thick.  My husband and I do not like raw tomatoes, so we really prefer that our salsa not have big chunks of tomatoes in it.  Because of this, I have made my own recipe for smooth and thick salsa.  It has extra tomatoes, is cooked and then blended.  These three things make it the perfect consistency for us.  I wanted to share it, in...


​Last week I made my first of the season salsa.  I like my salsa in a kind of unusual way:  smooth, but thick.  My husband and I do not like raw tomatoes, so we really prefer that our salsa not have big chunks of tomatoes in it.  Because of this, I have made my own 
recipe for smooth and thick salsa.  It has extra tomatoes, is cooked and then blended.  These three things make it the perfect consistency for us.  I wanted to share it, in case there are others out there that also prefer a smooth and thick consistency in their 
salsa. This is how you make it!

​Ingredients:

All ingredients can just be coarsely chopped, no need to dice
  • 6 medium to small tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 medkum green pepper, chopped
  • 2 small jalapeño peppers, stems, ribs, and seeds removed (use one, or none, depending on how hot you like it)
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1/2 large bunch cilantro.
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

​Directions:


​In a large pot (I used a Dutch oven) place all the tomatoes and mash them with a potatoe masher.  (this is to get some juice in the bottom of the pot, if your tomatoes are firm and without much juice, add 6 ounces of water)

With heat on medium, add the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix.


​When mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring a few times.


​Turn off heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
Pour cooled mixture into a blender or food processor and pulse a few times in case there are any large pieces left.
Blend on medium until mixture is smooth.  DO NOT OVER BLEND!  If you puree the mixture, it becomes thin, which is not desirable.
Pour the salsa into clean mason jars, screw on lids and keep in the refrigerator.  

​I love a smooth salsa, but I also like it thick, a combination that I have never been able to find in the store.  This recipe makes it perfectly, as long as you don't over blend it.  It is perfect on tacos and fajitas or spooned over enchiladas.  One of my favorite things to do with it is to make salsa dressing for taco salads or mexican bowls.  (Learn how to make a Mexican bowl here)

The simple recipe for one cup of salsa dressing is as follows:

  • 1/4 cup of light sour cream
  • 3/4 cup salsa

Just mix with a spoon and it's ready to use.  

It really is amazing how much better anything is when it is made with fresh vegetables.  This salsa is so delicious, you will not want to stop eating it!  The great thing is, it is very low in calories.  Yummy and low in calories is a combination you don't see very often.  If you don't have your own garden, you can easily make this with ingredients from the Farmer's Market or any grocery store.  If you don't like smooth salsa, simply skip the last step and don't blend it.  You can leave it chunky, if that is your preference.  If you don't like it hot then only use one jalepeno, or don't use any at all, replace it with a sweet banana pepper.  This recipe is fully customizable.  

Make it how you like it!

Jade    :)

I recently bought 4 of these jars.  I like them better because the lid is attached and reusable.  I use them to put my salsa in and also when I make refrigerator pickles.  It is so much easier than using the screw on metal lids, and I never have to worry about whether it is time to toss the lid and start using a new one.

I recommend buying a few of these, if you make any "use immediately" condiments from your harvest.


​All images by author except the last one, courtesy of Amazon



How to Save Tomato Seeds

Gathering your own seeds is a great way to save money, and to have fresh, viable seeds to plant every year in your garden.  Collecting tomato seeds is really easy to do, and it is a great way to make use of those tomatoes that are split or damaged that you would not want to eat.  Here's how to do it.​ ​I want to apologize for not posting for so long, normally I would never let weeks go by between posts, but I do have a good...

Gathering your own seeds is a great way to save money, and to have fresh, viable seeds to plant every year in your garden.  Collecting tomato seeds is really easy to do, and it is a great way to make use of those tomatoes that are split or damaged that you would not want to eat.  Here's how to do it.

​I want to apologize for not posting for so long, normally I would never let weeks go by between posts, but I do have a good reason.....I was in the hospital for a few days.  If you have ever been in the hospital, you know how fun it is.  NOT!  It has taken a while, but I am now on the road to recovery, and back to the blog!  I have some great ideas for posts for the rest of the summer, so stay tuned!  Now, on to how to save tomato seeds!
The technique is easy, just make sure you follow the instructions.

1. Start out with a very ripe tomato, in other words, let it grow for a bit longer than you normally would before picking it.

2. Cut the tomato in half and take a teaspoon and scoop out the insides, goop and all. Do not try to separate out the seeds.

3. Dump the insides of the tomato in a glass jar and add about an inch of water.

4. Set the jar on your counter and shake the mixture a few times a day.

5. When the seeds all sink to the bottom (should take less than a week) scoop the goop, that will still be floating, off the top and rinse the remaining seeds thoroughly.

6. Place the seeds on a paper towel, and let them dry. This should take about two weeks.

7. When fully dry, place in a paper envelope and the type of seed and the date.


Harvesting tomato seeds from your homegrown tomatoes is an easy way to know for sure that you have healthy, non GMO seeds to plant in your garden in the spring.   It will also save you a few bucks as well as contribute to the goal of self sustainability. 

Have a great week!

​Jade    :)
Finding yourself with an abundance of tomatoes?  Try this recipe from a post I made in 2014, it is a delicious and easy one pot meal!

One Pot Tomato, Cheese and Basil Pasta Dinner



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