Monday, November 23, 2009

Hand-stitched Wool Dryer Balls

What do I do in my spare time? Which is usually only on the trip to Wisconsin every weekend :-)

I have been making wool dryer balls. I love these things. Besides being fun to play with, they are a great addition to your laundry room. Here is a list of things they do...

1. Save you money by cutting down on your drying times. You can possibly cut 25-30% off the time it takes you to dry a load of laundry. Another savings is not having to buy toxic dryer sheets. (See below for list of ingredients.)

2. Eliminate the static

3. Soften your clothes

4. Keep the kids entertained. Yes, they are a great toy.

Things they don't do...

1. Coat the lint screen. I never knew dryer sheets did this until I did a little research. That can make drying times longer, burn out the heating element & be a fire hazard.

2. Pollute the air, inside & out. See info below...

3. Fold your laundry. Sorry :-)

List of just some of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets

Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer

Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant

Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders

Limonene: Known carcinogen

A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage

Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list

Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders

Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic

Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders

Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

Fabric softeners stay in your clothing for long periods of time. The chemicals chemicals are slowly released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb. Dryer sheets are particularly noxious because they are heated in the dryer & the chemicals are released through dryer vents & out into the environment. Health effects from being exposed to the chemicals in fabric softeners include:

Central nervous system disorders





Blood pressure reduction

Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract

Pancreatic cancer

So, do you still want to throw those little sheets in your dryer? If not, check out the little ad in the side bar and try some out. I have lots of happy customers so far. And...besides being environmentally friendly, they are post traumatic stress disorder friendly. This is what keeps me busy while Steve is driving. Very effective!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday at the Farm

Had a busy day today at the farm, putting up more insulation. We are almost done. I also mowed one last time around the barn while our neighbor Jim mowed the long grasses on the perimeter with his tractor. He is such a great neighbor!
We went into town to get more 2x4's & some foil backed thin insulation for the pex tubing in the basement. We still need to get one more 500 foot roll of it when it comes in next week at Green Home Solar.
Tomorrow John will come back & finish the radiant heat.
We are going out to eat tonight & to a concert at Green Man Music Hall. Have to get ready for our "date night" :-) .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Planting Garlic-How Many Kinds?

Garlic planted & tucked in

There are so many different kinds of garlic. Last year I planted seven kinds & this year I added nine more. If you are only used to eating the one variety in the store, make sure you seek out different kinds. You won't be dissapointed.

Here is a list of the garlic planted this year...

Inchelium Red
Silver White
Red Toch
Italian Late
Silver Rose
German Pocelain
Red Estonian
Georgian Crystal
Chinese Red & White
Brown Tempest

The total cloves planted were 382. That's a lot of garlic. But we do love garlic and try to eat some everyday to keep us healthy. We eat it raw. Cooking degrades it & microwaving destroys the allicin which has antibiotic properties. Cut up a clove, let it sit for 10 minutes, and add some honey to it & down the hatch! We are rarely sick. This might be why. I also cook with it but don't count that as my "healthy garlic dose".

Check out the We Grow Garlic website. The link takes you to the varieties they sold in 2009. There were more kinds I would have ordered but I waited until the end of August to place my order. & a lot of them were sold out. Need to mark the calendar next year for a July order.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We've Been Busy the Last Few Weeks

Time to catch up with some writing. The weeks are flying by. The last time I wrote about the farm was when we were putting up pex tubing for the radiant floor heat. By the time we go up to the farm this weekend, it should be all hooked up & running. So exciting! Then we will staple foil insulation under the joists to hold in the heat & we will have warm floors (and toes :-).

We have been insulating the walls & the ceiling the last couple weeks. This is a pic of the blue jean insulation we used from Home Green Home in Viroqua. It is not toxic, and a great insulator.

Over the blue jean insulation we put two inch extruded insulation. In a typical building, the wood studs are a conductor of cold (or heat) through the drywall. By putting insulation over the studs touching the outside wall, we are breaking that barrier and should have a better insulated home. (The horizontal studs are attached over the vertical ones.)

Shane stopped over at our house to see Kristin on the Saturday before the shower

Kristin at her shower.

I stayed home the weekend of the 7th & 8th for Kristin's baby shower & Steve went up to the farm & began working on the ceiling insulation. Working above your head is NOT fun, but he got a lot accomplished.He continued working on the ceiling insulation this last weekend while I worked outside on planting the garlic. Here he is putting up another beam for extra support. Someday we will have a guest area in the upper level. We are taking our work van up to the farm now with supplies like insulation & drywall. I am also cleaning out any clutter from the townhouse to get it ready to put on the market after the holidays. We want to take advantage of the tax credit for home buyers. It might spur a few more people to buy. That ends April 30th, 2010. Wish us luck!

Some news about Eli & Lizzie....Eli cut off the tip of his finger while using his table saw to make baskets. He is doing okay, in pain though and getting antsy sitting around. It will now be up to their oldest son to cut the wood for the baskets.

While dropping off some bandages for him, I got to see Fannie, the baby. She is so cute! Such a smiley baby. Her whole body was wiggling when she saw me. Nine more weeks until Kristin is due...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baking Pumpkin. Smells Like Fall

Well, it's time to start baking pumpkin again for all those great fall recipes. My pumpkins were almost non-existent this year. I harvested one small sugar pumpkin. Between the gophers eating the seeds before they even sprouted and our neglect of the garden, I though I wouldn't be able to have fresh pumpkin this year. But thanks to my son-in-law Tim's parents, I have about nine good size pumpkins to bake. Thank you Steve & Lori!
Here is a past blog about the baking process...

Baking Pumpkin

Last night I decided to bake another pumpkin. The pumpkins I grew are the same as Libby's uses for their filling. They are called Dickinson Select. My daughter's inlaws grow pumpkins for Libby's in Illinois, but I saved the seed I have from a pumpkin I received at the local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) last year. Ended up with 15 large pumpkins.

I gave away about half of them & have been baking & freezing the rest. These are not your average, everyday carving pumpkins. They have the thickest pulp. And big seeds.So, how do you bake a pumpkin? First cut off the top then slice down the sides into pieces. Scrape the stringy part & seeds off of the pulp. I use a grapefruit spoon to make it easier.
Place the chunks face down on a baking sheet & place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about an hour & a half (depends on the thickness of the pulp).

When done baking, flip the slices over to cool. Then take a spoon and scrape the pulp off off the skin. This is how much pulp is from that one pumpkin. This is two baking sheets worth.
Yes, that is almost 9 pounds of pumpkin pulp from one pumpkin! I do have a lot of pies to bake this year (eight all together) but there will still be a lot left. And what about all the other pumpkins we have? Here's what I do. I measure out either 2 or 4 cups into a freezer bag & flatten. You can store a lot of these bags this way. They are easy to thaw for your recipes for soup, cookies, pies, cakes, breads or whatever else you can think of to do with pumpkin. With pie being my favorite, soup is a close second. Just add pumpkin pie spice and milk (I use oat or hemp milk) and blend for a minute then heat.
Don't forget about the seeds. Rinse off most of the goo, toss with a little olive oil and sea salt, bake at 325 for 20 minutes & you have a great snack. The only things wasted are the skin (and the stem).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Looking for a Safe Alternative

My previous post about BPA in canning lids has prompted me to think about using wax to can. I know it is not recommended these days by the canning industry but my main concern is the safety of paraffin wax. I did a little research this morning on the subject. Here's what I found...

Paraffin is made from mineral oil. Mineral oil is...

Petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin's ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Used in many products (baby oil is 100% mineral oil!) Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH's (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap. · Mineral oil · Liquidum paraffinum (also known as posh mineral oil!) · Paraffin oil · Paraffin wax · Petrolatum

Is that a little scary?

So, the next search was to find out if you can use beeswax instead of paraffin. so far I have found one source that says "yes". There just isn't much info out there about it. Has anyone tried to can with it? Can it be used on anything other than jellies & jams?

Thursday, my friend Pat, who writes on "Not Now I'm Counting" and I are going to Weck to buy canning jars with the glass lids & rubber rings. Until there is a solution (as in BPA-free lids), I will buy new jars as I can afford them.

Did you contact the manufacturers yet? They really need to hear about it from us. I hope the article in Organic Gardening gets a lot of attention. There is another report out from Consumer Reports on BPA in cans and an article detailing that report at Huffington Post today.

Remember..."You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result." Mahatma Gandhi