Removing Labels From Glass Jars

From making my multi-bean soup, I had to clean the labels off a bunch of jars.  I think I found the best way to remove them.

First, just try to peel it off.  The labels of 2 of my 7 jars just peeled off in one piece leaving just a little bit of adhesive.  If you are lucky enough to have this happen, just rub a little bit of oil on them to get the glue off.

If you’re not quite that lucky, make sure the top shiny layer of paper is mostly peeled off.  This will leave the thin white more textured paper.  Then you want to put a thin layer of oil on and let it sit for a few minutes.  You can use any kind of cooking oil to do this.  Be sure you coat the entire outside of the jar otherwise you can just push the adhesive onto other parts of the jar.

When you come back, you should be able to scrub the rest of the label and adhesive off with a dish scrubber.  Then you can just wash the oil off.

Just be sure that the inside of your jars are completely dry before you try to store dry beans in them.

Other than storing dried foods in them, what other uses are there for reused glass jars?

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White Chocolate Mint Leaves

I had just a little bit of chocolate left over after making another recipe.  Much to the delight of children everywhere, there’s only so much you can scrape out of a bowl.  I figured out a way to use a little bit more of that chocolate.  I did this with white chocolate but it probably would work with milk or dark chocolate.

Basically I just scraped the bowl that I had melted the chocolate in with mint leaves and then patted them face down on wax paper to spread out the chocolate.  Super easy and frugal!  After peeling the leaves off the wax paper, I left them to solidify face up in the freezer.  This gives a very thin layer of chocolate on top of the mint leaves.  They are tasty even before they solidify, but I didn’t sneak any or anything…

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They were also delicious frozen.  These would be a perfect classy finish to a meal.  A little bit of sugar and a lot of mint.  Very high class.

Water Audit: Do You Have Leaks?

Today when we left the house we checked the water meter.  It read 0972020.  Then when we got back we checked it again.  It still read 0972020.  That means we don’t have any leaks.  Basically we tracked our water usage when we weren’t using any water.  If the number had changed, it would’ve meant that something in our house was leaking water when we thought everything was turned off.

Doing this periodically in your own house can save you money and help save the planet at the same time.  And we certainly don’t want to waste water or money!  When you do this, be sure not to forget your ice maker if you have one, the hero remembered ours at the last minute.

You can also check just your toilet by putting dye such as food coloring in the tank.  Don’t use or flush it and if the water in the bowl gets colored, then the tank is leaking.

Don’t forget to install low-flow faucets and when you brush your teeth, never let the water run.  Thanks Barney song!  You can also turn your toilet into a low-flow model by filling a plastic bottle with water and rocks and putting it in the tank.  This displaces some water in the tank so that with each flush there is less water that needs to be replaced.

We plan on doing a similar thing with electricity to see what our vampire electronics are costing us.

What other water saving tips do you have?

Diapers of the Cloth Variety

Cloth diapers.  That phrase may conjure up horror and disgust, but it shouldn’t.  Cloth diapers can be clean, easy, and super cute!

The minion was born a month earlier than we had expected her so we hadn’t packed the hospital bag when I went into labor.  Subsequently, we forgot to bring some of the cloth diapers we had asked for at the baby shower to use on the minion.  At the hospital we were given a package of disposable diapers and told that a lot of parents used disposables until the baby passed all the meconium (sticky black poop newborns have for the first few days).  We didn’t have much of a choice at that point so we used them until she passed the meconium.  Ever since then, we’ve used cloth diapers exclusively.

Someone new to cloth diapers may be a bit overwhelmed at all the options but I won’t go into them here because there are numerous places on the internet that explain what they all are.  I’m just going to tell you my opinion about them.

Pocket diapers or all-in-ones might be a good transition to someone who is hesitant because a diaper change is just like a disposable diaper change.  We had one and decided we didn’t like it because you can’t just replace the insert if it gets a little wet.  You have to replace the whole diaper.

That is why we like simple covers.  Our favorite brand is flip.  We use a mix of prefolds and flat inserts but we like not having to change the cover every time.  This means we can get away with only having about 6 covers total. We had one wool cover and while I really like the idea of the natural fibers instead of the plastic covers, it was too hard to pull on over the diaper (and the minion’s kicking legs).

I am also a fan of one size diapers because I don’t see the point in buying something the minion is just going to grow out of if I don’t have to. When the minion was a newborn the covers were a little comically large, but she was a little small when she was born and they still worked.  Here’s a photo of the largest and smallest sizes the same diaper can be.  Also look at the cute colors!

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I’ve never tried hook and loop closures, but I don’t want to have to worry about them getting stuff stuck to them in the wash or loosing their effectiveness, or even the minion being able to pull it off.  So all of our diaper covers have snaps.

So we’re saving money, the environment, and the minion’s skin by using cloth diapers.

Compost from the 1950s

I read somewhere that researchers had found organic matter (kitchen scraps) in landfills from the 1950s.  They know the food waste was from the 1950 based on other items in the surrounding trash.  Organic matter such as vegetable scraps normally would decompose in 60 years. However, in order to decompose, it needs access to oxygen.  Being buried in 60 years of waste doesn’t really let the oxygen in.

I have been composting our kitchen waste for my garden since I even had the idea to start a garden (it was in the winter when there wasn’t much else I could do).  But after reading about 1950s carrot tops and onion skins, I realize that composting does more than good, it prevents bad also.  I had thought that if I threw away organic material it would just decompose in the landfill and it wouldn’t be a big deal.  But apparently its just as bad as throwing away plastic because it won’t actually decompose.

With this new knowledge, I have been saving compostable material when we are out and bringing it back to our compost pile.  I am also guilty of tossing compostables into the woods when I’m out.  Apple cores and banana peels go out my car window if I’m driving somewhere by uninhabited woods.

I encourage everyone to compost, even if you don’t garden.  If you have the space/yard you can just throw it all in a pile, no fancy equipment needed.  You can also buy under the sink composters in you live in the city or in an apartment.  Look into worm composting for small spaces and if you know anyone who gardens ask them if they want it.  If not, just find a place to return it to nature.  What a great and easy way to cut down on your waste production.

Don’t forget to read HERE for my quick list of surprising compostable items.

A Quick List of Compostable Items

  • fruit and vegetable scraps
  • coffee grounds
  • tea bags (tear out any metal staples)
  • egg shells
  • dryer lint
  • hair clippings
  • toenail and animal claw clippings
  • newspaper
  • junk mail
  • used tissues
  • fabric made from cotton, wool, or other natural fibers (unless you can make something out of it!)
  • cardboard (tear into pieces)
  • grass clippings
  • pruned branches, weeds, and other gardening plant waste
  • fall leaves
  • unpopped popcorn kernels
  • poop from any animal that is a herbivore (chickens, rabbits, cows)
  • ash from wood fires
  • sawdust
  • wilted floral arrangements (be careful with lilies)
  • q-tips with cardboard sticks (NOT plastic)
  • moldy or stale bread
  • leather
  • pencil shavings
  • fish bones

Basically anything made from all plant material with no dairy or meat in it.