Monday, September 26, 2011

Essential Orange Peel Oil

Hello kids! This week's blog post will be rather quick again. We're dealing with new issues this week; it just never ends in my house, huh? But I realized that after working so long on it, I never did write about making essential orange oil out of an orange peel, so here we go!

First off, you will need to do a bit of prep work. Basically, get an orange and peel it. Then set the peel out to dry out until it gets hard. It took ours about a week.

The main ingredient: Orange Peel
For the first round of making the oil, you're going to need an orange peel, food processor, jar, and vodka.
We just went with the cheapest vodka we could.
The first step will be to chop up the dried orange peel in the food processor. Be careful not to chop it up too finely, otherwise you will loose some of the available orange fragrance. So, on a chunky level scale, we are looking for a step between gravel and sand.
Once it is all nicely ground down, try to get as much of that orange peel into a jar. Then, just add the vodka!
I ended up using two pints of vodka. You don't want to "water" down the peel too much though.
After that, seal up the jar, and let it sit out for awhile on a sunny window ledge. Be sure to shake the jar a few times a day. The longer you let it sit, the more essential oil you are going to get. But due to my experience, I would suggest you don't let it sit out for more than a few days.

The reason why is that the longer the peel sits in vodka, the longer you will wait in the next step. After you let the, what we called, "old screwdriver" mix sit for awhile, gather up another jar and a coffee filter. You will pour the mix through the filter into the empty jar.

Tried to use just the filter in the lop left corner, but I got lazy and included the funnel.
After you filter out all the orange "matter" secure another coffee filter to the top of the jar and once again, let it sit out in the sun so the alcohol can evaporate; but you don't need shake the mixture this time. Now since I had my "old screwdriver" mix sit for so long, it took forever (at least 3 weeks) for the alcohol to evaporate. Actually, it still has a vodka smell to it.

Once the alcohol has evaporated (the odor test works the best), I filtered it one ore time while pouring it into a dark glass bottle.

I never realized how a funnel can make life so much easier!
After all is said and done, cork the bottle and use however you'd like! Just like the mint and lavender oil, store the bottle in a dark place so the sunlight won't break it up.

Here are a few uses for that new essential orange oil (besides a nice fragrance addition to my
multi-surface cleaner): it is credited as an anti inflammatory, anti depressant, anti spasmodic, anti septic, tonic, sedative and even detoxifier. It can also be a cholagogue, which helps stimulate healthy secretion from the glands. So it helps promote mensuration along with the flow of breast milk, hormones, and all the stuff your body creates to digest properly!

There you have it, the latest of my essential orange oil recipes. Oh, and if you are looking for a place to buy cheap amber bottles to keep all these essential oils, my best supplier is an old, local antique store. There, I was able to pick up 6 bottles for $5! Now all I have to figure out what I'm going to make next.

As for my dedicated blog readers, I am already looking into green, DIY gift ideas for the holiday season. So if there is anything you'd like to see me try, or even if you try something and want to post it as a guest entry, just let me know!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Cat's Out Of The Bag

Hi Everyone!

I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to take it easy this week and write up a li'l blog-ette. But I have a very good reason, at least I think so.

Let's start with the low part of this week. My cat, Cricket got very sick with a blocked bladder. And it went longer than it should because we all thought he was just suffering indigestion from attacking our fern. Long story short, when I finally got him to the vet, he was not moving, gasping for breath. But our local vet works wonders and saved his life!
Poor lil' Cricket. Thank God for Ceglinki's Vet Clinic!
So we spent most of our week just sick with worry over our lil buddy. And we did not get much sleep. I know I'm biased, but he's the best cat in the world. I can't imagine life without him. But after the amazing work our vet did, we took him home Friday & he's recovering so well! Frankly, I think he is just as grateful as we are to have him home.
My lil' buddy <3
Needless to say, our dog, Katsumi, really missed her partner in crime.
You never know what kind of mischief they are up to.
So that, mixed with a rough work week... ugh, I'm getting tired just thinking about it.

But, this week had its fun moments! One of our old friends visited us during our weekend, and we had a blast! He is a jeep owner, so we took down the top & doors for "real jeeping." It was an... interesting experience. We packed up the jeep, harnessed the dog, and took off for the local national recreational area!

Katusmi LOVED Jeeping! That's the Tennessee River in the top, right corner.

We took a day hike which included a small tour of an iron furnace from the 1800's.
This is an old charcoal hearth for the furnace
We also walked around a small lake. It was nice, scenic, and a bit a of an exercise! I was just trying to move fast enough to lose the mosquitoes. But the scene was beautiful! But we were confused to find bamboo growing on the lake shore.
Fun travels in Western Kentucky!
When we were ready, we hopped back in the jeep and went home. Katsumi slept most of the way and I enjoyed the wind in my hair!
Believe me, it was not fun brushing that mess later.
The boys made burgers later, and it was a nice night at home. The next day while the husband was at work & Cricket at the vet, we went down to downtown for a few hours.

So all in all, this week had it's ups and downs. But after all that, I'm planning on taking a relaxing weekend after this blog post. I'll leave you all with this great view of Land Between The Lakes. See you all next week!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Trends Of Recycling

I may be young, but recycling seems to be a concept that's been around all my life. Recycling has lasted throughout human history. Research dates it back to Ancient Greece in 400 B.C. Some became familiar with rationing, recycling and reusing supplies because of shortages during times of war or economic downfall.

My first big memory of recycling was in second grade. In groups, my class was assigned to produce a puppet show. I can't remember why my idea revolved around recycling, or even why it was picked, but our story was based on the The Berenstain Bear's "Don't Pollute (Anymore)."
I'm pretty sure this book is still somewhere in my Mother's house
So we produced a fancy puppet show with papier-mâché Berenstain Bears' puppet heads, made some props with garbage, and I even got to play Sister Bear! Since then, I've been passionate that we should reduce, reuse & recycle. It didn't help that Captain Planet soon came along.
"CAPTAIN PLANET! HE'S OUR HERO!"- For the record, I did not have to look up that lyric.
Mix that with some Fern Gully and it's no surprise I turned out to be a hippie!

I was clearly a tree hugger at an early age.
I can't even count how many years my Mom has used my hometown recycling program. But I can also remember times when recycling was not a common service. Through out the years, none of my apartments recycled. Due to lack of participation and funding, a lot of communities dropped their recycling programs, if they ever had one at all.

But, my new community started a recycling program initiative! I first heard about it at work. Look, we even have bins at the station!
Bins to recycle cans, plastic & cardboard
I recently signed up with the same company, and they will pick up our recyclables once a month for a low fee. They even offer door to door service, just as long as I separate the glass from everything else. I even get to keep the two bins if I ever discontinue the service (which isn't going to happen). Oh boy, I hope my city/county will continue this initiative recycling program!

We are Dreaming Green!
Even better, several local businesses and a few of my friends have recycled for years.
My friend MarthaLynn's beautiful daughter helping the earth. Way to go, Bear.

My favorite local coffee spot not only recycles, they use & wash silverware instead of tossing plastic.

And despite being set to 1850, The Homeplace even recycles!
So why the big stink about recycling? In case you haven't heard all the reasons to recycle, here are a few facts. According to Recycling Revolution, we use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum soda cans every year. And if a can is tossed, it will sit in the landfill for over 500 years.

So while we each produce 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day, let's try to think of ways that could reduce that waste. Recycling Revolution claims, "if all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!" And while many communities do not offer a recycling pick up, most have at least one recycling drop off location. You would also be surprised by what all can be recycled: sheets of paper, tin foil, even Hershey Kisses wrappers!

Let's also consider the benefits of recycling. Besides the obvious environmental impact, we can save energy, reduce landfill space and pollution, and even promote more job creation for a growing industry. Whether or not you believe in humans' involvement, there is no question our climate is changing. But it's ok, because you know what humans do best? Adapt to our surroundings, and use technology & intelligence to our advantage. Recycling & alternative fuels are just a few ways we can do that. So by recycling that can of soda you shouldn't be drinking (but that's a blog for another day), you are investing in our future.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Landscape of My Homeland

Salutations, folks. We are still recovering from last week's trip and this weekend was just as busy with my Mother visiting.

But, I'm keeping my promise of a weekly blog, not only for my double digit (on good days) number of fans, but also for myself. I also promised to write about my favorite addition to the landscape of Central Illinois, or what my husband likes to call my "homeland." So, without further ado: wind farms!

I know it may sound silly, but I love seeing wind farms! First off, the sleek look of the wind turbines gives the Land of Lincoln a classic, yet modern look. And I'm always impressed to see the semi trucks along interstates 55, 57 and 74 carrying the long wind blades.

New Scenic View
But let's get to what really matters - harnessing wind as an alternative energy. Let's consider the Rail Splitter wind farm.  All together, the Horizon Wind Energy's 67 GE sle 1.5 MW turbines can generate a capacity of 100.5 megawatts. Now I'm not a mathematician, but that's equal to about 58 tons of coal for just one hour!

There's a monetary benefit to wind farms, as well. After the initial investment, depending on how big/nice/efficient of a turbine you get, your energy bill will be dramatically cut. Through the power of the interwebs, it seems that you will pay (roughly) 2 dollars per watt for a turbine on the cheaper end. So, a 1kw small wind turbine that will power your bare necessities (radio, fridge & cell phone charger) cost about $2,000. And if I'm using my super-non-math skills, it will roughly take 2.5 years for the turbine to pay for itself.  And if you generate more power than you use, the energy company pays you! Unbelievable I know, but true! There is also our favorite government phrase: tax incentives. In fact, the wind turbine companies pay the farmers thousands of dollars per year to use their land.  That money could help farmers that are trying to go back to their grassroots of smaller, organic farming.

Those benefits multiply for small, rural communities. Large wind farms often consist of many turbines spread over a large number of properties, so several farmers benefit from one large-scale wind farm. Back in 2010, thanks to the Rail Splitter wind farm, "new tax revenue pouring in has helped fund three area school districts and made it possible for Boynton Township to construct a new municipal building." (Central Illinois News Center) So, it's an energy source that not only benefits you, but your locale. Wind farms also generate construction & maintenance jobs, which is a green boost for a rough economic time.

To present both sides, I will list some problems people have reported. In that same Central Illinois News story, some people claimed to have ill health effects due to the turbines including headaches, vertigo & ringing in the ear. It also cites military reports that wind farms can interfere with flight patterns & radars. There is also a concern for life line helicopters. And, while wind farms can interfere with spraying crops, I would rather see organic farming without pesticides anyway. Lastly, there are also reports that some bats & birds have been killed when flying near wind turbine blades. But according to National Geographic, it's nothing compared to the number killed by "cars, power lines, and high-rise buildings."

So that's my 2 cents worth on wind farms. It is one of the few things I miss when I leave Central Illinois. I start getting depressed when I drive further south in Illinois and see the small oil dereks instead. If you'd like to read more and develop your own opinion about wind farms, check out the American Wind Energy Association's web site. They are always updating reports and issues when it comes to the power of wind.