Tag Archives: Frugal Living

Stuff that works! Zinsser Cover Up for the RV Ceiling Stains

I admit it. I like to complain. So to counteract that I like to talk about stuff I find that works as advertised.

Problem, rusty, yucky stains on the ceiling of the RV. For some stupid reason my camera refused to focus on the ugly spot but the picture is good enough for you to see how yucky it was. For reasons I don’t understand, whoever chose to build my RV used staples in the ceiling tile that rust. The result has been these horrid yellowish rust spots appearing in the nice white ceiling, in neat regular rows, especially in the bathroom. And I mean YUCK!


After trying every kind of stain remover I could find, I decided to give up on removing the stain and see about covering up. I already really liked the Zinsser 1,2,3 primer. I decided to give this stuff a try.

Zinger’s Cover up is advertised as being for covering stains on ceilings. It has a very handy upward squirting nozzle that sprays a fine bunch of goop at the spot. It comes out looking like a horrid much worse wet greasy stain. It dries to a flat white with no greasy look. Just so happens the flat white works beautifully over the rusty stains in my RV.Zinsser


This is my after picture (which focused!). You can still see the barest hint of a rust stain but it is almost invisible. And that with only one coat! I will do a second coat.

Warning: Really stinky smelling and makes a fine vapour which you do not want to breathe, especially if you an asthmatic like me. Have all your windows open, drape underneath, and use goggles and a mask or you’ll be sorry. Also the stuff looks hideous until it dries. So wait for a nice day with a breeze, open all the windows, spray, go for a walk, and don’t look again until the next day if you can help yourself. Also read and follow the directions about keeping the nozzle clear.

I like stuff that works!

No one paid me anything for this review.

And voila, clean white ceiling. It’s been up there for nearly four weeks now and holding.

Hot Pickled Green Beans: Good!

Hubby dearest loves his pickled veggies. This summer my green beans went a bit nuts and so I decided to try to bring them under control by pickling them. Since he likes hot and spicy, I got a hot and spicy recipe. Today I dug the pickled beans out from the back of the fridge where they have been sitting for the last eight weeks and we tried them. These beans are crunchy-crisp, very hot and not very salty. And the verdict is delicious.

You can find the recipe here thanks to Rita~ who says “I enjoyed these when I was in New Orleans Garnishing a Bloody Mary and had to come home and duplicate them. They can also be enjoyed as a side. Having a nice kick to them. Nice for gift giving.”


    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 teaspoon pickling salt
    • 1 tablespoon agave syrup or 1 tablespoon honey
    • 2 cups vinegar, 5% acidity
    • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon dill seed
    • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
    • bay leaf
    • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
    • 1 chile, sliced in 8 long strips
    • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 1 1/2 lbs string beans, trimmed
    • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a small saucepan, over high heat, bring the first 9 ingredients to a boil, then turn off the heat, stirring until dissolved. Add the chilies and garlic. Remove from heat.
  2. Wash and trim the green beans. Bring a large pot of water with the 1 teaspoon salt to a boil over medium heat. Add the beans. Cook until the beans begin to turn bright green and are just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Rinse immediately with cold water and put them in an ice bath for 10 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Pack beans in sterilized jars then cover with the vinegar mixture.
  4. Place lids and caps on cleaned rimmed jars.
  5. Process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes, remove and cool in a draft free spot for 24 hours.
  6. You can also put them in sterilized jars and refrigerate instead of doing the canning process. Let flavors meld for 1 week. Just keep under refrigeration and eat within 1 month.
  7. I canned 2 jars and the 3rd was what I had left over for munching which was refrigerated.

A work in progress that is progressing!



Exterior house painting is hard work. Scrapping old paint with a scrapper, then using a wire brush to get the little flakes, then a coat of primer over bare wood, a second coat of primer where stains showed through and then two coats of paint over the primer. Hours and hours of work. It is also a good workout. I have been going to be each night sore and tired. Who needs a gym?

This picture is so encouraging! You can actually see the two main yellow shades I picked coming together. I am very very pleased with the results! I started using this to visualize and it is working!

Thank you Benjamin Moore for a great website.

Color Scheme


Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap – Easy cheap and it works.

I suffer from a host of allergies and my lungs respond to irritants that most people are blissfully unaware of, lucky creatures. A while back I got onto the kick of making homemade cleaners as a way to both save money and reduce the irritants in my life. For years I assumed that I wheezed when I cleaned because cleaning stirred up dust and allergens. I have since discovered that if I use my own liquid cleaner scented with stuff that doesn’t bother me (my own pure orange distillation I make from orange peels), I can clean wheeze-free. It was the cleaner I used for years and years, regular Mr. Clean, that was causing my allergic reaction not the dust! Most likely it was that pleasant clean lemon fresh scent I love so much. It was in that vein that I started looking for a do-it-yourself replacement for laundry detergent.

I got this recipe for liquid laundry soap from the Wellness Mama. I decided I would wait until we had actually used the stuff for a while before reporting upon how it worked. I used to use Tide Free and Gentle, the one they made for people with allergies and skin sensitivities. It is not completely wheeze free for me but it is pretty close. I am also fussy about the laundry getting clean so I have kept using Tide even though it is higher cost because with cheaper store brands the clothing tended to get dull and stains accumulated, especially on my white socks and grease spots from cooking on my white T-shirts. I like the soles of my white socks to be white when I put them on and I throw away T shirts with grease stains. I have to avoid almost every other brand of laundry detergent out there in any case because of the heavy scent load. I can’t use regular Tide for example. For me personally, Gain, which is very heavily scented, is an absolute nightmare. I can’t even stand to stay in a laundromat if someone else is pouring Gain (which is how Hubby Dearest ended up doing most of the laundry) and I can have trouble with my allergies if a coworker has Gain scent on their clothing.

We have now been using our DIY laundry soap for three months. I am pleased to report the following. My white socks are clean and bright. I have seen no accumulations of stains on my T Shirts nor any laundry dullness. The product is as easy to use as any liquid detergent. We do not normally add any form of pretreatment or bleach. It seems to get the grease stains out as well as or maybe even better than Tide. I can now recommend this recipe to all do-it-yourselfers and people who wish to save money, or those who have scent allergies. The cost is a teeny tiny fraction of using Tide Free and Clean, mere pennies per load. Thank you Wellness Mama!

Disclaimer: My personal issues with scented products and cleaners should not be taken as me saying I think they cause health problems for other people. Most people are not cursed with my allergic hypersensitivity. If you are using these commercial products I have named and you like them, then please continue to do so with my full blessings. Since my standard in homemade cleaners is high because of the effectiveness of the named products then you can consider this an endorsement of them if you don’t have scent allergies and you prefer to buy your cleaning products.

To make Liquid Laundry Soap:

  1. Grate one bar of soap (I used Kirk’s Castille) with a cheese grater (I used the cheese grater) or food processor.
  2. Put grated soap in pan with 2 quarts water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved.
  3. Put 4.5 gallons of really hot tap water in a 5-gallon bucket (available for free in bakeries at grocery stores, just ask them) and stir in 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda until completely dissolved. (It is easy and cheaper to make your own washing soda by baking regular baking soda in the oven at 400F until it changes consistency. I did not find any one site I liked that described this so I suggest Googling it until you find one or figure it out for yourself by checking several.)
  4. Pour soap mixture from pan into 5-gallon bucket. Stir well.
  5. Cover and leave overnight.
  6. Shake or stir until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers.
  7. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load.

I used half the water in the last step and we add only 1/4 cup for each load not 1/2. My slightly altered version gives us a gel. Hubby dearest reports he shakes the milk jug before pouring to break up the gel into a pourable liquid slightly less thick that liquid laundry soap.

Sunshine in a can.

 Color Scheme

Computers are so useful. Many years ago, I bought a small house out in the country and we picked a pretty colour, a vibrant lovely blue. After it was on the walls I HATED it. I was pregnant when I picked it and I figured I must have had placenta brain or my judgement was affected by hormones. I got home from the hospital to find the welcome home surprise of exterior house painting accomplished and I spent the next three years trying not to look at my house. We moved. The brilliant azure blue so lovely in the tabs from the paint store, so ghastly on my house, became someone else’s problem.

Today computers can generate very cool “try as you go”. You can change the colours on the picture of the idealized house any way you like. The computer also gives you “suggestions” from the palette. I had a lot of fun with it. First thing I discovered is my taste in paint colours back then may not have been affected by hormones after all. I started out plugging in selections of purples, then rusts, then reds. I showed the various selections to the neighbours and one commented I needed to keep trying. The other said she was thinking of getting new opaque blinds anyway. Maybe brown? Couldn’t be worse. Might be better.

I was looking at some browns when I stumbled over “Golden Bounty”. That was how I got to yellow. And then I tried yellow. Normally, I don’t like yellow indoors because it is dingy inside a house. I actually hadn’t even considered yellows for outdoors. But with the handy-dander freshly-painted-house picture maker, I could try all kinds of bright lovely yellow combinations. I finally settled for what seems to me to be lovely. I took my picture to the neighbours and they loved it. Sunshine in a can, one said. That would just be such a nice pick me up in the dead of winter. I could open my blinds and just feel like maybe summer will return after all, said the other. And so it was a go. And here you can see the old colour on the front of house. The old colour is actually not bad but it’s peeling so it must be redone and why not add some sunshine to my life and the lives of my neighbours? So on my deck side you can see my lovely new “Wildflower” yellow.

We will continue to work away around the house until all the bare peeling paint in soft apricot is covered with lovely “Wildflower” yellow. This will take some time because it has to be scrapped clean, washed to remove lichens and mildew, and then primed with the sealer. (Okay I know they say the house paint is self priming, but I still think I need primer.) Later, we can add “Sunbeam” yellow where the teal is now and “Lightning” for the trim. For the doors, we will use “Golden Bounty” the colour that started it all. We hope to have it all done before we head south. At minimum we need to get all the “Wildflower” yellow done because that is what is peeling and showing bare wood that is hinting at rot in a few places. I was pleasantly surprised to see the old teal doesn’t look half bad with the yellow so if we can’t get to the teal until next spring, it won’t be a tragedy. Tomorrow back to scraping.


Fall is here.


The forecast for tonight is 2C (35.6) with a risk of frost. And so it’s time to harvest my herbs. On the table is my summer savoury and a mix of cilantro and carrots. The summer savoury is something I don’t use a lot in cooking. However, I read an interesting blog about extracting essential oils from this herb and I thought I would try it. So after picking I set some aside in a bundle to dry but most of it is currently in, or waiting to go into my crock pot. After it’s been properly stewed I’ll distill the mix. The resulting essential oil should work well for cleaning.

The cilantro I am handling a bit differently. I chopped the finer leaves up into small bits and spread it on a cookie sheet. That is in the freezer and once it is frozen I’ll just break it up and put the bits in a plastic jar in the freezer. I only really use cilantro in cooked dishes so I can just grab the jar sprinkle a bit in at needs and it’s as nice as fresh.

Fall is kind of sad time for the garden. I have been busy cleaning the garden out. I pulled up all the corn stacks and I have picked most of the tomatoes. If it frosts they will be first to go. The cucumbers are still producing but I have enough pickles now so I am not going to try to keep it going by covering the plants. If it frosts it frosts and if it doesn’t, well bonus.

I also noticed that white mildew has hit as it so often does in the fall. My spaghetti squash only produced two little apple sized squash. If we don’t get frost and the mildew doesn’t spread they might produce something but its unlikely. Note to self: next year don’t start spaghetti squash from seed. The season up on the 51st parallel is just too short.

And so I am kind of hoping the frost arrives tonight because then the garden is finished and the work is done. I am mostly hoping the frost will pass us by and I can get a few more weeks of produce. We shall see what the night brings.

One of the nicer aspect of fall is that the sun is now setting and it’s dark by about 8:30pm. The last few nights the northern lights have been absolutely spectacular and it’s been dark enough to watch them before bed. And so life on the 51st parallel is a series of tradeoffs. Down south they are still in summer heat but I’ll bet they don’t see a lot of northern lights like we do. Even in the bright city lights of Winnipeg the aurora was spectacular. We got an even better show.

View from Winnipeg

Simple Pleasures Are the Best


What could be simpler than a plain roasted chicken, some boiled corn on the cob and potatoes? What could be more delicious than your very own corn picked from your garden and baby potatoes you dug up just before throwing them in the pot?

The corn was small and stunted and so the cobs were half the size of a store bought one but what they lacked in size, they more than made up for in taste. And potatoes, heavenly. I noticed the garden turnips are ready too. I’m not a big turnip fan but Hubby Dearest loves them. We’ll start eating those soon.

I am also still drying seeds for next year. We will have a chance to try out the community garden and greenhouse next year with our own seeds. It’s raining outside and the cool nip of fall is in the air. The days are shortening so half the evening is dark now. I had to rake leaves yesterday. We are planning our trip south for the winter. But today, for our dinner, we enjoyed the simply sweet pleasure of plain chicken, and our own corn and potatoes. Life is sweet.