Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cleaning With Vinegar

Did you know that distilled white vinegar kills bacteria, mold and viruses yet is safe for your body and the environment? A few years back I wanted to get rid of the store bought cleaners tucked under my kitchen sink as I was concerned about their safety and toxicity. Once I learned vinegar disinfects, deodorizes and cuts grease but is still safe to drink* I was sold. It's also very cheap at around $2 a gallon.
*Don't drink vinegar, it tastes bad & will probably make you nauseous.

Vinegar means "sour wine" and is what results when wine or other alcohol is fermented a second time turning it acetic. Vinegar is actually a weak form of acetic acid. There are different varieties of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar in my hair rinse) but for cleaning distilled white vinegar is best.

My favorite use for vinegar is to make an All Purpose Cleaner. I've been using this for years to clean my house. It disinfects my kitchen and bathroom surfaces while I feel good that my family isn't being exposed to toxic chemicals.
A gallon of white distilled vinegar & a repurposed spray bottle
All Purpose Cleaner
Use a clean empty spray bottle and fill it with equal parts water and distilled white vinegar. Add optional lemon essential oil for scent and cleaning power. Spray on counters and wipe clean.

Other uses for vinegar include: 
*Dishwaher- Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to your dishwasher rinse cycle. It's excellent for removing stains, mineral and grease deposits from glass. 
*Garbage Disposal- Make vinegar ice cubes and put them down your disposal to clean and deodorize it.
*Toilet bowl- To freshen put 2-3 cups vinegar in the bowl and let it sit for a few hours then scrub and flush.
*Windows- Fill a spray bottle with water and 1/4 cup of vinegar, spray on your windows and use newspaper to wipe clean.

There are many more uses for vinegar, too many for me to cover here. The book Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of  details over 400 ways to use vinegar. Many of these uses I never even imagined.

What about you? What do you use vinegar for?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Menu Plan 4/23- 4/29

Homemade Cheese Pizza

I'm trying some new healthy & frugal recipes this week. I want to incorporate more beans into our diet so I'm using some recipes from The Everything Beans Book by Katie at Kitchen Stewardship. I'm also going to attempt to sprout grains for the first time, grind them into flour and make pumpkin muffins (among other things). Sprouting grains before baking makes them more digestible and helps your system obtain all the nutrients in the food so I'm interested in giving this a try.

Weekly Menu Plan 4/23-4/29
Monday: Mexican Beans & Rice
Tuesday: Baked Tilapia, rice, steamed broccoli
Wednesday: Pasta with homemade marinara
Friday: Black bean soup
Saturday: Pizza
Sunday: Leftovers & Burgers
Snacks: Skin Clearing Green SmoothiesHoney Walnut GranolaHealthy Pumpkin Muffins

What's on your menu plan this week?

Planning My Spring Garden

2011 Raised Bed & Strawberry Patch
I love eating fresh fruits and vegetables and I've found the best and most frugal way to have delicious produce is to grow it myself. I've been planting a backyard garden every spring for over 10 years. I started when we moved into our first house which had a garden plot with a strawberry patch. I didn't know what to do that first year despite growing up with gardening parents. I choose a few seeds and followed the directions on the package. I learned a lot over the years and I'm still figuring things out- in gardening and in life.
Cucumber & Tomatoes

I'll cover a few of the things I'm doing in my 2012 garden.

This year I have three raised beds and a fenced 5 year old strawberry patch in my backyard garden. I ordered all my 2012 seeds from Seed Savers Exchange (SSE). SSE is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. I'm focusing this year on growing heirloom vegetables and trying out some herbs.

One of my gardening goals every year is to organically grow as much of the dirty dozen as I can and not bother with the clean 15. I don't strictly stick to this as it's more important that we grow things we love and my kids' preferences often influence what I grow.

In my newest and largest raised bed I'm planting for the first time a three sisters garden which was something the Native Americas did long ago. They found that corn, beans and squash grew well together and complimented each other. Garden Girl TV demonstrates how to plant a three sisters garden and explains the benefits. The three varieties I'm planting are Stowell's Evergreen Corn, Sultan's Golden Crescent Green Beans and Black Beauty Zucchini Squash.

My oldest son Zane is picky about his vegetables but he LOVES fresh shelled peas from the garden. My peas didn't do well last year so I choose a different variety and trellis this year just for him. I'm growing British Wonder Peas in my second raised bed and I'm planting a lot of them. I'm also growing 3 varieties of potatoes that were sprouting in my pantry so I cut them up to plant in my garden.

Lettuce isn't the most exciting thing I'm growing but it is my favorite. I love to have a couple of containers of lettuce growing right outside my back door so I can easily get a few leaves for a lunchtime salad or to put on burgers for dinner. Most lettuce varieties turn bitter when the weather heats up so I picked varieties that survive the heat. I'm planting Slobolt Looseleaf LettuceGrandpa Admire's Butterhead Lettuce and some other looseleaf lettuce seeds I've got leftover from last year.

I want to do more with natural herbs this year but I value fresh vegetables the most so I'm going to focus on just a couple of herbs. I'm growing English LavenderParsleyHyssop, and German Chamomile.

Every year I add a few more raspberry plants as that is a favorite fruit in my family. Most of the additions die within the first year but I keep trying different varieties. This year our yellow raspberries look great and are spreading out so I transplanted 6 of the canes in other places around the yard. If the original yellow raspberry plant keeps spreading I'll transplant more of it's canes and have it in every corner of the yard.
2011 Raised Beds
These are some of the things I'm doing in my backyard this year. I've loved eating and growing my own delicious food and I'm excited to see how my plants grow in 2012.

If you've ever considered giving gardening a try- just do it! Even if you only have a patio- use containers and plant lettuce and herbs. If you've got windowsills, plant a few pots of herbs or flowers. The amount of space you have doesn't matter! Plant what you like to eat and grow it without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Give your kids a chance to understand where food comes from.

A great book on backyard gardening

If you have a garden what are you doing this year? I'd love to hear about your 2012 garden!


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