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Frugal Tuesday ~ 11/27

Here’s my weekly frugal update…

Last week I braved Black Friday with my mom – on our own terms. We slept in, had a nice breakfast, and headed out. We spent most of our time at Salvation Army, where I bought a mountain of clothes for $30. All clothing was 50% off- my favorite day to shop at Salvo. 🙂 I got a lot of wool sweaters to felt and turn into Christmas presents and some goodies for myself, too.

Last year we made super cute woolen mittens and hats for the cousins. I’m not sure what I’m making this year, but I love all the projects my friend Robin has on her pinterest board here.

I also harvested gourd seeds with my kids’ help. I bought some really pretty gourds for fall decorations and thought I should try to find seeds to buy so I could grow them myself next year.

{Ignore the dirty towel…} And then it hit me. DUH!! There are seeds right. inside. those. gourds. I don’t need to find any to buy! So we dug them out and cleaned them off. They are now drying so I can plant them in the spring. Can’t wait to see if they grow! 😉

And finally, I made a huge pot of turkey soup with the left over turkey carcass from Thanksgiving. But no one in my family likes turkey soup except me and my 8 year old. So after fighting everyone to eat the soup one evening, I separated the broth from the turkey meat. Now I have homemade broth and shredded turkey instead.

Last night I used some of the broth and turkey to make this garlicky turkey noodle casserole {not all that different from soup}, but everyone LOVED it. So score one for me. Heehee!!

Well…do share! What are your recent frugal accomplishments?

Linking up: Frugal Friday;

Do You Know What’s in YOUR Home Cleaning Products? #HeinzVinegar #CBias

I am a HUGE advocate of using natural, healthy, green cleaning products in my home and I’ve been using them exclusively for last 5 years. Over the years, I’ve put together a great GREEN CLEAN TEAM and have a lot of experience staying away from chemically laden cleaners.

Products in my Green Clean Team:

  • Heinz Cleaning Vinegar – Vinegar is my number one go-to product in my Green Clean Team. I love it because it’s all natural, environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and edible. It’s so VERY, VERY versatile. I can use it to clean produce, clean my coffee pot, deodorize my laundry, my sink, my oven, my windows, mirrors, bath tub, AND COOK WITH IT!! What other product has all of those uses??
  • Lemon Juice I love fresh lemon juice for a nice smell and it adds an extra punch for tough stains.
  • Baking Soda – I love this powder. I use baking soda to make homemade laundry soap, clean my sink, and other hard stains in the shower for instance.
  • Borax – This is another powder I love. While borax is all natural, it’s the only product I use that does include a warning label. Borax should not be ingested!
  • Essential oils like Tea Tree Oil – Essential oils also add another cleaning element.There’s a huge variety of essential oils. Some of them are naturally antibacterial (like Tea Tree oil), some are great for stains, some are great for smell (Lavender and Peppermint, for instance). Their use is very varied. They are also somewhat expensive so I don’t use them that often.

To contrast my Green Clean Team with more “normal” cleaning supplies, check out the warning labels on this popular “traditional” cleaning product!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel comfortable having this in my home. I can’t let my kids use it. I have to lock it up. I don’t want it under my sink leaching toxic fumes into my home and making it stinky and unsafe. Did you know indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality?? Frankly, these labels SCARE me and I need chemical-free cleaning options in my home.

I was recently at Walmart and saw that Heinz has a new vinegar formulated specifically for cleaning.

This vinegar is located in a FOOD aisle… It has no scary warning labels on it.

Look at that! It says right on the container, SAFE FOR COOKING. Can you image eating any other cleaner?? Yeah. Me, neither {other than baking soda and lemons, of course…}.

Well, I’ve been buying vinegar to clean my home for years. I was skeptical of a new formula that says it’s specific for cleaning and  had to try it out to see the difference.

I already had a huge gallon and half container of regular Heinz vinegar under my sink, so I bought a gallon of  Heinz cleaning vinegar to test out. You can see pictures of my shopping trip here at my Google + album.

Here’s my side-by-side comparison of Regular #HeinzVinegar to Heinz Cleaning Vinegar:

Cost ~

Regular Vinegar – $2.82 / gallon

Cleaning Vinegar – $2.89 / gallon

Acidity ~

Regular Vinegar – 5%

Cleaning Vinegar – 6%

Smell ~

Regular Vinegar – strong

Cleaning Vinegar – a bit stronger {I think…}

Taste ~

No noticeable difference

My humble opinion is that the extra acidity seems to make the #Heinz Cleaning Vinegar a bit more effective.

Next I put the Cleaning Vinegar to the test with a few dreaded tasks. I wish I could say that I let my house get this dirty for this blog post…but that might just not be true! Please don’t judge me for what you are about to see… 😉

 

Task #1 ~ Cleaning the top of my nasty stove

Before. Yeah, that’s pretty bad isn’t it? What can I say. I had to pull out all the big guns for this stove: vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. I have an industrial squirt bottle that I fill with half vinegar and half water. When the dirt and grime is particularly nasty, I use undiluted vinegar for full strength cleaning power.

 

After. I didn’t get all the brown stuff around the burners off, but I did get a lot of it. And the really nice thing, it’s covered up! 🙂

Task #2 ~ Cleaning my nasty oven

Before. I used to use the self cleaning feature, but you know what? That takes 4 hours, stinks to high heaven, and makes my smoke detector go off. I decided to see what else I could do without wasting 4 hours of electricity, and it really took me only 10 minutes to achieve the following result:

After. Yes! How awesome is that?! I used cleaning vinegar, baking soda, AND a bit of elbow grease. I’m really thrilled with those results. I will definitely clean my oven like this in the future.

Task #3 ~ Cleaning my nasty shower

Before. This shower has been ignored for a long time and was a huge mess.

After. I am really thrilled with the outcome of the shower. Check that out! The yellow film easily wiped away with a vinegar soaked cloth. The grime took a bit of elbow grease, borax, and vinegar. But it’s gone! This shower looks 150% better than it did.

All in all, I’m a Heinz Cleaning Vinegar convert. I will pay the extra 17 cents a gallon next time I need vinegar and buy the cleaning formula.

What do you use to clean your home? Are you worried about all the warning labels??

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias

Garden Update 10/30 ~ Moving a Garden Shed & Confession Time

Welll…here’s my confession. Garden = abandoned. I have NOT even cleaned it for winter yet. Oppps!!! I keep thinking I’ll get out there and do it, and then I don’t. It’s a mess, and I’ll even show you! The good news is, I did get another surprise garden haul yesterday: Broccoli, kale, a radish {I didn’t even realize I planted!}

There’s the surprise garden haul! I’m pretty sure I could continue harvesting kale for a long time. The broccoli, though, is about done. It’s been really cold here the last couple of weeks – down into the 20s at night. And even cold hardy broccoli can’t survive those temps forever.

And here are some of my dead tomato plants. Before we went to Colorado it was predicted that we’d get pretty cold weather. So I actually went out to the garden the night we left and picked a whole bunch of green tomatoes. My Great-Aunt tells me that it’s possible to wrap them in newspaper or arrange them in a single row and they will redden over the winter. I am trying that {but admittedly, my tomatoes are still all thrown in the box I put them in when I picked them. Some have gone bad and I’ve thrown them out, but others are turning red. I’m using them for a salad tonight so we’ll see how they taste. I figure they can’t be any worse than store-bought tomatoes.}

And here’s the money shot. My garden as it looks right now. 🙂 I have got to clean that sucker up. It’s over-run with weeds. The tomato stakes need to come out. I’d like to till it up and add some manure to get it ready for spring. Hope that happens this coming up weekend.

Moving a Garden Shed

But the really exciting news about my garden is my new to me garden shed! If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you may recall that we moved a barn to our property several years ago. We’re just about ready to move our home remodeling business offices into the barn, which is very, very exciting news. But this past weekend, my hubs also moved a little shed out to my garden.

His parents own a lot about 3 miles from our property that had this shed on it. After paying a professional moving company to move our huge barn several years ago, my husband has been itching to try it out on his own…so he and his dad spent last Saturday jacking up this shed, loading it onto a huge trailer, and driving it out to our property.

The scariest part was watching them drive it down the curb to get it on the street. I thought for a minute that I might ought to move my van out of the way so it wouldn’t topple over on top of me…but they made it!

I drove in front of my husband with my hazards on and my mother and father in law drove behind him with their flashers on. It was only about 3 miles out to our barn, but it was slow going. I love this picture of the shed in my side mirror – “ARGH!!! Something’s following me!” 🙂

That’s what the rig looked like going down the road. It was pretty funny!! LOL!

And I love this picture of the big barn and the little shed. Can you believe that the red barn looked much worse than the shed when it was moved? I can’t believe the transformation that red barn has undergone.

And now, the shed is sitting out by my garden and my hubs says I have work to do. Huh?? I didn’t sign up for another project. Hmmm.

Family Fun Friday ~ Stone’s Apple Barn and an Organic vs Local Question


If you live in the QCA and have never been to Stone’s Apple Barn – you’re missing out!

 

The kids and I headed out there a couple weeks ago with a homeschool group field trip and had a blast! We went there a couple years ago to pick our own apples, but this time we actually toured the facilities and saw how the apples are processed to be sold at area stores.

Our tour consisted of a hay rack ride around the pick your own orchards first. It was a lot of fun and thankfully no one fell off the tractor this time {like Cora did the last time we were there!}

The fall colors were beautiful! We learned about the 50 + apple varieties Stones grows and I learned a few tips for my own apple tress that I planted last year. I was sad to hear that they don’t let their apple trees produce apples for the first SEVEN years after they are planted. The reason makes sense – they want the trees to focus on growing deep roots instead of making fruit. Stone’s made it through our drought this summer without having to water their trees because they have strategically placed ponds around their orchards and because their trees have those great roots!

After our hay rack ride, we toured the apple processing facilities. Stone’s Apple Barn has huge freezers we went in. Brrr – it was cold. I was amazed at the size of this freezer and we didn’t even get to go in the freezer that they said was three times as big! Obviously, keeping the fruit chilled is the key to increasing its shelf life.


We also saw how the apples are treated before they are placed in the ginormous freezers. They are simply polished and bagged for sale or boxed up. They are not washed because removing the protective outer layer of the apple starts the deterioration process, if I remember our lecture correctly! I wish I would have asked if Stones sprays their apples. They are not organic, so I can only assume they do, but I didn’t want to ask that question for some reason. Obviously, it’s important to wash your apples! They are not washed before they’re shipped off to the stores.


We also fed the animals apples. Everyone loves a good apples!


Stone’s Apple Barn has sheep, lamas, miniature donkeys, cows, and chickens. The kids loved them all!


It was a fun morning! I highly recommend heading out there if you’re local!

But here’s my real dilemma: with the eat local and eat organic movements, which do you prioritize? I’ve been ordering organic fruit from Azure Standard, because for around a $1 per pound, the price can’t be beat. BUT that fruit is trucked in from Oregon. Since apples are on the Dirty Dozen list, it’s important to me to eat organic. But it’s also important to me to eat local and that’s where I struggle.

WHAT do you do with the whole organic vs local question?