Since the pantry is behind closed doors, it's easy to constantly take food out and put more in without giving much thought to its order (or the stuff wedged in the back!) But over time,
things can become so disorganized that you forget what you have, and food goes bad or you end up buying more of something you don't need.
-Begin by removing everything from the pantry and clean the space. Lay everything out on a countertop or table, and take stock of what you actually have.
-Start by throwing out any expired foods. Then, organize foods into like groups, like canned goods, spice packets, and cereals.
-If you have a lot of small items like dry soup mixes and spice packets, try hanging a plastic shoe organizer on the inside of the door. The compartments are the perfect size for smaller odds and ends that tend to get lost.
-To help other family members put food back in the right place, try labeling the shelves with a Label Maker for organizational ease.
There is nothing quite like planning the garden to make you ready for spring to hurry up and get here! So this past week, as we watched December's snow melt and some warmer than average
temperatures tease us - Mary and I put the finishing touches on our 2013 garden plan.
Many old standby's remain in this year's plan. A healthy planting of Roma (24 ea.) and Celebrity (8 ea.) tomato plants that are the staples for our pasta and pizza sauce, salsa and ketchup that we make and can. Also back: hot banana, jalapeno, cayenne and Cajun Belle peppers that we use in our hot pepper grinds, powders, and of course Mary's famous hot pepper mustard.
New editions to the garden this year will be rows of head lettuce and cabbage, the multi-colored sweet mini peppers that are becoming popular, and a small row of popcorn.
We always leave a row empty for trying new plants we might find at a nursery or greenhouse. It seems like we are always coming home with at least one unplanned plant at every stop! It is, after all, how we stumbled upon the Cajun Belle a few years back, an amazing appetizer and salsa pepper. And last year it led to finding the Italian Roaster, a great tasting and grilling pepper. They both have become two of our recent favorites. If we can get our hands on a ghost pepper this year (one of the hottest peppers in the world) - we will definitely plant one - but then that just makes for some tense moments this fall when we have to try it!
As we do each year, we rotate the garden rows to use new areas for last year's plantings. Our peppers and tomatoes will move from the top rows down to the bottom section of raised beds, and our greens, potatoes and beans to the top. In addition to rotating the sections - we also flip the rows from where we planted them the last time they were in these beds - so it becomes 4 years before the same plant goes into the same space.
We will also be changing how we plant our cucumbers and zucchini this year - using the straw bale method. We will fill the two rows used to grow them with a line of straw bales. Then, we will dig out (3), 12" deep and 12" diameter circles in each bale and fill them with a rich topsoil/compost soil mix to plant the zucchini and cucumbers in. The plants can then grow above and off the ground, with the straw helping to hold their moisture in. The bales also provide a cascading support for the vines and hopefully, lots and lots of cucumbers and zucchini.
One new edition will be the installation of the 5' post and board fence all around the garden. Up until this year, we only had the fence along the front - more as a decoration than anything. But the deer have found our garden to their liking over the winter. Moreover, I think it might be the lush green cover crop of winter rye that they found under the snow that they love! Deer have never really bothered the garden too much in the past, but we figure fencing it will keep it that way!
When completed, we will also have the garden silo. It will hold tons of shredded leaves collected from last fall to use as mulch on garden plants and rows - and to add organic material to compost batches throughout the season. Along side of the silo will be the double compost bin and one of our 275 rain water collection tanks. The tank holds enough rainwater to water the garden for 20 days, and is filled from our rain collection tanks from the barn roof.
No matter what happens, one thing is for sure - we will have fun with the whole gardening process!
Happy gardening! - Jim and Mary
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One of our most popular series on the HTRC is on Air-Sealing& Insulating especially in regards to the attic. For most of us living inthe South we are concerned with keeping the heat from
the attic out of ourhomes during the summer. During the winter the issue flips a 180° for those upnorth who want to keep the heat out of the attic & stop a major cause ofice dams. The nice thing about an insulated attic hatch is it performs bothfunctions quite well & helps one #KeepCozy. Besides the materials below allyou need is a tape measure, a utility knife or saw, and a caulk gun.
For this attic hatch you need:
2" thick foam-board (4×8 sheet) with an R-Value of 10 orgreater (you might need two sheets for larger hatches or to make it thicker)
8 -20' foamweather stripping (the wider the better)
1 can Great Stuff® foam or similar
1 tube Liquid Nail® or other construction adhesive
Misc. hardware & 2 small bungee cords to seal ittight
Getting started – depending on your region & insulationlevels you need to rip the side pieces at 11". For our friends up north thatrequire an R49 in the attic it should be ripped at 15". Make sure you leave thefactory edges for the lid to sit on. Move any insulation in the way gently outof the way & place the side pieces in place.
Attaching the pieces – The end pieces should span the sidepieces unless you are doubling up the foam. Apply Liquid Nail to where thepieces will meet & put them in place. I simply used some 16 penny nailsinserted through the side to help hold everything in place while the glue set. Oncethese panels were in place, I foamed up all the seams any cracks and theadjoining areas. Not only does this stop air leakage but also helps keep everythingin place. On top of this, simply add some self-stick foam insulation to helpensure any imperfections don't allow air-leaks.
The Lid – the lid overlaps the side assembly by about aninch which means you don't have to fidget with it trying to get it justperfect. To help hold it in place, I just used some eye hooks – 2 short ones toattach into the wood & two longer ones for the lid. I also added 2 differentsize washers (a small one that would prevent a larger 1 ½" washer from slippingpast the nut) & some nuts to attach to the lid. Then I simply used a smallbungee cord to help hold the lid down.
A few other quick notes – If you do not wish to create yourown, you might want to check out Battic Door which makes a great product withan R-Value of R50. One other option is foam board with Radiant barrier alreadyintegrated into it – if you go that route it should be facing in towards the interiorof the house for best results. To see the original article with a few more tips& links: http://blog.sls-construction.com/2011/air-se...
I made laundry detergent from washing soda, baking soda, Borax, and castile soap. Here's the recipe: Now you need to measure with a tin can (just a regular tin can, like the kind that
corn comes in). In a large container with a tight-fitting lid, mix 3 cans of Borax, 3 cans of baking soda, 3 cans of washing soda, and an 8 ounce bottle of castile soap. I found that stirring didn't work very well, so I put the lid on the container and shook it up really well.
I have been really pleased with this detergent. Dissolved in hot water (it is not as good in cold water), it actually removed stains and oils, and it makes the laundry smell really clean and fresh.
Although this is not our area of expertise, we thought we'd pass on this information that was tested by our employees. They are always talking about their own home repairs and we thought
this was an interesting topic and solution.
Rust in the bathroom is usually the result of two related situations. Either iron-containing metals in your bathroom fixtures have begun to rust OR your mineral-rich water supply contains iron particles and has begun to stain areas where water runs. This happens even with a porcelain tub as two of our employees found out.
Bleach and Tilex made the rust stains worse and they sparked another chemical reaction, creating more rust stains on the non-skid surface on the tub floor. Other products that either made things worse or didn't work at all: Lysol, toilet bowl cleansers, Soft Scrub, Goof Off, Awesome, Comet, Simple Green, Mean Green, Magic Eraser and CLR,
However, we found 2 things that really worked: Clorox2 and Hydrogen Peroxide. The Clorox2 worked best and required less scrubbing. Just pour either product on the stain and let it sit. Then scour gently with a damp sponge and rinse. If the stains are really bad you may have to repeat the process twice.