The Dirt Witch Chronicles

Earth Based Forum for Personal Growth

Category: Open Topics (page 2 of 6)

Safe Wood Splitting Practices

yulelog-wood_fire_lgThere is nothing like a nice cozy and warm fire in the fireplace on a cold snowy day!  Here are some tips from The Tractor Supply Company to help you to prepare for this winter’s fires!

When splitting your wood to burn in a fireplace or a stove, there are some important safe wood-splitting practices to keep in mind.

Always make sure you are wearing protective clothing. This includes eye protection, gloves, and good work boots in addition to work pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Properly protective clothing will help you to avoid accidental injury from any possible flying wood chips or accidental mishandling of your tool. Also, keep anyone not involved in the project away from the area, especially small children.

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Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Our 2014 Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Thanksgiving 2014 will go down in my memory as a really good holiday!  Not everyone in the family was able to make it to our house for dinner, but those that were able to make it seemed to enjoy themselves!

The turkey was cooked to perfection, if I do say so myself!  It helps to cook it for several hours at a slightly lower temp than most people cook it at!  Here’s my recipe for an excellent turkey!

    1. Make sure the turkey is COMPLETELY thawed!  We put our turkey in the refrigerator the Friday before the holiday.  Yes it takes up a lot of room!  But this is the best way to thaw a turkey safely!  If you aren’t able to start yours thawing that early, use the cold-water-bath method.   (Here is a link to explain the technique further:  Tips for fast thawing.)
    2. Plan ahead!  Calculate how long you need to cook the turkey.  For a general rule, you should cook your turkey 20 minutes at 300°f for each pound it weighs.  For example, a 15 pound turkey will take 5 hours to cook at 300°f.  (20 minutes x 15 pounds = 300 minutes.  300 minutes/60 minutes per hour = 5 hours).  This way you will know how early you need to get up to prepare it before your scheduled dinner.
    3. On the day you plan to cook, at least an hour before you must have the turkey in the oven, pull your turkey out and get it seasoned.  What I do is I take the turkey out of it’s packaging.  Then I remove the plastic holder around the legs.  If it’s a metal holder I’ll leave it in.  They say you can leave in the plastic holder while it cooks but I don’t like plastic being heated up in my meat.  I will usually remove the plastic pop-up indicator as well.  (They’re never right anyway!) Then I place my turkey on it’s back in my roasting pan.  Cover it with olive oil and generously sprinkle on my spices.  I use Mrs. Dash Grilling Blends plus whatever I feel like grabbing from the cupboard.  Make sure you get your spices all over the bird as well as in the crevices!
    4. Stuff the turkey with 2 or three quartered onions and 4 or 5 cloves of garlic.  Don’t overstuff it.  These are just used for flavor and will be thrown out when it’s done.
    5. Put your turkey, uncovered in the oven at 400°f for 20 minutes.  Then turn down the heat to 300°f, cover the turkey, and cook it for 1/2 hour less than your calculated time.  Come back about once an hour to check on it and baste it with it’s own drippings.
    6. 1/2 hour before you need to pull the turkey from the oven, remove the cover, baste the turkey and let it finish cooking uncovered.
    7. Test your turkey with a meat thermometer before serving!  It doesn’t matter of the cooked indicator popped up or not, you need to check the temperature deep in the breast to make sure you have reached at least 180°!  Anything lower than that and you aren’t done!  Make sure that the skin between the breast and the leg is thin and translucent.  If it is still thick and opaque then that part of your turkey didn’t heat as well and your thighs may still be uncooked.  (This usually happens when the turkey wasn’t completely thawed before placing in the oven!)
    8. If you are at temp, and the skin is translucent, pull the turkey and set it aside while you finish all your other dishes.  I usually have someone else at the dinner help to carve the turkey, and another guest to mash the potatoes, and if anyone else wants to help at this point, I generally let them!  Give me a moment to enjoy my glass of wine before we all sit down to eat!

If you follow the temperature and time per pound directions for cooking a fully thawed bird, your turkey should turn out awesome every time!

This is how I cook my bird.  How do you cook yours?  Do you have any favorite seasonings you ad?  Tricks for moisture?  What about side dishes?  What are the go-to bring alongs that your family has every year?

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Podcast Depression Era Tips to Stretch Your Food Budget

Food on budgetWhile I was scrolling through FaceBook this morning, I came across this article:  Podcast Depression Era Tips to Stretch Your Food Budget.

I found it to be a very informative blog!  The tips on how to stretch your food budget is only part of the information they offer!  And in today’s economy, with so many of us still out of work or underemployed, these tips could really help us to keep our heads above water!

I am planning to use some of these tips for our after-Thanksgiving meals.  Once the turkey has been served on Thanksgiving, there will be a lot of meat still on the bones.  Here’s the plan:

#1. Remove all the meat from the bones, package it in 1 quart freezer bags, label them and put them in the freezer to be used in casseroles, sandwiches, and soups at a later date.

#2.  Saute garlic, onions, celery, and maybe a green pepper, add the now stripped bones, cover with water, and simmer for several hours.  Remove from heat, strain out the vegetables and bones, and freeze the broth in 1 cup amounts to be used in other dishes.  You can also just remove the bones, leaving the meat and veggies in the broth for added flavor.

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#3.  Instead of freezing the broth, let it cool in the refrigerator so the fat rises to the top and solidifies.  Remove the fat.  Then heat up the stock to make it liquid again, pour into sterilized canning jars, and can the mixture in your pressure canner.  DO NOT USE THE BOILING WATER METHOD!

For me, this is all going to depend on how much time I can devote to putting it all away!  The freezing method takes the least amount of time but the product should be used within a couple of months.  If you can, it can last several more months.  It all depends on the time you have and your individual budget!

I will have to say this, I am VERY thankful this year!  And even though money is tight, and I mean really tight, at least we have enough to keep a roof over our heads, food in our pantry, and the comforts of modern society at our fingertips!  I think this having to be more frugal is a good thing.  It is going to remind us that life is a journey full of ups and downs and as long as we spend our time (and money) wisely, we can weather just about any storm!

Have a wonderful week!  And Happy Thanksgiving!


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Vaccine reactions in cats

Ziva - My Youngest Cat

This is my baby, Ziva.  She is an energetic and talkative little girl who absolutely LOVES to play string and ball.  She is not a typical cat that prefers to sleep all day in some hidden place only to come out at night and keep the humans awake while she plays.  Nope, this little girl follows me all over the house all day.  Every time I get up to leave a room, she will get up and follow me.  Of course, she naps while she’s in the room, but she doesn’t SLEEP.  If you know what I mean!

Well, last week she started peeing on the carpet in my plant room.  And she would do it right in front of us!  So, when she got in trouble for it and I took her to the litter box to reinforce that’s where she should go, she demonstrated for me that she’s having trouble going.  And when she does go, it’s not very much.  So the next time she tried to go where she wasn’t supposed to I noticed that her urine was also tinged with blood.  “OK!  Not Good!”  I thought.  “Time for you, Little Missy, to go to the vet!” I told her.

The vet visit went fine.  Ziva is such a good natured kitty!  We put her on antibiotics and encouraged her to drink more water and eat more canned food.  After a week, her urinary tract infection systems were gone.  But, the vet wanted to follow up and make sure she was clear.

So, on Friday I took miss Ziva back to the vet for a followup visit.  And to my great relief, the uti is clear.  She still has some blood in her urine but the vet said it should go away with more water intake.  She then suggested we go ahead and give Ziva her booster shots for Rabies, and Feline Leukemia.  We were concerned about how much this visit was going to cost because her last visit cost me $157.00! This one, being a follow up wasn’t supposed to cost as much and each vaccine was only $20 each.  So we guesstimated that this visit would be between $60 and $70.  “OK, go ahead.” We told the vet.

We were so WRONG!  First, they wanted to charge us $119.00 for this visit.  $37.50 for the office call, $41.50 for another urinalysis, plus the $20 a piece for the vaccines!  What?  A followup isn’t free?  To check to see if your doctoring worked costs me how much money?  Wow!  We talked them into writing off the cost of the office visit.  But still!  What a crock!

Ok, I have to say this, IF this had been a doctor’s visit for me and the total cost had been $280 without insurance, this wouldn’t have been a bad deal.  I guess, because coming up with this much money in one lump sum is so difficult right now, this just seemed outrageous.

Anyway, Ziva didn’t do so well with her shots.   Within 20 minutes of getting them and just as we walked in the door to the house, she threw up.  And within another hour or so she really started acting strangely!  She seemed to be itching all over and especially between her toes.  She would jump up and start to run across the floor then suddenly stop and lick her paws or chew on her side.  And I could see fear in her pretty little eyes!  My poor baby suffered like this for several hours.  By bedtime, she had calmed down some.  Still had the itchies but was too fatigued to care.  She had no appetite and when she did eat she would throw up again.  I could tell she was running a fever too.  Not only did she put off more heat than usual, her ears were really pink.

By Saturday she was doing a little bit better.  Not itching so much.  Drinking more water and she was able to eat a little and keep it down.  But now she started shedding.  This little girl doesn’t shed much.  She’s an indoor cat, (mostly), and hasn’t had a need.  All of a sudden she’s shedding like mad!  Especially when she would scratch.  So, I wrote an email to the vet to explain her reactions.  And to let the clinic know how unhappy we were with them for not warning us that this could happen or what signs to watch out for should her reaction become a serious threat!  We also decided that we are going to change vets.  We need someone who is willing to explain everything to us especially the “why” they are doing something as well as the cost.  And someone who will respect my wishes that whatever we do for our pets, we do in an organic and holistic way.  I haven’t found that person yet, but I am looking.

Today I got a call from the vet.  She apologized for not warning us.  Her excuse was “Side effects are so rare we just forget to warn the parents!”  Hogwash!  Side effects are rare in children too but pediatrician are REQUIRED to warn the parents!

The moral of today’s rant is this, BEFORE you take your pet to the vet for their shots, research the shots and what is in them first.  ASK QUESTIONS!  What’s in it?  How will it affect my pet?  What signs to I watch for if they are having an adverse reaction?  Make sure you ask!

Another thing I have found out is that Rabies shots don’t have to be given on a yearly basis!  Just like the vaccines we give our children, pet vaccines also last several years.  One article I read said that the first rabies vaccine given to a pet can last 5 years.  Then the second one for 7 years.  So why then do our vets INSIST on vaccinating yearly?  What about the other vaccines?  Are they really necessary?

Then there is the government.  In the area where I live the ordinance only states that a dog must have a “current” rabies vaccination in order to receive a license.  They don’t define “current” and they don’t mention cats.  So, be aware of the risks.  Do your homework.  Ask questions.  And above all else, you have the right to say NO.  If your pet shows adverse symptoms after receiving their shots, don’t hesitate to tell the vet who gave them the shots.  Maybe even follow up with a letter to the manufacturer too.  The more we share what really happens, then maybe they’ll start to realize that these reactions aren’t as rare as they think they are!

Ok.  I”m done with my rant now!  Thanks for listening!


Election day 2014!

Election Day

Election Day 2014, will you be voting?

There are many places in our great country holding some very important elections!  The results of these elections could change the way our federal government operates for the next several years!  The Republicans currently have the majority of the House and the Democrats hold the Senate.  Whenever anyone says that the Republicans are keeping our congress from doing anything, we need to remember that it’s the Democrats, Harry Reid in particular, holding the Senate hostage.  Nothing can become a law without BOTH houses voting on it first so that it can THEN go to the president to be signed into law.  So when Obama says that the republicans haven’t presented him with anything to sign, he’s not really lying, he has Harry Reid running interference by preventing the Senate from voting on anything the Republicans may have written.

Our government is corrupt.  This includes our local, county, state and federal governments. How are we supposed to make any kind of an informed decision about important topics that need our vote?  The people running for office don’t tell us the truth about their qualifications or about what they plan to do for us while they are in office.  They just tell us why they think the other guy isn’t worth voting for.  Why do we keep falling for this kind of childishness?  When are we, as the voters, going to actually make a stand and change things?  When are we, as members of a community, going to actually attend the meetings and make our voices heard?

Election day is important.  But so are the monthly meetings and events held at our local levels.  Change starts at home.  If we want our federal government officials to actually govern on our behalf, then we need to make our local governments govern on our behalf!  And in the process, we will teach the next generation that politics is not about the power you receive when you are in office.  It’s about what you will do on behalf of your community to serve and protect ALL of us!  Not just those with the most money.

So today, when you are at the polls trying to decide who to vote for.  Do your best to vote for the person who either has, or will, do what the PEOPLE want.  If you know for a fact that a certain candidate serves the corporate interests at the expense of the individual constituents in their districts, DON’T vote for them!

Let’s all stand up for what is right and make a change today!  Lets do whatever we can to bring this great country back to the rule of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights!  Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or whatever, WE the PEOPLE have the RIGHT to a fair and efficient government that exists solely because we ALLOW it to exist.

Time to vote is NOW!

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