Saturday, January 31, 2015

Set it and Forget It Food

I do love when a new project overtakes me- and it does overtake me, and my time, and my focus, and my kitchen. This time it started with fire cider. It was the easiest home remedy yet. Put all the ingredients, coarsley chopped, into a jar and cover with vinegar. I used garlic, onions, hot peppers, ginger, tumeric, horseradish, lemons and oranges. Steep a couple weeks, strain and viola! A ready made cold, flu, and general "need to feel better" tonic. I will warn you, this potion is spicy! Mix with raw honey 50/50 to make an easy to take syrup (mix with additional water for a drinkable version). I followed this recipe and added citrus: That, sadly, was the beginning of the end for me. One little concoction and I was finished. Caput. Finito. It led me to a facebook post on fermenting something, that led to a forum, that led to another, and yet another. Two weeks later, I have Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Beet Kvass, Ginger Bug, fermented garlic, water kefir, milk kefir, kombucha, and probiotic lemonade- all simmering away on my countertops. Some I use daily, like milk kefir in smoothies (or today in the fluffiest pancakes I have ever made!) and water kefir that makes the most awesome soda replacement, and beet kvass with kombucha is my midday beverage. The fire cider and honey and fermented garlic, plus gingered water kefir were the remedies we did for one that got sick in our family this week and it worked really well. Another awesome, and unexpected bonus, a swig of water kefir before bed has made my reflux disappear! Again, as always, I have to say that I am no medical expert, and I do not endorse these things as medical advice. I humbly share my experience and opinion that probiotic nutrition heals a body and addresses root causes for symptoms in some cases. Here are some pictures of the projects:
If you want to try your hand at fermenting- it's easy and got so much good probiotics in it for you, some items you will need are: Jars, airlocks (not necessary but helpful), coffee filters or tightly woven cloths and rubberbands, christmas lights (not led, and only if your house is especially cold), grolsch bottles (if you bottle water kefir, kombucha, or lemonade for carbonation effects- get these for $1 a box at redemption centers), starters (for shipping only on the boards below) and fresh ingredients! There are some facebook pages that are wonderful for helping a newbie get started and they are "Kombucha Nation,""Kefir Grains, Scoby and Others to Share," and "Fermenters Kitchen." If you want to make your own whey- it is another disgustingly easy feat. Take milk kefir (after straining the grains) or plain yogurt and place in a finely meshed strainer like the cheap one pictured below- find this hanging on a peg near coffee in grocery stores (reusable plastic coffee filter), and place in strainer over a mug or bowl. Let strain overnight on counter or in fridge. Whey collects in the mug/bowl and you have a cream cheese replacement in your strainer. I use mine in dips and on toast with jam or on baked potatoes. The longer the cheese sits, the sourer it gets.
Lastly, on my list of things that work, but set it and forget it, is the next time you make cookie dough, double or triple it, and scoop the rest onto a cookie sheet. Freeze these balls, and place into a freezer bag. Next time you need a dessert or gift in a hurry, you can place the frozen balls on a sheet and bake as usual. These were sugar cookies I didn't bother to flatten and drizzled with easy lemon glaze.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Free Money Management Ebook

I have been using's free budgeting software for about a year now and I am not disappointed. I moved over to this one from my favorite 9.99 software Budgeting for Dummies that I used for YEARS before it finally stopped working with the newer computers. It was actually a struggle to keep my windows 98 computer just for this reason, I liked and used it so much. However, calendarbudget works just as well with the added uploadable bank transactions feature. However, I digress. When I went to sign in today, I found that they have a money management book for sale there and also saw that they give you the first 6 chapters in audio form for FREE! Feel free to visit them at for info on the book and lots of other free resources (IE lifehacks) and get the free audio chapters here:

Friday, May 16, 2014

New use for homemade toothpaste and repellent success!

On my facebook business page I mentioned how I insanely forgot to use my own repellent when out in the garden lightly raking for 30 minutes, and immediately got another tick bite;it was just like the one I wrestled with the effects over for months last summer. I was bummed and very angry with myself.
However, this weekend I was 2 days in the garden (read machete style, up-to-your-armpits in brush for 6 hours each day) WITH repellent and not one creepy crawly from my now famous Lyme yard; I was doubly impressed and immediately did a happy dance. Happy dance revealed my very disgusting hands and feet after a day of burying them in the sweet smelling soil, and soap was NOT getting out the ground in dirt; it was not going anywhere without a fight. I was about to head to the kitchen for some coffee grounds (which has had only partial success in the past) when I spied my fluoride free toothpaste sitting there. Since the baking soda and peroxide do such a great job cleaning my teeth, I scooped some out and scrubbed my hands. "Scrubbed" is actually a harsh term, because it all came off so easily and my hands were so SOFT! Another AHA moment in the Bilotta household. I will now keep an extra jar with my garden tools :) If you have not found a great recipe for either repellent or toothpaste yet, I have some ready to go at the Etsy shop link below :)

Friday, May 2, 2014


I know many of you are familiar with the site, but are you familiar with selling on it? I recently put my handmade products in a shop, as a start to my business, and I wanted to test the Etsy culture. It was easy to set up, used my paypal account that I already had set up, and the options to offer coupons, discounts, and various mailing options made it fun to plan. I love the favorite sites that help me to get a glimpse of the world of Etsy, and the amazing artists that call it home. It is not an expensive option, compared to hosting my own site and cart. If you have a talent for making tangible items, no matter what they are made of or their function, consider spending an evening putting together a site for it, and you might just find those creative juices flowing again! See my store here.... Thingsthatwork Go for it! Start your own store here

Monday, March 31, 2014

Gel fireplace tools

Looking for better ways to do things with less money, sometimes takes ingenuity and a striking piece of luck.  I found how to make my own gel fuel in a previous post, saving 1/2 to 3/4 of the cost.  But to put those babies out, especially quickly, while meddling with a hot ceramic log in front of them, warm grate panels, and high flames, was more of a challenge.  I used my sister's idea of long handled pliers and the sterno tops to smother the flames, however, I am not as dexterous as she, it appears.  I dropped the tops to the side, back, and in between of the pots before I ever put a single one out- and that was in a moment of anxiousness because I lit 3 at once and the flames were dangerously high with all three going at once. I had an aha moment when I realized my wide mouth lids for canning offered much more surface area for both snuffing and holding.  However, I still was not great with the pliers; it felt much too clumsy if an emergency happened.  Looking online I found the real snuffers for gel fireplaces and was resigned that my ineptitude was going to put me out $20 for the sake of safety.  Being the procrastinator I am, I also didn't order it right away, and that was a blessing in disguise.  While gathering jars for my next home business project, I saw a neat little magnetic tool that was always on the shelf to lift lids out of boiling water. It turned out to be the perfect thing to pair with the large lids for snuffing needs, which is rare now that we usually shed a tear when the fire burns itself out on its own.  The best part?  It cost me all of 98 cents!  WOO HOO.  I love a deal!