Blog

Keeping Warm With Hot Water Bottles

Posted by Angela Diaz on January 5, 2014 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

     Well it's been a few days since my last post. I've been busy with all the family get-togethers and holiday festivities.  Today I wanted to share something that has to do with the below freezing temps we've been having this week and also the Christmas holiday.

     One of the ways we keep warm during cold winter nights is by using good old-fashioned hot water bottles.  These can be found in most any pharmacy and big chain variety stores.  They are usually less than ten bucks. I paid about five dollars (I think less than that even) at Wal-Mart.  They are the usually plain-old red rubber hot water bottles. If anyone has never had one, here's the thing...these babies stay warm for HOURS!!!!  At night I fill one up with hot TAP water (NEVER heat water on the stove or boil water and put it in a hot water bottle...NEVER!), then I toss it on my bed and cover it up with the blanket where it warms up my sleeping spot while I brush my teeth.  When I get in the bed I can place the bottle any place I feel cold, such as at my feet, on my back, or I can snuggle with it holding it against my belly. It is not uncommon for me to wake up four hours later and the hot water bottle is still warm.  All of my children have one of their own and this Christmas, I made them covers for their hot water bottles using random scraps and extra buttons I had lying around.  We call them hot water bottle monsters. Here they are:


The kids love their covers. This was a practically free gift and it was a hit. Every single one of the kids loved their bottle monsters. These enable us to not have to turn up the heat at night which also saves us money. 

Another use for these hot water bottles is for aches and cramps.  Menstrual cramps that are soothed by heating pads are also soothed by hot water bottles.  If you have an achy back, joints, or arthritis, hot water bottles help that too.  I can't speak highly enough of these perfectly simple, yet highly beneficial objects.   We will never, ever be without hot water bottles in or home. 



Book Review: The Self Sufficiency Specialist

Posted by Angela Diaz on December 1, 2013 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

     One of the recent books I checked out from the library was The Self Sufficiency Specialist. 

 

     This book was really enjoyable and a quick read.  This book was basically about how to live sustainably using natural energy sources and homesteading.  What I loved about this book is that it wasn't super in-depth with technical details.  This book was a way to prompt one's thinking about different possibilities.  I really liked that this book understands that not everyone has a few acres of land in the country available for homesteading, but you still have options even in an urban neighborhood.  Some of what I do is labeled "urban homesteading".  Basically, I do the best I can with my urban land to live as sustainably as possible by growing and preserving some of my own food, harvesting and using rain water, re-purposing old things, etc. 

     One of my dreams is to purchase a small patch of land of about 3 acres and establishing a homestead off-grid, but that dream is at least ten years away.  This book triggered some ideas about setting up a solar water heater outside of my current home, a small wind turbine for some electrical use that can attach to my home, and finding more ways I can "put up" or preserve more food from my harvests for use in the winter. 

     I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn a little about sustainable living and/or homesteading without having to read a manual on setting up solar panels or how to slaughter and process a pig. This glossy-paged book is loaded with color pictures and drawings on each page which really helped me visualize what the author was describing. 

Using a Colador for Coffee

Posted by Angela Diaz on August 10, 2013 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I finally got one! A coffee sock! I actually bought it from my neighborhood corner store for $1.00.  What a deal considering I will no longer have to buy coffee filters. The real name for this coffee sock is Colador. My mother and grandparents used to use this to make their coffee when I was young. It's simply a piece of tight cloth that you put your coffee grounds in and pour hot water over it. It's so easy. I love using this.  I was worried that my very finely ground coffee would go through the cloth, but it doesn't at all.

 

 

Vintage Clothes Washer

Posted by Angela Diaz on August 10, 2013 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Here's my newest Craigslist find.  It's so new I haven't picked it up yet. I'm meeting up with them tomorrow.  This is a vintage clothes washer. I am so psyched! One step closer to sustainability!

You hand wash clothes with soapy water in one tub, wring them through the wringer to get out all the soapy water, rinse them with clean water in the other tub, wring them through the wringer to get all the water out, and hand them up to dry! How awesome is that! If my washer ever goes Kaput, I won't have to worry about a thing!  Another plus is that there are drain holes at the bottom of the tubs so I can use that grey water in my garden. No electricity needed and no water waste! OMG! Sometimes I think that our "Progress" is all wrong. 

One thing I noticed when buying the wash basin and pitcher and this washing set is that the folks that have these things don't actually use them.  They are decorative pieces and they are always surprised when they hear that I intend to buy them to actually use them! Why would you have such a useful piece of equipment in your home just for show? I want every thing in my home to serve some kind of purpose. I don't want to buy stuff just to have it. People are so weird nowadays. (and they think I'm the weird one). Well, I'm picking this baby up tomorrow.  I probably won't be able to try it out until next weekend since I just had surgery and should be taking it easy. I will be sure to post my results. I've watched many YouTube videos on washing clothes this way and many agree that their clothes come out just as clean, if not cleaner, than our conventional and more modern washers. So Excited!

Wash Basin and Pitcher

Posted by Angela Diaz on August 10, 2013 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I had been looking for a wah basin and pitcher set for about a year now.  I was searching on E-Bay and was ready to bid on a complete set with the stand. The bid was at $50, but the shipping was $75.00. Understandable since it would be a fairly large package. I figured I would check on Craigslist and see if anyone might have one there before I bid.  I actually found a lady down the street from me that was selling her complete set for $70.00!  No cracks or chips or anything! I practically ran to her house right after work to scoop it up before anyone else got it, (or before she realized folks were selling these sets for no less than $125. So here it is. Don't mind my gross wall in the background of my bedroom. It's being renovated. The compound is dried now so we have to sand and paint.

So here's what I do:

Fill the pitcher up with warm water

Put some water in the basin and wet my wash cloth with it

I wash my face first with my face wash and rinse the cloth in the warm water

Soap up the wash cloth and wash myself with it

Dump out the soapy water

Empty most of the rest of the water from the pitcher in the basin

Use a larger (kitchen size) cloth, wet it with the clean water and rinse myself off with it

Use the rest of the water in the pitcher to rinse the soap off my soapy wash cloth

Using this method, my water usage for bathing is very low. I only need one pitcher (i think it's about one gallon) of water.  My kids love bathing this way.  It cuts down on shower time also.  I timed it and it only takes 7 minutes from the time I fill the pitcher till I dump out the last basin of water. Luckily my bedroom is attached to my bedroom so I don't have to walk far to dump it out.

When I'm done, cleaning my "tub" is as fast as washing a bowl. LOVE IT! No bending over and scrubbing with harsh chemicals. I also use a dry towel to wipe any water that splashed around my wood, dry the bowl and the outside of the pitcher so that it doesn't ruin the stand. Since bathing this way, my skin has felt a lot less dry too.  I have eczyma, but I can't help standing in showers for long periods of time which dry my skin out even more. As for washing my hair, I do that on the days I ride my bike to work.  When I get there I hit the showers and wash my hair there. I also have a gym membership and wash my hair there too sometimes so I really haven't had to use my shower at home too much.  My teenagers aren't keen on the "bird bath" so they use the shower at home the most. My two youngest children prefer the "bird bath" because it's a lot quicker and they don't get soap in their eyes. They also love that I light the candles for every bath. It just adds to the experience.

I'm writing this post today because I was grateful I had my basin and pitcher. I had abdominal surgery and can not take showers or baths for about a week so this was the most absolute perfect thing I had for washing up. 

Bread Slice Comparison

Posted by Angela Diaz on June 23, 2013 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

 

 

Made a sandwich with my home-made bread and thought it was kinda big, so I compared it in size to a regular store-bought slice of bread. The bread next to my home-made bread is Sara-Lee Honey Wheat bread. I didn't realize how much bigger my home bread was in comparison. No wonder I get full from only one sandwich instead of two!

 

My New Bread Maker

Posted by Angela Diaz on June 7, 2013 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I began experimenting with making my own bread last year. I got curious about it because I read the ingredients from one of my favorite store-bought breads and most of the ingredients would make me lose a spelling bee if I was asked to spell them out. What the mess are they feeding me?! Then I grabbed an old cookbook I had out of my cabinet. I knew there was a section for making simple white bread. The ingredients were water,butter, yeast, flour, salt, sugar. Now that's more like it!

Making your own bread is a lost art for most people. There is nothing like fresh, home-made bread, but some think it's too difficult or time-consuming to do. I hand mixed and kneaded my bread many times before and came out with stupendous results, but yes it can be time-consuming even though the final result is a tasty reward. I very recently acquired a bread maker. I didn't think this would make bread as good as hand-made bread, but I heard great things about these so thought I would give it a shot. I (being frugal) didn't want to spend full price for a bread maker so I kept an eye out on Craigslist, Ebay, and Goodwill for a decent one. I actually found a brand new one that was being auctioned on ShopGoodwill.com and I won the bid at $5.00! For those who don't know, ShopGoodwill.com operates much like Ebay where you can search for an item, place your maximum bid and let the bidding be done for you. I was shocked because I placed my max bid at $15. I had no idea I would get it for a mere $5. That was a steal! I got my bread maker within two weeks and tried it right away that first weekend.

The breadmaker was brand new in the box with instructions and everything which is exactly what I needed because I had no idea how to use one. My bread maker makes 1 1/2 lb loaves of bread. They are kind of smallish, but home-made bread needs to be eaten in like two days or it gets pretty gross because it doesn't have all the preservatives and chemicals that grocery store-bought bread has that keeps it soft for weeks. I am glad to say that using this machine is a piece of cake and the loaves are just as good made in this machine as they are by hand (that's my opinion).

Reasons to make your own bread:

  • It is tastier than anything you can buy pre-packaged from a store
  • It's a lot cheaper (about 35 cents a loaf)
  • Doesn't have a bunch of preservatives and chemicals
  • It makes everyone jealous when you tell them your bread is home-made
  • You have control of the ingredients; You know exactly what's in your bread and how fresh the ingredients are.

To save money, I buy bread flour in bulk at Costco. A 50-lb bag costs about 33 cents a lb. I keep the flour stored in 5-gallon buckets with lids that I get from Lowe's for about $3.45. Instead of buying yeast packets, I buy a jar of yeast so it turns out to be a lot cheaper (and less waste). I also can make bread with dried milk and water. I found a bag of dried milk for $4.50 at Amelia's grocery outlet and it has enough in it to make 25 loaves of bread since the dried milk recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of the stuff.