This section is devoted to concoctions that make your life easier without costing a lot of money. Commercial products are on the market for a lot of these things, but I don't like to use weird-sounding chemicals in my house. I think the homemade items are better for my pocket, the environment, and me.
To clean copper-bottomed pots and pans sprinkle table salt on them and then scrub with a rag soaked in some vinegar. The job is made even easier if you run hot water over the bottom of the pan first. The heat seems to help the salt and vinegar do their job.
Apply worcesteshire sauce to the bottom, let it set and then wash with warm water.
All Purpose Cleaner
1/4 baking soda 1/4 lemon juice 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid 2 heaping tablespoons borax 1 gallon warm water
Pour everything together in a quart pitcher, add enough water to start mixing and then pour it into a recycled, cleaned out milk jug. Add the rest of the water and shake before each use
For washable paint or paneling. Mix 1 cup of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with one gallon of hot water. Stir to disslove.
Sink & Tub Scrub
3/4 cup baking soda 1/4 cup borax Dish soap Combine the baking soda and the borax. Add enough dish soap, a little at a time, until you get a smooth paste. Dip a cleaning rag into the mixture and clean.
Mop Cleaner Refill Solution
1 cup non-sudsy household ammonia 1/2 cup vinegar Water to fill an empty jug (cleam milk jug) Place ingredients in jug, fill with water and shake well. (no ammonia on wood or laminate)
Alternate: 2 cups rubbing alcohol 1 tablespoon liquid dish detergent 1 tablespoon household ammonia 1 tablespoon vinegar Water to fill a gallon jug. Place first four ingredients in jug and fill with water. Shake to mix.
1 pint rubbing alcohol (70%) 1-2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid 1/2 cup sudsy amonnia water to make 1 gallon of cleaner food coloring(if desired) Put alcohol, dish soap, and ammonia in a recycled gallon jug and add water, shake to mix well.
Kitchen Gadget Cleaner
Recycle that fuzzed-out toothbrush. Keep it in the kitchen drawer to clean the gunk out of the cheese grater, garlic press, food choppers, and other handy kitchen helpers that are hard to clean. If you are like me, if it's hard to maintain, it goes back on the shelf and doesn't get used.
Bubble gum, or any other kind for that matter, can be removed from hair with peanut butter. Moosh it around with your fingers. The peanut butter will cause the gum to break up into little balls and it comes right off of the hair. A quick shampoo and all is well...sure beats a haircut.
Rub ink stain with petroleum jelly and let it set, then work in some liquid detergent or dish soap and wash as usual.
This spring when you clean out your fireplace or wood stove for the last time, sprinke some plain baking soda in the empty fire box. The soda will absorb any stale or off smells during the summer and is easily swept away before starting a new fire.
My grandmother told me to put wood ashes in my garden (just a sprinkling) and the bugs wouldn't chew on my plants... I've used this hint for years and it seems to work because I'm seldom bothered by any kind of "critters."
Disinfecting sponges and dishrags
1 quart water
4 tablespoons household bleach
To keep those kitchen sponges and dishrags safe and sanitary, just put 4 tablespoons of household bleach in a bucket and add 1 quart of water. Put in the sponges or dishrags, and let them soak for 10 minutes. This will kill all the germs and keep your sponges and dishrags clean.
Disposable non-toxic bug trap
2-3 banana skins
¼ cup sugar
¼ vinegar or sweet pickle juice
1-gallon or ½-gallon plastic milk jugs, juice jugs, or 2-liter bottles
Use a pair of scissors to cut 4 to 6 holes around the top of the jug. If you are going to hang it, you will need a piece of fish line or a lightweight piece of rope.
Chop up 2 or 3 banana skins and mix them with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of vinegar or 1 cup of sweet pickle juice. Dump this into the bottle or jug and fill it half-full of plain tap water.
Set the jugs outside AWAY from the doors and windows of the house.
This stuff will ferment after a few days and attract wasps, flies, and other assorted pesky bugs who are drawn to the scent of the sweet, sticky juice. They crawl into the jug and drown. When the jug gets to looking gross, toss the whole works away and start another jug.
There is a commercial version of these that cost about $10. These are virtually free.
Homemade Hopper Gitter
1 pouch chewing tobacco
One 1-quart jar, fill with very hot water
1 cup dish soap
Put 1/3 of the pouch of tobacco in the hot water and let it steep for 2 or 3 days, longer if you can, as it gets stronger with age.
When you are ready to spray:
Strain out 2 cups of the "tobacco tea,” and mix with 1 cup dish soap in a hose end sprayer. Set it for 10 gallons. Wet the weeds down around your garden real early in the morning for good bug control.
The tobacco tea contains nicotine, a poison to the bugs. It will kill the hoppers in a day or so if they are small. It is a contact spray so you need to hit them with the stuff. I DO NOT spray in my garden. Tobacco affects the members of the nightshade family, namely potatoes, tomatoes, all sorts of peppers, etc.
To mix a smaller amount in a bucket:
Use 1 cup tobacco tea and 1/2 cup of dish soap in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Use your garden sprinkler can and douse the flowers & weeds.
I have this brew for many years and it seems to work fairly well as long as you start when the bugs/hoppers are small.
A subscriber shared her way of sheltering tender plants from late frosts using milk jugs filled with water to form a mini-solar heater/greenhouse.She sets 3-gallon milk jugs to form a triangle around the freshly set plant. The jugs are then filled with water and capped. The sun heats the water during the day and releases the heat during the night. If it's going to get really cold, then you may need to take a shopping bag or a clear garbage bag and pull it over the filled jugs to keep any frost out.When the weather warms past frost danger, remove 2 of the jugs, leaving the 3rd jug near the plant. You will need to dig it down into the ground about half-way and before you put it in the hole, put about 4 nail holes in the bottom. This jug then becomes a water source for just that plant. Filled with a hose, the plant gets 1 gallon of water a day and they grow like crazy, soon concealing the jug from view. I have put a little fertilizer in the jug if needed and I know it goes right to the roots instead of all over the garden.
This is a super cheap way of keeping tomato and pepper plants from a late frost and you get the jump on those fresh ripe tomatoes with no expense.
Christmas Tree Freshener/Saver
2 gallons very hot water
2 cups Karo syrup (corn syrup)
2 ounces of liquid bleach
2 2-finger pinches of Epsom salts
1/2 cup of Borax (20 Mule Team is what I find)
1 teaspoon chelated iron
Mix this solution in a bucket. Make a fresh cut across the bottom of the tree trunk and stand it up in this solution until it comes into the house. Use this solution to fill the well in the tree stand (it's also a good idea to make another fresh cut across the bottom of the trunk, just before you put the tree into the stand.) Fill it with the solution right away so the pores in the trunk don't seal. This works well because the syrup provides sugar and it is only when sugar is present that trees will take in lots of water. The borax contains boron which helps the water get all the way through the tree. The Epsom salts and iron assist in the process of keeping needles green and fresh and the bleach stops the mold from forming when sugar and water are combined. A fresh tree will drink several GALLONS of water over the usual 2-week period they are up in your home. You will need to check the water level several times a day to start with and always make sure there is water in the tree stand reservoir.
Always be sure to keep your tree away from heating stoves and even the television because the heat dries out the tree. Don't let tinsel get tangled in the light sockets. Check the tree lights before you put them up and discard any that are questionable. Lights are cheap and it is not PennyWise to save $5 on a string of lights and burn the house down!
There is a product on the market that is new to me, and it is a wonderful help for those of us who garden. Polymer crystals (found in garden centers and some variety stores) are a tiny crystal that expands in water to hold up to 200 times its weight in stored water.These are sold to use in centerpieces and also to be mixed in potting soil to help hold water during the long hot summer days when one cannot be available to water the plants.
They work great! A special help for those who do container gardening.
Window Queen's Window Wash
Makes 1 gallon
1/2 cup household ammonia
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Add mixture to 1 gallon of warm water and stir well.
Use old rags to wash windows. Clean out corner crud with old toothbrush.
Dry windows to shine with pieces of old black and white newspaper.
Scented Bath Salts
1 cup Epsom salts or 1 cup Kosher salt, or 1 cup sea salt or other coarse salt
1 cup baking soda
6 to 8 drops essential oil of choice (find at craft stores, discount stores, etc.)
2 tablespoons glycerin
Food coloring (optional)
Mix the salt and soda together in a glass bowl. Add the essential oil just 1 drop at a time and stir well, then add the glycerin a drop or two at a time. (Most directions tell you to use a spoon to mix, but if you use your hands, you can work out the lumps with your fingers.) You can also add color to the salts. The color makes the salts more attractive and tells someone that this is not edible.
Put the salts in a wide-mouth jar(use canning jars -- they are inexpensive and can be found almost everywhere). Tie on a tag with a decorative ribbon and give with pride.
To use, add anywhere from 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup under running water; depends on how full the tub will be. Light a candle, relax and enjoy.
Make-It-Yourself 'Spots Away' for Dishwashers
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup Baking Soda
Mix together: 1 cup Borax 1/2 cup Baking Soda
Put in a pint jar along side the dish soap and add just 1 teaspoon everytime you run the machine.
Nothing is more frustrating than a couch or chair that puts the cushions on the floor when someone sits on them! I have such a couch and it drives me nuts! However, I think I have found an inexpensive solution.
While looking through one of those mail-order sewing catalogs one afternoon, I found some rubbery stuff that said it would hold the cushions on the couch or chair without damaging the piece of furniture. But, the roll cost $27!!! Upon closer observation, it reminded me of the rubbery shelf liner I had in my kitchen cupboards...so I tried that.
I had a roll of the 20-inch wide shelf liner that was 12 feet long...I didn't need nearly that much, so I just cut it to size. I took the cushions off the couch, laid the liner stuff in place and re-positioned the cushions. They haven't moved since except when I move them to vacuum. A roll of shelf liner costs $4. The difference between the two is $23 and I have better places to spend $23....
HOMEMADE MOTH BAGS
1/2 cup of whole cloves 4 cinnamon sticks, broken 1/2 cup whole black peppercorns
Combine the ingredients and mix well. Put 1 Tablespoon of the mixture into a square of muslin or colored cloth, tie up with a ribbon, dental floss, grocery string, yarn or what ever else you have on hand. Hang the bag in the closet from a thumbtack or pushpin to keep the bugs away and out of your clothing.
Do not put the bag right next to any piece of clothing as the cloves and cinnamon contain oils that could stain the garment.
SNOW BOOT DRYER
Kids and snow go together like cake and ice cream. Kids + Snow = wet boots = frustrated kids and Moms!
A really neat and cheap boot dryer can be concocted by using a pair of those nice heavy wire paper towel holders you can get at any discount/dollar store for 99 cents each. Make sure they have the nice wide base so the boots won't tip the thing over easily.
Just put a boot over each holder and set the holder/boot over your furnace vent...it won't take long to dry those boots and the kids can be back outdoors and sledding once more.
HOMEMADE HAIR GEL
1 teaspoon plain gelatin 1 cup warm water
To make the homemade version of the old sticky hair gel that makes it spikey ... just dissolve 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of plain gelatin in the 1 cup of warm water. Mix it very well and then keep it in the refrigerator in a small closed container. To use, just smear it in your hair and then use your hands to get the look you want. The gelatin will not hurt your hair; it's pure protein and washes out easily.
This is MUCH cheaper than the commercial version and works just as well.
SUPER WINDOW WASH
1 teaspoon Washing Soda (found in detergent aisle in the supermarket) 1/2 cup of hot water 1/4 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent 2 cups club soda
The reader who sent this in says: "This removed all of the old crud on my windows. I have an old house with very old glass in the window frames. This recipe worked real well and my windows are clean!!"
1 cup vinegar (I use white, but if you have the apple cider vinegar, it works too) 1 cup Whisk laundry detergent 1 cup household ammonia 1 cup tap water
Mix well; pour into a 1-quart spray bottle. Squirt on the stains (you may need to scrub the mixture into the cloth with your hands a bit) and wash immediately. Do not let this set on the clothing!! It will remove the color just when you don't want it to .... (voice of experience).
MAKE-IT-YOURSELF CARPET CLEANERS
There are 2 versions of this and both work extremely well in the carpet machines.
The first one is: 1/3 cup powdered borax 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or 1/8th cup Whisk laundry detergent with the 4 gallons of hot water required by the machine
Mix the Borax (20 Mule Team is what I have) and the 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol OR the 1/8 cup of Whisk liquid laundry detergent with the warm water. Pour into the reservoir of your machine and follow the directions for use. Use the vacuum part to suck up the excess water and dirt.
Then, when the carpet is nice and clean, follow with a rinse of 1/4 cup white vinegar in 4 gallons of fresh warm water, following the machine use directions. The vinegar rinse will pick up any residual dirt and also remove any soap scum from the carpet. Since the sticky soap film is gone, the carpet will stay clean much longer.
(This recipe is used by a friend of mine who cleans rental housing units for a living. She says it works better than any commercial stuff she ever tried, and there are no dangerous chemical fumes to hurt her lungs!! AND it's saving her a ton of money!!
MAKE-IT-YOURSELF FIRE RETARDANT MIXTURE
7 ounces of Household Borax (sold in grocery stores around here as 20 Mule-Team Borax) 3 ounces of Boric Acid Powder (found in the pharmacy section of your local drugstore) 2 quarts of warm water
Mix the 7 ounces of Household Borax, 3 ounces of Boric Acid Powder, and 2 quarts of warm water and stir to dissolve the powders completely. Either dip the fabric in the mixture or spray it on to thoroughly saturate the fabric until it drips. Hang to dry. This product will wash right out without damage to the fabrics so if you have to use bedsheets for stage curtains, it won't damage them for home use later on.
HOMEMADE DEHYDRATION REMEDY
This is a homemade version of a commercial product used for diarrhea and upset stomach due to flue and colds. It is pediatrician tested and okayed)
2 cups hot water 5 teaspoons powdered flavored gelatin 1/2 teaspoon salt ( you can use No-Salt, as it contains the necessary potassium 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Mix very well, let cool, and give to the sick person. If the illness persists over 24 hours, it's time to head for the doctor's office.
HOMEMADE BABY WIPES
1 roll of very good quality microwave paper towels (Bounty is the one suggested) 2-1/4 to 2-3/4 cups water 2 Tablespoons baby shampoo or baby bath 1 Tablespoon baby oil Used wipe container...whipped topping bowl or other plastic container
Cut the roll of paper towels in half with a serrated knife (this will take a while, so go slow). Mix the water, baby shampoo, and baby oil in a bowl or an empty baby wipe container. Place half of the roll in the container, put the lid on, and invert to let the towels soak up all of the water/oil mixture.
To use, fold the wet cardboard center in half and pull out of the middle. This will leave you with the end of the towel in your hand and you can then thread it up through the hole in the container. If the wipes dry out, just add a little more water.
The nice thing about these wipes is that they contain NO ALCOHOL that could irritate the skin.
(They call these baby wipes, but a lot of folks carry them in the car to wipe hands while traveling or to wipe your face if needed.)
HOMEMADE BATHROOM CLEANERS
Using ingredients found in your kitchen and laundry cupboards, you can make cleaners for all parts of your bathroom that work well (with a little elbow grease), are safe to use and very inexpensive. They are safe for the fiberglass/plastic tubs and surrounds as well as the sinks and commodes. I have used all of these and find that they work well and cost very little.
#1. Mix 20 Mule Team Borax and lemon juice to a paste. Wet the surface to be cleaned and smear the paste all over. Let the mixture sit for a couple of hours, scrub well and rinse. (in the case of the commode, brush to clean and flush to rinse).
# 2. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar in the commode, let set overnight, brush, then flush to rinse. Costs 9 cents per cup!!
#3. Baking Soda and white vinegar can be made into a paste and used in the same manner as the borax and lemon juice, it may be a little cheaper because the ingredients don't cost quite as much.
#4. 1/2 can of any cola drink can be poured into the commode, let it set for several hours and flush to rinse. (Since the main ingredient, cola syrup, can eat nails, this does not surprise me.) It also works. This treatment costs from 25 cents to 75 cents depending on the price of your soda.
MAKE-IT-YOURSELF LIQUID LAUNDRY SOAP A REAL MONEY-SAVER!
I started making this soap after discovering a buildup of some kind of white looking "cement" in the sewer line of my mother-in-law's mobile home. It is some kind of carrier from the powdered detergent she had used for years.
A subscriber shared this with me, I tried it and it worked wonderfully on the clothes. There is no smell, dye, or perfume in this stuff. Since I line-dry everything, all I smell is sunshine! Besides this stuff is really cheap to make.
It costs about 30 cents per gallon! The cheapest I found in the supermarket was $5.99 per 96 ounces. Which is not even a full gallon. And the expensive stuff is running around $10 a gallon.
HOME-MADE LAUNDRY SOAP
1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Laundry Soap 1/2 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda 1/2 cup of Borax, 20 Mule Team Water to make the recipe
Grate the 1/3 bar of soap on an old grater. Put in a pan of 6 cups of very hot water and heat till the soap dissolves. Stir in the washing soda and borax. Stir till it thickens. This takes about 15 minutes and the mix looks sort of like honey. Take it off the heat . In a large bucket (I used a pickle pail) pour 1 quart of hot water, then stir in the soap mix you just made, and blend. Add another 5-1/2 quarts of water ... this can be cold. Stir until well blended. You will have 2 gallons total.
Set aside for 24 hours. It should turn to a thick gel. I had one batch that didn't gel, in fact it sort of separated, but I just shook the jug before I measured out the soap.
Use 1/2 cup of soap for a machine load of clothes. This soap does not have suds, so don't panic. I also use 1/2 cup of cider vinegar as my rinse agent instead of fabric softener. It's cheaper and you can't smell it in the clothes when they are dry.
CHEAP WEED KILLER
A subscriber wrote that she found a weed killer in a mail order catalog, safe for the environment, biodegradable and safe for pets, for "only" $8 per quart. It was made of lemon juice and vinegar (both cheaper than $8) so she made her own formula, tried it, and sent it to me.
I tried this and it works quite well. I called my Extension Agent and he said that basically it is two forms of acid and perfectly safe around kids and pets.
He did caution that if you use too much, it could make the ground so that it won't grow anything for a few months ... but that's okay, especially in the cracks in the sidewalks!
WEED KILLER FORMULA
In a 1-quart spray bottle, pour 4 ounces of lemon juice concentrate (you can get the cheap stuff ... it works just as well), then fill the bottle up with white vinegar (28 ounces). Vinegar (on sale) costs around a penny per ounce and the lemon juice concentrate I bought was 3 cents per ounce.
For the mixture detailed above, that's a total of 12 cents for lemon juice and 28 cents for vinegar, which means the homemade version costs 40 cents per quart instead of $8!
The commercial insecticidal soap sells for $7.98 per quart. The homemade versions cost just pennies and do the same thing. I presented two different versions on KOTA Television.
Version # 1: Mix two tablespoons of Ivory Soap Flakes powder with one quart of water. It will look a little milky. Put this in a quart spray bottle and use when you notice an infestation of white flies, mites, aphids, thrips, etc. Be sure to spray underneath the leaves too ... most of these critters like to hide!
Great-grandma used to pour her dishwater over plants that looked "sickly." She was using home-made insecticidal soap.
Version # 2. Mix two tablespoons of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid with one quart of water and put in a spray bottle. Use for the same insects as the version # soap mixture.
When I spoke with my County Extension Agent, he told me to warn folks that these are CONTACT sprays -- you have to squirt them directly on the insects.
He also cautioned against using these sprays OR the commercial version on a hot day, as they can damage (burn) the foliage of the plants if you get too much on the leaves.
My own personal preference is the Ivory Soap spray because most dishwashing liquids are detergents and I don't know what they do to the environment.
Cheap Boot Tray
Use the bottom of an old plastic laundry basket as a boot tray for muddy shoes. Just cut the broken plastic top off and discard it. I used a pair of tree lopping shears to cut the ribs off mine, but a sharp knife or a good pair of scissors would do the same.
Shiny Scarecrows for Fruit Trees
Save those throw-away disks you get in the mail for online offers.
Glue them together with the silver sides out. Hang them from some fish line (I just run it through the center hole) and dangle the shiny circles from your fruit trees .. .the flashing of the silver is said to deter birds from eating the fruit. Sure worth a try to save the cherries.
"Make-It-Yourself Disinfectant Wipes and Sprays" as seen on KOTA-TV, Rapid City, SD
The commercial disinfectant wipes and sprays are handy, with a price to match ... $4.89 per container of either the wipes or spray when I checked at the supermarket.
You can make them yourself for just pennies.
You will need:
2 1/4 cups of tap water 1 1/2 teaspoons of bleach or other germicidal cleaner 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap Roll of paper towels ... the cheap ones work just fine
Cut the roll of towels in half and take out the cardboard core. Put the half-roll in a container with a lid or an empty wipe container. Combine the liquid ingredients and pour over the towels in the container. Let the liquid soak up. To use, pull towels up from the center.
Or, pour the mixture into a spray bottle, label for use, and spray away, thus eliminating the expense of the "ready to use" product. (In this case, "ready to use" means the company has added the water!)
My regular cleaner costs a little over $3 for a 48-ounce bottle, which makes 24 gallons of cleaning solution at the recommended rate of 1/4 cup per gallon! Do the math!
My cleaner, mixed according to directions, used in the sprays or wipes, figures out to $39.12 per gallon or a whopping $938.88 for the 24 gallons of cleaning mixture! This is one area where "do it yourself" really pays off.
I make my own simmer mix for the stove top or simmer pot at almost no cost. I have this in a small pot at the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City every year and people will follow their noses to the scent. They are so surprised to find out the ingredients and I often hear ... "I can do that!"
When you use oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes etc., save the peelings. Dry them on a paper towel on top of the refrigerator or on a window sill. When dry and crisp, break into small pieces. Mix with a handful of whole spices...broken bits of cinnamon stick, whole cloves, whole allspice berries, star anise etc. (I mix this when I clean my spice cabinet and get rid of the old stuff) Store this conglomeration in a recycled glass jar. When you need a lift, or when company is coming, put a small amount in some water on the back of the stove and turn it on low ... the whole house smells wonderful and the cost is practically nothing.
ELECTROLYTE MIX For baby lambs, calves, goats, etc.
This formula is to be used if the animal has an upset stomach and diarrhea.
In light of new government regulations regarding beef products fed to livestock, the following has been changed to use CHICKEN broth or CHICKEN bouillon instead of beef products.
1 package fruit pectin (Sure-Jell or Pen-Jell) 2 teaspoons Baking Soda 1 10-ounce can Chicken Broth or.... 10 ounces of warm water mixed with either 4 chicken bouillon cubes or 4 teaspoons of powdered bouillon 1 teaspoon plain salt
Mix well. It foams up a lot so you need to use a big bowl. Let the foam go down a bit and then add 2 quarts (8 cups) of warm water.
Administer WITHOUT milk for at least 3 days...then gradually introduce the milk again.
Baby lambs or goats get 8 to 16 ounces per feeding 3 times a day. Baby calves get 1 quart (32 ounces) 2 or 3 times a day.
This is a time-tested, tried-and-true recipe used by many rural farmers/ranchers/homesteaders etc. It's cheaper than any of the commercial mixes I've found and works just as well.
It goes without saying that if the animal doesn't show some improvement within 24-36 hours, it means a trip to the vet.
Hit the second-hand stores this spring and look for an old mesh-sided playpen. These work really great to confine the baby animals when you have to bring them in the house to warm up. The animal is up off the floor and any "accidents" are confined to one spot for easy clean-up. Anyone who raises stock will tell you that critters in the house are as much a part of spring as the mud!
EMERGENCY HEATER Here I go again...it's winter and time once again for me to get on my soapbox and preach that everyone needs to carry an Emergency Heater in their vehicles. This 40 year old Extension Service idea will never go out of style. It's cheap and easy enough for kids to make.
You will need the following:
- A 1-gallon tin can (such as a 3# coffee can...with the paper label removed) - 1 roll of toilet tissue (cardboard center removed) this is vital...you cannot leave the cardboard center in the middle of the roll. - 1-16 ounce bottle of 70% rubbing alcohol - 2 or 3 books of matches - A doubled over piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, larger than the top of the can so it can hang over the sides some. - The plastic lid for the can.
Put the toilet tissue roll, alcohol, matches, foil and the lid in the can and put it behind the seat in the pickup or on the floor in the back seat of the car/van? Do not leave home without it.
If you get stranded in a snowstorm out on the road....
Unpack the heater kit. Put the toilet tissue roll in the can, pour the whole bottle of alcohol over the tissue and let it soak up completely, about 10 minutes. Now you can light the heater. This does have an open flame so you need to set it where coats, caps and kids can't catch fire. Only the top 1/3 of the can will get hot so it can sit on the car/truck seat, but a magazine wrapped in foil or even a small board could also be carried to set the heater on. Only the alcohol fumes will burn. The toilet tissue is simply the wick.
When the vehicle gets warm -- it only takes about 10 minutes for this heater to warm a car up to 65 degrees -- use the doubled-over foil to put out the fire. Let the can cool completely and then remove the foil and put the plastic lid on the can. You want to keep those alcohol fumes from evaporating in case you need to relight the heater. This heater will burn about 9 hours continuously and from 18 to 24 hours on and off. Because you are only burning alcohol fumes, this produces NO carbon monoxide, but you still need to put a window down just a crack on the downwind side. This is an open flame and does use oxygen. I also recommend that these heaters be put in the tractors of farmer/ranchers who need to travel several miles away from home to feed livestock or to check on ewes or cows that are about to give birth about the time of year when the snow squalls come through and it's easy to lose your way. The heaters will also work for temporary heat when the power is off in your home. Mobile homes especially cool off fast when the power is out. The heater can be taken into a small room and used to heat it. Set it on a table and light it. You will have a fair amount of heat and some light. The heater will also work to melt snow for water and to heat up soup. You have to hold a saucepan over one side of the flames and it takes a while, but it sure beats nothing. Please folks, if you don't have a genuine emergency...stay home!! (I personally do not consider running out of cigarettes, coffee or pop an emergency. Now having a baby...that's another story!)
Before you turn a wheel, check the weather conditions on the local radio or TV station. Every year one reads horror stories of people with small children out on the road in a storm and nobody in the vehicle even has a warm coat with them. If you do have to get out on the road....make sure your gas tank is FULL and that someone knows where you are going, by what route, what time you are expected to arrive and who to call if you don't. And above all....carry that heater with you. A cell phone is a handy gadget, but during a blizzard no one can get to you anyway.
If you have pets in the house, namely dogs and cats, it's a given that at some time or another you will be blessed with fleas. They get into the carpets and the fibers of your furniture and they hurt when they bite.
You can buy expensive sprays and flea bombs that do work fairly well, but I don't like to use that kind of chemicals in my home. The following solution is much cheaper...and it works quite well.
Mix together: 1 cupful of plain Borax (usually sold as 20 Mule Team borax in the stores here) 1 cupful of plain Table Salt 1 cupful of plain Baking Soda
Stir these three ingredients together really well and then sprinkle this over the carpets and furniture before you go to bed at night. Next morning, you can just vacuum it up.
Repeat every couple of weeks until you are sure all of the flea eggs have hatched (they lay them in the fibers and it takes several weeks for all of them to hatch out) and you have sprinkled them.
This mix works by drying up the body fluids of the fleas. I used this when my kids were quite small. I didn't feel I had to worry about the babies getting something in their mouth or on their hands that was harmful.
Fido needs a mattress for the winter? A couple of old area rugs from the house can be recycled into a comfortable doggy bed. Fold them over and place them in the dog's house. If you have concerns about fleas, put some of the homemade flea powder between the folds of the rug. The dog will get the benefit of the flea powder, but doesn't have to get its drying effects directly on his skin.
If the dog needs an insulated bed you can do the following. Take a couple old fuzzy coat linings and stitch them together to make a bag. Fill with Styrofoam peanuts (a good way to recycle them) and stitch the bag shut. Dust with a little of the flea powder and wish Fido "sweet dreams."
"PASTE" POT SCRUB
1/2 cup Cream of Tartar 1/2 cup Baking Soda 1/2 cup White Vinegar 1/2 cup Soap Flakes (example: Ivory Snow)
Combine the cream of tartar and soda, add the vinegar and mix very well. Add the soap flakes and stir to make a soft paste. Apply to a stained aluminum pan and scour with very fine (400-grade) steel wool, rinse well. Keep the remainder of the paste in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. This will remain useable for 1 to 2 years.
(I mixed this up using just tablespoons of the cream of tartar, soda, and vinegar and used a scant 1 1/2 teaspoons of the soap. It worked really well and I was quite pleased with the results. I didn't want to mix up a whole big batch...cream of tartar is sort of expensive and I hesitated to make that much for starters.)
HOMEMADE STICKER STUFF
The grade school crowd is into stickers of all kinds. They collect them and want to stick them everywhere. Mom can go into sticker shock when she sees the price of just a few of the things. You can make your own quite easily. Enlist the help of the kids with the picture cutting part. That way, they get what they want and you save the $$ for the things they need.
Mix together 2 parts white glue and 1 part vinegar. Paint the mixture on the backs of pretty pictures cut from magazines, seed catalogs, etc. Let them dry completely. Package them in recycled envelopes for the kids. They can lick and stick to their hearts content and it costs just pennies.
HOMEMADE BATH POWDER
Most everyone has a favorite scent for perfume or aftershave. I also am aware that in the case of many of the designer scents, there is a whole lineup of expensive, matching fragrance products. An easy one to make-it-yourself is the simple dusting/bath/body powder.
All you need is a box of cornstarch ($1.25) from the grocery store and your favorite scent. Put about 1/2-1 cup of the cornstarch in a glass bowl. Use anywhere from 1/4 teaspoon of your favorite scent for a light scent to 1-2 teaspoons for a fairly strong scent. The cornstarch will get lumpy, but just keep stirring it around until all of the lumps are pretty well gone. Spread the scented powder out on a foil lined pan and let the alcohol in the perfume/body wash evaporate. Then, put the powder in a sieve or some kind of sifter and shake or stir through to break up any remaining lumps.
Pour into a pretty container and enjoy. This is a really nice gift for some of the grandmas that have the old-fashioned colored glass body powder boxes. You might check at the discount store perfume counter for a nice new bath powder puff to go along with the powder.
MAKE-IT-YOURSELF PRODUCE WASH
2 cups plain tap water 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon citric acid powder 1 teaspoon lemon extract Few drops grapefruit oil
The citric acid powder is found in the canning section of the supermarket and is used in canning tomatoes. I got my grapefruit oil at the health food store but have since found that it can also be obtained through bulk spice dealers as well. The alcohol in the lemon extract kills bacteria; the citrus oil is a cleaner as is the soda and citric acid.
My recipe costs about 20 cents for 16 ounces or 40 cents a quart. The commercial fruit and vegetable wash comes in at $4.89 per cup. Cost to make a gallon of the homemade version is under $2.00. To purchase a gallon of the commercial product will lighten your wallet by $78.25.
PennyWise P.O. Box 518 Kadoka, SD 57543-0518
Watch the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves.