Friday, August 29, 2014

Norwex and E-cloths My New Favorites

I write about house cleaning products often.  You would think I would have the cleanest house around.  I do NOT.  I often post concoctions for cleaning.  Most of them work quite well and use a combination of vinegar and baking soda.  The trick is that a lot of things work well, but you have to use them.  That is why I'm always looking for an easier way.  The two things I still have trouble with is windows and the grease splatters on my black gas stove.  I now have the answer.  The initial investment is expensive, but I had heard so many good reviews for these products that I took the plunge.  They are Norwex towels and e-cloths.  E-cloths are less expensive so I bought that set just for windows and mirrors.  They are different colors than the Norwex towels, so I won't get them mixed up. 

Norwex is a micro fiber towel that looks just like the other micro fiber towels you see from the Dollar Store, but the difference is that the fibers are much smaller and closer together.  It also has silver threads running through it.  The silver cleans the towel in between uses.  Once you’ve wiped up dirt, bacteria and viruses with your cloth, the silver works to inactivate the bacteria and viruses within the cloth.  It does this by suffocating the bacteria so that it doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to survive. After about 18 to 20 hours, your Norwex cloth will be much cleaner than it was when you finished cleaning with it.  In fact a study was done using a paper towel, a regular micro fiber towel and a Norwex towel.  They cleaned up a spill and cultured it for a period of time.  The paper towel was the worse with no bacterial killing ability, the regular micro fiber was better but the Norwex killed over 90% of the bacteria.  All you use is water.  You don't need a cleaner of any kind.  When the towels are dirty, I just throw them in the washing machine.  Apparently you can dry them in the dryer but I just air dry.  Usually I just rinse them out and hang for the next use.  To use, the cleaning towel has to be dampened with water.  I keep this set for my stove, microwave, counter and any other kitchen appliance.  I have a black refrigerator that would get a white dusty film on it.  The Norwex cleans it right off and doesn't just move it around.  Norwex has many products, but I have only used the enviro towel and window polishing towel which I use mainly on the countertop.  There are tons of links comparing Norwex with E-cloths and reviewing the products.  If you have doubts, just read what others say.

It looks like these are about ready for the washer.

The next product I love is the e-cloths.  They are much cheaper than the Norwex.  I bought mine on Amazon.  I have only used this set for windows and mirrors, but they are wonderful.  Just wet the towel, wipe down the mirror or window,  and dry with the polishing towel.  There are no streaks or film left behind.  I bought a white window miracle cleaning towel at one time at the flea market.  It worked great until I washed it and then it left behind lint on the bathroom mirror.  I never got it back to it's original condition.

I have no stock in these products.  I don't sell them or receive any compensation for this review, it is only my personal experience.  The money saved in cleaning products will pay for these items in a hurry.  The Norwex set was $35 and the e-cloth set was $14. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Coring A Fresh Pineapple

We like fresh pineapple. They have so many wonderful health benefits.  They are full of vitamins and very important minerals.  Pineapple helps digestion and inflammation.  Of particular interest to me is that it is shown to decrease the progression of age related macular degeneration.  My dad has that eye disease and if certain things are helpful in prevention, we will try them.  Besides its nutritional benefits, it looks pretty on the table until it is ripe.  You know a pineapple is ripe when one of the center spikes pulls out easily.  In the past I would cut off the top and bottom.  Then I would take a knife and work around the pineapple to remove the skin.  After that I would remove the core.  By this time, I had a puddle of pineapple juice on the cutting board, and it would be running all over the counter.  That is why I was so happy when I found this Pineapple Corer and Slicer at Aldi's.  It was only $3.99, and it works beautifully.

The first thing you do is cut the top off the pineapple.

Then you line up the corer and start turning. 

There are serrated teeth on the bottom of the corer.  After placing it over the core, just start turning until you reach the bottom of the pineapple.  Then just pull up and you have several slices of pineapple already eat or cut into smaller pieces, leaving the core behind.  All the extra juice will be in the bottom of the pineapple.

Fresh sliced pineapple ready to eat.

I know a lot of people are tired of gadgets, but this one is worth having if you eat fresh pineapple.  It is small enough to store without a problem.  Pineapple must be in season because I see it for a very good price.  Try it, you'll like it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Hobo Steak and The Camping Experience

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my grandchildren coming out to our house to camp.  It is a yearly thing that they like to do just before school restarts in the fall.  Nothing turned out as planned last time.  Many things went wrong that week.

We decided to try for a redo last weekend.  I am so glad we did.  It was fun.  The weather was hot, but it didn't pour down rain and the evening was very pleasant.  They came on Saturday afternoon.  We started a fire earlier so we would have a good bed of coals for our dinner.  Everyone has made this recipe at some point in their lives, but I will post it anyway.  We made Hobo Steaks.

Hobo Steaks

Aluminum Foil
Hamburger Patty
Potato sliced thin
Carrot sliced thin
Handful of green beans
Slice of onion (optional)
Pat of butter
Salt and Pepper

Tear off a piece of aluminum foil about 14 x 16.
In the center of the foil place the hamburger patty.
Then cover with the sliced onion, sliced potato, sliced carrot and green beans
Put a pat of butter and some salt and pepper over everything

Fold the foil and make a sealed packet.  Cook over hot coals until the vegetables and meat are done.
We had 7 packets and it took about 45 minutes.  You can put the packets directly on the coals or use a little tripod rack.  These Hobo Steaks can also be made in an oven.  You can add whatever vegetables you like.  I put some multi-colored peppers on mine and instead of butter a dollop of bacon grease (no eye rolls, please). 

Normally the kids would be a little picky over some of these ingredients, but they ate it all.  I think when kids can make their own and participate, they like it better.  I forgot we have growing kids now, and one little stinkin packet of food wasn't enough.  Out came the hot dogs.  Fortunately I had some gluten free hot dogs in the frig.  We ate a whole package before the night was over.  I think 10 year old Sam had 3 hot dogs.

As soon as Jack cooks his hot dog, Sarah is ready to roast a marshmallow.

Hot Dog is almost perfect.

It wasn't over yet.  Last time the kids had to make s'mores in the microwave.  This time the coals were perfect.  Again we had to accommodate a gluten free option.  I had purchased some GF chocolate chip cookies, so that is what we used instead of graham crackers.  I didn't try them because I'm not a fan of s'mores, but everyone else enjoyed this variation very much.  However, I ate my share of the chocolate bar.  

Jack enjoying his chocolate chip cookie s'more.

Even great grandpa participated in the experience.  He sat by the campfire and had a brandy and sweet with cherries.  He really wanted a brandy old fashioned but we are so lame in the alcohol department, this was all we could come up with.

Sam and Great Grandpa

Time to put the cover on the fire and go to bed.

Pretty soon it was time for bed.  That didn't go so well.  We slept in our own beds, but Sarah and the kids played musical beds for quite a while.  Melissa ended up on our couch.  Sam, Jack and Sarah all ended up in one double bed in the camper.  No one slept well, and they got up very early.  Oh well, that's all part of the memory.  They will probably remember the bad nights sleep more than all the other good things that happened that night.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Making Jar Candles Can Be Dangerous

A lot of my ideas come from Facebook and Pinterest.  Some of them work out and some of them don't.  Recently I saw a very cute idea that used a variety of jars that were made into candles.

I thought this was a perfect little project for me.  I was wrong.

I proceeded to gather all the supplies necessary to do this project.  It takes a jar, a cover, some type of oil, a variety of lamp parts and washers, something to drill or punch a hole in the cover and a wick.

I got my supplies together.

  I chose a small jar for my first try because it wouldn't waste a lot of oil in case it didn't work.  

A hole drilled in the jar cap. 

The first thing I did was drill a hole in the cover of the jar.  It had to be about 3/8 inch to fit the threaded nipple.  Next I secured it with a washer and a coupling on top and a washer with a hex nut on the bottom.

Washer with the coupling

Washer with the hex nut

Everything went together well.  I filled the little jar with some pine sprigs and filled it with olive oil plus basil.  I bought this oil but didn't like cooking with it.  I like basil but it was infused in the oil and too strong for my taste.  Rather than throw it away, I used it in this project.  Next I needed a wick.  The instructions said that you could make a wick from a cotton t-shirt, so that is what I did.  I soaked the wick in the oil and threaded it through the nipple.  I screwed on the cover, and it was ready.

I lit the jar candle and the flame was bright and beautiful, but it went out right away.  I lit it again and the same thing happened.  Next I took the t-shirt wick out and replaced it with a wick from an old oil lamp we had.  I went through the same process, and it also went out several times.  I thought that the oil with basil wasn't the correct type of oil.  I poured it out and replaced it with some old canola oil I had.  I repeated all the steps but that didn't work either.  The next day I went to the craft store and bought some candle wicking.  I was sure I just didn't have the proper wick.   Again I threaded the wick through and lit the candle.  It burned for a while but I could hardly see the flame.  I pulled the wick higher and it burned bright for a few seconds then dimmed to almost nothing quickly.  Darn it all.  I wanted to make these candles.  So I went out in the garage and got the container of Ultra Pure.  It is a smokeless and odorless liquid wax paraffin.  We had it for some outdoor torches.  I put this liquid in the jar, replaced the wick and lit it.  Voila, I had a flame.  It was a very nice flame.  It burned for several minutes so I put the candle on the kitchen counter.  I started to do dishes and was working in the kitchen when I turned around.  The whole lid was on fire.  I panicked and was about to grab it with the Ove-glove and throw it outside.  Fortunately my husband came into the kitchen and told me to wait.  He said it would burn itself out.  It did and nothing was damaged.  Apparently the threaded nipple on the inside acted like a straw, and when it got hot it sucked the oil out of the container and caught on fire.  I want to try it with a shorter nipple that isn't down into the oil or much less oil.  My husband told me that he didn't want me messing around with it anymore.  He really would never trust these candles.  Someday I may sneak outside and try a method with less oil, but for now I will leave well enough alone.

So BEWARE....making Jar Candles can be a dangerous project, and I don't recommend it unless they are NEVER lit.