Monday, June 27, 2011

Remember these 7 P's in an Evacuation Emergency

Dear Friends,
The fires in Arizona and New Mexico are really heavy this year.  One has started north of us that we can see the heavy plume of smoke and if we go up higher we can see an entire mountain top range in flames.  For us, thankfully, it is not going in our direction, but it is moving VERY close to other towns and people are being evacuated.  It saddens my heart that there are people losing everything they own.  What saddens my heart even more is to know that some of these fires have been man made.  If nature created them that is one thing, but when it is careless human caused that makes me oh so sad and angry.

We can't control nature and its tragic effects of nature can happen to all of us anywhere.  Mike and I were born and raised in Kansas, tornado alley.  We lived in Florida the year hurricane Katrina came through.  We weren't affected by Katrina, but that year 4 hurricanes came into the gulf and we were hit by hurricane Charley and we watched the water rise into our living room and saw pieces of our home blow down the street.  (We should have evacuated but didn't)  I think it is good to be prepared for at home emergencies such as when we experience a layoff.  We need to be prepared with our finances and have some money in reserve.  It is also good to have extra food in our pantry and meals in our freezer.  When we lived in Florida we purchased a small generator.  This way, should we lose electricity for extended periods of time we could keep the refrigerator and freezer running as well as have minimal lighting in the home. 

Then there are times when evacuation is necessary.  I hope and pray it never happens to anyone of us  If it should, just keep these 7 P's in the back of your mind so that you can recall them and grab the true necessities before leaving home.
  1. People
  2. Pets
  3. Personal Computer
  4. Prescriptions
  5. Paperwork
  6. Pictures
  7. Phone (cell phone)
With regards to your personal computer.  One thing you should consider having on it is an inventory of your home's contents.  Pictures are beneficial  to an insurance company.  As a side note, should you ever lose all the food in your refrigerator and freezer due to losing electricity for a long time, take a picture of the inside and it's contents before cleaning it up.  Then you can prove that you had expensive rib eye steak and delicious mahi-mahi  in the freezer that spoiled.  In our home I have all our photo albums in one area.  If necessary, I could grab them quickly and wouldn't be running all around the house to gather them.  Our important paper work is in a small fire safe.  I could just grab it and know that I have things like birth certificates, car and house titles, baptism certificates, social security cards and more.  Prescriptions should also be kept in one place.  I keep all of mine in a basket in our pantry.  If needed, I could just grab the basket and go.

So as you can see, organization is a key in emergency preparedness.  I hope you never need to evacuate, but if you should, I pray you and your family and pets would be safe and that you could quickly grab these 7P's and get out.

Blessings and may God's grace keep us and our loved ones safe,

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Parchment Paper Trend

Here is a trend I'm seeing lately.  Instead of lining your muffin tins with cupcake liners, cut squares of parchment paper and place in the muffin tins.  Then add your muffin or cupcake batter and bake as usual.  If your parchment paper wants to pop out of the tins, just give a very quick spritz with cooking spray. 

The parchment paper gives an elegant fresh look to muffins and cupcakes.
Happy Homemaking,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How To - Never Lose Your Scissors

Hi Friends,
I know some people who only have one pair of scissors and who hunt for them endlessly.  I personally have scissors for sewing, paper, kitchen scissors, yard scissors and a few extras. 

For specific scissors, take a fairly long piece of pretty ribbon and tie one end to the hole in the scissors.  Then tie the other end to where you want to keep it.  Just make sure the ribbon is long enough that you can cut with the scissors without having to untie it.

I have a little thread scissors tied to my sewing machine for snipping threads as I sew.
I have a scissors tied to a hook in the laundry room where I cut off loose threads that I notice when washing clothes.
I have a scissors tied to the bar in our closet to cut off tags from new clothing and loose threads.

It is a huge time saver to have scissors handy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Have You Heard of the 15:4 Rule?

Good Morning Girls,
Have you heard of the 15:4 rule?  It is 15 minutes of planning can save you 4 hours of time. 

It's true.  For instance, taking just a moment to write things down on the calendar and checking the calendar daily can save us a ton of time.  Just think if we missed appointments or activities.  Then we need to make phone calls apologising.  If we don't take 15 minutes and plan our meals for the week then we are spending extra trips and gas running to the store for last minute items.  Have you ever rushed out the door to an appointment and forgotten something you were supposed to bring?  That means an extra trip to bring back that item you forgot.  Another example is rushing out the door to run errands and forgetting the library books that needed to be returned.  Taking just a few precious minutes to plan your day can save hours of time. 

I don't know who first came up with the 15:4 rule but the numbers are probably pretty accurate.  So take those 15 minutes and plan your day.

Happy Homemaking,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What is a Mug Rug? Let me show you!

Hi Friends,
Have you seen these little cuties floating around the internet lately?  I love these things!  They are called a mug rug.  What is a mug rug you ask?  A mug rug is like a mini quilt that is somewhere in size between a coaster and a place mat.  Most I've seen are rectangular in shape but I've seen heart shaped and flower shaped ones as well.  They are made to set your beverage on as well as a crumbly baked good.  You are encouraged to eat off these sweet mats!  I think this is just a nice little touch as I sit quitely with my coffee and spend time with our Lord.
If you are a scrapbooker, you probably know what ATC's are.  IMHO, this is the ATC in the sewing world except sizes vary unlike the ATC's.  These mug rugs are embellished lavishly and traded in sewing and quilting circles.  One of the best parts is that they use your scraps!  I'm going to encourage you to google mug rugs and you will see the beautiful work quilters have done in making these.  Some are true mini works of art!

Let me tell you how I made my mug rug.
I found my favorite size to be 5 1/2" x 11".  I like this size where the length is double from the height.  The binding you see around the edge is the backing of my mug rug just wrapped around to the front.  You could finish the edge in bias tape or with another binding, but I find it is super easy to just wrap the backing around to the front side, fold it under so there is no raw edge, and stitch.  There is a piece of batting 5 1/2" x 11" sandwiched between the front and back.

I made my mug rug just last night and it took about an hour.  The only real embellishing I did is I stitched this little phrase with my sewing machine.

Here is the back side of my mug rug.  I cut the backing one inch wider than the mug rug so that I could wrap it around to the front and fold under my raw edges. 

So my top fabric I did first and pieced the pieces together and then squared it up to a size of 5 1/2" x 11".  I cut a piece of batting 5 1/2" x 11".  I cut the backing 7 1/2" x 13".

Here was my first attempt at making a mug rug.  This was leftover fabric from my son's curtains that I sewed several years ago.  The fabric is printed to have this pieced look to it.  This mug rug happens to be 5" x 10".  That is when I decided I wanted my next one to be just a bit larger.  This will be great for his room though. 

Have you tried to make one of these?  Send me a picture if you have.  What else are you sewing or crafting these days?  I'd love to hear!
Happy Homemaking,
This post links to the following blog parties:
sew many ways

Monday, June 20, 2011

How To - First Aid Kit For Your Car

Hi Friends,
With my background in nursing and my family being very involved in scouting we follow the scouting motto of "be prepared".  We always have a first aid kit in each of our vehicles.  You can always get a complete store bought kit which is fine and contains many items.  I just have my own items in a plastic pencil box.  You can pick up these plastic pencil boxes for a quarter right befor school starts.  Today I want to share with you what I keep in our kit.  It is very basic but it does the trick when needed.  Unfortunately, it is needed far too often.

  • Bandaids of various sizes, but mostly the size that is a strip which will wrap around a finger

  • Tube of Neosporin or antibiotic ointment

  • Twissors

  • Small bottle of Tylenol

  • Small bottle of Ibuprofen

  • Small bottle of Tums

  • Sharpie marker
The Sharpie marker is to mark on the little medicine bottles.  Those little bottles are expensive so I refill them from a larger bottle that I get at Sams Club or Costco.  When I refill the little bottles I use the Sharpie marker to write the expiration date on the little bottle of what the expiration date on the large bottle was.
Having a Sharpie marker has come in handy from time to time as well for things other than first aid.

One more thing I keep in the vehicles but it doesn't fit in the first aid kit is a container of antibacterial hand wipes.  I personally prefer this over things like the hand sanitizers because I feel with a hand wipe I can actually remove dirt from our hands.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How To - Make a Compost Bucket

Hi Friends,
I've mentioned before that I'm wanting to do more composting in the garden.  You can read my fertilizing post HERE.  My soil is pure sand with no very little nutrients as I live in the desert.  I have been wanting to begin composting to create some nutrition for my soil.and so in my search, ran across this video on how to make a compost bucket here at Frugal and Simple Living.  I think it is a great idea.  They show how to use a 5 gallon paint bucket for composting.  Air holes are drilled and some mesh is added.  Being able to roll the bucket around to mix the contents should be super handy.  I actually made one of these the other day.  I will say, I only used a 3/16" drill bit so my holes are much smaller as I'm afraid my compost will dry out if I go larger.  I also did not add the mesh that they used in the video because I made smaller holes.  It's an experiment and I'll update you in a few weeks as to my results.
I do want a larger compost bin though and have been looking at Lowes and Home Depot at their composting containers  For a real compost container they want about $100.  I'd to make my own.  I'm wanting something larger than my paint bucket that I've started out with, maybe 10 to 20 gallons and have looked at lidded trash cans, but they seem like flimsy plastic and even some in the stores have a crack in them. 
Here is my question....Do any of you know where I could get a large 10 to 20 gallon round heavy duty lidded container for my composting?  I'm wondering if there is a type of business that receives shipments in containers such as this and would have some just lying around that they would be willing to just give away.  Any ideas here?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How To - Make Your Own Dryer Sheets

Good Morning Friends,

Did you know you can make your own dryer sheets. Oh yes you can!!!

Take a spray bottle. In it mix 1/2 cup liquid fabric softener and 1 cup water. Spray mist an old washcloth, or an old towel that has been cut up into rags. Put the washcloth into the dryer with your clothes. Just shake the bottle to mix the contents and remist the washcloth for each dryer load being sure to shake the spray bottle before each application.

What a savings! Just be sure to take a Sharpie marker and label the spray bottle with its contents.

Friends, if you are enjoying How To Homemaker, would you please let others know I am here on the web. I would so appreciate it. You can let others know by placing How To Homemaker on your blog roll, you can grab my button for your blog or you can mention me in a blog post with a link. If you do any of these things, please let me know and I will be most happy to do the same for you! Your sites for me to link to or for me to mention in one of my blog posts MUST be family friendly. Either leave a comment here or send me an e-mail to basketmaster_nancy(at)yahoo(dot)com


Monday, June 13, 2011

I Love my Canning Jars

Hi Friends,

What a beautiful summer day we have been having here.  The smoke has died down in our neck of the woods.  The massive Arizona fire is slowly being contained and my prayers continue to go out to those families who have had losses due to the fire.

For my new visitors, thank you for stopping by and for my new followers you have been me!

I've been seeing some really sweet ideas for using canning jars or also called Mason jars.  There is just something about a Mason jar that says summer.

I have several dozen around the house here and I do more with them than just canning.  I thought I'd share with you just a few ideas that we do.

This is REALLY neat, make a bird feeder or candy dispenser. Use a quart size mason jar, and you will need what's called a "chicken feeder". You can find them fairly easy on just type in "mason jar feeder" when you are doing your searches. Simply fill it up with bird seed or for a candy dispenser use small candies like Skittles and M&M's.

Making layered cookie mixes is something I do for quick and easy gifts. You can NEVER go wrong with this! It adds a nice touch if you find some material to cover the lids. Here's what you do:

*Fill the jar with your recipe.
*Cut out a square piece of material, at lease 4"x4", and place it over the lid, now screw on the ring.

*Write down the instructions for making the recipe mix (ingredients & measurements, oven setting, cooking times) on a note card, hole punch the card, and use ribbon to attach the card to the jar. Simply thread the ribbon through the hole and tie the remaining ribbon around the rim of the jar.

Use it as a soap dispenser. You can find the tops at use the search "mason jar soap dispenser tops".

Use them as a vase. You can also add ribbon for decoration.

We use them for drinking glasses.  Just fill with some fresh squeezed lemonade and add a straw!  Perfect for a hot summer day.
Happy Homemaking,

This post links to:
The Gypsy's Corner
Costal Charm

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How To - Create a Kitchen Windowsill Garden

Good Morning Friends,
I always have herbs and plants growing on my kitchen windowsill.  There is nothing better than when I'm cooking and need some thyme to be able to pinch off a few leaves to add to my recipe.  Not only that, plants just make me happy and I like looking at them.  My kitchen window is just above my sink so having a kitchen garden to look at when I'm doing the dishes is a joy to me.

Here are a few tips to growing your own windowsill garden. 

1.  Make sure you have a sunny windowsill where your herbs will survive. A south or southeast window would be perfect if it gets at least 5 to 6 hours of sun per day and is away from drafts.

2.  Purchase some of your favorite small herb plants from your local nursery or start from seed.

3.  Get containers that are at least 6 inches deep to allow for root growth.  How about using a sweet Mason jar.

4.  Put a 2-3 inch layer of potting mix into the bottom of your container.

5.  Place your herb in the container.

6.  Finish filling in with the potting mix, firming gently around the plants. Leave about an inch at the top of the container for watering.

7.  Water sparingly. Herbs don't like to sit in wet soil.

8.  Feed once a month with a fertilizer labeled for use on edibles.

9.  If you purchased plants rather than seed, give them a chance to get used to their new surroundings. Once you see new growth, you can start using your herbs.

10.  Never trim more than 1/3 of the plant at a time.

Some good choices for indoor herbs are:  chives, basil, parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, coriander, cilantro and chives.

Enjoy your kitchen garden.  I'm sure it will make you smile just like mine does for me.  Just remember, these plants do need lots of sun.  I do want to say, I wish my garden looked like the picture above.  Mine is more of a hodge podge of different containers.  You can use most anything as a container, an old coffee can, mason jar, and so on.  Just tie a pretty ribbon around the neck of your containers to give it a special look!

Happy Homemaking,

Friday, June 10, 2011

How To - Get the Grease Off - My Secret Weapon!

Good Morning Friends,
Today I'm going to share with you one of my secret weapons.  It is GOJO.  It is a gritty hand cleaner.  I've found that it works for much more than just hands.

(I'm not getting any reimbursement from GOJO and this is NOT an advertisement for it, but sometimes I think I should buy stock in the company as we like it that much.) 
We keep a bottle of this under our kitchen sink because it is so handy.  I get mine in the super size at Sam's Club or Costco.  I'm going to tell you what I use it on but...

*Because this has a grit to it, test it in an inconspicuous location first to make sure it doesn't leave a scratch.*

I use it to clean the grill, both the outside of it and the grates.  The outside of the grill gets plenty of cooked on grease splatters and this takes it right off.  I'm not a clean freak and I don't clean the grill often, but if we are having company over for a patio party, I want the grill to look decent.

My kitchen stove is gas and I use GOJO to clean the cast iron burners.  I also use it to clean the knobs on the stove.  I've used it in the oven as well, but I'm sure to use a wet rag and make sure it's all removed before running the oven.  GOJO does have an orange fragrance to it.

I use it to clean the bottoms of my skillets from time to time (maybe once a year) when I'm thinking they are looking disgusting.  My skillets and pots hang from a pot rack in the kitchen so they are in plain view all the time.

My microwave is directly above my stove.  I've used GOJO to clean the outside of the microwave and get the grease splatters off of it.

I use it on my clothes.  Yes, you heard me right.  If I spill something on my clothes, I rub a bit into the spot and rinse it out.  Most of my clothing is t-shirts and jeans material.  I've not tried it on any delicate fabrics.

I've even use this on the carpet when the kids spilled some raviolis with tomato sauce.  (don't ask me why they were eating on the living room carpet)  It took the stain out with a little elbow grease.

When using it on my cast iron burners or the grill,  just rub it on with a terry cloth rag.  I don't even wash it off of those items, I just wipe it off with a clean rag.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How To - Make your Own Carpet and Mattress Freshener

Hi Friends,

A couple of times a year I like to use a carpet freshener because the house just feels and smells stuffy. I particularly like to use it in the spring after the house has been closed up all winter.

Here is a simple recipe you can make yourself and it costs only pennies. It is also safe to have little ones crawling on the carpet or safe for pets after using this.

All you need is one cup of baking soda and a few drops of your favorite smelling essential oil.

Place baking soda in a zip-lock baggie and add a few drops of the oil.

Shake the bag.

Let the bag set for a couple of days so the baking soda absorbs the fragrance well.

Sprinkle the mixture lightly over your carpet and let it set for about an hour. The baking soda will pull out any odors from the carpet.

Vacuum it up. Your carpet and home will smell wonderful.

You can also sprinkle this mixture on your mattress and then vacuum it off the mattress to create a sweet smell for your slumber.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How To - Remove Odors from a Front Load Washing Machine

Hi Friends,

I received a reader question about how to remove the mildew smell from a front loading washing machine. I know that smell and I have a front loading washer as well. I don't know if all front loaders work the same. Mine is a Kenmore. What I do is during the wash cycle, I open the drawer on the top where I put my detergent in. In the same spot where the detergent goes, I add approximately 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, the cheep stuff you buy by the gallon. I don't measure it, just approximately 1/2 cup. That goes in and mixes with the final rinse. It takes care of the mildew smell and also helps break down soap in the clothes so they can be rinsed cleaner. Don't worry, your clothing WON'T come out smelling like vinegar. They come out smelling fresh.

The second tip is when you are finished washing your clothes, don't close the door to the washing machine tightly. Leave it open a crack to dry out and to prevent the mildew smell from returning. Prevention is the best medicine.

For those of you with top loading washing machines, your lid doesn't seal tightly like the front loaders so most likely you don't have this problem with mildew odors. You can add again about 1/2 cup vinegar to the final rinse. You'll be surprised how fresh your clothes come out.

Hope that helps!


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