Waste Not Want Not

Discovering ways to re-purpose discards, making items from scratch and being self-sufficient.

Free Potting Pots

Recycled Newspaper

Follow this link for Recycled Newspaper Potting Pots. This blog will provide step-by-step directions for making this wonderful money saving potting solution.  Every spring I spend my tiny gardening budget purchasing little pots for planting seeds to transplant later when my soil warms.  Never again!  I will be recycling newsprint and at the same time creating a more efficient transplanting system.  When your plants are ready for the garden the entire paper pot is planted with no damage to the seedling. The paper is biodegradable and actually good for the soil.

Yes, I have already started planning and purchasing for spring planting.  I’ve created a layout for several new planting areas in my yard and for container gardening on my patio and deck.  I plan one of the largest, most productive and most cost effective vegetable gardens I’ve ever planted and this will be my seventh season.  The cost of supplies has increased just as everything else in this economy, so to make my produce as cost effective as possible, I’m always looking for cost cutting ideas.  This one is definitely one I will be using right away.  I can make them now and have them ready as soon as it’s time to plant my seeds.  I won’t be buying pots of plants this season either. I’ve purchased a supply of heirloom seeds that can provide my seeds for years to come, simply by saving seeds from my plants.  By-the-way, you can’t do this with seeds that aren’t certified and guaranteed heirloom seeds.

Thanks to the Cottage Hill blog for this and other great ideas!

Happy Planting!

I’ve Got a Question

I’m wondering if any of you (in my Internet family) have noticed that when viewing a recent post that some words are missing?  I’ve edited some of these omissions several times with the same outcome.  I’ve also noticed these omissions when reading other blogs from you as well.  This has just started happening and I’ve been using WordPress for quite a long time.

Let me know if you are finding this same problem.


Don’t Throw Away Your Whey

Just as I promised, I’ve found several very good ideas for using the whey left from making cheese and yogurt.  Many recipes for homemade cheese and yogurt encourage pouring this useful by-product down the drain but having a miser mindset, I don’t throw anything away if it can be used.  I’m often accused of dividing leftover food and freezing it in ice trays.  Guilty as charged.

Substitute whey in any baking recipe that calls for water or milk.

  1. Use it in fresh yeast breads and rolls recipes
  2. Add it to your cornbread, pancakes, waffles, muffins, biscuit batters
  3. Use it to cook pasta, potatoes, oatmeal, or rice and whey will add extra flavor to the foods
  4. Add it to soups and stews
  5. Use it as an additive to fruit smoothies and shakes
  6. Mix a little in your dog’s food for extra nutrition
  7. Pour it over your compost
  8. Spray your lawn with whey

One of my favorite ideas for using leftover whey is to make ricotta cheese.  All the recipes I’ve found for this homemade yummy, call for at least one to two gallons of whey.  If you are a cheese or yogurt maker you may want to freeze your smaller batches of whey until you have a gallon and they try your hand at ricotta.



  1. You’ll need a colander lined with cheesecloth
  2. A large stock pot
  3. Candy thermometer
  4. Yield about 1 cup of fresh ricotta

Ingredients for Ricotta

  • 1 to 2 gallons fresh whey
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • A pinch of salt


  1. Heat your whey to 200°F, or a low boil
  2. Let the curds come together for 5 minutes or so, then drain the pot into your cloth-lined colander. The bulk of the whey should drain out within the first 5 minutes.
  3. When your ricotta has reached the desired balance of creaminess v. curdiness, scoop the cheese into a bowl and refrigerate until use.

Good luck! As soon as I have enough whey, I’m giving this a try.

Until next time!


I found a really neat recipe for making your own Greek yogurt in your trusty crock pot.  There are several steps to the technique and I recommend making it when you have time on your hands and in your kitchen.  In other words, make it when you’re not preparing meals.

I wanted to see the cost difference and if it was worth the time and effort.  I checked the price of Oikos Greek yogurt in my area and it sells for approximately $5.85 for 16 ounces.  A serving is half a cup and comes to $1.46 per serving. I can make this recipe for approximately $.50 per serving. It really doesn’t matter the brand of yogurt you use for your starter in this recipe.  Use a less expensive brand of plain yogurt to cut costs.  Store brand milk will also add to the savings in this recipe.

I’ve read that the milk you use can make a big difference in the consistency of your finished product.  Whole milk seems to be the preferred product for a thicker, creamer yogurt.  I’m not a big fan of low fat milk in the first place, so whole milk would be my choice.


  • 8 cups (half-gallon) of whole, 1%, 2% or skim Pasteurized Milk. Do NOT use ultra-pasteurized
  • 1/2 cup store-bought natural plain yogurt. (Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter.


  •  Add a half gallon of milk to crock pot and cover.
  •  Cook on LOW for approximately 2 1/2 hours.
  • Using a candy thermometer, check the temperature of the milk. When the milk has reached 180 degrees, unplug the crock pot, remove the cover, and let it sit for another hour or so. You are waiting for the milk to come down in temperature to between 105 and 110 degrees.
  •  When the milk has reached that temp, scoop out 1 to 2 cups of the warmish milk and whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought yogurt. Then pour the mixture back into the crock pot. Whisk to combine.
  • Put the lid back on your crock pot, wrap a heavy bath towel around the crock for insulation, and place in the oven with the oven light ON. Leave the yogurt undisturbed for 7 or 8 hours, or overnight.
  • In the morning, carefully take the crock out, unwrap it and remove the lid, and check to see whether the milk has turned to yogurt.  (If your batch isn’t quite thickened, return it to the oven and check on it again in an hour.)
  • Refrigerate the yogurt for at least three hours to allow it to completely cool and thicken.
  • Line a large strainer with four layers of damp cheesecloth and put inside a bowl.
  • Pour the yogurt in; refrigerate for one hour.
  • For the frugal, save the liquid that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl, this is the whey. Return the bowl to the refrigerator for one
  • more hour, strain the liquid again. The whey can be used for making ricotta cheese, butter and other useful things.  Otherwise you can pour it out.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of finished plain yogurt for your next batch.
  • If you wish to sweeten or flavor the yogurt you can add sweetener, honey, vanilla or other flavorings to taste.  I don’t recommend adding fruit directly into the yogurt.

Store your yogurt in a covered jar or plastic container in the refrigerator.  Use it within ten days to two weeks.  I use canning jars for most homemade things I’m going to refrigerate and 1/2 pint jars provide two servings.

DON’T FORGET, save 1/2 cup of your yogurt as starter for your next batch!

Next post I’m covering uses and recipes for using the whey. It’s too useful to pour down the drain.

Until next time!

Six Generations

Hard to believe but before my Grandmother passed away a few years ago, we were a six generation family.  I only regret that we couldn’t get everyone  together for a six generation photograph.  Even when  I was a child I was photographed with my Great-grandparents who were born during the Civil War.  Unbelievable when you stop and think about it.  I’m very fortunate to have had a family of longevity and health.  I think it comes for hard work, personal pride and clean living.

I started this blog for a number of reasons and one goal is to introduce today’s families the way life was lived in times past.  Not long ago I found myself with a dead washer and dryer.  Heavens to Betsy in today’s world that is almost unheard of and possibly cause for a national state of emergency.  Anyway, I decided not to replace them for a number of reasons, finances the head of the list.  I should explain that the washer isn’t completely dead and will still spin a load.

The washer and dryer lived in my separate laundry room which by today’s standards is pretty big.  It’s about 10’x10′ and with the appliances gone there was an entire room I could use for something else.  That said I was beginning to contemplate the laundry situation even as I was creating a breakfast room where the laundry room used to be.  The dryer was now completely gone and the washer is now housed in the back of the garage in the back yard.

I sat down to rest with a glass of iced tea and my mind wandered to life living with my Grandmother.  Mama (we called her) had a Westinghouse

Wringer Washer

Wringer Washing Machine

wringer washer.  On wash day the washer was wheeled into the kitchen, a hose attached to the kitchen faucet and wash day had begun.  Everything was manual.  There was no spin cycle and no timer to change cycles, but it was electric.  When the wash completed the tub was filled with water a second time for the rinse.  My favorite part was the wringer.   Mama would swing the ringer around so that it was now located over the sink and the wringing would begin.  Two cylinders would rotate while the laundry was fed between them and the water squeezed out.  As a six year old, I was a little afraid that if her hand got into the wringer it would not stop until it, well you get the picture.

When all the wash was done and loaded in the laundry basket, Mama would carry it to the clotheslines at the back of the house.  There were three lines between two “T” posts and by the time all the laundry was hung the lines were all full.  This was probably the first instance of “solar and wind power”.  It’s funny how what’s old is new again.  After everything was dry, the clothes were brought into the house sprinkled with water (I know, that sounds weird) but bear with me.  When the clothes were properly sprinkled, they were placed in a pillow case and stored over night in the ice box.  Yes, ice box. It took years for Mama to call a refrigerator anything but an ice box because for most of her life that’s what she had in her kitchen, an ice box.  Back to the laundry.  The next morning after breakfast and getting my Grandfather off to work, out came the ironing board and iron.  Not just an iron you can purchase today.  This iron, though electric, was as heavy as a bowling ball.  Honestly, the thought in those days was the heavier the iron the better job it did.   Out from the “ice box” came those sprinkled clothes from the day before.  They were just right for ironing and iron she did for hours on end.  It’s strange but my memories of Mama are her at the stove and the ironing board. I really can’t say that because she made the best chocolate cream pie, homemade fudge, divinity and….heck, anything she cooked was the best!!

Well, back to my laundry dilemma.  As I was thinking about how hard working my Grandmother was as long as she lived, I was overwhelmed with the realization that if that life was good enough for my Grandmother, it was certainly good enough for me.  So now when it is wash day, I fill the bathtub with warm, soapy water and wash my clothes.  After they are rinsed, I take them to the back of the garage and put them in the ailing washer and spin the water out.  Now they are dried on a clothesline hung between the back of my house and the front wall of the garage.  The most rewarding part of this whole ordeal is bringing back something from the past and the wonderful fresh smell of my clothes when I bring them in from the yard.  Because fabrics are so different today I don’t have to iron and boy am I glad because as much as I love my Grandmother and respect everything she did for her family, I’m not sorry I don’t have to iron.  There aren’t many things I hate to do as much as iron.

So next time you use your modern day washer and dryer, remember this little story of how things were done a long, long time ago (and at my house, today).  Convenience is great but there are some things that still provide satisfaction in knowing you can do things the hard way when you have too.  In my case, it is a connection with the Grandmother I love so much and miss more than anyone can imagine.


OooWeee, Glazed Chicken Breast

Marmalade glazed chicken

Marmalade Glazed Chicken

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and though I was saving myself for tomorrow’s feast, I was hungry today.  Yep, today is Wednesday and I have spent the day buzzing around Christmas decorations wondering if decorating is worth it this year.  Living alone, I sometimes wonder if all that hullabaloo is worth it.  Since I haven’t decorated in a couple of years while my Mom was sick and consequently passed away, I find that maybe it’s time to shake off the doldrums and actually get in the spirit.

While eating wasn’t on my mind much of the day, I found that by 2:00 pm my tummy was speaking in low growls and prodding me to fill the void.  I had thawed half a chicken breast last night and was wondering how in the world I would make this preparation different from my daily intake of chicken.  Opening the refrigerator I spied a small jar of orange marmalade on the shelf with only a few tablespoons left in the bottom and it was sitting next to the French’s mustard bottle.  Humm, I wonder if that would create a good sweet and sour sauce for my chicken?  Well, I browned my chicken really well in a small non-stick skillet.  Into the marmalade jar I squirted a few squirts of yellow mustard and a few healthy shakes of ground red pepper.  When the chicken was almost cooked through, I coated it with my concoction.   When it started to get really brown, I added about three tablespoons of water and placed the lid on the pan and reduced the heat to medium.

It cooked for about fifteen minutes more and I then removed the lid.  I continued to cook it until the sauce became a thick and an almost transparent, beautiful deep orange glaze.  I continually basted the chicken breast until it was too thick to bother.   Boy was I surprised! The result was absolutely the most delicious lunch I’ve prepared for myself in a long, long time.  I enjoyed it so much that I felt compelled to share this with you all.  I feel sure that many, many people have already tried this but humor me please, I want to gloat on “my” creation for a while.

If you need a depart from the traditional Thanksgiving food that may last until the middle of December, please give this a try.  Since I’m not  recipe writer, I’ll leave it up to your taste buds to prepare it to your taste and in the quantity you need.  Mine was half a breast, about a quarter cup of marmalade, a few squirts of mustard and a healthy shake of ground red pepper.  Yum, Yum Yum!  It never fails, when I improvise with ingredients I have on hand, the results are almost always amazing.



Junk Mail, Magazines and Catalogs Make a Come

Got time and magazines on your hands? Check this out. You won’t believe what you can do with old junk mail, magazines and catalogs.

Abstract Octopus

I made this tutorial several years ago. Since then, I’ve seen my tutorial all over the internet, including Apartment Therapy.I’ve decided to share it again here.

I hoard magazines. I cannot bear to throw them away even if I know I will never take the time to look at them again. Here’s a way to use those magazines I feel too guilty to throw away and create a colorful recycled magazine box for your home.

These are the (much pricier) inspiration:

(Tutorial after the jump)

View original post 334 more words


Sweetened Condensed Milk Knock-off

Make Your Own and Save!!

This is a great tip for making your own sweetened condensed milk.  The price of this product has skyrocketed lately.  I use a lot of this during the holidays so having this DIY recipe is absolutely terriff!

Sweetened Condensed Milk
3/4 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water
In small bowl combine the powdered milk and the sugar. Set aside Put hot water into blender. Start blender. With blender going pour in the powdered milk /sugar mixture. Blend until smooth.  This recipe equals one can of store bought condensed milk.

Plastic Grocery Bag Dispenser

You are going to love this idea if you are dealing with bag storage.  Also, this is a great idea for the diaper bag for disposal of soiled diapers, for picnic trash or just to take on camping trips, beach outings or just in the kitchen.  Thanks to tatertotsandjello for this idea!

Plastic Grocery Bag Dispenser