When You Don’t Have a Maple Tree Handy…

Homemade maple-flavored syrup. Who knew? I ran across this idea in my frugal travels around the internet. It just wasn’t one of the things in my experience database. I don’t remember what we used as a child because I think that pancakes were a rare thing in our house. I do know that, when I grew up, I liked jam on pancakes better than syrup.

My local store carried maple extract in the baking aisle, so I gave it a try. It’s nowhere near the real thing. It tastes fine, easily as good as any of the maple-flavored syrups from the store. (Maybe I’m not the best judge of that, though) It is, however, quick and easy to do and there’s a bit of cost savings, too.

I used brown sugar but if you want a lighter color, use regular white sugar. Most of the recipes I found online used white sugar. One used a combination of white sugar and brown sugar and one used corn syrup as the sweetener. I think any way you do it, it will be good stuff to pour on the pancakes.

pancakes

Quick Maple-Flavored Syrup

2 cups water
4 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons maple extract

In a non-reactive pan, bring water to a rapid boil.
Mix in brown sugar all at once. Stir until it is completely dissolved.
Remove from heat and stir in maple extract.
Pour into a sterilized jar and allow to stand, at room temperature, for 24 hours.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

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Orange Cleaners Revisited

A little over three weeks ago, I started making orange cleaners. I did two types and you can find the recipes here. They are done, and now it’s time to test them. OK, I admit to procrastinating on this. These things were actually done after two weeks. I guess I’m just not in a hurry to clean.

orangecleaner

I used the vinegar-based cleaner first. I diluted it 1:1 with water and put it into a spray bottle. Next I tried it out on a few surfaces, which included the inside of the microwave, the glass door on the toaster over, a section of granite counter-top, and the glass-top range. It worked well but it wasn’t miraculous. I didn’t expect it to be really, but it did do what cleaners are supposed to do: it cleaned. The spatters inside the microwave wiped off easily, the counter-top shines, and even the glass looks good without streaks. The things I cleaned with it are clean! Isn’t that the goal?

It does smell better than plain vinegar, so that’s a bonus in itself. I know what’s in it. That’s a huge benefit. It works pretty well. That’s the goal.

Overall, this orange cleaner can find a place in my cleaning routine.

Versatile Rice Pilaf

RiceNext time you need a quick and easy side-dish, think of rice pilaf. It can be varied to compliment your main dish.

Basic Rice Pilaf

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup long-grain rice
1 can (14.5 ounce) chicken broth

Melt butter in medium sauce pan or skillet with lid. Add onion and garlic, sauteing until tender.

Add rice and stir until all grains are coated with butter.

Add broth. Bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Approximately 20 minutes.

Mushroom  Variation

mushrooms

Add 1/2 cup diced mushrooms with onions.

Broccoli and Cheese Variation

broccoli

Add 1 cup broccoli florets and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Include 1/4 cup cream with broth.

Spanish Style Variation

tomatoes

Add 1/2 cup chopped green pepper with onions and garlic. Sprinkle vegetables with 1 teaspoon chili powder.
Stir in 1 cup diced tomatoes with broth.

Little Steps, Big Changes

Starting something new is overwhelming. Have you ever tried to read something that is a new subject and it seemed like it was written in Klingon? Only through systematic chipping, taking small bites, can you finally unravel the mystery.

Developing a new lifestyle is the same process. Take small steps and soon you’re changes are habit and not torture.

It’s fun to read how people live frugally. Some of their ideas are workable and will fit into my life easily. Some are a bit out there, to be kind. I draw the line at eliminating toilet paper from our home. The work involved in washing and drying doesn’t outweigh the convenience of TP. There’s also the yuck factor. Just not gonna do it.

toilet-paper-150912_1280
I’ve been in a financially tough time when paper towels were a luxury and not a part of my kitchen supplies. I could go back to that again, but I haven’t. I guess times just aren’t tough enough right now.

There are things that I do now which make me wonder why I didn’t do them all along. I spent some time yesterday making jam. My husband spent part of his day making jerky. (He makes it because he eats it. I don’t) Am I saving a bunch making my own jam? Not really, because I buy the fruit. If I could go out a pick fruit to use, then the savings would be obvious. The jerky, on the other hand, is a fraction of the price of anything we can buy.

Jars of Jam
The benefit of making things at home is that I know what’s in it. I don’t use anything I can’t pronounce. To me, that’s a big benefit. The other, especially with jam, is the reduction in waste. I reuse the jars. An empty jar from the store isn’t reusable, usually.

These are just two small steps in my overall frugal-living plan. I’ve already posted some of the recipes I use to make staples and cleaning supplies.

DIY Laundry Detergent
The Dreaded Dusting Chore
The Baking Mix Scoop
No, Really? No Poo
DIY Liquid Hand Soap
DIY Yogurt
DIY Disinfecting Wipes
5 Favorite From Scratch Recipes
Orange is the New Clean

There are dozens more that I haven’t yet tried. I’ve also abandoned some things that I tried and found they didn’t work well for me. One was my own dishwasher soap. I’ve tried a couple of formulas and I felt they didn’t do the job that a commercial product does, so I no longer make my own soap. Frugal living is not only a step-by-step process, it’s a trial and error one, too.

It’s all about the little efforts and you don’t have to learn Klingon.

Orange is the New Clean

oranges

I ran across these recipes months ago and I started saving citrus peels. They languished in the freezer until I had the containers to make the mixes. Now, it’s a go. Confession time: I didn’t have any brown sugar, so I used regular, white sugar instead. I’m pretty sure that it will make no difference in the fermentation process.

Here are the two formulas that I’m trying. Since they take 2 weeks or more to complete, I’ll let you know my results later.

orangepeels

All_Purpose Citrus Cleaner

1-2 quart jar
White vinegar
Citrus peels, chopped (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit or a combination)

Place citrus peels into jar until it is, at least, half full.
Fill jar with vinegar.
Cover jar tightly and shake.
Steep for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally. Label the jar so that you can keep track.
Strain liquid through a fine sieve. Discard the peels.
Pour into a spray bottle and dilute 1:1, if desired.
Use on sinks, counter tops, bathtubs, floors, and toilets.

citrus-2791_1280

DIY Citrus Cleaner

2 liter bottle
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp yeast
Citrus peels (at lest 2 cups, chopped)
32 ounce spray bottle

Drop citrus peels into the bottle.
Add yeast and sugar.
Fill about half full with water. Shake bottle to dissolve sugar. (About 30 seconds)
Cap loosely to allow gases to escape.
Label bottle with date and allow to “brew” for about 2 weeks, shaking at least daily.
When the cleaner is ready, strain through a fine sieve. Discard peels.
Add 1/2 cup to spray bottle and fill with water for regular cleaning.

orangecleaner

The Fabric Reduction Challenge

I love buying fabric. I love having fabric. I love working with fabric. I have a mountain of fabric

For many years, I was working too many hours and didn’t have time to sew as much as I wanted. My buying overwhelmed my usage. Now, I fear that it’s out of control.

I’m trying to make up for it by sewing my way out of the avalanche.  While searching the Internet for ideas, I found these great coasters. They are a quick and easy project which can use up fabric and provide a useful item for my home.

Cut squares

Rotary cutting make fabric preparation simple.

Finished coasters

I made just four of this combination because that was all of the leaf print that I had.

Fabric

I’ll be looking for more fabric combinations from my stash.

Why, Of Course! DIY Disinfecting Wipes

Does anyone like cleaning the bathroom? We all know that doing a little each day makes the chore easier especially if there is a quick and easy way to do it. Disinfectant wipes are convenient, easy to use, but expensive. Naturally, DIY wipes are the way to go

I searched the Internet for what others were doing for homemade wipes. I found a lot of formulas. The assorted ingredients included vinegar, coconut oil, a multitude of essential oils, and pine cleaner.

Many years ago, in a Microbiology class in college, we tested some common household items for their germ-killing capabilities. A petri dish was prepared with three different bacteria. (I don’t remember what they were.) We all brought in different things to try. My lab partner brought Woolite. I brought pine cleaner. Two out the three areas on her dish were clear of bacteria after applying her Woolite. My pine cleaner killed NONE of the bacteria. So, it may not come as any surprise that I don’t use pine cleaner.

Knowing what I do about pine cleaner, I skipped any formulas that called for it. I wanted a disinfecting wipe and I have scientific evidence that this stuff wouldn’t disinfect its way out of a paper bag.

tshirt

The cloth to use for the wipes is a no-brainer. I’ve got several old T-shirts with stains that nothing on the planet will remove. They remain in the drawer until I make cleaning rags out of them. It was time to press one of those shirts into service.

Some folks used paper towels. Not only did they suggest using paper towels, they suggested sawing the roll in half. No. Not doing that.

So, in my search for a recipe, I landed on the Living on a Dime site. Unlike many of the other recipes, this one includes alcohol. It’s one thing that we know will disinfect; the jury is still out on many of the others.

WipesIngredients

Homemade Disinfecting Wipes

1 cup water
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
2 tablespoons Dawn dish soap
2 tablespoons ammonia (optional)

Mix the ingredients together. Pour over rags until sufficiently dampened.