Gardening: Top Secret Fertilizer Formula!

Okay, okay, there’s nothing ‘top secret’ about this formula and I won’t have to kill you if I tell you. But it is a super cool recipe for homemade fertilizer that was shared with me by a master gardener when I went to her gardening lecture.

Homemade Garden Fertilizer

What You’ll Need:

  • A large 20-gallon trash can (or something similar)
  • Super Thrive (you can find it at Lowe’s or Home Depot or other gardening centers)
  • Hasta Gro (you can try Lowe’s, etc but you may need to look at a local nursery or online for this)
  • Alfalfa Pellets (you can find these at a feed store… they’re rabbit food)
  • Epsom Salts
  • Fish Emulsion (she said you can also find this at Lowe’s or the like, but you’ll probably need to ask someone for help finding it)
  • Water
  • A watering can
  • And gardening gloves

What To Do:

  1. Pour 20 drops Super Thrive, 1 cup Hasta Gro, 2-3 cups alfalfa pellets, 2-3 cups epsom salts, and 1 cup fish emulsion into the bottom of your trash can. Fill the trash can 7/8 full with water (basically to the top, but if you fill it all the way to the top it will spill over when you stir). Stir it all together. (Helpful Hint: It may help to fill the trash can up only half way first and stir together until well combined, then fill the trash can the rest of the way and just stir lightly to mix.)
  2. Water your garden with this once every two weeks. Use approximately one pint per plant.
  3. Helpful Hint: Be sure to use gloves when working with this because if it gets on your hands they will STINK! And on the stinky note… your garden will apparently stink for about half a day each time you use this, but the smell will fade off and you will end up with beautiful vegetables as a result.

Don’t you feel like you’re part of a super secret gardening club now or something? I sure did when she passed this on to me! It’s like I have a secret gardening weapon that gives me an edge over the other simpletons of the gardening world. Bwahahaha! (That’s my evil laugh, btw.) ๐Ÿ˜€ Just Kidding. It’s something I hope EVERYONE can use and benefit from so we can ALL have awesome gardens!

Well, as always… Happy Gardening!!

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Feature Friday: Homemade Powdered Eggs

Who’d have ever thought you could make powdered eggs at home? (Who’d have ever thought you’d WANT to?!) ๐Ÿ™‚ But after reading Tuesday’s post on powdered eggs, I hope you’re all a believer that powdered eggs are something you’re going to want to have on hand.

And with that in mind, I came across these two How To tutorials (one from YouTube and one from eHow) for making powdered eggs at home! Ha! How crazy is that? I have not given this a try because I have plenty of powdered eggs already on hand, but I wanted to pass this on for anyone who is feeling adventurous and wants to give it a go. (And if you DO try it, definitely let me know how it works for you! I’m totally curious! ) ๐Ÿ™‚

Video Tutorial:


(Original Source)

Written Tutorial:

Things You’ll Need: Eggs, Saute Pan and Spatula, Paper Towels, Blender, Baking Sheet, and Plastic Bags or Jar with Lid

Directions:

  1. Scramble your eggs in a bowl. Pour them in a saute pan and cook until done.
  2. Drain the excess grease for a few minutes on a paper towel.
  3. Break the eggs into tiny pieces.
  4. Spread the eggs out onto a baking sheet.
  5. Dry at 135ยบ F for at least 10 hours.
  6. Run the eggs through a blender until they form a fine powder.
  7. Store your powdered eggs either in a heavy plastic bag, or a jar with a tight lid.
  8. To reconstitute one egg, mix 1 Tablespoon of egg powder with 2 Tablespoons of water.

(Original Source)

Frugal Friday: Homemade Furniture!

*Notice! Giveaway Change-of-Date* Hey y’all… sorry if you were anticipating the giveaway today. Our sponsor just got back into town and we still needed a few days to get everything put together. So the giveaway will now be held NEXT Friday, August 6th.

But, oh my heavens, have I got a frugal treat for y’all! I came across a new (well, new to me) website and instantly fell in love. It’s called Anna White Knock-Off Wood. …Kind of a play on words… like ‘knock on wood’… get it? ya? Okay… it took me a second to get it. ๐Ÿ™‚ (www.knock-offwood.com) This lady is amazing. She looks at a designer piece of furniture (or whatever she feels like building) and then figures out how to make it and gives the design to you for FREE. So if you have any sort of building skills (which, I don’t… but you can bet I’m gonna learn!!), or a skilled hubby (which, I do, but I still want to learn this stuff anyway!), you have GOT to check out this website and start building your own furniture instead of paying high dollar for what’s in the stores. From beds to bookshelves, armoires, storage solutions, and more… you’ll find just about anything you’re looking for. Hope you enjoy her site, as I have! ๐Ÿ˜€

Frugal Friday: Homemade Pest Control

Well, I just spent a hefty chunk of change getting my house sprayed for bugs. I hate bugs. They do NOT belong in my home! Outside is another story… that’s their home. But inside is mine. (Although, I don’t particularly enjoy them outside either. :))
Anyway, I’ve heard of homemade bug remedies before but never really looked into them. But now, realizing how expensive professional help can be, I decided to give the homemade remedies a gander. So after doing some checking, here are some of my favorite homemade pest controls that use everyday household items and seem to solve the most common bug problems:
For Ants:

  • Use vinegar. Wash countertops, cabinets, and the floor with equal parts vinegar and water to deter ant infestations.
  • Flour and Borax*. Mix 1 cup flour and 2 cups borax in a quart jar. Punch holes in the jar lid and sprinkle the mixture outside around the foundation of your home.

For Flies:

  • Prevention: Keep the kitchen garbage tightly closed. Sprinkle dry soap or borax* into garbage cans after they’ve been washed and dried; it acts as a repellent.
  • Orange. Scratch the skin of an orange and leave it out; the citrus acts as a repellent.
  • Cloves. Hang clusters of cloves to repel flies.
  • Mint or Basil. Mint planted around the home repels flies. A pot of basil set on the windowsill or table will also repel flies (and well-watered basil produces a stronger scent).
  • Sugar and Syrup. You can make your own fly paper using sugar, syrup, and water. Click HERE and/orย HERE for examples and instructions.

For Mice:

  • Mashed Potato Powder or Buds. Place instant mashed potato powder or buds in strategic places with a dish of water close by. After eating the powder or buds mice will need water. This causes fatal bloating. *Gross!*

For Mosquitos:

  • Prevention: Encourage natural predators such as dragonflies or praying mantises. Eliminate pools of stagnant water as they are a breeding ground for mosquitos. Perfumes, bright colors, flowery prints, and bright jewelry attract mosquitos.
  • Tansy or Basil. Plant tansy or basil around the patio and house to repel mosquitos

For Moths:

  • Note: If you can see moths, these aren’t the ones to worry about. Moths that cause damage to clothes are too small to notice. It is the larvae of these moths that eat fabric.
  • Prevention: Store items in a clean condition (moths especially like areas soiled with food stains or perspiration and will lay eggs in those areas– so don’t let your dirty clothes sit in the dirty hamper for too long) :); shake out your stored clothes periodically and hang in sunlight (this will kill the fragile larvae); keep your closet clean and dusted (moths love dust as much as fabric)
  • Rosemary, Mint, Thyme, Cloves, Peppercorns, Cayenne Pepper, Etc. Make a sachet out of a mixture or herbs and natural items such as the ones listed. Hang them in your closet, throw them in a drawer, etc. Be sure to tie them up well in the sachet so they don’t fall out and stain your clothes.
  • Dried Lavender or Rosemary and Mint. Make sachets of dried lavender or equal parts of rosemary and mint. Place in closets, drawers, and closed containers to mothproof garments.
  • Molasses, Vinegar, and Yellow Container. Make your own moth trap. Click HERE and/orย HERE for instructions.

For Roaches: (my LEAST favorite! Yuck!!)

  • Prevention: Close off all gaps around pipes and electric lines where they enter the house. Caulk small cracks along baseboards, walls, cupboards, and around pipes, sinks, and bathtub fixtures. Seal food tightly. Wash food off dishes that will be left out overnight. Do not leave pet food out overnight.
  • Flour, Cocoa Powder, and Borax*. Mix together 2 Tbsp flour, 4 Tbsp borax, and 1 Tbsp cocoa powder. Set the mixture out in dishes. (Caution: Borax is toxic if eaten. Do NOT use this method around small children or pets.)
  • Borax* and Flour. Mix 1/2 cup borax and 1/4 cup flour and fill a mason jar. Punch small holes in the lid and sprinkle the mixture along baseboards and doorsills. (Caution: Borax is toxic if eaten. This method may not be for you if you have young children and/or pets.)
  • Oatmeal, Flour, and Plaster of Paris. Mix equal parts and set in dishes. Keep out of reach of children and pets.
  • Baking Soda and Powdered Sugar. Mix equal parts and spread around the infested area(s).

For Slugs and Snails:

  • Sand, Lime, or Ashes. Snails avoid protective borders of sand, lime, or ashes.

So if you’ve got a problem with any of the aforementioned pesky pests, you may want to give some of these solutions a try before you go shelling out the big bucks for a pro. Here’s wishing you a bug-free weekend! Ta-ta! ๐Ÿ™‚

*CAUTION: Borax is toxic if eaten, so please keep it out of the reach of children or pets. You may need to use other remedy options if you have young children or pets in your home.

Source and additional homemade pest control remedies:ย http://www.surfinthespirit.com/home/pest-control.html

Frugal Friday: Homemade Air Fresheners

Wanna freshen up your home, but tired of paying for all those plug-in, candle burning, lasts for only 2-days type fresheners? Well try making your own! I can’t vouch for whether they last longer or not, but they’re definitely less expensive. And not only is making homemade air fresheners frugal fun, it’s also a great project to do with the kiddos (provided they’re old enough to actually work with the ingredients.) I came across THIS site that has several different ideas for homemade air fresheners. Click on the links for instructions on how to make them, but here’s a quick glimpse of all the fun you could have. ๐Ÿ™‚

With these homemade gel fresheners, you can make a different color for each room in your house and a different scent for each season of the year. And go ahead and add some glitter, sparkle, rocks, or any cute little odds & end for a fun and stylish twist. (idea shared from Katie in Idaho)

These scented “rocks” are really more like a scented salt dough. You can color them any which way you want as well as give them all sorts of fun scents. Hang them up in your closet or throw some in your drawers to keep your clothes smelling nice. Or just put them all over your house. ๐Ÿ™‚ (idea shared from Dixie in Carson City)

And here are some additional home freshener tips:

  1. Put a drop of perfume or essential oil on the top of a light bulb, and the fragrance is released each time the light is switched on.
  2. Pour a few drops of inexpensive perfume or essential oil in a small spray bottle and top off with water to make a spray air freshener that can be used on soft furnishings and bedding.
  3. For a lovely Christmas or winter air freshener, place a few cloves, some broken cinnamon sticks and a sprinkling of allspices into a small pot of water. Gently heat then simmer for 1 or 2 hours, leaving the internal doors open so the smell can travel through out your home.
    Other good ingredients are orange and lemon rinds, and sliced apple with a broken cinnamon stick ( this last one makes the house smell like apple pie.) just follow the same method as for the winter homemade air freshener (ideas shared from Mary in Maine)

Enjoy your scented home! ๐Ÿ™‚

source: http://www.savvyhomemade.com/homemade-air-freshener1.html

Feature Friday: Apple Box Oven

So, have you begun wondering yet how you’re going to actuallyย cook all this food you’re going to have if there’s no electricity? No worries! We’ve gotcha covered. A while back I came across the idea for what’s called an Apple Box Oven. Did you know you can make your own homemade oven out of a cardboard apple box (or really… any cardboard box)?! It’s so cool! Okay, and I confess… I have yet to try this because I’m saving up for a solar oven and wouldn’t need this. BUT I’m tempted to try it just for it’s coolness factor!

Anyway, I originally found the idea HERE, at The Idea Door, but it didn’t have any pictures. So I also found THIS tutorial from the BYU website, that isn’t as complete in it’s directions, but has some good pictures. So anyway, I’ve pieced the two of them together and added my own notes for clarification purposes to hopefully give you the best of all worlds. Enjoy! And let me know if you try it and how it works for ya!

How To Make And Use An Apple Box Oven

An Apple Box Oven is a great way to bake when an emergency situation exists. All you need is your oven, charcoal and matches and you will be able to bake anything that you could bake in a conventional oven. It is also economical as you are not using electricity and it actually uses almost half the charcoal as Dutch oven baking. You can bake bread, pies, casseroles, cookies… anything that you want to bake!


*Important Note: Although this picture shows the apple box oven inside a house, you would NEVER use it inside because of the charcoals. This is for outdoor use only!

Constructing the Apple Box Oven
You will need:

  • 1 sturdy cardboard apple box (20 inch x 13 inch and 12 1/2 inch high.)
  • Heavy Duty aluminum foil
  • Plastic roasting/cooking bag (for optional window)
  • Aluminum/Metal tape (likely found in the hardware department. It looks like duct tape but is shiny–like metal.)
  • Spray adhesive (optional)
  • Cooling rack and 4 soda cans filled with rocks (or a converted portable grill cut to fit)
  • Blanket for insulation (optional)

-Cut out a 4″ x 9โ€ window at the top of one of the sides of the apple box, if desired (note: some heat loss will likely occur through the window). Cut a 1″ x 4โ€ hole on the bottom of both ends ofย the box to allow air to get to the coals (see the arrow in the picture above). Tape a piece of the plastic cooking bag (double layer it) over the window area. If there are any other holes in your apple box (i.e. where there might be handles or something), cut extra cardboard to make a patch and cover the holes. Cover the ‘cardboard patch’ with metal tape on both sides of the box (inside and out).
-Cover the box completely with aluminum foil inside and out. This works great by spraying the box first with adhesive, attaching foil, andย securing with the aluminum tape. The trick is to make sure that none of the cardboard is showing, as it will burn. So cover it well. Also note, you want the shiny side of the foil to be the side you end up seeing. The matte side should be what you stick to the box.

Baking with Your Apple Box Oven
You will need:

  • More Heavy Duty aluminum foil
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Matches
  • Long handled tongs
  • 1 inch rock

To Bake:

1. Place a sheet of heavy duty foil (make sure the sheet is longer than your box), shiny side up, on level ground.
2. Space soda cans on foil so as to support the cooling rack.
3. Position the cooling rack so that only the very corners are resting on the soda cans. Check to make sure the cans are not spaced too far apart to prevent the apple box from fitting over them.
4. You will regulate the temperature of your oven by the number of briquettes you put in it. One briquette=aprox. 35 degrees F. (Example: for 350 degrees, use 10 charcoals.)
5. Using tongs, place hot briquettes on foil, spreading them out evenly between the cans and across the middle.
6. To preheat the oven, place the apple box over the hot coals and empty rack and let it stand for 5 minutes. The charcoal will become whiter as the heat spreads.
7. Once preheated, carefully lift the apple box straight up off the coals and rack, taking care not to tilt it, and place it beside the ground foil, face down. (This holds trapped heat in the box.)
8. Quickly place your food on the cooling rack that is on the soda cans and replace the box over the coals. (Make sure that the pan you are using fits on the center of the rack since the heat will not bake any food that is directly over the soda cans.)
9. The charcoal will burn for about 35-40 minutes. When longer cooking times are required, you can add more hot charcoals by slightly lifting the box and slipping them in with long tongs. We found that if a recipe calls for 45 minute baking time and it is warm outside, no additional charcoals would be needed.

REMEMBER: One briquette-approx. 35 degrees F (350 degrees=10 charcoals)

GOOD ADVICE: You will not want to use lighter fluid to start your charcoal since it may affect the taste of your food. We have found that if you use a charcoal starter, your charcoals light faster and are ready to use within 5 minutes time. They are ready to use when there are white spots on them the size of a dime. As the cooking time goes on, they will become whiter.

And here are the pictures:


Happy Baking to Ya’ll!

What’s For Snack? Homemade Granola Bars!

Homemade granola bars are one of the BEST discoveries I’ve made in the past year or so. They are less expensive than their store-bought counterparts, more healthy (or at least you can make them as healthy/unhealthy as you so choose), and a heck of a lot more tasty!
Back when I was on the hunt for a delicious, nutritious, homemade granola bar recipe I came across a lot that still had all the ‘un-nutritious’ ingredients I was trying to avoid. And then I finally came across THIS recipe, and after reading through some of the rave comments for them, I decided these had to be worth a shot. And seriously! They’re so good! They’re way better than what you buy in the store, cheaper, a lot more healthy, AND I can have them in my food storage! Is there a down side to this?! …other than that now I will be having to make my granola bars instead of spending two seconds to throw them in my grocery cart? ๐Ÿ™‚ But actually, that’s half the fun too! And really it is, because this recipe is so versatile that you can customize it to be pretty much anything you want!
Well, after tweaking this way and that, here is my grand finale granola bar recipe:

Homemade Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (not the quick oats)
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ/milled flax seed combo*
  • 3/4 cup coconut
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts (I use about half and half of walnuts and pecans)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (you can use honey instead, but it has a much stronger flavor. I definitely prefer the agave.)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (if you have nut allergies, you can use 4 Tbsp butter instead, but that makes it no longer shelf-stable)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit (I generally use Craisins, but it’s fun to try dried blueberries, dried cherries, etc as well)

(*for the wheat germ and milled flax seed, I just take a 3/4 measuring cup, fill it half way with wheat germ and the rest of the way with milled flax seed. You could also do all wheat germ or all flax seed (especially if you need this to be gluten-free. The wheat germ is the only gluten item in this recipe, so just omit it). Also be sure to use milled flax seed and not the whole flax seeds. I have learned that your body cannot actually break down the shell of a whole flax seed, thereby rendering its healthy attributes useless to you unless the shell has already been cracked in some way. So whether you mill it by hand or buy it milled, just be sure you’re not leaving them whole.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix the oats, nuts, flax seed, wheat germ, and coconut on a baking dish (with sides) and toast them in the oven for about 12 minutes, stirring about half way through so that they don’t get burned.
  3. While they’re toasting, get a 9×13 glass baking dish and line it with parchment paper (you can use wax paper with a nonstick spray if you don’t have parchment, but be aware that you may end up having to pick wax paper out of your granola bars! -don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
  4. Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan, then turn the heat on to about medium-high and bring it to a simmer, stirring constantly.
  5. Once it comes to a simmer and the top is covered with bubbles, remove it from heat (you don’t want it to boil for more than about 30 seconds, otherwise you’ll end up with crunchy granola bars). And your grain/nut mixture should be done now too, so take it out of the oven (and you can turn the oven off too… we’re done using it).
  6. Throw the toasted mixture into a large bowl and pour the melted mixture on top, along with your dried fruit. And mix, mix, mix.
  7. Mix some more. ๐Ÿ™‚ You want to make sure that everything gets coated with the “gluey” syrup.
  8. Dump your granola mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread it out as evenly as possible.
  9. Using another piece of parchment (or wax paper, but again, watch out for sticking), press down HARD all over the top of the granola. You want to compact it together so the bars won’t fall apart when you cut them.
  10. Wait 2-3 hours, or until the granola has completely cooled.
  11. Turn the granola onto a large cutting board and peel away what is now the top layer of parchment paper.
  12. Cut the granola into bars by firmly pressing down with a big cutting knife (not sawing). You can make the bars whatever size you like, but if you make them the general “granola bar” size, you should be able to get 18-22 bars out of this.
  13. Finally, you can either wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap** so they’re ready to grab and go, or you can just store them in an airtight container (with a piece of parchment placed between any layers).

Ta-da! Homemade granola bars. Enjoy! They’re tasty! ๐Ÿ™‚

**P.S. If you want the convenience of ‘grab and go’ but don’t want to waste all the plastic wrap (not to mention the time it takes to wrap each one!), try sticking the bars in the little ‘snack-size’ plastic baggies and then just save them to reuse for the next batch of granola bars. And again, enjoy and have fun!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Tips & Tricks
1) Make sure your nuts are finely ground. I put mine in a food processor and get them down to tiny chunks (half of it almost ends up in a powder). Large chunks of nuts will make your granola bars more apt to fall apart.

2) In step #4, turning the heat onย after the ingredients are all in the pan is a trick I developed to help keep the sugar from cooking longer than the rest of the ingredients–which would turn the granola bars a bit more crunchy and crumbly.

3) Press down HARD once you’ve got the whole mixture spread out in the pan. I usually press for several minutes to make sure it is completely compacted together.

4) Make preparation time a snap! When you make a batch, make extra batches of the dry ingredients (the ingredients that get toasted) and just put them in a ziplock bag and store in the freezer. Then, the next time you go to make some granola bars, just grab the bag out of the freezer, let it come to room temperature and then continue on as usual with the directions. (And you can just save the bags and reuse them to stock up again when you’re all out of the mixes.) ๐Ÿ™‚