Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Air Freshening Sprays

I love the concept of Febreze and other products that are intended to remove odors and freshen things up, but I don't love the ingredients in products like Febreze (Benzisothiazolinone, Sodium Polyacrylate, Cyclodextrin, and synthetic fragrance, for example), It doesn't take long to discover that  it's not the sort of thing that you want to be inhaling.

Its a really fabulous book with a ton of information.  This is one of my favorite recipes for making your own air freshening sprays from her book. It's incredibly inexpensive, smells pretty, works on odors and it only takes a few minutes to make.

Simple Air Freshening Recipe

Ingredients and Directions

(You can double this depending on the size of your bottle.)

  • 12-15 drops of pure essential oil (I like grapefruit, orange, lemon, rosemary and lavender, but go with any scent that you enjoy)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Just combine all ingredients in a empty spray bottle and mist in the air, on carpets, linens, etc.  I have sprayed this stuff on all my fabrics and have never noticed any stains from the oils.

You can also make an even stronger version of this spray by using a higher ratio of vinegar to water and upping the essential oils (more like 20 drops) to use in a small diffuser bottle. This works better for just a quick spray into the air to freshen up a bathroom before guests, as opposed to the less concentrated spray that you would spray directly onto/into items.

Best NO-KNEAD Whole Wheat Bread Recipe!

This is absolutely the easiest way to make homemade bread! Beacause unlike most yeast breads, this one isn't kneaded; instead, the soft dough is simply beaten in a bowl and scooped into a bread pan.  An hour later, the dough is ready to pop in the oven.  The result is a dense, moist, easy-to-slice loaf.  Easy peasy!

   1 cup lukewarm water
    1/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup melted butter
    3 tablespoons molasses or maple syrup
    2 teaspoons instant yeast
    1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    3 cups whole wheat flour (white whole wheat preferred)


1) Heavily grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.  This loaf tends to stick, so be sure to grease the pan thoroughly.
2) Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat the mixture vigorously for about 3 minutes; an electric mixer set on high speed works well here.  You should have a very sticky dough.  It won't be pourable, but neither will it be kneadable.  Scoop it into the prepared pan.
3) Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 - 90 minutes; it should rise just to the rim of the pan. While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4) Uncover the dough, and bake it for about 40 - 45 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil after 20 minutes.  The bread is done when it's golden brown on top.  Remove it from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out onto a rack.  Brush with melted butter, if desired, to keep the crust soft.  It you can wait, cool the bread completely before cutting it. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Homemade Diswasher Detergent

Well, I was running out of dishwasher detergent, so  instead of running out to buy more, I decided to try making my own.

I'm going to give you the recipe I use, keeping in mind that this doesn't apparently seem to be a "one-size-fits-all" kind of a thing.  Detergent will work differently in different kinds of water (soft vs. hard), so you might just want to start with a small batch of the recipe that follows, and tweak the ingredients as needed until you come up with the recipe that works best for you.

Homemade Dishwasher Soap Recipe 
1/2 cup borax ($.18)
1/2 cup washing soda ($.33)
1/4 cup food grade citric acid ($.66) (note: for hard water, try increasing the amount of borax or add 1/4 cup course kosher salt, not regular salt!)


Combine ingredients and use sparingly. I use only about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. per load. (For hard water, you may need more.)


Cost Breakdown: 
borax ($.18) + washing soda ($.33) + food grade citric acid ($.66) = $2.01 for all ingredients; 81 "servings" per batch (@ 1 1/2 tsp. per load); therefore the total cost per load is only 
$ 0.014 - Sweet!

FYI: Did you know that white vinegar can be used as a rinse aid?  Just add it to the appropriate dispenser and refill as needed.
Good luck with your recipe!

New Plan for the Chicken Run

Last year, I built a nice, big run for our chickens, to protect them from the hawks and foxes and racoons and dogs and (well, you get the idea).  Seems like everybody loves chicken.   The run initially was full grass and it was nice to have them foraging around without the worry of being attacked.  Unfortunately, it took about a week for them to completely destroy all vegetation in their yard, and they were down to bare dirt. And when it rained, mud… for days.

So, I have to find a better way of doing things. I was thinking I could section off their run, plant grass on both sides, and then rotate them around so they have a constant supply of forage. But it would take a lot of materials to build a run like that.

I also considered about building a chicken tractor (a moveable coop), that would fit over my raised garden beds.  They would help me till and fertilize the bed when I wanted/needed them to, yet keep them out of the other veggies.  However, this option would only be available in the early spring and fall - so it wouldn't provide a permanent solution.   Mother Earth News had a great article in their Spring 2011 issue: "8 Stategies for Better Garden Soil" where they recommend using "chicken power" to help tend the garden.  They used electronet fencing to park the chickens in a certain location in their article, but I think I might build something like a small hoop house or low row tunnel over the raised bed.  Instead of landscape fabric, I would use chicken wire.  Come to think of it, I could add the row covers over the chicken wire in the fall and make a low tunnel greenhouse to extend the gardening season. Mmmm, now that idea has some potential.  Love it when something can multitask like that!  I'll have to try it out and let you know how it goes.  

Anyway, back to the muddy chicken run problem...  I was searching the internet for ideas/solutions, when I came upon a fantastic idea: building raised beds of fresh feed crops to put in the run with the chickens.
Instead of planting grass in the chicken run and having them tear it all up in a matter of days, you would build some shallow raised beds to put in with the chickens, plant the crop of choice in the beds, and cover them with a poultry wire. When the grass or whatever you plant grows, the chickens will only be able to eat what comes through the wire on the top of the box. They will still get their fresh forage, but won’t be able to scratch it to oblivion.  Genius, right??!! Well, I think so, anyways. So I’m gonna try it.

To deal with the mud in the rest of the run I’m gonna cover it with a constant thick layer of leaves, straw and grass clippings. Not only will this help to keep the run sanitary, but it will also provide a perfect breeding ground for worms and other little bugs for the chickens to scratch and peck at.  Not to mention that it'll double as a giant compost heap.  Sweet black gold!

I’m still not sure what I want to plant in the beds. I’ll probably have two or three covered raised beds in their run. Some suggested crops for chickens are: Rye Grass, Legumes, Wheat, Rye, Oats, Barley, Alfalpha, Clover, Kale, Mustard, and Buckwheat.  I'll try to keep you posted  on the progress and results of this little experiment. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

My bath FINALLY gets some towel storage!

Ok, so we've been in this house for 4 years now.  I've always wanted  to store some towels in my bath (imagine that), but the only available wall was only 14" wide and had weird angles.  So last night I was browsing my favorite website: http://www.ana-white.com/ and there it was - the answer to my prayers - the high rise shelf!  Ana never fails to provide the most amazing plans for building your own furniture, and this one was no different.  Her plans are easy to understand and simple enough that a complete building virgin can do it!

So without wasting another minute, I ran out to my workshop and got to work.  It didn't matter that it was only 7 am on christmas eve and I was still in my pj's.  Kids - get your own breakfast today - mommy's on a mission. Hey- I'd already waited 4 years for this and I wasn't going to wait any longer.  The towels had suffered long enough!

As I tore threw my scrap wood pile, I was disappointed that I could only find some 1 x 6's.  Well, that's not what Ana's plan called for :(  However, I was determined to make this work and the best part about building it yourself is that you can make it any way you want!  So that's exactly what I did!

I used a 1 x 6 about 4 foot long for the back and cut the shelves out of the same 1 x 6 about 12" long.  Just filled in the gaps with the remaining boards and voila - a long awaited towel tower is born!  I painted it a light gray (to match my floor), dry brushed some white over that and distressed it a bit with my sander.  I also touched up the raw wood that I exposed during the distressing with a dark stain.  This instantly makes brand new wood look nice and old! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Introducing Boards and Berries!

Welcome to our blog. Here we chronicle the creative home decor that is handmade with reclaimed elements.

If you are in our area, please visit our brick and mortor store located at 335 West Union Street, Newark, NY. Or browse the items listed for sale on the "Visit Our Shop" page.  If there is anything you are interested in, please feel free to email us at jillynn127@aol.com.