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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Two Handy Tips

 

First off, I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s or Anti-Valentine’s, whichever you celebrate.  *grin*  While most people were dwelling in the land of love, roses, and mushy stuff (not that there’s anything wrong with that, Larry just doesn’t care for this holiday), I was testing a couple of things from the internet and they turned out so well that I’ve written this post a few times in my head. 

Up first is a beef recipe that I hope you’ll try. I ran across it on Pinterest, but here’s the link.  It’s for a Three Envelope Pot Roast.  It took me 10.5 hours for a 4.5 LB bottom round roast to be fork tender.  The big thing is the incredible flavor of the juices!  Please, please make a gravy from these juices if you try this recipe.  I just ladled out the juices into a saucepan and warmed it on the stove, then added a water and cornstarch roux to the mixture, and stirred until the gravy was the consistency that we like.  I’m not a huge gravy fan just because the flavor doesn’t usually add much in my opinion to the food, but as you can tell in the first picture it was lip smacking, smothering everything in it, good.  *grin*

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You can barely see the mashed potatoes.  LOL  I ended up saving all of the juices to make more gravy and tomorrow night we’re having egg noodles with this gravy for dinner.  I may just freeze any extra too.  *grin* 

Next I wanted to let you in on a super easy and handy tip.  If you’ve been following for a while you’ll remember that I did a few experiments with removing labels and residue from glass and plastic jars, so that I can reuse them or go all crafty on them.  I’ve done the soaking in vinegar mixture, lathering up in oil in two ways, and even the lather in mayo version, but none were super easy and pretty quick.  I was reading online on a blog about reusing jars and about fifty comments in someone wrote that they didn’t remember where they’d heard it, but that peanut butter is a great way to remove labels and residue (“plus it’s fun to play with your food” *laugh*).  I decided to give that a try.  A few months back we had bought some PB at Sam’s Club and forgot to remove it from the grocery list, so we got another double pack on the next trip.  Even with Bo, the PB fiend dog, and holiday baking, we couldn’t go through four big jars of it before the expiration date, so I had been trying to figure out what to use it on or suck it up and toss it.  What perfect timing to find this little comment buried on a random blog.  First, proof positive that it actually works.  I lathered both jars up and after cleaning the first one off I took a picture.

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Now, here comes the helpful info from my experiences, since you ought to expect it from me by now.  *teasing smile*  It will help remove labels for you, but the PB is a one trick pony, so either you remove labels or you remove residue.  I recommend trying to get the label off as much as possible before you trowel the PB on, but if you have a stubborn one (a Minute Maid jug and a marinara jar come to mind), then put the PB on it and after it has soaked into the label, you’ll be able to push that label off.  Just lather the residue up and give it another rest. 

On a glass jar with just the residue put the PB on somewhat thick (I just used the side of a butter knife) and let sit overnight.  I took a pan scraper and scraped the PB off the next day, and then using a little water and my knit scrubber (picture to follow) I rubbed in a circular pattern with no muscle behind it.  There will be a residue left behind, since really this is a play on the oil concept (instead of having to try to soak rags in oil you’re using an oil based product that likes to stick where it lands, if you think about it), so just use a little degreasing dish soap like Dawn and you have a fresh jar. 

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If you don’t have one (or five) of these, get one.  I buy handfuls at every craft fair I go to and use them all of the time.  They hold up for a long time, they don’t scratch most surfaces, and they can go in the wash (I just set them on top of the dryer to dry instead of putting them inside, so it’ll last longer) so you can keep them sanitized.  It’s the most frugal sponge and scrubber that I’ve found that actually works.  I use certain colors to designate for business use (since I don’t want any bath oils transferring to a food pan if the scrubber is drying on the side of the sink while I’m trying to cook and clean up my latest business experiment), kitchen, and bathroom.   

Back to the jars…if you’re doing a stubborn glass jar put a thick layer of PB over the label and let sit overnight.  Scrape a bit off that next day (I kept it on the scraper, since sometimes the labels haven’t released and I don’t see a point in using new PB when what I scraped off will still work) and see if you can remove the label.  I found that I often had to use the scraper or my nail to get the labels off, but on glass usually my nail would work just fine.  Just keep letting the PB work some magic if the label is holding firm.  Once the label comes off you can try to do the whole soap and scrubber bit, but so far it never worked for me on that first round if I was also removing labels.  *smile*  I always had to reapply PB (you can definitely use the PB you just scraped off from the label unless it has label bits and adhesive in it) and let it sit around 12 hours or so.  I tried a few different methods, just because I’m that annoying kind of person that has to test everything, and rubbing the scrubber in a circular motion seriously worked the best on the residue.  If you get a little bit of residue that’s being stubborn and you’ve removed it everywhere else, just put a little of the scraped off PB on your scrubber and use it like a paste.  Works perfectly!

Now, plastic jars and jugs require more umph usually, especially if the labels are completely glued down, as most of mine were.  These were the only containers that I had to use some actual muscle on.  If the label can peel off for the most part, then use the same trick for glass.  (Amusingly enough the peanut butter jar was the easiest plastic to remove everything from.)  I found that most plastic, especially the bigger containers, glued the entire labels down and the straight PB soak did squat.  If you run into this and you stubbornly want that gallon jug (you all ready paid for the stupid jug, not just the ingredients, you  know, so you should definitely reuse it if you want to, IMO!), then fill your sink with a mixture of blue (Original) Dawn, the hottest water from your tap, and enough plain white vinegar to make your nose wrinkle.  I didn’t measure the vinegar, so I’d say for a sink full I used about half a cup or so.  Then fill your container to the tippy top with that hot top water and immerse in the hot bath.  Let the containers soak for an hour or so (as long as the water stays warm) and while everything is still warm, but no longer hot, you should be able to work on those labels.  I found my dollar square plastic pan scraper worked great at getting the edges up so I could peel the labels off.  If this doesn’t work, I’d give it another bath.  I was able to remove the labels off of ALL of my plastic containers after this bath and hope you’ll have the same results.  Lather the residue with some PB and let sit, and use the same technique as before. 

One container, a Minute Maid OJ jug, is relaxing under a second PB treatment right now, but otherwise all of my containers are now done.  Look at all of these lovely little jars waiting to be used to hold a new batch of homemade simple syrup for tea (yeah, Apple Juice jug, I’ve assigned you a new position in this house little soldier), just waiting to get dyed or painted, or get all glittered up (*squealing with delight now that I’ve accepted that I’ve become a complete glitter whore*).  Luminaries, hardware jars, vases, and hair clip holders galore.  I suddenly have the urge to start singing “Part of your World” from The Little Mermaid…

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*shaking head to clear it*  Anyway, hopefully I’ve addressed any problems you might run across and you’ve found this post useful.  I’m so tickled to have found techniques that work on both types and don’t gross me out, either. Bo wasn’t overly happy since he kept smelling the PB and looking for his favorite Kong to be filled and waiting in his treat spot (I have no idea why, but Bo picked a specific spot to take all of his treats to, so now I save him the effort, and the carpet any accidental drops, and just take his goodies to his spot.  LOL).  Poor Bo got a little new PB, but seemed pretty let down that I was slinging so much of the good stuff into the trash.  *grin*  Btw, sorry about the pictures distorting a bit in this post.  After six adjustments and saves I figure they’re probably good enough.  *smile*

I hope you get to sleep in and enjoy your holiday if you have tomorrow off.  I never got it off when I was working, so if you don’t, I feel your pain and hope it’s a light day for you.  I’m off to snuggle with Bo and a few heating pads and watch some Ballykissangel.  Happy pampering.  🙂

 

 

Fizzy Salts

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I have had a rough time lately, so I decided to experiment and see if I could come up with a few formulas that might help.

First I made a small batch of lotion loaded with essential oils that are thought to be anti-inflammatories, like Cinnamon Leaf and Fir Needle, with some extracts of Evening Primrose and Chamomile. To cut some of the funk from such an odd combination, since I wasn’t blending for scents, I added a little Honeysuckle Hollow FO. It sounds weird, but I swear it seems to have helped two bruises heal faster. I’ve had one for a couple of weeks now and it didn’t want to leave that gross yellow hue. Within two days of use it’s almost completely gone. I’m a pretty skeptical person, so I am leaning more toward it being a coincidence, but so far it’s helped with some of my skin irritation. If things are impressive, I hope to have it as the first product geared for people with sensitivities and inflammation, like Fibro.

Following the lotion I decided to mix my desire to try some anti-inflammatories with a new recipe I found via Pinterest for fizzy bath salts. The picture at the beginning of the post is the final result that is now residing beside my bathtub. It started out with some Epsom Salts, Citric Acid, and Baking Soda.

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Then I added a few essential oils with Wintergreen as the dominant note.

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Next I decided that fractionated coconut oil would fit my interests the most and then I got to blend them all together. A whisk can work decently, but I think that gloved hands break clumps and blend salts better (plus it’s kind of fun *grin*).

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I wasn’t so sure if the blend would actually fizz, since it was the first time I’d ever tried any fizzy salts recipes, so I went small scale first.

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I admit, I had fun. *laugh* Sometimes it is so easy to justify pampering myself since I need to test new items and don’t have many people nearby to test things when I’m antsy. (Hmmm, maybe there’s a little more to my experimenting than just a desire to keep challenging myself. *grin*) I went full scale that night and although it doesn’t fizz very long (not even as long as Alka Seltzer), it was a neat sensation. I’m super, super sensitive (part of the whole Fibro thing), so it was kind of ticklish. The combination of the ingredients, the light tickling, warm water, and a little Ballykissangel playing from across the room (I’m a little obsessed with listening to accents. Don’t judge. *grin*) I was so relaxed. The coconut oil made my skin so soft and as silky as it can be with a foot of snow outside my window, too. The only thing that concerned me was that I had a tingling sensation the entire time. I’m not sure if that’s my sensitivities or a normal thing, so there’ll be a few people testing it.

All in all I’m so happy with my experiments. I have a lot more testing before I can consider selling, especially on the salts, but it’s pretty encouraging. It is so uplifting that I might not just help people take a moment away from the hustle and bustle and pamper themselves, but I might actually help others struggling on the same journey find a little relief. The lousy few days and nights were definitely worth it for the inspiration alone.

I have some jars waiting for me to go all Crafty Cathy on, so pamper on. 🙂

Soapsicles

I wanted to share my new soapsicles. They turned out pretty cute and in time for Valentine’s (although I’ve never sold an item for the holiday lol).

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One even has a little pampering built in; poppy seeds suspended in the soap and then a concentration of them at the tip to give some stronger exfoliation. The color came out a little more tomato than strawberry, but I love the poppy seeds with the Strawberry Jam FO. The pink ones are in Cotton Candy. At $2.75 for the strawberry soapsicles and $3.25 for the cotton candy, I think they’d make reasonable Valentine’s Day or Just Because gifts.

Do you have big plans for the day? We aren’t too into celebrating it, but I appreciate any excuse that lets me indulge in chocolate. 🙂

Another Homemade Cleaning Spray

I’ve been on bed rest for the most part for several days now due to an infection that my whole body is now fighting. Top that off with a phlebotomist that blew every vein she tried to draw from, and I’ve been a bit unsociable. *grin* Since I haven’t been able to do a whole lot I thought maybe you’d like some information about an incredibly easy DIY product I made a while back.

If you go to here
you will get the whole skinny about this homemade cleanser. It’s just warmed vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap. You let it soak in and work some magic.

Here’s where my results are a little less enthusiastic as the pinner/blogger…it did a good job on cleaning up dirt and even Goodyear Grime, as I call it (my husband works in a Goodyear Tire Plant), yet it doesn’t touch hard water stains.

I have been embarrassed about our shower/bathtub ever since we moved in. At first I thought the previous owners didn’t bother cleaning (which, by the way, they didn’t. I think it’s kind of gross to clean the toilet in your new home that first day because the previous owners never cleaned the boy’s “miss”take.), but I’ve fought the dinginess and hard water in that thing for ten years now, so it wasn’t just in need of a regular cleaning. It is the one area of the house I am too embarrassed about to even consider a before/after shot, but you can use that tutorial for that. *smile* This solution did a much better job than any other product I have tried, honestly. Compared to her bathroom I actually had to get out my Scumbuster to put some umph behind the solution, but the extra pressure really helped. It even shined up the faucets and stuff really nicely. It doesn’t clean caulking that has discolored or those fun hard water stains, but it’s not full of harsh chemicals and it’s even safe to get on your skin while you’re cleaning, so I’m impressed it can do this well.

Here’s where it gets good, though. I decided to try it on my seriously messy crockpot. I made crock pot ribs one night and then started the first round of getting sick. My husband tried to be nice, so he filled the crockpot with hot water that night, since the BBQ and juices had formed this brown lining that didn’t want to come off even with a scraper after soaking for a bit. When I finally was able to be up on my feet and get some things done, I was surprised that pot hadn’t grown legs and left the building. It was bad. Thankfully I had the spray bottle sitting there with the remaining solution (I needed 1 1/2 batches for my bathtub and shower), so I sprayed it and laid back down for a few hours. In the blog the user stated she just wiped everything down after the solution sat for a few hours and then rinsed. I tried that on the crockpot and the crust slipped right off! I’m telling you there were stains that disappeared with this one treatment!

I hope you consider trying this out, especially if you have any trouble with chemical sensitivities or have had trouble finding a cleaner that works for you. I honestly think it’ll take pumice, elbow grease, and a miracle to get the hard water areas clean, but for your normal in-depth cleaning, this is a really effective mixture. It’s super easy to mix up and requires very little effort compared to most products.

I hope you have a happy (and healthy!) weekend. 🙂

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