Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Being Prepared - Powerless Cooking Options

(The next installment in a series on preparation. You can find other posts covered by searching this blog for "Preparedness".)

She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
Proverbs 9:2

When we left off this series I was going to do a post on powerless cooking, aka solar cooking. Since then I have come across many articles on the internet that talk of solar cooking and how to make your own solar oven or even where you can purchase them.

ETA...I have to be honest here and tell you that while doing this is on my to-do list we haven't quite reached a point where we've done it. I sure hope to sometime in the upcoming months, and will blog about the experience of making/baking in a solar oven when I do. Until then...

The wonderful gals over at FoodStorageMadeEasy even did a post about this since then (click on their name to go to the link).

So, instead of re-inventing the wheel, I'm going to simply provide you with some sites that will help you DIY'ers out there. If you want to purchase one already made then you can simple enter "purchase solar cooker" into your browser and I'm sure that many options will pop up.






And there are many more links out there if you cannot find one in these that you like. As you may have noticed browsing through the sites, they vary from extra fancy to the basics. In fact, here's one that you can make with a Pringles can!


(That might be a fun science experiment for you homeschoolers or scouts out there!)

Whatever you do, remember, this is not about fear or panic, but being prepared for whatever. If you power gets knocked out because of storms this spring you want to be able to make delicious food for your family while the electric and gas companies are busy working. Solar ovens (and other cooking options mentioned in previous post) will help you do that.

Why not give a few of these options a try this spring and summer so you can see what works best for you and your meal plans and also to work out any kinks in emergency planning. :)

In the next post on this topic we'll begin discussing food storage and the things you need to build a 72-hour kit and more.

Until then, much hugs and prayers,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

White Brite - Product Review

Before I begin, let me state that I have not been contacted about reviewing this product nor am I being paid in any way or form for this review. It is simply a Pinterest pin that I had marked to try out and am passing along a review to help you decide if it will work for you or not.

I stumbled across a Pinterest pin in which a blogger raved about White Brite by Summit Brands. This product is a laundry additive to help, well, whiten and brighten. I thought if it did half of what she said, then it would be worth buying to save me time (from making my own).

The product packaging promises to make "your dingy whites bright!" and "removes yellowing & rust stains from white laundry." As a homeschooling mom grading this product, I would have to give White Brite a C- with the potential to go higher.

It should be noted that I have not tried this product on colors to "brighten". My express purpose in trying it out is strictly from a whitening standpoint.

CON: White Brite is not widely available. I grew frustrated trying to find it in grocery and mass merchandising/drug stores and thought I would have to order it through Amazon. I decided to try the local Wal-mart (which I rarely go to) and it was there.

(BTW, if you are interested in trying this product, click on the hyperlinked name above the photo and you will be taken to their website. The last time I was there I found a $1 off printable coupon.)

PRO: The pricing is a plus. It is on par with--if not better than--other laundry whitening products. One single packet of RIT (which is a small to medium load in your washer) cost $1.69 at my walmart (only sold in liquid) and I would need two packets of that for one load. The 1lb 14oz. bottle of White Brite was $3.99 (pre-coupon). It does not state how many loads that bottle will do, but after doing a load, I would say between 10 and 15 loads if you use the standard 1/2 cup dosage.

CON: One moment of confusion. On the package label (back) it says, "Use with your regular non-bleach alternative or oxi detergent." If I'm using another one of those, why do I need to use this product as well or vice versa? I'm also not sure if that means it will only be 100% effective if you do use it in addition to using other additives.

CON: Dosage does not consider load-size. Unlike RIT which tells you how much product to use depending on your load size, this bottle has a generic 1/2 cup usage per load. I ended up using 1 cup for a super-sized load of whites with stains. PRO: It does tell you that if you have stubborn stains, to "increase dosage and/or contact time."

The directions recommend that you fill the washer/add White Brite. Then add clothes and let them sit for five minutes (before the machine cycle starts). After that you can add your detergent and any other additives. I let the clothes soak for ten minutes (which would be recommended for stubborn stains). I added a mix of newer whites, older whites, stain-free and stained whites.

PRO: Easy to use. The bottle is fairly easy to grip and pour from. Being in powder form, you can easily pour and measure it out.

CON: Bad Smell. (It should be noted, my clothes did not smell, but the contents did). It was strong and pungent. I can't describe the exact smell, but it had a hint of the expel stuff we use to keep critters from our garden mixed with chemical soaps. Not as strong as the expel stuff, but strong enough that I could still "smell" it after an hour. I have to admit that at this point I almost panicked and quit the experiment because I was concerned about what I was adding to our clothes--items that would touch our bodies. Braved through it, opting to do a second rinse cycle for this one time.

And the results...

White Brite performed best on newer, unstained items that have not had a chance to get very dingy. I did notice a brighter white on those items. If most of your whites are new or already pretty white and bright, White Brite might help you keep them that way.

White Brite did poorly on whitening older items and dingier items. I did notice a shade of whitening, but not enough to make a difference to my pocketbook or sense of smell. Now, it could be that with repeated uses it makes them whiter (kind of like OTC tooth whiteners do with teeth, one application doesn't do it). I just don't think I can bear the scent to do it each time I toss a load of whites to find out. It also did not remove the stains, even with extended "contact time" as recommended. In some cases, stains were not as bright but still there and noticeable.

My final opinion is that while the idea is great, I will stick with my standard bleach or homemade whitening additives. They do the same job this product does for a fraction of the cost and without the offensive smell.

That said, if you cannot make your own or use bleach White Brite might be an alternative to consider. It says it is safer than bleach and you can use it on a lot of materials and cycles (delicates, whites, colors, etc.).

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Happy, Healthy Heart ~ A Pray For Me Monday Post

JAMES 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and
pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)

PSALMS 116:2 "Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live" (NKJV)

Join me as I blog with Pray for Me Mondays hosted by Tiffany at Home Grown Families and Pamela over at Troop Petrie. Basically, it works like this: both blogs are hosting this blog link-up and will post about relevant topics and may perhaps have a prayer request and will pray together with their readers, coming together in agreement to go before the Throne of Grace.

* ~ *

Some of you may know, Darling Groom and I are currently doing a study (through our church) on Mike Storm's book, Parenting 101: A Practical Hands-On Guide to Raising Remarkable Kids. It is a very easy read but it really makes you stop often and pray and deals with a lot of your own past and relationships with your parents as you seek out Godly ways to continue the good and break the chains of the generational curses.

One particular thing that caught my heart was about the amount of genuine encouragement we give our children. Mr. Storm points out how when our children are born and learn to roll over, crawl, talk, walk, etc., they receive a constant stream of encouragement. He also talks about how the older they get the more and more it drops off.

The Bible teaches us that out of the abundance of the heart the the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and also teaches us to think on those things that are lovely, pure, holy, etc. (Philippians 4:8). At what point did our hearts change toward our children that we constantly give them the do-nots more than the dos. Yes, safety probably played a big part in it (don't touch the stove, it will hurt), but why? Our brains are wired to hear the command, not necessarily the "don't".

Don't believe me?

Okay, let's try this: you are watching what you eat. On the table is a birthday cake and in the fridge, some berries.

If I were to tell you, "Don't eat that birthday cake," what do you think you'd be thinking about all day? What would you be craving? That's right! That birthday cake would be front and center of your thoughts. And the more you tried to not think about the cake, the more you most likely thought of it.

Now, let's flip this. Same scenario and the cake is still sitting on the table, but this time I tell you, "Let's eat healthier. There is a bowl of fresh berries in the fridge for you." What are you thinking about now? Most likely, you are thinking about the berries, good for you and there is a lot less struggle for you to want them, less rebellion and temptation--all around a better option and it was a simple matter of phrasing things.

We have been concentrating on using more uplifting phrases and it's been a learning curve for all of us. Our children have even asked me what is going on because they have noticed an obvious difference.

I have also been trying to apply this to my marriage. I've never struggled with nagging, but there are times that when I get frustrated I will speak sharply. I have often had to ask Darling Groom to forgive me and pray with me. A lot of times that I do speak that way is because I want things to be done MY way. Talk about pride. It's an excellent example of how to not be submissive. So, a lot of prayers lately has been for God to direct my words to be more kind and loving.

So anyway, this week, while decluttering I came across an article in a Prevention magazine I was getting ready to toss. The brief article was titled, Tongue-lashing Leaves Scars by Sari N. Harrar. You're thinking, yeah, knew that already. But did you know that for your own heart (and your spouse's heart) keeping the sharp words to yourselves makes you physically healthier? According to this article, the University of Utah researched married couples having brief conversations on sensitive subjects (finances, in-laws, etc.), then they checked arteries with a CT scan. Women who heard (implied or actually said) or made hostile comments such as "you can be so stupid" were 30% more likely to have hardened arteries. For the men, it was controlling phrases like "do it my way" (heard or said) and the risk was the same. In fact, Ohio State University research concluded that harsh exchanges between spouses lowered their immunity enough to slow down any physical healing by at least a day.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the power of life and death is in the tongue. Here is scientific proof of that verse. When we view that evidence through the lens of Scripture it just confirms that our Lord created us to be encouraging and uplifting to one another at the benefit of their health and even our own!

This week, I hope you'll join me in praying that we all learn to speak to each other in God's love and design and that we become more intentional in speaking good into our husband's lives, our children's lives and that we can encourage them in the simple every day words we use. Pray that God continually reminds us that the state of our spiritual heart and emotional heart can affect our physical heart and to create in us a clean--happy and healthy--heart.

Hugs & Prayers,

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Courageous ~ A Sing Your Praise Sunday Post

If you haven't already viewed the movie Courageous, might I recommend it? (It is now available on DVD.) My husband and I were blessed enough to view it together at the theatre and I could not wait to purchase the DVD to watch with our children (who are a little older, might be a little too intense for young ones in one or two spots).

I pray that God directs us all in how to be courageous this week!

(video link removed.  If you are interested in viewing this video, please go to YouTube, search for Casting Crowns/Courageous.  Thank you)