29 November 2010

December is almost upon us

Hi!  So glad you stopped by Two Dogs today.  Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are getting geared up for Christmas. Can you believe it----- that Christmas is almost upon us?  Wow, I don't know where this year went, but it went in a big hurry.
I have been testing the steamer and found a couple of more uses for this dynamo; BUT I am going to step back, take a breath, and take a little time away from the Two Dogs blog.  Probably be back after the first of the new year, maybe a little longer.  Sometimes one has to take a little breather to get the energy flowing again.  When that happens I will be back at it and I will reveal what I have been up to in the cleaning department.  Have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and sane New Year's celebration. I will see you in 2011!!! 

15 November 2010

My Charlie Dog.

It's been almost a month since I took Charlie for his last ride and gave him the peace he never knew for most of his life.  It still hurts and will for a long time.  I loved Charlie dog.  A lot.
I want to thank each and every one of you who sent a card, left a message on my blog, said a prayer or two for us, or called to say you were thinking of me.  It was, and is, such a comfort to know that so many people hurt when I hurt and, most importantly, know exactly what I am going through.  But life does go on and I try to keep in the forefront of my mind good, sweet thoughts of the ten months that Charlie lived here with Toonie and me and that those were probably the best ten months of his life.  While it does not take away the pain of losing him, it does give comfort that he knew some love and kindness in his life.  My only regret is that I will always wonder if he was ever able to be that crazy, happy-go-lucky, energetic, self-absorbed wire hair terrier that defines this breed.  Charlie was never self-absorbed, he always tried to do whatever I asked of him but he no longer had the energy or health to run and play. That was taken away by thoughtless uncaring people who no doubt acquired him because he was "so cute". He was too weak and a very old 12 years when he came to live with me --- it does make me wonder. But even if he never had that, or it was constantly being suppressed by who-knows-what means, he knew love here.  Lots of love.    Wire hair fox terriers are one of the most adorable looking breeds but they have requirements that must be met or nobody is happy;  not the family, not the dog, not the neighbors.  They require tremendous amounts of exercise and grooming. They are hard headed.  I won't go into their other requirements, but I do want to say that if you are looking to add a dog to your family (or any other animal), please do your homework first. Every breed has certain needs that must be met and if they do not fit into your lifestyle and you cannot give them what they need the animal will end up the loser.  Every pet deserves a forever home and should be a cherished member of your family. 
OK, I will get off my soapbox now and spare you a repeat of the editorial piece I wrote to the local newspaper they day after I said goodbye to Charlie.  I was extremely emotional but I needed to say my piece and hopefully save a dog or two from abuse. neglect, abandonment, or being taken to the pound because he didn't fit in.  Please don't get a pet because he is adorable, or has big brown eyes, or looks at you and makes your heart melt.  By all means get a pet, but get the right one.  Everyone wins that way.  Thanks again for all your love and support.  Have a great week.  Happy Thanksgiving!!!

01 November 2010

Have you ever

noticed how sometimes you are just going along, living your life, minding your own business and WHAM!!! You get slapped down for no known reason?  These past 10 days or so have been like that around here.  Sick furry kids, a leak in the roof, the list goes on.
My little Toonie Mae was confirmed diabetic and I have learned to give her insulin injections. Not something I ever thought I would be able to do --- stick a needle in flesh, but when faced with something we have to do because of the path we chose, we get a pair and do what must be done. A dear friend went with me to Tooner's vet appointment because I fully intended to have her put down if my suspicions of diabetes were confirmed.  Well, when it came right down to it I couldn't do it.  I just couldn't.  With Charlie sick and winter coming on and my foot hurting, and my hair dryer blowing up---- any excuse is a good excuse------ I just couldn't face losing them both at this time so I hitched up my britches and learned to give my sweet baby dog her insulin.  The needle is tiny, she really didn't feel a thing,  and it was the scariest thing I have had to do in a long, long time.  But as my friend said ------ this is what you chose to do so you have to learn to do this.  Yep, she was spot on.  And she has been such a comfort and encourager to me.

As for Charlie, my sweet boy is at the end of his life.  His stay at the vet's didn't produce the hoped-for results and with a heavy, broken heart I have decided to let him go.  He refuses to eat anything but chicken and even that is not consumed with much enthusiasm.  Whatever is going on with his spine is not, and will not, get better and the kidney dysfunction cannot improve with his refusal to eat his prescribed food.  The stubborn little sweetheart actually spit the stuff out when I tried to sneak it into his portion of chicken!  At this point he sleeps 98 percent of the time and I am gathering my courage to take him back to the vet for his final ride sometime this week. And now I am faced with the hardest thing I have had to do since putting Sherman down.  Keep a prayer in your heart for us, would you?

21 October 2010

Charlie and Tooners

If you have been following updates on Charlie, I have posted on my other blog, http://paperkissesandinkywishes.com/ .  I am unable to repeat all the details here, too, so if you would like to know what is going on with my two sweet puppers please see that post.  Hope the link works.  Thank you so much for stopping by.

11 October 2010

Steamed!

Good morning!  Today I wanted to share with you one of my very favorite pieces of cleaning equipment, the steamer.  Mine happens to be a used Shark Supersteamer I bought off ebay a couple of months ago.  This thing is the best cleaning investment ever in my opinion.  It is fabulous for cleaning windows --- just fill with water and let it heat up and start cleaning. Just depress the trigger and lay on some steam with a sweeping motion.  Next, use a microfiber cloth in a circular motion and wipe down the steamed area, working your way from top to bottom and ending up with squeaky clean windows. NO CLEANING PRODUCT NEEDED!  How easy and environmentally proper is that?  This little beauty is also good for stains on carpet (but watch for colorfastness), cleaning grime and gunk from around kitchen and bathroom faucets, the outside of your appliances, you name it.  I have antique metal kitchen cabinets and they get steamed pretty regularly as does my counter tops.  As long as the object you want to clean can take water, it probably can take steam.  Not promising anything here, so use some common sense.  I am still in the throes of love-at-first-use and have many other things I want to try cleaning with this little wonder, including the rims on my bike and car.  I will keep you posted.

27 September 2010

Helmets and cups

OK, are you ready for a little joke to start your day?  I'm sorry, I just couldn't help myself! 

The first testicular guard, the "Cup", was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974.
That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important .
Ladies.....Quit Laughing.

My Master Gardening course is going well.  I really look forward to the class which is held Tuesday evenings.  It is only one semester and there are several of us from here who are taking it so we are able to carpool and that made it totally doable for me.  It is an excellent class and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  We had a Saturday lab this past weekend and we got home early afternoon.  That left a lot of time in the day to work on the stone walkway I am putting in. I will have some pics of that at a later time; I have a ways to go on it, but it is looking good!

Fall is here, but the flowers are still putting forth a lovely show and the fruit on my tomato plants are ripening very nicely.  Can't get enough of those deliscious BLTs!!!!  No tip or recipe or anything to offer you this week other than that lame joke, but I will leave you with a couple of  pictures of the flowers in my yard.  Have a wonderful, wonderful week.  Thanks for stopping by Two Dogs. 






Obviously not flowers -----------------but the pretty leaves of fall are beginning to arrive.

20 September 2010

Squirrel, squirrel go away...............

Good Monday morning! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and got to do some fun end-of-summer activities.  Fall is fast approaching.
Do you remember the Moleinator I purchased a month or so back trying to rid my yard of the little beast(s)?  I am happy to report that it works like a charm. The mere placement of this fabulous device made those moles dig their way right over into my neighbor's yard!!  So there was nothing to do but loan it to him and, yes, he got the little bugger. Yea!!!! But Mother Nature is a fickle lady and she wasn't about to let me rest so now I am faced with ridding my yard of ground squirrels. They are super destructive not only in making your property look like some giant cookie cutter punched a zillion holes in the ground along with a zillion dirt piles, but they carry diseases ---- the plague in particular ----,they eat tender young plants, gnaw on veggies, they provide food for rattlesnakes, and worst of all they can undermine a building's foundation. Fortunately, the teacher for my Master Gardener's class told us how we can make a bait station that is pet-proof along with bait that is deadly to the squirrels but not to pets as long as it is administered in the bait station.  If you are interested in the recipe for this bait just email me and would be happy to send it along to you along with directions on how to make a station.  Here's a picture of it.
It is made of PVC pipe and the bait is put in the piece that is standing vertical.  It has a cap to keep it from getting wet should a shower pass through and pets can't get to it.  I did have to purchase a new hacksaw to cut the pieces, and I found the cutest little thing.  Just take a look at it; half the size of a regular hacksaw and so much easier for us ladies to use.  I love tools and this thing is one of my favorites!  I know --- I am a little strange, but hey, it gives me such a sense of accomplishment to be able to do a few things myself.
Thanks for stopping by Two Dogs. Have a fabulous week!

13 September 2010

Recipe

Good morning!  So glad you could stop by today.  I don't know if any of you are canners, but I wanted to share my Dilly Beans recipe with you in case you have a bumper crop of green beans or want to buy some from a local farmer's market and can a few.  They are easy and delicious..............and they are super to take along on a picnic, but they won't last until next summer!  You can begin eating them after they have sat on the shelf for a couple of weeks to let the flavors develop.  Because of the high acidity of the vinegar, these beans can be safely processed in a boiling water bath  Hope you like them!

Dilly Green Beans

4 pounds whole green beans
1 3/4 t crushed dried hot red pepper
3 1/2 t dried dill seed, OR 7 fresh heads of dill
7 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled, OR use equivalent in chopped garlic (you know, the kind in the jar :-)
5 C apple cider vinegar
5 C water
1/2 C less 1 T pickling salt (non-iodized)


Wash beans thoroughly, remove stems and tips, and cut them as much as possible into uniform lengths to allow them to stand upright in 1-pint canning jars---  Or you can use 1/2 pints, just cut them shorter----, coming to the shoulder of the jar.  Have jars clean and very hot, and lids and sealers ready in scalding water.  In each jar place 1/2 t dill seed (or one dill head), 1 garlic clove (or equivalent in chopped garlic), and 1/4 t crushed hot red pepper.  Pack beans upright in jars, leaving 1 inch of headroom.  Heat together the water, vinegar, and salt; when the mixture boils, pour it over the beans, filling each jar to 1/2 inch from the top.  Run a table knife down and around to remove trapped air, adjust lids, and process in a Boiling-Water Bath (212 F/100 C) for 10 minutes (or longer if you are above 3000 feet; check a reliable source for correct processing times) after the water in the canner returns to boiling.  Remove jars, complete seals if necessary.  Makes 7 pints.
PS If you substitute GROUND cayenne pepper for the CRUSHED hot red pepper be sure to halve the amount of cayene:  Use only 1/8 t of cayenne to each jar.  Wait at least two weeks for these beans to develop their flavor.

If you give this a try, please let me know how you like them. I would love to hear from you!!!!

06 September 2010

Indian summer

Good morning!  Or afternoon ----- I am a little late posting this week, and I know I missed last Monday altogether; it has been very busy around here.  The plan this morning was to grab a cup of coffee and sit outside to watch the sun rise.  That was the plan anyway, until I actually went outside.  COLD!!!  I came back in to check the temp and it read 34 degrees!!!!  This caught me by surprise as I have not been monitoring the weather reports; but it is, after all, September.  Keeping an eye on weather predictions will have to become routine now in order to cover everything in the garden on that one killer night we usually get.  It will extend our harvest by quite a bit.  Seems like most years we get one good freeze that kills everything and then it warms back up. So I am still hoping for an Indian summer because I am so not ready for winter. Fall is such a beautiful time of the year and I love it, but this year I am yearning for as much summer as possible.  I looked up the meaning of Indian summer and it was explained as 

1.A period of mild weather occurring in late autumn.  (YEAH!!!!!)

2.A pleasant, tranquil, or flourishing period occurring near the end of something: the Indian summer of the administration   (ooooooh, this begs for a comment, but I will refrain :-)   
 
I froze corn and canned some "Dilly" beans (pickled green beans) yesterday.  The previous week I picked jalapeno peppers and bells and got them sliced or diced and frozen.  Wood stacked, lawns mowed. Scurrying around like a squirrel getting ready for winter.  I am beginning to ramble so I will leave you with this picture of some of the produce from my veggie patch.  Have a fabulous week!!!!
 

23 August 2010

The hot "Dog Days" of Summer

The dog days of summer......
 I posted this on http://www.paperkissesandinkywishes.com/ but thought I would post it here also in case you missed it. I love finding out the origins of old sayings and such, so I hope you do not mind indulging me.
The dog days of summer is a phrase I have heard many,many times and I wanted to find out what it actually meant. I worked a little research time into my schedule and thought you might like to know what I found

The “dog days of summer” occur during the hottest and muggiest part of the season --- no surprise there, right?  Webster defines “dog days” as...
1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere.

2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity.

But where does the term come from? Why do we call the hot, sultry days of summer “dog days?”
In ancient times, when the night sky was unobscured by artificial lights and smog, different groups of peoples in different parts of the world drew images in the sky by “connecting the dots” of stars. The images drawn were dependent upon the culture: The Chinese saw different images than the Native Americans, who saw different pictures than the Europeans. These star pictures are now called constellations, and the constellations that are now mapped out in the sky come from our European ancestors.

They saw images of bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, (Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and others, including dogs, (Canis Major and Canis Minor). The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. In fact, it is so bright that the ancient Romans thought that the earth received heat from it. In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.
 
So the earth isn't flat and Sirius doesn't provide any heat to our planet; but we still use the saying "the dog days of summer".  Interesting, huh? Where did the term "Indian summer" come from? I'm gonna find out and I will share.
 
Until next time............Have a great week and thanks so much for stopping by.

16 August 2010

Spray starch

Good morning! I trust you had a fabulous weekend and are enjoying some wonderful weather.  A very short post today, but hopefully with a tip you can use.

Today I want to tell you how to make your own spray starch.  Now I know a lot of people do not use starch any longer.  Heck , most of us probably don't even IRON any more, but there are occasions when we do have to iron something and nothing makes that job a little easier and the results a little prettier than a bit of starch.  So let's get to it!  The recipe couldn't be simpler.

To a quality empty spray bottle add the following and shake vigorously:

1 heaping teaspoon of cornstarch
1 pint cold water
1-2 drops essential oil (optional)
The essential oil is not essential to this formula, but boy-oh-boy does it make whatever you are ironing smell terrific!!  Keep in mind that you will have to shake your spray starch  frequently to keep the cornstarch suspended in the water, but heck, that's a small price to pay for this money saver.

Thanks so much for stopping by Two Dogs.  Enjoy your week --- summer is rapidly going by so I hope you get to enjoy some fun in the sun and make some memories.

09 August 2010

Weed killer

Summer is marching on and so are the weeds.  Ever think you are losing the battle?  I sure do.  And I hate using Round Up or other weed killers.  I feel they aren't good for the environment regardless of what the label says and I don't want my grand kids or my dogs around the stuff.  Let me introduce you to some homemade stuff that works just as well.  Actually, you will see a faster kill with this stuff than Round Up.  I have used it on weeds that were dead within two hours of application.  The recipe:

1 gallon of  vinegar (the higher the acid content the better, so check the labels)
1 cup of salt
a few drops of dish detergent (this keeps the solution on the plant)

Mix well and put it in one of those sprayers made for applying week killer/fertilizers. ( you should have two sprayers --- one for weed killer and one for fertilizers ------ you don't want to use the same sprayer for both.  )   Apply the solution liberally to your weeds.  There are other methods that work better for larger areas, and I will be reporting on one here in a week or so, but this works great for application where you need to be pretty precise.  The battle against weeds needs a lot of ammunition in our arsenals.  I leave with another picture of one of the flowers in my garden.  Thank you so much for stopping by Two Dogs and I hope you have a fabulous week!

Poppies that were blooming just a couple of weeks ago.  With all the rain we had in the spring, I had these beauties everywhere!

02 August 2010

Moles.................

I have had a tremendous problem with moles.  They have devastated my garden (so far my precious tomatoes have survived the onslaught) destroying my pea patch, my lettuces, and are working hard on everything else.  The green beans and the cucumbers are doing OK, so far, as I planted them along the fence and inside open-ended gallon tin cans.  I think the only reason they are making it is because Mr. Mole doesn't have a clear path in which to burrow and those cans are confusing him.  Maybe. 
Anywho, I called our local county agricultural agent and asked him a few questions.  Do those little windmills that you place in the ground and vibrate when the wind blows keep moles away?  In a word, no.  He also said that trying to drown them by placing a hose down the tunnels doesn't work either.  My idea of hooking up a hose to my car's exhaust and gassing them with carbon monoxide brought a chuckle from him, and he said nothing really works except trapping them.  Yuck. He said moles make extensive tunnels over a 1/4 acre area and are capable of digging 60 -80 feet an hour.  Holy cats! No wonder water and gas don't have much of a success rate.  His suggestion was a trap called ---- are you ready for this? ---------- the moleinator. Such a cheesy name, but he said it works very well.

No one here locally carried them so I was forced to shop online  (oh darn) and found one on Amazon.  The trick to capturing the mole, I am told, is finding a newly made tunnel, stamping it down, then setting the trap over the ruined tunnel.  When Mr. Mole comes back through checking his network of tunnels, he comes to the ruined tunnel and begins to re-open it. As he burrows through the collapsed tunnel and into the center of the trap, SNAAAAP! He meets his maker.  So this week will be the testing of the Moleinator.  I shall keep you posted.  Thanks for stopping by Two Dogs.  Have a fabulous week.

26 July 2010

Good Monday morning -----

Hope you had a fabulous weekend.  It's been hot, hot, hot here and I was able to go kayaking on Whiskeytown Lake Saturday night; a wonderful evening paddle under a full moon.  Heaven! But on to today's post.
 After getting a bit dehydrated and feeling sick the day after my little adventure to Glass Mountain with my son and grand kids a couple of weeks ago, I remembered a homemade replacement for Pedialyte/Gatorade that I wanted to share with you. I volunteered years ago at a wildlife rehab organization and we used this recipe for stressed out, dehydrated fawns and such that were brought in for fostering. I have also given this to my children when they were sick and getting dehydrated due to diarrhea and vomiting.  It's simple to make, cost-effective, and works! 

2 quarts water
2 T sugar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt substitute (made with potassium chloride)
1/2 t salt

Mix well and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  You can drink as is, or add some Kool-Aid mix or maybe some Crystal Light for better flavor. 

Thanks for stopping by Two Dogs.  I leave you with a picture of my Jacob's ladder that is blooming so beautifully.  Have a great week!

19 July 2010

Heat Wave -------------------------

It's hot everywhere!  Charlie, Tooners, and I have been trying all manner of ways to stay cool, but once it gets to the point of not cooling down at night it becomes pretty hard to get any relief.  We do not have air conditioning in the house, not even a swamp cooler, so we have had to come up with some creative ways to deal.  For the dogs I rub them down with a wet wash cloth or put them in the bathtub and use some moderately cool water to get them good and wet, let them do a good shake (with the shower curtain CLOSED!! LOL!) and they remain reasonably comfortable for awhile. Repeat as necessary. For myself, I splash my face with cold water, drape a cold, wet washcloth around the back of my neck, and drink a lot of water.  I had a few issues with dehydration recently and have learned my lesson on that one. The house is barely cooler than outside and keeping lots of fans going once all the windows are closed is helpful.  I have even resorted to placing a gallon size frozen bottle of water in front of the fan.  It provides a little relief if you stand right in front of it.  Sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.   Sorry I don't have any thrifty tips or tricks for you this week, but I will be working on that for next time.  Stay cool out there!

15 July 2010

Some pictures.........

I am posting a bit early on Two Dogs since this weekend may be a little hectic. Today I thought I would show you a few pictures.  The first one is Charlie and his new summer hair cut.  He was pretty matted and his hair was so long; part of this being because knowing it would be an ordeal for him I put it off longer than I should have because I wanted to make sure that he had bonded with me before throwing something else at him that would be difficult for him to deal with.  If you are a regular reader of Two Dogs you know his story.  If not you can read it HERE.  I felt I needed to give it extra time and then when I finally made the call to the groomer she couldn't get him in for three weeks. He didn't get the cute little wire hair trim that is the norm for this breed.  Maybe next time.  This go 'round was simply to show him he would be returning back home with me, that the groomer would not hurt him, and that he would be a lot more comfortable.  It was an ordeal for him and for the groomer, but the dirty deed is done and he is all the more comfortable for it, although he was actually embarrassed for a few days afterwards.  Me?  I am just relieved that it is over because I actually thought he might not make it through it all.  Here he is.  This is not the best picture of him, but it was the best I could do.  I only got this picture because I think he was still rummy from the medication I gave him to make his beauty parlor experience a little less traumatic.


The other pictures I wanted to share with you are some of an outing we went on last Sunday.  My son called and wanted to know if I would like to go to Glass Mountain and Medicine Lake with him and the kids and I jumped at the chance to spend some time with them.  We had a ball exploring the moon-scape that is Glass Mountain.  Curious about how it got its name?  Glass Mountain is an area devastated by volcanic eruption in eons past and the by-product of the eruption in this particular area is a large area of obsidian.  Much of it is covered in a dull coating of grey lava rock, but there are areas where the obsidian is in plain view.  Zach and Emma had a glorious time exploring.  Here's a few pictures of our adventure:                                                    
                                



After exploring Glass Mountain we drove over to Medicine Lake and had a picnic lunch and the kids played in the cool water.  Joe Cool aka Zach and Emma were delighted to find some frogs that were OK with being picked up and scrutinized.  We all had a fabulous time and it was such fun to spend the whole day with them.  Thanks for visiting Two Dogs and for letting me share!                                                                                          

12 July 2010

Saline spray

Hey! Hey! Hey!  How is your day going?  Thanks for stopping by!  My little tidbit for today is home made saline spray.  You know, those pricey little bottles of salt water you buy to irrigate your nose with?  I don't know about you, but I refuse to pay $15 for salt water.  Yes, $15 is the price of one of the well-known brands of saline spray used to irrigate one's nose.  There are some cheaper ones, yes, but whatever they are charging it is too much.  We are talking nothing more than salt and water here.  Nope, not gonna pay it.  I found  an awesome alernative that I want to share with you today.  You will need a small mister bottle.  I bought a bottle of cold remedy nasal spray that had a cap I could remove (not all of them do) and when I was finished with the product I kept the bottle and cleaned it well. These are really the best ones to use (the ones that are meant for nasal applications) because the solution actually comes out in a mist. The spray pattern you get from some of the small generic spray bottles that you can purchase is just too coarse for me. Anywho, into this cleaned bottle I added my just-as-good-as-store-bought saline spray for virtually no cost.  I mean, how much can 1/4 teaspoon of salt cost you?  This makes way more than you can get into your little spray bottle, but to break it down into a half-ounce or so is just too much trouble and would be silly to even attempt.  Remember, we are talking nothing more than salt and water so I don't worry about it.

Boil some water and let it cool. Use this cooled water in the following recipe.

Into a clean jar with a lid put:

4 ounces of water
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Shake vigorously and pour into your clean little nasal sprayer.  That's it.  Nasal spray for no cost.  You are going to have a LOT left after you fill your mister.  Either save the leftover in your fridge or heck, just gargle with it and make more when you need it.  I use quite a bit of this stuff during allergy season so I do keep the extra around for a couple of weeks, but it is so easy to make you don't really have to.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a fabulous week!

28 June 2010

Tomatoes ----Yes!

Hello there!  So glad you stopped by Two Dogs today because I am about to burst with news.  You will think I am getting feeble minded when I tell you that news, but that's OK.  I'm smiling from ear to ear and please remember:  Only crazy, whacked out people smile all the time!  Uh huh! :-)    So what's this fabulous news?  Remember those tomato plants I put in the ground in MARCH?  Planted in-ground and covered with a Wall-o-waters?  These plants endured numerous hard freezes for several days at a time, some nice days, some downpours of rain, hail --- the whole gamut -- but mostly too-cold-for-a-garden-to-grow weather.  After all that, June finally arrived, and the weather seemed to settle down, although we did have a cold night or two beyond our supposedly frost-free date.  Those tomato plants survived although a couple of them looked pretty rugged.  The hot/cold seesaw didn't do them any favors and I had to remove a few branches that were pretty much done for.  BUT ------ almost to a plant, there are tomatoes already setting on those vines.  They aren't big, but they are there and the plants are covered with lots of blossoms.  I even have ripe tomatoes on two of them!  It is unbelievable and I just had to take a picture to show you. 


Ignore those lurking weeds!!!!
Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you have a wonderful week! 

21 June 2010

My old friend vinegar

Hey there ----- good morning!  Looks like summer has FINALLY arrived and decided to stick around, so as you can imagine, I am one happy camper. 

Last week's post was on homemade dish washing detergent, and I hope you tried making your own and are happy with the results. This week I wanted to tell you about a homemade rinse agent; they go hand in hand.    Homemade rinse agents are an even bigger savings money wise.  They help get your dishes cleaner and drier but they are pretty darn expensive.  So let's "make" our own. 

You will need a bottle of white vinegar.  That's it.  Just white vinegar.  Pour it into your dishwasher's automatic dispenser for rinse agents and you're set.    Refill as needed.   You are going to love the results.  No water spots,  your dishes will dry faster because the water will sheet off, and there's no harsh  chemicals. Matter of fact, they will sparkle like you wouldn't believe.  Did I mention it will save you a lot of greenbacks?  It also helps keep your dishwasher cleaner because of its astringent nature.  But darn, you still have to put those darn dishes away yourself. . . . . . . . . .

Have a fabulous week my friends, and thank you for stopping by.

14 June 2010

Dirty dishes!

Good morning!  Thanks for stopping by. Sorry I missed last week's post.  I was busy working on that bedroom/sunroom swap and it took waaaay longer that I thought it would. Matter of fact, there are still things that need to be done to get that mess finished up, but it all just takes time.  But let's get going on this week's post which, you will be fascinated to know, involves dirty dishes.  None of us like that little chore, but it is just one of those homemaking chores that we can't eliminate; and no, letting the dog clean the dishes is NOT acceptable! :-)  Automatic dishwashers have made the chore easier, but if you are like me even that can become drudgery because once the dishes have been automatically washed they still have to be put away.  Gee, it's always something, huh?  I don't see an easy solution for that one.  I can't help you with putting your clean dishes away, but I can help you save some money.  Make your own dish washing detergent ---------  It's easy.  Really!!!
You will need that box of Borax that you bought for making your own laundry detergent (What do you mean you haven't tried that yet?  Your losing money, girl.  Get with it!!! :-)  You will also need baking soda.  I am sure you have some in your cupboard, or perhaps a small box in your refrigerator?  If all you have is that box in your refrigerator, go ahead and use some of it. Doesn't matter in the least that is has been silently sitting there on the shelf in your fridge sucking up any unpleasant odors that may have been lurking. Better yet, buy a new box for the fridge and keep the old one for use as part of your new dish washing detergent mix.  Double duty!!! I love it!  Sorry, I got carried away. The recipe is:

1 Tablespoon Borax
1 Tablespoon baking soda

That's it. Didn't I tell you it was easy?   Easy peasy to mix up a big batch of equal parts Borax and baking soda.  Fill your dishwasher's detergent compartment, close the door, and flip the switch.  You are one cycle away from clean dishes and it cost you mere pennies. Probably a percentage of a penny.  Or less!  I have not calculated the savings because it is just so obvious that this is a huge money saver.  And the best part?  THIS WORKS LIKE A CHARM.  Why does it work? Borax and baking soda are natural disinfectants and mild abrasives.  They work together to blast away stuck on food and germs. In fact, Borax is a common ingredient in many commercial detergents. So you get clean dishes without harsh chemicals, it is environmentally friendly because it is phosphate free, and you save lots of money in the bargain.  That can't be beat. So what are you waiting for?  Go do some dishes! 
And please be sure to keep your homemade dish washing detergent out of the reach of children and pets. 

31 May 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

I had an epiphany on Saturday ---- well, it was more like a distraction actually ------ but it worked.  Let me explain.  Memorial Day weekend involves a new tradition with my paddling group, the Otters.  Last year we travelled to the northern coast of California to do some kayaking and to take in the Kinetic Sculpture Race.  It was a fantastic trip and one we all looked forward to repeating this year.  Several reasons left me in the position of not being able to go this year.  Major disappointment.  But, circumstances are what they are and life goes on.   This brings me back to the epiphany, --- er --- distraction.  I made an executive decision to move my craft studio from the spare bedroom out to my sun porch. This is no small undertaking and involved moving several pieces of heavy furniture, the heaviest being an entertainment unit that I use to house plastic drawers to hold various supplies.  Said unit is made of that extremely heavy press board stuff.  I am proud to say that I got it moved, all by my lonesome, with the use of a cardboard box I broke apart to put under the thing so it would slide across bare floor and carpet. That little trick works great and if you have something really heavy to move; please try it. The hardest part was getting it up the small step from the spare bedroom into the kitchen, then down a step from kitchen to sun room.  I only smashed two fingers in the process, so I count this a success. I wasn't about to wait for someone to stop by and help me, but I know you will if you have something heavy and bulky to move.  I also utilized a hand truck to move the bins and boxes of "stuff" rather than packing armfuls of it on an endless trek from spare bedroom to sun room.
I worked the entire afternoon moving furniture and storage bins full of tools and supplies to their new home.  Once I got all the furniture moved I arranged it to my liking and turned to those tools and supplies. I almost swooned.  Holy cats, I have a lot of stuff!!! This process will definitely take more than a day or so, and there are several things I want to accomplish along the way such as an inventory of supplies and tools, especially the ones I do not use on a regular basis.  It is so easy to forget one has something if it is out of sight.

So my new area is in some semblence of order and organized enough so that I can sit down and make a card if the mood strikes. My new studio has a fabulous view of my back yard to the west and my vegetable garden to the north and has a bit more room than my former spot-in-the-corner.  AND it is bright and cheerful.  Heaven!  Heck, even on a cloudy day enough light enters to make it a nice place to be.  I'm trying not to think about winter and how cold it may be out there, but I will work on that problem when the time comes.  In the meantime I am going to enjoy the light and warmth.

So now I have my spare bedroom back and that, too, will need to be organized.  But that's another day.  I may keep it as a storage area or turn it into an actual spare bedroom.  Hey ------ I might decide to rent it out.  Now there's a thought . . . .  anywhoooooo, that's it for today.  My poor mashed fingers are begging for some relief from typing.  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope your weekend was one filled with fun and family and thankfulness for our servicemen and women. Happy Memorial Day!

24 May 2010

Master Grocery List

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by! Today I would like to share with you my master grocery list.  How boring, huh?  Yes, it is, however, once you have this down it makes grocery shopping a little bit easier. And I am all for easy.  The beauty of this list is that it works for ANY grocery store.  You see, the list is organized into food sections, not store sections, so even though you may go to 2 or 3 different stores, it's pretty likely that the store you enter will have their items grouped together.  I make a dozen copies of the master list at a time and keep them in a folder. I have a little pad and pencil that is attached to my 'fridge with a magnet and as I notice something running low, I make a note of it.  When grocery shopping day comes, my noted items are transferred to my master list.  You can highlight the things you buy on almost every grocery shopping expedition if you want. It is easy to just ignore that item if on that particular trip you don't need to buy, say, milk, but it is always there so you don't forget. Everything else to buy is check marked (or you could highlight these additional items if you want).  With shopping list in hand, just cruise your store's isles looking for the group of food items on your list that corresponds to the isle you are cruising.  Easy peasy.

If you are in a particularly frugal, save-the-planet kinda mood, then once you are back home you can simply pull out your list and put a line through the items you bought that you are sure you will not be buying on the next shopping expedition; say, that two cans of coffee you bought on sale.  Or scribble through it, or use a black Magic Marker. Any method works as long as you know not to buy that item the next shopping trip.  Leave the items you will most likely buy again on the next round of shopping checked or highlighted or however you are marking them as an item to purchase. This gives you the use of the same list for a second time if you want to take frugality that far.  This sometimes works even a third time.  Ya save a lot of paper, thus saving the planet and its inhabitants.  :-)   When you're finally done with this list after the 100th use ----
 :-) ha, ha------- you can throw that dang list in the recycle bin and pull out a brand spanking new list.  OR just use a new one every time, justifying this waste by enjoying the wonderful sensation of having a brand new slate, so to speak.  Bet you never thought a grocery list had so much potential did you?  :-)

So here's the master list. It didn't copy and paste in the correct order, it is a three-column list, but you get the idea.  If you want the list in the correct format, just email me and I will send you one that looks the way it should!!!  Notice that food items are grouped together. Vegetables in one section, bulk items in another section. Meat has its own section as does dairy. Then there are canned goods, baking items, paper goods and on and on. Friendly list for any grocery store you enter because we all know they group things together at the store. If you enter one that does not, please, make a hasty retreat. We can only shop in organized stores!! :-) The point is, make one of these that works for you. You know what your family needs and not all master grocery lists will be the same for every family. Just remember to use it ---- it will make grocery shopping a lot easier. Have a fabulous week!
Darn I wish this was in its 3-column format.  It looks so purty that way!
Fresh Fruit


o ___________

o ___________

o ___________

Fresh Veggies

o ___________

o ___________

o ___________

Bulk Items

o Nuts, wal, almnds              Notice that I shortened some of the words in order to keep them within their
                                           column. 
o Choc chips

o Flour, reg, ww, bread

o Oatmeal, reg, instant

o Popcorn

o Peanuts/pumpk seed

o Bran/wheat germ

o Baking soda

o Sugar, gran, powder

o Flax seed, grnd, whl

o Tea

o Dog treats

Herbs

o __________

o __________

Deli Items

o Salad

o Lunch meat

o Fish/shrimp

Condiments

o Mayo/Mustard

o Ketchup/relish

o Salad dressing

o Horseradish

Dairy

o Milk, Butter milk

o Eggs

o Yogurt

o Cottage cheese

o Butter/margarine

o Whip Crm H & H

o Juice

o Cheese

o Cream cheese

o Pie crust

o Cookie dough

Canned Goods

o Tomatoes

o Tomato sauce

o Beans

o Veggies

o Fruit

o Juice

o Milk

o Soup

o Broth

Baking Items

o Cake Mix

o Flour

o Sugar

o Pancake mix

o Vanilla/spices

o Pudding/Jello

o Quick breads

o Cookie mix

o Oil

o Vegetable shortening

o Spray oil

o Vinegar





Meat

o Chicken __________

o Beef _____________

o Pork_____________

Breads, Rolls, Chips

o Bread

o Buns

o Rolls

o Chips ____________

Pet Food

o Cat , dry, canned

o Dog , dry, canned

o Treats

Cleaning Items

o Borax

o Bath soap

o Hand soap

o Stain remover

o Furniture polish

o Sponges

o Deodorizers

Drinks

o Soda

o Wine

o liquor

Paper Goods

o Napkins

o Paper towels

o Toilet paper

o Kleenex

17 May 2010

Make your own laundry detergent

I almost didn't insert this tip after seeing the trailers for Wife Swap (no I do NOT watch that show, but they do advertise) and the words "makes her own laundry detergent" (insert a big shudder), but I digress.........
Good morning! Wow, I think winter has finally hit the road and boy am I glad to see its backside.  I feared it was never going to be warm again. ........   Again I digress.   Today I wanted to tell you about homemade laundry detergent.  Yes, you can make it yourself and the best part is --- it works; and eventually the tune to "Home, Home on the Range" will disappear from your brain.  Usually.

The comparison that came with this particular recipe was made with a jumbo container of Tide at Amazon.com costing $28.99 for 96 loads. Now I usually buy my laundry soap at Costco and while I don't remember the cost, it was not nearly that, more around $15 or so for 105 loads. It is worth the effort to make your own. First things firstly --- be warned.  This stuff is slimy. And don't worry it is supposed to be that way.  You haven't discovered some new creature that will crawl out of your bucket and try to take over the world. 

Go to the store and buy the following items:

- 1 bar of soap (whatever kind you like; Choose something that you like the smell of or go for the cheapest bar you can find. You can use ANY kind from Ivory to Fels Naptha.  It matters not.

- 1 box of washing soda (look for it in the laundry detergent aisle – it comes in an Arm & Hammer box and contains enough for six batches)

- 1 box of borax (Remember the 20 Mule Team?????  Oh, you're not that old.  OK.) One box of borax will contain more than enough for tons of batches of this homemade detergent)

- A five gallon bucket with a lid (or a bucket that will hold more than 15 liters)  And no, I will not give you one of my kitty liter buckets.  Sorry.  You will have to find your own)  Even if you have to buy one (HORRORS!!) you will still be way ahead with all the money you will be saving using your slimy homemade laundry detergent.

- Three gallons of tap water

- A big spoon to stir the mixture with

- A measuring cup

- A knife or cheese grater (use the large holes if grating)

1. Put about four cups of water into a pan on your stove and turn the heat up on high until it’s almost boiling. In the meantime, while you’re waiting, use your knife or cheese grater and start shaving strips off of the bar of soap into the water. Use the whole bar of soap and be sure to keep the heat below a boil. Once all the soap has been deposited into your hot water, stir, stir, stir until the soap is dissolved. Hey, whatcha doin' with all that soapy water? 

2. Put 3 gallons of hot water (previously warmed up somehow.  I did mine in batches before I started the soap-in-hot water grating process) into the 5 gallon bucket and mix in the hot soapy water from step one. Stir for a bit , say one run-through of "Home Home on the Range" and then add 1 cup of the washing soda. Keep stirring it for another minute or two, then add a half cup of borax. Stir for another couple of minutes, then just let your home brew, uh I mean laundry detergent, sit overnight to cool.

3. You are done.  It's all over but the storing of your laundry slime.  Find a funnel and start storing this stuff in clean milk jugs or just leave it in the bucket (with a lid!!!).  I don't like putting this stuff in jugs, but that big ol' bucket takes up too much room in my laundry closet and besides it's HEAVY, so into clean milk jugs it goes.  My mama never promised me things would always be easy.  Or that I would like them.........  but do what works for you. One measuring cup full of this slime will be what you need to do a load of laundry – and the ingredients are basically the same as laundry detergent, just without all the refining and additives that make it look purty. So, out of three gallons, you’ll get about 48 loads of laundry. If you do this six times, you’ll have used six bars of soap ($0.99 each), one box of washing soda ($2.49 - this varies by where you shop), and about half a box of borax ($2.49 or so making it $1.25) and will do 288 loads of laundry. This comes up to a cost of right around three cents a load.  THREE CENTS. 

After you have washed a load of laundry with your homemade soap, hang your clothes outside to dry (or on hangers slung around your wood stove in the winter :-) or on a clothes rack, and we are talking more savings.  You can use your clothes dryer to fluff everything up once they are already dry if ya want. You've got yourself huge savings AND a pioneering spirit. You go girl!

14 May 2010

Charlie Update

Hi!  As you know, I normally do not post on Two Dogs more than once a week, however, I just had to share Charlie's progress.  For those of you who do not know Charlie's story I will tell you that he is an old wire hair fox terrier that had been abused for who knows how long, and then left in someone's backyard to die when his "people" moved.  I am the one who was blessed with caring for this sweetheart for whatever time he may have left through our local pet rescue SNIPPP (Spay & Neuter Intermountain Pets & Pet Placement).  He has been with me since the end of January, passed his vet check although he had no muscle tone and almost no meat on his bones.  He is hard of hearing and partially blind in the ear and eye on the same side of his head.  No need to speculate on that; I have done plenty of that and it helps nothing and only serves to make me mad.  Charlie was very sensitive, did not like riding in the car, very unsure of himself, and skulked away in fear if he heard a raised voice, and cowered when I raised my hand to pet him.  He has come a long way with patience and a lot of love.  He goes to work with me and Toonie Mae Hound Princess Dog of Burney most every day, takes nice little walks, and tolerates the car, but just barely.  In the 3 1/2 months I have had this marvelous guy he has slowly become accustomed to my household and has settled in.  Yes, there are still issues that we continue to work on, but yesterday I noticed for the first time that he has definitely bonded with me.  I had to go to work.  Charlie was sleeping peacefully on the back deck.  He is not a fan of the smell of acrylic nails being worked on and he never minded staying home.  Preferred it actually. Until yesterday.  I hooked Toonie Mae up to her leash and we went out the front door and were across the street and headed to the salon when I happened to look back to see Charlie looking towards us and making it obvious that he did NOT want to be excluded.  We went back and hooked him up to his leash and off to work we went.  He was thrilled to be at the salon and scootched himself all over the rug in happy abandon.  This scootching consists of head on the floor, butt in the air pushing himself around in circles.  He was a happy boy and so was I.
I have been in and out running errands and going back and forth to the salon yesterday and today and since yesterday he will not let me out of his sight.  I am so happy that he finally feels safe and secure and knows that he will always be loved here.  Some would say he is acting insecure, but I know this is not the case. I think that he knows now when we go for a walk, or a ride, that he will be coming back here where he is safe and loved.  He knows nothing but love and patience here and now feels secure enough to become a pest about going with the Tooners and me.  I thank the Lord every day for this wonderful fellow.  He is a blessing beyond measure and I just had to show you this picture of him lounging on the back deck, surveying his domain.    Thank you so much for stopping by!  Have a wonderful weekend.

10 May 2010

environmentally friendly cleaners

My allergies seem to never go away and I am becoming sensitive to a lot more things, chemical smells being added to the list. Most cleaners give me a headache at best or plug up my nose, or makes my chest feel tight along with a headache. So much of this stuff is bad for the environment, too, so an all-around-better-for-both-problems solution was to make my own. Cruising the internet for home-made cleaners brought forth a bevy of sites dedicated to this subject. I haven't tried most of them yet, but will at some point.

One that I have used for a long, long time is the dynamic duo of vinegar and baking soda. Neither are hard on the environment and both are allergy friendly. The baking soda is fantastic for scouring away stubborn crusty stuff, bathtub ring, and for use as that all-time favorite, freshening the refrigerator. I also use it to brush my teeth and with a little water added, as an under arm deodorant. I kid you not. The stuff works great for that!! If you try this, keep in mind it is not an antiperspirant; it won't eliminate sweating, just the odor.

Paired with vinegar, baking soda makes a pretty darn good drain cleaner. Run some hot water down the drain, add some baking soda followed by vinegar and watch the fascinating chemical reaction. Don't be alarmed at the foaming that boils forth from the drain. It is supposed to do that. When the volcano subsides, follow with some hot water.

Vinegar on it's own is good for ridding your counter of ants and although you must wipe the counter down several times to keep them from returning, it beats using poisons and such that are bad for the environment, bad for you to breathe, and you won't have to worry about your kids or animals getting into it. I keep a spray bottle of the stuff at the ready. Another useful treatment for keeping ants away is coffee grounds.  They don't like the smell I guess.  If I find an area around the foundation of my house where ants are lurking, busy coming and going like they do,  I begin emptying my used coffee grounds around that area and they disappear before getting into the house.  You can actually see them getting upset and heading away. And if this happens to be in a flower bed, not to worry, coffee grounds won't hurt unless the plants are very sensitive to acidic soil. The grounds will just decompose and add some nutrients to your soil.  Vinegar can be used as a fabric softener, too.

If you have other uses for baking soda or vinegar I would love to hear about them.  Have a fabulous week, and as always, thanks for stopping by.

03 May 2010

Being frugal doesn't mean being inconsiderate.....

Hey there!  Good morning!  My headline is referring to taking your dogs for a walk. Dogs usually have to "do their business" once they have walked a bit. And while you are not likely to step in it because you know where the bomb landed, others wanting to take in some of that wonderful sunshine and fresh air along the same route might not. We're talking urban walks here.  If you're out in the country, let the amount of space you have and your conscience be your guide. Nobody likes to step in dog poop. Picking up after your dog is being considerate of others. It's not a nice job but someone has to do it and if it is your dog, it is your job. Be considerate and pick it up. So today I will discuss what to use for this, uh, messy and smelly task.

You can go to your local Wally World and pick up a box of plastic bags "made" for this purpose, but actually you can do much better than that. You can use sandwich bags. By placing your hand inside the bag, you can pick up the mess without touching it  (GAG!!!) then just use your other hand to pull the plastic back over the mess and off your hand. Then either place the whole thing in a plastic grocery bag you have brought along for this purpose, or zip it up if you used those kind of sandwich bags (in order to zip, though, please remember to turn the bag inside out before you place your hand inside and scoop). Now me, frugal queen that I am, went a step further with this. You know those air-filled lengths of plastic tubing (used as packing material in lieu of those white peanuts to keep things protected in transit) that come in some of the bargains you have purchased on line (you ARE buying bargains, right??). I cut those apart, slit one end open, and keep a supply of these in my coat pocket and "Dog-on-the-Go" bucket. No, that isn't a bucket for what you think it is, no pun was intended here!  It's a bucket I keep in my car for all the doggie essentials we will need if the 3 of us go for a little motorized outing. That was last week's post --- you did read it, right? ----. So these free little plastic squares are repurposed and saves me money by elminating the need to buy dog poop disposal bags or even sandwich bags. One teensy little caveat here ---- not all of those air-filled little plastic sacks are the same size.  I opened a package sent to me just the other day and it had air filled packing material alright, but it was teeny tiny, finger-sized air filled little sacks and of no use to repurpose at all.  Not a good idea for bomb disposal. 

Now, if you use sandwich bags you can get twice the service out of them if you save them after you eat your sandwich----- once for lunch, once for bomb disposal.  You've repurposed a plastic product and won't feel as guilty throwing them in the garbage. :-)  I don't recommend throwing them in with your plastic recycling. The guys that man the recycling bins get a little testy if you try that! Picky, picky, picky. Go figure.

That's it for this week. Hope you have a lovely week. Oh, and take those dogs for a walk. They'll love you for it!
PS Please return..........I promise I won't talk about dog poop on a regular basis. Knuffles. 

26 April 2010

Saving on Utilities

Howdeeeee! Guess it is about time I talked a little bit about how I save on utilities.  There are the usual things, like turning down the thermostat and the water heater's temperature, but I take those things a little further.  Yes, I turn down my thermostat, but I turn it down probably more than most people.  I usually keep it at 63 degrees and wear "long handle" underthings.  And a sweater. And I invested two winters ago in an electric throw.  It feels like heaven to turn that thing on and snuggle up underneath it while watching TV.  I also called my utility company to ask a few questions and found out that the lower the temperature the lower your bill, of course, but also that if you are going to be gone from your home for 8 hours or more, the prudent thing to do is to turn the heater off.  Of course you have to be careful not to turn it off during very low outside temperatures, but you have to use your common sense.  I turn it down to 50 and it rarely comes on during the night, so I figure that is good for when I am gone all day, too.  I also hung a pair of sheets to divide my open floor plan into two sections and only heat one section.  The thermostat in the other section, the kitchen area, is kept at about 55.  Yep, it's pretty chilly, but my bill is doable, so that's the bottom line.  And there's always my electric throw. And even though it is moving on toward the end of April, nights are still chilly.

Now the water heater is another area where I save.  It is turned down to its lowest setting and I only turn it up when I shower, run the dish washer, or have something I need to wash that HAS to have hot water (I almost always use cold water to wash and rinse my laundry and always full loads---- another savings), and I make sure that I do all three of these things during the same time frame, one after the other, so that the water heater isn't heating to its highest temp except during the hours I am doing these chores.  Huge savings. 

I use my crockpot.  A lot.  I use my convection appliance rather than my oven for everything that will fit in it, except for baked goods (brownies being the one exception I have found so far)  the oven is much better for that.  When I do use the oven I leave the door open when I am finished baking, turn off the heat, and just let the residual heat waft into the kitchen.  And it seems I always find something that has to be cleaned on that kitchen stove while that warm wonderful air is wafting out.................

Then there are all those other things you have heard about I am sure.  Using flourescents instead of incandecent, timers for your lights, turning off the lights when you are not in the room.  Little efforts add up to lots of savings.  Oh, and my bedroom is not heated at all.  I have an electric blanket on the bed during the winter and turn it on about an hour before I hit the hay.  Once snuggled down inside that warm cocoon I turn it off.  The control is slung over my headboard so that if it does get cold during the night it is handy to turn on, but this rarely ever happens.  Flannel jammies are heaven, too. 

Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you got something out of today's blog that you can put to use to save YOU some money.  Sometimes convenience rises above savings, but for me this is what I feel I must do to get by.  It works for me.  In the near future I am hoping I won't have to be quite so frugal, but heck, by that time all of this will be such a habit I will just keep doing it!! Smile, the world wants to see your pretty countenance.

19 April 2010

Dog-on-the-Go

If you tuned in last week, you might remember my post on the wonderful, free, plastic kitty litter buckets my friend Mary has given me. I used one of these marvelous storage units (that's what I am calling them now.  My storage units) for my Dog-on-the-Go bucket. No pun intended here. One of these handy-dandy empty kitty litter buckets contain all the essentials my 2 "kids" may need during a road trip, long or short. I have a plastic dog bowl in there along with a container of water, some dog treats, their leashes, and even a stake in case we are stuck somewhere and have a long wait. If there be grass or ground they are set; they can be outside enjoying some fresh air instead of stuck in the car. I also included an extra brush I had lying around. You know, in case they need to have grass or twigs or something removed from their fur before eagerly jumping back in the car for some 60 mile-an-hour air blasting them in the face as we cruise down the highway with the windows down. I also keep an extra sweater in there for the Toons (AKA The Princess). Bostahuahuas (you know, that dynamite combo of Boston terrier and chihuahua!!) get cold easily. I keep this bucket in my car so Toonie Mae and Charlie always have their things handy and I don't rush out the door and forget something. Makes life easier for all of us.  Happy trails and tails for this crew.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful week.  Don't ya just LOVE all this springtime?  Knuffles ------ that's HUGS in Dutch.

12 April 2010

Free storage............

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was to share some of my ideas and thoughts with you and possibly inspire you in some way. I have to live frugally, and thank God, this comes naturally to me. You may laugh at some of the things I do to make ends meet or may groan in agony claiming there is NO WAY you would ever do that regardless of circumstances, but hey, we do what we have to do, and I do a few things that I didn't think I would ever do either. It's OK. Not everyone will find something they can take away from this blog and use. Others may. And as Alton Brown says "That's OK by me, too". (Alton Brown?  From The Food Network "Good Eats" program.  He's a little goofy.  OK, a lot goofy.  I love his show!!)  If nothing else, perhaps you will get a laugh or two from this goofy blog. And please, feel free to comment on any post --- positively or negatively, it is all welcomed. Here we go.........
A dear friend of mine has cats. Lots of cats. She rescues cats like I rescue dogs, and she goes through a lot of kitty litter. She asked me one day if I had any use for the plastic buckets that the litter comes in. I told her that I could use a couple of them to clean up and store Toonie Mae and Charlie's food in. They eat different types of food ---- more on that later ---. I hate keeping their food in the paper sacks it comes in. The zippered tops are hard for me to open for some reason and they are unsightly when the food is used up past half a bag and the top looks weird. ---- I SEE YOU ROLLING YOUR EYES!!!  ------ . I thought about a plastic garbage can, but that was too big. The large litter buckets are just the right size; I can divide a 40 pound bag of food between two of these and they are easier to handle and store and I don't need a chiropractor's appointment after trying to move them around. My friend told me that she had more of these containers should I need them. Well, the lure of something as interesting as a plastic kitty litter container kept my mind going :-) . Suddenly I envisioned lots of uses for these buckets. One to store my used-only-once-in-a-blue-moon kitchen utensils, one for my income tax papers (I could store them in the garage without worry of them getting damp. Ya never know when Uncle Sam may come knocking), one for the paperback books I have to keep around because I have them listed on http://www.paperbackswap.com/ . You get the idea. Storage. Plastic storage with a secure lid, all the same size. I told my friend that I would take any and all of her kitty litter containers she wanted to get rid of, and when I got home from the matinee at the local movie theatre on Sunday, my front porch was awash in plastic buckets. I immediately began cleaning them up and making labels in 48 point type and printing them out. I attached them to the buckets with some clear mailing tape. I really wanted to spray them with some spray paint made for plastic--- to get rid of the logos --- but the weather was a little cold for that and I just couldn't wait to get started. Maybe sometime in the future. Some people use cardboard boxes for their storage needs and some things can only be stored in a cardboard box because of size, etc. I still have some stuff in cardboard boxes, but anything that will fit in a kitty litter bucket will be stored there. They come in TWO sizes and are a cinch to store. They stack nicely, plastic is weather proof, and they are being repurposed and not disposed of in our landfills. Looks like a win-win situation to me. Oooooooh, the possibilities!!!
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will come back. Have a great week!

05 April 2010

Bits and Pieces

Good morning!  I have two pieces of interesting and helpful items for today's post.  At least I found them to be interesting and helpful. 
The first one is a link to a great little video that shows you how to adjust your car mirrors in order to see into that blind spot that we encounter while sitting in the driver's seat.  I was very impressed with this ---  Here's the link so you can see for yourself.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwzUE6PHk4U

Also, in case you were wondering about that little tab on the right side of my blog about the Animal Rescue Site ------ Please check them out and visit daily.  For clicking a tab on their site you can give .6 bowls of food to animal shelters around the country.  This food is donated by their sponsors in exchange for advertising. There is nothing to sign up for (unless you want to), nor do they email you, or contact you in any way (unless you want them to).  I chose to contact THEM. Included on their homepage is also a small heartwarming rescue story.  I assure you that you will never get any repercussions from clicking on their site.  It's a fabulous way to help the helpless at absolutely no cost to you other than a few minutes of your time each day.  I have it listed in my favorites (or bookmark) and I visit daily. I hope you will, too.  Here's the link http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=3 

Ah, the day after Easter ------ and what to do with all those boiled eggs.  Well, at least the ones that made it through the big hunt!  Here's a recipe you might want to try:

Deviled Eggs
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

•6 large eggs
•2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
•1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  1 Tbsp horseradish (or more if you really like horseradish)
•1 tsp. pickle relish
•1/2 tsp. salt
•paprika for garnish

Preparation:

1.Sort through the hard boiled eggs that are left from the hunt and peel the ones that have promise, then slice in half.
2.Scrape yolks from eggs and place in a small bowl.
3.Add mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, relish, and salt.
4.Spoon mixture into a plastic bag. Cut off one of the bottom corners. Pipe filling into egg white halves.
5.Garnish with paprika.

Serve immediately or refrigerate.
ENJOY!  I love deviled eggs for breakfast........................ no comment, I know!
 
I had some blog problems last week and am so happy it is now fixed!  Computer problems can be so frustrating!!!! Have a wonderful week and thanks so much for stopping by.

02 April 2010

Good morning!  Thanks for stopping by.  Grab a cup of coffee and let's talk moles and planting your garden. Last year I had a tremendous problem with moles. They could be gophers, but I think they are moles. They made unsightly holes in every part of my property and when they invaded the vegetable garden, I lost a lot of plants. Not sure if they were eating the roots or if they just tunneled beneath the plant and broke the roots off. In any case I wanted this problem to be at a minimum this year, so another experiment I am trying involves using one gallon tin cans that I get from the local pizza parlor. I remove the bottoms with a can opener which gives me a solid ring of metal about 10 inches in depth, give or take; I have not measured the cans. I work a little fertilizer into the soil, push the tin can ring into the ground, and then plant the seedling (or larger plant) inside this ring. My thoughts are that this will prevent Mr. Mole from destroying the plant's roots right near the base of the plant and may possibly keep the plant from dying. It will also save on water while the plant is small because I can water just inside the can knowing all water will go directly to the roots. I know my Charlie dog will get a lot of the little demons, but in case he misses a few..........I will keep you posted on how this works as spring and summer progresses.

UPDATE ON THE DOUBLE COVER GARDEN PROJECT:  (Ignore if you live in a warm, wonderful, garden -friendly area!! :-)     It worked!  The pepper plant that I planted, covered with a milk jug and then a Wall-o-Water survived temps in the low 20s, wind, 8 inches of heavy wet snow the first part of April, and several days with no sun.  This gives a jump of no less than TWO months head start on garden plantings as it is never safe to plant before Memorial Day here in Burney as we are never frost free until then ----- the weather may be nice for days on end and then one night we get slammed with freezing temps.  It takes only one night of a dip in the temperature to destroy a lot of hard work and dreams of a bountiful crop of veggies if you forget to cover the plants on that one particular night. Oh how we get lulled into a false sense of security by warm, sunny days.  
Thanks so much for stopping by!  Have a wonderful weekend.

29 March 2010

Garden party.........

It's not exactly the party you are thinking of, but it is definitely a party in my garden. A planting party. It's cold here in the mountains of northern California and our growing season is pretty short, especially when it comes to tomatoes and melons ---- actually there are only a few plants that are not frost tender this time of year. I planted my peas last week, and they should be fine as will the rhubarb plant. I also put in 1 tomato plant and used one of those wall-o-water thingys around it to keep the plant warm at night where it is still getting into the low 20s. I have used these W-O-Ws before and they work very well. Now pepper plants are also very tender but I wanted to see if I could get one planted this early and have it survive. I paid a buck for a small bell pepper plant in a peat pot and put it in the ground at the same time as my tomato plant. In addition to the wall-o-water, I used a plastic milk jug with the bottom cut off and no cap. The order is: pepper plant, milk jug, wall-o-water. My thoughts are that you should use plants in peat pots so you can plant pot and all. This will prevent shock. So far my little pepper plant has survived and thrived. I am thrilled with the results. We had a storm come through this past weekend so I am anxious to see what happens when the night time temps drop even lower, possibly into the teens as it usually does after a storm. If all is well I will be planting my entire garden this coming Saturday ----- a full 2 months before normal planting time in our area. Wouldn't it be wondeful if this works?  I will keep you posted on the results!  Thanks for stopping by.

22 March 2010

Making butter.............

Hey!  Good morning!  I'm so glad you came back to visit.  Now that you know a few things about me and my family, I want to get down to business.  Today we are making butter. Yes - you can make your own butter and it couldn't be easier.  Really!  Trust The Frugal Queen!  Just take 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and put it in your food processor for about 10 minutes.  It might take less, depending on your model.  Once your cream has magically turned yellow and buttery  just squeeze as much moisture out of it as you can and add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt if desired. A piece of cheesecloth works, but a spatula works better. The more moisture you can get out, the longer it will last.  Well ---- this is butter for Pete's sake, it probably won't last long, especially if you slather it on some bread you have whipped up in your bread machine.  It is truly that easy.  Way back when I lived in a little town of 73 people there was  a family who raised cows for milking and I bought my milk from them.  It came in gallon jars and had this thick layer of cream at the top.  The food processor was a new kitchen gadget for me at the time and I was trying to make whipped cream, not understanding that the processor wouldn't incorporate enough air into it to make it white and fluffy.  But it did make butter!  I turned my back for a second or two and when I looked back ------ no whipped cream, but the butter was done!!!

And speaking of butter, I ran across a recipe for making spreadable butter.  Another easy peasy thing to do.  Nothing coming from this blog will NOT be easy.  I am as into EASY as I am into FRUGAL.  If it isn't easy to do, you won't find it here.  Perhaps I am just LAZY --- but as Alton Brown says, "That's OK by me, too".  Just put a cube ( 1/2 cup) of room temperature butter (if you are not into making your own, store bought will do!!) into your food processor along with 1/2 cup olive oil (or canola) . Whizz away until blended well. If it doesn't blend to your liking, add 2 tablespoons of water. Store in a pretty little dish in your refrigerator.  Now how easy was that?  Not only does this make it easier to spread, it also stretches your butter budget.  Have a great day! 

Oh, but before you go, I must show you a picture of the little Princess riding in her carriage..............usually she is by herself, but that sweet human face peeking through is my grandson Fletcher.  His dad talked him into taking a ride in my bike trailer with Toonie Mae. I can visualize some cute scrapbook pages out of the pictures I took of these two!

15 March 2010

Meet my kids..............



















I am one of those people who thinks everyone should
have a dog. Or two. Since I am just starting out with this personal blog adventure, I wanted you to meet my family. Now this isn't my human family. I have 2 wonderful sons, 3 fabulous grandchildren, and 5 wonderful step grands, and I love them dearly. The family I am talking about is the family that I have now. The ones who live with me on a daily basis. My two dogs, AKA my "kids". My Bostahuahua, Toonie Mae Hound Princess Dog of Burney and Charlie, my wire hair fox terrier. I made up that breed name, the Bostahuahua. You see, Tooners is a Boston terrier and chihuahua cross. I am pretty sure she isn't one of those deliberate "designer dogs", more the product of a one night stand, but if this isn't a legit breed, it should be. Wonderful little dog. She's the mascot for my nail salon and most of my clients say hello to her before they do me. And they notice if I leave her home. Which hardly ever happened until I got Charlie. Charlie doesn't like the smell of acrylic so I only bring him with me to the salon for a half day on occasion, when acrylics aren't on the menu. I sometimes leave The Princess home to keep him company. She is not fond of this treatment and lets me know her displeasure, but she gets over it fast enough. But I digress. I am fostering Charlie in hopes of adopting him sometime down the line. He is the casualty of divorce, the father of the family leaving and then the mother ending up leaving a few months later abandoning this sweetheart in the backyard to whatever fate handed him. Not sure how long he had been in that backyard but when he came to live with me, he was extremely thin and fearful. But he holds no grudge and has not let that horrible treatment interfere with his chance at a new life. Dogs are so resilient! The heartless cruelty that some people can impose on helpless creatures is something I will never understand. There is NO excuse for this. None. But I won't get on my soapbox on that subject. At least not now. So here are my two "kids" in all their sweetness. I am sure you will get to know them a lot better as we head further down the path of our new life.
I do not intend to let life's circumstances deter me from marching on into a new life either. Yes, times are tough, but I am tougher. The dogs and I will be fine and everyday has something to be thankful for. Well, maybe a snowy day when it is almost spring could bring a setback :-), but we are nothing if not resilient. This too shall pass. I thank you for stopping by and please do so again. Have a wonderful, week, and please.........count your blessings! Adios from the Three Amigos.

08 March 2010

My single life

Thank you for stopping by my blog. This endeavor to share my life with the world will focus on the single life. My single life. My life with my two dogs, Toonie Mae Hound Princess Dog of Burney, and Charlie, the wire hair fox terrier that I am fostering for our local dog rescue group and hoping to adopt sometime in the future. He's older, was abandoned, and is hard of hearing and partially blind in one eye. A little worse for wear, but settling into our humble household and has become a treasured member of my family. Toonie Mae is also a rescued dog that I have had 6+ years. She is a sweetheart, truly a Princess, afraid of nothing, and I try to pattern my life after her stellar attitude. Not the princess part, but her lack of fear, her idea that a nap can fix anything, and an attitude that all will be well.

My thoughts, at this point, are to post this on-line journal approximately once a week. It will be a ragtag mix of my personal journey, my dogs' lives, some tips (well probably a lot of tips) on how I get by, maybe a recipe or two, some tidbits of advice. ..... well, you get the idea. A bit of this and a bit of that.


First a brief background. I was married for 14 years and did not, at this point in my life, think I would be heading into my golden years alone. But booze, and affairs, and bad choices made my husband decide that he would rather end our marriage. I can't understand why he thought my objections to these things were unreasonable. Do you? The marriage was not a particularly good one even before these things started and upon reading through my personal journals my eyes were opened to what I should have seen coming. However, I had decided to tough it out, but, as bad things go, this one went. So I found myself on my own. I let my lawyer lead -- isn't that what they are supposed to do? -- and ended up with enough money to buy a little house built in the early 40s. This is a good thing, but on the other hand he, meaning the ex, pulled some "maneuvers", and I took some bad advice from my lawyer and did not pursue alimony. The process of our divorce went on and on and I just wanted to get it over with. Not the best choice, but on the other hand I do not have to confront him or deal with him any longer and had I chosen to go to court with the pursuit of living expenses I would most likely have had to deal with him forever. So I continue to try and support myself with a struggling nail salon and looking for a part-time position to fill in the gaps of my money woes. I have been through a medical transcription course that has proven not to work for me, but that is another post. This is a tough economy and I live in a small town with not much in the way of opportunities, but, like the Tooners would say if she could talk, "It's all life, my dear, carry on." So I do.

So what happened next? I moved to my little house by the creek, changed my name back to my children's Sir name and life goes on. Please stop by again!