Ways to Use Leftover Bacon Grease

Today let’s talk about bacon.

Do you love bacon? Really, really love bacon?

If your response is, “oh yeah,” then you’re going to love this article. (If your answer is no, then why the heck not?)

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Well, we love our bacon around here. If you only know me by this blog, you may not know this little fact about me–I am a butcher’s wife.

Yes, my friends, my man makes such wonderful things as bacon, sweet bologna, ham, and many kinds of sausage.

Then he brings them home for us to eat.

What’s not to love about that? One of my favorite things is to smell his shirt when he comes home from working in and out of the smokehouse. Yup, I give him a big old hug and then breathe in that woodsy-smoky smell. (I’m weird, I know.)

Anyway, on to my little post about bacon, and the uses of bacon grease. I started a quart-sized mason jar to collect and keep our bacon drippings after we’ve cooked a batch. Because it’s a shame to just waste it, man. Here are some of the uses I’ve run across to use some of that leftover bacon goodness: 9445e6236fb4443b3e8259a76050cd91   Make stove-top popcorn. This one is newer to me, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I used some bacon grease in lieu of my usual coconut oil (which is good too!) and it totally rocked. It provides the grease and the saltiness. bca218ff11263dfddd84a2f4edd679c0 Fried Potatoes. Potatoes, onions, a little s & p, all fried up in bacon drippings. Yum. Image courtesy of this blog.DSC02697_thumb[7]   Bacon Dressing. Just add a little vinegar and sugar and you voila! a tasty salad dressing. Image and recipe found here.

Cookies. Substitute bacon grease for 1/2 of the butter or shortening, or whatever fat your recipe calls for. (Ex: Instead of 1 cup butter, use 1/2 C bacon grease and 1/2 C butter) It will lend a little extra something to the taste, but shouldn’t overwhelm.

imagesMake soap. This site tells you how to get that bacon grease ready to make into soap.

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Make a candle. Spring Mountain Living has a good tutorial on doing this.

Feed the birds. All you need to do to make a simple bird feeder is a pine cone rolled in bacon drippings, then rolled in birdseed and hung up.

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Season your cast iron cookware. You know I am loving my cast iron skillet and have learned the importance of having a well seasoned one. Use this instead of other fats/oils for seasoning purposes.

Season veggies and soups. Or pretty much anything. Trust me, you can hardly go wrong by adding at least a dab of it to almost any old thing you’re cooking.

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-Rachel

Paper Heart Valentine Garland

On tap for today is a pretty paper garland, perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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These are pretty quick to whip up–all you need is an old book or hymnal, scissors, and a sewing machine.

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Cut out a bunch of hearts that are the same size. I used a few pieces of paper stacked together and was able to cut out quite a few in a short time.

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After cutting out gobs of these, all you have to do is sew two at a time together (as you can see, I used red thread) down the middle of the heart. Keep adding sets of two as you go. You an either make all of them flush against each other or stagger them out, leaving an inch or two of thread in between the sets of hearts. At this point I’ll also add that I made a nice length of thread at the beginning and end of each garland for hanging purposes.

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When finished, you can either let the hearts hang as is or fold each in half, creating a 3-dimensional look.

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After hanging this up and taking pics, I realized this would look MUCH better against a darker wall. Oh well. I also thought about combining this music paper with red cardstock and alternating them.

By the way, do ya like my chalkboard? This is hanging in our entryway and was a 5 cent yard sale steal. I usually have a verse written on it, but decided to do “LOVE” in a font that I liked. I looked some fonts up, saw how LOVE looked written in this particular one, then copied it freehand in pink chalk.

Old Fashioned Vinegar Pie

Okay, by reading the title of this post you either think I’ve gone off the deep end or you are pursing your lips in potential disgust.

Don’t let the name of this pie fool you. Despite what it sounds like, it’s actually pretty tasty.

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Yes, it’s got a little tang to it, but not so much that anyone would guess it features vinegar as an ingredient.

Imagine a sweet but tangy custard-type of pie.

I was intrigued by vinegar pie when I ran across this charming article about it on Money Saving Mom.

Shortly after reading the article I made it, really liked it, and have since researched it a little more on my own.

Vinegar pie was made popular back in earlier American history when ladies didn’t have access to fruits and a huge variety of ingredients year round like we do today. This pie was very cheap to make and used a minimal of basic ingredients which they would have likely had on hand. The Little House books even mention Ma making vinegar pie for holidays and such.

Through my research, I found a variety of recipes for this, some that used much more vinegar than what this recipe calls for. I think I’ll stick with this one for now as I enjoyed it and am definitely adding it to my repertoire of dessert recipes.

Vinegar Pie

  • 2 Pre-baked Pie Shells
  • 1 Qt Water*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 heaping TB flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 TB cold vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (or you can sub in maple extract)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Bake pie shells and allow to cool. Bring water to boil in a saucepan. Mix eggs, flour, salt, and vinegar together with a whisk in a separate bowl. When water boils, add filling mixture in. Allow to continue boiling and whisk constantly while it thickens. Wait for it to become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then remove from heat. At this point, add in cinnamon and maple and stir to combine. Pour into pre-baked pie shells and refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.

*You can use 3 Cups of water if preferred. This will shorten the preparation time a little bit.

*Another tip: The recipe I followed recommends using some type of sieve to pour the finished mixture through, just in case any pieces of curdled egg are in there. I didn’t have any in mine, but I did whisk the heck out of it when cooking the filling mixture.

4 Boys, 1 Bedroom

I am beginning to do my post-Christmas purge of the house. This is an opportune time of the year to pull this off because 1) There ain’t much happening in January 2) It’s yucky out and I’m stuck inside a lot and 3) Christmas just happened and things have accumulated much more than I wanted them to. In other words, I hate too much clutter and we have a lot of crap to get rid of. Granted, we really don’t have an exorbitant amount of stuff per person, but there’s 7 of us here and our house isn’t that big. Therefore, if more stuff comes in, other stuff needs to leave. That’s where today’s lovely little post comes in. I certainly didn’t intend for my purging to become a blog thing, but after cleaning up my boys’ room yesterday (a.k.a. getting rid of junk while they were at school and couldn’t see things “disappear”), I realized how good it looks cleaned up and organized. I also realized that I’ve never done a little tour of any of our rooms.

Therefore, today I am sharing about how we fit all 4 of our boys into 1 bedroom. Sounds a little crazy, I know, but it works for us. If anyone has 3 or more children, unless they have a really big house, it’s likely that some siblings will share a room. I draw inspiration from seeing how other people pull things off, so hopefully today’s picture tour can give you some sense of how we make this work.

christmas, boys bedroom, veggies 043This is a view from when you first step in the door. As you can see, we live in a Cape Cod, so I have to deal with the angled ceilings upstairs. This can make furniture arrangement a little tricky. Thankfully this is probably the biggest room in our house, so we’ve got floor space to work with.

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To get more specific, I’ll start at the back wall and work my way front. We have 2 sets of bunk beds set up in an “L” formation. The bigger boys have the one set and my little guys have the other set. I do all red and blue bedding to keep it boyish. The left set of bunk beds were made by my very capable husband a number of years ago. The other set was given to us for free soon after the twins were born. They were used by some people that we knew who were moving and wanted to pass them off to someone who could use them. Thank you Lord, for they have worked beautifully for us.

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In one little corner, I have a desk set up for doing homework. The desk was also a hand-me-down and above it I have this cool antique needlework map of the world, which I wrote about here. My “keeping it real” moment for you–when I examined the little white container on the floor under the nightlight, it was full of yellow water (Not pee, which wouldn’t be an impossibility!) and dead stinkbugs. Apparently my 10 year old had made a homemade stinkbug trap that really worked. Luckily for you I didn’t do a close-up of it;)

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This is the one lonely dormer window in that room. Underneath it I have a child-sized rolltop desk that I found years ago at an antique store. The curtains are some basic panels I made out of a fabric found at a thrift store. It looks like heavier mailbag fabric and has things like “airmail” and “US Mail” printed all over it.

christmas, boys bedroom, veggies 050Now for the front corner of their room. We have a grand total of 2 dressers that they share. As an aside, my boys, even the older ones, seem to like wearing the same 3 shirts and pants all the time. Does anybody else’s kids do that? I’m like, “let’s rotate our outfits a little more guys, okay?” The dresser on the left is part of a bedroom set that I refinished when I was pregnant with my first child. (That set was mine and before that, my aunt’s when she was growing up.) The taller dresser on the right was a freebie that I refinished a few years ago, painting it a glossy royal blue on the outside and doing chalkboard paint on the drawer fronts.

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The top of said dresser, topped off with Pinewood Derby cars that my older guys have made through the years–with a little help from their Dad, of course. (Just as another aside, he is a pro at making these! The last couple years my bigger boys have won “Best of Show,” as voted on by their peers, Not to brag or anything….)

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Our other boy’s dresser is topped with an antique soda crate stood on end and adorned with various trophies and ribbons. They also have their rock collection stored there.

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On the opposite wall, as you walk in the door, is this monstrous thing. It takes up a lot of room but I love it! Yep, this antique wooden shelving unit was found at a barn sale just this fall. I ditched my other toy storage bin shelves and set up all the boy toys in this. My husband put wooden “risers” underneath so it sets up higher and has storage for wider items. I put a lot of their building toys under there.

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On top of the shelves are a toy wagon that belonged to my husband’s uncle as a boy, a vintage globe, and a vintage Playskool mailbox toy. On the wall behind this I also have a “You been farming long?” print that my Mom-Mom had handed down to me since I had blond twin boys. (Anyone remember those from the 80’s? I think every farm family we knew growing up had something with that on them in their house.)

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Another view of those shelves close-up. Trucks, tractors, Nerf guns, GI Joe’s, and other goodies are all tucked into their places.

Well, that sums up my tour of the boys’ room for now. After purging and generally organizing it, I snapped some pictures before they got home from school! I did a lot more dramatic improvements to my girl’s bedroom, which I may show on a later date.

Thanks for stopping by!

Rachel

Cozy Hand Warmers

Anybody else have cold hands?

I’ve almost always had cold hands (and feet!) and I’m sure they’re about to get colder here soon.

The project I’m sharing today is perfect for using on a blustery cold day. That is, if you venture out at all in it. Here in PA the temps are dropping 50 degrees in the span of one day. It’s been a really crazy sort of winter for a lot of folks, and spring is still a long way off it seems.

Hopefully something like these can help to warm you up.

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Homemade hand warmers, perfect for tucking into pockets before heading out in the cold. Easy to make, and easier to heat up–just pop them in the microwave! Mine are made of a cozy flannel in this cute blue houndstooth print. These would be a good project for beginning sewers or someone who likes a quick little project.

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To make these, cut fabric into squares (mine are about 4″ by 4″). You will need 2 squares for each warmer.

With right sides together, sew or serge along 3 of the sides, leaving that 4th side open. It should now look like a pocket.

Flip that pocket right side OUT now, and fill 2/3 of the way full with rice (uncooked, of course;))

Tuck the raw edges in and hand-sew or carefully machine sew that last side closed, making sure you don’t lose that rice inside.

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That’s all. See? Quick and easy. I haven’t tried it yet, but these would be cute done in heart shapes–perhaps a Valentine gift?

As I mentioned previously, pop these babies in the microwave to heat them up and they should stay warm for awhile. I did make a large, rectangular version of these as a heating pad and it works great.

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Stay warm everyone!

Some Small Resolutions for 2014

I have never been one for making big New Year’s Resolutions.

Sure, I’ve had some here and there, and I would stick with them for awhile. However, I tend to think that by declaring some grand resolution that is far out of reach, it sets one up for failure.

I also tend to be the hardest on my own self if I fail at something.

Therefore, this year I just have a handful of small things that I would like to strive for. Some are serious and some may seem silly, but this is what comes to mind for me.

1. Learn at least one new skill. You’re never too old to learn something new! Some things I’ve taught myself in my thirties so far: how to sew, knit, crochet, blog, make good bread….I’d like to continue adding on to this list!

2. “Eat the frog.” If you’ve never heard this expression before, it comes from Mark Twain.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

He was expressing that you need to do something that seems difficult or that you’re intentionally putting off first, then do the things that are easier for you after that. I have a habit of procrastinating on the things I really am not looking forward to. Anyone else with me on that one?? Maybe this will be a kick in the pants to do those things first (basically, get it over with!) before tackling what I enjoy doing.

3. Make more things from scratch. Yeah, you may already think I’m a little over the top with this already. However, there’s a lot more things I could make on my own if I really tried.

4. Memorize 3 new passages from scripture. Someone really needs to light a fire under me on this one! I think scripture memorization is important and I am convinced that we need to have the Word of God written on our hearts and ready on our lips even more than ever. Our current times are SO stinking troubling that it about scares me. We Christians need to be ready to speak God’s Truth for all those times we feel Satan’s arrows being unleashed. Our kids need to learn this too.

5. Don’t wear sweatpants. Or yoga pants. I have this horrible habit, on days when I don’t have to go anywhere, of putting these on to exercise in and then remaining in them all day. Why oh why do they have to be so comfy?? I’m sure my better half would rather come home to me in something cute, or at least in something that looks like I’ve tried. (For the record, I’ve never gone out in public in pajama pants. Just so you know.)

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Also, for the record, this is not my husband. Just so you know.

6. Send more snail mail. Yes, you read that correctly. I used to be quite good at handwritten cards and notes of encouragement to people via the good ole’ postal service. Over the last few years I’ve slipped on this one, but I need to pick it back up. E-mails, Facebook postings, and texts just aren’t the same.

7. Drink more water and less coffee. Easier said than done.

Well, I realize that’s a pretty short list. I’m sure I will add on to it as the days of 2014 progress, but I think it’s a good little start.

Do you have any “small” resolutions that you want to tackle this year?