This, Not That, Thursday – DIY Natural Cat Treats

Hello again! Since many of today’s cat treats are full of preservatives and chemicals, why not make them yourself? That’s why this week’s “This, Not That, Thursday” is on DIY Natural Cat treats. It’s relatively easy and quick, and, best of all, you know what kitty is eating!

DIY Natural cat treats

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Snack
Keyword: cat treats

Equipment

  • food processer

Ingredients

  • 1 5 oz can tuna in water, drained
  • ½ cup oat flour*
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon catnip

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processer with the blade attachment.
  • Blend until mixture is smooth.
  • Roll into small ½ teaspoon balls and place onto the parchment. Press a finger each ball to flatten slightly
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are slightly browned. Cool completely before surprising your kitty with a treat made just for them!

Notes

*NOTES
To make your own oat flour, simply grind old-fashioned oats in a clean coffee grinder until transformed into a light powder.

This, Not That, Thursday – Bat Houses for Organic Pest Control

Did you know that a single little brown bat can catch up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour

One gray bat will munch on 3,000 insects in a night. I don’t know about you, but those statistics make these little nighttime flyers pretty popular with me. Would you like to attract some bats to your homestead for natural, non-toxic organic pest control?

The first way to get the little critters interested in your yard is to leave a dead tree if you happen to have one. Some dead trees can pose a problem if they are close to your house or other structures, but if you have a tree that can be left on your property, chances are the bats will eventually move in. The bark that loosens up and pulls away from the trunk when a tree dies provides a perfect little crevice for bats, who love to squeeze into small spaces.

If you’re like most people and having a dead tree on your property is not an option. The next best choice is to install a bat house. If you are handy and want to try building your own bat house, here is a link on DIY Bat house plans https://homesthetics.net/bat-house-plans/ If you’d rather purchase a ready-made bat house, those are also available online, amazon sells them for $25-$60. You may want to visit the website for Bat Conservation International. You’ll find bat house plans, ready-made houses, and all kinds of fascinating bat information.

Now, onto where to place your Bat house. They are best located near a permanent source of water, especially a marsh, lake or river, which is by far the most likely to attract bats. They should be hung roughly 12–15 feet above the ground, where their approach is unobstructed by vegetation or utility wires and they are sheltered as much as possible from the wind. A bat house can be placed on a tree or pole, although those attached to the side of a building have had the most success because they provide temperature stability.

Since appropriate temperature may determine how (or even if) your bat house is used, you may wish to consider several factors before mounting it. Lower temperatures, due to higher altitude or latitude, require that bat houses intended for use by nursery colonies be oriented to receive maximum sun, especially in the morning (southeast exposure). Another way to gain heat absorption is to add tar paper or dark-colored shingles to the Bat house roof. Even in hot climates, bat houses should be positioned to receive morning sun


No matter if they are summer residents only or hang out all year long, it is well worth your time and effort to attract them to your homestead by installing one or more bat houses on or near your home. Encourage other community members to do the same. You’ll enjoy the natural pest protection that they will happily provide you and your family.

This, Not That, Thursday – Using Apple Peels & Cores

Apples! Did someone say apples? This week “This, Not That Thursday” is all about saving those apple peels and cores.

Every fall we take at least one trip to an apple orchard near us. They have family-friendly activities, wonderful local canned goods for sale, and of course, apples. So many apples! Plain apples, apples to make applesauce, pies, crisps and the “mother” of them all… Apple Cider Vinegar

When making any of the above you will probably peel & core some of those apples but did you know you can use the peels and the cores to make apple cider vinegar? This way you have virtually no waste! WINNER!

It is also totally possible to make apple cider vinegar from the whole apple so don’t worry if you don’t have leftover peels and cores from anything.

There are several more elaborate ways to make apple cider vinegar at home, but today I’m gonna show you how to make it from apple scraps. I especially like this method since it allows me to use the apples for other stuff while still making a valuable product from the “waste”.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 d
Total Time5 d 10 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free, Gluten Free, heart healthy, low calorie, low carb, low fat, low sodium, nut free, soy free, vegan, vegetarian
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Equipment

  • One quart jar
  • One canning lid ring OR a rubber band
  • Coffee filter OR paper towel

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Large apples Apple peels & cores any browning/discolored flesh from organic apples
  • 2-2 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar I like Turbinado raw sugar
  • 2-2 1/2 cups water boiled and allowed to cool

Instructions

  • Cover the bottom of your jar with apple scraps, filling no more than 3/4 full. The apples need room to expand and stay submerged.
  • Add 2 Tbsp of granulated sugar and 2 cups of filtered water to the jar. The apples should be completely submerged. Mold can grow on any portions of apples that are not covered and ruin your batch of vinegar. If your scraps float to the top of the jar add a smaller jar on top to keep them submerged.
  • 3.Stir the apples, sugar, and water and cover with a coffee filter. Secure with a canning band, or a rubber band.
  • Allow apples to sit in a warm, dark place for 2 weeks. Above the refrigerator or on the top shelf of a cupboard are great places. Just don’t forget you put it there!
  • After 2 weeks, you might notice some fizz or bubbles. That’s good news! Strain out the apple pieces and compost. Cover the apple cider vinegar again with a coffee filter and canning band. Allow continuing to sit at room temperature for another 2-4 weeks.
  • The vinegar may become cloudy or a SCOBY could form on the top, both of which are normal. Taste test the vinegar once a week until it’s to your liking. You can stop the fermentation process by replacing the coffee filter with a canning lid and storing it in the refrigerator.
  • Use your homemade vinegar just like you would store-bought vinegar– for cooking, cleaning and everything in between

Notes

Tip: You don’t HAVE to use a quart-sized jar, but it’s what I readily have available. Feel free to use whatever size jar you have on hand. If you use a different size jar, the ratio is 1 Tbsp sugar per 1 cup water.
NOTE: About preserving and pickling with homemade vinegar: It’s generally recommended that you do NOT use homemade vinegar for any sort of preservation. In order to ensure the safety of your home canned products, you need a vinegar with an acetic acid level of 5%. Since most of us don’t have a way to check the levels of our homemade vinegar, it’s best just to skip using it for canning or preserving– better safe than sorry!
NOTE: You want the peels to be from apples that have been scrubbed very, very well. Organic apples are preferred, but simply buy the best you can afford and wash them very well. Secondly, it’s okay to use brown or bruised apples. However, it is NOT okay to use moldy or rotten apples.


This, Not That, Thursday – DIY Aloe Vera Gel

It is easy to make aloe vera gel at home. All you need is a few healthy leaves of the aloe vera plant. If you have an aloe vera plant at home or in your garden, then you are lucky! Aloe vera gel is an excellent all-natural healer for skin issues such as sunburn, rashes, acne, among others. Aloe vera gel is also known to promote healthy hair growth. You can even preserve the gel for a month by adding natural preservatives.

How to make Aloe Vera Gel

Make your very own natural healer and skin cleanser!

Prep Time 30 mins – Total Time 30 mins

Appliance Needed: Blender, Refrigerator Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 aloe vera leaves
  • 500 mg vitamin C (optional)
  • 400 IU vitamin E (optional)

Instructions

  1. If you have access to an aloe vera plant, take a sharp knife and cut off a leaf from the outside of the plant, close to its base. They are usually more mature and contain plenty of gel. If your plant is too young, make sure you do not cut off too many leaves at once. Aloe vera leaves are also available in supermarkets in the produce section. You can usually get 1/2 a cup of gel from 1 mature aloe vera leaf.
  2. Wash the leaves under cold running water to remove any dirt on the skin.
  3. Place the leaves upright in a bowl to let any white or yellow resin to drain off. This can cause irritation to the skin.
  4. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the skin of the aloe vera leaf on one side. You will see the sticky gel underneath.
  5. Use a spoon to carefully scoop out the gel. Collect the gel in a clean glass container and make sure you do not get any pieces of the leaf skin in it.
  6. If you have collected a lot of gel and want to preserve it, you can mix it with natural preservatives. In a blender, add aloe vera gel and vitamin C or vitamin E capsules. For every 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel, you can either add 500 mg of vitamin C or 400 IU vitamin E. The foamy gel should be put in a clean, airtight glass jar. It will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.
  7. You can also use fresh aloe vera gel to make a nourishing aloe vera juice or add it to smoothies.

Notes

Consider growing an aloe vera plant in your home as they are low-maintenance plants and grow easily. Aloe is generally safe for most people, but if you have an underlying health condition or take medicines or use herbs, talk to your doctor before using aloe as it could react with other medications and substances.

-Dr. P
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This, Not That, Thursday – Beeswax Wraps

On this week’s installment of “This, Not That, Thursday,” we want to discuss beeswax wraps. Last week we touched on DIY reusable snack bags to move away from disposable plastic, so this week we’re focusing on plastic cling wrap.

If you’re like me, there’s probably no love lost between you and plastic. Most food-related plastics – including cling wrap and so-called “BPA-free” containers – “can release chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen”* 

Fortunately, there are so many amazing alternatives available like leakproof glass containers and silicone stretchable lids that stretch to fit a variety of container sizes, and of course beeswax wraps!

When you pack your own lunch every day (maybe your kids’ too), it might feel like you’re always adding cling wrap to your grocery list… enter beeswax wraps. The pliable covers fold up around foods and cover bowls of leftovers. They rinse clean with cold water and mild soap (hot water would melt the wax!) and you can reuse them time and time again.

These bee-autiful storage solutions sell for about $18 for a pack of three on Amazon, but if you’re feeling crafty, they’re super easy to DIY. Either way, you’ll easily recoup the cost by buying fewer sandwich bags and plastic wrap. If you use three plastic bags per day and a box of 150 costs about $10, you’re already spending more than $70 per year on something most people just throw away after one use.

These beeswax food wraps are not hard to make, but they do take a little bit of time, so plan ahead for that. This recipe makes four wraps, but it’s easy to double the recipe if you want to make more.

Cut the muslin cloth to whatever size works best for you, or even different sizes if you wish. You can use pinking shears if you want to make the edges fancy. I personally love the look it gives. The pine resin is probably the hardest ingredient to come by, but I was able to find a good source on Amazon. Beeswax pastilles are probably the easiest form of beeswax to use here, or you can do what I did and grate some off a block of beeswax.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼  cup beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons pine resin
  • 1 tablespoon jojoba oil
  • 4 squares of 100% cotton muslin fabric (I used 12″ squares)

EQUIPMENT

  • small saucepan
  • glass pyrex measuring cup
  • parchment paper
  • baking sheet
  • 1″ wide paintbrush
  • clothes drying rack
  1. Melt the pine resin in a double boiler (I use a glass pyrex measuring cup in a pot of boiling water) over medium heat. 
  2. It takes a while for the resin to fully melt, but once it does add the beeswax. Stir using a wooden or bamboo stick until the resin and wax are completely melted together. 
  3. Then slowly drizzle in the jojoba oil. Turn the heat to low to keep it all melted. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 225°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place one square of muslin on the parchment and use the paintbrush to brush it all over with the beeswax mixture. 
  5. Place the baking sheet in the oven just long enough to fully melt the beeswax. It should only take a couple of minutes. Take it out of the oven and spread the beeswax around again with the paintbrush, so that the whole muslin cloth is coated evenly. 
  6. Then take another square of muslin and lay it on top of the first square to blot up the extra wax. Flip the two squares over so that the blotting square is now on the bottom. 
  7. Return the baking sheet to the oven briefly, just long enough to liquefy the wax. 
  8. Remove from the oven, and hang the first piece of beeswax coated muslin on a clothes drying rack to dry. 
  9. Use the paintbrush to spread the wax on the blotting square, which is now your working square, and repeat the whole process again.

Once they are all dry, they are ready to use! They work perfectly for covering bowls, just as you would use plastic wrap. The beeswax can be warmed in the hands and will conform to the bowl and stick to the rim. The pine resin gives it some stickiness as well.

FYI: Beeswax wraps aren’t air-tight and won’t keep highly perishable items (like raw meat) fresh. We recommend using them to cover foods you’ll eat within a couple of hours or the next day, like a sandwich, bowl of pasta, or piece of fruit. For longer-lasting leftovers or smellier items like cheese, you’re probably better off sealing them up in reusable glass containers. With that in mind, here’s how you can make your own beeswax wraps <3 

*Concluded a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives(source 1, source 2)

This, Not That, Thursday – Reusable Snack Bags

Good morning! It’s almost Back to School & snacks are a big deal. This week “This, Not That, Thursday” is focusing on reusable snack bags. There is so much waste that comes from using single-serve packets or using plastic bags every day. Reusable snack bags are amazing and will save you money in the long run. You can buy them of course but we’re going to tell you how to make them.

Materials for Making Reusable Snack Bags:
– Outside cotton fabric—dig through your fabric stash! You just need enough to make two 6 1/2”x5″ rectangles (or whatever size you choose)
– Waterproof food-safe fabric
– Velcro
– Coordinating thread
– Scissors
– Ruler
– Seam gauge
– Rotary cutter and mat (optional, but makes this project even quicker!)How to Make – Reusable Snack Bags:
1. Cut your fabric. Cut two pieces each of the outer fabric and the line (6 1/2″ x 5″) but any size will work. Cut a strip of the Velcro/hook and loop fastener to 6 1/2″ (or whatever width your bag will be).
2. Pin one half of the velcro strip 3/4″ from the top of one-liner piece, and sew all around the edges of the fastener. You may be tempted to not pin, even if you tend to freehand your sewing, you WILL want to pin in this.
Repeat with the other piece of lining fabric and the other half of the hook-and-loop fastener.
3. Pin one piece of the lining fabric to one piece of the outer fabric, right sides together (for the lining, the “right side” is the one with the fastener on it). Sew along the top, 1/4″ from the edge.
Repeat with the other lining and outside fabric piece. Open up both pieces and run your finger along the seams to press them open. You’d usually want to iron here, but the high heat may damage the liner.
4. Put together both pieces, right sides together, matching up the seams and the Velcro. Starting at the bottom of the lining fabric, sew around the perimeter of the piece, leaving a 2″ space open at the bottom of the liner to turn the bag. Backstitch at each end of your sewing for security.
5. Turn the bag right-side-out through the opening in the bottom of the liner.
6. Close the opening at the bottom of the liner by folding in the edges to create a seam. You can either topstitch over this or slipstitch it.
7. Push the liner inside the bag, and you’re done! To make the bags lay flat, you may want to either finger press the top seams or briefly run over the bags with a very low iron.
Cleaning Your Snack Bags
Most of the time, you can just turn the bags inside out and wipe clean. But if it gets really dirty, wash in cold water and hang up to dry. If you choose to put these through the washer, I recommend putting them in a mesh laundry bag first, just so the Velcro doesn’t get caught on the rest of your laundry

This, Not That, Thursday – Natural Rabbit Repellent

Hey all! We’re back with another installment of “This, Not That, Thursday.”
If you need a way to deter rabbits from eating your flowers, try this organic rabbit repellent recipe. It uses garlic and red peppers to repel the rabbits naturally without damaging your plants. And don’t worry–those cute little critters won’t be harmed at all.

You just need a couple of items to make this Natural rabbit repellent: garlic, peppers, dish soap, and an empty milk jug.

Natural Rabbit Repellent Recipe
Items needed:
empty milk/water jug
7 garlic cloves
2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
1-gallon water
1 tablespoon dish soap (see our other posts for a Natural Dish Soap)
Directions:
To make the repellent fill an old jug with water, add 7 crushed garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons of crushed red peppers (you can save a packet from the pizza delivery for this) and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.
Shake well. Then let it sit in the sun for a day or two to make sure the water is saturated with the flavors and smells.
Shake well. Then spray or pour on the plants that you don’t want the rabbits to eat.
I had to reapply the rabbit repellent once a week for a couple of weeks to convince the rabbits that my tulips were never going to taste good again. With my other bulbs, I sprayed them with the natural rabbit repellent as soon as they started to poke through the ground and then reapplied the repellent once a week and after it rains.
Good luck 

-Dr. P
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This, Not That, Thursday – Natural Dish Soap

We’re here with this week’s installment of “this, Not That, Thursday” – Natural Dish Soap.
Here we go….

Every single recipe I’ve tried just kept falling short. It didn’t suds enough or it wasn’t soapy or slippery enough, or worse – it left a nasty film on my dishes. There are lots of factors at play of course (type of soap, water hardness, etc.) so I’m not saying that those recipes didn’t work – just that they didn’t work for me. THIS ONE DID!

Homemade Dish Soap: A Natural Recipe
Ingredients
1 ¾ cups boiling water
1 Tbsp borax
1 Tbsp grated bar soap (use homemade soap, castile bar soap, Ivory, or whichever natural bar you prefer)
15-20 drops essential oils, optional
Instructions
Heat water to boiling.
Combine borax and grated bar soap in a medium bowl. Pour hot water over the mixture. Whisk until the grated soap is completely melted.
Allow mixture to cool on the countertop for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Dish soap will gel upon standing.
Transfer to a squirt bottle, and add essential oils (if using). Shake well to combine.

*do not use vinegar – As per Dr. Bronners daughter Lisa “In great part, it’s due to the fact that vinegar is an acid and the castile soap is a base. They will directly react with each other and cancel each other out. So, instead of getting the best of both (the scum cutting ability of the vinegar and the dirt transporting ability of the soap), you’ll be getting the worst of something entirely new. The vinegar “unsaponifies” the soap, by which I mean that the vinegar takes the soap and reduces it back out to its original oils. So you end up with an oily, curdled, whitish mess. And this would be all over whatever it was you were trying to clean – your laundry or counters or dishes or whatever.”

-Dr. P
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