Friday, August 23, 2013

Wash Day

Recently I received a box of Woolzies Dryer Balls to try out and I decided the perfect time to give them a shot was on the loads and loads of laundry that comes back with us when we go camping.
Now first keep in mind. I do not use store bought laundry detergent.  Some while back we switched to homemade for several reasons.  If you are interested in reading more about that follow this link. So please keep in mind, your results might be different than mine.  

Some of the claims about Woolzies dryer balls are:
Softens naturally
Reduces drying time by 25%
Reduces Static
Helps eliminate wrinkles

Now I have to say, I have a old year 2000 Kenmore dryer that takes a long time to dry clothes.
It usually takes at least two full cycles, 60 minutes each to dry our clothes, 120 minutes total.
Using the six Woolzies, drying time has reduced down to about 90 minutes or so.  Right now that doesn’t hit us as hard simply because we are living in military quarters so we do not pay for our electricity but when I move back to Fairbanks  I can imagine this would be a really big bonus. 
Also when I pull the clothes out they are definitely softer without the over powering perfume smell that laundry sheets usually impart.   The towels are soft and fluffy, my sons shirts which I bleach like crazy are not as "crunchy" as they typically are. 
As for static, its nonexistent with these.  No socks sticking to shirts, underwear sticking to pants or whatever. 
The only claim that I cannot really say anything about is the “helps eliminate wrinkles”.
There isn't a noticeable difference there but then I’m not exactly reliable about pulling out the clothes out of the dryer and folding them and putting them away right away so they have usually a bit of time of just sitting in the laundry basket, at the bottom of the stairs waiting for either my husband or I to lug it back up. 
Now after all this said, I have to add my extra two cents.  I love the fact that I can reuse these over and over.  The paperwork that arrived with these said they can be reused for over 1,000 washes.  Between the shorter drying time and the ability to reuse the dryer balls this is worth its weight to me as I’m all about saving a bit of money.   
Now onto the hard figures.  I’m going to take figures from Amazon simply because I do not have easy access to the cost of dryer sheets at the grocery store.
The cost online for Bounce Dryer sheets, 160 count is $6.84
That means if you use at least one sheet for each load that goes into the dryer it’s going to cost you .04 for each and every load.
If you purchase a box of 3 Woolzies directly from the site it will cost $17.99 plus 6.95 shipping.
Now seems like a lot to spend until you calculate it.  $17.99 divided by 1000 loads.
That means you will spend .01 per load.
Okay, .04 per load or .01 per load. Not too big a difference however there is the added benefit that you are not exposing your family to the numerous harsh chemicals which are toxic to the environment and possibly even more dangerous to your family. 

All in all, I suggest them thoroughly and I will be stocking up on a one or two more boxes, just so I have a few extras.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Updates from the garden SQUIRREL ATTACK!

Where do I begin? Well, a good place to start is at the beginning I guess.
Yard is looking rather unkept. Lawnmower broke around this time!

Yes, I've been away.  With our move coming closer and closer we've been absorbed in other pursuits, namely preparing ourselves, our household for our final move as my husband retires from the US Army.
I've been jokingly saying to my husband that this years garden is the "Do whatever you want" garden.
 Because really, this year we planted seedlings haphazardly here and there with no clue what it was that we were planting. 

Sweet Potato vine recycling a canvas bag that originally held dried corn.

We threw down seeds and then a month later tried to figure out what in the world we planted there.
We know by the leaves that the vine growing near the tomatoes was obviously a cucumber but which one did we plant again?
We know that we planted multiple winter squash but which ones did we choose again?  We know that we have multiple tomatoes but which one is which again? Oh and obviously some of our eggplant seedlings did actually survive because "look at that! A new type of eggplant! Never seen that one before!"

Beginning of July

This years garden is the "SURPRISE! GUESS WHAT I AM!" Garden.
I guess that is our theme.

This year, we move forward with our garden with the knowledge that everything we produce here has to be dried.  The transportation companies that will be responsible for shipping our household goods (aka OUR STUFF) will not ship homemade canned goods, only storebought.  This means no diced tomatoes, no spaghetti sauce, no homemade rotel, no pickles, none of it.
Instead, I will be making things like spaghetti sauce but then I will dehydrate it, and possibly make it into a powder that I can then rehydrate later for spaghetti sauce.
I will write more about that later, that idea is still a work in progress as tomatoes do have a lot of sugar in them so it makes it difficult to grind it down to a nice fine powder that won't stick to everything (including my grain mill).

So next, this years pests have increased in size, literally.  Now instead of hornworms, cabbageworms and striped cucucmber beetles we have rats, rabbits, groundhogs and squirrels.  I think I miss the hornworms and cabbageworms honestly because the animal varieties of pests do much more damage.  So far this summer we have harvested two small cucumbers, four large cucumbers, and three ripe tomatoes and one green tomato, and handfuls of eggplants, mild jalapenos, hungarian wax banana peppers, and kale.  Thankfully, the pests have left the herbs alone. As of this date, the squirrels have now managed to eat 16 tomatoes.  We have tried multiple ideas to keep the squirrels away and so far each one has more or less failed.  We first put up fencing thinking, maybe, just maybe it was rabbits.  Nope, we were wrong.  Our biggest hint was the half eaten tomatoes that lined the top of the fence like trophies.  That's obviously not rabbit behavior.  Okay, so fencing the plants off was a failure. Next, hot pepper spray.  I used actually a mixture I made long ago of different varieties of hot pepper, horseradish, and apple cider vinegar. Just spraying this stuff on the tomato plants made my eyes and sinuses sting.
Came out two days later to check the garden. Yet another gorgeous Brandwine tomato, gone.  The stem and small parts of the chewed tomato remained. 

Okay next, Carnivore urine, ordered online on I spread this rather stinky stuff liberally.  Our garden smelled like my old cat Mittens had used it as a litter box and it was way overdue for a cleaning.
Obviously our squirrels are not bothered by olafactory assaults such as these because a day later, another tomato had been used as a mid day snack.  Half of it remained. Maybe the squirrels appetite was diminshed by the smell of old urine.

Then on a suggestion from my in-laws we got a faux owl with a bobble head.  I also found online that some report success with a diversion tactic.  Feed the squirrels corn and peanuts in one area of your garden and they'll leave your more prized items alone.
Well neither worked. They chomped right on down on one of the Champion tomatoes. I don't know if it was because they just didn't like the taste of the Champion tomatoes or was it because they were all too full on their buffet of corn and peanuts but they didn't eat the entire Champion tomato like they typically do to the Brandywines. 
It was just mentioned to me by a fan on Facebook (yes, thanks Amy!) to try bloodmeal so that will be our next avenue.  I will come back and report how its working soon after. 

Thankfully, the squirrels have obviously decided that the eggplants, grapes, kale and hot peppers are obviously not as tasty so we have had some reward for the work we invest into it.


I do have to admit now, I am so grateful that I did not have to deal with pests such as these in my first or second year of gardening. If I had, I probably would've thrown in the towel. Now, I just meet with fellow gardeners in my neighborhood and we commiserate with one another as we all report "yet another tomato gone" while shaking our heads sadly as if we were mourning the loss of a loved one.
This all to be followed with the next obvious question "how do we get rid of these pesky critters?" Unfortunately we all live on a military post so shooting them is out. Trapping them would normally work but then we would have to drive them all the way off the military post where they would become someone elses problem. Plus we would have to buy the trap, and honestly, we are not really looking to keep spending more and more money on our garden this year since we can't really process our homegrown vegetables and fruits like we used to.  So instead we shrug for now and accept that you win some, you lose some.  And hope that the squirrels get tired of the taste of tomatoes. I'm not holding my breath however.

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