Essential Facts about Vitamin C Serum and How To Make Your Own








Taking good care of your skin is very important for the fact that it is the most exposed organ of the body. The skin is naturally exposed to the damaging effects of UV rays which result in premature aging and cancers through cell damage. Even so, vitamin C has been identified to be an effective counter against skin aging through its constituent ingredients. In skin care, vitamin c serum has been widely used in many products as ascorbic acid for its skin restoration properties. The acid is established to decrease wrinkle depth, stimulate collagen and sometimes lighten pigments at low pH and concentration.
Important Facts about Vitamin C Serum

With the increased demand for products with vitamin c serum, consumers need to be cautious of substandard products that have now flooded the market. These products are produced by companies with the intentions of capitalizing on the skin care market trends. The products are packaged with miniscule vitamin c content and therefore offer no antioxidant benefit.
The effects of ascorbic acid are specific to an individual in that people do not get the same results. Some (about 60%) may enjoy the skin restoration benefits while others only get protection against cell damage induced by UV.

The serums and ascorbic acid creams are easily oxidized due to their unstable nature and once oxidized, they become worthless.

Due to the difficulty of transforming vitamin c into formulation, most ascorbic acid products have hefty price tags. The oxidation of serum can be identified by yellowing of the product and therefore the best thing to do with an oxidized cream is to discard it. Even so, this color check is not guaranteed since the very early stages of oxidation do not have the yellow tinge. This is also a challenge contributed by some manufacturers who tint their products.
Derivatives of vitamin C are significantly more stable, effective at lesser concentrations and cheaper. The new derivatives include Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbat , Magnesium ascobyl and Ascorbyl palmitate and have similar collagen stimulation properties.
The serum or base cream a person uses has no special benefits to the effect of the active ingredient and this should therefore not be used to justify the cost of the product.

DIY Preparation of Vitamin C Serum is possible although consideration will have to be made on the base ingredients.  These ingredients offer the added benefit of skin protection as well as supplementing the repair properties of the product. The preparation involves making use of simple ingredients easily available to purchase.

Vitamin C Recipe

The recipe mainly revolves around the active ingredient complementing a simplistic base formula. All products bought from the counter constitute;
- ¼ teaspoon Vitamin C with L-ascorbic acid  which is the active ingredient (powder form)
- 1 teaspoon of distilled water

- 2 ounces of Glycerin (optional)  or

- 2 ounces of a Cream base (optional)

If you want to scent it with a drop of 2 of lavender essential oil, you can do that as well.

Once you buy the L-ascorbic acid you glass container and dissolve with the water.  If you intend to make a serum, now mix in the glycerin (available at any drugstore or online), and put in a glass container.

If you want to make a vitamin C cream, mix the dissolved L-ascorbic into 2 oz. of a base cream.  There are many good ones out there, find the one that you like best for your skin.  You can also add the glycerin if you want to this as well, try it both ways and see what you like best.

Store you vitamin C serum or cream in the refrigerator and toss after 2 weeks.  Make it in small batches so it stays fresh.

It’s a good idea to do a small skin test first, and check your skin after 24 hours to make sure you don’t have an allergy, or that you’re one that vitamin C doesn’t do well with.  If it doesn’t do well with your skin, consider trying some of the vitamin C directives listed above.  Be sure to discontinue use if your skin test reacts.

Through this simple process, you can save significantly and still enjoy the great skin benefits. If however, you develop an allergy, you should desist from using the product consult a specialist.

By Valerie Garner

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Cool Crafts to Make At Home

Crafts To Make At Home






There are many reasons to get involved in doing crafts at home; some do it to exercise their creativity while others enjoy the hobby and earn money for their efforts. The pastime can become a profitable home business for those who excel in their crafts. Not only will they be able to pay for their supplies, they will be able to pay their bills. In order to become adept at a creative pursuit, it is necessary to evaluate both interests and current skill level.

Start by researching the crafts that are of interest and those that can be performed practically. Take an inventory of the proper supplies and training; schedule time to work and practice. Be aware that some craft materials will be toxic and should be handled carefully. Store them carefully and learn how to use them properly. Keep the work area clutter-free and properly ventilated in order to ensure safe operation. Keep small craft pieces in containers and label them; production can run smoothly and efficiently by staying organized.

It is not necessary to determine at the beginning whether to create crafts at home for a living. It is more beneficial to take the time to enjoy and develop the skills needed to create excellent work. When working on crafts at home stay consistent and gradually build up the quality of the work. It will take time to master each step; to develop the skills necessary to gain recognition for the work. Post samples online to present the works as they are completed; build an audience and communicate with others in the same craft.

Establish a website or blog to display images and promote samples through social networks. Crafts people build loyal followers and gain customers by developing an online presence. Be professional from the start; establish a logo, website, blog and gallery.

Keep in mind that making crafts at home is usually time-consuming and frustrating at the beginning. That is one reason why many people who get started in crafts give up before they develop the skills necessary. Take the time to develop a relationship with the online and offline craft community and elicit feedback about the work as it develops; do the same for others. There are literally hundreds of craft projects to choose from; here are a few to consider:

Animal Crafts
Bead Jewelry
Candle Making
Clay Figures
Clay Pots
Clay Projects
Cross Stitching
Doll Houses
Doll Making
Dried Floral Arranging
Fabric and Clothing Decoration
Flower Arranging and Floral Art
Glass Making
Stained Glass Projects
Kids’ Crafts 
Knitting and Crochet
Leaf and Flower Crafts
Metal Casting
Metalwork and Wire Projects
Mosaic Tile Crafts
Nature Crafts
Natural Dyeing 
Painting, many types
Paper Craft 
Personal Accessories 
Pipe Cleaner Crafts
Plastic and Adhesive Projects
Rug making, different types
Soap Making
Spinning Yarn
Stained Glass Making projects 

Go through the list and consider exploring more ideas to see what fits. Give craft items as gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and holiday presents. Make it a point to take notes to explore the most creative ideas and experiences from making crafts at home.

By Valerie Garner

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Cooking With Chocolate










While eating and drinking for pleasure, chocolate must surely top the list as a comfort food. Chocolate can be used for cooking as well as baking, although not all types of chocolate are ideal for use in your kitchen. Some of the most scrumptious desserts on this planet are made out of chocolate, but cooking using chocolate can be probably the most demanding as well.

Just before aiming to cook with chocolate, know several of the basics associated with it, for cooking success! The process of cooking chocolate comes from the seed of the cacao tree. It is use for cooking has a lot more cocoa butter, about fifty to fifty eight percent concentration, as opposed to chocolate bars sold in shops.

Generally known as baking chocolate, bitter, or unsweetened chocolate, this sort is actually produced from hardened chocolate liquor. The cacao beans are ground and liquefied until it becomes the liquor. The fluid is then put into molds of bars and permitted to solidify. It is then packaged and offered as the unsweetened dark form. Baking or unsweetened chocolate is what is employed for making desserts, brownies, and frosting, and is the chocolate of choice for the majority of skilled chefs and chocolate masters.

Nonetheless, for the people looking for sweet versions, you will discover variants to the unsweetened selection.

Melting chocolate only a few minutes to melt, as you may have experienced when leaving a bar out in the vehicle on a scorching day. But shifting it from solid to a velvety liquid, that looks even just about throughout, devoid of ugly clumps, may be a more difficult task.

Melting flawlessly as well as equally requires your full attention. Generally, chocolate melts at a comparable degree as your regular body temperature. Heating it too high will separate the cocoa butter, rendering unwanted clumps, or perhaps, you’ll burn it. Expert bakers use a candy thermometer in order to dissolve it accurately, heating dark chocolate to about 100°F to 120°F and melting white chocolate only 115°F.

Bittersweet and semisweet, What are the differences?

Whenever sugar, vanilla, and lecithin are included with the unsweetened chocolate, it becomes bittersweet, semisweet or sweetened the type, according to just how much sugar has been added.

Where you are from also has something to do with the various components, there are completely different requirements for the amount of chocolate liquor necessary for the sweetened types. According to Manufacturers’ Association inside U.S., semisweet sorts has to come with 15 to 35 percent cocoa liquor, while bittersweet types must include at the least 35 percent chocolate liquor.

Except the recipe clearly states that you need “sweetened,” “bittersweet” or “semisweet,” the default chocolate that most quality recipes use is the unsweetened baking chocolate. Otherwise, you can damage the recipe since sugar is often included separately, along with a decreased percentage of chocolate liquor inside the sweetened types. This might otherwise possess significantly less pleasing taste, which no true chocolate lover wants.

A guilt-free chocolate dessert doesn’t mean that after you acquire unsweetened over the sweetened variety, that your dessert is more healthy. Do not forget that to sweeten the dessert, you’ll still include sugar in the over-all recipe! You’ll find other possibilities, called diabetic chocolate or sugar free chocolate, for many who desire to observe their sugar yet still crave that sweet flavor. Of course, many individuals still want the super rich, heavenly dessert bar recipes for their cooking, and other decadent favorites!

For people who have a real passion for cooking with chocolate, there are people who this as a career, they are known as master chocolatiers. Many master chocolatiers begin as a pastry chef, very commonly attending a chef career school, but that is not a mandatory requirement. There are also specific schools designed for the sole purpose of attaining the level of a master chocolatier. To these rare individuals, chocolate is a true form of art.

By Valerie Garner

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A Guide To Outdoor Pond Maintenance For a Healthy, Vibrant Habitat

Outdoor Pond in Winter






Proper outdoor pond maintenance improves the appearance and health of the pond itself, the plants around it, as well as any fish that may be inside of it. The pond exists for a reason, to improve your backyard and give you something peaceful to see nearby. Maintenance is not going to be terribly difficult for many people, but is a necessary task.

Equipment should be the first thing on your mind. You are going to need specialized equipment that is specifically used for outdoor pond maintenance. This includes nets, feeders, removal tools, pruning tools, and more. Skimmer nets are effective at removing problems on the surface of the water.  Make sure that the tools you choose are designed to care for the plants and the water itself.

Try to bring more natural beauty and care into the habitat of your pond. Fish and plants are great ways to keep everything moving in a healthy way. Certain fish and plants are great for your outdoor pond.  They help to keep it oxygenated, clean and fresh.  You don’t want your pond to turn into a smelling, stagnant mosquito breeding ground, in other words, a glorified large mud puddle.

Some popular choices of fish are:  koi, goldfish, Plecostomus, Golden Orfe, and mosquito fishYou should research and learn more about both of them to make the best decisions for your environment and climate conditions. This will help you to create a pond that is with few, if any, issues.  You can also introduce frogs, turtles and ducks to your pond if you so desire as well.

A few suggestions for pond plants to consider might be:  Schoenoplectus lacustris subsp.tabernaemontani ’Zebrinus’, Carex elata ’Aurea’, Cyperus involucratus, Iris laevigata ’Variegata’, Veronica beccabunga, Anemopsis californica, Iris pseudacorus ’Berlin Tiger’, Myosotis scorpioides, Nymphaea ’Pygmaea Helvola’, and Callitriche verna.  Others to investigate would be water lilies, Anacharis, Cabomba, Purple, Foxtail, Hornwort, Jungle Val, Dwarf Sagittaria, Moneywort, Duckweed, Parrot’s Feather, Water Hyacinth, Water Lettuce, Momo Botan lotus, double rose lotus, Flowering Rush, dwarf cattail, and red cardinal flower. 

Do regular testing and cleaning. Outdoor pond maintenance is all about setting it up for success, after all. For testing equipment, you should look into items that test the pH, temperature, oxygen, and more. This will tell you if the pond has the appropriate levels of what it needs, or is actually out of balance. If the latter is the case, there are products available to help balance out the numbers and bring it back to its healthier state.

If you go about this properly, you can see exceptional results. Your pond will remain beautiful for years to come. You can expect it to continue providing a sense peace and wonder, because you took the time to care for it. Outdoor pond maintenance is what will keep it attractive and healthy in all areas.

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How To Clean Burnt Food From Pots And Pans


It happens to everyone.  We’re cooking, and something distracts us or something else happens and we burn the food we were so carefully preparing.  It’s very frustrating to say the least, we lost the food most likely, and now we’re left to clean up a mess that’s difficult at best.

So, how do you clean burnt on foods from pots and pans?  Some of your methods will depend on the type of pan you’re cooking with, and others will be trial and error to see which one works best in your situation.

Here are some general tips to try:

Remove as much of the burnt food off as possible

1.      Put some water in the pan and add a lot of salt and let soak for an hour, then wash

2.      If its badly burnt, do the above, except bring the pan of salty water to a boil and leave it to soak about 12 hours, boil again, and then wash.

3.      Cover the pan with hot water and add a used fabric softener sheet (I know this one sounds weird).  Let soak awhile, then wash.

4.      Put water in to cover the bottom of the pan, add a couple drops of dishwashing soap and bring to boil.  Wash.

For enamel cookware try this:  cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of powdered detergent.  Place a wet towel over this and let sit a few hours.  Wash, this should get rid of the baked on grease.

To clean non stick pots and pans, mix 2 T. baking powder, one and a half cups of bleach and 1 cup of water.  Put this mixture in the stained pot and let boil for 10 minutes.  Wash with soap and water then rub some vegetable oil on the surface.  Don’t let this mixture boil over however as it could stain the outside of the pot or pan.

Cast iron cookware is difficult to clean at times.  Try sprinkling the pan with salt and wiping clean.  Alternate this salt method, with washing with soap and water to help preserve the condition of the pan.  The salt will help prevent food from sticking when frying.  A light coating of vegetable oil will help prevent rust and care for your cast iron pan.

To clean copper pots and pans, use some salt and vinegar and rub lightly, then wash as usual.  Dry and apply some lemon oil or wax for a nice shine.  Ketchup can also be used to clean copper pots.

Try these different methods to help restore your pots and pans to their condition before the burn.  You’ll most likely find one that is your preferred method.

By Valerie Garner

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Beneficial Garden Insects That Are Perfect for Organic Pest Control

Praying Mantis

It could be said organic gardening entails doing things the way they used to be done. In many ways, many of the steps employed in organic gardening employ the traditional means to care for a garden. These approaches can often be better and safer. This is clearly the case when organic pest control methods are used instead of spraying a garden with poisonous chemicals.

Long before commercial pesticides where developed for the purpose of eliminating annoying bugs and rodents, the way to deal with such creatures was to draw in their natural predators. No, not all insects are bad neighbors to a garden as many can contribute to organic pest control. In fact, the presence of beneficial garden insects can actually help improve the ecosystem of the garden immensely. The presence of certain bugs will save you from the disappointment of venturing out into your garden and discovering leaves, fruits, flowers, and vegetables have been devoured by unwanted pests.

The Major Predatory Insects That Can Help A Garden

A number of the main predatory insects are likely ones most people have heard of, but many of them might be somewhat surprising. A few of these insects are somewhat garish looking and others reflect the evolutionary beauty of the natural world. Collectively, these creatures can definitely eradicate a number of unwanted pests in a garden. Here are a few of the most well known and most helpful insects an organic garden could benefit from:

Ladybugs: Ladybugs are probably the most well known of the more appealing looking beneficial garden insects. Ladybugs are a type of beetle and are close cousins to ground beetles. Both of these beetles are predators and they can eliminate a host of destructive insects that find their way into a garden. Aphids, for example, are a staple of ladybug diets.

The Praying Mantis: The Praying Mantis is a unique insect and it has been mentioned in folklore in cultures all over the world for centuries. The positioning of the arms of this insect makes it look as if it is praying. Really, the position is for preying. With its arms, the mantis captures other insects in order to eat them. So valuable is this creature, killing one in certain areas can lead to a huge fine. There is a surprising bit of evolutionary trivia found with this insect: the majestic looking green insect is actually a relative of the cockroach. Equally shocking, a large mantis might even be able to feed on a rodent making it one of the best members of the organic pest control fraternity.

Lacewings: When these green insects fly, they look benign and harmless. The larvae version of the lacewing is much more aggressive and can devour quite a number of smaller, more pestering insects.

Ambush Bugs: The name of this insect is quite an apt one. It will ambush its prey and eat it. Spider mites and earworms are commonly feasted on by these creatures.

Pirate Bugs: These bugs will find a home in or near flowers as pollen and nectar will draw them in. They will feed on insect eggs, small stage caterpillars, and hornworms among others.

Rove Beetles: Beetles definitely are friends to organic gardeners since they are such consistent and effective predators and beneficial garden insects. The Rove Beetle, in particular, can annihilate snails and mites.

Hover Flies: At first glance, these flies will be confused for bees. The larvae version seems as if it is a slug. As flies, these creatures love pollen and nectar. When they are larvae, they eat aphids. Best of all, the strange shape of the larvae allows them to reach aphids that may be hiding in somewhat out of the way places.

Soldier Beetles: These beetles can form an army capable of destroying garden pests such as aphids. That alone helps them make the list of beneficial garden insects.

Spiders: Spiders are not exactly the most welcome creatures in a garden. In truth, there are poisonous and biting spiders capable of causing great harm. However, the arachnids common to gardens are not usually poisonous. As will all other species of spiders, they will eat insects and this includes the common pests in a garden.

Trichogramma: No one wants a wasp anywhere near them and a trichogramma is a wasp. There are, however, also known as stingless wasps and they means they do not preset a hazard. These wasps have been used for well over a hundred years to feed on annoying insects in a garden or other harvest source. Most often, these wasps will eat lepidopteran pests.

Nematodes: The name nematodes is the official name for the common roundworm. While nowhere near the prettiest of insects, these creatures can be critical for garden health. This insect will eat up cutworms and the ”evil” nematodes known as root-knot nematode.

Tachinid Flies: At first glance, tachinid flies might look like common house flies, but they are different. These flies eat squash bugs, armyworms, cutworms, gypsy moths, and other common variety garden pests.

How To Attract These Beneficial Garden Insects

There are extra steps that can be taken to draw in these extremely helpful garden protecting insects. Simply planting a large number of flowers that are known for giving off a lot of nectar may be more than enough to draw scores of predatory insects to your garden which will remain there as they eat the unwanted insects that make it their home.

By Valerie Garner

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Advantages of Used Textbooks


Advantages of Used Textbooks

It’s difficult for college and university students to make ends meet. Using used textbooks is a very viable way to help stretch the budget for the semester.

Some places like, you can actually rent a textbook from, for up to 80% savings.  This can be not only a frugal, money saving option, but also saving the hassle of trying to sell the textbook when you are finished.  This eliminates those issues and allows a person time to pursue other activities.

A student can stretch his or her semester budget with the help of used textbooks instead of buying new. Generally, new textbooks are very expensive and student’s whole budget can be spent on the textbooks alone leaving the student in hardship for the remainder of the semester.

A student can also opt for old books instead of brand new books. They are easily available in the market. These used textbooks are cheaper than new books and a very viable and easy way to stretch a student’s funds. With the help of the Internet, a student can also buy used books online. There are many websites available on the internet which makes sales and purchases of used textbooks readily available. The only thing which is required is for the student to supply an ISBN number. Online price comparisons are offered by many websites and that is a great way to find the best prices.

Try Online Textbooks

One of the best ways to save paper and money is to use e-books. These books are in electronic format. It is very easy to transfer these books, and there are now special reading devices to make reading e-books even more mobile and user friendly.

In this way, you can save the environment from harmful gases which are produced during the process of manufacturing books. It also helps in saving lots of paper and in result, it saves trees.

One more benefit of e-books is the facility of searching content and topics in a given subject. A student can easily search any topic, concept or keyword due to the electronic format of these books. There are so many websites which deal in e-books available to offer great selection of choice. These books are actually lower in price in comparison to new paper textbooks. The only thing you need is a computer with an internet connection.

Reap various advantages

There are so many merits of used textbooks. These books are cost effective and students can save a huge portion of their semester budget by opting to use this route. These books are environmentally friendly too, helping with conservation efforts worldwide.

Choosing a good seller

Choosing a reputed seller is very important while purchasing used textbooks. It is possible that websites accept payment and then don’t send the ordered items. In this way, a student can suffer. So, it is important to choose a seller who has good reputation in the marketplace.

The condition of the books is one more thing should be considered while purchasing used textbooks. The books should be in readable and reasonable condition. If the seller is reputable, then he or she will sell books in good condition.
By Valerie Garner


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A Case for Cast Iron Cookware and Care Tips – For a New Generation of Cooks

Cast Iron SKillet Isolated on White

Cast iron cookware has been a staple in homes for many generations. It has stood the test of time as an invaluable too in the kitchen. In recent years however, with the advance of new technology and new cookware options, many cooks of the newer generation have never used cast iron cookware, or even given it a second thought. I’d like to revisit that.

Cast iron cookware is practically indestructible, given some simple and proper care. It was the original non-stick cookware and many old time cooks wouldn’t give up their iron skillets for any amount of money. Many claim that food simply tastes better when cooked in them, versus other types of cookware. The cookware tends to get better and better with age and use.

Originally it was made by melting iron down into a molten state, and pouring into sand, molded to the shape of the pan.  After cooling, the sand was then rubbed off.  Thus the name, cast iron….cast in sand.  It’s also why the new cast iron cookware has a rough texture, compared to one that’s been used frequently.  With age and use, it because a very smooth texture.

Cast iron also has a nutritional value in that it does provide some iron to food, something that a lot of people need extra of in their diets. It also does not give off fumes that can be poisonous to pet birds that some newer technology pans can do.

It can also be moved from stovetop to oven, or vice versa. Of course, you’ll need to invest in some good quality potholders, but well worth it. It also has a charm of its own, when directly set on a table and used to serve out of (again pot holders are needed to protect the table), plus it keeps the food hot for those wanting seconds.

Cast iron cookware is also very affordable, and comes in several different classic styles. Everything from skillet, to fry pans, Dutch ovens, cowboy ovens, muffin tins, cornbread tins and bread loafs are a few examples of forms they can be bought in.

Think outside the box too, in terms of cooking. Biscuits for instance, are delicious when baked in a skillet, same with cornbread. Stews can be made inside the deeper dish skillets. The difference between a Dutch oven and a cowboy oven are a few minor features. The Dutch oven is intended to be used on the stovetop, or in the oven, but can also be used outside on a fire pit. A cowboy oven is a cast iron pot with short legs, and a flat, lid. It’s made to be put directly in the fire, and with the flat lid, hot coals can be placed on top. This is perfect for camping, and cooking some great meals around an open fire.

Buying Cast Iron Cookware

You can buy it either new or used. First determine which form suits you best (or several forms to start with), perhaps a skillet, and a Dutch oven, whatever you’d like. If you buy it used, plan to do a little work, as you probably don’t want to eat off of someone else’s cooking and spices, so you’ll want to get those off first.

When you purchase your cookware, examine it closely. Make sure there are no cracks, or lumps or irregularities in the metal, which just doesn’t look right. New cast iron tends to have a gray color and the more it gets used, will turn to the black patina we’re all familiar with. It also should have a rough, although consistent texture. Older cast iron will most likely be black in color and a smoother texture.

Because cast iron is heavy, it’s a good idea to get them with a handle on the other side to assist in carrying them with food. It’s also not recommended to get the cowboy or Dutch ovens with the little wooden handles, as they typically don’t stand up as well as the handles without it. Plus, it you plan to use it directly over fire, that wood handle also would cause other issues.

Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware

For normal day to day care of your cookware, after cooking, and the pan is cooled, use hot water and a stiff nylon or natural bristle brush to scrub your pan clean. Then dry thoroughly with a towel. If you live in a high humidity area, you might want to set it on a low burner for a little while to ensure it gets completely dried before putting it away.

Don’t use metal wire brushes or scour pads on these. Don’t use soap, don’t use in the dishwasher, and don’t allow to drip dry. Never put cold water in a hot pan. These are the few things that can cause damage and rusting of your cookware. If the thought of not using soap on a regular basis gets to you, you can also do a quick rinse with boiling water after scrubbing with a nylon stiff brush.

If you have stuck on food that even this won’t cut loose, you can warm your pan in a low temp oven to slightly head it (this will help open up the pores of the iron), then using very hot or even boiling water and a couple drops of dishwashing soap, scrub again with the stiff nylon brush. Be sure to use high quality gloves to protect your hands. You will need to re-season the pan immediately afterwards.

How to Season or Cure Your Cast Iron Pots and Pans

Seasoning, otherwise known, as curing is an important part of upkeep for cast iron. It helps preserve it, protects from rust, makes the cookware better with time, and makes it more non-stick in its properties.  It generally should be done once a month or so.

You can purchase cast iron already pre-seasoned if you so desire, but you’ll still need to season it periodically. Anytime you’ve done a very heavy-duty washing, you’ll need to re-season it again, of if you felt that food was sticking.

It’s a simple process really. On the clean, dry pan put vegetable oil (or even solid Crisco), and rub with a paper towel to cover the entire surface. Inside, outside, handles, everything. Turn it upside down, and place on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. After the hour, turn off the oven and allow to cool for several more hours. Now it’s good to go. A newer pan will need to be re-seasoned more often than an old one.

If you have a new pan avoid cooking acidic foods (like citrus and tomatoes) in it for the first 6 or 7 times, in order to allow a good level of seasoning to really penetrate and build up on the iron.

If you find you’ve got a rusted cast iron skillet or pan, or acquired one, most of them can be salvaged with some TLC. Take fine grain sandpaper or steel wool and scrub the rusted areas to get the rust off. Do the method above for deeply set in food cleaning, then season. If food ever has a metallic taste to it, it’s time to re-season it. These cast iron pots and pans get better and better with age and use!

If you’ve never given this traditional cookware a try, now might be the time. You might just find your next ‘can’t live without it’ in your kitchen equipment!

By Valerie Garner

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How To Clean Animal Smells in Carpets

Ugly Dog

Animal smells in carpets do not necessarily suggest unfavorable housekeeping practices, because the neatest people battle pet odors in their homes. Pets tend to roll around and lay on the rugs and carpeting, causing their body stench to get deeply worked into carpet fibers. 

This odor, combined with the odor of pet mishaps, can make guests scrunch up their noses at the odor, upon entering your home.  Something, nobody wants and can leave a negative first impression.  Another aspect to this, as one who lives in the home, there’s a tendency to get more adjusted to the smell, than a visitor would, so realize they could be experiencing a much stronger smell than you. 

As most pet odor is related to their accidents, one thing to do to manage animal smells would be to deal with these types of accidents as soon as they are discovered.

It’s not enough to simply pick up solid waste, or to swipe urine and vomit stains with a quick wipe. The dirty area has to be cleaned effectively utilizing either white vinegar, which is also a deodorizer, or a mild soap. When the mark disappears, blot the area using a moist rag or paper towel.

How to Cope with Stains Wicking Up

In the case of a urine accident, when the stain wicks, or goes to the lower carpet fibers and pad, it pools at its base.  The stain might come back once the fluid rises to the carpet top at a later point.  

This wicking problem can be eradicated by putting a thick towel or rag on top of the stain, and weighing it down with a heavy object (make sure this object won’t be ruined if it gets wet).  Let it set overnight to soak up all the liquid.   You will then have to clean the actual stain yet again, to ensure it’s all lifted out.

Avoid using steam cleaners or even blow dryers to clean or dry pet stains because the warmth can set stains and odors more firmly into the carpeting, making it near impossible to remove.

Sprinkle deodorizing powder on your carpeting weekly to keep the carpet smelling fresh. You may also use baking soda if you do not like fragrant deodorants.

Consult Your Vet for Odor Problem Solutions

Get some powerful pet odor removers from the pet store. Though pricey, they’ll be required at times, whenever domestic deodorants do not eliminate animal odors from your rugs.  

Sometimes you may not be able to find the urine stain. In such instances, you can utilize a black light, which will not just expose this spot, but other impurities in your floor coverings.

Never use ammonia or other acid based products to clean carpets because pets might think this odor is their own urine, and therefore use the carpeting as its designated restroom.  

You could seek advice from your veterinarian in eradicating animal smells in floor coverings as they have to work with animals’ odors on a daily time basis, have some points and products they recommend.

You may also consider getting your floor coverings professionally cleaned a couple times a year for good maintenance and hygiene of your home.  Make sure your pet gets bathes regularly as well, to help reduce odors.

By Valerie Garner

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Spanish Cooking

Spanish cooking






Many Spanish foods today use the same cooking methods and ingredients, as they did a few hundred years ago. Because the mountainous regions made communication and travel difficult in past times, this contributed to the wide range of cuisine found in Spanish foods. Other authentic Spanish recipes sprung up from European and American influences, and were adapted to the Spanish fare. An important factor to remember is that food in Spain tends to be very fresh, abundant, and packed with natural taste.

The most basic food ingredients of most Spanish meals are, olive oil and garlic. However, because Spain has very distinct geographical regions, settled by different peoples and cultural groups, the regional cuisines can very different. Many times, the only common ingredients found in meals prepared around various locations, are olive oil and garlic.

Here is a list of typical ingredients and foods commonly used in Spain:

Organic olive oil – Spanish recipes typically need either pure olive oil or lard, but mainly olive oil is used. Extra virgin olive oil is worth the additional cost. Spain is a leading producer of olive oil; and olives are a produce grown over the southern regions of Spain.

Ham – otherwise called, jamón is a prized food.

Fish & Seafood – Because Spain is encircled on three sides by water, fresh seafood is always plentiful in the local markets, and is usually consumed daily. Everything from halibut to shrimp and in many cases octopus is found, as well as on food menus in restaurants.

Cheeses – Wonderful cheeses of many varieties can be found in Spain. Spanish cheeses are made from sheep, cow, goat milk, or a combination between the milk groups. Varieties may be aged cheeses, such as the manchego from La Mancha, the soft creamy cheeses, including tetilla from Galicia, and everything in between. Cheese might be eaten as a tapa (snack), in addition to other meals.

Sausages – Spanish people love sausage, especially chorizo, a pork sausage created using paprika. Again, there are many kinds of chorizo, from fresh and soft in texture, to smoked and aged varieties. Local markets provide a variety to choose from; yet many Spanish families choose to make their favorite kinds of sausage.

Beef, Lamb and Pork – The 3 meats are commonly used, and may be roasted, grilled over the coals, or sautéed in a sauce.

Eggs – Eggs are usually eaten daily, either fried, deviled, or in a Spanish omelet. They are a mainstay ingredient of many recipes, including desserts. They are cooked in a variety of ways.

Vegetables and fruits – Spanish people tend to eat lots of fruit as appetizers, or dessert dishes. A fresh fruit bowl sits in nearly every kitchen. Simple salads and sautéed vegetables are eaten daily. Popular vegetables in many meals are eggplant and zucchini.

Legumes – Beans of most types are eaten regularly.

Nuts – Spain is a big producer of almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts. Almond-based and milk-based desserts have become very trendy. Turron, the almond nougat candy eaten at Christmas, has become famous. Hazelnuts, are the most popular nuts to be used with chocolate.

Herbs and Spices – Garlic, onions and fresh herbs such as oregano, rosemary and thyme are widely-used in cooking, but garlic is by far, the most popular choice.

For more cooking tips on Spain as well as other cultural favorites drop by for a visit.

By Valerie Garner

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