Jul 212014
 

How To Restore Cast Iron Cookware - strip and reseason damaged and rusted cast iron cookware so it looks and cooks the way it should.

I cringe a little every time I see rust this bad on a cast iron pan. Yeah, it’s kind of nasty looking but that’s not what bothers me. When I was first married I had a cast iron pan and my husband, after cooking breakfast for me, left the pan soaking in the sink. Yes, you read that right, he left it soaking. As a young girl who thought men should just “know better” you can imagine the argument that followed. What was worse is that I had no idea how to fix the pan –  there was no internet to speak of at the time, and I wound up throwing it away. So those rusty pots and pans remind me of a time when I made a few more mistakes than I do now. Now, that I know better,  when I see those neglected pots or pans I have an overwhelming desire to take all of them and show them love and affection and help them “look and cook” like they they were intended to.  A little like marriage, it takes a little time and a bit of work to restore cast iron cookware, but it is really worth the time and effort! Continue reading »

Jun 232014
 

How to season cast iron cookware so that it will have a non-stick surface. Can be used for old, rusted cast iron that needs to be stripped and re-seasoned.

Cast iron is my favorite cookware; I talk all about the reasons why here. Cast iron needs a little more care than most cookware, but the trade off is that it will last forever (well, at least your lifetime and probably your child’s lifetime). There is a lot of cast iron of varying quality on the market today. Some of it comes pre-seasoned and some of it ships unseasoned. Believe it or not there are times when you will want to strip the pre-seasoning off a new piece of cast iron, but I’ll get to that in a moment. If you purchase new cast iron and it arrives unseasoned can you start cooking with it? You could, but you would probably have a hard time with food sticking to your cookware. The seasoning is the black covering (or patina) that makes cast iron non-stick.

I’m going to show you how to season your cast iron cookware so that it will have a non-stick surface. The more you cook with cast iron the more non-stick it becomes. It’s a process. You would also use this method if you found some old cast iron at a yard sale and it needed to be stripped and re-seasoned. I’m not going to get into the stripping in this post, but I will in a later post.  For now let’s just say you have “naked” cast iron and you want to season your piece. Continue reading »

Apr 052014
 

Build Your Own Simple Seed Starting Shelves with room for up to 576 seedlings under the grow lights. Sturdy, moveable and easy enough for a weekend project

Each year I start several hundred vegetable, herb and flower seedlings.  Almost all of them begin on the simple seed starting shelves my husband built over 15 years ago. I wasn’t blogging then (I started that around five years ago), so I didn’t snap any photos. Heck, I didn’t even have a digital camera back then.  Photos or no photos, these indoor planting shelves have served me well, and are fairly inexpensive to make.

The lights are suspended from chains on hooks, so they can easily be adjusted up or down.  Mounting casters on the bottom makes it a snap to move – even from one house to another.  If you use standard 22″x11″ nursery trays with 72 cells per tray, there’s room for 576 seedlings under the grow lights, plus an extra 288 seedlings on the top shelf, if you have room for it in your greenhouse, sun room or very well lit room.  Cross supports and water proof paint make it sturdy and durable.  I pair it up with a fan on a timer, to help keep the seedlings sturdy, and I also use a timer to turn the grow lights off at night.  Once the seedlings get bigger, they graduate to the greenhouse or cold frame, and then are hardened off (gently exposed to the elements over several days) and planted out into the garden. Continue reading »

Dec 142013
 

Make Your Own Perfume with Essential Oils @ Common Sense Homesteading

Why subject yourself and those who are close to you with a chemical cocktail when you can make your own perfume with non-toxic ingredients? The modern fragrance industry uses some pretty scary chemicals.

In “Scent of Danger: Are There Toxic Ingredients in Perfumes and Colognes?“, Scientific American discusses a 2010 study of perfumes and fragrances by the Environmental Working Group, they found that:

The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label…. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.” EWG adds that some of the undisclosed ingredients are chemicals “with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues.” Examples include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies, and musk ketone, which concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk.

All you need to make perfume at home is a quality oil to use as a base, good quality essential oils, and a non-reactive container to store it in. I’m sharing some perfume making tips from my friend, Jo, at Jo’s Health Corner. You can visit her Young Living Essential Oil store here.  Jo is a wonderful lady with years of experience in natural health and using essential oils. Continue reading »

May 252013
 

I love to cook, and really love using fresh herbs. But, with my busy lifestyle, I am always trying to figure out how to grow them in an easy, quick, and affordable fashion.  These ideas repurposed planters for your herb garden don’t require a lot of work or space, and look great using recyclables found in my own garage. Last but not least, they are a great opportunity for me to teach my own kids about growing and tending plants. Continue reading »