Saturday, February 20, 2010

Homemade Dog Shampoo

Well, I finally broke down and bathed the dogs last night.  If I can smell them, then they really do stink!  My husband says they stink all the time.  His nose must be more sensitive than mine, because I don't think they usually smell that bad. 

When we first bought our place and the dogs were allowed to come inside, we had many arguments over bathing the dogs.  I had these dogs before we got married.  I don't hear so much anymore how they are my dogs, but I used to.  Now they are very much a part of the family.  Hairy, stinky, family members who drool.  My husband wanted to bathe them every two weeks minimum.  I think that's a little excessive--I mean really, who has that much time on their hands?  This unreasonable insistance finally died out about the time I was pregnant and could no longer get down to bathe the dogs and he had to do it all by himself. 

As they've gotten older, my dogs have developed rather sensitive skin.  It took a lot of searching, but I finally have found a shampoo that agrees with their skin.  Today I am passing along a recipe for homemade dog shampoo that I have been using for awhile and have been very pleased with the results.  This shampoo is far better than most you can buy (assuming you are like me and would not spend $30 on prescription dog shampoo).  It is so gentle on their skin, rinses completely clean, and deodorizes while you bathe the dog so that you do not have to suffer that horrible, sour-egg, wet-dog smell.  I cannot say enough good things about vinegar's cleaning properties and I believe that is what makes this shampoo so wonderful.  After bathing both of my dogs last night, the tub was actually cleaner than it was when I started (other than for all the dog hairs I had to rinse down the drain).  This shampoo does not leave any soap scum or ring around the tub.  It does not leave behind a residue on your dog's coat that will irritate the skin later.  It gently removes the stinky dog oils and leaves their hair very soft and clean.

It is very cheap and easy to make.  It only takes about 5 minutes to mix up.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of Ivory dish soap

  • 1 cup of water

  • 1 cup of cider vinegar

  • 1/3 cup of glycerine

  • A 32 oz. clear bottle or spray bottle to mix it in.

  • A funnel

A 16 oz.  bottle of glycerine costs about $18, but you will get 6 batches of shampoo out of it.  The other ingredients are very cheap.

Combine all in your bottle and shake before each use.  It's that simple!  I found it helpful to mark a line on the clear bottle as I added each ingredient for quick and easy measuring of the next batch.

This shampoo mixes up to a very thin consistency and I recently found the adjustable nozzle spray bottle perfect for applying the shampoo to the dog without wasting any.  (I found mine in the gardening section of Walmart).  This shampoo doesn't lather as heavily as regular shampoo, but does work up a nice amount of suds.  I drizzle a little water on the dog's back as I go to help make more suds.  For my long-haired chow mix, I also work in a little Mane and Tail conditioner after rinsing.  This makes it easier to brush her out and prevents matting of her thick, wooly hair.  I've often wondered if I shaved this dog in the summer if I would get enough hair to knit a sweater.  She is quite the hairball.

Monday, February 15, 2010

SeedsNTrades Shareware

I have a lot of trouble keeping myself organized these days now that my toddler is hitting her full stride.  We have been cooped up in this house together for several weeks between the bitter cold, snow and now the inevitable winter sickness.  The knowledge that Spring is literally just around the corner (33 days from today) keeps me sane.  It's the goal-line I am pressing toward.  I spend a lot of my free time each day working on my plans for this year's garden.  I like to have all my ducks in a row before I start.

Today I want to pass on some very helpful software that I was introduced to this winter by a friend on a gardening forum I frequent.  It is called SeedsNTrades and it is a wonderfully simple program that will help you get your seed stash organized.  It is geared mainly toward tomatoes, but you can use it for all of your seeds.  It will help you keep inventory on what you have, what you intend to plant, what you are trading off/receiving, detailed information for each variety and more.  I have three 1-gallon Ziploc bags full of seeds, so I have really gotten a lot of benefit out of SeedsNTrades.

Here are a few screen shots to show you what it does.

This is your main screen when you start the program where you select to enter either the trade info database or the seed inventory database.

SeedsNTrades Main Screen

The following is a screen shot of the details I entered for my Cherokee Purple tomato seeds.  As you can see, it stores quite a bit of information about the plant and you can even insert a picture if you like.  You can enter multiple seeds sources with the specific seed age and quantity for each.  Be sure to check the box if it is for planting or trade.  This will be necessary when you go to create and print lists later.  I like that I can quickly pull a trade list without having to dig through my bags of seed to see how much I have of what.  The planting list is nice to have for various reasons.  I can see what I have and what I still need to buy.  I can see if I have several varieties of a bean, pepper or tomato and plan ahead for where I want to place them in my garden plan, especially for things that need spaced out to prevent cross-pollination should I intend to save seed from them to trade later.

Seed entry example, tomato

Although the fields are geared more toward tomatoes, you can also enter all of your other types of seeds.  The database will store them in alphabetical order, so it is best to begin the listing with the plant type (ie. Bean), then follow it with the variety (ie. Bean, Kentucky Wonder).  This way, when you go to print your lists, all of your Beans will be listed together.  Tomatoes, Peppers, Lettuce, Squash, Cosmos, Marigolds, so on and so forth.  Lists can either be sent directly to your printer or to a text file which you will find located under the SeedsNTrades program folder on your computer.

Other seeds, besides tomatoes

Here is a screenshot of the trade tracker entry screen.  Here you can store contact information and list what you are sending and receiving and whether or not it has been sent or arrived.  I've just started using the trade side of things.  It will be very helpful if you make a lot of trades (perhaps on different forums) and will help you keep straight what you have committed to send out or what you are still waiting to receive in the mail.

Trade listing

SeedsNTrades free software is available, along with three other similar programs by the same author, via a tomato lover's forum called Tomatoville.  If you join the forum, you can download it there.  Or you can download it from me here.  It is a small file, only about 6 MB.  You will need to save it to your Downloads folder and extract it to your Programs folder using a Zip utility.  I use jZip, which is completely free with no hassle.

It is very important that you open and read the Readme file (located in the SeedsNTrades folder once you've extracted the program).  Instructions on how to use the software are there.  If you just jump in and start playing with it, you are likely to have a few error messages and possibly crash the program.  The Readme file will show you how to use the program properly and explain all that it can do, more so than I have explained here.


SeedsNTrades Software is Copyright (C) 2009 -- by Ted Maiden.  All Rights Reserved.  It is written in Visual Basic Version 5.0 and is 100% new code.  The databases are in Access Version 2.0.  Some reports are in Crystal Reports Version 4.6.1.  This program is uncrippled Shareware and can be distributed freely as long as it is unmodified.  It cannot be sold for profit by anyone for any reason.  For questions about its operation, the availability of its source code, or other inquiries, send an email to

If you like the software, be sure to email the author and let him know you appreciate his work.  If you have any trouble downloading or installing it from me here, just drop me a comment and I will try to help you out.  I hope you find SeedsNTrades as valuable a planning and organization tool as I do.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge

Ok, how about another recipe!  Dark chocolate fudge with black walnuts--I made this the other day and although I set aside a baggie for my mother-in-law (also a great lover of dark chocolate), there is very little left now.  This might even be something you fellas could do to surprise your sweetie for Valentine's Day.  As the title says, I promise you it truly is foolproof!  And when she says, "oh honey, you really shouldn't have" (interpret--"you've just gone and ruined my diet"), you can point how how heart healthy dark chocolate and walnuts are.  You know, antioxidants and omega-3's and all that good stuff.  :)

Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge

  • 3 (6 oz.) pkgs of bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips (equals 3 cups)

  • 1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk

  • a dash of salt

  • 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped nuts

  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan over LOW heat, melt chips with condensed milk and salt, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in nuts and vanilla.  Spread evenly into a wax paper lined 8" or 9" square pan.  Chill 2 hours or until firm.  Turn fudge out onto a cutting board and cut into squares.

See?  Easy!  I had some black walnuts I had collected from a tree on my mother-in-law's property last year and had been saving them for something special.  They were perfect in this fudge.  I lightly roasted them at 300 degrees for a couple minutes which adds a smokey flavor to the nut and I hear also makes them even healthier. 

It takes a long time to hull out and crack black walnuts with a hammer.  The effort is well worth it.  Their flavor cannot be beat and the regular walnuts you buy at the store for cooking cannot compare.  I feel sorry for people who don't have black walnut trees where they live.  They don't know what they are missing!  They literally grow like weeds around here, but it takes a little time to locate a tree that produces good quality, large nuts.  Like I said, it is a lot of trouble to crack them, so you hope to get a lot of nutmeat out of them.  One of these days I am going to invest in a heavy-duty nut press for these types of hard shelled nuts.

So this fudge is so easy you have no reason not to give it a try.  Pecans or hazelnuts (filberts) would also be great in it.  If you surprise your sweetie for Valentine's Day, drop me a comment and let me know how it went.  :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Vinegrette Tuna Salad Sandwich

Well, since there is not much going on in the garden this time of year, I think I'll share some recipes.  This is what we had for dinner tonight.  I got this recipe for tuna salad from the coffee shop I worked for in college.  Well, they didn't give me the recipe (they were very secretive with their recipes).  I played around with it until I got it right. 

It is very good for you!  Tuna is of course pure protein and an excellent source of Omega-3's.  The onion and olive oil are very heart healthy, parsley is very high in iron and bell peppers are chock full of antioxidants.  This would be good for "diet food", but definitely fills you up and gives your body good fuel for the day.  I prefer this version over any of the mayo-based tuna salads.  The cider vinegar gives the tuna a clean taste, not fishy at all.

Vinegrette Tuna Salad

  • 4 regular size cans of tuna in water, drained well

  • 1/2 of a large red onion, diced

  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced

  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

Combine all and mix well.  The flavor is best if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to blend.  I like to serve it up on either a hard Jewish rye bread or in a whole wheat pita pocket with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese and toast it on my George Foreman grill.  Then I add alfalfa sprouts, but lettuce would be good too.  Yummy!  And very satisfying.