Oatmeal, Whole Wheat & Molasses Bread

I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen again!  While I love dark breads, oatmeal breads, multi-grain breads… well, almost anything as long as it’s bread, my husband is a different story.  He likes white bread.  Although I have gotten him to try (and occasionally eat by his own choice) oatmeal bread, he’s never cared for wheat bread, especially the “stone-ground” kind, which is my favorite.  With his tastes in mind, I wanted to come up with a bread recipe with at least two grains in it that he would eat and like.  After much experimentation with amounts, etc. I have come up with the following recipe.  If you have a picky bread eater in your family, I dare you to make some to see what they think.  They just might make a switch, it really is that good.

This bread comes out fairly dark, not too sweet and the texture is beautiful.  Just don’t ask how many tries it took me to get it this way, ha ha.  While cutting with a serrated bread knife, it’ll squish right inwards and then pop back out when you let go of it, it’s soooo soft!  Please excuse my funny shaped loaves, I was in such a hurry that day.

Oatmeal, Whole Wheat & Molasses Bread Recipe

Yield:  Makes 1 large or 2 average sized loaves

Note:  As with my other recipe, I use a bread machine to knead and do the first rise, but I don’t use it to bake the bread.  You can do whichever is easier for you.

  • 1 1/3 cups boiling Water
  • 1 cup Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil (vegetable oil is fine, too)
  • 1/2 cup Molasses
  • 1 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups White Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Wheat Gluten (not needed, but I find it produces better quality breads)
  • 1/4 tsp Rapid-Rise Yeast
  1. Place oats in bread machine and add the boiling water.  Stir with wooden spoon to be sure all oats are wet.  Set timer for 30 minutes to give it time to soak, as well as cool down enough for the yeast.
  2. When 30 minutes is up, add your egg and molasses.  I stir mine with a wooden spoon, although I’m sure the bread machine would probably do it just fine.
  3. Add olive oil and salt.  Stir with wooden spoon, just to mix in.
  4. Layer your whole wheat and white flours in (it doesn’t matter which one goes in first).  I add the wheat gluten in between the layers of flour in the pan.
  5. Add yeast last, after making an indentation for it in the flour.

Set your bread machine to “dough” cycle if you’re going to bake it as I do in my own oven, or to whatever setting you would use for whole wheat if you’re going to let the machine do the baking.  If using dough cycle, leave until cycle is done and then punch down dough and put into greased loaf pan(s) to let rise until doubled in size.  Bake at 400 degrees until medium-brown crust, or desired color.

If you make this, I’d love to hear any comments, questions, critiques, etc.  I hope you have the same results I have with it, especially if you have a picky eater in your family!  I’ll be anxious to hear back from my readers with their results.  Thank you for coming to read on my blog, I value your visits and comments!

Posted in Cooking, Homemade, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Review of “Homemade Fabric Softener”

I’ve used liquid fabric softener for as long as I’ve been doing laundry.  I’ve tried so many brands that I know I couldn’t name them all.  Some smell better than others, some soften better than others, but one thing was for sure – they all have to figure into the budget.  By now, you probably know that I like to save money, but I also like soft clothes that smell fresh when they’re laundered and that’s where my recent experiments with “DIY fabric softener” comes into the story.  I thought if I shared my experience, it might help someone else out there in blog-land.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve read that I recently started making my own laundry soap.  I don’t go shopping often, but when I do, I buy a month’s supply at once.  I know exactly how much I spend for any given item on my shopping list.  So, I can tell you that before I started making my own soap and softener, I spent an average of $22. per month on those two items alone.  That’s nothing to sneeze at and I can think of quite a few things that $20 can buy, other than those two products.

First, I think I should tell you how I tested this out.  I never dry our clothes with a clothes-dryer.  We do own a dryer, but after so long of it going unused, my husband took it out because we both got tired of it being there and not being used for anything other than a catch-all.  During good weather I use a clothesline in the yard and I have a couple of lines on the porch if I have to have something dry soon and the weather isn’t cooperating.  Inside, I have a great system that he made for me three or four years ago and it took the place of the drying racks that you place on the floor.  There are two racks hanging over our woodstove, one on each side of it.  They are attached to the ceiling and I hang laundry on coat hangers and put them on these racks or if it’s sheets or something like that, I just hang it over the bar.

Here’s what the drying rack looks like:

It works great and laundry dries remarkably quick during cold weather because the stove is always burning.

Ok, back to the softener issue… If you hang your laundry to dry, you’re well aware that you have to deal with wrinkly clothes more so than a person who uses a dryer would have to.  So, when I bought liquid fabric softeners, I wasn’t buying them because I wanted to control static or simply for the smell.  I was buying it because it helped the laundry dry quicker and it kept the clothes from being too wrinkly.

What did I use if I ran out of fabric softener?  Good old white vinegar!  Yep, it’s great in the rinse cycle (and in the wash cycle).  So, when I read that you could “make your own” fabric softener and it had vinegar in the recipe, I jumped all over that!  There are recipes everywhere and they’re all about the same (6 cups water, 3 cups white vinegar and 2 cups cheap hair conditioner).  Notice the vinegar in the recipe.  Now, I read on one of those recipe sites that the conditioner was used for scent only, so to choose something you liked the smell of.  Did I try the recipe?  Yes.  Did I like it?  It was okay and it worked.  I just didn’t work any better than straight white vinegar, in my opinion.  Also, I couldn’t smell a difference between something rinsed in that homemade softener when compared to using only vinegar.  So, with that comparison the only thing left for me to do was to choose straight vinegar – no fuss, no muss.

Vinegar helps rinse the soap out, it helps so lint won’t stick to your clothes and it makes your clothes smell fresh (and no, they won’t smell like vinegar, I promise).  As far as I can tell, my clothes don’t have any more wrinkles than they had when I was using the “store-bought” softeners.  The other “plus”?  Vinegar is cheap!  I buy a gallon jug of vinegar for about $2.50 and I can clean with it and do laundry – that’s a bargain in my book!

I guess it all boils down to what we like, as with anything.  A friend of mine told me of someone she knows that made her own fabric softener, but since it didn’t smell like the “real stuff”, she wasn’t going to make it again.  I tried making it for a different reason.  I wanted it to rinse any residues, take out wrinkles and help it dry quicker – vinegar does that for me.  Maybe if I used a clothes dryer it would be different, I don’t know.  I have never seen much sense in paying to dry my laundry when air is free.

Well, that is my experience with making “homemade fabric softener”.  Have you ever made it?  Do you use liquid softeners… have you tried vinegar?  I’d love to hear any comments and/or feedback you have – I’m always interested in what YOU have to say!


Posted in DIY, Green Lifestyle, Homemade Cleaning Products, Laundry, Natural Cleaning Products | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Making Your Own Laundry Soap

20 Mule Team Borax

20 Mule Team Borax (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Fels-Naptha

English: Fels-Naptha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been reading about people making their own laundry soap for quite some time now and finally tried it in September.  There are a lot of recipes and videos online for this and there are as many variations in the recipes as you can imagine.  I can only tell you about my experience and what I used.  There are a few things I would change about the way I did it, but overall, I’m very happy with the resulting product.  Please note, this recipe is not for someone who is questioning if they’ll use it or not.  This recipe makes a lot of soap and unless you’re serious about making the switch to homemade, I’d recommend using another recipe that makes less.  You may wonder why I made such a large batch and my answer to that would be that after watching all the videos that I did on YouTube, I realized that I didn’t want to go through the process and end up with just a few bottles of detergent – I wanted enough to make it worth my while.  This is what I ended up with:

That’s a lot of soap, huh?  But, this picture doesn’t show what really happened, and that’s where my one-time experience with making it is going to benefit you.  I actually ended up with almost double what you see in the picture above because of a mistake (on my part) in the making of the recipe.  I keep saying that I did something wrong, but I haven’t explained just what it is that I did –  I should have waited another day before filling the jugs, because it gelled up more and I had to water it down again, but we’ll make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you!  If you decide to use my “recipe”, please be sure to read the entire post, as I will be making some notes at the bottom that are important for a good outcome.

I’ll list the ingredients below, followed by my method in a step-by-step manner.  I’m doing it this way so that when you make it, you can just leave this web page open and follow along, while making your detergent.

Here is what I used:

  • 2 bars of Ivory Soap, cut into tiny pieces
  • 3 bars of Fels Naptha soap, cut into tiny pieces
  • 4 cups Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)
  • 4 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 1/2 a container of Oxi-Clean powder
  • Large pan of Boiling Water (I used my boil-bath canner)
  • Old pan (to melt the soap in)
  • Old measuring cups or containers (to transfer soap to buckets)
  • Long-handled wooden spoon (a wire whisk is helpful, too!)
  • 3 – Five gallon buckets (or containers, a large tote would also work)
  • Many empty bottles! (start asking all your friends before making this)

The total cost for the products listed was around $15 and I still had some product leftover, so to say it’s cheaper to make your own laundry detergent is an understatement.  The Fels Naptha soap, washing soda and borax are all found in the laundry aisle.  I purchased mine at WalMart, but have noticed that my local grocery store carries the same products, at the same price.  If all this seems overwhelming, don’t worry.  It seemed that way to me and it ended up that it wasn’t as much work as I had thought it would be.  It was well worth my time and I’ll do it again without hesitation.


  1. Place a large pan of water on stove to heat while doing the other things – this is to add to the buckets later.  Once it comes to a boil, you can turn it down to lowest setting to keep it hot.
  2. Place your old pan (for soap) on the stove with about a quart of water in it.  You want the water to be hot before you add the soap. (ask me how I know)
  3. Get out a cutting board and start cutting the soap.  Most recipes will tell you to use a cheese grater, but I don’t have one.  I thought that cutting it would be quicker than a grater, anyway.  I made tiny slices through the soap, stacked it in piles and cut through 4-5 slices at once to get tiny pieces.  A food processor would work, too.
  4. If your “soap pan” water is hot, add the soap a little at a time (as you’re cutting it up), stirring to mix in (make sure it is turned low once it’s hot).  I used a metal whisk and that worked well to help the soap break up.  You can add more hot water if you think it needs it, it’s not exact science and a little bit of water here and there won’t hurt anything.
  5. When you’re done cutting the soap and adding it to the pan of water, allow it to sit there on very low heat, stirring every once in a while.  You don’t have to stand over it, stirring all the time.  It works better if you allow it to sit in the hot water on very low heat.
  6. While the soap is melting in the hot water, lay out some newspapers on the floor and then put two buckets side by side.
  7. Open your washing soda, borax and oxi-clean so that they’re ready when you are.

When the soap is dissolved, the fun begins!  We’re making what I consider “two batches”, so that is where the two buckets come in (we’ll talk about the 3rd in a moment).

Putting it all together:

  • Pour half the soap into one bucket, the other half in the other bucket.  This is how we’re going to do the whole batch, half of each thing going into each bucket.  I just went left to right, back and forth.
  • Pour two cups boiling water into each bucket and stir into the soap mixture.
  • Start adding your borax, one cup at a time, stirring well in between and adding the boiling water as needed, to be able to stir easily.  The mix will thicken as you’re stirring.
  • Repeat the above step, only this time with the washing soda.
  • Pour about 1/4 of container of oxi-clean in each bucket, then stir.
  • Make sure everything is mixed well together.
  • Finish filling your buckets (almost to the top) with boiling water.  If you run out of boiling water, it’s okay to use hot tap water at this point.
  • Stir one last time and cover your buckets.  If you don’t have lids, just use anything you have to cover them.
  • Let sit for 24 hours.
  • After the 24 hours, stir the detergent (it will look strange) and dump some out of each bucket into that 3rd bucket we talked about.  You want to have approximately the same amount in each of the three buckets.
  • Again, you’re going to fill the buckets to near the top with hot water.  Allow to sit overnight.
  • In the morning, stir one last time.
  • Fill your empty containers, but not to the top.  I would suggest filling them about 2/3’s of the way, then if you want to water down the detergent further, you can do so.

Wah-lah!  You have just made your own laundry detergent!  Don’t you feel good about saving all that money?

Below are the notes I told you about earlier in the post:

  1. Please use boiling water where called for, there is a difference.  Hot tap water will not dissolve the products well and you’ll end up doing a lot more stirring than you need to.
  2. At my local Family Dollar store, I found some Zote soap, which I will add in next time (it smells good, too).  Some of the online videos/recipes called for this, if you didn’t want to use Fels Naptha.  I couldn’t find it where I bought the rest of the ingredients, so I didn’t worry about it.  But now that I’ve found it, I will at least try it.
  3. Fels Naptha soap is a good stain remover.  I may use swap out the Ivory for Zote in my recipe next time, but I will always add that soap because of it’s ability to remove stains.  Some people keep it near their machines to rub on stains before washing the load of laundry.
  4. As to the amount of detergent I use per load, I can’t help you out there.  It will depend on whether you use a front or top loading machine, etc.  I just pour some in, I’d estimate that it’s around 1/3 – 1/2 cup.
  5. How does it clean?  I’ve washed my husbands jeans after he did some roofing – the jeans were black on the front – and it came out as much as it would for store-bought detergent.  I had a mis-hap while canning tomatoes and had red tomato stains all over 3 of my good, new dishtowels.  Washed as usual and it all came out.
  6. It doesn’t produce suds – suds do not equal clean!  I know we’re all used to seeing suds to judge how much something will clean, but it’s not something you’ll see with homemade detergent.  It will still clean your clothes.
  7. SHAKE the soap before each use!

I hope you liked this tutorial (or whatever it was, lol) and that it helps you to make your own homemade laundry soap.  I know that I’ll never buy the commercial stuff again, as I’m very happy with what I made.  I have a shelf in my cellar full of bottles of the stuff and it feels great to have it there, as well as to be saving the money I once spent on all of it.

Since this post ran longer than I expected, I’ll talk about my experience with homemade fabric softener next time.  I’m sorry I didn’t get it all in here at once.  I’ll try to get that post out by tomorrow, but I’ve been sleeping a lot the past few days and not feeling well at all.  I’ll try to keep up with replies as they come in, but if I don’t get right back to you, you’ll know why.  I look forward to your comments/questions and hope I’ve been of some help to you by sharing my experience.

Posted in DIY, Homemade Cleaning Products, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Why Clean Your Home “Naturally”?

We all have our own way of doing things.  Each of us knows how we like things done, in what order we like to have them done and what we use for tools to get a certain job done.  Of course this doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone else, only for you.  We all decide things such as this every day, either at work or home.  Since most of what we do on a daily basis is done out of habit, we tend not to think much about it… we just do it how we’ve always done it.

Recently, I started cleaning my home differently than how I used to, as well as using different products than I used before.  The products I used to buy have become a thing of the past.  I didn’t throw them away as some people might (and I probably should have), but I used them until they were gone and then have made the decision to not purchase them again.  At this point in my journey to green, I’m experimenting with different “homemade recipes” for household cleaning products such as laundry soap, glass cleaner, all purpose cleaner, etc.  I’m looking into alternatives for bleach, dish soap and many other products.  It’s a learning process, but since I became aware of the number of chemicals that I come into contact with through products used to clean my home and myself, my thinking has changed dramatically.  If this post does anything, I hope it will educate you about some products you’re using and it just might make you think twice before buying and/or using those products.

Here are some startling facts that you may not know about “chemicals” that we use in our homes:

  • Plants that manufacture household cleaning and yard products require that their workers wear protective masks, gloves and clothing… but what do you wear when you use those same products?
  • Only 1% of toxins are required to be listed on labels because companies classify their chemicals as trade secrets.
  • Women who stay at home have a 54% higher rate of cancer than those that work outside the home, due to the direct result of higher exposure rates to toxic chemicals in common household products.
  • According to the National Research Council, no toxic information is available for more than 80% of the chemicals in everyday-use products.  (Source of above statistics)
If the stats listed above interested you, please read the website found on the site listed as “source” – I think you’ll find a few more that are quite surprising.  I realize that they also keep offering to sell some products which I didn’t buy, but their information is correct and informative in nature.

If you want to take control of what you’re using to clean with, as well as what you’re exposing yourself and your family to, it all starts with a little research.  If you have white vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice in your pantry, you’ve got a good start if you want to make the “natural cleaning switch”.  There are other things you’ll find helpful to have on hand if you decide to take the natural cleaning route.  I can tell you what I’ve started with, but as with anything, you’ll find what you like to use by trial and error.

So far I have stopped buying laundry soap, fabric softener, stain spray, chlorine bleach, comet & ajax cleanser, window cleaner, copper cleaner, bathroom cleaner, disinfectant spray, tub & tile cleaner, soap scum remover, de-greaser, air fresheners and I’m sure a few others that I can’t think of at the moment.  What have I bought in order to replace the items listed?  I’ve purchased Washing Soda, Vinegar, Baking Soda, Fels Naptha and Zote soap, Lemon Juice, Hydrogen Peroxide and Rubbing Alcohol.  I would like to purchase some liquid castile soap and essential oils, but living in a remote area, I can’t find these things locally (yet) and detest buying things online.  I will call a store and see if they’ll order what I need and that will solve that problem.  Well, so far I can proudly say that the list of what I have to buy for cleaning now is much shorter, much cheaper and best of all it’s healthier for me, my family and the environment!

If you would like to try your hand at making the switch, I can start you off with a few links.  There are so many great links out there that I hate to just list a few, so please look around (blogs and Pinterest are full of such “recipes, but please see my *hint* below).  I’ve found so many people out there who have made this journey before me and they’ve made my trip much easier!

*Hint:  When looking at recipes for homemade household/personal cleaners, please look at and think about the ingredients they list.  For instance, if they tell you to add “that de-greasing blue dish soap” as an ingredient – it’s not natural – you’re only adding chemicals to your product(s).*

Here are just a few links from my bookmarks to get you started:

All-Purpose Cleaner with printable labels included

Homemade Dish Soap (more than one recipe listed)

Battle of the Homemade Glass Cleaners (interesting post)

Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide – lots of hints for it’s use

DIY Glass/Stainless Steel Cleaner – more “recipes” in sidebar

Lemon Juice/Bleach Alternative – for cleaning purposes

There are way too many out there to list them all, but that will at least get you started.  The reason I didn’t list any links for laundry soap and fabric softener recipes is that I am working on a post about that subject, separate from this post.

I’d love to hear any feedback/comments you have on the subject of cleaning naturally.  Coming up here at MaineGreenGirl, I’ll be posting about my experience with making homemade laundry soap and fabric softener.   I’ll include hints and tips that I read about before I made it, as well as things I learned from it that I’ll do differently next time.  I realize this was a long post, I appreciate you staying with me this far!  

Posted in Green Lifestyle, Natural Cleaning Products | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Cleaning Naturally With Baking Soda

If you’ve used or researched recipes for natural, homemade cleaning products, you probably already know that you’ve probably got most of the ingredients in  your pantry already.  I’ve found that, with what I’ve made and tried so far, I like the cleaning ability of these natural items.  That led me to a question.  I wondered why people stopped using them to begin with.  They’re what our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers (depending on your age) used to clean their homes with.  Do any of us doubt for a minute about the cleanliness of their homes?  I don’t.  But, somewhere along the way, commercials entered the picture to tell these ladies that there was something “better”, or maybe they thought it was “easier” to use these new products, I’m not sure.  Either way, somewhere these things got shoved to the back of the cupboard – but no fear – they’ve reappeared and people are blogging about the endless possibilities in record numbers!  I think the only thing they forgot to tell these people who bought their products was that it wasn’t cheaper, it wasn’t easier and it certainly didn’t clean any better than what they had been using.  We won’t even discuss what some of these cleaners do to our environment… or at least today, we won’t.

When deciding to clean more naturally, there were a few products at the top of my shopping list.  Most of them were things I already had in the cupboard, I just needed to buy  larger amounts of the products.  For instance, I’ve always used vinegar for certain things, so that is something that I always bought a gallon jug of.  But baking soda?  I used it in recipes and that’s about it.  Until now.
After finding and bookmarking many blogs and sites that had helpful recipes and/or tips for cleaning with various natural or “green” products, I knew that I was ready to begin.  I’ve found that baking soda is an ingredient in many recipes you’ll find for natural cleaners and there is a reason for that – it works!

I’ve always bought the cleansers that are gritty and powdery, I’m sure you know which ones I mean.  Every day at the sink washing dishes, I faithfully scoured my sinks with this product to make it shine.  I mean really, I don’t consider the dishes done unless the sinks are shiny and dry.

I saved an empty parmesan cheese container with a specific use in mind – to fill with baking soda and experiment with it… would it clean the sinks and have them looking the way I like them to?  Would I end up going back to buying the gritty cleanser that bleach stained any cleaning rag I used to wash the sink with?  I can tell you now, that after the other night when I first tried it, I am won over.  I’ll never buy that horrid stuff again!  I thought it would be easier for me to list the  pros and cons of the baking soda vs. store-bought cleansers with you.  Your results may vary, but I’m pleased with mine.  You’ll have to form your own opinion, as we all have our own cleaning habits.


  • Rinsed away very easily (used less water which is a +)
  • Didn’t “bleach stain” or change the color of my cleaning cloth
  • Sink smelled fresher
  • Drains smelled fresher
  • Non-Toxic
  • Way cheaper!


  • I can’t think of any!

Now if you’ve never used baking soda around the house, you may think that cleaning your sink/shower/tub is all you can do with it.  Not so!  There are so many things you can do with baking soda, including sprinkling on carpets before vacuuming, sprinkling in the bottom of trash cans before the bag goes in, using it in the fridge and freezer to prevent odors, mixing with cold water to take a smell out of a plastic container, making a paste to clean your silver, clogged drains, burnt-on foods on pans (don’t ask me how I know this, lol), you should have some handy to the stove for grease fires, takes grease stains out of clothing, freshens your laundry, you can even brush your teeth with it.  See what I mean?  The list is almost endless!

So far, for homemade cleaners I have tried (and liked) my own laundry soap, fabric softener, glass cleaner and baby wipes.  I am making the switch to homemade cleaners slowly and the reason for this is that I still have quite a few of the store-bought products that I have always used to clean with.  So, instead of throwing them away, I’m going to use them.  I’m just not going to buy them again.

Posted in Green Lifestyle, Natural Cleaning Products | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

Starting to “Turn Green”

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I’m not sure why it took me until my 40’s to start to really worry about the environment.  I had always considered myself aware of things around me, such as what countries were at war, who was running for which political office, etc.  I think what it is, is that it finally hit me that if I don’t do something about the environment, who will?  I’ve been asked more than once if I really believe that “one little thing” I do to help the environment is going to make much of a difference.  Well in the grand scheme of things, maybe not.  But if many of us do these little things, it makes a huge difference!


When my children were growing up, they’d come home from school to tell me about how important “recycling” was and how we had to recycle our cans and plastics (it was about all you could recycle in our town at the time) in order to “save the planet”.  I felt their excitement and encouraged them, recycling all we could.   Over time, the kids grew up and moved out, one by one and you guessed it… the recycling went by the wayside.  It wasn’t a decision I made, it just kind of happened without me realizing it.


We always had a garden when the kids were growing up, but after a while we stopped doing that, too.  I am happy to say that we are once again gardening and I’m happy that we are.  Last year was our first garden in quite a few years.  This year our garden grew and hubby and I looked into more ways to be eco-friendly, cost-conscious, etc.  It seems that the older we got, the more we realized how much we humans take for granted in our environment.  We got tired of just paying the bills as they were and took action to lower our bills, by using less electricity so that the electricity bill was lower, growing vegetables so the grocery bill was lower, and so on… and along the way we learned a lot more than we ever thought about before.


Starting a compost pile seemed like the next natural step.  I’m not saying we know exactly what we’re doing with it, but we’re doing it anyway.  We’re trying, and that’s where it all starts. I have a new blogging friend over at Healthy People, Healthy Planet who is writing a series on composting and you can be sure I’m following the advice given, as well as researching what I can find to help out.  The point is, we couldn’t just sit back and think “Well, it’s not going to matter if we do this, if so-and-so (and everyone else) isn’t doing it, too.”  Why?  Because it does matter!  It matters to our peace of mind, it matters to the earth, it matters to our health… aren’t those 3 very important places to start?


There are so many environmental topics I want to blog about and it’s hard to make up my mind on where to start.  They say to always start at the beginning and that sounds fair to me.  I’ll tell you what got me started (the 2nd time, I should say).  It was a documentary about plastic grocery bags called “Bag It.”  Yep – that did it… all I was doing was simply watching a documentary on NetFlix and this guy came on and made sense… maybe too much sense.  For me, it was like when you make a snowman.  You start out with just a handful of snow and before you know it, you’ve rolled it into part of a big Frosty-like snowman!  That’s exactly what it was like for me, one thing lead to another, then another.  I read as much as I could about how detrimental these plastic bags were to our planet, and from there it grew and grew.  Then it was composting, then more recycling, but more than recycling, what about reducing and reusing?  Aren’t those supposed to come before recycling?    I could list more, but since I’m straying I’ll get back to my original topic…  One thing can change your outlook on many things.  I know this, because that’s what happened to me.


Here on my blog, I’d like to tell you about my journey to a greener and simpler lifestyle.  I hope you’ll stick around to read some more of my thoughts and ideas.  Along the way, I’ll introduce you to posts I’ve found from other bloggers that have helped me learn what I have.  I’ve found that the blogging community is full of friendly, knowledgeable people who always want to help others learn about what is important to them.  My posts won’t all be environmental, some of them will be things like how we have become a throw-away-society, what our children are (and aren’t) being taught in schools, ways I’ve made my lifestyle more “natural”, how to make (and use) homemade cleaning products, where does our trash go?, where does our recycling go?, etc.  I have a lot of things to write about, things that are important to me and hopefully, to you as well.



Posted in Gardening, Green Lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Donut (don’t it) Make You Hungry?

I don’t know what I’ve got myself into…  all because of the segment on the local news!  We have a segment called “Eats, Treats and Sweets” and a week or so ago they mentioned pumpkin muffins and donuts.  Well, hubby and I thought that anything pumpkin sounded good, but that pumpkin donuts sounded scrumptious!

I scoured the internet for a pumpkin donut recipe and let me tell you, there are a lot out there.  I’m sure most of them are wonderful… but I had to make a decision based on knowing nothing about making pumpkin donuts.  The only ones I ever ate were at a donut shop.  I found the one I used at Epicurious.  It’s called “Pumpkin Doughnuts with Powdered Sugar
 Glaze and Spiced Sugar Doughnut Holes“.  The recipe is quite involved, but I took the time to make them and I’m glad I did, they were worth the effort.  I did change a few things, such as I only made half of the sugar mixture for rolling the finished donuts in (and I still had some left over) and I made a glaze with powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and a little milk to drizzle over some of them.

This is how they turned out:

After those were gone, I thought “bismarcks” might be good.  I don’t know what possessed me to make more fattening food, I just wanted to!  Then I thought about all the strawberry preserves and raspberry jam in the cellar and the idea was cemented in my brain “I must make Raspberry Jam and Vanilla Cream filled donuts”  So I scoured the internet yet again for a recipe for donuts… raised, filled donuts.  I had to choose the one from Erin Cooks called “Raised Doughnuts: Raising the Roof“.  The reason I chose this one over all the others is because of the cute and funny story she posted about her and her mom making them together and they were in Maine and I’m in Maine, so I had to choose that one!  Not only that, but it sounded like Erin and her Mom had a lot of fun making them… and all I can say to you two is “no, I didn’t dare to just throw all ingredients into my bread machine“, lol!  I did have fun making these donuts, maybe not as much fun as Erin had, since my Mom is in southern Maine and I’m up north, but fun even so.  Thanks Erin (and Erin’s Mom) you girls gave me a great recipe!

This is how they looked when done:

The recipe I used for filling them was a vanilla cream filling found at  CDkitchen, from a donut recipe called “Dunken Doughnuts Vanilla Filled Doughnuts“.  I liked the taste and texture of it, and proceeded to mix it with some homemade raspberry jam – can we say “yummy”?   I liked squirting the mixture of those two things into the donuts, the only drawback being that I couldn’t tell how much was going into them.  I had to run across the road at one point and borrow my neighbor Cathy’s rolling pin and cake decorating set, I don’t know where mine is but that’s a post for another time!  Thanks Cathy – I couldn’t have done it without you (and your rolling pin… and your decorating set…)!

After making many more raised, filled donuts than what you see above, I finished by making some regular shaped donuts with what was left of the dough.  I made a little bit of chocolate glaze to go on the top of them.

This is what the Chocolate Glazed Donuts looked like:

All this tastes great, but there seems to be a problem.  There are only two of us here and hubby insists that he can only eat so many donuts –  imagine that!?!  So, I think I’ll be testing them to see how well they freeze, since that is what I’ll have to do or else we’ll both weigh 300 lbs before they’re gone!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a trip to my donut shop, I mean my kitchen!

Until next time…

Posted in Cooking, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Potato Harvest in Aroostook County

Across the road from our house is a potato field.  Where I live, most people live pretty close to one, so this is not a scene that is unfamiliar to those living in Aroostook County, Maine.  For the past few days we’ve listened to the whirring sound of the airhead on the potato harvester, watching the windrower ahead of it, going up and down the rows of the long field, as well as the truck going along side the harvester.  It’s a rhythm repeated throughout the fields in our town and others around the county this time of year.  It’s what we’re used to, we’ve even come to expect it.  But that wasn’t always the way it was…

When I was growing up, most farmers hired school children (and some adults) to “pick” potatoes.  We usually started back to school earlier than children in other parts of the country because after being in school for only 3-4 weeks, the potatoes would be ready and the farmers needed us to help bring in the crop.  Usually by the time you went back to school, you were pretty sure which farmer you would “pick for” that year and have your job lined up.  You knew how much  you’d be paid per barrel, as well as which of your friends would be picking with you.

Every year I would get so excited.  I had my money spent before I earned it.  Normally it started with school clothes, which is what most of us bought with the money we earned, but always included fun things like new records (yes, I’m over 40!) and other things we just had to have.  The only thing you forgot year to year was how hard the work really was.

You got up early, before the sun.  You dressed warmly in layers, because the mornings were frosty, but the days warmed up so you needed to peel off those layers as the day wore on.  You waited outside in the dark of the early morning for the farmer’s pickup truck to pull up, usually driven by his wife or family member.  You’d crawl into the back end of it, greeting whoever happened to be there already and sit on that cold metal seat.  When you got to the field, you’d be handed your basket and “tickets”.  Your tickets had a number on them so that you could tuck them safely into a part of the potato barrel.  That way, they’d know who picked the barrel and you could be paid for it.  By this time, the sun was up and the hard work of a long day began.  The only thing left to do before the work began was to mark off your “section” – the length of the field that was yours to pick.  You had to gauge how long your section was, because you had to figure out how fast you could pick before the digger came back down the row again, because you didn’t want to get behind – it would be embarrassing to have to have help to pick your section!

When you got to be a teenager, you knew you didn’t have to pick potatoes any more… you were now old enough to work on a “harvester”.  You’d stand on the platform of the harvester, the potatoes moving along in front of you, picking out rocks, potato tops and anything else that didn’t belong.  You weren’t bent over putting potatoes into a basket until it was full, then walking to dump it into a barrel, but you were standing on a narrow platform, bent over hour after hour, your arms flying this way and that.  No matter how you do it, potato harvesting is hard work!  Working on a harvester brought you more money than picking did, usually because while picking potatoes, you were usually also visiting with friends, stopping for the wonderful big lunches your Mom packed for you, as well as meeting and visiting with the new people you met each year.

There is so much more to the potato harvest that I haven’t included in this post.  The smells of plowed earth and potatoes, waiting with full barrels for the trucks to return from dumping said barrels at the potato house, grabbing a soda or snack while waiting.  I guess the thing I miss the most is the fun of it all.  Yes it was hard work, but it was fun work!

Now, the children don’t get out of school for potato harvest.  Machinery and adults do all the work.  Schools all over the county  have debated the “harvest break” for as long as I can remember and finally it has been decided that the children aren’t needed for the harvest to continue.  Is it the way it should be?  I’m not sure.  I know working parents had to find someone to provide child care while school was out if their child wasn’t working, so it’s easier on them.  I know that the era of picking potatoes by hand is almost dead, but should it be?  Are today’s kids missing out on something?  I think they are.  We learned a lot when we worked those three weeks during the year.  We learned responsibility and the value of a hard-earned dollar.  We learned how far that money would go and that if we worked hard, it paid off.  I’m sorry to see this part of our history in this part of the country die away.

This trip down memory lane was fun for me and I hope that in some way I’ve given you a glimpse into life in potato country – a life I wouldn’t trade for anything!

Posted in Growing Up | Tagged , | 13 Comments

A Bowl of “Garden Produce” Soup!

I just love a good bowl of soup!  When the days are cool and crisp as they are now, I find a bowl of soup to be comforting.  In addition to the feeling of comfort though, with the soup I made the other day there was also a feeling of accomplishment.  This soup was almost all made with ingredients that we grew in our home garden.  So, not only did it taste good because it was good, it tasted good because all our hard work had helped to make it.

From our garden into the soup:  Carrots, Green Beans, Peas, Onions, Tomatoes and the Green onion tops.  The only other things in there that didn’t come from the garden was the meat, spices and potatoes.  Living in the heart of Maine potato country, you’d think I’d grow my own, right?!?
Next year, we plan on trying a few new things in the garden.  Herbs and spices will be something new, although I need to do some research on what will grow in our area of the country, since it’s a short growing season.
Until next time…

Posted in Cooking, Gardening | Tagged | 4 Comments

New Idea for Upcyling Cardboard Boxes

I found this great “upcycled” craft a few weeks ago on another blog and wanted to share it with you.  It would be a great gift for the kids in your life, either to make for them or with them!  I have been recycling cardboard for a while now and have quite a lot of product boxes to choose from for this craft, so it ought to prove interesting.

The featured post below uses Mod Podge, but  I found a post on another blog about “homemade Mod Podge” complete with a recipe, as well as another blog listing the reasons you might not want to use homemade mod-podge.  After reading the reasons listed on why we might find the commercial stuff better, I also found this post, that adds clear varnish to the homemade recipe.  Personally, I’m going to try the homemade recipe for this craft and see how it turns out before I give any away as gifts.  If it doesn’t work out well, I’ll buy some “real” Mod Podge.

Thanks, Beckie – this idea is a winner!

Cereal Box Crafts: Notepads

April 12, 2011 By

Greeting friends today we are going to make cereal box notepads.  We are continuing on with our recycle theme in honor of Earth Day coming up next week (Friday, April 22nd). These are so fun to make and give and I think they would be a terrific addition to a birthday party goodie bag.  So go to your recycling bin and grab some fun boxes and lets get started.



cereal boxes or other cardboard

Mod podge (I used matte)

Wide thin paintbrush

2 large binder clips

2 paint stir sticks

Exacto Knife & ruler or Paper cutter


1.  First of all decide what size your notepad will be based on the paper you have.  You can use notecards, an existing notepad, binder paper or cut up some paper from an old composition book.  Using a paper cutter or an Exacto knife with a straight edge cut your paper the size you want it.

earth day craft

2.  Look through all of the boxes you have and then cut out the cardboard box to fit the same size as your paper you just cut.  Cut one for the front of your notepad and one for the back using a paper cuter or Exacto knife with a ruler.

cereal box craft

3.  Sandwich the paper in between your two cardboard cereal boxes you cut out.  Line them up all nicely shifting them in place until the top or side edge (depending on what side you plan on gluing) is even.

4. Place the paint stir stick on the front and back of your notepad and secure the binder clip on top.  This will hold the book in place while you bind the top with glue.

crafting with cereal boxes

5.  Remove one of the binder clips and apply an even medium coat of Mod Podge on the edge.  Move the binder clip to the side your just glued being careful to make sure the top is not touching your glue.  Do the other side.  Let it dry.  Repeat the process two more times for a total of three coats.

cereal box book

cereal box notepads

When dry remove clips and stir sticks and enjoy!  Give them as a gift or pop one in your purse for a handy way to jot down notes.  Give them to your child in a restaurant to doodle.cereal box crafts

For more Cereal Box Crafts…

Click here for Cereal Box Crafts: Postcards

Click here for Cereal Box Crafts: Kid’s Art Display

Posted in Crafts, Upcycling | Tagged , , | 4 Comments