Can you use a turkey roaster to hot water bath can? The answer will surprise you!

I haven’t been canning very long. This is the first year I’ve actually set out to can much of anything. This year I planted 2 decent sized gardens full of every veggie I could think to plant and added more fruit bushes and vines to the homestead with the intent of having a very large harvest of all the plants we love to eat.

I spent a lot of money on jars and even more on a pressure canner and other canning supplies intending on canning everything that I picked.

I had good intentions when I started this journey knowing that it would be a lot of work but there were a few things I forgot about.

We live in a small house, the first thing I forgot to account for was how much space canning takes. You need a lot of counter space to prepare everything. Luckily I’m not lacking on counter space so that’s not an issue for me.

The next thing I forgot to prepare for was a heat source. When we moved into this house it originally had propane lines but propane is expensive so we got rid of it. For the last 5 years I’ve been using countertop burners and a convection oven to cook with, and during the holidays I break out the slow cookers and turkey roaster.

Those tiny burners don’t get hot enough to boil a small pot of water on their best day right out of the box let alone a giant pot of water meant for canning and there is no way to regulate the temperature to keep a constant pressure in a pressure scanner.

That left me with 3 options: use a camping stove, go to a friend’s house and use their stove, or give up.

I’m no quitter so I got creative.

Theoretically, as long as you have something deep enough that at least 1-2 inches of water will cover your jars and that with bring the water to a constant rolling boil, you can use it to water bath can anything that can be water bath canned. (Try saying that 5 times fast!)

So I started testing each of my appliances. The slow cooker was deep enough but didn’t boil water consistently like I needed and the countertop burner would boil about 4 inches of water which wasn’t deep enough for any of the jars I have.

Finally, I tried my turkey roaster. It was deep enough to submerge my 1/2 pint jars in with about 1 inch of water over them and it was able to keep the water boiling constantly the entire time. It’s not the large stock pot that I need for my pint and quart jars but I’ll take what I can get.

So I gave it a try on some mulberry jelly and to my surprise the jars actually sealed within minutes of me removing them from the roaster. I only had one jar that didn’t seal, (see picture below. Its the bottom right jar. You can clearly see the bad seal or buldge to the lid.) so I put it back in and reprocessed it, which was a success.

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So why didn’t the one jar seal?

I believe that it was because it was to close to the middle of the roaster so it hadn’t gotten hot enough. I noticed that the water around the edges of the roaster was boiling rapidly but the middle water wasn’t.

What I learned.

It is possible to hot water bath can in turkey roasters and other appliances as long as the water in them will cover the jars and boil rapidly.

If using alternative water bath methods, you may need to process your jars for longer periods of time or even reprocess them.

Always put the jars as close to the boiling areas as possible to ensure a proper seal.

 

What alternative methods do you use to can your harvest? Tell me in the comments and until next time, please remember to like, subscribe, and shareūüėČ

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Gardening tips and tricks

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I’ve raved for years about having a garden. The perks of one far out way the effort it takes to grow it and in the end all of your hard work pays off in a big way.

I’ve had a garden pretty much every year for the last 7 years, each year I learn some hard lessons about the world of gardening. My least favorite part about having a garden is weeding.

But thankfully, I have learned a few tricks to cut back the enormous amounts of work it takes to keep up on my gardens and I decided to share a few of them with you.

Mulching

The first 4 years I started a garden I was working a full time job, often times I was taking on extra hours to help pay for our various expenses. This was before I became so savvy with our money, so our expenses were twice as much as they are today and we were making 1/2 the amount of money we are now not to mention we didn’t have kids back then.

Because of all of my time being devoted to work, many summers my poor garden looked more like a hay field and less like a garden. All those weeds eventually diminished the productivity of my garden and overwhelmed me. I felt as if there was no point in having a garden if I wasn’t harvesting enough food to sustain us for more than a couple of weeks.

I despised weeding so much that one year I just gave up and let the weeds take over the entire garden. When the season was over we mowed everything down and tilled it all in. At this point in time, I knew what mulch was but I was reluctant to spend a large chunk of my hard earned money on something I had never personally witnessed work before.

The next year after that epic failure, I decided to give Preen a try. I was an ameture so I thought I could just till it in to the garden and then plant my seeds and it would somehow magically kill all the weeds but not my plants. I learned the hard way that that is not how it works. So that year I ended up with a bare patch of dirt.

 

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This year I decided to do everything the right way. We tilled the land 5 times to kill most of the weeds and make the soil workable. I started all of my seeds inside this winter, allowing them to get as big as possible before transplanting into the ground because I had a plan.

 

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I purchased a Miracle Grow Aerogarden (as pictured above) at tax time and used the LED lighting from it to grow my seeds as shown above.

 

Once everything was big enough to transplant and the manure had been worked into the site, I transplanted all of the seedlings into the dirt. Once planted, I called a friend and had my husband go fetch me a few bales of straw. I spread the straw out around all of the plants to kill off the weeds and left enough space between the straw rows to plant what was left of the seeds which was a lot because I bought a Mozybaeu Farms Seed Cache with close to 300,000 non-GMO, organic seeds. After everything was planted I still have about 50,000 seeds left for next years garden.

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Pictured here: My Mozybeau Farms Seed Cache all laid out. There are around 300,000 non-gmo, organic seeds which I purchased off of eBay for $45. If you would like to see my full review of the product you can visit my youtube channel using the link at the bottom of this post.

 

So far, I only have to weed about once a week and those are the rare few that pop up through the straw and the ones that are coming up in the bare rows with my other seeds that are just starting to pop out of the dirt.

Once they are big enough, I will pull all of the weeds and place straw around them as well. We’ve gone much bigger with our garden this year because of the mulching. We have 2 gardens instead of 1 and both are now mulched and doing well.

On a side note, the spot we had mowed everything down on the previous year has a ton of volunteers coming up and I’ve been finding carrots all over my yard.

Fertilizing

In previous years my husband and I didn’t fertilize the ground before we planted. We live in Iowa which has some of the best soil in the entire world so we never really thought we needed it. As I mentioned before, this year we went all organic and got 300 pounds of 2 year composted cow manure from a friend of ours and tilled it into the garden. Thus far, the plants seem to be loving it. They are much bigger than in years past (partially because of the lack of competition from weeds and partially due to the fertilizer).

I definitely suggest using fertilizer on your soil. As they say “A great garden starts with your soil.”

Pest control

Every year I deal with some form of pest or another. This year it’s rabbits, ground hogs, flea mites, and other various bugs that devour my plants leaves and will eventually kill the plant. I’m not a fan of pesticides so I’ve been trying various methods to rid myself of the terrible trouble makers.

This year I’ve been spending many hours on Pinterest looking up various ways to naturally rid my garden of ALL of them. To be honest there is not much I can do about the Ground hogs or the bunnies aside from fencing the garden in, and that is not in my budget at this time.

As for the little buggers (pun intended), I’ve come across a few things that have worked so far.

Cinnamon and ground peppers-I sprinkle ground cinnamon or ground Cheyenne pepper on the leaves of my plants and the smell deters the pests. The only downside I have found is how much it takes to cover everything and that you have to reapply it every couple of days (especially if it rains).

Alcohol– You can make a mix of 1 part alcohol to 1 part water and add a few drops of Dawn dish soap to the mix and spray it all over your plants. The pests don’t like the smell and the soap makes it stick to the leaves.

Peppermint essential oil– A lot of creatures hate the smell of peppermint including spiders, mice, and aphids, this is why it is such a great thing to have on hand to spray in and around your home. Simply spray it around your garden and reapply every few days.

Companion planting-¬†I’m a total novice when it comes to companion planting but gardeners have been using this method to keep pests off of their crops for longer than any of us have been alive . For instance, plant Marigolds next to your tomatoes to deter tomato horn-worms or plant them next to ¬†squash to deter squash bugs. This is just one instance where planting something extra helps you in the long run, even if it doesn’t give you food to eat later. On the opposite side, planting the wrong plants together will harm your plants so be sure to do your homework before planting.

You can find a full list of companion plants here.

Vertical gardening

In recent years vertical gardening has become extremely popular because of 2 reasons; easier harvesting and growing more in a smaller area. I definitely see the appeal. This year we decided to try vertical gardening with our beans. So far they are doing better than in past years.  As soon as my other Vining plants are big enough I will give them something to crawl on and see how well they do.

I’m still learning new things about gardening every year and will be adding new detailed posts as I learn them. My goal is to have trellises added for the squash, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, and other Vining plants to crawl up and utilize vertacle gardening in other ways such as for my strawberries.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to boost productivity in your garden? Leave them in the comments below.

If you liked this post you’ll love my Youtube Channel!

 

How to treat an Ear Infection Naturally

This winter has been a hard one. It seems like every week someone in my house catches something new, whether it be from visiting the doctors office, participating in Pre-school Round Up, not sanitizing the cart well enough when we go on our weekly shopping trips, or touching dirty money at work and not washing our hands enough. As luck should have it, this has also been one of the worst cold and flu seasons I have ever seen.

My job only employs 16 people, but we deal with the public all day everyday so we are subjected to a multitude of communicable diseases. Over the last 6 months we have seen strep throat, influenza, upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, stomach bugs, sinus infections, laryngitis,pneumonia and the common cold come through my work as well as my home. All of these illnesses and doctors visits get extremely expensive when you have a $30 deductible each visit.

I have spent $240 on trips to the doctor this season, which is crazy, because before this year I was lucky enough to only have to visit a doctor for annual check-ups. As a Poor Girl, I can’t afford this. Thankfully my knowledge of natural remedies has vastly improved since the beginning of this flu season so when my son started tugging at his ears today and crying in pain I had a pretty good idea of how to treat him.

In August of this year, just before flu season started, I had a strong sense that I should read up on homeopathic medicine so I hopped on amazon and acquired a couple of informative books. The first book, “The Home Remedies Handbook” by the editors of Consumer Guide, is a compiled list of over 1000 old fashion ways to treat whatever ails you at home. Let me just say that just because they are old fashion doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective. Most of these remedies are tried and true not to mention just as good as modern medicine, some even include modern medicines.

The next book, “The Complete Book of Essential oils and Aromatherapy” by Valerie Ann Worwood is a comprehensive guide on how to harvest, distill, and use different essential oils to heal your body naturally and includes many recipes for common ailments.

The third resource I use, of course, is good old Google (or Pintrest for faster, easier to sort results).

The very first thing I did when Bubba started exhibiting signs of and ear infection was put him in a warm bath with the shower on so that the water would fill the room and help easy some of his discomfort and pain. While he was happily splashing away, I grabbed my books and went to work looking for effective treatments.

Luckily I have been building up my essential oil collection over the last few months because I made bath bombs for Christmas gifts this year and planned on making a few beauty products for myself this summer. Those oils that I have on hand right now are

-Lavendar

-Lilac

-Grapefruit

-French Vanilla

-Coconut

-Tea tree oil (because I have had terrible luck with being stung by bees and wasps this year and tea tree oil kills the pain and swelling in the sting)

I also recently switched to using cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil when cooking instead of vegetable or canola oils since the former are much healthier for your entire body and have multiple uses outside of cooking.

You may ask what all this has to do with an ear infection. Let me explain in a bit more detail.

If you plan on using any type of 100% essential oil than you have to dilute it in a carrier oil before you apply it to the skin or risk burning yourself or your baby. If you are using the oils in a diffuser, the water will dilute the oil for you before it is sprayed into the air.

Each oil has certain healing properties, as I mentioned before tea tree oil is great at reducing pain and inflammation but it also has very strong antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties as well as many other beneficial healing abilities. It can be applied topically once diluted in a carrier oil or diffused into the air either in the shower, in a diffuser/humidifier, or in a pot of boiling water and inhaled to kill all sorts of viral and bacterial infections. It also has a strong odor which, once diluted and applied to the hair or sprayed onto your bedding, will send head lice running in the opposite direction (which I learned first hand when my nephew came over this past summer with a mild infestation of the little buggers. Not a single person in my house ended up with lice because of the miracle that is Tea Tree Oil!). In addition, it can be diluted in a carrier oil and massaged onto the effected area, in this case, the ear.

I first dropped 5 drops of Tea Tree Oil into the base of the tub and turned the shower on. The water diffused the oil into the air which allowed my son to breath it in so it could go to work fighting the infection from the inside. *Do Not consume the pure oil in any way! It can make you very ill but breathing it in its extremely diluted form won’t harm you unless you are allergic or sensitive to the substance. I suggest diluting one drop of the oil in 2 tablespoons of either coconut or olive oil and applying a small dab on the inside of the wrist to see if you have a reaction before using it in any other way.

Next I grabbed a dry, white cotton sock and filled it about 1/4 of the way up with dry rice, I tied the end so it wouldn’t spill out, and placed it in the microwave for a few seconds until it was a little warmer than my wrist.

Then I took 2 whole cloves of fresh garlic, crushed the cloves of garlic and place them in the pan, ¬†and added 1/4 of a cup of olive oil. I let it steep on medium low heat for about 20 minutes stirring often so that the garlic juices were evenly distributed in the olive oil. I removed it from the heat and strained it into a glass jar to cool. Once it was at body temperature, I used a dropper and applied 5 drops of the warm oil directly into Bubba’s ear, I gently pulled the ear back and up so that the oil would drain into his ear canal where it started to relieve some pain and fight off the infection.

I then placed the warm sock over his ear and made him lay with the effected ear up so that the liquid could begin dissolving any wax within the ear canal and Eustacian tube so that the infection could start to drain. He laid in this position for 15 minutes before I had him roll over and repeated the process with his other ear and allowed the first ears oil to drain and remove some more of the infection.

While we waited for the second ear to “rest” I mixed 3 drops of Tea Tree oil in 4 tablespoons of coconut oil and rubbed the solution along his neck and jaw line as well as around the outside and back of his ear. Then I filled up the humidifier and placed 15 drops of Lavender oil and 10 drops of Tea Tree oil on the water to diffuse into the room. As an added precaution I gave him a small dose of acetaminophen for the pain and to help him sleep through the night.

We repeated the process 4 times a day for the next 4 days, which was probably overkill since he was feeling completely fine on the 3rd day but it’s better to be safe then sorry. I have continued to use the tea tree oil in the diffuser just to kill any remaining germs that might be lurking in the house but even my cough has cleared up over the last week so I think we are in the clear..for now.

 

 

 

How you can save $500 or more on your grocery bill EVERY YEAR!

There are three things you need to survive.

  1. Air: Humans can survive approximately 3 minutes without air.
  2. Water: Without water you will perish in about 3 day give or take a day or two depending on the temperature and other factors.
  3. Food: If you are young and healthy you can go without food for 3 to 8 weeks depending on if you stay hydrated.

Morbid, I know, but for centuries individuals and companies have used this knowledge against the general public to pad their pockets because they know that we WILL pay for the things we need to survive.

Air for example, is bottled up and sold to hospitals who use it to help patients who’s oxygen levels have fallen. Water is bottles and sold for a 300% profit. Why? Because people want clean water that tastes better than what we can get from the tap in our kitchens.

Food is no exception. We all lead busy lives full of school, work, playdates, exercise classes,¬†and after school activities like sports that we don’t have time to start a garden and weed it every day or raise¬†animals for meat.¬†We turn to fast food and easy to cook¬†pre-packaged dinners because we simply don’t have the time (or the money) to¬†cook homemade and healthy meals.

The average American family spends between $6,602  and $9,360 on food every year.  Depending on whether you eat at home or at restaurants, your families costs may be more or less, but either way, you probably spend about 10% of your income on food.

It may not seem like a lot of money for some, but I find it unacceptable. If you are perfectly happy spending about $151 a week in groceries, than feel free to leave this page now. But, if you are just as outraged as I am at the cost of something that is so essential for your survival, than keep reading and learn how you can save $500 or more on your grocery bill this year (and every year after)!

Coupons

coupons

Most people hate using coupons mostly because of all the work involved to use them. You have to find the ones you need in this weeks paper, cut them out, make sure you put them in your wallet, and that you have to make sure that you¬†them at checkout. Then there is always the chance that the store won’t have that item in the right size or variety or that the register won’t accept the coupon. there is nothing more embarrassing than having a coupon (or multiple coupons) rejected at checkout and having to put the items back or pay full price for them.

But the benefits of using coupons far outweighs the risks involved or the embarrassment of having one rejected. In many cases you can save about 33%¬†on your grocery bill by shopping smart and using coupons. The key is to only buy what you need and when there is a coupon available for those products. This may mean that¬†you have to buy 10 bottles of ketchup at $0.55 in one shopping trip but you won’t have to buy ketchup again at full price for a few months.

Extreme? Yes but it’s worth it to stock up on your favorite products when your are saving money in the long run.

Many Couponers couple their normal coupon usage with in store sales, online saving sites, and rebate apps to maximize their savings. These people are generally called Extreme Couponers and they tend to spend 20+ hours per week searching for savings but they also get a lot of their product for free or even get paid to take them.

 

Where to get coupons:

Coupons.com Рprintable coupons, coupon codes, loyalty coupons.

redplum.com– printable coupons

Lozo.com-printable coupons

smartsource.com– printable coupons

Your local Sunday paper

Weekly store Advertisements

Store websites- such as Walmart.com or Hyvee.com

Company websites- such as huggies.com or mountaindew.com. Some companies have¬†coupons right on their websites others you must send them and email and request them. this is a great was to get coupons for specific products that you enjoy and use regularly but that aren’t included in weekly inserts or don’t go on sale often.

 

Rebate Apps

ibotta

Another way to save some money is buy downloading one or more rebate apps like Checkout 51.

These apps allow you to take a picture of your receipt and choose any product that you bought that happens to have a rebate available. Once you submit your receipt you must scan the barcode of the products that you are claiming rebates on as a secondary proof of purchase.  Once your claim has been processed and approved your account will be credited the amount of the approved rebates and you can choose to have the balance sent to you as a check, credited to your PayPal account, or even sent as a gift card.

Rebates range from $0.25 to $3 or more depending on the product and requirements. you can earn extra rebates in some applications from completing different tasks or joining active teams. you can even earn cash back on online shopping by opening those sites and/or apps from the rebate application.

Rebate apps

Ibotta–¬† Mobile application. Joining is free using the link provided (this is my referral link meaning if you use it to sign up than you will join my team and I will get a $5 credit to my account but it will cost you nothing.)¬† Join a team and recruit friends by linking facebook and twitter. Receive bonuses for each friend you refer, you and your team claiming rebates, and completing challenges. These bonuses are on top of the rebates you get from claiming the products you buy. Earn cash-back on online purchases you make on Ebay, Walmart, hotels.com, and more by launching them in the ibotta app.

Checkout51– Much like Ibotta this is a mobile application or website you can upload your receipts to and receive cash back for your purchases. Unlike the former, this app doesn’t offer cash back for online purchases in the same way and you cant earn extra for referring friends or completing team challenges.

 

 

Online savings sites/apps

krazy-coupon-lady

Flipp– mobile application which compiles all of your local store ads and available coupons in one easy to use application.

Krazy Coupon Lady– mobile application and website for couponers. Visit the site or app to find lots of helpful tips to save more as well as available coupons and sale matchups. Brag about your savings and communicate with other extreme savers.

 

Please remember to like this post, subscribe, and subscribe to my blog if you would like more money saving tips. If you have any questions, comments, or any other favorite money saving sites/apps that you would like me to add to this list leave those in the comments below. Until next time, happy savings!¬† ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BABY HACK:Super Hydrating Bath Water

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When my son was about a year old he absolutely loved when I would put lotion on him in the cold, dry winter months. He soon began to grow up and started wanting to apply the lotion himself. At the age of 3 he now refuses to let me groom him in any way. Instead he screams and runs away laughing as I try to catch him.

After a few weeks of ranging him I decided that I had had enough. There is only so much chasing one person can do before you admit defeat and I do enough chasing just to put clothes on him.

Soon after I caved his normally soft skin began to look dry and flaky. I was faced with two options; buy a laso or find a different way to hydrate his skin.

I’m cheap so I chose the later.

I wracked my brain trying to think of a way to sneak the lotion into his daily routine but my options were limited. He doesn’t like wearing clothes while he is home so I couldn’t put the lotion into his night clothes (sounds crazy I know but their are socks you can buy like that so why wouldn’t it work for your whole body?)

My only other semi-sane option was to figure out a way to incorporate the lotion into his daily bath.

To my surprise it worked rather spendidly.

With a little trial and error I was able to get his skin looking and feeling silky smooth in no time, even with our wood burning stove leaving the air inside of our house drier than a popcorn fart.

What you will need:

1/2 cupLotion (any kind will do. I use Johnson and Johnson vanilla oatmeal baby lotion)

4 tablespoons ¬†Mineral oil ( otherwise known as baby oil. I prefer plain unscented mineral oil since it’s gentler on skin. That and I hate the smell of baby oil.)

A 1/2 gallon jug

6 cups of water

 

Pour the 6 cups of water into the jugs. Add the lotion and mineral oil, close the jugs and shake well until all of the lotion is dispersed evenly and there are no clumps remaining.

Pour about 1 cup (more or less depending on how much water is in the tub) of the mixture into the babies bath water after you have washed them with soap and allow them to play in the water for at least 5 minutes as to thoroughly saturate the skin.

That’s it. It’s super simple and there will be no more fighting with them.

 

Do you have any go-to hacks for moms everywhere? Share them in the comments below!

Poor Woman’s Pie- Recipe

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We’ve all had hankerings for pie on occasion, especially around the holidays. Those apple pies look so good and homemade pies are the best but God, they take forever to make.

Sure, you could buy a pre-made one from the store and pop it in the oven or those tiny ones from Lil’ Debby but where is the fun in that?

I was searching for an alternative to store bought pies that was quick and easy to make but tasted great and worked well for snacks or dessert. And so the Poor Woman’s Pie was born with a little help from my mother in law who had made something like it when I first met my hubby.

The great thing about these pies is that they are super affordable to make. The only thing I ever have to buy to make them is pie filling, and to save even more money, I purchase it when it’s on sale using coupons when I can find them. (Usually around the holidays.)

About 3 years ago the hubby bought me a cheap sandwhich maker/griddle to make little personal hot pockets and sandwhiches. I use the same appliance and technique to make these pies. The possibilities of snacks you can make using this appliance are almost endless.

What you’ll need:

Sandwhich maker (or you can fry them like grilled cheese)

Bread (whatever kind you usually use,bought or homemade. One loaf can make between 5 and 8 sandwhiches depending on the size.)

Butter (again, whatever kind you usually use)

Your favorite Pie filling (fruit based works but pumpkin and cheesecake don’t of course. I use apple, cherry, blueberry, ect.)

Powdered sugar

Step 1: plug in your sandwhich maker so it’s hot and spray it with cooking spray.

Step 2: Butter one side of every piece of bread you will use just like you do when you make grilled cheese.

Step 3: Place the first piece of bread butter side down in the sandwhich maker and place 2 tablespoon of filling in the middle and spread it around until it’s evenly coated. I put one tablespoon on each half of the bread, leaving a small gap between the two sides where the divider on the bottom will end up sealing the bread into 2 sandwhiches. It seems to help it seal the bread together all of the way instead of the seal rupturing and spilling the contents everywhere when you cut it.

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Step 4: Place the other piece of bread on top with the butter side up and close the lid. If your machine has a latch make sure you press the lid down until the latch catches to ensure even cooking.

Step 5: Let the sandwhiches grill for a few minutes until the crust is a nice golden brown or until the indicator on your machine says they are done. I leave mine in for an extra minute or two to ensure they are crispy and fully sealed.

Step 6: Use a plastic spatula or other non metal utensil to carefully remove the sandwhiches from the machine and place them onto a plate.

Step 7: Use a knife or Pizza cutter and cut along the middle seam until you have 2 half sandwhiches (or personal pies in this case.)

Step 8: Add another layer of butter to each pie allowing it to melt and sprinkle powdered sugar on each pie.

Let them cool and enjoy!

See? I told you it was super simple.

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They can be a bit messy when you cook them because the filling squished out of the sides and caramelized on the plates but if you sprayed them before you started cooking they should be really easy to clean. If not fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Place the plates in the boiling water for a few minutes and gently scrub the remains off with a ¬†sponge or other soft cloth so you don’t scratch the non stick coating and ruin the plates.

 

The El Nino Winter- how I plan to survive the cold.

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So for the last couple of months I’ve been hearing alot of chatter and mixed information about how bad winter 2016 is going to be. According to the Farmers Almanac, permisson seeds, and a few other sources we are supposed to have a pretty bad winter here in Iowa and just about everywhere else in the United States.

According to Google, 2016 is an El Nino year. For those of you who are not into the weather this is a common term.

El Ni√Īo is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, as opposed to¬†La Ni√Īa, which is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. El Ni√Īo is an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for¬†weather around the globe.¬†Among these consequences are increased rainfall across the southern tier of the US and in Peru, which has caused destructive flooding, and drought in the West Pacific, sometimes associated with devastating brush fires in Australia. Observations of conditions in the tropical Pacific are considered essential for the prediction of short term (a few months to 1 year) climate variations.” (Source: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/elnino/what-is-el-nino)

What does this mean? It means that we should expect some deviation from the normal snow fall and a strong, damaging hurricane season; Mathew has already been deadly and he is the first major storm this season.

I’ve heard whispers of 50x the normal amount of snowfall, power outages, and extremely cold temperatures; it sounds a bit exaggerated to me but you can never be to careful.

I’m a bit paranoid and believe that it’s better to be prepared rather than Sh*t out of luck if something is to happen so I’ve compiled a list of things to grab BEFORE the first snowfall and decided to share them with you guys. Im purchasing a few things each payday to stretch it out. There are some links to the cheapest of each product that I have found (non affiliate) so if you decide to stock up now you can save a few dollars too.

So first things first, if you don’t have an alternate source of electricity I suggest you find one now, especially if you have electric heat. We got a small generator given to us by a friend but you can find a cheap one on ebay or even ask around in your local areas Facebook Swap Shops and see if anyone is getting rid of one.

Solar panels won’t do you much good in the winter which is why I didn’t suggest those first but a good VAWT wind turbine will. They aren’t cheap but you can make one yourself out of pvc pipe if you want to cut costs. You can find quite a few tutorials on how to build them on YouTube.

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Keep in mind that this list is specifically catered to my family of 4 and is meant to last us 2 weeks (I chose this length of time because 8 or 9 years ago we had a horrible ice storm that nocked out the power lines for a few days straight and over a week in some areas). This list takes into account some of the other preps we have here already so if your starting from scratch then your list may be longer.

On a side note, if you do have electric heat, I highly suggest you invest in an alternate heating source if you can’t come up with a generator. You can purchase a couple of small propane heaters for around $60 each or go full Frontier and snag a small wood burning stove, pipes, and some wood and not have to worry about freezing if the power goes out. We have an electric wood burning pellet stove to heat our house but we keep propane on hand just in case.

If you want to splurge, there are solar window heaters you can buy which can add almost 20 degrees to any room with a sun facing window these will cost you around $150. Or you can build one yourself for much less using pop cans, black spray paint, insulation board, and a couple of pipes. There are tutorials on YouTube for those as well.i will be building one in a few weeks and documenting it here so keep your eyes open for that post.

Without further ado, here is my winter survival list. *keep in mind that I created this list with loss of power in mind. If the power goes out we loose our heat source, shortly after it goes out the water pipes will freeze and we will have no drinking water. The products on this list are meant to keep our family fed, warm, and hydrated until the power comes back on.

40 gallons of gas for the generator

2- 30 lb propane tanks

10 pk  disaster blankets

4- 100 hour candles

2-Camping stove and 4 packs- fuel pellets

EasyPrep food (2 weeks worth or 2 buckets)

100 gallons of distilled water (2 weeks worth for 4 humans, 4 dogs, and 2 cats. You can purchase water cans and fill them up yourself too which is probably cheaper.)

Jumbo first aid kit (homemade)

Thermal socks

2 boxes Instant hot packs

Hand crank emergency weather radio

4 hand crank led flashlights 

6 flats (72 cans) of  stews and soups

If your wondering why I have included candles if we have a generator, this is because the generator is dedicated to our pellet stove to keep the house warm. If, by chance, we get snowed in and can’t make it to town to get more gas and runt through all of the gas we have on hand then we will revert to using propane and the hand warmers and blankets. I believe to always have at least 2 backups. As for water, it’s nice to have alot on hand. If the pipes freeze we need at least 1 gallon per person per day for drinking. The extra is for cooking, cleaning, and flushing toilets. Hygiene is very important.

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A side note- alot of the links in this post are for The Ready Store and Budk. I love and use their products all the time. They are great quality and work exactly as you expect without costing you alot of money. The foods you get from The Ready Store are always top quality, taste amazing, and have a comparable price to that of fresh product straight from the shelf. They have a 20+ year shelf life and come in sturdy packaging that lasts so you don’t have to worry about your foods being compromised. The food is also good to eat at any point in time. The first thing I did when I got my first shipment was open some up and prepared them for my family. We all loved them which was surprising and sealed the deal.

With that being said,as much as I love The Ready Stores freeze dried and dehydrated foods, I am putting money aside to purchase my own freeze dryer from Harvest Right within the next couple of years to save myself even more money.

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That is my list so far, I’m sure I will add more to it as I go but those are the basics. I am going to be making emergency packs for both vehicles out of the things I buy ¬†which will include extra clothes, first aid kit, hot packs, blankets, water, food, some form of heating for food, water, and the car itself, ¬†flares, and mobile communication devices.

What’s on your winter survival list? Share it in the comments below!

 

 

 

My Canning Adventures: Homemade Apple Butter

Over the last couple of years I have found myself edging closer and closer to being completely self sufficient. Of the many things that I have changed about my lifestyle, canning wasn’t one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought about it; I even attempted it a couple of times,but, it seemed like it was going to cost more than I was willing to spend to ¬†buy all of the supplies. Little did I know that most of the supplies are a one time purchase; an investment if you will.

Then there was the sheer volume of produce I would have to grow or purchase in order to really make the investment worthwhile. During those early days I was under the assumption that I would have to grow hundreds of pounds of food in my little garden in order for all that effort to be worth it.

Lastly, there was the time. Oh how I dreaded how much time it would take to can everything. Peeling apples, shucking corn, and so on just to prepare the food for cooking. And how long would it all take to cook and cool? In my head, I was looking at weeks of torturous work slaving away in my kitchen and dreading my electric bill.

So I put it off. I decided that it would be cheaper just to buy everything from the store already prepared for my diner table. Oh, how wrong I was!

My first attempt at canning was last year. Being the newb I was I ignored everybody’s words of wisdom and decided that I could use jars that I had saved from things I had bought at the store. At the time I thought a jar was a jar so why would I go out and buy a dozen new jars for $8 when I already had 10 perfectly good ones laying around. I know, sometimes my naivety surprises me too.

I went to the local farmers market and purchased 20 lbs of apples. Why so much? I really don’t know! I love apples and had plans for them. Thanksgiving was around the corner as was Christmas and I love homemade apple pie. So I was going to make a ton of apple pie filling, use a couple of jars for pies, and save the rest for the next year. At least, that was the plan.

So I cored, peeled, and sliced the apples, threw all of the ingredients into a 3 gallon pot and set to cooking it. After a couple of hours it had thickened up and viowala, it was ready to can.

I sanitized my jars and lids, poured it in, and sealed the lids;leaving it on the counter to cool.

You can stop rolling your eyes now and berating me, I now realize how stupid I was! If I had spent even 5 minutes online reading anything about canning I would have realized my error before I even started and would not have had to throw out 9 pints of apple pie filling!

Once the jars were cooled I put 2 in the fridge ¬†so I could use them the next day for my pies and the rest in the cupboard. The pies turned out great! Everybody loved them. It wasn’t until 2 weeks later when I got into that cupboard to grab something that I notice something was wrong.

The filling had separated. The apples had floated to the very bottom , the middle hosted a clear ooze, and the top held the thickened sugars; all of it had turned a slight grey shade. Oh how I wish I had taken pictures so I could share them with you.

I took no heed and left them be since I didn’t need them for a few more weeks. I had never canned anything before so I assumed it was normal. I didn’t check the seals before I shut the door or I would have noticed that the jars were not in fact sealed at all. The little nub on the top had not sucked in and the bacteria the filling hosted were thriving in the moist, sweet, and dark environment.

Skip ahead a few weeks to Christmas. I was happily readying my house for my family to visit, cleaning, and taking stock of what I needed to buy for our dinner when it suddenly hit me; I had 9 whole jars of apple pie filling to use which would save me from having to buy any.

I get back into the cupboard and grab 2 of the still separated and slightly grayish ooze that had become my delicious pie filling and frowned. Don’t worry, no one ate the awful concoction that was the filling; I’m not that stupid and I know potential botulism when I see it. But I did finally notice the broken seals and got smart enough to open a damn book so the next time I would do it right and not waste all that time and money!

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Fast forward to today. Last week I went and bought a flat of BRAND NEW jars and seals. I have now read my fair share of canning books and have a pretty good idea of the right way to go about it. The most important thing I learned from my awful first experience was to make a small batch first.

So today I made a jar of applebutter. One jar (and a half) to make sure that I could do it. There is no telling if I will be able to do a large batch but I’m going to try. Who knows, maybe I will even start blogging about my canning adventures and help other people learn how to be a little bit more self reliant as well.

Until next time.

25 legitimate ways to make money from home

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Despite popular belief, working from home isn’t an urban legend. There are thousands of people in this world who sit at home on their computers all day and make money doing it. Whatever your intrests are there is an opportunity out there for you to work from home.

Below is a list of 25 ways to make money from home.

 

MISCELLANEOUS TALENTS AND INTERESTS

These 5 sites cater to people of all talents. From writing, editing, proofreading, making handmade beauty products, and digital design to cleaning houses, handyman work, and folding t-shirts; if you have a passion to work and a talent one or more of these sites will work for you.

Fiverr– Freelancers of all types flock to Fiverr to sell their talents for $5 per task.

Taskrabbit– Taskrabbit caters to individuals who specialties lie in the physical industries such as rewiring houses, fixing drywall, and pouring concrete. If you like physical work than this site is for you.

Upwork– Another Freelancer site, Upwork offers a platform which brings freelancers and companies who need things done together. You get to choose what jobs you apply for and the price you are willing to work for and be guaranteed a paycheck without the hassle of using PayPal to get paid.

Amazon Mechanical Turk– This Amazon site allows freelancers who don’t want to commit to long term projects to work in short bursts to make a little extra money. You won’t make much money using this site until you’ve worked your way up to the higher paying jobs but it is a great site to test the waters of working from home.

Etsy– If you love making hand made one of a kind crafts and want to make a little money doing it, this is the site for you. It’s free to start selling the things you love to make and who knows, maybe your handmade jewelry will become a new trend.

 

VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS

Becoming a virtual assistant is a little harder than just apply for a job and hoping you get it. You have to learn all of the ins and outs of being an assistant before you can start doing it from home. With that being said, it’s not hard to find online job opportunities once you have the skills necessary to apply. Below are 9 site specifically designed for those looking to start working as a VA from home. (Ps. If you are interested in learning how to be a virtual assistant there are tons of online courses that specialize in teaching people just like you the ropes so you can start your own VA business)

EAHelp

World Wide 101

Fancy Hands

Time Ect.

Assistant Match

Office 88

Paragon Planners

Upworthy

Vicky Virtual

 

WEBSITE TESTING

Do you like browsing the Web? Do you find yourself critiquing the site you visit because they load to slow, have to many ads, or their fonts are hard to read. If so you could totally become a website tester. Most sites pay $10 or more for a 20 minute test. It’s easy to apply and there are few requirements to be accepted. All you need for most sites is a almost new computer that has the newest updates, hi-speed Internet, and you will have to download a screen recorder for the tests. Some sites may have other requirements and some may pay more or less than $10. Check each site for their requirements and pay s ale before waking the delicious to apply.

Usertesting

Feedback Army

Loop 11

Start Uplift

Testingtime

Try My UI

User Feel

Userlytics

User Zoom

Validately

What Users Do

 

 

START A BLOG/WEBSITE

Starting a blog is super simple, really fun, and a great way to start working from home. You won’t start out making thousands of dollars a month right away but with an interesting point of view, excellent conversational skills, and a little bit of learning you could quickly start rolling in the dough thanks to affiliate links and sponsored ads.

Starting a blog is free if you use wordpress.com.

Free WordPress Site– You can start your new blog or website with the click of a button. WordPress makes the process of choosing a theme and writing your first post simple. WordPress.com sites are free unless you choose to upgrade to the paid site and get your own custom domain and get rid of that pesky .wordpress.com extention in your url.

The only downside of the free version besides the wordpress.com extension is the fact that you can’t use sponsored ads on your site due to the fact that their is no way to code them in. WordPress.com reserves that advertising space on all .com sites through them for their own ads.

To bypass this little issue, use blue host to host your own domain and wordpress.org instead of .com for your site. It will cost you a little money but it is so worth it to be able to make money with sponsored ads.

 

AFFILIATE SITES

If you have a blog or website (either free or paid) you will want to have a few affiliate links to post in the body of your posts, esspecially if you are reviewing products.  you can register to become an affiliate of these sites as long as you have a website. You  get paid to share your recommendations of the affiliates products on your website or blog. When visitors click the link and purchase a product, you get a small commission from the purchase.

Amazon Associates – One of the most popular affiliate sites because they offer products across all niches. So there is always something for everyone.

Wealthy Affiliate– This site is a boot camp learning site for those who want to learn more about becoming an affiliate. They offer a free trial that teaches you the basics of starting a website and becoming an affiliate as well as a annual all access membership which dive more in depth on the subject. They also offer an affiliate opportunity for their members.

To find more sites that offer affiliate opportunities just Google the name of the site or brand name and Affiliate. (Example: Google search- Nike Affiliate Program)

 

If you found this post helpful please follow my blog and share on your favorite platforms to help others realize that they too can start working from home.

Do you work from home? Leave your reply in the comments. I love hearing my readers stories!

Back To The Basics: Seeing Light at the End of the Corporate Tunnel

It makes me so mad that everything has become so commercialized that we have forgotten how to do the simplest of things.
Take gardening for example. I remember growing up my dad had an enormous garden. We didn’t buy our food from the store, we grew it or hunted for it. What came out of our garden and the animals he hunted ¬†had to last us all winter until the next harvest. Then in elementary school our teacher thought us how to grow corn in a tiny cup in the window. It was such an essential part of my life that I never considered that alot of people didn’t know how to grow their food from seeds.
As I got older I realized that people had boxed up  that knowlegde somewhere in the back of their minds because the supermarket is a short drive away. They chose the easier route even though it costs them a ton of money just because it saves them time.
Gardening has become something of a novelty or hobby when it should be an essential part of our knowledge base.
I recently came across a post where a woman was berating farmers for slaughtering¬†livestock.¬†Her words baffled me beyond anything I have ever read in my entire life. “Go to the supermarket and buy your meat like everyone else and stop killing innocent animals!”
Was she serious?
Actually, yes she was!
This is the state we find ourselves in, where consumers know nothing of where their food comes from. To her, the supermarket makes the meat and it doesn’t come from a living animal.
This may come as a shock to some but… unless¬†your eating a soybean¬†burger,¬†all meat comes from a creature that was once a living breathing animal with thoughts and feelings!
I know,¬†it’s shocking and some of you will never buy that juicy delicious t-bone steak that came from a cows back ever again! We are a cruel species who kill to survive, get over it! You’ve been eating dead animal your whole life and that’s not going to change unless you become a vegetarian or vegan, in which case more power to you.
Her post made me wonder. How have we become so far detached from the most essential part of life?
The answer is simple. Commercialization!
Big companies have taken food, slapped a price tag on it, and put it all in one convenient spot. We don’t have to dig any further and most of us don’t. We don’t REALLY want to know what’s in our food, where it came from, and we definitely don’t want to grow or catch it. We want convenience. We want to look at a pretty picture that makes our mouth water and eat the product in the box. Big companies saw the opportunity and took it.
The problem is, we have become so dependant on the big brand companies that if they were to fall, most of the human race would go extinct. How many of us can say we have the knowledge to grow enough food to last us ALL YEAR? How many of us can say that if the time come, we will grab a gun (that we may or may not know how to use), trek 3 miles into the wilderness, and wait around for days until some unsuspecting animal comes along? How many can say that they could pull the trigger and take that animals life? How many can say that they would tie that animal up, slit it’s throat, gut it, skin it, and butcher it for the meat?
That’s what it takes. If you can’t do any one of those things you will fail to feed yourself and your family.
Big companies have no problem doing that in extremely large quantities. They also don’t have a problem giving those animals artificial hormones to increase size, unneeded antibiotics for infections they will probably never get that cause outbreaks of antibiotic resistant infections such as Madcow and the avian flue, use glue on the meat that can cause cancer, and inject the meat with water to add weight (yes, 30% of the cost of your steak is from injected water and that fillet minion is really just bits and pieces of left overs glued together, wrapped in plastic, and sliced to look like 1 piece).
We can no longer trust big Comercial companies to hold our best¬†intrests. So many times we have been burned by them. Every week I¬†hear of a new lawsuit against a big brand because they don’t care about us. They add so much crap into the products we buy without a single care for what it does to the consumer. They are in it for the money and if they can save even more money by cutting corners and using low grade, unhealthy, cancer causing ingredients then, by God they will.
But there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel that we have been locked in for far to long. More and more people are going back to the basics and making everything from scratch. We are learning that the only people we can trust with our health and happiness is ourselves.
It amazes me how many people didn’t know that they can make their laundry soap¬†right at home for 1/4 of the cost of the Comercial brands. I am shocked when a friend or family member sees one of my blog posts and¬†realizes that they CAN make money from home on the internet. It¬†am extatic when a complete stranger tells me that they started a small garden and no longer have to buy pestacide ridden and bland as a piece of cardboard tomatoes from the store.
Finally, the world is waking up. Little by little, we are¬†crawling out¬†from under the feet of¬†big corporations. I say… It’s about damn time!
It’s time we take our lives back into our own hands!
It’s time that we stop padding rich people’s pockets!
It’s time that we go back to the basics!