Monday, April 30, 2012

Don't trash that!

Ever wondered what all you can do with those items you're about to trash. I hate to trash things so I try to find another use for it first.. Below are some of the things that I re-use and what I use them for..

Coffee Cans: Re-use as planters.. I start my flowers/veggies in them before transplanting them into the ground.

Bed Sheets, Towels, Old Clothes that can't be donated: Cleaning rags, shop towels, put on the bottom of my floor duster, etc.

Plastic Grocery Store Bags: Re-use as bathroom trash bags, car trash bags, put in travel bags for wet or soiled items, etc.

Paper Grocery Bags: Perfect for book covers that the kids can color on, etc. My kids love to draw on EVERYTHING, so this is great for them.

Plastic Jars with lids: We get lots of good uses out of these. Many of them have extra buttons in them, some have screws and nails that are stored in the barn, some have the kids small things like erasers, etc. There are numerous uses for these things, just use your imagination!

Butter Bowls: Save them for leftovers!

Spray Bottles: I always re-use spray bottles b/c I make alot of my own homemade cleaners. I rinse them out really good and use my cleaners to refill them.

Empty toothpaste tubes: Cut the bottom off of one, clean really well, and use it for cake decorating. Simply put the icing inside the tube, and squeeze it out of the top to decorate! :)

Will add many more periodically! :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Incubating chicken eggs.. My Experience..

This may not be for everyone. This was just an interest to me, so I tried it. Still do it, and love it.. 

Ever been interested in incubating your own eggs to hatch out baby chicks? Back last year I decided this is something I wanted to try. I started out with a Rubbermaid box, cut holes in it, set it all up but quickly  found that I couldn't keep the temperature steady b/c it was plastic. Tried the same thing with a very small foam cooler. Had waaay to much humidity. Finally I walked out on my front porch and happened to see my husbands sand blaster sitting there and a light bulb came on. I started hinting to him that this would be a perfect thing to use! So my husband got to work on it. He removed the gloves from the 2 front holes. We put plexi-glass over one of them and installed a light in the other. We removed the blaster and covered that hole with tape, and I then cleaned it out really well and allowed it to dry. I then went to Wal-Mart and purchased a thermometer / hygrometer in one that cost about $8. I then started rounding up other items that I would need. I turned to my uncle for an egg turner. (Nifty contraption if you don't have time to hand turn them 3x a day for 18 days), and other than that all I needed was a foam cup to hold water an extension cord for the lights,  a table to sit it on, and patience.

 Patience would prove to be  the hardest part! I turned on 2 lights inside of the incubator. One with a 60w bulb the other 40w. I stuck my thermometer inside right above the egg turner and watched it for a day or so. When I saw that my temp. was staying around 100-102 I filled the turner with my eggs my foam cup with water. And we wait..

There were times my temp. got a little high. 111 degrees at one point. When I noticed it, I immediately opened the door and allowed it to cool back down. If my humidity got a little low, I simply put water in a clean spray bottle and sprayed all of the eggs. Didn't soak them, just gave them a good misting. On the 18th day I unplugged the turner. After researching for HOURS I found that they are not supposed to be turned after that. I also learned that this is the most critical time to get that humidity up and keep the temperature steady all at the same time.. The humidity must stay up to keep the protective shell inside the egg from shrinking back around the chick and potentially suffocating it, so I added a damp dish towel to keep it humid inside. On the 20th night, I observed small cracks in many of my eggs. I literally watched for hours waiting on a chick to pop out. Well, at 4am, I got my wish. I heard the sweetest little chirp coming out of that box and about broke my neck to get outta bed to see it! Later that day more and more starting popping out of their shells.

I ended up with about a 50% hatch. Not bad for my first time! After the chicks had dried and were all fluffed out, I put them into a large rubbermaid box with newspaper lining the bottom, and a shallow food and water bowl. When you first put them in, you have to dip their beaks in water to get them to drink. (Atleast I heard that's what you had to do, so that's what I did) I kept them inside for about a month until they were big enough to go outside. I then put a doghouse inside of my chicken coop (an old carport that we boarded in with old materials laying around) installed the light in there, put clear plastic in front of it, with holes poked in it for fresh air, (the plastic was basically to keep them in and the other chickens out in case there may be a jealous hen). They turned out to be happy and healthy and are still running around the back yard months later. I was hooked after that! It was alot of work but so worth it when those chicks popped outta the shells. I incubated again setting it all up 12-4 in hopes that these would hatch out on Christmas day (and they did!)

So after all of this struggling and rounding up materials, I had a friend who had been incubating for 25 years and decided he didn't want to use his incubator anymore, so he loaned it to me. Expensive little contraption so I just knew that I was gonna have an even higher hatch rate than 50%. NOT!!! I got ZERO! Absolutely nothing.. So, with that said, I think I am going to stick to my homemade incubator. There are many eggs that I don't bother. I leave out there for the mama hens to hatch out themselves, some I cook with, and many I take to my grandfather b/c he thinks there is nothing better than a fresh egg for breakfast in the mornings. My only problem is ridding the roosters when I get bombarded with them. After all these are my children in a sense, I hatched them out, fed them, watered them, etc. And you just can't give them away b/c everyone else is too over-run with roosters as well. So, when I'm not home, I authorize my uncle to "do what he has to do to get rid of the roosters". I HATE it but it's a must. Needless to say they have a big pot of fresh chicken and dumplings every so often. My grandfather LOVES it! I just wonder if I would have grown up in his times if I would have been able to do it?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Great Site for Gardening, Weather, etc..

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Brown Sugar and Vanilla Body Scrub

With Christmas right around the corner, there's no better gift than a homemade gift! This is perfect for teachers, neighbors, etc.


2 c Brown Sugar
1c Granulated Sugar
1 c Sunflower Oil (or other oil of your choice, but I have ONLY used Sunflower)
1 TBSP Pure Vanilla Extract
Glass Jar of your choice with lid

Mix sugars until there are no lumps. Add oil and vanilla. Stir until well mixed and scoop into glass mason jars. For a little extra decor, tie a red ribbon around the lid.

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Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 quart of boiling water
2 cups grated bar soap (I use Fels-Naptha soap found in laundry aisle and just grate the whole bar)
2 cups Borax (found in laundry aisle)
2 cups Washing Soda (found in laundry aisle)
2 gallons of water

Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.
Pour the soap water into a large, clean bucket and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
Cover bucket and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it as it will gel up..

When using, this does not suds up.

I have great luck with this soap. All of the ingredients are stain removers so it works well when the kids have been rolling around in the yard.

**Note: I use this often for me and MY family and it works for us, however, just like any other product, some people may be allergic to some ingredients. Please read all labels before purchasing the products to make this detergent.**

All Purpose Cleaner


2 tsp Borax (found in laundry aisle of supermarket)
1 tsp Washing Soda (also in laundry aisle) Note: NOT Baking Soda
1/2 c White Vinegar
2 c HOT water
1/2 tsp dish soap (again, I prefer and recommend Blue Dawn)
Recycled Spray Bottle

Add Borax and Washing Soda then add White Vinegar. Wait until foam goes down and add 1/2 tsp Dish Soap. Then add 2 cups of water. Shake gently before each use. :)

Homemade Bath and Shower Cleaner


White Vinegar
Dish Soap (I use and recommend Blue Dawn)
Recycled Spray Bottle

Heat 2 cups of white vinegar in the microwave for 2 minutes. Add vinegar to spray bottle. Add 10 oz dish soap. Shake gently. Spray and let set. Can be cleaned immediately but I prefer to let it set over night after all the showers are over and clean first thing in the morning. (Gently shake before each use as ingredients settle)