Saturday, 18 August 2012
Friday, 17 August 2012
Riches to Rags by Dory Blog
Vanilla Extract in the Oven for a great smelling home!
Put two caps full of vanilla extract in a coffee cup (or oven proof dish) place it in the oven at 300 degrees for one hour.. within twenty minutes the whole house smells fantastic!! (common trick used by realtors to make homes smell simply delicious)
I have found this very interesting and intelligent idea while wandring on facebook. By creatively using toilet paper roll to trap mouse in a plastic bin from where it cannot escape. After trapping the mouse you can decide to free it somewhere or just give your cat a treat ;)
Here what the poster posted
Whoohoo!!! My mousetrap worked!! Just took a little patience!! Use peanut butter smeared on the inside of the toilet paper roll. He/she goes in the tube to get to the peanut butter, the roll/mouse fall into the tall trash can....then release! Voila!!
This do it your self recloseable snack bag is ideal for picnics and drives where one is not able to eat all the content of the snack bag. And after the event you only left with soggy and soft snacks.
So make it your self with used pet bottle, and move your upcycle / recycle goal a step forward with crunchy snacks :)
Thursday, 16 August 2012
If you are interested in dehydrating fruits and vegetables for long-term storage, please continue reading. If not, purchase prepared meals, freeze dried fruits and vegetables, and Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), at a much higher cost. By purchasing a dehydrator, you can save a ton of money. That is, if you are in it for the long haul.
After you grasp the fundamentals for long-term food storage, dehydrating foods is simple. Getting started can be challenging, but what is not challenging to us Preppers? We constantly debate which purchases to make, whether it is clothing, firearms, or outfitting our survival bag. And, it is no different when tackling your food storage plan. Do you purchase canned foods, prepared meals, dehydrated foods, or dehydrate and can foods yourself? The survival food manufacturers understand the complexities of doing it on your own, and they have built a comfortable profit margin into their pricing.
Finding a Dehydrator
The first rule of dehydrating is that all dehydrators were not created equal. There are two main types of dehydrators; vertical and horizontal airflow. Vertical dehydrators force air from either the top or the bottom of the machine. Horizontal dehydrators force air from the back of the machine. Most agree that horizontal dehydrators work more effectively at evenly drying foods, which is very important for long-term food storage. To store foods for long-term storage, you must ensure you have removed as much of the moisture as possible; a minimum of 95%.
Some also believe that since vertical dehydrators force air downwards/upwards from tray to tray, flavor mixing occurs if you are dehydrating more than one type of item at a time. Another consideration is the amount of produce you can dehydrate each cycle. I define a cycle as the amount of time required to successfully dehydrate items for long-term storage. This time period can range from 8 to 24 hours, depending on which types and sizes of foods you are dehydrating. Horizontal dehydrators usually have more dehydrating capacity. Drying capacity is determined by the number of trays your dehydrator has. The more trays, the more capacity.
For these reasons, I prefer horizontal dehydrators, such as the Excalibur. I use my Excalibur almost every day, and have run it consecutively for weeks at a time. The downside of the Excalibur, and other horizontal airflow dehydrators, is that they are usually more expensive. An Excalibur can cost 2-5 times more than the budget vertical dehydrator. After a year of dehydrating over 500 lbs. of fruits and vegetables, my Excalibur works the same as the first day I used it.
If you decide to purchase an Excalibur, it will set you back $200 - $250. A budget dehydrator can cost less than $75. Whichever route you take, this is your first expense. For an expensive dehydrator to pay itself off, when compared to purchasing dehydrated and freeze dried foods, you have to use it and then continue to use it. After around 200lbs of dehydrating your own fruits and vegetables, it should pay for itself.
After your items are dehydrated, the next step is packaging. Here you have to make the choice on which methods to use. The most common methods are vacuum sealer and bags, mason jars, and Mylar bags. I use a combination of all three methods when packaging my dehydrated foods. When packaging your items for long-term storage, you must ensure that they are oxygen and moisture free, and limit the exposure to light. Always wear gloves when handling dehydrated foods so that you do not transfer moisture and oils from your hands to the finished product.
Vacuum Sealer and Bags
This method requires a vacuum sealer, such as a Food Saver. This is an additional cost when dehydrating your items. But, I consider this a general kitchen expense. A vacuum sealer can be used for more than your dehydrating packing, as it also extends the life of frozen meats and other foods. When purchasing vacuum bags, only purchase ones that are food safe. I like Weston vacuum bags, as they are decent quality and cheaper than other major brands. Vacuum bags do not provide a light barrier, so they must be placed in a container, or a Mylar bag. Additionally, I also use oxygen absorbers with my vacuum bags to remove any remaining oxygen.
Required items and recommendations: Vacuum Sealer (Food Saver / Game Saver), Vacuum bags (Weston brand), and oxygen absorbers (100cc – 300cc).
I use Mason jars to store dry and dehydrated foods that will eventually be used in meal packs. While, the jars do not provide a light free environment, they are moisture and oxygen free. You can use a Mason jar with oxygen absorbers, or if you have a vacuum sealer you can purchase an attachment that will remove the oxygen from the jar, while locking the lid to the jar. Using the vacuum sealer and attachment method is very cost effective if you plan on building meal packs or use mason jars for temporary use. By using Mason jars, I do not waste money on excess packaging or oxygen absorbers, and do not have to replace them every time I need a cup of carrots for a specific recipe. I can simply break the seal on the Mason jar, remove the carrots, and use my vacuum sealer and attachment to remove the air from the jar.
Required items and recommendations: Mason jars (Ball Wide Mouth Half Gallon), and a Vacuum sealer attachment and/or oxygen absorbers (300cc).
Mylar bags provide an oxygen free environment, if used with oxygen absorbers, and are light and moisture resistant. Even if I use a vacuum bag, most of my vacuum bags end up packaged in a Mylar bag. Using two packing methods may sound like a waste of money, but I believe having two barriers is important for long-term food storage. If one fails, the other will hopefully work. When using Mylar bags, you need to have an iron, hair iron, or Mylar bag sealer. The Mylar bag sealer is expensive, but I believe it is the best sealing method.
Required items and recommendations: 3mil – 4mil Mylar bags (quart, gallon, 5 gallon), oxygen absorbers, and sealing method (Mylar bag sealer).
Helpful Packaging Tips
1. I do not like storing foods items in bulk (the 5 gallon pail method), because if something contaminates the food, it will spread to everything in the container. Instead, I like to package foods based on my meal plan. For instance, if I know my family eats a 1 lb. of vegetables per meal, I will package a 1 lb. equivalent per bag. I will have a lot of little bags, and the cost of packaging will increase, but I am protecting against cross contamination. If one package goes bad, it will not spread to the others.
2. Determine a food’s raw weight and dehydrated weight. A good guideline is a 1 cup of dehydrated product, equals 1 lb. of raw product. This is not always the case with Asparagus, Beans, and Broccoli. In some cases, I may increase to 1 ¼ cups of dehydrated product.
3. I generally package larger quantities of items like Potatoes and Tomatoes. I may package 5 lbs. equivalent dehydrated product per bag. This is because we usually cook larger meals with these types of foods, and the 1 lb. packaging method doesn’t really apply.
4. Always use an oxygen absorber.
5. Always wear powder free gloves when handling dehydrated foods.
The next critical thing that you must understand is that each type of food you dehydrate needs to be processed, or purchase items that have already been processed. I define processing as taking the raw form of a fruit or vegetable and washing, cutting, cooking, and any treatments before it is ready to be dehydrated. All produce should be cleaned prior to dehydration to remove any dirt, fertilizer, and chemicals. Some items need to be skinned prior to dehydrating and/or cutting. Lastly some food items need to be cut before you cook/blanch them.
Frozen fruits and vegetables that are purchased from a grocery store, have already undergone all necessary processing. You can simply open the package, and place the frozen produce directly on your dehydrating trays. You do not need to thaw the produce; the dehydrator will do that for you. One recommendation is to separate any items that are frozen together. You can do this by running water over the clumps for a few seconds. Then try to pry apart.
Blanching is a cooking process where produce is put into boiling water for a few minutes, then removed and placed into cold water to halt the cooking process. Blanching is often used to remove the skins from Tomatoes and Peaches, but is also used to soften the skin of Grapes, Blueberries, Plums, Cherries, Cranberries, Squash, and Zucchini.
Steaming vegetables is required for all low acid foods, which include Asparagus, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Corn, Peas, Potatoes, and Pumpkin. Steaming the item allows it to dehydrate faster, but will also help retain its color. For instance, potatoes that are not steamed will usually turn black after they are dehydrated. By steaming your potatoes, it will remove most of the starch.
Cutting, or slicing, your produce drastically decreases drying time. You will have to figure out which size works best for your items, but here is my general guide. Tomatoes sliced ¼ to 3/8 inch | Potatoes: Diced or sliced (1/8 inch) | Squash/Zucchini sliced 1/8 inch | most fruits sliced 1/8 inch | berries leave whole. To ensure even drying, it is recommended to cut your produce to the same size. I use an electric food slicer and also a vegetable chopper. While these items increase the cost for dehydrating your foods, they ensure your produce is cut to the same size, and drastically decrease the amount of time cutting foods.
Recommended items: Chief’s Choice 609 Electric Food Slicer, Norpro Big Mouth Chopper, and/or a Mandoline type slicer.
Vitamin C Replacement
Low acid foods can lose most if not all of their Vitamin C, and other nutrients, during the cooking and dehydrating process. So to give your produce a supplement of Vitamin C, you can Lemon juice or Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C crystals). If you are using Lemon juice, purchase any 100% Lemon juice and spray your produce. You can also soak your produce in Lemon juice, but keep in mind that most of your foods may have a strong Lemon flavor. Ascorbic Acid is more effective than Lemon juice, and you usually do not taste it. Mix 1 tablespoon of Ascorbic Acid, to 1 quart of water (4 cups). Soak your produce for 3 minutes, remove from the liquid, and place on your dehydrator trays. Foods to treat with Lemon juice / Ascorbic Acid: Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Carrots, Pears, and Strawberries.
Heat and Drying Times
For vegetables, set your dehydrator to 125 degrees. For fruits, set it to 135 degrees. There are many factors that determine drying times. Some foods dehydrate much faster than others. Berries and grapes usually take the longest, while squash, potatoes, and celery dry relatively fast. You can look up recommend time guides, but at best they are an estimate. The humidity level in your home also impacts how long it will take dry your produce. Your dehydrator will have to also dehydrate the oxygen in your house, so humid conditions add a significant amount of time to your drying cycle. If you are like me, you do not want to wait for the fall and winter months to dehydrate. I dehydrate all year long. To decrease the humidity in your home, you can use a dehumidifier, or run your air conditioner when dehydrating.
Instead of establishing a set time, I generally conduct 24 hour cycles. Working a full time job, I do not have the ability to monitor the dehydrator. I will usually put a load in the dehydrator after dinner, and then check it after I get off of work. The drying cycle can last from 18 to 24 hours. This may seem excessive, but you need to package your dehydrator foods shortly after you remove them from the dehydrator. I do not have the time to package in the morning before work. This is what works best for me and it helps me to remove as much moisture as possible.
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
If you have an old suitcase not suitable for traveling you can easily turn it into the place where your cat can rest i.e Cat Nest as I call it.
This is kind of Do it Yourself project for your boring weekend if you have. You need an old suitcase, four wooden legs (plastics ones also do) and a mat size of suitcase.
Remove the lid from the suitcase
Install four legs under the suit case
Place the mat inside the suitcase
Invite the cat to sit there :)
PS you can use Old TV casing instead of suitcase
Living with your pet cat, dog or both is fun and enriching experience but until they started to shed their hairs in your house.
Cleaning of those pet hairs become a tedious and somewhat impossible when it comes to cleaning the carpet which is often the favorite spot of your pet to shed hair ;). The problem will snowball if you have a toddler with the habit of eating every thing he / she can grab.
Now here is a really simple solution to make your task of cleaning really easy.
You must have window squeegee for window cleaning. Take that squeegee and clean carpet from it. Whoola the cleaning chore is as easy as cleaning windows :)
If you find this tip useful please share it with friends and write your experience in comment box.
Soup cans are purchased in almost every other household. Some people just throw away the can once used while other send it to recycling.
But you can do several things from those empty cans. For example by wrapping them with good looking scrap papers the empty soup can can be turned in to all purpose item holder.
What else you can make with these tin cans ?
Monday, 13 August 2012
Do you use your freezer to preserve herbs, vegetables, or fruit? The freezer can be a powerful, overlooked method of preserving.
One of my favorite ingredients, a handful of fresh herbs from the garden, is one of the simplest things to preserve in the freezer, and I just learned a new, better way to freeze herbs: In oil!
I noticed a post at The Gardener's Eden (read it here) recommending that you freeze some herbs in oil. Why? Preserving herbs in oil reduces some of the browning and freezer burn that herbs can get in the freezer.
It's also a great way to have herbs ready immediately for winter stews, roasts, soups, and potato dishes. These dishes usually call for oil to start with, and so you can take a cube of frozen oil, herbs inside, out of the freezer and use this as the base of your dish. Cook the onions and garlic in this herb-infused oil and let the taste of herbs spread through your whole dish.
Given this use, the oil-and-freezer method of preservation works best with the tougher hard herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. These are all herbs that would probably be cooked when added to a dish.
Soft herbs such as mint, basil, lemon verbena, and dill are usually added raw to a dish, and they don't respond as well to this kind of preserving. Their fresh taste is changed in the freezer, and honestly, I don't usually choose to freeze these delicate sorts of herbs at all, with the exception of homemade basil pesto. (Although I have been meaning to try this parsley freezing method from master gardener Margaret Roach!) Some folks do freeze soft herbs in bags without any water or oil, which essentially preserves them by drying them out. I don't prefer the taste of dried mint and other herbs, so I just never do this.
For me, the best use of the freezer when it comes to herbs is preserving hard herbs in oil or broth, although now I prefer oil. The aroma of the herbs really infuses the oil in the freezer, which is a bonus!
Here are some tips on preserving herbs in oil.
8 Steps for Freezing Herbs in Oil
- Choose firm, fresh herbs, ideally from the market or your own garden.
- If you wish, you can chop them fine. Or leave them in larger sprigs and leaves. Here I froze a combination of finely-chopped and whole herbs such as rosemary, fennel stalk, sage, and oregano.
- Pack the wells of ice cube trays about 2/3 full of herbs.
- You can mix up the herbs, too; think about freezing a bouquet garni of sage, thyme, and rosemary to add to winter roast chickens and potatoes!
- Pour extra-virgin olive oil or melted, unsalted butter over the herbs.
- Cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
- Remove the frozen cubes and store in freezer containers or small bags.
- Don't forget to label each container or bag with the type of herb (and oil) inside!
Sunday, 12 August 2012
(ARA) -- Heating and cooling systems account for 56 percent of energy used in a typical home, making it the largest energy expense for most households, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Making smarter decisions about your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system can help you save money on your monthly utility bills.
American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning has developed several tips for cutting your heating and cooling costs without cutting comfort.
Install a programmable thermostat.
Controlling energy costs starts with your thermostat. During winter months, you can save nearly 3 percent of heating costs for each degree your thermostat is lowered.
In the summer, cooling costs are cut up to 6 percent per each degree you raise the thermostat. A programmable thermostat will automatically adjust temperatures throughout the day, ensuring greater energy efficiency and enhanced comfort.
Some thermostat models even allow homeowners to pre-program desired temperatures for specific times of day. You can save costs by easily adjusting the heating and cooling settings for when times when you're waking up, leaving for work, sleeping or going on vacation.
Upgrade to variable speed heating or cooling.
Depending on your comfort needs and where you live, you can choose from a variable speed furnace or air handler. Both work with the outdoor unit to ensure the greatest energy efficiency and consistent comfort throughout your home. "Variable speed" refers to how a furnace or air handler's indoor blower motor runs. A two-stage, variable speed furnace or air handler operates at an energy-saving lower speed and a higher speed, when needed, for more consistent air circulation. With steadier, variable speeds, these indoor units don't have to turn on and off as frequently, which reduces temperature swings and may help to lower your heating bills.
Consider a hybrid system.
Hybrid HVAC systems bring together two different fuel sources, typically a gas furnace and an electric heat pump, for more efficient heating and cooling. A hybrid system is calibrated to automatically switch between the furnace and heat pump depending on which offers the most economical power for your heating or cooling needs at any given time. Cost savings can be significant. In fact, American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning's Heritage Hybrid comfort system can deliver up to 50 percent savings over a comparable 10-year old system.
Check your filter every month.
It is especially important to check your filter during heavier usage periods such as winter and summer and, at a minimum, change the filter every three months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool -- wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt buildup in your system. Some programmable thermostats will even remind you when to check your filters.
Get the best energy efficiency ratings.
Your heating and cooling system's components should have the highest possible energy efficiency ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient the product and lower your energy bills can be. Make sure your components meet the following minimums:
* Furnaces: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 80 or higher
* Heat pumps: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) ratings of 7 or higher
* Air conditioners: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings of 13 or higher
By following these few easy tips, you and your family can cut energy costs and enjoy cleaner and more comfortable air all year long. For more information on how to cut your home's energy costs without sacrificing comfort or to locate an independent American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning dealer near you, visit www.americanstandardair.com.
If you are afraid that you might Accidently cut your figures when chopping onion or celery , we might have a perfect safeguard for your fingers. A shield shaped metallic strip where you can put two of the fingers and metal strip will protect your fingers with accidental chopping from knife action.
These finger guards are available in different design as well as in plastics.
Suddenly your kitchen a bit more safer.
I used to travel from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia for taking flights to my home country Pakistan when I was studying there.
Thanks to a very good bus system the traveling is very much of a fun except you gadget run out of power. That become very boring 312 Km one could travel. Same case when you are on-board and your mp3 player dies due to lack of juice :P. Then you have no other option left but to sleep.
I wished those days I have something which could charge my gadget so my travel become fun again. I am not saying that sight seeing in bus or entertainment systems on airplanes is not good but it is not first choice,
I wished those days I have something which could charge my gadget so my travel become fun again. I am not saying that sight seeing in bus or entertainment systems on airplanes is not good but it is not first choice,
So the question remains what would be the solution of this abrupt power outage. Here is the solution
Apparently there are many such bags are available in market and they are able to charge your gadgets effortlessly. OK with some effort of roaming under the sun.
So they play there part to connect you with civilized world every you are in away.
Use potassium nitrate stump remover to decompose old stumps.
This article shows you how to remove a tree stump without breaking your back. This method is safe and effective, and doesn't require a lot of manual labor. But you have to be patient. The process can take several weeks.
Drill holes in the stump
Cut off as much of the top of the stump as possible. Using a 1-in. spade bit with a spade bit extension, drill 1-in. holes around the perimeter of the stump about 12 in. deep and 3 to 4 in. back from the edge. Drill more holes 3 to 4 in. down from the rim at a 45-degree angle to connect with the other holes. They'll provide vent holes for burning or help the rotting process.
Pour stump remover in the holes
Pour 3 to 4 oz. of stump remover chemical into each of the holes and fill them with water. The process takes four to six weeks.
You can remove a stump by renting a power stump grinder, but another way is to buy a can of stump remover (available at most garden or home centers). Most brands are made of powdered potassium nitrate, which speeds up the rotting process. You simply pour the granules into drilled holes and fill the holes with water. The stump will become pretty spongy after four to six weeks. Keep kids and pets away. Then you can break out the rotten wood with an ax.
For a completely labor-free removal, the manufacturers of stump remover suggest burning out what's left of the stump by pouring kerosene or fuel oil (never gasoline) into the holes. Wait until the liquid completely penetrates the wood (this could take a few weeks). Then drop a match into the holes to start the burning process. The stump will smolder for days, eventually leaving a charcoal-filled hole. It's dangerous having a giant, smoldering ember in your yard, so some precautions are in order. Envelop the stump in chicken wire, remove all leaves from the vicinity before ignition and keep an eye on it!
We suggest the ax method for finishing the job. Stump removers work only on seasoned (older) stumps that have been dead for a year or so, not freshly cut tree stumps.
Saturday, 11 August 2012
CableBox cater your basic requirement of uncluttered the cable jumble and provide a good organization of your workspace. Which mean quiet less chances of tripping due to cable.
CableBox is ideal for hiding routers cords, adapters and small hubs around your desk area and can be used with or without the included Surge protector. And due to rubber bottom it is non slippy.
Great Space Saver and Looks Cool Too!!
Alright this one is fairly simple!
4 or 6 inch diameter PVC Pipe - I would suggest getting it in at least the 10 ft pipes and then, depending on where you go either have them cut it into 1 1/2 foot lengths or just do it yourself. Note: Depending on what you are trying to store you can increase or decrease the diameter of the pvc pipe. This is focusing on shoes so the 6 works better for my wife. However the 4 works better for our little kids.
Build your base first…for this we took 3 of the 6 inch diameter PVC pipe and put 3 together. Place a line of glue ( I use the Oatey 30863 PVC Heavy Duty Cement, Clear, 8-Ounce or Gorilla Glue) along where the PVC touches in the center. Note: Do this in a well ventilated area. I would think this would be obvious because of the fumes from the glue..but just want to put that out there.
Another suggestion is that, if you are going to stack them as we did, you make each line first….in other words if you are going to do 3 then glue those three together first….then place glue on top center of base and put the three you just glued on top.
Wipe off any excess glue quickly as this sets pretty fast.
Note: I always let it set for about 1 hour to be on the safe side. Also some people use primer..I have found that I do not need to do that for this type of project but if you are a perfectionist you may want to!
Repeat as many times as you want…or do as we did in our sons room and get creative…he now has the PVC surrounding the top of his bed and stores all his stuff there. This is a great space saver!
You can try the other rack with slightly bigger pipes.
You can try the other rack with slightly bigger pipes.
Friday, 10 August 2012
If you are working near a construction site where cables are being laying in , you can see many such empty wooden cable spools.
Usually construction site people either dump them or auction them after work is done.
If you manage to have 2 such spools , with some woods craftsmanship you can come up with a playing house for your little kid or you can use this as storage area for garden tools.
Please give your feed back in the comments section. Stay blessed
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