Monday, May 31, 2010

Bleach Alternative

I am really not sure why I have not shared this with you before. I share everything else whether you want to read it or not so why not this? I guess better late than never. I found this at a local Albertson's Store here in Portland Oregon. They were on clearance for $1 so I bought all 5 bottles of them. This was about 6 months ago and believe it or not i'm still using the first bottle I opened. This stuff goes a long long way. Let me introduce you to this amazing stuff.

Mrsstewart is the safest alternative to bleach I have ever found. It is a concentrated liquid bluing that whitens white clothes safely. Its non toxic and biodegradable. Mrs.Stewarts has had a standard of excellence since 1883. When they first started out their bottles were glass with cork tops dipped in wax. Beginning in the early 1970s, their company began phasing out glass bottles and introduced plastic. Today, MSB is packaged exclusively in recyclable high density polyethylene plastic bottles. As the story goes Mrs.Stewart refused to have her picture on the bottles so Mr.Stewart used his mother in laws instead. They thought that it would sell better if it had her picture on it.  

Mrs.Stewart has many other uses so take a peek and have fun with it. 

How does it work?
Determining how much bluing to use depends upon the load setting of the washing machine and whether it is being used in the wash water or in the rinse water. Generally, when using Mrs.Stewarts  in the wash water, use approximately 1/4 teaspoonful and if used in the rinse water, less than 1/8 teaspoon. Always mix the bluing in a container of clear, cold water before pouring into the machine. Avoid pouring bluing from the bottle into the machine when clothes are present, as any fiber can absorb an excess of undiluted bluing, causing spotting. An easy way to use bluing is to measure the bluing into an old empty 2 quart or gallon pitcher or container and fill with cold water. Then it can be poured into the machine with clothes present, in either the wash or rinse cycle.
They do not recommend that bluing be used in conjunction with bleach and/or fabric softener. There is no worry of hazardous chemical reaction. However, They do know that bleach encourages more permanent adherence of bluing to fabric and it is generally recommended by most fabric softener manufactures that fabric softener not be used in conjunction with any other laundry product. It is important to know that bluing is not a stain remover, it is a fabric whitener. Bleach is very good for removing stains but can damage your fabric easily. Bluing is very gentle on fabric and will not harm the fibers. We do not recommend dispensing bluing from your automatic fabric softener dispenser as most dispensers are not large enough to allow for enough dilution and spotting can occur. We also do not recommend soaking clothing in bluing water. A simple dip or rinse is sufficient.

To find a bottle of this amazing blue stuff, look here. Click on your state abbreviation and it will give you a list of stores. 

I love this stuff and use it all the time. I hope you can get use from it as I have. Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Local Oregon Readers-Azure Standard

My neighbor has been telling me about this amazing company called Azure Standard for a while but it wasn't until recently that I finally started to order from them. For one thing I just couldn't image buying produce in bulk. I'm talking 50 lbs of potatoes and 37 lbs of oranges..etc. But now that I have switched to organic I can see myself buying more and more from them.

What is Azure Standard?
They specialize in natural, organic, earth-friendly foods and products. They deliver directly to customers, buying clubs and retailers by semi truck and UPS. They started out in 1971 on a 2,000 acre dry-wheat and cattle ranch.  In the 1950's farmers started using chemicals on their crops. They went cold turkey in 1971 and stopped using chemicals in their crops. Slowly but surely the soil  regained its natural fertility. Azure Standard continued to grow crops and sold to many others. In 1987 Azure Standard was born.

They chose to call our business Azure Standard, to signify by the name what they are attempting to do. Azure is a shade of blue which has been associated with law, justice, and honesty. In raising an azure standard, they want to place an honest standard in the marketing of food. We feel that the correct way to effect a positive change is not to attack the way it is being done, but to begin to do it right.

How it works-
First create an account which is free.  The next step is to sign in. You will want to read their guide to getting started before placing a order.  Need a catalog? Go here and order one.  You can order online and have it shipped directly to your door or have a drop off point. I would strongly advise getting some of your friends/family/co workers in on this because their needs to be a designated drop off place and also a minimum order. For the truck to stop at a particular location, that “drop” must have a total order of at least $550.00*. Any number of people can order as long as each order within the “drop” is at least $50.00**. This is easy to do if you think about 50lbs of potatoes for $35 and so on.
The drop off point needs to be a persons house or business central to everyone who wants to order. Remember you can go in on any item you want. Just make sure to to keep in contact with everyone who is in on this drop point. For example i'm ordering 50 lbs of potatoes today. My neighbor is gonna take 5 lbs and another person will be taking 10 lbs. They will just bring cash for me when we pick up the order at the drop point.

Why go through all this effort?
I would not be able to buy organic if I did not do this. I pay .99 cents per lb for organic potatoes in my local store but by buying from Azure Standard i'm getting them for 75 cents per pound.  I ordered 37 lbs of organic oranges for only $19.00. In the stores they are $1.49 per pound but i'm paying only 51 cents per pound.  The savings really do add up.

What products do they carry?
Everything you can think of. From organic produce, Diva Cup, recycled toilet paper, all natural cleaners, dairy alternatives, organic clothing, and even prepared foods like Amy's. They sell thousands of products and top selling brands at bottom prices.  I just cannot find anyone else who can beat the prices.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Azure Standard
79709 Dufur Valley Road
Dufur, OR 97021
Phone: 541-467-2230      
Fax: 541-467-2210

Office Hours

Sunday:9am - 5pm
Monday - Thursday:6am - 6pm
Friday6am - 3pm

Online Support

They are always interested in receiving feedback from their customers. Here is your opportunity to tell them what you think.
Please note: If you need immediate assistance, please contact customer support as described above.
Customer Service Email:
Website Feedback Email:

Hopefully this will help you have a organic healthier lifestyle  on a small budget like myself. If any of my local friends are interested in ordering with me just send me a quick email.   If you have any questions at all about drop points, just call them. They might even be able to find you a local drop point near your home.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Layer Gardening

Look who decided to come out and say hi? Oh how beautiful they are. These are my pea plants that finally poked through the soil. This year I decided to plan my garden very well. Usually I just randomly plant things anywhere I can find the room. I have a pretty big garden but my problem is that I want to plant a ton of stuff. So I did my research on each plant and made a plan.
The garden is next to my West wall on my home which is my bedroom. I have one tiny bathroom window but that is it. Its just a big ugly blank wall that gets tons of sun during the day. I made a garden bed along this whole wall with one small opening where my hose goes.  What loves sunny walls? Sunflowers of course!  Along the entire wall I planted Mammoth Sunflowers and Spanish Sunflowers. The Mammoth Sunflowers are regular yellow ones that just get huge. The Spanish Sunflowers are a beautiful bright red and also very big. Now my big wall will look beautiful.
The picture below is only part of this garden bed but I wanted to show you a example of how I want to take full advantage of this area. I put my large decorative metal stakes in the back of the bed but in front of the sunflowers. I then planted pea's in front of the metal stakes.  In front of the pea's I planted beets. And if there is room left over I will plant some lettuce. The pea's should grow up wards on the metal stakes and even up the sunflowers. This leaves room for the beets to grow.

Just use your imagination and you can see how this is going to turn out. I can't wait till this stuff is growing so I can show you all later. I love this idea. Instead of just growing one item here I have planted 3 (possibly 4) things that will work together.

What about all you. Do you plant this way? What plants work well for you? Share with everyone so we can learn from it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pest control the natural way

It's the pest you do not want anyone to know you have. You know, those tiny little ants that come in your home. The squirrels that chew through your cable wire, and all the other little creatures you don't want near your home. They can be the worst and anytime you see them you want to pull out the artillery to get rid of them. There is another option and that is to get rid of them naturally. Yes you read this right. Now i'm not saying you have to get rid of those chemical can's under your cabinet. Instead try these natural methods and if those fail then resort to the chemical can's. Or even better get rid of them! So here we go-

If you live in a drought tolerant place then ants are looking for water. Put a few pie pans filled with water outdoors near their trails. If ants are eating your pet food then make an ant moat by putting the pet food bowl in a slightly larger bowl that has an inch of soapy water in it. Ants are horrible swimmers. Try dusting boric acid or borax into cracks that cannot be caulked. Paint brush works well for this.

Ant bait-There are several types of ants. Ants who love proteins and fats and ants that love sweets and are sugar ants. Make a bait for grease ants by mixing a tsp of boric acid with a quarter cup of bacon grease or butter.  Kill sugar ants by mixing 1 1/2 tsp boric acid with 1/3 cup of sugar with one cup of water.  Soak some cotton balls in the boric acid solution.  Put a few of the wet cotton balls or dollop of the greasy bait in a small bottle with a screw on lid, poke ant size holes in the lid, then screw the lid back on.  Lay the bottle on its side in a location where pets and children cannot reach it. Examples:behind the fridge or under the sink.

Squirrels, mice and rats
The best way to keep these guys out of your home is to seal off all entry points to your home.  If you can fit a dime into a hole, a mouse can squeeze through. Rats can squeeze through a nickel size hole and squirrels can fit through a quarter size hole. Did you know rats can chew through concrete? Yes! So any holes need to be plugged. If you find a hole that you suspect is a entry level but don't see any signs of life, try dusting flour near the opening and leave over night. You will find footprints in the flour if there is life.  Use rodent-proof material such as 26 gauge galvanized sheet metal, galvanized hardware cloth(metal mesh), or cement mortar to seal  any opening into the house.

-Do not stack firewood near your home. Rats love to live in piles so stack wood away from your home and eighteen inches off the ground.
-Birdhouses or feeders need to be on poles or hung from metal cables.
-Store pet food or birdseed in metal containers with tight lids.
-Collect fallen fruit or veggies and put them in the compost pile. Bury them under several inches of finished compost.
-Metal garbage cans are rat-resistant. Plastic is not.
-Store all dry goods in airtight metal or glass containers. Never in plastic bags, plastic containers or  cardboard boxes.
-Rats or mice are nocturnal(meaning they are awake at night but sleep during the day) so before you go to bed clean up your kitchen, sweep, and take out trash before you go to bed.
-Peppermint repels mice. Plant peppermint next to your foundation (along with catnip if you have termite problems). Dabbing peppermint oil on shelf edges helps as well.


To keep these away you have to eradicate breeding area's. Try a few of these out.
-Empty pet water dishes, birdbaths, plant saucers and wading pools at least every other day to prevent larvae from maturing.
-Get rid of old tires. Clean out your gutters and drill holes in the bottom of your tire swings.
-Put covers or screens on rain barrels.
-Buy Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (BTi) mosquito dunks or granules and put them in ponds, puddles and other permanent or seasonal bodies of water.  BTi is a bacteria that kills mosquito larvae but is harmless to other organisms.
-Keep your window and door screens in good working order.
-A little brown bat can eat several hundred mosquito's in a single night.  Encourage these busy little insectivores by putting up bat houses, and refrain from using pesticides; bats are very easily poisoned.
-Wear light colored clothing during mosquito season:Mosquitoes are attracted to darker clothing.
-Electric bug zappers do not kill mosquito's.
DO NOT USE DEET filled products. They cause insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function .  Instead use:
A plant-based insect repellent called Bite Blocker. It contains soy bean oil, geranium oil and coconut oil.
Also catnip repels mosquitoes.  The catnip oil can be ten times more effective than DEET. Maybe rub some catnip on your arms while your outside?

Now this should keep you busy for a while. Good luck and remember to try natural methods first before you use chemicals.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Homegrown Beauty

    Want to add moisture to your skin but don't want to use chemical filled store bought products? I'm in the same boat as you. I literally have no face products except for my all natural face wash. There is a way around this problem and it involves food. Yep you will be able to cook and beautify at the same time.

    • Plain, unflavored yogurt helps restore the normal acidity to skin, and it makes a good cleanser for oily, acne-prone skin.
    • Lemon juice diluted with water makes a good astringent rinse for oily skin.
    • Remember Cleopatra in her milk bath? Whole milk makes a good facial cleanser for dry skin.  Apply it with a cotton ball, then rinse it off with warm water.
    • When you are cooking, moisturize your hands with leftover cooking oil (olive oil)or the residue from the inside of avocado skins.
    • Egg whites tightens the skin and shrinks pores.  After you break eggs into a frying pan, smooth the slime from the inside of the egg shells on your face.  Leg the egg white dry, then rinse the dried egg off your face with warm water.  Your face will feel remarkably smooth afterward.
    • Leftover cooked oatmeal makes a great cleansing mask, and wearing it is certainly more pleasant than eating the stuff!
    • Vinegar may be the best all-purpose beauty potion. Wipe or spray your skin with distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar to restore its natural acid mantle after dish washing or bathing.   Rinse your hair with vinegar to remove the alkaline deposits left behind by shampoo.  The vinegar will smooth your hair and help prevent frizziness.  If your skin tends to be dry, try washing yourself with half vinegar and half warm water rather than with soap.  The vinegar will help cut body oils and will not dry out your skin.  And, no, you will not walk around smelling like a pickle all day.  Dried vinegar has no smell.
    • Epsom salts and kosher salts are healthy alternatives to commercial bath salts or beads.

    Now you might need to warn your loved ones that your not crazy. I vision my husband coming in the kitchen while i'm cooking and staring at me putting egg whites on my face before throwing them in the compost bin. Although nothing surprises him anymore. Yep, i'm that granola!

    Don't forget to check out Surviving and thriving on pennies on Facebook! I'm always up to date on freebies or way cool Eco friendly idea's. 

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Its the baby steps that count right?

    As many of you know I had a Tupperware habit that I kicked a year ago. It was a really bad habit and my family almost had to have a intervention. But I promise i'm all better now. Well sorta....I still have some Tupperware but I swear I never heat them up in the microwave and only use them to put stuff in the freezer! Well thats not all the truth. I had plastic cooking utensils up until this week. I know i'm bad! I was trying to find some stainless steel ones that weren't a arm and a leg to buy. These things cost anywhere from $6.99-$14.99 each. To me it was just too expensive and I would replace them when I found them at a decent price. I recently went into Ross with a friend to find her a bathing suit. She was trying some on and I was wandering around the store and came across the kitchen area. Sweet victory I found a 5 piece set of stainless steel utensils for only $7.99. I also found a 3 piece bamboo spoon set for only $2.99. You may rest assure that all plastic utensils and wooden spoons are now in the goodwill pile.

    So why is plastic dangerous? Many plastics start to break down as they age and when they are heated, scrubbed, or subjected to harsh detergents. Plastics are also slightly fat soluble, which means that they are more likely to contaminate fatty foods rather than fat-free foods. No plastic of any kind should be heated on the stove or in the conventional microwave.

    Bisphenol A (BPA) is a component of many common plastics. Its the main ingredient in polycarbonate plastic, which is commonly used to make baby bottles, reusable milk bottles, and reusable water bottles;it is also in the plastic resins that line food and beverage cans (which is why I don't use canned goods) in styrene (styrofoam), and in polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Bidphenol is a hormone mimic that upsets natural hormone levels and cause genetic damage and miscarriages in laboratory mice.

    There has been at least one study that has shown that BPA can leach from plastic bottles in amounts that are harmful to laboratory mice. The plastic industry claims that their products are safe, but the studies have led some experts to recommend that consumers avoid buying polycarbonate or Nalgene water bottles, milk or juice in returnable polycarbonate bottles, and reusable water bottles. Just look for the BPA Free label.

    And if that's not scary enough polycarbonate plastic was invented in 1953. Though researchers had reported in 1938 that BPA mimicked the hormone estrogen, no one seemed to have worried about the possible side effects of the chemical. Can you believe that? They had evidence and turned their head away from it. WTF?

    So how do you avoid using plastic? Well its simple really. You just have to get rid of plastic as much as possible. And there is no need to freak out, even I have some plastic in my home. Its almost impossible to get rid of. But here are a few ways to avoid it.

    1. Glass is the most chemically inert packaging material.  As much as possible, try to buy food, especially acidic or fatty foods such as milk, juice, tomato sauce, and condiments, in glass containers rather than in plastic-lined tin cans or plastic containers. Try to use glass food storage containers whenever possible.  Avoid buying oil in plastic containers as well.

    2.  Aluminum foil is a safe, reusable food covering. Just don't put it in the microwave.

    3.  Polypropylene and polyethylene are relatively safe, inert plastics that don't contain either chlorine or plasticizers.  If you are buying plastic food storage containers, look for containers laveled HDPE (high density polyethlene) or PP (polyprepylene).

    3. Stainless steel can withstand high temperatures. Which is perfect for cooking utensils. It can be scrubbed or just thrown in the dishwasher.  Stainless steel is the least reactive metal and is the material of choice when it comes to cookware.  When buying cookware, look for "18/10" ( the number refers to the percentages of chromium and nickel in the alloy) with an aluminum core for good heat conductivity.  Its also perfect for cooking acidic foods and liquid foods.

    As for me, I will try my best to eliminate all plastic from my home. But its a hard battle to fight. I have to pick and choose my battles sorta speak. Eventually I would love to get rid of all my plastic Tupperware storage containers and have glass ones instead. This will be very expensive switch but worth it in the long run.  Since I cannot just go replace them all (you have an extra $100 laying around?) I will just replace them one at a time. It's the baby steps that count right?

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    DIY Copper Plant Stakes

    I went to the store to find plant stakes and really was shocked that they only had one type which were plastic. I won't mention the store name but it was a major home improvement store that started with a L and ended with a owes. Really? Plastic? I know what your going to say and I already tried wooden Popsicle sticks last year and I didn't like them at all. The words faded so bad they I couldn't read them by the end of the season. This year I wanted something more permanent so I could use them for several years (or forever). So I wandered around this huge store looking for alternatives. Eventually I thought of this idea.

    Copper plant stakes are expensive and there was no way I could the dozens that I needed. So what does a girl do? Make her own! In the electrical department they sell copper wire by the foot and in the roofing area they sell copper sheeting. I had some left over copper sheeting from our fire wood shed project so all I needed was to buy some copper wire. The copper wire I picked was a bit too thick so make sure to find the copper wire that is easy to bend but strong enough to hold up in the garden. The copper sheeting can be substituted for maybe some aluminum sheeting. Its your preference. Aluminum will be cheaper and is found in the roofing section.

    What you will need:
    Copper wire-50 cents or less per foot. easy to bend but strong
    Tool-Okay so I have no idea what that tool is called lol . You will need a tool that helps you bend the wire so it needs a small nose on it.
    Wire Clippers-My tool has this on it but any wire cutter will do.
    Copper/aluminum  Sheeting-Depending on the size you buy (smallest would be best) you will pay any price from $3-$20
    Oil pencil or permanent pen will work.

    As you can see by the pictures, this project is super easy. Once your done making the copper stake simply cut the copper sheeting to the size you want and fold it over. Yes its that simple! Oil pen will work the best for this because you can wipe off the plant name each year and write a new one on it. I bought 5 ft of copper wire and was able to get 7 stakes made. I will need to go back and get about 10 ft more because I planted way more this year.
    So these are not perfect and yes if I bought new ones they would be more straight but hey, mine were WAY cheaper. Yes it would be easy just to go order some online but I like to do things the hard way. And if your reading my blog then you are the same way. lol

    So have fun with this and if you have any other cool idea's on plant stakes share with everyone!

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Homemade Goodness "Killer Oatmeal Cookies"

    Woot woot! My laptop charger came today and im back up and running! Man that was the hardest week ever. It was just too much work trying to get a post up so I just gave up. My old laptop was not designed very well. The touch mouse pad is really close to the keyboard so I would be 30 minutes into a good post and I would barely (I mean seriously barely!) touch the mouse pad and it would go back to the last page and I would lose all my stuff. AAAHHH! After giving it a few choice words and flipping it off I realized that I was in a fight with a laptop. So I gave up and put it away. NEVER AGAIN!

    Long story short, I will be taking the weekend off. Going to the market with some friends tomorrow, we have a guest this weekend and also have a few small projects to finish. But I wanted to share with you a very yummy recipe I found. It's not the healthiest but oh my goodness are they good!

    Killer Oatmeal Cookies ( i'm not kidding seriously yummy chewy!)

    1 cup of butter
    1 cup of sugar
    1 cup of brown sugar
    2 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla
    2 cups of flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp of salt

    After you mix all the above ingredients, add 3 cups of oats and any optional items.
    350 degree's cook till sides are golden brown but not the center. Take out and let finish cooking 2 minutes in the pan. This is the key to making these cookies chewy. Once cooled take out of the pan.
    Yields 3 dozen

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Short and sweet

    Head on over to Surviving and thriving on pennies on FACEBOOK to sign up for freebies! Get a full bottle of Suave, Aveda mens shampoo, and much more!
    Today I am training for my marathon which is in about 3 weeks. Wish me luck!
    p.s. Yesterday I did 8.5 miles. And yes im sore as heck!

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Herb, he's good people

    I just love Chamomile. From its beautiful flowers to its tasty tea. Love it!  What nice about this plant is that it loves sun or partial shade. Makes it easy to plant for sure. When you walk by the chamomile you smell a wonderful apple like scent.  The first year of growth clip to prevent flowering so it encourages the vegetative growth while it becomes established.  During the summer you will see small white, daisy like flowers with yellow centers.

    Collect flowers at full bloom and dry on screens, paper or you can use a dehydrator.  Then store in airtight containers. They may be used in tea's.

    Medicinal Uses
    For digestive problems, insomnia, hyperactivity, and stress-related illnesses.  Also in inhalations for bronchitis. 

    I love the color of this flower. Its so beautiful.  The name echinacea comes from the Greek word Echinos, meaning Hedgehog, and refers to the prickly scales on the flower cone. These pinkish purple daisy like flowers are produced in summer and early autumn.  Flowers are honey scented and have a conical, orange brown center.

    Plants are lifted in autumn and the roots and rhizomes are dried for use in powders, tablets and infusions.

    Medicinal Uses
    Research has recently shown that echinacea stimulates the immune system, promotes rapid healing of wounds, and has antiviral and antibacterial properties.  Used for coughs, colds, venereal diseases, and other skin complaints.  

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Herb? He's good people.

    Sorry I have been gone, I am still waiting for my charger to come in the mail. Till then I am using my old laptop which I dislike very much. Uggg

    As most of you know I have been working on my garden and yard. It has kept me pretty busy these last few weeks which means less time for my blog. Sorry guys! But most of the work is done and now I have more time. This year I planned my garden down on paper and did more research so I could take advantage of the tiny space I do have to the fullest. I think this year is going to be more productive year. I really want to have herbs that would beneficial to our life. I really wanted to have herbs to use for homemade tea, and also herbs we could use for ailments. I really was amazed how many herbs you can use. There are so many to share with you but I think I will just share 2 at a time. So here we go!

    Mints are herbaceous perennials that thrive in most locations. Mint is a rampant spreader so they grow really nice in a container, flower bed, or the green space along sidewalks. Mint has beautiful tiny purple or pink blossoms in whorls on spikes along the stems.
    Just before blooming, cut the stalks and hang in bunches to dry;store in air tight containers. Leaves can be frozen or infused with oil or vinegar. I use my dehydrator to dry my mint. I simply pick new leaves and lay on the trays. Only takes an hour or so for my dehydrator to dry them. I put them into mason jars and enjoy mint tea all year round. My children love picking the leaves, squeezing them in their hands and putting the leaves into a glass of cold water. Mint water is their favorite.
    Culinary Uses
    Leaves can be used to accompany lamb, added to salads;used to flavor sausages, meat dishes, tomatoes and fruit salads.  Mint is an important ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking.  Also used in tea's and ice drinks.  Anytime one of my family members get a cold and cough, I make mint tea from last years crop. I add a tsp of honey and we drink it hot as possible. I think its better than any cough drop. Especially good to have a cup of hot mint tea before bedtime.
    Medical Uses
    Peppermint is used for indigestion, colic, colds, excess mucus and nausea.  Mint is also used to treat skin irritations, upper respiratory tract infections, minor burns, ringworm and sinusitis.  Peppermint and eau-de-cologne mint oils are used in oral hygiene preparations, antacids, toiletries, candy, chewing gum, ice cream and liqueurs.

    Lemon Balm 
    Lemon balm is one of my favorite herbs for a few reasons. My favorite is how aromatic it is. Last year I bought  3 inch pot starts and now they are 2 ft high. One small plant will do you for sure. This herb will need to be planted in a pot, flower bed or green space along the sidewalk. It will take over if you do not watch it.
    I also am in love with how beaituful this plant is. Such a bright beautiful green and its leaves are so shiny. Love it! Summer to Autumn mint will have a two-lipped pale yellowish green through to white tubular blossoms in bunches in the leaf axils.
    Harvesting and storing
    Collect leaves in summer, use fresh, or dry quickly to prevent from turning black.  Their flavor is best when the flowers begin to open. Cut the entire plant leaving 2 inches of stem. Hang in bunches upside down to dry or you can use a dehydrator to dry them. Store in airtight container.
    Special tip
    Lemon balm is used to repel insect pest. Lemon balm in pots are a great addition to any patio to keep insects away or you can also keep potted lemon balm in your garden to keep insects from eating at your garden.
    Culinary Uses
    Fresh leaves with a lemon flavor can be added to salads, soups, herb vinegar, game and fish.  Add to fruit salads, custards, and fruit drinks.  Infuse fresh leaves for tea.
    Medicinal Uses
    For indigestion, depression, headaches, insect bites, herpes, feverish colds and gout. It is also a sedative.

    My goal this year is to not use any medication if I can help it. I would love to just go all natural with any ailment we might have. With all these recalls on medicines, I honestly do not trust medicines anymore. Obviously if we have any major problems we will always call our doctor or 911. My children will also get fever medicines because I do not want them to suffer but as for myself its all natural.

    My favorite thing to do with both these herbs is to use it as a air freshener. Take your herb of choice and bundle it with string. Simply squeeze it a few times which will wrinkle the leaves which will release the oils from the leaves. Then simply put in front of a fan or near a window. We have vents on the floor so I just lay a bundle on the vent. This will blow the oil scent all over your home. I love this and do it any chance I can get. 

    What about you? You have any creative uses for lemon balm or mint?

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Compost info

    Have you ever thought of composting? Its easier than you think promise! Assuming that you have one, I thought I would give you some idea's of what to put in your compost. I have a hard time finding browns to put in mine so I have to get creative. Maybe you are different, maybe you don't have enough greens. Here is a great list of things you can put in your compost.

    Browns-Wood ashes,saw dust, tea bags, egg shells, corn cobs, shredded paper or cardboard, straw, and dried leaves.

    Greens-Vegetables, fruits, grass clippings, manure, coffee grounds, seaweed, feathers, plant cuttings and hair.

    DO NOT PUT IN-Meat and bones, poultry and fish, fatty food waste, whole eggs, dairy product, human and pet feces, pernicious weeds, used kitty liter, or treated wood.

    I will be making another compost soon which will be followed up with pictures.  Any of you have creative compost? Ive used a garbage can with holes drilled into it and even just made a pile on the ground. I'm 

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Project Overhaul-garden diary

    This was my garden last year. The previous owner of our house built this garden bed on the side of the house. When we came to look at the house I was so thrilled to find this and all the other garden beds around the property. I think maybe because I was so excited that I over looked the fact that they were all built with treated wood. Literally I just realized  these were treated wood about 2 weeks ago. I'm still scratching my head and shocked that I never realized this fact. My focus last year was to test this garden space out to see what grows best where, where the sun was and how long it was shining on certain area's. Now I know not to plant anything along the back fence because its too shady. I really wanted a organic garden but didn't have the extra money especially because it was a test run year.

    This year I plan on taking full advantage of the garden. My husband built a retaining wall (back neighbors property is higher than ours) with a drainage system so the back wall will only be used for decorative flowers and shady herbs. But the rest of the garden will be overhauled!  I tore down the treated wood and planned on tilling the garden soil so it would be easy to move where I wanted it. But....our tiller is broken. So I spent the whole weekend hand tilling the soil with just coffee and my shovel. Saturday I shoveled until I literally couldn't move. Sunday my best friend came over and helped me finish off what I started and this is what I came up with.

    At first each new planting row was split in two but then it started looking like a graveyard.  Not the look I was going for so I just made one long row at a time. In the 3rd row I put our broken fountain turned into bird feeder. I really love this because it has a little girl holding an umbrella on it and its just adorable.
     Notice the organic mulch everywhere. This should help deter weeds (which love my garden area). If you remember earlier this week I scored this stuff for free and took advantage of all of it.

    See that green garden bench? My husband built me that about 5 years ago and I painted it green. I just love it!

    The treated wood box you see to the left will be taken down as soon as it stops raining here. This will be one long garden bed. I might split it up because my hose is located there. Still not sure how this will turn out.

    Back retaining wall needs to be finished by filling the dirt in. This too will be taken care of when it stops raining.

    Last year we built the green fence you see in the back left area. My dog cannot be trusted and sneaks into my garden to eat my compost any chance she can get. Urrrr! I plan on putting my arbor (came with the house) over the gate and planting some flowers or maybe some pea's to grow up the side of it.

    See those barrels on the right? Those also came with the home and are on their last leg. Might have to take those apart....not sure yet. I put my tomato plants in there last year and they did okay.

    Not sure if you can see but I also have some large metal garden art on the right hand side by the fence. They too came with the property and were holding up some rose bushes that I took out because they were over grown. I plan on using them along the wall on the left to grow my pea's up them. Or maybe some green beans....not sure.

    That back fence that is so lovely and falling apart will be our next project. As soon as the retaining wall is completely done (garden area was done first so I could plant asap) we are building a new fence. I believe it was the original fence built when the house was built back in 1967. Long over due! We will be taking all treated wood to the dump and see how they will use or reuse it. All other wood I will hammer and pull out all the nails which should take  me a while to do. We will be using the wood for a few projects but the rest will be cut down and used for kindling.  I think next year we will be replacing the side fences....we will see.

    Anyways there you have it. My weekend was spent in the garden working my butt off. Today's plan? Cleaning my house from 2 days of no chores. Should be interesting because i'm super sore!

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Decorating on the cheap Part two

    How cool is this red shelf?  When I found this shelf it was beige, super dirty and dusty. I paid $5 for this from my local Goodwill Outlet. The reason I bought it was because it was metal and had such a cool shape to it. I had no idea where it was put originally but wanted to add a cool piece to my kitchen and the red would make it pop out.  We sanded it down and spray painted it red. I stole some spray paint from my husbands garage stash of paints.  So its been in my kitchen (several houses though) ever since. One day I was looking at retro kitchen pictures and I about fell out of my chair. Early in the 50's metal kitchen cabinets were so in and this was from one of those kitchens!  How cool is that! So this shelf holds all my cooking books, reusable sandwich bags, metal tins full of beans, homemade framed art work and also things i'm saving up to do more art work with. One mason jar of corks and one full of beer caps.

    Total cost for this project=$5
    Total if you bought it new=Priceless because you might not ever find it!

    Now this piece I can give my husband credit for. A co worker who lives down the street asked if we could use a corner shelf. My husband knows I will take almost anything for free so he said yes. One day we came home to find this piece unpainted and on our front porch. We had some left over paint from painting our house so we used that to paint it. It goes in our kitchen art room. Yes you read that right. We have a old home with a kitchen dining area and a formal dining room. We use the kitchen one for our kids art room. The art on the walls are all from our kids. I also want to mention the fact that I worked at a art store for 10 years. This is just a small portion of art supplies that we own. I have a 6 drawer dresser in this room as well that I found on the side of the road. I cleaned it up, spray painted it and it holds all the other art supplies we have.

    Total for this project=FREE!!
    Total you would pay for this new=$60-$100

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Decorating on the cheap

    A few years ago I saw these adorable clip art boards in my Pottery Barn Kids catalog and thought how easy it would be to make. My apologies for lack of color. They kind of blend into this wall since the wall color is the same as them. This will be changing soon. But back to my cool story....I went to my local hardware store and bought a wooden board for $1.50. I already had the paint so that was free. The clips I found at Fred Meyers and paid $1.50 for three.  I simply nailed the clips to the board and there you have it! Well sorta, I forgot to mention sawtooth's I already had were nailed in the back so I could hang these. But you could easily drill a hole in the back and just use a nail to hang them up.

    How cool are these. You can use these for putting your children's art work or maybe even in your office. Possibilities are endless.

    Total for this project=$4.50 for two.
    Price Pottery Barn Kids wanted=$30 for two.
     Last year I took a trip up to Seattle Washington with my best friend. Once a year I go out with her to get away from the kids and relax.  Anytime we travel we like to bring home a little something to decorate or have as a keepsake. I really wanted some art work but was on a budget and really didn't have the extra money to get anything that cost much. It would of came out of my food budget and I didn't want to do that. I found in the Pikes Place Market a booth with lots of post cards. I ended up picking 3 of them and they were only $1 for all 3. Really didn't know what I was going to do with them but it was something to take home. Well fast forward 6 months later and I ended up getting this frame and matte for free from a relative. The frame was brown and ugly and it has some sort of hillbilly saying in it that was not going up on my walls..not gonna say who it was from.  I simply took spray paint and painted the frame black. The post cards were just black and white so I took some coloring pencils and added small touches of color in random places. A womans jacket, umbrella, and tree's to name a few. I wanted to just add a touch of color. Then I simply taped them in the center and put it back together. So here you go, a keepsake from the Seattle trip I took.

    Total cost for this=$1
    Art work in Seattle already done for sale=$20-$100

    My point to this post is to get your minds thinking. You can decorate your home for cheap and not look cheap. If you cannot afford that oh so cool piece you want, make it yourself.  There is always a way around everything.  You just have to be creative!

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    A peek into my room...You know you want to look! Part 3

    A great way to save money on furniture is to use what you have. For instance this dresser on the right was my husbands and his sisters when they were little. Its was green, blue, pink and now its current color is white. This is as is and the way it was given to us. My daughters have all used this and now its living in my room. I just love the old look of this and the beautiful curves on the bottom legs. When you open the drawer it has that old sound of wood touching wood. Not the silent sliding drawers you find on new dressers.  It creaks when you move it just to remind you of how old it is. LOVE IT! Best of all it cost us nothing.

    The little side table on the left is my favorite piece I acquired.  I am a thrift store rat and love hitting up any store locally and wandering around for hours. This was bought at a Goodwill outlet which means that it never sold at a regular Goodwill and was sent there to be sold for cheap. I paid a whopping $1 for it. Again its as is the way I found it.  Instead of drawer knobs it has build on handles.  Its perfect for my bedside table. Holds things I need and just the right height. LOVE IT!

    See the cool red glass hand? This was bought  at a small vintage shop in Lincoln City Oregon. I think I paid $5 for it. Not sure if it was for modeling jewelry or what. I was so excited to see it matched our new bedding theme. Who puts a glass hand like this in their room? Me of course! Its weird and oh so cool!

    Now for my husband he needs nothing fancy. This is a metal planter stand I bought when I was working at a local craft store. I think I paid around $3 for this because it was on clearance for 90% off. Just to show you can use things for more than one purpose.  Its white and kinds goes with the picket fence theme from my bed. It holds his clock and thats it. No fuss no muss and my husband is okay with it. Best of all we already had it in our home and I didn't have to go buy anything. We used what we already had.

    This would be pretty cool next to our bed.  Not a bad price for $19.99

    Can you believe I found the exact hand! Holy cow! Mine is crazy red but everything else is exactly the same. Now I know what it was used for. So cool!

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    A peek into my room...You know you want to look! Part 2

    Now onto our furniture. This beautiful dresser was bought new several years ago. We found it on clearance and paid maybe $150 for it which is a really good buy. I think we used our tax money for it. Our big purchase for the year! The frames were gifts from friends and family for our wedding gifts. When we did our wedding registry at Target, we asked for things we really could use. You know when you go buy a gift for a friend/family member and they ask for all these crazy things like espresso machines, ice cream makers, etc. Instead we thought about what we could use and what would come in handy years from now. My favorite is the flip picture thing on the left. This way I can change the picture showing anytime I want. One picture frame has us when we were dating. Remember those photo booths? Oh how I loved those things. Black and white small photo's of us kissing and being foolish young lovers. lol.
    This massive mirror was a gift from my sister. She found this for $7 at Goodwill. Can you believe it?  This is as is the way it was given to me. LOVE IT! And its not any cheap mirror. This is a crazy thick heavy wooded frame and was made to last. It took us a bit of time to figure out what we were going to do with it and my husband came up with this idea. Perfect! Its way to heavy to hang on the wall and made me too nervous.  $7 is a great deal for this beauty. Thanks Deb!

    Whats next? More furniture of course! Stay tuned....