Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup Recipe

Dont’cha just love having dinner already simmering along waaaay ahead of time? I do. In order to accomplish that, I employ one of my favorite indentured servants, my crockpot. (Ironically, at the time of this posting, my crock pot is out of service. Good thing that this stew can also be made on the stove).
Using a slow cooker is extremely helpful for anyone who just doesn’t want to deal with prepping dinner at the time when that would normally be done. This can be wonderful for those of you who either work outside of the home, or are busy at that time taking children to or from activities. You can throw everything in at breakfast time, turn it on, and walk away. It’s that simple. During the summertime when you want to keep the house cooler, you can even put that cooker outside on your porch, and during the winter it sure helps warm things up. Yummm. I am craving it now.
And at some point when I begin making meal plans ahead of time again like I know is helpful to do, I will definitely plan this one in. Here it is.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz.) pkg. dried green split peas, rinsed
  • 1 cup diced kosher salami or other smoked meat of your choice
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 ribs of celery plus leaves, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbsp. seasoned salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
  • 1 1/2 qts. hot water

Preparation:

Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given; pour in water. Do not stir ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone. Remove bones and bay leaf. Mash peas to thicken more, if desired. Serve garnished with croutons. Skip the croutons and you can consider it gluten free!  Freezes well. Serves 8.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Have you ever noticed how EXPENSIVE laundry detergent is? I mean, really. It is. And it’s not like you can just decide to save money by not washing your clothes….I HATE being trapped like that.

Besides the cost, laundry detergent has some toxic stuff in it.

Four of the worst offenders are:

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
1,4-dioxane
NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)
Phosphates

A few years ago I was introduced to the idea of making some household cleaning products at home.  I was uncomfortable with the idea of breathing in chemicals used for cleaning the house, and certainly did not want my children doing so. So when I learned that plain old white vinegar could be used as a cleaner, I was excited. And we switched to doing almost all household cleaning with plain old (and inexpensive) vinegar with water.  It works, it does not smell at all like vinegar once it dries, and I can even let the children help spray and wipe because it’s NON-TOXIC!

Speaking of Toxicity, it’s real, and most commercial cleaning products have high levels of toxins.

Here is a non toxic and extremely inexpensive laundry detergent that you can make easily at home.

Did I mention it was easy? And inexpensive? I mean REALLY inexpensive! These ingredients go a LONG way.

2  Cups – hot tap water

1  cup grated Zote bar (a little less than 1/3 of a 14 oz bar) OR 1 full bar of fels naphtha  (grated)

1/2 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*

½ Cup Borax

– Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket 1/4 full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to halfway point with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 5 gallons. (total, after adding additional water to bottles. 2 ½ gallons concentrate.)

Here are my thoughts on this recipe:

I found it to be too watery when I diluted it this much, and therefore ended up using more. So I decided to use it full strength and have continued to use it that way  since. At the time of this posting, I have used this as my only detergent for more than a year and recently upped the concentration by using almost 1 full cup of each of the powders, and have been satisfied with the results. I have tried it with both types of soap and both work fine. My only complaint is the chunkiness…it is not smooth but that dissolves in the machine. It would be helpful to use an immersion blend for this; I might use my vitamix to blend it in batches but am not sure it’s worth the effort.

I also put some in an empty stain treatment spray bottle for pretreating stains. Of course, it will only spray out if it is smooth and diluted slightly.

When I have anything extremely stinky in a load to wash, I will add some vinegar and also some Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner and that certainly does the job!

No Shampoo For Me

Have you visited the hair-care aisle in your supermarket or pharmacy lately? You may have just gotten used to it, but next time you are there, take a good LOOK.  It’s tremendous!  Cosmetic and drug companies have spend a lot of money (and they’ve done a good job) to convince us that we need these things to make our hair look good.  I know that throughout my life, I’ve tried one conditioner after another, and especially went through an assortment of  “styling products”: mousse, gel, spray, spritz, and glaze.  And these things are not only expensive (as you probably know), but are also full of toxic chemicals which are not only hard on your hair, but also affect the rest of your body.

I have good news for you.  You don’t need them.

There’s a whole movement out there in the healthy/natural lifestyle world.  I only heard of it about a year ago and was intrigued.  It’s called “no poo” (no-shampoo), and it means that you stop using shampoo to wash your hair.

Why would you do this? To recap above:

  1. Shampoo is expensive.
  2. Shampoo is filled with harsh chemicals which are toxic to your body as they both enter your scalp and you breathe in their fumes.
  3. Your body creates natural oils for your hair which are good for it (and meant to be there).  Shampooing often disturbs this occurrence and actually causes your body to make MORE oil (since you took away the oil that was there by shampooing).
  4. Read # 3 again: Shampooing makes your hair MORE oily, not less.

I haven’t shampooed my hair for about 3 months now, and I can officially say that this method works, and works well.   My hair is not oily or stinky, and in fact looks as healthy as ever.  All I need to have to take excellent care of my hair is baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

Basically, you wash your hair with 1 tbsp of baking soda mixed with 1 cup of water, massaging the roots well.  After rinsing,  you condition your hair with 1 tbsp of ACV (apple cider vinegar) mixed with 1 cup of water (an important step for maintaining the proper pH), rinse, and you’re done.

The hardest part for me was to refrain from adding some type of gel to my wet hair, but I am getting used to it.  If I really want to add something to help it hold its position and keep from frizzing, I add a little bit of aloe vera gel, which works just fine.

It is common to have an adjustment period of oilier hair, since your body is used to making extra oil to replace what you’ve been stripping away.  Once your body realizes that you’re not doing that any more, it will reduce the amount it makes.  I didn’t have much of a problem with this, and I think that’s because I was already only shampooing about twice a week (but that’s only my theory).

There are plenty of instructions out there, with variations.  Do a google search on “no poo”, and you’ll get plenty.  Here’s a simple one: How To Go No Poo .  If you are considering trying this (which I encourage you to do), you should definitely spend a few minutes researching. If you’d like more detailed information, you can download The No Shampoo Method e-book for a few dollars.

And if you’re looking for a community of no-pooers, “like” the No Shampoo Method on Facebook.

I have a desire for a simple, non-toxic lifestyle in which I spend as little money as necessary and don’t need to worry about running out of, buying, or needing to store lots of STUFF.   So since I can  also use baking soda for brushing my teeth and cleaning, and apple cider vinegar as a wonder-tool as well, this definitely fits my criteria for intentional owning.

Now it’s time to get the rest of the family with the program…

Baking Soda Works for Me!

Yesterday I shared my new quest for a more simplistic lifestyle.  In doing so, I’m not only massively decluttering, flylady style to get rid of “extra” stuff, but I’m trying to go greener, cleaner, and all-around more purposeful. FamilyNatural style.

One of the ideas I’d been tossing around my head for awhile was going “no poo,” meaning not using traditional shampoo. I have begun that endeavor and will post about that soon (update: here’s the post), but the reason I bring it up now is that in doing so, I employ what is quickly becoming my new good friend: sodium bicarbonate AKA baking soda.

I’d also been thinking about toothpaste and wanting to make my own less expensive, all natural alternative, and also am using my new good friend: baking soda.

I’m seeing a trend here.

Just thinking of the things I won’t need to buy or store (because I can use baking soda instead) makes me feel inspired in an “I’m headed for a simpler life” – kind – of – a – way.

Here’s a great article listing 40 uses for baking soda. I can’t wait to try more of them out.

And as far as the toothpaste thing, all I did was mix some baking soda with a little sea salt. I dip my moistened brush in and use. It’s definitely salty tasting, but boy, does my mouth feel clean afterward! As soon as I can get my hands on some mint oil, I’ll add that in.

I like the looks of this recipe from Organic Body Care Recipes (Storey, 2007) By Stephanie Tourles.

INGREDIENTS
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
1 drop peppermint, spearmint, sweet orange, clove, or cinnamon bark essential oil
A few drops tap water

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix them thoroughly with a toothbrush, your finger, or a small spoon until a smooth, thick paste forms. The paste shouldn’t be too runny; it has to stay on your toothbrush.

Dip your toothbrush into the paste and use as you would regular commercial toothpaste.

Baking Soda is one of those things that definitely works for me. What’s your favorite way to use it?

What Do You NEED?

Have you seen these tiny houses?

I have 5 children, 2 dogs, and a cat.  I grew up as an only child (own bedroom) with plenty of space to call my own.  Sure, I shared bedrooms in college, but for the most part I’ve had tons of space, always.

I’ve lived with boxes that I never unpacked from the last move, and then moved again.  Boxes of things that hadn’t been opened for years.

I’ve held on to shoes I never wear since they’re uncomfortable, because, well, I already have them, so…why not?

Why not is because the clutter taketh us over…..it’s time to simplify.

No more owning things we don’t use or don’t want.  No more shoving things just anywhere because they don’t have a place they belong.  You’ve heard of “living intentionally?”  Well, I want to own intentionally.

I want to be a family that will have no problem living in a small house (like this family) or, better yet, be mobile.  I’d love to be able to easily transport all of our belongings easily, and for us to be comfortable sleeping on our sleeping bags wherever we go, whether we’re indoors or in tents.

I recently stopped using shampoo (more on this in another post).  I’m the guinea pig, but I hope to get the rest of the family on the program once I get the hang of it.  Besides being better for our health (and our finances), think of the simplicity of being able to use only household products (like baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and eggs) for our hair and not needing to buy or store (or move, if we’re traveling) shampoo, conditioner, and hair gel.  Less stuff, simpler life.

I’m planning to get a Kindle soon and then we can have books we like to refer to and re-read every so often on one little device, and not need to store (or carry, if we’re mobile) so many books! We LOVE books. But do we really need to OWN so many of them?

Less stuff, simpler life.

I know we’re too many people to fit into one of these. But looking at these pictures is inspiring to me.  To me, this says: SIMPLICITY.

What changes have you made, or would you like to make, to simplify your life?

Baby Carrots Not So Good?

I recently had the following email forwarded to me.  I read it, and then followed by reading the Snopes commentary. Snopes is an organization that checks (and reports on) the validity of rumors such as these. It’s always a good idea to check these claims, though I admit I don’t always do it.

The original email is in italics, with the commentary under it mine.

Baby Carrots:

The following is  information from a farmer who grows and packages carrots for  IGA, METRO, LOBLAWS, etc.

The small cocktail (baby) carrots you buy in small plastic bags are  made using the larger crooked or deformed carrots which are  put through a machine which cuts and shapes them into  cocktail carrots – most people probably know this  already.

What you may not know and should know is the following:
Once the carrots are  cut and shaped into cocktail carrots they are dipped in a  solution of water and chlorine in order to preserve them  (this is the same chlorine used in your  pool).

Since they do not have their skin or natural protective covering, they give them a higher  dose of chlorine.

You will notice that once you keep these carrots in your refrigerator for a few days, a white  covering will form on the carrots. This is the chlorine which resurfaces.  At what cost do we put our health at risk to have esthetically pleasing vegetables?

Chlorine is a very well-known carcinogen, which causes Cancer.  I thought this was worth passing on. Pass it on to as many people as possible in hopes of informing them where these carrots come  from and how they are processed.

I used to buy those baby carrots for vegetable dips. I know that I will never buy them again!!!!

_________________________________________________________________________

My Commentary:

The commentary by Snopes is good; I am unable to cut and paste a quote here, but what I found important is that all fresh-cut, ready to eat vegetables are cleaned with chlorine as an accepted practice. Yes, they are rinsed.

But, I don’t want to eat chlorine washed veggies.

And Snopes says that the white “film” on the outer layer is NOT chlorine coming to the surface. It’s just drying out, as any carrot will do in the fridge.

Here’s the link: http://www.snopes.com/food/tainted/carrots.asp

Anyway, you must pay a great deal more for the convenience of pre-cut vegetables. I’m sure you have something you’d rather spend your money on, don’t you? It only takes a minute to cut some carrot sticks. I do it all the time!



Natural Health On A Budget

Many people believe that it costs too much money to live a natural and healthy lifestyle.

Are you one of them?

My good friends, Drs. Jeff and Andrea Hazim are teaching a free online seminar this Monday night, 8:30-9:30 ET.

Jeff and Andrea are excellent teachers and I’ve learned a great deal from them. WellWithU.com is “Your trusted online resource for professional health education and products that are inspired by enduring Biblical principals

Entitled:

“Natural Health on a Budget: Practical Wellness Advice for Tight Times”

In it, you’ll learn:

* How to lower your shopping bill by buying high nutritional value foods

* Easy cooking tips for making delicious healthy meals

* How to lower both your medical and life insurance bills

* Which oils are both healthy and a great deal

* Exercise programs you can do at home without expensive equipment

* Diets that lose your fat while they save your money

* The cheapest way to get organic vegetables

* And more…
The seminar is free, but space is limited, so reserve your seat now.

Reserve your FREE Webinar seat now at:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/774915904

disclosure: I was not asked to promote this webinar, and only do so with good intentions. However, my husband is a founder of WellWithU.com, and I will therefore benefit financially from that company’s business.

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract


Confession: We’ve been using imitation vanilla. As in Fake. As in, filled with chemicals and nothing good. And it doesn’t even taste good! Why, you may ask? Well, to save money. Vanilla extract is expensive–and that’s in the US, where it’s made. Add import expenses and taxes to that, and, …..you can’t even find it here without really looking. And when you do, you don’t want to buy it because of the exorbitant price.

A while ago, I saw a recipe somewhere for making your own vanilla extract. I thought it sounded interesting, but did nothing about it as I didn’t have the brain space and energy needed to hunt down real vanilla beans.

And then, the other day, I happened to find some.

I bought 3 for 20 shekels, which is about $5. Expensive, yes. But only about as expensive as ONE BOTTLE OF EXTRACT. And then I found that with those SAME 3 vanilla beans, I can make enough extract to last for YEARS!

I got mine brewing the other day and sadly need to wait 8 weeks. But then…..vanilla. In pancakes, desserts, drinks…..I love the flavor. Good stuff.

Here’s the recipe, found at SimplyRecipes.com

How to Make Vanilla Extract

Commercial vanilla extract usually has simple syrup (sugar water) added to the extract to give it a sweet aftertaste. You can do this if you want, but if you are using the vanilla for baking, there really is no need.

Ingredients

  • 3 vanilla beans
  • 1 cup vodka
  • glass jar with tight fitting lid

Method

1 Use kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.

2 Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka.

3 Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer.

Lasts for years. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it, just remember to give it a good shake.

Searching on Vanilla for this post, I came across this music video. It’ll bring you back. (I was unable to embed it here. Sorry!)

Give a Home Haircut – Frugal Friday


Before you say “NO WAY”, just hear me out.

It’s not THAT hard.

OK, it’s a little hard, but not really. If you’ve never done it before, learn a few tips, and then you learn by practicing. And here’s where little kids come in handy. They don’t really care if it’s not quite right.

I have given all of my boys all of their haircuts since they were babies. I started learning on the first one, and got better with time. Now, I have four whose hair I cut every 2 months or so.

Here’s what I do:

  • Sit child wearing bib or apron on top of table, at corner (so I can stand on the side)
  • Play video in front of child. This helps him sit still and not try to watch what you are doing.
  • Spray hair with warm water. Using a fine tooth comb, hold a section of hair up between your second & third fingers. Cut desired length.
  • Repeat, cutting section adjacent to already cut section. This is how you make sure it’s the same length.
  • On the top of the head, make sure you go front to back, and on the sides and back of the head go up to down. Otherwise you end up with stripes. (ask me how I know).

I’m sure there are some video tutorials on YouTube; at the time of this post I didn’t have time to look for one. But I will add one later on if I find a good one.

I had NO previous experience. Really. And I make a few mistakes now and then, but not too bad. Honestly, it’s not that hard. I think the hardest part is to be willing to do it, to believe that you can, and to not be afraid.

It grows back. 🙂

For more FrugalFriday ideas, visit LifeAsMom.com

The “Musical Fruit”-Frugal Fridays

“Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you…..”

I always found this little rhyme at least moderately amusing. It makes me giggle even now. I haven’t shared it yet with my guys because I just know they will probably not stop saying it & then collapse in hysterics. But, they are boys, after all, It might be time to teach them about armpit “honks”. Crass, yes. But some things are just funny.

But I digress.

Beans are extremely nutritious. See bean nutrition facts here. Beans, when combined with rice, provide a complete protein. Many Latin American countries rely on this combination for most of their dietary needs.

But why do I mention it here, on Frugal Friday? Because beans are CHEAP! Really, really inexpensive. Buy the dried beans in a bag, soak them overnight, and then follow any of thousands of recipes. I have some recipes for beans here on my blog;

Chickpeas and Spinach
Lentil and Potato Stew with Spiced Oil
Mexican Taco Casserole
Cuban Black Beans
Amazing Black Bean Burgers

Easy Hummus

Jamaican Rice and Peas

Have a good weekend!