Thrifty Things

March 8, 2015

Homemade Ice Cream without Fancy Gadgets

Today's Saturday.  I've been day dreaming about all my homesteading for the weekend.  This morning I was planning to make oatmeal raisin cookies but I was missing one ingredient so my son and I went off to the grocery store to buy brown sugar and while I was there I bought some table cream as I thought we'd try out making homemade vanilla ice cream.  There was a great deal on chicken so I picked that up and some ingredients to make chicken soup for lunch.  Got home started cooking and the power goes out!  But no problem here, I just shifted it to the wood stove and now it will be for dinner instead.
Then my son and I started the homemade ice cream.  We haven't made it before.  But I followed a simple recipe from one of my homesteading books,  by Abigail R. Gehring, Make your own ice cream but I modified the process a little as I didn't want to roll around a can for 15 minutes.

Vanilla Ice Cream
Vanilla ice cream cooling in the freezer.
2 cups table cream (my edit)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 trays ice cubes
1 cup salt
My directions:
Stir cream, sugar and vanilla extract until the sugar is dissolved in a stainless steel bowl.

  • In a much larger bowl, that you'll nest the smaller bowl with the cream mixture in, mix the ice cubes and salt.

  • Place the small bowl in the large bowl and place in freezer. 

  • Have you kids stir the ice cream mixture every half hour until frozen.
    Isn't that fantastic!  Homemade ice cream with just three ingredients, almost no preparation time, just needs stirring while you do other things around the house.

    February 2, 2015

    The Lost Art of Laundry Drying

    Almost every household has a washer and dryer. But let's break the mold and move that dryer out of the house, into a dark dusty corner.

    No electricity...

    I've been drying my clothes without using any electricity for at least year now. It is possible to go without a dryer through all the seasons, yes, even in winter.
    We first put up our clothes line between the deck and a big tree on the other side of the yard. It works great as I can easily reach it from the side of the deck and the kids can reach it two, just above the railings. But it only holds about two loads of laundry so I do end up hanging things all over the deck railings too. In my household of two adults and two kids, two loads of laundry never covers a week.
    But the neat thing we started this winter is drying the clothes indoor. This has been made possible because this summer we installed a wood stove in the basement. At first we were trying to figure out how to put up a laundry line without interfering with other things going on in the basement and we couldn't figure it out.

    Hang Dry Umbrella style clothes dryer...

    But then , ding, ding, ding, we thought of getting one of those umbrella type laundry lines. So we headed out to the nearest big box hardware store and brought one home. We chose a model that the umbrella part could be raised and lowered, so we could tuck it out of the way when we have company and one that twirls so that even with access at one side, it would work well. My husband had to cut off the bottom of the pole as it is way too long as it's meant to be sunk into the ground outside and then we made a wood plug to go in a deck block and forced the pole in. It worked out great and I've been using it ever since.

    Humidify for free...

    We placed it in the basement so that the heat of the wood stove will dry the clothes and the clothes give us electricity free humidification at the same time. And you'd be amazed if you've never used an umbrella type clothes dryer that you can fit like 4 loads of laundry on it. I also picked up two simple clothes racks to hang up the heavy blankets.

    Umbrella style clothes dryer.
    Along the way, to save time and make things easier in the laundry department, since obviously, hanging clothes to dry does take more time than using an electric dryer.

    Here's Five Tips for naturally hang drying clothes:

    1. make sure to hang things up so all sides have the same weight, it can easily tip over if you don't have the clothes balanced equally on all sides.
    2. if the clothes are half way inside out when you take them out of the basket, always choose to turn them the right way out so you don't have to do it again later.
    3. hang clothes for the same person or of the same type together. ie. put your husbands clothes on one side, the kids on another, that way when you take them down they go into the laundry basket organized.
    4. Stack the laundry in the baskets when you take it down into piles by person or type. I try to completely fill the laundry rack and then when they're dry and get two laundry baskets and start two piles in each basket, so every person has a spot. I fold the laundry as I take it down and stack it by person in the basket. This saves a huge amount of time when you put away clothes in peoples dresser drawers. You just grab a stack and slide it in the drawer.
    5. Also if you have the patience give the clothes a little tug and stretch after you hang them so that they'll be less wrinkly.
    Last tip! Put a good splash of vinegar in the washer during the rinse cycle, it keeps the clothes soft just like chemical softeners.


    January 12, 2015

    Transforming a small oak kitchen to a bright airy country kitchen

    Pantry and linen closet taking space.
    We had a small kitchen with oak cabinets, laminate counters and vinyl flooring. We lived with the orange toned, dark oak cabinets and cramped space for a couple years. When we first moved in I thought we'd get new cabinets right away but when I was quoted $10,000 plus for new cabinets that plan went out the window. There was no way I was going to spend that kind of money when the kitchen was quite functional and solid wood. After many discussions and brainstorming sessions with the family we finally came up with a plan to make a big difference frugally and take small steps at a time. So far we've taken two giant steps forward.

    Step 1: create more space, bigger is better for kitchens

    My dream of a country kitchen always included white wood cabinets, wood counter-tops and more space. Creating more space without major building work was our top priority because the kitchen wasn't really functional for the whole family, especially in the mornings when I making lunches, hubby is making coffee and the kids are making their breakfasts. We decided to remove a small built in cupboard style pantry and the linen closet beside the pantry that opened on the other side of the wall onto the hallway. This added about 3 feet of space between our oven and fridge.

    To make use of this space we installed a floor cabinet with pull out drawers (the idea was to replace the pantry space lost) and we moved one cabinet that was hung on it's own beside the sink and used that above the new base cabinet. To avoid the problem of trying to match a new cabinet with the old oak cabinets, we chose a stainless door which goes very well with the stainless appliances.

    We also purchased a wooden counter-top, cut it to size ourselves and installed everything. So all together for costs to increase the size of the kitchen we spent money on: one base cabinet with pull-out drawers and one piece of counter-top. I even ended up with a big cutting board from the leftover counter wood counter piece.

    Demolition complete. So much more spacious. We can now see the broom closet. The fridge is shifted here by 3 ft. You can see the square on the wall where we removed the fridge wall cabinet to make space for a regular size wall cabinet.Having that extra three feet of counter space has made a huge difference. Removing that wall with the pantry and linen closet has really opened up the whole entrance to the kitchen. There is now room to walk around each other and room to make coffee and lunches at the same time. We were amazed at the difference it made.
    We went with a stainless steel door so that we didn't have to worry about matching it to the existing oak cabinets. The upper cabinet is now installed. Note floor mat in front of fridge where there is exposed flooring underneath what used to be the pantry. The entry way to the kitchen is now double the width. Note the wood counter top. Now room for a coffee making area beside the fridge.Now when we made the extra space, we created a bare spot on the floor with no vinyl covering, for now we've just put a floor mat in front of the fridge to cover the bare spot. Also, the ceiling needs to be finished and the electric wiring for the lights routed further down the hallway but for now their tied up to the ceiling. We'll wait a bit before spending money on the those items.

    Step 2: White cabinets

    Here's part 2 of my country kitchen transformation.  We've painted the kitchen cabinets white.  You can see from a previous post that they used to be an orange coloured oak. Now the cabinets are bright white.

     Step 3: Countertops and finishing touches. I am still wishing for these.