Gettin’ Zesty

At least, I hope I will be, soon.

I mentioned (I think I did) that I got a counter top canner. Okay, okay, it’s also a pressure cooker, a steamer, and I think (if I’m correct), it will detail my car. Yeah.

After not being able to can for over a year, you know what its destiny in this house is.

Why haven’t I been able to can? Well, everything’s relative. First, we were getting ready to move. No point in lugging freshly filled jars several hundred miles. Next, we stayed in our RV for about nine (or was it ten?) months. That was a great experience, but I was not going to can there. And where would I store the jars? And then, we got in this apartment, and the range is… catty-wampus. Not just the range itself but the burners. Ugh. Management isn’t interested. In this gal’s opinion, it’s not safe. NO WAY am I putting a heavy canner on a crooked burner.

Upon getting the canner, I put up several quarts of carrots. (I used to do pints… but you’ve heard about the appetites of growing boys, haven’t you?).



Several years ago, I made a large citrus purchase, and was able to dehydrate zest, can quite a bit and we still ate plenty fresh. In fact, I used that very zest when I came up with my spiced tea recipe.

I was really enjoying that tea. I ended up polishing off the zest!

That’s okay, right? I got my canner! So, it’s time again to order some citrus and put up the zest and some fruit. yes, I could do marmalade, but we’re not marmalade people, and besides, I want to dry all the zest.

These are not my oranges. :(

These are not my oranges. 🙁

I placed my order after Christmas to avoid the holiday heavy demand. I expect my citrus to arrive in early January, giving me plenty of at home time to do the prep and canning.

Well, no.

Also not my oranges.

Also not my oranges.

Mother Nature disagreed, and shipping was delayed (or so I’m told) because of weather conditions.

I called this morning and was assured the citrus was going out today and would be here by the end of the week.


Hospitality on the Go

Hospitality on the Go

My primary motivation for food storage is economic, and second, convenience. But a third great opportunity that grows out of the first two is that of service — to the community.

The author of I Dare You to Eat That writes how  large part of her food storage motivation involves the ability to share with others. Its much the same for me. If I know that I have adequately prepared for my family’s immediate and future needs, it frees my spirit to be able to share our blessings with others. One of the most personal ways we can do that is through sharing home cooked meals and treats. There is little that is as fulfilling as simply preparing a double portion of dinner, and delivering one to the family with a sick mother – mama gets the evening off, as well as a hot meal to enjoy herself and serve her family.

Recently, my husband asked about extra treats I’d prepared for Christmas. He’d learned that one of his friends – a security guard in his building – was scheduled to work both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

So, Christmas Day, we all set out (hubby, me, the boys, and even the pups) for a walk across town to drop off some treats.

We took some homemade truffles.

and we also took a small applesauce spice cake.

I confess, I’m enjoying the packaging. One of the things I’ve struggles with when it comes to sharing food is containers. Most of our containers are glass or metal, and I don’t want those I’m gifting with meals to be saddled with the extra work of washing and returning a dish. These lovely items from Hospitality on the Go are one solution, and a great one. Since they’re paper, they’re light and they can be recycled (or composted). There’s no need to spray with non-stick (or grease and flour) when baking.

And I love the messages printed on the outside.

Want to learn more about these great containers? Visit and send a message to my friend, Jennifer. She’ll be happy to help you out, and you’ll be supporting a small business owner.

I was supplied with sample products from Mary & Martha by Jennifer Snyder, Independent Consultant for testing and review purposes. Any opinions expressed in this post are mine alone. This post contains no affiliate links.

Happy New Year!


Merry Christmas 



CAT Tourniquet

Here’s a little something for your first aid kit, and it’s a step past the band-aids and antibiotic cream that come in the standard first aid kit nowadays.

438da2a6e339387f23466d7669489a1de61dbb1fThis CAT Tourniquet (combat application tourniquet) is a serious tool for your first aid needs.

At first, I had the sensation that it was overkill. But then I mulled it a bit and we had a scare here at home. No limbs were lost – actually, there was no bleeding, and you know how these things are: they happen fast, even though it feels like a long time, and (happily) this time everyone was fine.


I got a front-row seat style reminder of how the mind works under this extreme stress. Afterwards, a friend commented how she was so glad to hear how I’d stayed calm and focused.

Calm? I don’t think so.

I certainly didn’t feel calm. I admit – I probably looked calm, and sounded that way. But the entire time, my mind was racing through what I knew about first aid, how what I’d been taught to do wasn’t working, thinking about why it wasn’t and how I could (as fast as possible) adapt my surroundings and resources so that I could accomplish what needed to happen.

In the end, as I said, everyone was fine. And I got a great reminder – without the expense of prolonged injury –  that the mind does not function optimally when under massive and sudden stress. I knew what to do, but I lost precious seconds improvising when what I’d been taught had to be adapted.

Back to the tourniquet. When I first examined it, it seemed to be over the top for our needs. And really, who needs a tourniquet when you have a belt? And I could just use a length of rope, or paracord… and do I really need a place to write the time? I didn’t think so.

My new answer is… Yes. Maybe need is a strong word, but it would definitely be a very good thing to have.

A tourniquet should only be used in extreme circumstances. Please, please – if you haven’t had formal first aid training, find a class local to you and take it. It’s important to know what needs to be done – and what shouldn’t be done – with specific injuries.

But I have been reminded – if we have an extreme injury, one that is appropriate for the use of a tourniquet – my own adrenaline will be off the charts, and no matter how calm  and collected I remain on the surface, I may not be thinking at my best. So, I’ll fall back on that first aid training, and I’ll be glad to have a place to 9e15182db128c3f895caaee6162e733a591d5049write the time directly on the tourniquet – when emergency services arrives, I do not want to tell them, “I don’t know,” when they ask how longs it’s been there, and I don’t want to trust myself to remember to look at the clock if I’m preventing someone from bleeding out.

Twist the windlass (that horizontal bar) to adjust the tourniquet.

Twist the windlass (that horizontal bar) to adjust the tourniquet.

The windlass provides a simple but effective way to tighten the tourniquet. I can think of no more important characteristics for a first aid tool than effective and simple.

Finally, honestly – in an emergent situation, if I have to run and get a belt or paracord to use, I can. But if I have the right tools in the first aid kit – well, right there, I saved some of those precious seconds.

I’ll say it again — if you haven’t had first aid training, seek it out and take the class. If you have – brush up. Be sure your home first aid kit is in order.

And hug your family.


I received a sample of this product at a discount for review purposes.
Any opinion expressed is mine alone.
This post contains affiliate links.


Copper Mug

Apparently, cocktails in a copper mug are a “thing” among cocktail drinkers.

I had no idea until I started seeing them appear on certain retail sites. It’s not surprising I had no idea, since 1., I’m not a cocktail drinker, and 2., I’m not into the bar scene.

copper mugBut, as I watched these copper mugs float around, over, past, and through my computer screen, I found myself wondering…

Why? Why just cocktails?

Read through my posts here, and even more so on Facebook, and you’ll quickly realize our plates for daily meals are metal. There’s a reason for that.

The reason is called: children.

Yes, we could have used plastic plates. But they either don’t last, or you can’t put them in the dishwasher, or both. Our handy and reliable plates may look like they’re for camping, but they have lasted longer than any other plates we’ve had (since starting a family) combined.*

Our boys have been drinking out of the matching mugs for years. They don’t break.

So, I look at these copper mugs and think WHY would you only use them for cocktails? These guys should last a lifetime.

They look great, too. These would be beautiful hanging by the counter or sitting on your hutch.

I doubt I’d use one for coffee in the winter, for the same reason I usually don’t use our metal mugs in the winter: The coffee gets cold too fast. They metal really conducts the heat straight outta the cup. But they’d work well in the summer.

The one drawback I find is that they are not dishwasher safe. I am not sure if that’s the dishwasher or the detergent. Regardless, the manufacturer requires they be handwashed.

We have several of these mugs at home now, and I’m sure they’ll get used plenty (even if it’s not for cocktails). But just in case you’re curious, here’s a recipe (originally found on It won’t be consumed in our house anytime soon — but if this sounds good to you, enjoy.

a55a0d3f8a22b2d5cb932407959c65a2bbedefe4Moscow Mule Cocktail

Combine the above. Add a 

In all seriousness… there is definitely a place in our home for ceramics, and we do enjoy pulling out the nice dishes for holidays and celebrations. But for daily life, and long lasting use, we stick with metal. This mug is a great combination of visual beauty and endurance. I’m happy to have it in my kitchen.

*No we don’t have a microwave. No, I don’t miss it. Why, yes, you can use your metal plates in a slack oven to reheat food. 🙂

I received a mug, pictured on this page, at a discount in exchange for this review. Any opinion expressed is mine alone. Affiliate links are used in this post.

A Non-Traditional Canteen? Not exactly!


Oh, look! They sent me a pink one!

When I found out I was going to receive a sample of the Xtreme Canteen, what I really expected was a water bottle. That’s what it looks like in the company pictures — I nice, stainless steel water bottle. The fact that they call it a canteen didn’t sway me. After all, what is a canteen but portable water storage, traditionally made largely, if not completely, of metal.


Those thick walls keep temperatures steady.

Upon actually receiving the Xtreme Canteen, however, I no longer think of it as simply a water container (although it would serve nicely as one). THIS is a vacuum thermos — it keeps liquids hot for up to 12 hours, and cold for up to 24 hours.

It’s stainless steel, so no worries about rust, fragility, or any chemicals leaching. I know a lot of people who keep store bought plastic bottles of water (a little or a lot) in their cars “just in case.” This really worries me because, particularly as the car heats up in the sun, chemicals are leaching out of those plastic bottles into the water. With this canteen, that is not an issue.

canteenThe Xtreme Canteen comes in several colors. The paint used was specially selected to prevent sweating when your canteen is full of a cold beverage. I got pink (and have specifically been asked NOT to send it to work with my husband…).  😉

The canteen holds 32 ounces- so a full pot of coffee, or a good amount of water to keep you hydrated through the day.

canteenThe lid has a ring for easy carrying, and a silicone gasket to prevent leaks.

If you’re still looking — know that the Xtreme Canteen fits right into a stocking. Might fill it up pretty high, but will easily slide right in there. At the time of posting, however, it’s not Prime eligible, so don’t put off ordering if you want it by Christmas.

I received a sample canteen from Xtreme Canteen at a discount in exchange for an honest review. Any opinion expressed is mine along. Affiliate links are used in this post.

COB LED Lantern

LED lanternThis is an excellent LED lantern for multiple purposes.

COB stands for Chip-On-Boad. COB LEDs are designed to put out more light using less energy. As a result, you get a seriously bright light source from a small device that pulls comparatively little electricity.

It takes up very little storage space since it collapses, which makes it great to store for power outages or emergency needs. It runs on just 3 AA batteries and draws very little power, so it will last a long time in use.
It’s VERY bright, as well as being lightweight. The handles are useful for carrying, can be adjusted to hang the lantern, and also fold away neatly for minimal storage or carrying space.


For what it’s worth… It’s the beginning of December folks, and I have noted: collapsed, this lantern (like its cousin) fits perfectly into a stocking.

I received this product at a discount in exchange for an honest review. Any opinion expressed is mine alone. Affiliate links are used in this post.

Spiced Tea, From Scratch.

I did it, you guys.

IMG_0989When I was a kid, “spiced tea” was a staple in our house in the winter. It showed up near the holidays, and we’d work our way through the jar my mom made.

You might remember it — it was a mixture of instant tea, Tang (yes!), instant lemonade and spices.

I loved that, and I have missed it. Yes, I could make it, but no way can I manage all that sugar. Once, I tried making it with the sugar free mixes, but the measurements were off, and it wasn’t the same.

Last week, I thought, “Why not try from scratch?” I do have a ton (well, not a ton, but many, many pounds of loose tea I bought from Eden Creek Farm).

If this isn’t it, it’s durn close.

Sorry about the wrinkly table cloth. And YES, I was working. I was, um, MEASURING those crochet hooks for something I was writing. Yes, that's it...

Sorry about the wrinkly table cloth. And YES, I was working. I was, um, MEASURING those crochet hooks for something I was writing. Yes, that’s it…

Spiced Tea that Tastes Like My Mom’s. Almost.

Per one pot (I used my French press, 32 ounces):

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon loose tea (or four tea bags)
  • 1 tablespoon dried orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 packets of stevia*

Put all in the bottom of the French press and cover with boiling water. Let steep 3 minutes, then depress the plunger.


*If you grow your own stevia, you’ll have to figure out what works for you. The stevia I grew in Texas, about 1 teaspoon dried leaf would have done the job. For stevia not in packets… experiment, I guess. Each of the packets I used *says* it’s the equivalent of 2 teaspoons’ sugar sweetness. I think it’s sweeter than that, myself.

BullDog Rechargeable Lantern

rechargeable lanternThis is rechargeable lantern from BullDog is excellent for multiple purposes.

It takes up very little storage space since it collapses, which makes it great to store for power outages or emergency needs. It runs on multiple power sources, draws very little power, so it will last a long time in use.

This rechargeable lantern can be powered in three different ways

  • 3 AA batteries or
  • Solar power (there are recharging panels in the top) or
  • using the included charger cord.

The lantern also features a USB power out port.

The lantern is VERY bright, as well as being lightweight. The handles are useful for carrying, can be adjusted to hang the lantern, and also fold away neatly for minimal storage or carrying space.

I have both this lantern and a nearly identical one that is NOT rechargeable. Each is an excellent tool, I personally prefer this lantern. The ability to recharge from an external power source – OR using solar – OR to use standard AA batteries gives me lots of options. If I’m in an emergent situation, I want as many options as possible.


By the way… this little lantern, when collapsed, happens to just perfectly fit inside a Christmas stocking.

I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Any opinion expressed is mine alone. Affiliate links are used in this post.