Friday, October 15, 2010

Homemade Christmas Gifts From the Kitchen

It's coming up on the season of giving. So many folks give, give, give till they are BROKE! Here's a collection of links to help you build homemade Christmas gifts that won't break the bank.

Cookies In A Jar Recipes

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Food Gifts From Your Kitchen

Assorted Jar Recipes

Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Canning Jars and Equipment

Several years ago, I decided to learn to can. Canning has been a blessing for us! I now can have convenience foods. After a busy day, when I have forgotten to plan something for dinner, I can pull a couple of quarts of soup off of the shelf, throw together a sandwich and call it dinner. I can have home canned beans ready for burritos in a flash. I haven't run out of jam since I first began making it (though there is a downside. I can not enjoy store bought jam any's gross!)

Jars are one of the biggest expenses when beginning canning. At up to $12.00 for a dozen quarts, they are a big investment! I found this stack of jars for half-price at Walmart a week or so ago. Who can pass that up?! I bought a few for a friend, too, who had mentioned that she was out of jars. Make sure to watch for clearance things at the change of the seasons!

An even better way to get jars is to simply ask around. When I began collecting jars, I asked friends and acquaintances if they had any taking up room in the garage. I asked on our homeschool loop, Craig's List and Freecycle, too. You wouldn't believe the number of jars I received simply for the asking! Yes, they were dusty and dirty. One group was even disgusting, all buried in a filthy shed for decades. But they wash. Bleach works wonders. Hundreds and hundreds of jars for free are worth the work!

I was also given a full set of water bath canning tools, the big pot and a ton of rings, all for free, and was able to purchase a wonderful pressure canner for only $15. I got my second pressure canner on E-Bay for less than $50-with shipping.

Tattler lids are another thing to consider. I haven't used them, but have heard that they work well. They would be a good investment for the beginner canner. I bought a large supply of standard type of lids through my co-op, Azure Standard. Their bulk price is better than I could get them at the stores, locally. Then, a friend in North Dakota mentioned that her little general store sold them very inexpensively. She bought a case of each for me and shipped them in a very inexpensive manner. I have lids to last for years. :)

Canning can be affordable if you are patient and watch for the deals.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Homemade Facial Scrub Recipes

Having a houseful of teens means getting requests for facial scrubs. Rather than buying a chemical-filled concoction, try one of these recipes!

Mix equal parts of salt and light olive oil. Rub paste on face in a circular motion. Rinse clean.

Mix baking soda and water to make a paste. Add a drop of tea tree oil and stir well. Apply to face, let sit three minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Make a paste of white granulated sugar and milk. Add a squirt of lemon juice. Adjust sugar to the grittiness desired. Carefully wash face, without scrubbing too hard. Rinse clean.

You can also add ground oatmeal, olive oil and/or honey to the above recipes. You can scent them with any essential oils that you enjoy. Experiment until you get a combination that works well with your (or your child's) skin type! Try using the scrub on your forearm first to ensure you are not sensitive to any ingredients. Do not scrub your skin hard! You will damage your skin and cause yourself pain and possibly even wounds.