Posts tagged ‘grape jelly’

The Simple Joys of Life

PB & homemade J πŸ˜€


Cheap and natural cleaning ideas, pumpkin cookin’, and a little randomness

Back to the basics (and cheap!) cleaning supplies/tips:

I try to use only vinegar, baking soda, and borax for cleaning – well, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (these things are AMAZING!). Only exceptions so far are laundry soap, dish soap, and mopping – please share if you have natural cleaning tips for these πŸ˜€ Don’t have to worry about chemicals in my food, etc, and it’s so much cheaper. I’ve only recently discovered borax, but I’m telling you, when I started cleaning the counter-tops (who knew that was a hyphenated word?) with it, they literally sparkled! And these are just standard counter-tops, nothing fancy like granite or anything,Β  but I seriously don’t think they sparkled this much brand new! (Only down-side to borax is that you have to give a wipe down with clean water after.) My sister is much more serious, and also includes bleach in the mix (she worked in a nursing home for a while – bleach goes in her dishwater, etc).

We keep the vinegar in a spray bottle, and just use it like we would any spray cleaner, and if you need some added “umph” add some baking soda (cleans up grease stains like you would not believe!). I use the vinegar and/or baking soda for spot cleaning, and the borax for the full wipe-down. Another note on vinegar – kills ants DEAD. D-E-A-D, dead! Won’t prevent ’em, but if you’ve got a trail of ants coming in, spray those suckers with vinegar and watch ’em die – instantly. And borax is supposed to be good against roaches.

Also, I’ve started using a “glug” (I don’t measure, just dump from the box) of borax in with my wash, which is what it’s intended for, actually. I can’t believe all the money I spent for years on Oxi-clean and/or off-brands, when borax does just as good a job, AND helps with my hard well water!

And these things are SO much cheaper than traditional cleaning supplies. Now to figure out how to cheapen up laundry and dish soap…. (Haven’t tried making my own)

A tip for “I ran out of dishwasher detergent” – which works just as good, and is cheaper. Can’t take credit for it; it was suggested to me, and it works great. Put NO MORE THAN a quarter size circle of regular dish soap (this is what ensures it won’t blow up with bubbles) in your dishwasher’s soap dispenser. Fill the rest of the way with bleach. If you wish something in the pre-rinse cycle, only add a glug of bleach, no dish soap (b/c a little will leak out of the pop-open dispenser, and you don’t want a kitchen full of bubbles).

Hmmm, the borax box says something about cleaning fine china – might have to experiment with it in the dishwasher and see what happens.

ο»ΏOn to the randomness – I had some issues (largely not cooking it long enough), but I got my pumpkin murdered and cooked, well 1/2 of it at least. Thanks to the crock pot, all is well! I have 8 cups of pumpkin puree cooling in freezer bags on the counter waiting to go in the freezer. the other 1/2 pumpkin in the fridge still needs to be scooped, crocked, pureed (hey, I spelled that one right 1st try!), and then bagged up to join in on the freezer party. Funny how a 2-qt crock pot exactly full yields pretty much exactly 8 cups πŸ˜‰ (Okay, so one of the bags has about 2-1/2 cups in it, close enough….)

Scrubbed and ready to be cut up!

Holy pumpkin, Batman!

Make room! Everybody’s gotta fit! Except the little boy, that is πŸ˜‰ And yes, this is a standard size oven. Note the pumpkin in the bottom right is actually touching the rack above it. It would not fit on the upper rack. Made things interesting when it came time to play “switch places in the oven.”

Told you it was touching the rack πŸ˜‰

4 baggies, ready for the freezer. Libbey, who’s that?

Tip: when I’m filling baggies with stuff for the freezer, I detest having to clean out the zipper portion/top of the bag before sealing it. I figured out how to get around that today! Since I now have a canning funnel (translation: big bottom opening), I just held the baggie up around the bottom of the funnel – carefully – the puree was still HOT – and scooped in 2 1-cup measuring cupfuls into each baggie, then scraped the bits that stayed in the funnel down into the baggie with a spatula. Viola! No more messy baggie tops πŸ˜€

Another tip somebody taught me long ago: don’t you hate when you’re lining a pan with aluminum foil trying to get it in the corners? It crinkles really badly, and sometimes tears? Use your pan as a mold; turn the pan upside down, lay the sheet of foil on top, and fold the corners DOWN.

Now take the foil off, turn the pan right side up, and insert! There will be a little bit of crinkling in the corners as the outside of the pan is a little bigger than the inside, but this is SO much easier, IMO.

And last, but not least, I think I’ve found a new addiction – canning! In addition to pumpkin stuff yesterday (well, I did the puree part this morning), I also made grape jelly πŸ™‚

My steam canner says it will process 7 pints or quarts, but I found out yesterday that it holds quite well 2 1/2 pint jars (see my pretty Italian amphora jar in the middle?) and 6 4 oz jelly jars. I just processed the whole lot at the 10 minutes it said to process for 1/2 pints; somebody please correct me if I did wrong! (Everybody sealed and jellied though :D) And I’ve already given away one of the 4 oz jars, and hope to give 2 more this afternoon – it really, truly is so much better to give than to receive!