Category Archives: TIPS

Scams, as if we didn’t have enough to be aware of!!

This morning I received the email that I pasted below.  I’m doing this because  IT MAKES ME MAD and because I don’t want this to happen to anyone, especially all of you special people that read my blog.  It’s a shame that the world we live in has come to this and that we have to be careful of the food and products we buy but also careful of who we buy from.  ARE YOU AS MAD AS I AM?????    Here’s the email my special friend sent to me:

 

Subj: A big scam

JUST IN CASE.  I KNOW THIS DOES HAPPEN HOPEFULLY NOT TO YOU. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR RECEIPTS – THIS IS IMPORTANT

WITH THE CHRISTMAS SEASON COMING UP THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. PLEASE PASS THIS
ALONG!!!!!

CHECK  YOUR  RECEIPTS BEFORE LEAVING ANY   CASHIER’S   STATION!!!!! THIS   COULD HAPPEN ANYWHERE.

It happened at Wal-Mart (Supercenter Store   #1279,
10411 N Freeway 45, Houston   , TX   77037 a  month ago.

I bought a bunch of  stuff,  over $150, & I glanced at my receipt as  the
cashier was handing me  the bags. I  saw  a  cash-back of $40. I told her I
didn’t request a cash  back & to delete  it.

She said  I’d  have to take the $40  because she  couldn’t  delete it. I told
her to call a   supervisor.

Supervisor came & said  I’d  have to take it!  I said NO! Taking the  $40
would be a cash advance against my  Discover &  I wasn’t paying interest on
a cash advance!!!!!  If they couldn’t delete  it then they would have to
delete  the whole order.

So the   supervisor had the cashier delete the whole  order  & re-scan
everything!

The  second time I  looked at the electronic pad  before I signed &  a
cash-back of $20  popped up. At that point I told  the cashier  & she deleted
it.

The  total came  out right. The cashier agreed  that  the electronic pad must
be  defective.  (yeah, right!)

Obviously  the cashier knew  the electronic pad wasn’t  defective because she
NEVER offered me the  $40 at the beginning.

Can  you imagine how many people went  through before  me & at the end of her
shift  how  much money she   pocketed?

Just  to alert everyone.  My  coworker went to   Milford , DE Wal-Mart  last
week. She had her items rung up by the   cashier. The cashier hurried her along and  didn’t  give her a receipt.

She asked the cashier  for a receipt and  the cashier was annoyed and gave  it to  her.

My coworker didn’t look at her  receipt  until later that night. The  receipt  showed that she asked for $20  cash back. SHE DID NOT ASK FOR CASH BACK!

My coworker called Wal-Mart who investigated but could not see the cashier pocket the money. She then called her niece who works for the bank and her
niece told her  This is a new scam. The cashier will key in that you asked for cash back and then hand it to her friend who is the next person in line.

Please,  please,  please check your  receipts right away when  using  credit or debit  cards!

This is  NOT  limited to Wal-Mart, although they are the  largest  retailer so they have the most incidents.

I am  adding  to this….My husband and I were in  Wal-Mart  North Salisbury and paying with a  credit  card.  When my husband went to  sign  the credit card signer, he just happened  to  notice there was a $20 cash back added. He  told  the cashier that he did not ask nor want cash  back and she said this machine  has been messing up  and she canceled it. We didn’t think anything of it until we read this email. wonder how many “seniors” have  been, or will be, “stung” by this one????

THIS SCAM CAN BE DONE  ANYWHERE,  AT ANY RETAIL OR WHOLESALE LOCATION!!! Before leaving the cashier’s station..!!

CHECK YOUR RECEIPTBEFORE  LEAVING  THE STAND. I’VE SEEN PEOPLE DO JUST THAT. NOW I’LL  START!

If this is happening during the holidays, it probably happens everyday!!

August/September Preparation for a bad winter

I can’t believe it’s the end of July!  This year has flown by!!  It’s time to start aggressively storing food for the winter, gathering wood, and winterizing all the animal sheds and the house.  I’ll save the house for last since the next two months will probably turn out to be our hottest months.  The farm equipment should be finished for the year except for a couple tractors.  Hubby always cleans them up and checks everything out for worn parts and replacement parts.  I clean up the garden and yard equipment but still a little early for that.  The major thing now is the garden.  I will have more green beans to can this coming week and weekend, more squash to freeze, onions to store and more cabbage to do something with.  The tomatoes and peppers are near ready yet and the summer “duratio” did away with most of the fruit.  Luckily I stored lots last year.

Hubby worked on filling the wood house again today and the split stack is out of the rain.  We still have a large load to split and more down from the storm to cut & split for the following winter.

All of the hay is stacked and ready for winter and hubby is in the process of cleaning up the hay equipment.  The roofs have been taken care of and I have to put new interior tar paper in the chicken house.  All of the major fence repairs have been made and the pastures are being sheared now.

Making maple syrup on the farm

Why in the world would anyone think they could make maple syrup this time of year?, you might ask. Well, my reasoning behind this post is: “tell them now and they’ll be prepared in February or March of next year”. Maybe??
As you know if you read my profile, I love to do things the “old” way and I am fortunate enough to live on a farm that allows me to do a lot of those things. One is making maple syrup for our family and friends. Why make it when you can buy it at the stores? Because, it tastes so much better and the gratification of know ing you can do it yourself!! We do sell some on years of good sap flow.

If you have a maple tree in your back yard you can make your own just like we do (in a condensed version)!  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup or 20 gallons makes two quarts.  You could cook it off on the stove in your home.  You don’t have to have a sugar house to make your own syrup.

Here’s the instructions we use to make it in the sugar house with pictures and instructions:

First, watch for the right time and to do that you have to have a sugar maple tree of at least 15″-20″ across the girth of the tree (not circumference). In late February or early March wait for very sunny days and below freezing nights. When this happens the sap will begin to move up the tree from the roots. They’re sucking water out of the ground up through the body of the tree.     
Second, prepare your sap taps! The first ones I ever made, my Dad showed me how by cutting a 6″ limb from an elderberry bush. We carved all the bark and stuck a crochet needle through the little limb pushing the soft bark through to the other end. This limb is very soft and porous and will easily push out. You don’t have to wait until spring to do this. In the fall when the berries and leave have fell off the limbs you can cut the limbs then and make the tubes.   BUT, you can also buy the taps (sometimes called spiles) from old country stores (Lehmans) and I have found some at hardware stores or maple festivals. BUT, if you are making your own, continue on to clean out the 6″ limb until it’s fairly smooth and has a good hole for the sap to drain through.  We also use these plastic plumbing tees that allow us to hang the bucket from just like the metal spiles.  The tees are much cheaper!  Both last for a long time when cared for and the tees are easier to clean at the end of the sap season.

Next your going to drill two – three holes using a 3/8″ bit (match the drill bit to your tap) about 3/4″ to 1″ into the trees and about 3′ to 4′ off the ground.   DON’T WORRY, THIS DOES NOT HURT THE TREE!  The holes heal over within a month after the sap season.

Place the tap into the tree making sure it’s tight. If it’s not tight the sap will leak out around the tap and your wonderful sap is creeping down the side of the tree instead of out the tap into the bucket.

If the trees have thawed enough and the sun is hitting them the sap will immediately start dripping from the spout/tap (spile).  Just for fun, stick your finger under the drip and get a taste. It will taste just like cold water. It’s after the cooking that it starts to taste sweet. Also, at this stage it will be somewhat sticky. Let it drip all day and if it’s a good day ( below freezing the night before and very sunny come morning) you might want to check that bucket under the tap several times during the day.  Once the sap starts running good, your gallon bucket could be full and running over within a couple hours.

We use metal coffee cans for the gathering buckets. I use a nail to tap a hole in the top on each side and run a thin wire through and knot for the bail of the bucket. The gallon cans aren’t so heavy that they’ll pull the taps out of the tree if they get full and they will  get full and run over. We keep old milk cans between the trees for holding the sap each day and we keep a milkcan on the ATV for gathering when the trees are some distance apart.  At the end of the day we empty all the cans into the big holding tank.

This part of the work is probably the hardest! I work out of the home all day and it keeps my hubby quite busy emptying buckets all day long.

The taps will freeze up during the night and that’s okay. Usually by 9:00 A.M. on sunny mornings  the taps are dripping again and by noon on really warm up days he will have to empty all the buckets at least three or four times. We usually tap 10 – 12 trees each spring and if I was at home to help, we could easily double that. A few years back we bought a 250 gallon water tank and when the sap is running good,  it’s full in usually about 7 – 10 days.   Then it’s time to start making syrup.

Did I mention that a week prior to all the gathering we bring in a pickup load of four foot firewood for the firepit. Once the sap is gathered, hubby gets the fire started in the sugar house and starts pouring  the sap in the  pan over the firepit. We have all of this under roof because most of the time the wind is howling, it’s snowing, it’s raining, very cold and occasionally a beautiful day.  Here’s a couple pictures of the sugarhouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as the fire gets started, the sap is poured into all three panels of the sugar pan. This is done quickly so as not to scorch the pan or burn the sap.

Now the cooking begins!!! We have time now to fill up more milkcans or clean out the ones we’ve used. It all depends on how frisky everyone is and how good the sap is still running. The cooker is watched carefully once it starts boiling and the foam that builds up on the top is dipped off and thrown into a bucket. The foam can make it strong but the honeybees love it and we share those leftovers with them for extra food at this time of year. As the sap cooks off it will become thick and it’s moved from the larger panels of the pan into the smaller panel at the end of the pan where it gets thicker and thicker and sweeter and sweeter.

Reading this and looking at the pictures can be deceptive. This whole process of cooking can take as much as two days of working day and night. Shift work between all of us keeps everyone from getting tired too soon and making mistakes or deciding to take the syrup off too soon!! As the sap cooks and boils down, it is moved into the smaller pan gradually and watching the smaller panel is very critical. After about 100 gallons of sap has been cooked and moved it is left to cook quickly and to thicken. When we begin it runs out of the dipper like water but near the end of the process it runs out like thin syrup and it gets sweeter the thicker it gets. While this is happening in the smaller panel, the other two panels are kept full and cooking. The clear sap will start turning a beautiful amber-to-topaz color and we just keep adding the sap while the smaller panel syrup is ready to take out of the pan.

There is a plug and drain line at the end of the small panel and we have a very large stainless steel pot ready to drain the finished syrup into. We don’t use any thermometers, hydrometers or fancy gadgets to test the syrup. We’ve just learned to take it off by the consistency and taste of the syrup along with the color. This process of taking off the syrup is quick with several hands helping. The syrup must be moved quickly, plug the hose, and pour boiling sap from the larger pans to keep the pan from scorching. If it scorches we’ll have black burn flakes floating in the syrup at finish.

Once the first batch is in the pot I take it to the house and strained four or five times through 10-15 layers of cheesecloth and set aside to cool. This is also a fun part of the process because I have made fresh bread the day before, gathered a couple dozen eggs and prepare to make a delicious french toast and serve to all the helpers. Of course, everyone pours lots of “fresh from the sugar house” maple syrup over their toast.

While the second batch is cooking in the sugar house, we let the first batch cool and settlement from the batch settles at the bottom of the stainless steel pot. The settlement is actually maple sugar that can be separated at the end of the process, pour into a sheet pan and left to harden for snacking later. Talk about a sugar rush!!! It looks like harden brown sugar and tastes much like it too. Each time the syrup cools and settles, we run the syrup through cheesecloth again and keep the “sugar candy” separate. After three or four more heatings on the stove and three or four strainings, the syrup is ready to can. It will be boiling hot when it comes off the stove and poured in the sterilized jars. The jars are capped and the boiling syrup seals the jars.

We make sure that everyone that helped with the process is sent home with a jar of syrup, we sell better than half of the jars and we keep some for family/personal use for the rest of the year or until the next season. I’ll drop a few more pics of the processing just for grins and giggles!

Homemade Queen is my Lifesaver

http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2011/11/homemade-clorox-wipes.html#

Vacation is over and I want to personally thank “Jillee” for making my life so much easier and thrifty!!!THANK YOU JILLEE!!

A few months back I started my blog and about the same time I started my own boards on Pinterest. I love this site and I’ll explain why in another post later. I found Jillee’s site on Pinterest and this lady is the Homemaker Queen in my book. She has posted some wonderful recipes for homemade laundry soap ( liquid and dry), bodywash, glass cleaner, Miracle cleaner, dishwasher detergent and much more.

I hate going to the grocery store because I usually come home mad due to the prices of cleaning products, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. which leaves little room for buying actual food. Granted, we raise most of our food but there are some things that have become a habit or joy to bring home. Well, Jillee saved me so much money this past ten days that I feel like my checking account may not run dry anytime soon.

I made the bodywash first because my bottle of Dove had risen to $6.00+! It was very simple to make, with a coupon for the bar soap the total cost of the body wash was around 20 cents and it made three quarts. It cleans wonderfully and the only difference was it wasn’t as thick but I can remedy that by using less water next time.

Next I made the Miracle Cleaner for the shower and I was totally amazed and I did not have to fight the fumes and listen to hubby fuss about the smell. Then I made the liquid laundry detergent. The 125 oz Tide that I usually buy costs around $11.00. The cost of the ingredients for the homemade was calculated to cost about $1.19 for the same amount. I can scent it with essential oil drops for a few cents more and it smells like I want it to and BEST of all, my clothes are clean and fresh. My first batch made three gallons and my grocery list has shrunk considerably!!

GO JILLEE-I’m your life long friend from this day forward.

PINTEREST – My New Organizer & Memory

I mentioned in a previous post that I am a big fan of Pinterest and here’s my link if you want to visit: http://pinterest.com/ritascrafting/ . I love finding new gardening secrets/ideas, crafts, DIY ideas, sewing, good books and music from the other Pinterest boards. Most of all I love the fact that I can find gift ideas for my family and find the list easily. I can pin the recipes for cleaning and cooking in one spot and find it easily. I can look at what my friends are using/doing and try it myself. I can find some gorgeous decorating ideas, gardening ideas, and so much more.
To view the sites you have to join Pinterest but it’s really easy and you can add your own boards or just browse boards of others. It’s free!!!! By boards I mean groupings of favorites. I have seventeen boards which include DIY, Helpful Hints, Gardening, Wishlist, Family/Friends Wishlist, Music I Love, Books I’ve Read/Want to Read, Crocheting, Quilting, Favorite Blogs, Spring Cleaning & Decorating, Hunting & Outdoors, New Recipes, Beauty & More and a couple more. I’ll probably add some throughout the year and I add new pins to the boards a couple times a week. I would like to do it everyday but this time of year I spend a lot of time outdoors when I’m not at work and by the time I come in the house in the evenings I don’t care much for getting on the computer. I would rather shower and go to bed :)! Anyway, I just want to tell everyone about this site and hope you’ll check it out and maybe start your own Pinterest boards. I want to follow what you are doing!!

Good to Know

I have a wonderful calendar that I got free when I subscribed to Bottom Line newsletter.  Each month they have some wonderful tips that I found very helpful.  It is maddening to me to try to call a service you use (i.e., telephone, satellite, etc.) and you have to wait through a whole list of departments, sub-departments, and then wind up back where you started.  I honestly believe they do this in hopes you’ll give up and live with the problem you may be having.  Anyway, I digress, one of the helpful hints was “how to reach a human” and they gave me some FREE websites you can go to and find the exact person you need to talk to without all of the aggravation.  I haven’t tried them yet but plan to this weekend.  Three that are noted are 1)  www.lucyphone.com  2) http://www.GetHuman.com and 3) http://www.DialAHuman.com .  I’ll post later on the luck I have!!