a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Piles of Paperwork: What to TOSS and What to KEEP

Judging from the vast number of "getting organized" materials available, I don't think I am the only one
who can't seem to get to the top of my paperwork.

Maybe these REAL SIMPLE guidelines will help me out. And hopefully, if your finances are simple and you suffer from paper overload and uncertainty, they will help you also.

TOSS --- each month

  • ATM, bank deposit slips, and credit card receipts, after you have checked them against your statements. 
  • Sales receipts for minor purchases, unless the receipt is for an item that has a warranty.
TOSS --- after one year
  • Monthly bank and credit-card statements, if you don't itemize deductions. 
  • Monthly quarterly brokerage and mutual-fund statements.
  • Monthly mortgage statements (if your year-end statement shows the total amount of interest and property taxes you've paid throughout the year).
  • Phone and utility bills if you don't have a home office, use the phone for business calls, or anticipate any need to prove long-term residency.
  • Paycheck stubs after they are reconciled with your annual W-2 or 1099.
KEEP --- for seven years
  • W-2 and 1099 forms
  • Year-end statements from credit card companies
  • Phone and utility bills (if you deduct any portion for business, have more than one home, or have moved within the past few years.
  • Cancelled checks and receipts/statements for annual mortgage interest and property taxes, deductible business expenses, child-care bills, out-of-pocket medical costs, or any other tax deductible expense.
KEEP --- Indefinitely
  • Annual tax returns
  • Year-end summaries from financial services companies
  • Confirmation slips listing the purchase price of any investments you own.
  • Home-improvement records
  • Receipts for major purchases.

Note: These are simple guidelines for simple household expenses as suggested by REAL SIMPLE magazine. If your finances are not this simple or if you have any questions or concerns,  you should check with your accountant.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dissecting . . . Vegetable Shortening

In my last post I recalled the story of the            
Velveteen Rabbit who asks 

"What is Real?"

It is becoming more and more common for the common foods we eat to be less and less
real --- and it is important to our health and to our family's health to find out if what we are eating is real.

Vegetable Shortening 

I do a lot of studying in books and on the Internet. I am always amazed how quickly Google provides the answers to my searches. 

That was not the case today.

I was searching for backup proof for my latest disturbing discovery* and discovered the making of Crisco is a well-kept secret --- even though there are zillions of articles on the dangers of trans fats and hydrogenated oils and the like.

The Assumption

Back in the day Crisco was reported to be so pure that we were advised to use it on baby's bottom, on our lips, and our skin. White as snow, we were led to assume, was also pure as fresh-fallen snow.

The Facts
  1. To make shortening (or margarine) high temperature and pressure are used on the extract the oils from the vegetables. Then, since the manufacturer's wouldn't want to leave any product behind, any oil still remaining in the seed or grain is removed with hexane solvents ( toxic chemical HEXANE -- a neurotoxic substance produced as a byproduct of gasoline refining.) http://www.naturalnews.com/026303.html
  2. The oil is steam cleaned, a process that removes all the vitamins and antioxidants while leaving  the solvents and pesticides. 
  3. The oil is mixed with a nickel catalyst and is, as a liquid, put into a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor where hydrogen gas is forced into the oil (hydrogenation). 
  4. The reactor changes the liquid to a semi-solid "that looks like gray cottage cheese and smells terrible."
  5. Emulsifiers are mixed in to smooth out the lumps.
  6. The product is steam cleaned a second time to get rid of the horrible smell.
  7. Finally,  it is bleached to get rid of the gray color.   
*Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food (kicking your fake food habit) by registered dietitian Christine Avanti.

BTW, Margarine is made by adding artificial flavors and synthetic vitamins to vegetable shortening. Because manufacturers aren't allow to add a synthetic color to margarine, they add a natural coloring "annatto."  Doesn't that strike you as hypocritical?  Everything else about shortening is synthetic and the government watchers over the safety of our food choose to draw the line at artificial color!   


I spent a few hours searching for confirmation before presenting  Ms. Avanti's report since I didn't want to offer false information. Finally I found it:

"RE: Classification of Crisco shortening

Dear Mr. Erwin:
This letter is in response to your inquiry, dated July 2, 1990, concerning the tariff classification of two Crisco shortening products under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A sample of the merchandise was not submitted along with your request. You have requested confidential treatment for this request.
The subject merchandise is described as a one pound block of regular Crisco shortening, and a one pound block of butter- flavored Crisco shortening. The regular shortening consists of the following ingredients: 78.3 percent of refined, bleached, and hydrogenated Canola oil, 17.4 percent of refined, bleached, and hydrogenated Malaysian palm oil, and 4.3 percent of refined, bleached, and hydrogenated soybean oil. The butter-flavored shortening contains the same ingredients plus two artificial butter flavors and food coloring. Both of theses products are subjected to the processes of blending and deodorizing."

I found this one as I searched---

How Crisco Shortening Turned Me Into a Nutritionist…

June 5, 2007

"Might sound a little strange coming from a natural health nutritionist, but I want to thank the makers of Crisco shortening for getting me started on my career. Back in rural North Carolina farming country during the early 1970s, Crisco was a staple ingredient in just about everyone’s kitchen that I knew. We used Crisco shortening in everything from biscuits to cookies, cakes, and pies for that “flaky” crust, wonderful texture you looked for in baked goods and without the after taste of lard. Heck, I even won the “Crisco Award” and still have the trophy! So why would a shortening get me interested in nutrition anyway? Because I asked one simple question………….how is it made? When told that Crisco was actually “man-made,” taking a natural liquid plant oil and turning it into asolid that doesn’t really exist in nature, my response was immediate……… “So if it doesn’t exist in nature, how does my body know what to do with it?”  But no one then could really answer my question. So, that’s how my career got started."

 There are many sites that offer substitutions for shortening, but since I like to leave you with a healthy way to "copy cat"  I leave you with the following blog  (with the disclaimer that I haven't tried it yet)

Once again, I keep wondering WHO would even come up with the idea of, and HOW these non-food items even got in our food products?
WHY is not one of the questions --- the answer to that is simple: 
$ Pure greed $