Best Homemade Shower Cleaner – $.10 Per Bottle!


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One of the ways I save money is by not buying cleaning products and homemaking them instead. It’s not only less expensive, but often it’s better for your family and the environment to avoid harsh chemicals. Best of all, this recipe only has 2 ingredients: vinegar and Dawn dish detergent.

In a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, microwave 4 cups of vinegar for 30 seconds. Let cool and pour it into a clean, empty spray bottle. You’ll need a bigger spray bottle than the one pictured or cut the recipe in half for smaller bottles. Next pour 1 cup of Blue Dawn Dish Soap. Shake the bottle to mix ingredients and spray generously on your shower, tub or bathroom surfaces. This mixture will be thick and will stick to the surfaces. Let it sit for as long as you can stand it.

Just as a heads up; DO NOT forget to wash it off good. As a soap base cleaner it’s incredibly slippery even after a good wash down. Secondly, it smells like vinegar, lots and lots of vinegar.  If you have a bathroom fan, you may want use it!

For long-term or heavy dirt stains, it may need some scrubbing. I have had a lot of success with spraying down, waiting 20 minutes, doing a quick scrub down with a green scouring pad, water and a quick rinse. I repeat the process if it calls for it and it did when I started using it. Now that I have used it regularly, the grime doesn’t build up enough to require scrubbing. 🙂

You can use the mixture until it’s gone, there is no need to make a batch each time you clean as it stores nicely. Just reshake before using.

This is one of the cheapest cleaners available! My secrets to keeping the cost down is use a recycled bottle instead of purchasing one. Also contact the companies of these products and ask for coupons. I waited until the products were on sale and had a coupon for both making it a very, very affordable option at a whooping .10 cents per bottle! Wow!

Have you ever tried it? Did it work? Try it and let me know how it worked for you!!! Comment below!

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Simple Fresh Squeeze Orange Juice Recipe


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Fresh squeezed orange juice is a delightful morning treat! The nutritional benefits are incredible and you’ll love the boost of energy that accompanies each glass. Oranges are in abundance right now. Check out our simple juice recipe to make your own!

Need free fruit? Check out our article on urban foraging.

Warning: Wear gloves when peeling oranges! Especially if doing a large quantity! I learned first hand that orange oil/juice burns the skin and changes the ph of your skin to uncomfortable levels. If your skin starts burning or stinging, wash well with soap and water. Rinse as needed. Ice can relieve the pain.

  1. Roll the oranges with your palm to soften them.
  2. Peel the oranges, juice whole or  in large chunks.
  3. Add oranges to blender or juicer. Cut in half if juicing by hand.
  4. Run the blender/juicer. 12 large oranges gives approx. 24 oz of juice.
  5. Let sit for a few minutes to settle, chill & serve chilled!
  6. Add sugar if needed.

Fresh orange juice will separate in your pitcher. Shake or stir before serving. If stored in the refrigerator, freshly squeezed orange juice can last between 2 and 3 days. To keep fresh orange juice for a longer period of time, one has to freeze it.

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Have more than you can use? Oranges going bad? Juice it and pour extra juice into jars. They make excellent gifts for friends, family or neighbors! They will love you for it! Enjoy!

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Raising Your Own Backyard Chickens: The Basics


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As more people become concerned with where there food is coming from, backyard chickens have been exploding in popularity. We started raising our own chickens after watching the documentary Food, Inc. Needless to say it changed our lives and the way we look at our food.. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

Chickens are the easiest farm animals to keep. The benefits far out weight any drawbacks. As awesome as the family dog or cat is, they will never produce anything you can eat. Below are some of the incredible benefits of raising chickens.

Benefits

Fresh Eggs – Fresh eggs anytime is the biggest reason for raising chickens. With raising your own chickens, you are aware of what they eat and how they are cared for. Your homegrown eggs will be larger than store bought eggs. Your yolk will be more bright orange than the usual yellow of the store bought variety which is reflection of the chickens more natural nutritional diet and the taste is incredible. Personally, I use to slather ketchup over my eggs and didn’t think much of them. Now a simple fried egg with a little salt and pepper is the best breakfast ever!

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Fact: The average grocery store egg is already 30+ days old by the time you buy it. It’s washed in bleach and the chickens are not well fed or well cared for. 

Productive laying hens will produce 3 to 5 eggs each week with the highest yield during summer months. With shorter days during winter, egg production will drop back or stop. To keep your kitchen in fresh eggs, it’s recommended to have at least one hen for every member of the family.

To see how our flock is laying, check out our Egg Production Log.

Pest & Weed Control – Having chickens in your yard is great pest control. They love bugs of all kinds and are natural foragers. 70% of our chickens diet comes from bugs and weeds. Another big source of food is kitchen scraps! They are literally cute mobile garage disposals. They eat anything from breads, grains, salad scraps, apple cores and even cooked meats. We leave a bowl on our counter top, fill it up over a day or two and bring it out to them. Additionally we do offer pellet feed but when we run out they can easily go a week or more without it, foraging off the land and our scraps.

Watch your garden! They will eat most vegetation so you want to make sure they don’t have access to your garden or flower beds.  In the spring, place your chickens in the garden area to get it ready for planting. Their pecking and scratching helps rid your garden of weed seeds and grubs while loosening the topsoil.

Fertilizer – Chicken manure makes a good fertilizer for vegetables, trees, flowers or fruit. We allow our chickens to free range in the orchard. This allows to not only fertilize the our fruit trees but devour any excess falling fruit. Chicken manure is also a great for gardens. Simply mix it with your soil in early spring to prepare your garden beds.

Pets – Chickens are excellent pets. Breeds like the Cochins, Orpingtons or Silkies are good for this. Buff Orpingtons are my personal favorite. They are incredibly friendly and are good layers. Chickens are also great way to teach young kids responsibility as well as the cycle of life.

Meat – Like eggs, raising your own chickens will provide a healthier, tastier food source if you choose. You can use roosters or hens for meat. Your best choice for meat chickens is Orpingtons and Plymouth Rocks.

We’ve culled some of ours (retired layers) and while it is very different; I was surprised to find the process is much easier, quicker, and cleaner than I ever thought it would be. A few minutes into processing a hen, it looks like something you’d find at the grocery store. If you are not comfortable with the killing & processing, like me, you can always offer to share your raised meat chickens with someone else in exchange for them handling that aspect.

Drawback

Smell, Noise & Sex – Smell isn’t a problem if you care for them properly and keep your chicken coop clean. Noise is an issue if you have roosters; hens cluck and squawk but are much quieter. Some breeds are quieter than others. You don’t need a rooster in the flock since hens will lay eggs without one. You only need a rooster if you plan to hatch your own chicks or for general flock protection. Sex won’t happen if you don’t have a rooster. If you do, it can be rough and rowdy but thankfully it’s usually not loud and doesn’t last too long. Another potential life lesson for the kids perhaps.

Eggs – While nothing beats a fresh egg, they do require some work. Eggs must be gathered often;  no more than every other day. If you don’t gather eggs regularly, the hens will not produce more; they will nest instead. Or if they are bored or under fed they will break the eggs and eat them. This makes for a hard habit to break, especially if you don’t know who the culprit is. Adding dried egg shells back into their diet gives them the extra calcium to build strong eggs as well curb this urge.

Zoning – Before you start buying chicken supplies and the chicks, you need to check with your city or region. Your city may not allow farm animals in residential areas or you might need a special permit. If your city does allow chickens, then there will be a maximum number you’re allowed to keep. Each area may or may not allow roosters. We haven’t had any complaints from our neighbors against our flock of 18, it helps that we pass along surplus eggs. 🙂

Source – Finding a source for chickens is easy unless you are looking for more rare breeds. Start by checking with any farm stores in or near your city. You can also look on Craigslist, and the local classified ads. Ordering by mail is an option, but we don’t recommend it simply because we feel living creatures shouldn’t be put in the mail. Others may disagree but it’s been our experience that there’s always plenty of breeds up for grabs at the local pet stores.

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Once you decide to raise chickens, the next step is building or buying a coop. Even if your chickens free-range, I recommend building where they can nest and take cover in inclement weather. Chickens can overheat in a hot weather rather quickly so having a shady retreat is essential. Chicken coops are easy to build and fairly inexpensive.  Additionally, they are available used on Craigslist and often available for free. We built ours with used lumber and attached a chain link dog run to it. We also added additional security measures to the coop to prevent predictors from gaining access.

Backyard chicken farming is a great introduction to raising livestock for people with limited experience. Chickens are easy to care for and need minimal space. They are such a joy and beautiful to watch.

Stay tuned for our upcoming posts! Hatching and Raising New Chicks, Introduction to Our Coop, Predator Proofing and Chicken Supplies:  What You Need to Get Started!

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Gather Healthy Fruit For Your Family For Free


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Every time I go out I’m reminded of the massive amount of food that goes to waste in lawns and yards across America. We see it all the time. Fruit trees with fruit rotting on the ground because no one was there to pick it. Well, I do. I am an urban forager.

The concept is simple. Occasionally my friends, family, neighbors and even strangers will grant me access to their homegrown unwanted fruits and vegetables. Other times I find fruit trees or wild berries on public property. More often than not people have much more growing fruit than they can use and that’s where I come in.

I offer to come harvest whatever they give me permission for and bag it up. I provide my own bags, fruit picker and woman power. I even clean up all the fruit that’s uneatable on the ground and give it to my chickens. They are more than happy to do their part and don’t mind bruised or buggy fruit.

Sometimes people will do the heavy lifting for you! Often people will offer to bag up their fruit and leaving it on their porch for easy pick up. Others will be so willing to pass the fruit along that they will bag it up and drop it off themselves. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get massive hauls a few times a week like the ones pictured here.

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Note: Be prepared and plan according. Processing fruit can be time consuming and homegrown food goes bad more quickly than store bought.

The benefits of doing this are endless! Since I don’t have a traditional career, this is one of the many ways I contribute to my family’s household. Fruit is expensive and the nutritional benefits speak for themselves. As you can see below it’s very easy to collect large quantities of quality foods for free!

To make the most out of my hauls, I preserve or process the fruit using various methods including baking, juicing or canning. See my yearly canning list for more details!

If you get way more fruit than your family can use; barter or give it to your friends or family. Also remember that ALL local food pantries accept homegrown foods. Search here to find a food pantry or soup kitchen near you!

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To get started, I recommend following these 3 guidelines:

  1. If it’s on private property ask permission! Most people will say “yes” and if you do get a “no” move on there’s plenty of trees out there and people that will give you the green light. Post a request on social media, Craigslist, or NextDoor.com. If it’s public property, go for it!
  2. Only take what you can use! There’s plenty of fruit out there! There’s no use in saving fruit from rotting on the ground only to have it rot in your kitchen. Be courtesy and leave some for others. If you get more than you can use, share it with your friends, family or donate it to the local food bank!
  3. Have fun! It can be hard work, but it’s also very rewarding! Plus you’re getting a work out. Bring a friend or two to help ease the load, and split the rewards. Keep an eye out for public fruit trees on your walks or next trip to the park.

Check out my foraging expeditions here. Hopefully they will inspire you to make some of your own. The potential is limitless.

The Chickens & Ducks Are Laying Again!


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We’ve got the first eggs of the season coming! We’re so excited! It will be awesome having fresh eggs again. Thankfully our winters here in California are not that long. An overturned pot makes for an excellent nesting box! As you can see both the chickens and the ducks like to share.

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