Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Cleaning your mattress – a Southern Frugalness Tip

Part of my southern heritage is frugalness – or maybe it is the Scotch side. Not sure,but I know that I always will error on the side of “spend less, not more.”

This weekend I was in the middle of changing the sheets on the bed and realized the mattress, now 20+ years old had some sweat stains that were starting to look, well, just plain awful.

And here is where my frugal bit went wonky. I am totally not ready to buy another king size mattress. With our 25th wedding anniversary coming up next year and a big trip overseas planned, all my extra monies are going in to the trip fund. No mattress is on the plan.

And then it hit me. Why not go Google “clean freshen mattresses” and see what shows up. And of course there are dozens of equally frugal people out there in internet land that know what to do and will gladly show you in a variety of Youtube videos. I watched several, some of which were amazingly informative and helpful and some were just plain fun to watch. They were so bad I had to pull myself away from the keyboard or I would have spent the rest of the day in utter amazement. Chuckle.

However, let’s get back to the point of this blog. There was a common theme to the majority of the videos. They all pretty much used the sames steps and ingredients and here is what they were.

1. Remove all bedding -this is kind of a “duh” but you never know so it’s wise to say do this.

2. Vacuum the mattress. Twice. You are going to be totally grossed out at what comes off what “appears” to be a mostly clean mattress. Yuk. Dead skin. Left over thingys from socks. In our case, cat hair. Lots of cat hair (and I have a mattress cover – so how does it get through that?)

3. Prepare the magic cleaning solution – 8 oz of Hydrogen Peroxide, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 1 drop (yes only one drop) Dawn dish soap. You can also add in Lavender essential oils – about 10 to 20 drops. Make sure to stir this solution often and use immediately as the peroxide starts to lose its power in the light (that’s why the bottles are brown – to keep out light – who knew.)

4. You can either try to put this in a sprayer but that just didn’t work for me – it kept clogging the spray tube. I used a small brush and dipped it in the solution liberally and scrubbed the stain. If it gets too wet stop and dry it up with a small towel.

5. Wait – probably the hardest thing for me to do. – about 20 minutes to see if you need to apply another dose.

6. Now, take baking soda (for a king bed it took two small boxes) and sprinkle it all over the bed – getting in to those nooks and grannies. You want it all over the bed. You can also apply a few drops of the essential oils as well – just be careful as a little goes a long way.

7. It’s best to have it sit on the bed for 24 hours – so you might either want to do this one weekend you are going to be out of town – or try out that guest bed for yourself to see if it is indeed as comfortable as you tell your guests.

8. After the resting time, vacuum off the baking soda. You’ll want to pass over the mattress at least twice. You’ll be amazed at the smells that come out with the baking soda. As a bonus the baking soda will freshen up your vacuum cleaner as well.

From what I read it is a good idea to do this every few years. Since I had never done it at all, I think it will be in 5 years and not the 20. You may also want to wash your pillows at the same time. Ok, fess up – how many of you have ever washed your pillows. Yep me either. They turn out almost new. But that’s for another blog.

My recommendation is to go Google the terms I showed above and also for cleaning pillows. Hope you find some of the “good” ones as well -it was most entertaining.

That’s it for awhile, y’all. Happy restful sleep on your newly freshened mattress.

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Instant Pot Yogurt – my newest passion

A year ago a good friend gave us an Instant Pot and we’ve been using it for cooking things quickly or making them tender. However, all the forums I watch kept talking about making yogurt. Being a skeptical sort, I thought it’d be too much work.

However, necessity is the mother of invention and I was down to my last bit of yogurt and by mistake I had bought another gallon of milk not knowing there was one in the fridge. Hm, what to do with so much milk. I didn’t want to create something fattening like custards, so I decided to give yogurt making a try.

Well, I haven’t looked back. Now, every Sunday I make a batch of yogurt. I use the “boil” method since I’m not using the fancy expensive milks that people recommend. It only adds an additional hour but saves me big dollars.

Half of it I keep “regular” style for my mom and half I strain to make really amazing Greek style yogurt. It is so creamy it doesn’t even need sugar or seasoning. I then get creative all week long looking for ways to use my yogurt.

The left over whey from straining the yogurt gets frozen in an ice cube tray, removed, placed in a freezer bag and then used in recipes that call for milk or buttermilk.

I always reserve a 1/4 cup of the yogurt to use as my starter for the next batch. All I need to do is buy milk but I am no longer buying yogurt of any kind. Kind of cool and I know what goes into my yogurt now.

You can add any additional flavoring you want “after” it has been made. Sometimes I’ll add Agave (instead of sugar) or homemade fruit jams – this batch has blueberries from my last year’s crop. My mom likes it better with vanilla or fruit.

You can search for various recipes on Google for Instant Pot Yogurt but even though they say use special milk, I just use regular whole milk.

My initial starter was some good Greek yogurt that wasn’t too old. I have yet to have it fail. Plus I have a pot that does so much more.

Addendum.

Several people asked me to add my recipe/instructions so here you go.

1/2 gallon whole milk
3 tablespoons fresh greek yogurt

Add milk to Instant Pot.
Click Yogurt button
Click Adjust button to boil
When boil turns off and converts to yogurt, remove inner pot
Cool until temperature of milk is 110 degrees
Add in yogurt and stir until completely incorporated – NOTE (this is your starter – after you make your first batch freeze 3 tablespoons for the next batch)
Reinsert into Instant Pot
Make sure it still says Yogurt – if it doesn’t click the Yogurt button
Click the adjust button – it may say 24 hours – click it again until it says 8 then click the + button and move it to 10 hours. I like 10 hours because it makes the yogurt tangy. Keep it at 8 if you don’t like tangy.

After 10 hours, remove the inner pot and put in the refrigerator for 6 hours. This “sets” the yogurt.  After that you can strain it like I showed above to make “the best creamy, Greek style yogurt” you’ve ever tasted. Really!

Enjoy

Recipes with “hm” directions

First off, it’s been a while and I promised my very few readers I’d start blogging on my cooking and crafts site again. So, here we go, the first article for 2016.

A friend of mine asked me for my lamb dressing recipe and when it came to the part of putting in the cinnamon, I said “till the rice turns brown.”  Or in other recipes, as my friend Anne says, “until it looks right.”  One of my favorites is sprinkle the salt starting from the back of the pot towards the front, keeping your hand level to the pot, and jiggling it just a bit.  Yes, really. That’s how my grandma taught me to add salt to a pot roast.  LOL.

Now I am trying to put together a cookbook for my family and I realize many many of my recipes are done a certain way, that I remember and was taught, and are not written down.  It’s going to take me hours of trying these recipes I’ve made for years, making  note of how much I am using, so I can put together a recipe for someone not near enough for me to show the “shake from the back to the front” technique and others as well.

This made me wonder how many other recipes have been lost to families because we were distributed all over the place and no one was left to show us just the right motion, just the right amount of seasoning, just the right touch.

The same applies to how long something cooks.  For me, many recipes are when it “smells right.” You know, those of you who bake, that the oven emits just the right smell at just the right time, and even if you have set a timer, that has not gone off yet, you know, and your nose knows, that the tasty item is done. You just know.

For those of you who cook “the way grandma or your mom taught you” my challenge to you is to go put those recipes down on paper. Especially if you are the last one standing who knows the secret wiggle of the hips, or motion of the arms, that make that traditional recipe come out right.  Your family will thank you!

Science experiment – herbs, spice or how to really annoy a cat

We have cats.  We love our cats.  Our cats love us.  However….one of them is having some serious ‘sharing’ issues and his response is to spray everywhere in the house.  And he is our favorite cat. So, removing him is not an option.  I’ve tried every trick in the book to get him to stop but none have worked.

guiltyoreoThis has inspired tonight’s science experiment.  After spending quite a bit of time searching on Google for home remedies I came across several that talked about creating a spray made from vinegar, spices and herbs.  The herbs of “choice” are lavender, rosemary, and lemon grass, and the spice is cinnamon.

Taking several cuttings of the herbs from my garden and about 3 tablespoons of cinnamon, I boiled about 2 cups of water and poured it into a container with the herbs and cinnamon.

At this point, I performed an experiment.  I walked up to all the cats (we have 4 – don’t ask why so many – we are house sitting my mom’s cat) and showed them the container.  Always hopeful for a treat, they all walked up to the container and immediately raised their head and moved away very quickly.  Winner winner, we have a winner.

After straining the mixture through cheese cloth into a spray bottle, I added 3/4 cup of vinegar and will go around the house, spraying the baseboards and areas of repeated attacks by my annoyed male cat.

By the way, it doesn’t smell bad to humans at all.  In fact my husband thought I was making a curry. LOL.

I will report back later as to whether or not my humane treatment to deter my cat’s spraying worked. Or not.

Newest Experiment – regrowing Celery and Bok Choy

Recently, I have found a new vice – Pinterest. I spend evenings scouring around looking for great tips, tricks and culinary adventures. I stumbled upon on photo that show someone regrowing celery from the bottom that had been cut off a celery bunch. Hm, intriguing idea.

I went to the blog entry (I’ve listed the link below to give proper credit) and saw that not only could you do this with celery but also Bok Choy. So, I embarked on yet another experiment. And I’m happy to say, well, gosh darn, it works. I’m posting the first photo here and will update the blog entry as time progresses and my experiment continues to grow.

While digging down in the blog, it pointed me at yet another blog which talked about the same thing and also noted that you can regrow spring onions indefinitely. Basically, you put onions you have either pulled out of the ground, or bought in a store, into a glass of water. You “harvest” the top parts leaving about 2 inches of the onion still in the water. And voila, the onions continue to keep growing. That’s pretty cool and I will try that project soon as well.

That’s it for now. Here’s the link to the blog I found on Pinterest. http://www.thekitchn.com/re-growing-celery-grow-a-new-bunch-indoors-or-outdoors-169801

Ciao, y’all.