Category Archives: Product Reviews

Cast Iron Cooking

Cast Iron Cooking

I received my first cast iron skillet this year for my birthday and was intimidated because I knew there was a special way to clean and care for it but I didn’t know what that was. The skillet set in my cabinet for 4 months until I developed the courage to tackle it. Much to my surprise and embarrassment it is really simply to care for. Hand wash, wipe dry and spray lightly with cooking oil, that’s it. I was told if you don’t care for them correctly they will rust and just be ruined and that turns out to be false, if it does rust all you need in a little steal wool and a lot of elbow grease.  The friend who gave it to me also made the point of saying what a great weapon it would make because it is so heavy, she’s right about that. So be for warned, come into my kitchen and start trouble and you will get to meet my skillet. If you leave trouble out of it you are welcome to come in and join me for a meal anytime, I will even let you help clean up so that you can get over your own cast iron fears.

Possum Living

Possum Living


The book Possum Living by Dolly Freed has a very interesting concept. However it was written in the 1970’s by a teenage girl so it has limitations. It is a quick and easy read about “how to live well with out a job and with (almost) no money”, and was a wonderful resource for someone looking to live this lifestyle in the 1970’s. In 2012 the book is outdate and the author herself retracts portions of the book chalking it up to youthful arrogance.  Chapters I found most helpful include: Gardening; Housing; and We Rassle with Our Consciences. That last chapter being most important. The author describes the necessity to let go of other people’s opinions of you in order to be free to live the life style that you choose. She goes on to describe why she lives this way; she says she is very lazy. Anyone who grows and preserves their own food, does their own home repairs and runs 3 miles a day is not lazy at all. I get a since that she should have described her self as a freedom lover extreme, she wants the freedom to do what she wants when she wants it and that means living on as little money as possible so she can choose to have a job out side the home or not to.

In the chapter on gardening she describes having the largest garden her property could support. She also plans her gardens so that she can get 2 to 3 crops out of each space per year. She goes on to describe why she chooses not to grow some crops such a squash, because it is so abundant that the neighbors are always trying to give it away so why take up the space to grow your own when you can get all you want from the neighborhood. She also describes foraging for wild food or unwanted food like fruit or nuts from the neighbor’s tree that will just rot if someone doesn’t pick it. It these cases you should always get permission first. She also utilizes wild meat whenever possible eating a lot of fish and turtles from local bodies of water and raising her own chickens and rabbits in the cellar. Meat being one of if not the biggest expense in most people grocery budgets I understand the need to cut that expense. Learning to preserve your crop is vitally important to someone who wants to live on as little money as possible, so canning, smoking, dehydrating, root cellaring are all topics touch on in this book. However the book does not go into depth on any of these subjects. The author forces you to look else where when learning the how to’s.

The last chapter worth looking at is the one on housing. She describes the need to own the building and property that you live on. Because other than property tax you have no monthly bill to pay in order to keep a roof over your head. She talks about saving up money until you can buy something outright and not take a loan. She describes sheriffs sales and forecloses, as well as buying rundown property and doing the work yourself to make it livable. (in her opinion livable does not mean nice, no frills no large open space just enough room to do what needs to be done) She describes going to the local library and checking out books on subject she is not familiar with and just jumping in. She also describes using found or recycled materials to do home repairs with. Again descriptions but not how to’s so you’re on your own to figure that out.

The other tips she gives in this book are all things if you are considering this lifestyle you would have thought of. Like buying everything you can used to save the money, find free ways to entertain yourself, utilize community resources, etc.

Some thing she talks about I just flat out disagree with such as not getting proper permits for fishing and hunting, dropping out of school in the 7th grade, using the home remedy of moonshine to cure just about anything that ails you, and hunting pigeons as a good meat source.

She talks a lot about numbers such as how much she pays for electricity per month but it is all for the 1970’s and is very hard to understand what that would be today. For this information I would suggest you turn to the internet.

Your Baby Can Read Review

Your Baby Can Read Review

Your baby can read is an early learning reading system designed for babies as young as six months. There have been lots of reports about this product both good and bad and most recently a lawsuit filed for false advertising. The FCC and the people against the system are fighting over the use of the word read. Does this system teach your child to read or just recognize words, I don’t know. We tried this system, we bought ours at Wal-Mart one level at a time and Sophia loves it. We don’t watch TV so watching these videos is a treat for her. They are pretty poor quality DVD, they don’t have any animation or special effects so they are pretty tame when compared to mainstream media.

The system includes different things depending on where you buy it at, ours came with the DVD’s and interactive flashcards. The system you buy on line includes interactive books and a parent’s guide showing you how to use the system in addition to the DVD’s and flashcards. I would suggest that one, just for the parent’s guide because the one you buy from the store doesn’t tell you anything except to watch the DVD’s and use the flashcards. The flashcards have a pull out picture that illustrate the word on the card. Such as the word cats has a picture of three cats on it.   The DVD’s are between 20 and 30 minutes long and include a question and answer game at the end that is optional to watch.

How we use the system; we bought the first set when Sophia was 9 months old and she would watch the DVD one time per day and use the flash cards 1 to 2 times per day. Within 2 months we bought sets 2 and 3. We continued to let her watch one of the DVD’s not more than twice a day and used the flash cards 1 to 2 times per day. After a few months of this she would get really excited when we asked her if she wanted to watch her movie and would point if the flash card said point, clap if it said clap etc.  At about 14 months she loved to do the flash cards and would do them as many times a day as I would let her so we would do it a bunch but still only watched the DVD’s one DVD at a time not more than twice per day. By now she was pointing to body parts such as eyes, ears, fingers etc. She would say some of the words on the cards such as dog and hi. By 16 months she knows all 25 cards that we have by sight of word only (not looking at the picture). And her verbal skills have exploded she now will say all the words, do the actions and point out all body parts that we have cards of. She says words that are only on the DVD’s that we don’t have flashcards for and she says new words every day.  We just discovered we could write any word that she has a flashcard for and she will ‘read’ the word to you. She will also ‘read’ the words she has flashcards for if she sees them in a book. She is also now singing along with the songs like old McDonald and the itty bitsy spider.  She acts out what she sees on the video such as when they say shake your head yes or no she does. When they sing the song head and shoulder she touches the appropriate body parts.  Outside of the system we do read lots of books and talk to her all the time, she asks “what’s that” about anything new she see and we tell her what it is.

So my opinion of the program is favorable, does it teach her to read? I don’t know that she is reading just yet or if it is word recognition but she enjoys it. It has help with her vocabulary; she loves to be read to, she really enjoys watching the DVD’s, especially when I act them out with her, she asks to do the flashcards at least 3 times or more per day and gets upset when I refuse to do them. So she likes the program, and has learned things from it. I will continue with the program through all the sets and will do the program with any future children. All kids are different so they might not like it as much as she does but that is ok. All in all I suggest this program to other parents and would buy it again myself.

Simply in Season Cookbook Review

Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. The motto of this book is “Recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More-with-Less” I found this to be spot on.

I got this cook book as a birthday gift in early August. I started cooking in the summer section and found the recipes easy to follow and informative.  I also like that the authors include mini stories throughout each chapter. I found this book to be great for people who have their own gardens or just want to eat things that you can find at your local farmers markets in season. This is pretty economical because you can buy most produce at farmers markets; farmers market produce is priced just about the same as produce in the grocery store and you get to ask questions about how the food was grown. Most organically grown produce is cheaper than what you get in the grocery store. To save even more money grow them yourself.  I have found great tips on how to store and preserve food in this cook book. Each season includes recipes on canning and preserving.  I look forward to cooking my way though the other seasons and will update you on how it goes.