Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Canning With Tattler Lids



This year I decided to seal my jars with Tattler brand canning lids.  These lids consist of a plastic disc and a rubber ring that is held on the jar with a metal band.  I first heard about these lids last year and found them in a small housewares store in Southeast Portland called Mirador.  These lids are different from their traditional counterpart, the metal lids.  The metal lids can only safely be used once (although some people do reuse them).  I have also been told that the plastic seal contains BPA plastic.  I emailed Ball & Kerr (which are the same company by the way) and never received a response which makes me think that the BPA rumors are true.

The Tattler lids are reusable year after year, are BPA-free, and made in the USA!  I really like the idea of using them again and again which reduces waste and is one less thing to buy.  There's nothing worse than getting all your supplies on the counter and realize you are two lids short!  I purchased a dozen of these narrow mouth lids and bands for $8.00 and wide mouth lids and bands for $10.00 which equates to less than $1.00 per lid.  The downside of the Tattler lids is that they are made of plastic, a petroleum product.  Without doing a full lifecycle analysis (who has time for that?), I still think the Tattler lids are more sustainable for the fact that they are reusable and the food shouldn't be touching the plastic lid anyway.

I canned 35 quarts of green beans with these lids and they successfully sealed!  I still have a stockpile of metal lids that I will save for jams, peaches, applesauce, and tomato soup that I will give away to friends.

Tattler lids are very easy to use.  Simmer the lids and rubber rings in water until ready to use and...


Step 1: Place rubber ring on jar rim.

Step 2: Place white cap on top of rubber ring.

Step 3: Screw on metal ring.

I also have two of these old-fashioned jars with the rubber ring and glass lid held together with a metal clasp.  These are rare, and if you're lucky, the lid will not have any chips and cracks.  In terms of sustainability, I think these would be the number one choice, but the user would need to take extra care with the glass lids and make sure the metal clasps don't rust.  Speaking of rust, remove metal clasps and rings when storing.  I don't know why people think that if they remove the metal ring, the lid will unseal----remove the ring to keep it from rusting!  The rings will last a lot longer this way.



I also discovered another type of jar at The Homestead Supply Company that uses a glass lid and rubber ring held together by metal tabs.  These Weck jars are German-made so they use the metric system measurements.  Unfortunately these jars can only be used in a boiling water bath which limits what can be preserved.



I always think it's sad to see the beans go from bright green to a dull green after they come out of the canner.  A picture of before and after...





Bee Vision (BV)


Sitting on the back patio on summer afternoons and evenings is really relaxing for my family.  Often times Jon and I will just sit and sip our homemade soda while we look at the garden, bees, birds, dragonflies, and whatever else catches our eyes.  In particular, we enjoy watching the bees come and go from their hives and pollinate the clover by our feet.  Following a hot afternoon, the bees will often form large beards on the front of their hives in an effort to cool off and fan cooler air into the hives.  It is fun watching their beard grow as the evening progresses.  

Honeybees are mysterious creatures to me because I never really know what's going on inside their boxes.  I stare at the hives imagining them crawling around the frames and chewing on the nectar to make honey.  I wonder where the pollen comes from that is attached to their legs.  I try and watch where they go once they leave their hive, but they are so dang fast, I lose sight of them about two feet from the hive entrance.  Jon and I stare, mesmerized by their flights to and from the hive entrances for probably a couple of hours each week during the summer.  We call this our BV (aka Bee Vision) time---similar to TV watching.  We haven't owned a TV in eight years and find other ways to entertain ourselves, hence why we sit on the patio.  Don't get me wrong, we watch movies from our computer, but we just don't find much value in watching sitcoms, depressing news stories, and commercials.  There is just too much to see in the small ecosystem in our backyard suburban lot!

(Bearding on the outside of the hive.)


Do-It-Yourself Haircutting

In 2004, Jon purchased an electric Conair hair clipping set for $20.  Jon insisted that I cut his hair once we tied the knot.  I was a bit hesitant to cut Jon's hair but had confidence that I could do it because my Mom has always cut my hair (maybe I had acquired a bit of her talent through osmosis?).  I am a bit embarrassed to write that it took me 2 hours to cut Jon's hair the first time; but after 7 years of practice, it only takes me about 10 minutes.  Like father, like son, Paul also enjoys having his hair cut by his Mama and surprisingly isn't scared of the clippers.

Cutting hair just makes sense (literal cents).  My family has simple haircuts that make hair cutting at home very easy.  I can't justify spending $10-$20 for a trim at the salon when an entire hair clipping set costs $20.00 and lasts for several years (ours is 7 years old)!  Cutting hair at home is another step towards self-sufficiency.

When the weather is warm, we cut hair outside because cleanup is much easier.  No one in our house dyes or treats their hair so I scatter it in the yard for the birds.  They use the hair to build their nests.



Foraging for Blueberries

I just returned from an awesome camping weekend with my family and some neighbor friends.  There are a lot of campgrounds in the Mt. Hood area, but all of our top picks were full.  Fortunately we were able to get a site at a campground down the road.  It was a small campground with no extra amenities, but we managed to keep busy by walking one of the hiking trails.  Along one of the main trails was a small bunny trail leading down to a small lake.  This lake was fed by a spring that came right out of the ground at the base of this trail.  This spot had the most spectacular view!  Jon's eagle eyes immediately noticed the blueberry bushes running wild down by the water.  We decided to pick them, and before the weekend was over, we had 10 pounds!!

I thoroughly enjoyed picking the berries along side the river.  At times my heels were touching the water while I precariously picked those few berries almost out of my reach.  The moss covered rocks provided stepping stones for walking and pine tree branches provided hand holds for when I needed a bit more stabilizing.  This was by far the best place I have ever been to for berry picking.  I didn't have to listen to other strangers nonchalantly talk about their personal lives a few rows away at a berry farm.  I could pick in silence if I wanted to or talk to my friends and family.  Most of the time I would get in the "zone" while I listened to the water flowing over the rocks.

This little ecosystem was home to so many flowers in addition to the blueberries, thimbleberries, gooseberries, and chestnut trees that I could identify.  It was amazing how many wild edibles there were in this little space!  I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant at first to pick the blueberries because I thought they could be poisonous.  Jon reassured me many times that they were edible.  We added a bunch to our pancakes the next morning and we all ate a handful or two without any adverse affects so we went with Jon's instinct and continued picking.  It's funny how we are taught as children not to trust berries that we find in the woods because they could potentially be poisonous.  It's sad that as a society we have lost the basic knowledge and skills to identify wild edibles.  Seriously, these berries couldn't be any more organic than right where I picked them.

It was unbelievable how many berries there were in this one little spot.  The 10 pounds I gathered and the other 5 pounds my friend gathered didn't even put a dent in the actual quantity that was there.






(Blueberries drying in preparation for the freezer)

(I used 7 cups of the blueberries for making 8 half pints of blueberry pie filling.  Unfortunately one of the jars broke in the canner---first time I've had that happen in 4 years.  The pie filling will be used in our hobo pie irons for future camping trips!)


Food Swap


This past weekend I had the pleasure of swapping homemade goodies with complete strangers at a Food Swap event hosted by Sustainable Food For Thought.  I have been following this blog for about 2 months now and plan to be more involved with their monthly get-togethers.  I was one of 35 people to sign up for the food swap.  I brought canned grape juice & tomato soup, caramels, peanut butter cups, soap, and hand-embroidered flour sack towels.  In exchange, I received everything you see in the above picture.  From the picture, you can see the variety of hand goods people brought.  There was everything from basic vegetable and fruit canning, to tinctures, beer, drinking vinegar, bread, ice cream, pie, etc.  The unique aspect of this swap is that no money is exchanged----it's completely a barter transaction.  The swap gave opportunity for meeting people, gleaning ideas, and learning new skills.  What a great way to diversify the food pantry!


About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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