Tag Archives | save money

Clean Your House With Only 5 Ingredients

 

 Clean Your Entire House with 5 Ingredients {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

5 simple natural cleaners! That is all you will need to clean 93.3492% of the surfaces in your home.  OK, so clearly I made up that statistic, but seriously  most of your home can be cleaned with 5 simple, cheap, safe, readily available ingredients.  It’s probably what your grandma used.  And grandma is always right!

I could go on and on about how toxic the air inside your home can be, or how commercial cleaners are potentially dangerous.  Instead, I’m going to appeal to your cheap, eh I mean, frugal  side.  If you could get away with spending like $5 a year on cleaning solutions, wouldn’t you! ?  Again, pulling that $5 out of the air, but it’s not far off.

Ingredient – Natural Cleaners

1) White Distilled Vinegar – disinfects and deodorizes

2) Baking Soda – mild, scrubs without scratching

3) Hydrogen Peroxide – disinfects (recognized by EPA as a disinfectant)

4) Rubbing Alcohol – disinfects

5) Castile soap (or other liquid soap of your choosing, NOT anti-bacterial) – you need some sort of soap

I bet you already have these in your house.  

You will also need some empty spray bottle and labels!  You can find bottles at dollar stores, Home Depot, hardware stores, Walmart,Target among other places.   Do yourself a favor and label the bottles with the recipe and directions if needed so when they run out, they can easily be refilled. 

 

All-purpose cleaner (Cost $0.75, without essential oils $0.15)

This can be used on any hard non porous surface.  NOT FOR GRANITE OR MARBLE.

2 cups water
½ cup distilled white vinegar
Optional (10 drops lavender, 10 drops lemongrass, 10 drops lemon)

Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle.

If you don’t like the smell of the white vinegar, try infusing it with citrus peels first.

 

Granite Cleaner (Cost: $0.10)

¼ cup rubbing alcohol
3 drops liquid soap
2 cups water

Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle

 

Disinfectant (Cost: $1)

Put a spray top on that bottle of hydrogen peroxide.  Make sure to keep the hydrogen peroxide in the brown bottle.  Light will break it down.

Spray the surface – counter, doorknobs, faucet, lunch box, water bottle, .. .– with hydrogen peroxide and let it sit.  For lunch boxes and water bottles, I rinse after at least 10 minutes, then let dry. 

 

For extra disinfecting

Spray some  pure vinegar on the surface, then spray the hydrogen peroxide.

The mixture of the 2 creates a super disinfectant. Some sources claim this combination will kill Salmonella and E. Coli. Never combine the 2 into one bottle and store. This can create a bad combination to leave around your house. I use this on my counters on occasion, cutting boards, kids’ reusable bottles, anything I feel needs a little extra attention.

 

Inside Refrigerator

Baking soda mixed with a  bit of water to form a paste.

 

Oven

Sprinkle with baking soda
Spray with water to moisten
Let sit over night, might need to re-moisten
Scrub off in the morning

 

Toilet

Into the bowl – 1 TBSP of castile soap, 1/3 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup vinegar
Let it fizz for a few minutes
Scrub toilet
Flush

 

Windows (Cost: $0.30)

¼ cup rubbing alcohol
¼ cup white vinegar
1 TBSP cornstarch
2 cups  hot water

OK, so cornstarch wasn’t on the original list.  You caught me!  (good for you for making it this far!)  It can be left out, but I’m guessing you have some.

Combine everything into a spray bottle and shake well, each time before using.

May need to clean a few times to remove the ammonia residue from old cleaners. 

 

Floors  

For Hardwood or other sealed wood floors – mostly just pick up the dust with a soft dry mop or vacuum with a gentle vacuum – ie. No beater brush as you would use on a carpet. 

When you mop – use some white vinegar with warm water.  

 

Ceramic tile 

Same vinegar and water solution as above.

 

Grout 

Mix baking soda and soap into a paste. 
Scrub with an old toothbrush.  
Rinse

 

Foaming Hand Soap (Cost: $0.50)

¼ cup (2oz) castile soap
2 cups Water

Place this mixture into any foaming hand pump.  You can do this with any liquid soap.  Some people melt a bar of soap in water.  You can also get fancy and add essential oils for scent or glycerin for moisture.

With one more ingredient, you can make the BEST stain remover for clothing EVER!

What other cleaners do you use?

 

This post is part of Green Sisterhood’s Earth Month Blog Party.   For more great ideas from my sisters, check out the following blogs:

Almost All The Truth
ecokaren
Green 4 U
Green Talk
The Greening Of Westford
Jen and Joey goes Green
The Soft Landing
Eco-Novice: Going Green Gradually
 

 Earth Month Blog Party #earthdaygs

 

2

Local Styrofoam Recycling: ReFoamIt

Local Styrofoam Recycling: ReFoamIt  {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

For the longest time,  I didn’t think anything could be done with Polystyrene – or better known as Styrofoam.  It has the chasing arrows #6 recycling symbol on it?  Why can’t I recycle it with all my other plastics and glass.  The answer always came back – sorry, no.

The reason is one of simple economics.  No one seemed to want recycled Styrofoam.  No demand, no need to collect it.

Well, that has changed!   About 4 years ago, I heard of a company called ReFoamIt, then out of Framingham, MA.  They recycle Styrofoam!  I have spoken with Dave and Barbara Sherman, owners of ReFoamIt, a few times over the years at various events and have watched their business grow.  

When I first met them at the Westford Farmers Market in 2010, they were hauling the Styrofoam to Rhode Island for processing and held a few collection events a year to collect Styrofoam.  Now, they have their own facility in Leominster, MA, hold several collection events, have containers collecting Styrofoam in many towns in MA, have agreements with business that have excess Styrofoam and can accept Styrofoam at their facility.

In Leominster, they sort all the Styrofoam that comes in.  Dave explained that they have to separate colored Styrofoam and process it separately.  They must also ensure that all of the items are, in fact, polystyrene and are free of any tape or paper.  The Styrofoam is then ground into bits.  From there it is densified into large blocks for transporting to a manufacturer who will reuse the material.  The grinding machine used  was found used on ebay!  Talk about recycling!

Densified Styrofoam

38 lbs of Styrofoam “densified”

A pickup truck load of Styrofoam can be densified into a block such as the one above.  This block is approximately 2 ft. by 1 ft. 10 inches and weighs 38 lbs.  

Most of ReFoamIt’s Styrofoam gets sold to a company in Tennessee.  “I believe in doing American business in America.”,  explains Dave.   Recycled foam can be made into picture frames and house molding.

Many towns/cities have containers for their residents to recycle with ReFoamIt.  They include Harvard, Newton, Carlisle, South Hadley and Newburyport.  Many more, like Sudbury, Westborough,  Melrose, and Ipswich, hold special collection days during the year.  

Now I am all for REDUCE as the first option, but in some instances it may not be possible.  If you can then combine recycling with a cost savings, win-win!  The cost savings have to be of interest to businesses.  If you are business that deals with a lot of Styrofoam, take a look at this.  If you can reduce your number of dumpsters or times they are emptied, you know you will save money!

The picture at the top is one load from a company in Uxbridge, MA.  This company sends 2 to 3 trucks weekly with approximately 1200 – 1400 pounds of foam per load.  This company makes Styrofoam products and sends their rejects and scrap here for recycling.  

A furniture company used to fill 3 dumpsters in less than a week.  They were paying to have the 3 dumpsters emptied twice a week costing $60 per dump – that’s $360 per week.  Once they found ReFoamIt, they were able to reduce to one trash dumpster, emptied once per week, and one Styrofoam container emptied once per week.  This saved them about $200 per week in trash fees.  Dave related a similar story involving a hospital that saves $4,000 per year in trash fees by recycling their foam.

If you would like to recycle your Styrofoam, call ReFoamIt to arrange for an appointment.  A few other tips I picked up from Dave:

  • Remove any tape
  • Make sure there is a #6 recycling symbol 
  • Do not crush or break the pieces.  They need to be able to see the #6 recycling symbol.
  • Packing peanuts not accepted. They can go to a UPS or similar shipping company.
  • Foam wrappers like this, are not accepted

Styrofoam Not Accepted

For more information on what is and is not accepted,  look here.

 

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Arizona-Inspired Hand Scrub – EASY!

Arizona-Inspired Hand Scrub - EASY!

As the weather gets colder, my hands start to feel like alligator skin.  Well, what I would imagine alligator skin to feel like since I am totally freaked out by any sort of reptile and could never touch one!  But I digress, back to my hands – rough, dry skin that catches on everything.  This hand scrub does the trick!  And it’s so easy.

A few years ago a friend of mine and I took a girls weekend trip to a spa in Arizona. It was lovely.  The spa had this wonderful scrub in the bathroom.  Our hands felt incredible after using it.  Every time we did I analyzed it, sniffing, rubbing, trying to figure out what was in it.

So here is my closest approximation to that wonderful spa scrub.

 

Arizona-Inspired Hand Scrub
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Print
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  3. 2 TBSP Apricot Kernel Oil (could substitute olive oil or almond oil)
  4. All of the ingredeints below are totally optional
  5. 1 tsp vitamin E
  6. 1 tsp vegetable glycerin
  7. 3 drops each lemon, lavender and rosemary essential oil
  8. 1 TBSP aloe vera gel
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients until combined completely
To Use
  1. Take a bit and rub all over your hands, rinse with warm water only, no soap.
The Greening of Westford http://thegreeningofwestford.com/

As much as I love the benefits you get from using several ingredients, it can be a bit much when you are just starting to make your own beauty products.   Start with a few key ingredients and build from there.  This recipe could be made with the first 3 ingredients only, even the first 2 honestly!  It will be a bit stiffer without a liquid oil (like olive oil), but coconut oil is a great moisturizer on it’s own and the sugar scrubs.

I think next time I’ll try using some real rosemary from my garden! 

As you add more ingredients to your arsenal, add to this recipe.  I’d suggest  Vitamin E  and one (or more) of the essential oils.  (disclosure: affiliate links)  They are easy to purchase and can be used in a variety of products.

By the way, wouldn’t this look so cute in your guest bathroom!

Easy Homemade hand scrub

 

Put this in a cute glass jar, label it, maybe a ribbon.  Voila!  Holiday gift!

Have any good tips for rough hands?

 

This post has been shared at Natural Living Monday

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How To Preserve Tomatoes FAST!

 

How to preserve tomatoes fast!

 

Freezing Tomatoes Many Ways

I just love the idea of having garden quality tomatoes all year long.  I just have not taken the plunge into canning.  Honestly, it kind of scares me.  I am a simple girl!   I kept hearing more and more ways of freezing tomatoes. I can do that!  And when my local farmer started selling 1/2 bushels, I went for it.  What made this easy, was that my farmer gave me a variety of tomatoes – some small, plum, heirloom.  I could pick and choose which ones fit the methods the best.

  

Spaghetti Sauce

I made 2 types.  The first was a quick, fresh tasting sauce made by  roasting the tomatoes, adding some garlic and few other spices and simmering on the stove for a bit.  The second way was a more traditional longer cooking method using my slow cooker.   I reused some of my glass jars and in the freezer they went.

 

SpaghettiSauce

  

Frozen Whole

Yup!   I just washed them and tossed them in a freezer bag as is.  Turns out my Mom and a friend do this all the time.  I’ll use these for any dishes that call for fresh tomatoes that are then cooked.

FrozenTomatoes

 

Pureed And Diced

For the puree, I cored several tomatoes then I just tossed them  into the food processor, peels and all, and blended away.  For the diced tomatoes, I blanched and peeled the skins then chopped.  I love that I can now stop buying canned tomatoes.  Actually I had stopped using the canned tomatoes completely and just didn’t make those recipes anymore.  Some were favorites though so I’m so glad to have these tomatoes to use instead.

 

PureedAndDiced

 

Tomato Leek Soup

I happened to have a bunch of leeks that I needed to use so I made some tomato leek soup.  I simmered this mixture for a bit then blended it with my immersion blender.   YUMMY!  This didn’t even make it to the freezer.

 

TomatoLeekSoup

 

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

OK, oven-dried tomatoes.  I picked out the smaller tomatoes and halved them.  Placed them on a baking sheet and roasted in the oven for about 6 hours on 200 degrees F.  I then froze them to keep them fresh.  

 

SunDriedTomatoes

 

Roasted Tomatoes

Sliced a bunch, olive oil, salt, pepper and into the oven they went on 400 degrees F for about 30 – 40 minutes, possibly less depending on the size of the slices..  I have several pasta recipe that call for roasting tomatoes.

 

RoastedTomatoes

And that was it!  1/2 bushel processed almost effortlessly in over about 3 days.

I am so glad I challenged myself to do this.   I have a beautiful variety of tomato products to use all winter.  

 

Do You Freeze Tomatoes?

 

This post has been shared at Natural Living Monday, Fabulous Frugal Thursday

8

3 Uses for Cereal Bags

 You buy a box of cereal and inside that box is a cereal bag.  Until bulk cereal options are better around me, I am stuck with these two.  The box can get recycled or upcycled into many things – just take a look on pinterest.  So how can I reuse the cereal bag?  Glad you asked?

 

3 Uses for Cereal Bags

 

 

Leftovers  This is especially handy for things like a watermelon.  On this occasion, I cut the cereal bag to size, then secured it around the watermelon with a spare rubber band that came on a package of something or another.  For some things you could even use the bag as is and just toss in your leftovers.

 

Use Cereal bag in place of waxed paper

Non-Stick  Smusher  There are times when you need waxed paper for some sort of baking. In this instance I used my cut cereal bag over my healthier fudge bars while squishing them into shape.

 

Use cereal bags to keep hamburgers from sticking to eachother

Cereal bags can help keep snacks form sticking 

Separator   Separating homemade hamburgers or snacks in the fridge or freezer.  

 

I love finding new uses for things!  After I’m done with these cereal bags, I can give them a quick wash and reuse them or recycle them at my grocery store.

Ever reuse cereal bags?

 

This Post has been shared at Small Footprint Fridays, List It Tuesday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday

7

Great Deal on Vitacost Organic Coconut Oil

Vitacost-Extra-Virgin-Certified-Organic-Coconut-Oil-844197011568

Vitacost is having an amazing sale on their organic extra virgin coconut oil – $16.99 for 54 oz.

You can save even more:

1)  Use Ebates – If you shop Vitacost through your ebates account, you will get 4% back from ebates – that’s $0.68. 

2)  Don’t have an ebates account?  Get one!  For signing up here, you can choose to receive  a $10 gift card from Macy’s, Walmart, Target or Kohl’s or $5 in ebates cash.    Then get your $0.68.  Hey, it adds up.  (This is an Affliate link which means I will get some $ if you use it)

3)  New to Vitacost?  Sign up here and receive a $10 credit to use toward a purchase of $30 or more.  You might even be able to use it on this order!  (This is an Affliate link which means I will get some $ if you use it)

If you use all 3 of these money savers, it’s practically free!

Vitacost has loads of great products at great prices.  Free shipping on overs over $49.   I get all my shampoo and coconut flakes from here.

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Out Of The Box School Fundraisers

Back to School!  We are at the mid-point of the summer.  Back to school sales are upon us.  We’ve even started searching for back to school supplies.

Many schools are hurting for funding and are looking at ways to creatively raise some cash.  It is a necessary evil.  Boy, I really don’t care for most of the traditional school fundraisers.  The items are almost always overpriced because there is a middle-man taking their cut.  The products can be sub-par as far as quality in some cases.  Most people feel obligated to buy something.  Wouldn’t it be better to go a different way?

As part of a Back to School Blog Carnival hosted by Retro Housewife Goes Green, I’ve put together a few options that won’t cost family members an arm and a leg and actually do some good besides raising the profits of the company selling the junk  merchandise.

 

Out of the Box School Fundraisers {thegreeningofwestford.com}

Terracycle 

If you have been reading this blog, you know that I started a TerraCycle program called Upcycle It! a little over 3 years ago.  TerraCycle collects otherwise un-recyclable items, keeping them out of the waste stream,  and turns them into new products.  They accept over 40 different items such as chip bags, granola wrappers, writing instruments, cell phones and much more.  

As if that wasn’t cool enough, for each item sent to TerraCycle, money is donated to your school or non-profit.  Most items are 2 cents.  Doesn’t sound like much does it?  But it’s pretty much free money.  Think about all the granola bar wrappers coming into schools each day.  All you have to do is get those wrappers into a box, slap a pre-paid shipping label on it and voila – money!  Since starting Upcycle It!, we have raised almost $9,000.  Yup, 2 cents at a time folks!

 

ShoeBox Recycling

Got shoes that you’ve outgrown?  What school aged child doesn’t!  Collect those paired, reusable shoes, ShoeBox Recycling will pay you $0.50 per pair.  Our school district’s elementary and middle school Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) started this program last school year.   The Elementary schools alone made almost $3000.  The President of the PTO said it was so easy!  She was very smart and placed boxes at our local library, a couple of shoe stores in town and the senior center in addition to the elementary schools.

The shoes are “distributed for resale and reuse in [their] original form, at various local marketplaces around the world.”  ShoeBox Recycling provides the boxes and FedEx will deliver them, free of charge.  Your school will receive a monthly check with your earnings.

 

Natick BoxTextile recycling

Did you know that you can donate clothing that may be ripped or stained?  Yes, you can!  And your school could benefit.  There are many companies that collect old clothing or fabric of any kind (including old stuffed animals, curtains, towels and more) and pay those who house their collection bins. 

One such company in my area, Bay State Textiles, pays schools $100 per ton.  Bay State Textiles works with your school and provides education materials to help spread the word.   They are currently working with several towns in the area.  One, Beverly, MA, collected over 11,000 pounds in the month of June alone.  The school made $586!  

 

All of these programs take minimal effort, reduce items going into the waste stream, and don’t cost parents or relatives a dime.  Win-win-win.  The environment benefits too – WIN!

 For more great back to school posts, be sure to check out the blog carnival.

Know of any other out of the box fundraisers?

 

This post has been shared at Fabulously Frugal Thursdays, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday

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How Reusing Can Help Build Aidan’s Playground

 



While at my daughter’s soccer practice a few weeks ago, a mom I know told me about a friend of hers who was raising money to rebuild the young children’s section of a local playground in memory of her nephew, Aidan Mallio. Aidan was a loving, happy and very active little boy who was lost in a drowning accident in July of 2012 while his father was in the hospital being treated for leukemia.  My heart was breaking for this family.  

My friend went on to explain that one of the big fundraisers was huge yard sale. Yard Sale, reuse, then use the money for something good!  Right up my alley!  I offered to help out.  So, if I’ve seemed a little quiet lately, this is why.


This yard sale idea has been chosen by O, The Oprah Magazine for their De-Clutter for a Cause Contest.  Yes Oprah!  Some of you may recall that my light bulb moment for going green happened as I was watching The Oprah Show on Earth Day!  


Along with O Magazine, Peter Walsh, professional organizer from TLC’s Clean Sweep, will be hosting the huge yard sale event.    De-Clutter for a Cause: Aidan’s Playground with O, The Oprah Magazineand Peter Walsh is shaping up to be an awesome event – entertainment, raffles, an auction, food and of course loads of treasures for purchase.  

They have been gathering donations for the yard sale for weeks.  At the Town Wide yard sale a few weeks ago, we had a truck there to take away anything left at the end of the day that people didn’t want to bring home.  You should have seen the looks on some people’s faces – like they had won the lottery.  “Once it’s out of my house, I don’t want it back!” said one woman.  I hear ya!

WANTED: GENTLY USED ITEMS
May 18 9am – 2pm at Little Storage Solutions 509 Great Rd Littleton, MA.
 
Items Accepted: Books, DVDs, CDs, Household Items, Kids and Adult Clothes, Linens, Toys, Sporting Goods, Tools, Jewelry and Furniture – all in good, saleable condition


Items Not Accepted: Mattresses, Cribs, Couches, Large Electronics and Car Seats
 
 
It’s been amazing to see how many people are lending a hand, donating items for sale, raffle prizes, auctions, storage units (from Little Storage Solutions), printing, you name it! 

There is a whole group of people doing what they can and love to raise money on their own.     In the spirit of bringing the community together, the Together We Build project has been launched.   From bake sales to business donations, the site asks people to “do the thing you love best to make a difference….. It couldn’t be easier. Do something you already love and be part of this community project. Whether you make $5, $25, or $50, it’s all important. We can do this together!”

 
 
Several restaurants have donated including Papa Gino’s and Littleton Sub Shoppe & Pub.  Not Your Average Joe’s in Acton, MA will be donating a portion of your meal every WEDNESDAY IN JUNE.


Also just added:

An Evening With Peter Walsh to Benefit Aidan’s Playground

This intimate meet and greet event will take place on May 31 7:30 – 9:30 at Mangia Mangia Italian Grille in Westford, MA.  Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online.

To date, over $16,000 has been raised toward the $50,000 goal.  We are still accepting raffle and auction prizes.   If you would like to donate on behalf of yourself or your business, contact us:  castleinthetrees@hotmail.com

For more information on all of these events, check out the main website at Castle In The Trees and our Facebook page.

Hope to see you on June 1!
 
 
 

2

Easy Foaming Hand Soap

{The Greening Of Westford} Easy Foaming Handsoap

There was a time when you would place a bar of soap next to the bathroom sink for washing hands.  Somewhere along the way, that became a disgusting thought – “Use the same soap someone else has used??”  Ewww!”  Honestly, if it’s my own house I don’t mind so much but do feel a little weird elsewhere and forget that concept in a public restroom!  Plus that bar can get pretty slimy and gross – think kids playing with the bar of soap while washing their hands.

In comes liquid foaming soap.  Convenient, not as messy, and scents that can make you feel like you are on vacation.  On the other hand, there is the wasteful packaging, those scents contain Phthalates, anti-bacterial liquid soap most likely contains triclosan, and they are expensive!

So pick your reason for wanting to rid your bathroom of these liquid foaming soaps:

  1. Wasteful
  2. Potentially dangerous chemicals
  3. Expense

I’m not going to suggest we go back to the bar of soap, although that is an option.  I’m going to say,

Make your own!  
 
It is so easy.  The most difficult part, is finding a container you like.

Foaming Soap

It’s not special foaming soap, its the container does the foaming action  I tried ordering empty foaming soap dispensers.  They were difficult to find and expensive.  Buy one already filled with soap and refill that one when it becomes empty.  Whole Foods carries their 365 brand foaming hand soap for about $5.  Or if you have those pretty smelling ones lying around, keep them!

Materials

liquid soap of your choice (Castile or anything unscented and without triclosan)
water
container

Fill your container about a 3/4 with water, then fill the rest with your liquid soap.  (You might need to play with this ratio.)
Mix gently

That’s it!  You can add essential oils if you like for fragrance or extra cleaning properties.  Teat Tree oil and lavender work nicely.  Vitamin E or glycerin can be added for softening qualities.  It’s up to you.

Cost Savings:
This method costs a fraction of what it would cost to buy new foaming dispensers filled with soap each time. Plus don’t forget your other savings in terms of health and resources.

32 oz of Castile soap (at Bed, Bath and Beyond) is about $9.  You can make 128 oz of foaming soap from this.

Pretty smelling scented ones, on sale, are 5 for $15.  Even at this great price it would cost $45 for the same amount of soap*.

Do you make your own foaming hand soap?  Will you now?

*The math:

Each pretty smelling bottle contains 8.75 oz. and costs $3 (on sale)

128oz/8.75oz  =  15 bottles (rounded up to whole bottles)
15 * $3 = $45

This post has been shared at Simply Natural Saturdays, Your Green Resource, From the Farm, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

1

Bog Berry Dryer Balls {Review & Giveaway}

 

Bog Berry Dryer Balls review {The Greening Of Westford}

 

Have you heard of wool dryer balls?  They are the eco-friendly replacement for dryer sheets that reduce drying time, soften clothes and eliminate static cling.  I tried making my own a couple of years ago and was not overly impressed.  I did see a decrease in static but didn’t see a decrease in drying time. 
 
I was fortunate to connect with Brooke of Bog Berry’s Wool Dryer balls to have a chance to test them out.  Let me tell you….   You know I am a DIY girl at heart, but in this case, BUY BOG BERRY DRYER BALLS!
 
These things work!  The softening capability was way better than my attempt!   Because you know the engineer in me needs hard data to really believe something, I started designing tests the second I knew these babies were coming.  Let me tell you how I tested the claims.  
 
 
Static And Softening Test
 
Purpose  To test the static busting and softening capabilities of Bog Berry Wool Dryer Balls.   
 
Materials  
 
 
  • Two identical loads of laundry each consisting  of – 

                 3 towels
                 3 pairs of jeans

                 3 items of fleece
                 2 microfiber cloths
                 2 napkins
 
 
  • 1996 Kenmore Electric Dryer
  • 6 Bog Berry Dryer Balls
 
Procedures
 
  1. Wash one load of laundry and dry WITHOUT dryer balls
  2. Observe static and softness
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 WITH Dryer balls
 
Results
 
No Dryer balls –  The microfiber cloth was completely stuck to the napkin.  I had to pull them apart and shake them to release the static.  Loads of static from the fleece too.   Clothes were the same in terms of softness as when they went into the wash.
 
With Dryer Balls – The microfiber cloth and napkin barely stuck to each other.  Our clothes were noticeably softer.
 
 
Drying Time Test
 
I wasn’t seeing a difference in dryer time in the first test, so I asked Brooke.  She told me that 6 is the minimum.  For a heavy load like I was doing I would need more (as many as 12) to see a noticeable difference.  I didn’t have 12, so I tried another test with a smaller, lighter load.
 
Purpose  To test the drying time reduction capability of Bog Berry Wool Dryer Balls.   
 
Materials  
 
  • Two identical loads of laundry each consisting  of – 

            1 pair of nylon running pants

            2 cotton shirts
            2 pairs of nylon shorts
            1 pair of cotton pants
 
  • 1996 Kenmore Electric Dryer
  • 6 Bog Berry Dryer Balls
 
Procedures
 
  1. Wash one load of laundry and dry WITHOUT dryer balls
  2. Measure dry time
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 WITH Dryer balls
 
Results
 
Without Dryer balls – drying time = 21 mins
With Dryer balls – drying time = 16 mins
 
That’s a 23% decrease in drying time!
 
 
Based on my 2 tests and having been using them for a couple of months, I have to say I like them and they work for us.    I calculated some savings.
 
Savings
 
No more dryer sheet cost  – $15 per year
Based on 10 loads per week, cost of $0.04 per sheet 
   savings = $15 per year
 
 
Electricity savings  – $57 per year
I used this handy calculator to figure out my savings using these parameters – 10 loads per week, cost of $0.15 KWh (specific to your area), and a savings of 23% which for me is about 10 minutes per load.
 

To gain these savings, I would need a set of 12 dryer balls.  This would cost $59 plus shipping. In less than a year, I can recoup this savings.  And you can’t even put a price on the reduction of chemicals.

 

As an added bonus, Brooke is originally a local girl from MA!
 
 
Giveaway
 
 
Bog Berry Handicraft is giving one Greening Of Westford reader a set of 6 wool dryer balls in the color palate of your choice. For the main entry, visit Bog Berry and let me know which is your favorite color combo.   This one doesn’t have to be done first but it does have to be done for all other entries to count.

This contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada, 18 years old or older. The contest will run from Friday March 29, 2013 thru Tuesday April 9, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced Wednesday April 10. The winner must reply within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.

There are additional ways you can enter:

 

Separate comments must be left here for each additional entry!

Also, please include your email with comments or if you’d rather, after you leave your main entry comment, email me at thegreeningofwestford(at)gmail(dot)com so I will have a way of contacting you if you win. You will have 48 hours after I contact you to send me your info or else I will choose another winner.

 
 
Coupon Savings
 
If you just can’t wait or would like to order more, Brooke is offering The Greening of Westford readers a 10% discount oany purchase 29.50 or higher  from her Etsy shop.
 
Use the code:  GreeningOfWestford  at her Etsy shop.  This code will only work at her Etsy shop not on the website.



UPDATE:  The winner is Katie of Littleton! Congratulations.
 
 
Have you ever tried dryer balls?
 
Disclosure: Bog Berry Handicraft provided me with a complementary set of 6 wool dryer balls for this product review.  The opinions expressed are mine.

30

Nashua NH Costco Price List

Costco Price List {The Greening Of Westford}

The array of organic and “natural” food products at Costco is amazing and growing.  I have been doing price comparisons for a while to save money.  I hadn’t updated my prices in quite some time.  So it was time!

Here are prices for Organic and other “natural” items found at the Nashua, New Hampshire Costco.  There are other price lists like this on the internet, but many of them neglect to tell you which store (or at least region) the prices were gathered from.  Many of them, I found, did not apply at my Costco – either the products were not available or the prices were not the same.  And of course the price difference was not in my favor.

Prices were checked on February 27, 2013.

Unit prices are for units stated in the “Size” column.

Dairy
 
 
Item Size/Count Units Price Unit Price
         
Kirkland Organic Eggs 24 eggs 6.99 0.29
Silk Organic Vanilla Soy Milk 3 half gallon 7.39 2.46
Kirkland Organic Milk – Lowfat 3 half gallon 10.99 3.66
Kirkland Organic Milk – Whole 3 half gallon 11.99 4.00
Parmesan Reggiano 1 lb 10.99 10.99
 
 
Pantry Staples
 
Item 
Size 
Price 
Unit Price 
Kirkland/Starbucks Fair Trade Coffee Beans
2 lbs
10.99
5.50
Organic Mayorca Coffee Beans
2 lbs
13.99
7.00
Kirkland Natural Peanut Butter (2/40oz)
80 oz
8.79
0.11
Maranatha Natural Almond Butter
26 oz
6.99
0.27
Kirkland Organic Strawberry Spread
42 oz
7.49
0.18
Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Sugar
10 lbs
9.69
0.97
Dutch Gold Pure Clover  Honey
5 lbs
11.99
2.40
Kirkland 100% Maple Syrup
32 oz
12.99
0.41
Organic Blue Agave Nectar (2/36 oz)
72 oz
9.89
0.14
Filippo Berio Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.5 liter
8.59
5.73
Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (unrefined, cold pressed)
54 oz
15.99
0.30
King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour
25 lbs
14.99
0.60
Kirkland Almonds
3 lbs
12.99
4.33
Kirkland Pine Nuts
24 oz
23.99
1.00
Kirkland Walnuts
3 lbs
16.99
5.66
Kirkland Pecans
2 lbs
13.99
7.00
 
 
Stock
 
Item 
Size 
Price 
Unit Price 
Kirkland Organic chicken Stock
6 quarts
10.99
1.83
Pacific Organic free range chicken broth
6 quarts
11.59
1.93
Better Than Boullion Organic Chicken Base (low sodium)
16 oz
6.89
0.43
Better Than Boullion Organic Beef Base (low sodium)
16 oz
6.99
0.44
 
 
Grains/Cereal
 
Item 
Size 
Price 
Unit Price 
Nature’s Earthly Choice Organic Quinoa
4 lbs
8.59
2.15
Nature’s Earthly Choice Chia Seeds
2 lbs
9.89
4.95
Della Organic Long Grain Brown Rice
12 lbs
13.39
1.12
Nature’s Earthly Choice Black Rice
4 lbs
6.69
1.67
Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal
10 lbs
7.89
0.79
Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola
35.3 oz
7.49
0.21
 
 
Produce
 
Item 
Size 
Price 
Unit Price 
Earthbound Organic Table Carrots
10 lbs
7.99
0.80
Earthbound Organic Baby Peeled Carrots
5 lbs
6.49
1.30
Organic Spring Mix Greens
1lb
4.99
4.99
 
 
Canned Tomato Products
 
Note:  According to an email response from Costco, their tomato product cans are BPA-free.  
 
Item 
Size 
Price 
Unit Price 
Kirkland Organic Tomato Paste
12 (6oz cans)
5.99
0.50
Kirkland Organic Tomato Sauce
12 (15 oz cans)
6.99
0.58
Kirkland Organic diced tomatoes
8 (14.5 oz cans)
5.99
0.75
Del Monte Organic diced tomatoes (canned)
8 (14.5 oz cans)
5.99
0.75
 
 
 
Meat
 
Item 
Size 
Price per lb 
Coleman Organic Boneless Skinless chicken breasts
4 lbs
5.99
Coleman Organic Chicken Thighs
4 lbs
3.99
Coleman Organic whole chicken
2 ~3 lb chickens
2.49
Organic Ground Beef
4 lbs
4.25
 
 
 
Household
 
Item 
Size 
Price 
Unit Price 
Kirkland Environmentally Responsible Laundry Detergent
120 loads
13.99
0.12
Kirkland Dish Soap
135 oz
8.89
0.07
Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
13.5 lbs
6.49
0.48
 

Did I miss anything?

0

Yummy Nutty Homemade Granola

homemade nutty granola

I am a recent lover of granola!  I am by no means an expert or connoisseur.   But I love this simple recipe.  It doesn’t get super crunchy.  It’s more like cereal, but I like that I can mix it with yogurt or eat it with milk.

Yummy Nutty Granola

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup assorted nuts (I like a mixture of almonds and walnuts)
3/4 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup real maple syrup (could use honey as well)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F .
  2. Melt coconut oil and mix with maple syrup.
  3. Combine all of the ingredients, mixing well to coat.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 30 minutes.
I have also baked this at a lower temperature of 300 F. It doesn’t get as brown and is way more like a cereal. 
 
I love eating it with my homemade yogurt and a drizzle of honey!
 
Do You Like Granola?  What’s Your Favorite?

This post is shared at Your Green Resource
 

2

Making Yogurt: It’s All About Temperature!

Making yogurt in microwave
 
I grew up on homemade yogurt from my grandmother.  I love plain yogurt!  I am Armenian and we eat plain yogurt a lot – not just for breakfast or snacks.  In Armenian households, madzoon (maad – zoon), Armenian for yogurt, is a staple!  We put it on dolma (meat and rice stuffed cabbage or grape leaves).  A lot of people find it too sour.  Commercial plain yogurts can be sour.  With homemade yogurt, you can control the sourness. 
 
After I graduated from college, I wanted to learn to make my own.  I asked my grandmother and the directions were not clear at all, to say the least!  “Put your milk in a pan and bring it just to a boil” – how much milk, what kind, high heat?????  “However much you want to make.”  And “You know, just so it won’t burn“ were the answers.  “Then let it cool until you can just put your pinky finger into it without it burning”  Really!?  That is the explanation.  I kid you not.  And I have heard this method described by many others too.  Of course, this means burning your finger a couple of times before you get it right!
 
Needless to say, my yogurt was hit or miss back then.  At one point, I was able to calibrate my pinky and could make yogurt with the best of them! Yum!
 
I wanted to get back into making yogurt so I tried again about a year ago.  I could not calibrate my pinky to save my life!  I finally gave in and did some research to figure out exactly what temperature doesn’t burn your pinky  – turns out it’s about 115 – 118 Fahrenheit.   But still, no yogurt for me! 
A friend told me about this method and it is working beautifully!  It’s all about temperature!
 
ingredients for homemade yogurt
 

Ingredients:

 
½ gallon of milk – I have only tried with pasteurized whole milk
 
4 TBSP plain yogurt with active and live cultures – you can buy this, or use your homemade yogurt
 
2  quart-size mason jars
 
Directions:
 
Heat The Milk
 
 
1.  Take your starter yogurt out of the refrigerator and sit it on your counter to warm up.
 
Heating milk to make yogurt
 
 
 
2.  Pour 1 quart of milk into each mason jar (no lids) and place in microwave.
 
 
heating  milk to make yogurt
 
 
3.  Heat the milk until the temperature of the reaches 180.  Mine took about 15 minutes, but I started with 10 minutes, checked the temp. then put it in for more time.  The temperature needs to reach at least 180 to kill any other bacteria.  Higher is OK as long as the milk doesn’t burn.
 
 
Cool The Milk
 
 
cooling milk to proper temperature to make yogurt
 
 
 
4. Take the jars out and let them cool to 118 degrees.  I used an ice water bath and it took about 10 minutes.   TEMPERATURE IS KEY AT THIS POINT.  If you wait too long, the milk is too cold for the cultures to culture.  Too hot and they die.  There are loads of websites out there saying that this perfect temperature is anywhere from 100 – 118.  And that different temperatures affect the resulting yogurt’s taste or texture.  Could be.  But grandma used her finger and this feels closer to 118 to me so that’s what I do.
 
5.  While the milk is cooling, I warm up my oven.  This is where the jars will rest to culture into yogurt.  I turn my oven on the lowest setting (200) to heat it up a bit, then shut it off, and leave the light on.  
 
Add Active and Live Cultures
 
6.   Add a bit of the milk (about ¼ cup) to your yogurt starter to thin it out a bit and to warm it up.  You don’t want to shock it when you add it to the milk.
 
7.  Add half of the yogurt starter to each mason jar and stir gently.
 
Prep for Culturing
 
8.   Put the lids on and wrap the jars in a towel.  I used a hand towel, folded and wrapped around the mason jars, secured with rubber bands (thanks to my friend for this idea).
 
 
Keep milk warm to culture
 
 
9. Place the jars in the warm place you prepped in step 5.   The jars are then wrapped in a huge beach towel.  TEMPERATURE IS KEY HERE TOO! You want to keep the milk at about this temperature throughout the culturing process.  Some sites also recommend using a heating pad, pot of hot water or turning on the oven when needed to warm up.
 
Let The yogurt Making Begin!
 
10.  Let the jars sit for about 5 – 7 hours.  The longer you let it sit, the more sour the flavor.  Do not disturb the jars – bacteria like it calm!
 
11.  Hopefully – YOGURT.  If not, don’t give up.  Try again. 
 
12. Chill the yogurt completely before eating to improve the texture.
 
I like this method because it is simple!  Right, simple!  There are 12 long steps.  They really aren’t difficult; it’s that there are a lot of things that could go wrong so I tried to cover those common mistakes.
 
There is much less transferring of the milk and resulting yogurt than other methods and thus less chance of introducing “bad” bacteria.  I did not sterilize everything I used.  Probably should have, but again, with the jars going straight into the microwave, those get sterilized along with the milk.  The only other item I used was a spoon.


I love making my own yogurt for several reasons:

1) I feel connected to my grandmother and my Armenian heritage
2) It tastes soooo much better than store bought
3) I save money!  I pay roughly $3-4 for a gallon of milk which makes 4 quarts of yogurt.  I would pay $4 for a SINGLE quart of decent plain yogurt at the grocery store.

 
Next I want to try making yogurt in the slow cooker!
 

15

Thieves Oil Concentrate: What a Steal!

 

 
 

Homemade Thieves Oil Concentrate

Cold and flu season is upon us.  Runny noses, germs, viruses…  It’s not enough for me to pull out the bleach, but I do like a little extra protection.
 
Have you heard of Thieves Oil?   Legend has it that back in the 15th century, 4 thieves used a secret formula to protect themselves from the plague so they could rob the dying and dead.
 
And of course, you can make this yourself with simple, inexpensive, easy to find ingredients.  Recipes vary, but the common mixture is cinnamon, cloves, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary.  We can’t be sure that thieves actually used this mixture to protect themselves from the plague, but these ingredients are antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-infectious. So give it a go!  It smells great.
 

Thieves Oil Concentrate (Cost: approximately $1.25 per batch)

 
Zest of 1 large lemon (cut the peel off to make it easier to use again)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 cinnamon sticks (buy in bulk at Whole Foods)
¼ cup whole cloves (buy in bulk at Whole Foods)
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil (GNC or online)
 

 

Homemade Thieves Oil Concentrate {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

  1. Fill a pot with a quart of water and add the first four ingredients.
  2. Heat on the stove top to boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Or, once the mixture has boiled, turn off the heat and let it sit for 2 hours.
  3. Strain the mixture and pour the remaining liquid into a glass jar.  Glass is better than plastic for many reasons!  But in this case, the essential oils can react with plastic.
  4. Add the five drops of eucalyptus oil.

 

You can re-use the ingredients for another 2-3 batches. I store mine in the freezer for later use.
 
This concentrate can be mixed with equal parts of water and kept in a spray bottle.  I use mine as a quick disinfectant for the bathroom.  I really like the smell too.
 

A Quick Note On The Ingredients

 
Whole cloves can be super expensive in grocery stores.  Anywhere from $3 – 4 for a small bottle.  Here is where the bulk spices at Whole Foods comes in.  I purchased 2 cups of whole cloves for $6.65.  Which comes out to be about $0.83 for the ¼ cup you’ll need for this recipe.
 
Cinnamon sticks can be expensive too – I bought 10 good quality cinnamon sticks for $0.99 at Whole foods.  That would have cost me $5 prepackaged – maybe more.

Make sure to cut your lemon peel and not zest (grate it).  I learned this the hard way!   See my lemon zest in the picture?  It’s really difficult to get the zest back after straining to use again.

 

How To Use Your Thieves Oil Concentrate

 
Fill a spray bottle with equal amounts of Thieves Of Concentrate and water.
Spray on surfaces or in the air as a disinfectant.
 
 
It love the smell as it simmers on the stove. 
 
This quart of concentrate will cost you about $1.25.  From this you can make 2 quarts or 2 full sized bottles of disinfectant!  Talk about saving money!  And you can trust these ingredients.
 

Do You Use Any Homemade Cleaners?


This post is shared at Tiny Tip Tuesday, Your Green Resource, Simple Lives Thursday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Penny Pinching Party, Simply Natural Saturdays, Seasonal Celebration Sunday

20

Massachusetts Residents Get Your FREE Home Energy Audit


Massachusetts free home energy audit
Energy efficient light bulbs for free

Did you know that as a Massachusetts customer of any of the major electric or gas companies, you are eligible for a FREE home energy audit?

Through the Mass Save program, sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities, residents are able to have a free energy audit. Energy efficiency can save loads of energy and is a necessary and important first step before considering alternate energy sources.
I’m sure you are thinking, who pays for this?  Nothing is free.  You know it.  Guess who pays: You and every other customer of the utility companies contributes to the program.*  Ever wonder what an “Energy Efficiency Charge” on your electric bill is for?  There is a similar charge on your gas bill too.  It’s included in the Minimum Charge.
 
Do I have your attention now?  Take advantage of it!  You are paying for it anyway. 
 
I talked about the program in an earlier article.  The program has changed slightly again so here is an update.
You still want to start with making an appointment for the energy audit through Next Step Living*. Next Step Living’s association with the program is new since my last article.  I had another audit a few weeks ago and was very impressed with the auditor’s knowledge.  Once again, he changed a few more light bulbs   I thought we had changed all of ours to CFLs, but a few more types are now available – including dimmable flood lights and candle based bulbs.
 
I had taken advantage of several of the improvements during the last audit (like adding more insulation to my attic) so there wasn’t much more available to me.  But it was nice to make sure and to have the attic work looked at by someone with some knowledge.  The auditor was very impressed with our contractor’s work on the attic insulation.
 
One new item for the program is solar.  As part of the audit, your house is evaluated for solar.  Next Step Living has partnered with SunRun for solar installation.  Unfortunately, our house is facing the wrong direction so solar isn’t a viable option for us.  However, my parents house was perfect for solar panels, which were installed last spring.  More to come on that….
 
Another “addition” to the program:  you are no longer eligible for an audit every year.  If your last audit was before August 2011, you are eligible, but will not be eligible again until significant changes are made to the program.  It makes sense.  Since my last audit, not much had been added to the program, so there wasn’t much more that could be done.
 
Have you had your FREE home energy audit?
 
*The link to Next Step Living is an affiliate link.  I will receive $25 if you sign up for an audit using this link.  Please consider supporting this website.  The money will be used to further the information here.
Photo credit:  Top photo used under Creative Commons taken by Anton Fomkin/Flickr
 
 

0

How To Cook Dry Beans

how to cook dry beans
“Why in the world would she want to cook her own beans?  Canned are cheap as “beans” 😉 to begin with!”


Well, yes, beans are a fairly inexpensive protein in the can, but here are many reasons why I cook my own.


  1.  Avoid the BPA.   Most cans contain BPA in the lining.  Until a suitable alternative is available, cooking your own reduces this exposure.
  2. Save Money.  Dry beans are anywhere from 1/2 to 1/3 the price of canned beans.  I did a comparison in my area and this is what I found – You can buy a pound of dry Goya black beans at Market Basket for $1.49 which cooks up to at least 6 cups of beans.  This is the equivalent of 3 cans which will cost you about $2.40.  You have saved $0.91.  Now you could take that savings and run.  Or use the savings to buy organic dry beans.  Dry organic black beans in bulk at Hannaford are $2.99 per lb  For some reason I couldn’t find organic canned beans at Hannaford or Market Basket, so from amazon a can of Eden Organic black beans is $1.66.  Again, a little more than 1/2 the price.
  3. I control the ingredients.  There is usually a lot of salt added to canned beans.
  4. Taste and texture.  I can control how soft the beans are by cooking them more or less.  The taste also seems fresher to me.
  5. Reduce packaging waste.  I have been trying to reduce whatever waste I can.  By buying beans in bulk, in my own container, there is another package eliminated!

I know.  It seems difficult and not worth it.  It really isn’t that tough.  Yes it takes a little more planning on the cooking and using (defrosting) end.  When I need beans for a recipe, I cook up at least a pound of beans, use what I need then freeze the rest.  To defrost them quicker, I place the glass jar in a bowl of cool water.  Again, it is not as fast as popping the lid off a can, but close.

I will let you in on a little secret.  Years ago, before marriage and kids, I lived with my cousin.  We tried a few times to cook dry beans and they never got soft, so we gave up.  Well, years later I discovered that you have to soak AND cook them.  We only ever soaked them!  Ah to be young!  

How To Cook Dried Beans

This applies to beans that need to be soaked and cooked.   This method does not apply to lentils or split peas since they don’t need to be soaked and cook very quickly.

Step 1: Prep   Dry beans often have small stones or clumps of dirt in them.  This is normal, but you need to get those out before you cook them.  Sort through the beans, picking out the undesirables then rinse in cold water.

Step 2: Soak   Most beans need to be soaked before cooking.  The larger the bean, the longer the soaking, the longer the soaking the shorter the cooking time. 

Black eyed peas and Adzuki beans do not require soaking – skip this step.

Overnight method:  Put beans in a bowl (I use the pot I will be cooking them in) add enough cold water to cover the beans completely with a few inches of water.  They will absorb the water as they soak.  Let sit overnight (6 -8 hours).

Quick soak:  Place in a pot with enough water covering the beans.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2 mins.  Take pot off the heat, cover and let sit for 2 hours.

Step 3: Cook   Remove any beans that are floating.  Drain and rinse the beans.  Place them in a pot.  Add enough cold water to cover the beans by one inch.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.  If cooking kidney beans, boil for 10 mins. before lowering the heat to destroy a toxin in the beans .  Simmer until beans are tender (see table below for approximate cooking times).  When checking for doneness, test a few beans to make sure they have all cooked.  You can add seasoning while cooking, but do not add salt or anything acidic.  Your beans will never cook.

These times are a rough guide.  Depending on the age of your beans and the length of time you soaked them, the times may vary.


Bean

Presoak?

Cooking Time

Black Beans

Yes

1 hour
Black-eyed peas

No
1 hour

Cannellini beans

Yes
1 ¼ hours

Chick peas/Garbanzo beans

Yes

1 – 1 ½ hours

Great Northern Beans

Yes

1 hour

Kidney Beans

Yes

1 ¼ hours

Peas -split

No

1 hour

Pinto Beans

Yes

1– 1 ½ hours

Storage

SAVE the cooking liquid!   Often you will want some cooking liquid when using the beans.  Definitely for chick peas – I always add some cooking liquid when making hummus.  Just add some of the liquid to your storage container.  It will also help the beans from getting dried out.


Beans will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 days.


For longer storage (up to 6 months), freeze them.  Baggies, plastic containers, or glass – whatever works for you!  I freeze mine in 2 cup portions (just like the cans) in pint mason jars with some of the cooking liquid.


Easy peasy right!?  Apparently, you can also cook them in a slow cooker.  That will have to be another post since I haven’t tried it yet.


Do you cook your own beans?



Top photo take by CIAT/Flickr used under Creative Commons.


14

6 Oddball Things I Always Save

You know how you see something and think, “I bet I could use that for something.  I should probably save  it.”    Well, here are 6 things that I always save and always use.

Rubber bands    Lots of produce comes with rubber bands on it.  I save them all.  I use them to hold various electric cords together, holding a cereal bag liner on a watermelon or holding a cut apple together so it doesn’t brown.

6 oddball things to save money
 

Glass Jars   I save ALL glass jars that come into the house – spaghetti sauce, jelly, salsa, pickles, condiments, etc.  I use these for EVERYTHING – dry goods like beans, flour, sugar and dried fruit; leftovers, freezer storage, crafts.  I like to save all of them because then I can pick just the right size for the job.  The possibilities are endless and they look so cute and clean.

Popsicle Sticks   We don’t buy them often, but when we do I save the sticks.  They come in very handy when making beauty products and crafts.

 

Cereal Bag Liners   This is a new one.  I now have several on hand at all times. They are great for anything you would use waxed paper for.  I use them when making granola bars to help with pressing the bars into the pan and separating them in the freezer so they don’t stick.  I store them in an old cereal box with the top cut off.  Eventually this box will be decorated to make it look pretty….

Veggie Scraps   Carrot peels, ends of onions, you name it, it goes into my “Veggie Scraps” bag in the freezer.  When I make stock, these scraps help flavor the stock.  I usually have enough so that I don’t have to add anything else except a few herbs and some salt.

The key here is to have a place for these things to go.  This way you actually can reuse them!


Do you have uses for oddball stuff?

This post has been shared at Healthy 2Day WednesdayFrugal Days Sustainable Ways, Frugal Tuesday TipPenny Pinching PartyTeach Me TuesdayFrugal Friday,  Simple Lives ThursdayYour Green Resource,  Seasonal Celebration Sunday, Living Big Less Money, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Simply Natural Saturdays

19

Coconut Oil Does Triple Beauty Duty

coconut oil beauty treatments

Coconut oil is quickly becoming my FAVORITE ingredient in my beauty routine!  Yes that’s right.  Not only can you cook with it, but it is great for soooo many other things.

I have also found Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil which smells incredible!  If you like the smell of coconuts.  Which I do.  It’s $5.99 for 16 oz.

If you are looking for more natural replacements for body lotion, eye makeup remover and eye cream, I have ONE Do-It-Yourself product that will do the trick.  Yes, ONE

Coconut Oil Triple Play

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Coconut oil
1/2 tsp Vitamin E (optional)

Directions:

1. Place the coconut oil and vitamin E in a bowl.  Vitamin E oil is used as a preservative.  however, if you don’t already have some, don’t bother to go buy some.  Coconut oil has a pretty long shelf-life as is.   

2. Whip it (Whip It Good!  I couldn’t resist!)  with an electric mixer.

3. Whip until it is like whipped cream or frosting (about 5-10 minutes).



Place in a pretty (free) jar and you are done!  Fancy up the jar with a cute label and this would make a great gift!  I have actually had friends ask for it.

You could add essential oils if you like, but I like the smell of the coconut.  I have been told by the fabulous woman whom I go to for facials that coconut oil is excellent for your skin!

When I get out of the shower, I put this on my body as a moisturizer.

When I remove my eye makeup at night, I put a small amount on my eyes or on a small flannel cloth and wipe the make-up away.  A little remains which moisturizes that delicate skin around your eyes beautifully.

Not only is this better for your skin, but the price is unbeatable.  That $5.99 jar of coconut oil will last a year at least!

Now, the coconut oil may melt.  Mine did this summer.  But I don’t really mind using it in the liquid form.  It may harden in colder months and you’ll have to scrape at it a bit.  But it melts quickly with the warmth of your hands.  
Do You Use Coconut Oil for Anything?  What’s Your Favorite Use?

This post has been shared at Homesteading Link UpSimple Lives ThursdayYour Green ResourceHealthy 2day WednesdaysFrugal Days Sustainable WaysFrugal Tuesday Tip,  Works For Me WednesdayHome is Where the Heart isWhip It Up WednesdayTiny Tip Tuesday, Weekly Link Up Party, Natural Living Mondays, Wellness Wednesday

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Back To School Green Style

{thegreeningofwestford.com} back to school green style save money
 
I can already hear the bustle of back to school – buses, school shopping, the whining!  Backpacks, school supplies, clothes and more will be needed. I am constantly trying to reduce what we use, while still making sure we have what we need. I love that the more efficient I am with back to school shopping, the less clutter I have in my house and the more cash I have in my wallet!
 
 
Take Stock
The sales can be tempting. Before you stock up, inventory what you already have.
 
What Do They Really Need
Take a look at your child’s school supply list.  Depending on your child’s grade, teacher or classes, you may need (or not) specific items.
 
Donate or Repurpose Old Backpacks 
Do you have backpacks that are still in good condition but the kids won’t use them? Donate them.  Many charity are looking for backpacks.  You can also re-purpose them for sports or hobby equipment.  I use my son’s old backpack for his soccer gear.
 
Waste-free Lunches And Snacks
Think waste-free when packing your child’s lunch or snack. In the United States, the average school aged child produces 67 pounds of packaging waste per school year. Try these alternatives to one time use products.
 
  • Water bottle – There are many available online and at local stores.  Look for stainless steel or BPA-free.  Think about how it will fit in your child’s lunch box or backpack and how easy it is to clean. You might want to hang on to that baby bottle brush!
  • Reusable Sandwich Container – You can find these in stores as well as online. If you opt for plastic, make sure it is BPA-free.
  • Reusable Lunch bag – You can find these just about anywhere you find the sandwich containers and water bottles.
  • Reusable Baggies – Reusable fabric bags are popping up on the internet, small shops and craft fairs.
 
Eco-Friendly Classroom Supplies
When sending in donations for the classroom, try environmentally friendly cleaners or recycled content paper towels.
 
Think Outside the Envelop
Re-purpose unused return envelops. No matter how I try to reduce my junk mail, I still get mail with return envelops.   I keep these in my office and use them for permission slips, lunch ticket money, Box Tops, anything that needs to be sealed but doesn’t need a brand new envelop.
 

What are your tips and tricks?

This post is part of this months Green Moms Carnival Back-to-School edition hosted by Micaela of Mindful Momma.  Check out the whole post  for lots of great tips and  suggestions for sending your kids back-to-school the eco-friendly way. 

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Thrift Store Treasures


Over the past few years, yard sales and thrift stores have become favorites of mine.  You just never know what you will find!  The prices can’t be beat and I love knowing that I saved something from getting tossed.  

When my daughter was about 18 months old, I filled our backyard with loads of fun outdoor toys for her.  All from yard sales.  I don’t think I spent more than $20 total.   We had more than she could ever play with – a play kitchen complete with fake food and dishes, riding toys, a Cozy Coupe (we ended up with 3 of these when her twin brother and sister came along), sand toys, a rocking horse, you name it.  

One year for Christmas, all of my son’s gifts were purchased at yard sales.  I would have gotten some for the girls too, but everyone seemed to be selling boys’ toys that year.  Again, you never know what you are going to get.   And I have to mention, that the one item I purchased from the store (because I couldn’t find it on Craig’s list or yard sales), he rarely played with.  

Kitchen items are plentiful also.  Here are a few of my favorites.

I found several of these glasses.  I think I bought 12 of them for about $2.  We use them for pudding mostly. I also found a set of ice cream sundae glasses.  Those are fun!  I am still on the lookout for long spoons.

yard sale finds


This was a great discovery.  A set of 4 Pyrex Amish Butterprint nesting “Cinderella” bowls.  At the time I had no idea what pattern they were or anything.  I just thought they were pretty!  I debated because I really didn’t need any more bowls.  The woman selling them wanted $5, so I bought them.  They are by far my favorite bowls!

yard sale treasures

Several of my glass storage containers came from yard sales and thrift stores.  

thrift store findsthrift store treasures


Now, the piece d’resistance, my whip cream dispenser!  I found this, again, by chance at Savers last week.  Savers is a huge thrift store that donates a portion of their sales to charity.   I had seen one of these in a kitchen store a few years ago, but couldn’t justify the cost.  They sell for at least $50 new.  I took a gamble on this, since I couldn’t be sure if it still worked.  But for $3.99 (less my 20% off) I took the risk.  You need NO2 chargers to make the cream whip.  Found those at Bed, Bath and Beyond (10 for $7.50).

thrift store whipped cream dispenser


We tried it out that night and Voila!  Homemade whipped cream in about 30 seconds!!!!!  I can’t wait to try out different flavors.

The real fun now is going with my daughters.   They are learning that they can get cool stuff for very little money and that just because something is old, doesn’t mean it isn’t any good.

Do you go to yard sales and thrift stores?  What is your favorite find?

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