Sunday, August 15, 2010

Let Nothing Go To Waste ~Oranges~

My Great-grandmother educated me on the idea of never letting anything go to waste. She showed me that every part of an animal, fruit, vegetable, or plant had a use. Until a few years ago I thought she was just holding to the way she had been raised. Why would anyone keep orange peels or coffee grounds. Well, I have to say that I have learned exactly why and now practice the things she taught me. Several years ago I stumbled upon a way to use an orange completely with no waste at all. Here's how.

What you will need:

A bag of medium sized oranges.
Cutting knife and cutting board
Food processor
One 4 gallon jug or Two 2 gallon jugs
Spray bottles or squirt bottles
Borax 20 mule team
Baking Soda
Popsicle molds (4 to 6 slot)
Plastic re-cycled fruit cups (4 to 6)

Step 1 – Separate the oranges.

Use your cutting knife and cutting board to cut the oranges into quarters. Do this for the entire bag of oranges. Separate the orange meat from the peels. Put the orange meat into the food processor and set the peels off to the side on a plate, rack, or dish towel.

Step 2 – Puree and pour.

Set the food processor to puree and blend the oranges well. Pulp is fine but you do not want big chunks of orange in the puree. Pour the oranges into a four to six slot Popsicle mold. You can get these molds at dollar stores throughout the year. Pour the remaining amount into plastic fruit cups and cover with plastic wrap. Place both into the freezer. You can add milk and the frozen orange puree from the fruit cups into a blender to create a sherbert. Now when the kids or you want something sweet you can take out the orange pops or take out a fruit cup and let it thaw for a slush style orange snack. If the oranges taste a little bitter just add a pinch of sugar before pouring them into the molds.

Step 3 – Cutting and mixing.

Use the cutting knife and cutting board to slice the orange peels you set aside earlier. Cut the peels into strips and place them into the jar(s). If you are using a two jar method then split the peels so that half will go in one jar and half in the other. Measure 1 cup of borax and 1/2 cup of baking soda into a mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into the jar(s). Again if you are using the two jar method just split the mixture in half so that half goes to one jar and half into the other. Fill both jars with water and shake. Leave for 24 hours then fill spray bottles or squirt bottles for ease of cleaning.

There are a few things to note about the cleaner. It will be a orange brown color. Do not be alarmed by this. That is what it is supposed to do. Remember to test carpeting before using the spray on large stains. The cleanser removes pet stains and odors amazingly well and can be sprayed directly onto the stain or used in a steam cleaner or spot bot style cleaner. There is no sticky feeling with the cleanser but if you use it on windows or glass it does leave a film from the borax and soda so you will need to rinse it with clear water. Replenish the water no more than four times. When the orange cleaner turns brown or develops a slight odor (around 3 weeks later or longer) then dump out the remainder if there is any and put the used peels into a compost bin or garden. Remake using a fresh bag of oranges.

1 bag of oranges = a total of 6 gallons of cleanser (counting the replenishment), 4-6 orange pops, 4 cups of sherbet, and helps to fertilize your plants... all for $5 or less!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Use A Tarp to Make a Solar Shower

A recent camping trip reminded me just how comforting a solar heated shower can be. We had a busy day that left us feeling less than pleasant. Normally we carry a solar shower and backup with us but we didn't think we would be needing it this trip. It turned out that we did find ourselves wanting to have a good shower. Using a few extras we had in the camper we decided to throw them together and see what happened. This experiment resulted in a great, cheap, solar shower that we re-used several times throughout the trip.

What you're going to need:

Black yard tarp or other similar tarp
Multi-tool or knife
4 bungee tie-downs
Mesh screen
Waterproof tape
Heavy duty hook

Lay out the tarp and cut a small hole in each corner if there are not already grommet secured holes. In the middle of the tarp place and tape down the circular mesh screen. Attach a bungee to each corner.

If you haven't already done so then find a place to hang the shower that has plenty of direct sunlight for at least the majority of the day. We were lucky enough to have some sturdy limbs that were set up perfectly by nature. Throw the rope over the limb or area that you are going to hang the shower. Secure the rope to the hook.

Pull the four bungee cords together making an upside down balloon shape with the tarp. Connect the cords to the hook. Adjust the shower so that the mesh screen is centered on the bottom. Fill the shower and let it sit in the sun for several hours. We filled ours first thing in the morning so it had plenty of time to heat up before early evening.

When you get ready to shower, step under the shower and use your multi-tool or knife to cut two crossed slits making an X shape. Don't go full force with it! You are just wanting to slice and X shape into the tarp just under the mesh screen. Put the knife someplace safe and shower in the naturally warm water. When you are done place a bucket under the shower bag to catch any remaining shower. You can use it during the camping trip for cleaning dishes or whatever you need handled with water.

When you are done draining the shower then just tape the tarp over the mesh and let it dry out overnight to re-use the next day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Up-cycled Corner Desk

With limited space corner office desks are sometimes a necessity for those of us who work at home. Corner desks can be built of virtually any material and can be made to disassemble in minutes if necessary. Up-cycling is a term used by crafters and do it yourself enthusiasts to describe converting an item to be used as something slightly or even totally different. Up-cycling is popular and something I try to do whenever possible. It was up-cycling that made this guide possible and has helped several of my friends find the space in their small homes to have their own home office space.

To build an up-cycled corner desk you will need:

Used large corner cabinet or shelving unit.
Screwdriver, hammer, nails, drill, and optional circular saw.
Sliding keyboard drawer (you can buy this or you can up-cycle one from another desk).

Step 1 – Find the perfect corner cabinet to up-cycle.

Large corner cabinets or shelving units can be found at used furniture stores, antique stores, craigslist, and if you are lucky enough being tossed out by someone who doesn't know the value of up-cycling. . Bakers racks or curio cabinets can also be used for this project depending on the size of your computer. An example photo is shown above to give you some ideas.

Step 2 – Up-cycle that cabinet!

The first step to up-cycling is to fit and mark where everything will be. Slide the monitor and tower into place. Shelves should not need to be adjusted since ideally measuring would have been done prior to purchasing the cabinet. Mark the areas for wires and cord hole drilling. Don't forget to mark areas on other shelves if you are using additional devices like speakers and modems. Install the keyboard drawer. You may have to cut it to fit but it should be placed right under the monitor.

Step 3 – Install the computer, cords, modems, etc.

With the drawer in place and properly installed it's time to drill the cord holes. You may need a small circular saw to get the holes just right for proper cord access. Place the tower in the bottom area of the cabinet and attach your cords. Run the cords as needed through the drilled holes. With everything in place turn your computer on and test all of your attached devices. For an added touch you may want to attach your grounded power strip to the side or back of the cabinet for ease of use and availability in case of a storm or electrical issue.