Sunday, March 29, 2015

Learning From Others

It wouldn't be spring here in the Midwest if we didn't have masses of Henbit in our yards and garden beds.  Having Henbit is not necessarily a bad thing.  When I had my chickens, they just loved Henbit and it was something that generally was growing most of the winter and early spring when hardly anything else was green.  It made the yolks of their eggs really more bright gold than yellow.  HERE is a great blogpost about Henbit.

But I don't agree about Henbit being edible.  I mean, if I was starving it's nice to know it wouldn't kill me, but that is the ONLY condition under which I would willingly eat Henbit.  Maybe it makes a difference where it grows, I don't know.  

Journey To Forever - online library HERE

Another great source of information is "Wild Flowers And Weeds" HERE .     

I found some of this information either directly or indirectly after reading Laurie's great post on Common Sense Home: Five Reasons I Want Weeds In My Garden  HERE .  She didn't make any mention of Henbit and that made me curious, since everyone in my region seems to have so much of it.  I've often just left it where it was, since it seems like the Bermuda grass doesn't grow if it's there, and Henbit is a lot more decorative, and a lot less noxious, than Bermuda is.

Laurie's post has a link to a blog called Pure Cajun Sunshine that hasn't been posted on since 2009, but go there anyway, there's lots of good information on it.  In fact, I recommend a visit to every link Laurie shares on this post, including the links for online herbal classes offered by The Herbal Academy of New England (not cheap, $195 for the Introductory, then they give you $55 off the cost of the Intermediate class which is $360 to begin with.  But looks like really intensive, well-prepared information, with tests and a certificate of completion at the end.  Quality education IS expensive....  You know I'm kind of a tightwad but now and then I don't mind paying the big bucks for something that's got the quality to make it worth it, and if it will end up paying for itself, that's an additional selling point.  In fact, I'm thinking about it, been trying to educate myself about herbs but it's a disjointed, inefficient thing....).  I've been reading the Thoughts From Frank And Fern blog since I found it and added it to my sidebar.  And I do agree with them on a lot of things.  Some of Fern's posts sound very much like some of mine.  One thing that they believe is that investments made in education are the ones that pay off big and I believe that too.  You can get tangled up in this if you choose the wrong kind of education.  I mean, my brother-in-law MADE every one of his kids go to college.  He was a domineering man and so he watched their grades and found ways to make their lives miserable if they didn't apply themselves.  His oldest daughter had a boyfriend, and all she wanted to do was be a wife and a mother.  But she went to college and got a degree in Marine Biology.  Where they lived, it just wasn't likely she'd ever be able to find a job and use that education, and we all thought at the time that this was the closest she could get to rebelling against her father.  She did end up getting married and became a mother.   But you get my point, right?  So when you invest in education, make sure it's something that you will be able to get some good out of later.  I also believe equipment is a good investment.  Equipment such as the following:
  • A sewing machine, and learn to sew.  Even if you never make a garment, and I don't, very often, anymore, because patterns and fabric are so expensive that I can buy ready-made clothes for less, most of the time.  But often I will buy patterns at garage sales, and sometimes fabric, too.  And also sometimes I make a pattern if I have some article of clothing that I really like.  But sewing machines are good for repairing broken seams, replacing zippers, taking things in, patching, and changing hemlines.  Also for making specialty items.  Fern makes her own washable mini-pads, for instance.  And there is great economy in repurposing things.  You can make all sorts of kid clothes from the fabric of adult clothing that maybe you're too big for now or they've gone out of style, Or you can even make new things from yourself out of out-of-style things you have.  The Internet literally teems with ideas.  Start with Pinterest.  Search "Pinterest repurposed clothing", if you want to get some ideas.
  • Canning equipment and jars.  Even if you don't have a garden, you can make your own jams and pickles when the ingredients go on sale in the stores.  I watch Aldi, they have some kind of fruit on special every week.  Strawberries get made into jam.  Sometimes pineapple and banana.  I have a steam juicer, which I don't think was worth it.  And a crank-style fruit press, which has been worth every penny I paid and more, since I get green apples from a friend, and although they aren't worth much else, they make wonderful juice.  The post about that is HERE.  I think I will use it if I ever get enough grapes, too.  I thought I was going to have a bumper crop of grapes last summer and then the rains came at just the wrong time and my grapevines got Black Spot.
  • A blender.  Make your own smoothies.  Or blend fruits together and pour them into push-up popsicle molds.  A lot of people don't know that you can use a regular canning jar on an Oster blender and you can make your smoothie right in the jar and then drink it out of the same jar.
  • A freezer and a dehydrator.  When Aldi's pineapple is on sale, I buy several, slice and peel and put in freezer containers for later use.  The easiest way to peel a pineapple is to slice it first, and then cut the "rind" off each slice.  Blueberries get frozen or dehydrated for later use.  Blueberries will dehydrate faster if you cut them in half first.  Grapes are frozen for snacking on later.  When strawberries are on sale I make a batch of jam and freeze the remaining strawberries for later batches.  I make my own dried onion and garlic.  Since we've moved to a house that has a walk-in attic, I use my attic to dehydrate things.  The post about that is HERE.
  • Plant lights, heat mats, and styro coffee cups for starting plants from seed.  I post a lot about this, one of them is HERE.  This would be only if you garden.  You can save a lot of money growing your own plants from seed.  But it's kind of time-intensive, because you have to remember to water, and sometimes the seed doesn't germinate.  You have to have the space to devote to it and lots of people don't have that.  I use my own compost-rich garden soil, baked, and then mixed with equal parts peat and Vermiculite.  I would use coir instead of the peat but I haven't found it reasonably priced anywhere yet.  There is a concern about using up the peat bogs.  I've been tempted by those soil block presses, but I kinda made my own this winter with a push-up popsickle mold, HERE, and, while they worked well enough to germinate seed, it felt to me like it packed the soil down so hard that it made it hard for the plant to develop roots.  I'm still trying to use up some expandable peat pellets I bought in quantity, but when those are gone, I'm considering starting my seed in egg carton cups, not the plastic ones, but the ones that are made of what looks like paper mache.  I buy my eggs at Aldi's now that I don't have chickens anymore, and they are in the "paper mache" cartons.
  • Cooking equipment.  Why pay $10 per serving at a restaurant for waffles when you can make your own for pennies a serving?  Hub's parents were dirt-poor with eleven children to feed, but they never went hungry.  They survived on wild game, blackberries, biscuits, waffles and pancakes, and anything their mother could grow in the garden.  Do you love those frozen yogurts in waffle cones?  You can make your own waffle cones with a cone maker, HERE, and fill 'em with Aldi vanilla ice cream or any other frozen product.  Or your own home-made ice cream, a few recipes HERE.
  • If you love fancy coffee, learn how to make it and invest in your own coffee machine.  Make sure you get one that doesn't lock you into buying individually-packed pods of coffee, though.  Buy your fancy coffee in bulk and keep it fresh in the freezer or vacuum seal it.
  • Vacuum sealing machine.  I have a FoodSaver.  I wanted it specifically for the jar sealer attachments.  FoodSaver's website is HERE.  If you sign up, they will send you an e-mail when they have specials and you can get better prices then.  I did that and the price came down on the machine I wanted around Christmas time one year.  I stocked up on bags when they were sale priced but I have not used them as much as I have used the jar sealer. 
  • Hunting and fishing equipment, if it'll actually be used to bring in some wild game, and if the person who cleans it will learn how to properly do so, and the one who cooks it will learn how to cook it.  Also if the family will not be squeamish about eating it.  If the hunter starts to feel like it's more recreation and bonding with his hunting buddies, hunting can get to be kind of expensive and not yield anything so there are lots of gray areas in whether this skill pays.  Of course you cannot hunt certain animals except in season but there are still rabbits and fish.  Traps fall into this category, too, our Have-A-Heart trap has paid for itself many times over, especially since it was bought at a garage sale, because if we don't do something about the rats that come when ranchers around us burn off their fields, they eat my garden.  And no, I don't know any human being that wants to eat a rat.  I'm not sure it's even safe.  Another thing I'd have to be starving to death in order to even consider. 
I know if you think about it you'll be able to think about expenditures you might make that will pay for themselves.  These days, investments are really iffy.  If you invest in the stock market, it can plummet in a day without warning.  If you buy land or rental property, it can be devalued or it can grow in value, depending on what happens around it.  Whole communities have been made into ghost towns by roads or railroads being relocated or factories closing down.  Renters can tear your house down from the inside out.  Almost everything you can buy can be taken away from you or made worthless in one way or another.  But the things you learn can only be taken from you if you are hit in the head or if you get Alzheimer's.  I guess all of life, really, is a crapshoot.

As far as I'm concerned, my computer and internet connection have been a good investment for me.  I've learned so much through my computer, from so many different sources, that it just boggles my mind.  Not to mention that I've met a lot of really wonderful people this way.   Yes, sometimes it keeps me from physically doing stuff, but if you know me at all, you know I'm mentally doing stuff all the time.  The Beat Goes On.  Meanwhile, Hubs is sitting up there in the living room watching TV and OMG, that is soooooooooooooooo boring.  I like to catch the news, but even that is annoying because they waste so much time.  They tell you the headlines so many times before they'll tell you the rest of the story, and sometimes they spend less time on the story than they did on the headlines.  Or they'll run the same news item that I saw yesterday.  And one of the female newscasters and how her ultra-tight clothes and cleavage seems to be the focal point is really getting on my nerves.  I mean, I can see that sort of thing on my computer, too, not that I'd care to, but generally I don't run into that much of it on the websites I visit.  I saw a quote once that said something like, "dressing suggestively is like throwing slop.  You might get a lot of attention but it'll just be from pigs."  I am always grateful that we have the space in our home where I can get completely away from the noise of the television whenever I want to.

I received an e-mail from Carole, my friend in Joplin, today, in which she was telling me about some cotton-burr compost that she had gotten for $8 a bag, and she mentioned how she had put some in one of her flower beds that always tended to be so dry.  She was really happy about how much it improved the moisture-retention of the bed.  I've got a flower bed that needs that.  So much of the time, I'm not able to find things here in Bartlesville that she finds there in Joplin.  After all is said and done, our merchants don't catch on to "new" stuff very fast.  So if I want to buy some cotton-burr compost I'll have to go to Independence, KS to get it at their WMT, according to the Internet.  Probably could find it somewhere in Tulsa, but I just hate to shop in Tulsa.  So hard to navigate.  So much crime.  I'd much rather go 50 miles the OTHER way.  Or maybe I'll just wait till we go to visit Carole, and get some while I'm there.

Carole also finds really low-priced seeds at her local Dollar store.  I looked in mine and never found any seed.  But yesterday, I stopped at Dollar GENERAL, and they had a small seed rack of packages, four for $1.  Such a deal.  Wish they'd had a bigger selection.

I was in there looking for "Barkeeper's Friend".  This is a powdered cleanser along the lines of Ajax and Comet, but it's made of stuff that doesn't scratch, so you can use it on things that you wouldn't want to use Ajax or Comet on.  My neighbor told me it has been recommended to her for using on her fiberglass shower and tub.  I thought I'd seen it at one of the other Dollar Stores.  But they didn't have it.  I can order it on Amazon HERE, and I will if I can't locate it locally.  Wow, look at all those reviews!  83% of 109 comments are 5-star.  I hate these dang fiberglass tubs and showers.  They are so hard to keep clean.  So I hope this stuff works on them.

I also bought a package of Ricola cough drops.  I've always been curious as to what's in them, and I've never tried them.  The ingredients are listed, in this order: caramel color, extract of a Ricola herb mixture (elder, horehound, hyssop, lemon balm, linden flowers, mallow, peppermint, sage, thyme, wild thyme), natural flavor, starch syrup, sugar.  The only "active ingredient" they listed was menthol.  Wow, I can really taste the menthol.  But I also detect the taste of horehound.  I don't know why they'd need to add "caramel color" to it at all.  I doubt the color makes any difference to anyone whatsoever.  I already grow a lot of the things on the list.  I could probably make my own easily.  I looked on Wikipedia and they listed additional ingredients of cowslip, burnet, yarrow, lady's mantle, speedwell and plantain.  That makes me wonder if they've left off ingredients on the bag, or if they've changed the formula.

Hubs and I got out and hit the garage / estate sales yesterday.  I found a few things, two quart jars and a half-gallon jar for 25 cents each, some denim fabric, two yards for $2, a couple of big clay flowerpots with saucers for 25 cents each, a bag of paint roller pads for $2, nothing really noteworthy, except, I think, for this old cookbook, which I am looking forward to looking through as soon as I can.

Many of my old tried and true recipes were clipped out of Family Circle Magazine, back in the 1970's and 80's.  This one's copyrighted in 1974 so should be right in the right "era".  I did a search on Amazon and found THIS, there are lots of them priced quite reasonably.  A penny, in fact, but there's shipping, which for me is $3.99.  And I got my copy yesterday for 75 cents.  By the way I'm not affiliated with Amazon in any way, though I ought to look into how to do that, because I recommend them so often.  People who wrote reviews raved about the Banana Bread and said the Parker House Rolls was their mother's "old standard recipe".   Those Family Circle Magazines were great little magazines, and so were Women's Day.  Grocery stores always had them on a rack right at the check-out line and they were always so much cheaper than the other magazines were.  You can buy today's versions, I haven't bought any in years so I can't vouch for whether they're still as good though.  Or go to or

Well, I think that's about all I have for this time.  It's supposed to get to 70º today so I'm hoping to spend some time in the garden.  It was only 40º this morning and a cold wind blowing this morning, though.

Till next time, rock on....   xoxoxoxo


  1. I think my pizza sauce and dough recipe came from Family Circle. I used to buy those magazines and loved them.

    Walmart carries Barkeeps Friend. I use it on my stainless steel pans; it was recommended by All-Clad for removing stains and it does.

    Once you get the fiberglass showers clean, try the spray on Clean Shower after every shower. I am impressed by how well that keeps the fiberglass nice with no soap buildup except down next to the shower floor.

    1. Glenda, thanks so much for that information! Will do.


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