Monday, December 3, 2012

Growing Sweet Potatoes

This last Spring I had a small sweet potato that had started growing a stem, so, as I would with any regular potato, I put it in a large container and covered it it dirt.  It grew a beautiful crown of leafy stems and appeared to be doing just fine, so I watered it and let it do it's thing.

A few days ago, I finally got around to getting the potatoes out of the container. After all, I had dug up the regular potatoes some time ago.

I was a little shocked when I dumped out the container to see how compacted the poor potatoes had grown and there were tons of them in there.

Unfortunately, the ones that appeared actually edible, were only the size of the average carrot or less (mostly less).



Not letting the size be a deterrent, I brought them inside and decided that with a little butter, brown sugar, and honey they could still be a pretty darned tasty as a side dish.

I didn't have the time, at the time, to wash them up and take off the little roots, so I put them on a plate and shoved them into the fridge to deal with on a different day.

Last night, I was perusing some books that had arrived a few days earlier. In one of the books (a magazine actually), by Mother Earth News, was an entire article dedicated to the growing and harvesting of Sweet Potatoes.

Apparently, Sweet Potatoes are generally considered to be a Southern crop, where it is warmer.  I, of course, live in the Northern USA.  But, you can still grow them here.

I learned from this article that... hmmm... I did very little right for growing, harvesting, and storing this tasty tuber!

Sweet potatoes don't seem to mind whatever you plant them in but they prefer light, sandy soil.  (Mine were planted in the same dirt as all the other stuff I planted -  who knew? ha ha)

They like a sunny location.  They like it hot and they like regular watering but not flooding!  Excessive rain/watering will slow them down, but not necessarily harm them.

Soil temps need to be above 50 degrees at all times due to "chilling injury" from shivering! (What???)  At 60 degrees, the metabolism of the plant slows to near zero, meaning it doesn't grow. So they need to be warm for them to grow.

You can "preheat" your soil by covering it with a sheet of clear plastic in the late Spring.  It is important that the sides of the plastic are tucked into the dirt it is supposed to be warming. The plastic needs to be taut and laying on the dirt so the warmth doesn't escape.  If done properly, it will be too hot under the plastic for weeds to grow.

For those of us in the North, at planting time, leave the plastic on the bed, cut an 8" slit in the plastic where you intend to plant, press the soil down to make a bowl shaped depression about a foot in diameter with the slit in the center. Plant your potato slip (I'll tell you what a slip is shortly) in the bowl you just made through the slit. Place sand or very fine gravel on top of the plastic where you're "bowl" is. This seals the slit and allows water to make it to your plant.

Now, admittedly, I did not make a "slip"... I just put my piece of sweet potato, that had the sprout growing, into the dirt and covered it up with more dirt. It had many many babies! But, according to the article, you should make these slips by putting the sweet potato into water to produce the sprouts.  The sprout, not the tuber piece, is what is supposed to be planted. The sprout is to be snapped off the tuber and planted, then watered with warm water immediately after planting it.

Sweet potatoes are alive and breathe.  After harvesting, don't store them in a sealed plastic bag as they will end up poisoning themselves from the gas from their respiration.  Paper bags or boxes are ok. The temperature should also be 60 degrees.

When you dig them up, they appear firm, but they will bruise very easily and spoil within a relatively short time.

Sweet Potatoes are tropical plants and at a temperature of 50 degrees they will start to "shiver". After one day in the fridge, the once living, breathing veggie will die. It will remain a good-looking corpse for a few days, but then develops pock marks and a hard core.

Sweet Potatoes need to be cured, starting on harvest day. To cure them, they need to be kept in 85 - 90 degree heat for 5 days.  During that time it will grow a second skin and seal itself. After curing you can leave it laying around the kitchen for several months.  Without curing, it will only last a month or two in storage. Curing also enhances the flavor development.  The "curing space" should also have 80 - 90% humidity for best results.

A newly dug sweet potato is virtually tasteless. It doesn't reach it's flavor peak until it has been cured and then stored for a few months.  (Note: This morning, after reading this article late last night, I got the little orange corpses out of the fridge, washed one off and snapped off a bite of it. Sure enough, there was a sense of sweetness to it, but other than that the flavor was pretty much non-existent).

Harvesting generally occurs in the Fall when the ground heat reaches 50 deg or less or the leaves have received their first frost.  They should be washed off, outside with a spray from a hose or in a bucket of water as soon as harvested.
Then, cure them and store them for a month or more before you eat them for the best flavor.

I may try it again next Spring using all the tips in the article... but I'm not sure because keeping an area that hot and humid in my house in the North to get the best flavor I will have to build the taters their own little space and give them a space heater!  I'm not sure how to create that much humidity though. More research necessary.

My thanks to Ken Allan, author of Sweet Potatoes for the Home Garden, for sharing his knowledge in an easy to understand, comprehensive article and to Mother Earth News for printing it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Helpful Hints - Food Secrets

More helpful hints from Joey Green's Kitchen Magic.  This time the topic is Food Secrets.  I found most of them very interesting and picked out some to share. But there are tons more in the book that I am not putting here. 

Aparagus - To revitalize wilted asparagus, cut an inch off the bottom of the stalk. Mix one teaspoon ReaLemon juice and two quarts of cool water. Soak the asparagus in the solution for 30 - 60 minutes.

Bacon - Before frying bacon, soak the strips in cold water for a few minutes. The bacon will curl less in the frying pan.
   Here's another bacon idea that was not in the book: cook bacon in a waffle iron and half way through cooking process, open waffle iron and reposition bacon strips to ensure uniform cooking. Close the iron and finish cooking.  Supposedly, this eliminates the problem of grease spattering all over the place.  Then cook your waffles next in the same iron, and it gives them great bacon flavoring.

Baking Powder - To make baking powder, mix 2 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and one teaspoon of Corn Starch.

Barbecue Sauce - For a fast and tasty BBQ sauce, mix Coke with Ketchup.

Berries - Chill berries in the fridge before washing them off to prevent the berries from absorbing too much water and becoming soggy.

Broccoli - Cooking a stalk of celery with broccoli prevents the broccoli from emitting strong odor.

Brown Sugar - To revived hardened Brown Sugar, empty the sugar into a plastic container and put a slice or two of white bread on top of it, put the lid on and let it sit for a couple weeks or so. The bread absorbs the moisture from the brown sugar and it will soften again.

Cabbage - To reduce the odor of cooking cabbage, add 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda to the cooking water.

German Chocolate Cake - Originated in 1957 in Texas... the recipe, that is.  The bittersweet chocolate was developed by Samuel German, in Massachusetts, in 1852. It was named German's Sweet Chocolate in honor of Samuel German, an Englishman.  It has no connection to Germany. (There are a lot of these "Strange Facts" in the book).

Cauliflower - To keep it white when cooking, add one teaspoon of sugar to the cooking water.

Cheese - To flavor and refresh a block of cheese, saturate a cloth with Wine Vinegar, wrap it around the cheese and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.

Cookies - To soften cookies that have lost their moistness, place the cookies and a slice of bread into a Ziploc bag. Seal it and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the cookies will be moist again.

Cranberries - Cook cranberries until they pop and then remove from the heat source. Any additional cooking makes them bitter.

Cupcakes - To frost cupcakes with ease, two minutes before removing the pan of cupcakes from the oven, place a Jet-Puffed marshmallow on top of each cupcake. The heat melts the marshmallows, creating a creamy frosting.

Eggs - To keep the yolk in the center of the egg as you are hard boiling it (like for deviled eggs), stir the eggs while they are boiling. The movement will keep the yolk centered.

Eggs - To make fluffy scrambled eggs, mix in one  teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of water for every two eggs when beating the eggs.

Egg Substitute - If you run out of eggs while baking a cake, substitute one teaspoon Baking Soda and one teaspoon White Vinegar for each egg.

French Fries - Place the cut potatoes into a bowl of ice water and refrigerate for one hour. Dry thoroughly on paper towels and fry in oil for a few minutes. Remove from the oil and carefully dry them again. Sprinkle with flour and fry again until golden brown.

Ginger - To preserve diced, fresh ginger in the fridge, peel and chop the ginger, place in a jar, top off with Vodka and seal the lid securely. It will last for a year in the fridge.

Honey - If you substitute honey for the sugar in a recipe, reduce the liquid by half. For baked goods, add 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda for each cup of honey used and reduce the oven temp by 25 degrees to prevent overbrowning.

Lemons and Limes - The ones with the smoothest skin and the smallest points at each end contain more juice and provide the best flavor.

Mushrooms - To prevent mushrooms from shriveling and turning brown while sauteeing, add one teaspoon realLemon Juice for each quarter pound of butter. The juice will help keep the mushrooms white and firm.

Oil - To reduce the amount of cooking oil absorbed by fried food, add one tablespoon white vinegar to the frying pan before heating the oil.

Onion - If you intend to only use half an onion, after cutting the onion in half, rub the open face of the leftover half with butter to preserve it longer.

Oranges - If you cover an unpeeled orange with boiling hot water for five minutes, when you peel the orange no white fibers from the peel with adhere to the pulp.

Pancakes - To make them fluffier, substitute the liquid called for in your recipe with with club soda.  (note: I have done this and it does make a better, lighter, fluffier pancake).

Peaches - To get them to ripen faster, put them in a cardboard box and cover the fruit with a few sheets of newspaper then seal the box closed. The newsprint keeps the ethylene gas emitted by the peaches close to the fruit causing the peaches to ripen.  Do the same thing for Pears.

Pepper - To prevent the holes in your pepper shaker from getting clogged, add a few whole black peppercorns to the shaker. They absorb the excess moisture and give the crushed pepper a fresher flavor.

Pie Crust - To make a flakier crust, substitute sour cream for the liquid in the recipe.

Pineapple - Never use fresh pineapple in your gelatin desserts.  The enzyme bromelain breaks down the protein in the gelatin preventing it from setting. You can used canned pineapple, which, since it has been cooked, the enzyme has been deactivated.

Roast - When cooking a roast, do not add salt until the meat is nearly cooked. Salt extracts the juices from the meat, making it moist and tasty, but if you salt the roast too early, the heat from the oven will dry out those juices.... making it dry.

Salad - To prevent it from getting soggy in the salad serving bowl, place a saucer upside down in the bottom of the bowl before you put the salad in. Excess water or dressing drains down the sides of the saucer and your salad isn't sitting in it!

Sausage links - To prevent them from curling up in the frying pan, link a few together with toothpicks and when you're done cooking them, take the toothpicks back out before serving.

Sweet Potato - To easily peel it, boil it and then submerge it in cold water. Give the potato a slight twist of your hand and the skin falls right off.

Syrup - Mix one cup of brown sugar with 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add one teaspoon of Imitation Maple flavoring.

Tomatoes - To ripen green tomatoes, place them in a brown paper bag, close the bag and leave it in a dark place at room temperature for several days.  (Note: I do this every year at the end of garden season and it works great!). If you want them to ripen faster, stick an apple or banana in there with the tomatoes. The ethylene gas from the apple or banana with hasten the ripening.

Turkey - To prevent the white meat from drying out when roasting a turkey, place the bird breast side down in the pan and turn it breast side up for the last hour of roasting only.

Vegetables - To help veggies retain their vitamin content and make green veggies stay green, add a little ReaLemon juice to the cooking liquid to make the solution slightly acidic.








Thursday, October 25, 2012

Helpful Hints - Kitchen Remedies

I recently bought a book called "Kitchen Magic" by Joey Green.  It's a good book, has a variety of helpful hints for cleaning, cooking, home remedies, and other stuff.

I picked out a few to share with you from the "Astonishing Kitchen Remedies" section. 

Arthritis:  eat one serving of Jello every day. The amino acids are supposed to stimulate production of collagen and provide nutritional support for cartilage.

Bad Breath:  Dissolve one teaspoon of baking soda with one teaspoon of salt in 1/2 cup of water. Rinse your mouth and/or gargle with the solution.

Colds and Flu: Mix 10 - 20 drops Tabasco Pepper Sauce in one cup of Tomato Juice.  Drink several glasses of the spicy tonic daily.  It should help to clear the nose, sinuses, and lungs.  You can also mix the Tabasco into a glass of water and gargle with it to help clear the respiratory tract.

Homemade Cough Syrup:  Mix 4 tablespoons of ReaLemon lemon juice, 1 cup Honey, and 1/2 cup of olive oil in a saucepan. Warm over low heat for five minutes. Stir vigorously for several minutes until the mix becomes syrupy. Take one teaspoon of the formula every 2 hours. Store in an airtight container.

Constipation: Mix 2 tablespoons of ReaLemon juice with 1 cup of warm water. Drink it before you have breakfast. The combination will stimulate the intestines. 

Ice Pack: Prepare Jello according to the instructions on the box and let it cool enough to pour it into a Ziploc bag.  Put the bag in the freezer after you seal it shut.  It should become a flexible, inexpensive, ice pack that will conform to your body. When you're done with it, just put it back in the freezer.

Indigestion:  According to the box, drinking one-half of a teaspoon of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda dissolved in 1/2 glass of water neutralizes stomach acid.

Insect bites:  To relieve itching and swelling from an insect bite, us a cotton ball to rub ReaLemon juice on the bug bite. It may sting a little at first. It works as both an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.  White vinegar on a cotton ball will relieve an itch from a bug bite almost instantly, also.

Insomnia:  Take one teaspoon of Honey before bedtime. Honey acts as a sedative to the nervous system. Within an hour you should be asleep.

Shaving:  Apply Cool Whip to wet skin as a shaving cream. The coconut and palm kernel oils in the Cool Whip moisturize the skin for a close shave and leaves your skin soft and smooth.

Okay, that's it for this topic! The book has many more tips in it.

In a few days, I will chose some tidbits to share from his "Food Secrets" section which, so far, is very interesting!



Friday, August 17, 2012

Curse of Wallingford

Curse of Wallingford - review

I have just read this wonderful book. First time author, Arthel Lundy, did a fabulous job in creating a realistic and believable environment set in Olde England... around the mid-1600's.

Lord Wallingforde, once loved by his people, became a treacherous and tyrannical leader, after his wife's death. His own son's fled from him and his violent, brutal ways.

This tale is about his middle son, Jeremy, and the young woman, Gabrielle, who he falls in love with as they take flight to France where is maternal relatives are and ultimately plan to fulfill the idea of sailing to America.

There are several twists and turns in the story.  Often those twists or turns provided me an "Aha" moment!  I love that!

I don't want to tell you too much of the story or the twists or turns that bring it all to light, because that would spoil it for the reader to know things ahead of time!

Although the story of Jeremy, his friends, and their women folk is fraught with danger and adventure, the overall story is that of true love and belief. 

It is so well written that I easily got involved with the characters, their trials and tribulations, their successes and failures.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and plan on curling up by the fireplace in the Winter and reading it again! (Not something I would often do).

The book is available through Amazon.com. The paperback version is $15.38 and the kindle version is $2.99.  You can also get some sneak peeks of the contents before you buy.  Anyway, you can check it out here.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Invasive Weeds

I recently had taken some "information" courses regarding landscaping, forest land management, designing for wildlife, and the like.  They were very interesting and prompted me to do even more research on my own on the Internet. The Tree School put on by OSU Extension Service was wonderful and had many many classes to be involved in, but they fill quickly so you don't always get the ones you want. It also had many displays and vendors as well as lunch!  The "mini courses" put on by Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District was equally as informative about invasive weeds, rain gardens, and that sort of thing. They will also help in controlling certain invasive species that are considered a high priority.  The SWCD's are not actually part of the county government offices, that is just where they happen to be. There is also one for East Multnomah County and probably other counties across the state.

I was surprised to learn, when I perused a pamphlet put out by the Clackamas County Soil and Conservation District that I have 6 of the 10 undesirable invasive weeds that they are concerned about, growing in my back yard in Portland. *gasp* I didn't check the Multnomah County or Metro sites to see if they also consider them undesirable, but I'm guessing they do. Unfortunately, or fortunately, none of them in my yard are the High Priority variety, so I'm on my own to eradicate them. Sadly, many of them are quite attractive and I hate to see them go! But, go they will! The Oregon Department of Agriculture and US Dept of Agriculture  are very good resources also.

The list from Clackamas is:

Lesser Celandine, a rapidly growing species of the buttercup family. They can be spread by seed and bulbet, forming dense patches that displace native vegetation. (Photo courtesy of Tom Forney, Oregon Dept. of Agriculture)






Italian Arum, an aggressive garden pest that grows from underground corms and its seeds are also dispersed by birds and mammals that eat the bright red berries in the winter. 





English Holly, ornamental shrub. Seeds are spread by birds who eath the red berries. By the way, it is the female shrubs that have the berries. Eradication is difficult because they resprout following cuttings. The plants form a dense thicket making it hard for forest trees to establish.


English Ivy, a serious urban pest. Ivy is capable of weighing 2100 lbs and toppling large trees once it has started wrapping itself around the tree. It takes over wherever it is and it is difficult to eradicate - I have tried! Rats and mosquitoes like Ivy, too. (Photo courtesy of Tom Forney, Oregon Dept. of Agriculture)




Field and Hedge bindweed, aka/ Morning Glory.  An aggressive climber that winds around everything in its trail. It is very hard to eradicate because all parts of this plant can root and multiply. The seeds, as well, are spread by birds. (Photo courtesy of Patrick J. Alexander @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)


Yellow Archangel, a fast growing perennial ground cover. It sprouts readily from cuttings and root fragments making it hard to eradicate once it's established itself. Very competitive with other plants for space to spread. (Photo courtesy of KingCounty.gov)




Old Man's Beard, a perennial vine with climbing woody stems that can grow up to 100 feet long.  Fast growing and blankets whatever comes in its path.
(Photo: Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org)



Himalyan Blackberry, this European invader buries everything in its path. It can swallow up a whole car or shed if left unattended. It is not the same plant as the native creeping blackberry.  (Photo: Robin R. Buckallew @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)



Bittersweet Nightshade,  the berries and the whole plant are poisonous to people but attractive to birds who eat them and then spread the seeds.  It dies back in the Winter months but comes back each year.
These vines can grow up to 30' into trees. It is not normally the more dominate of the weeds around it.
(Photo courtesy of KingCounty.gov)


Herb Robert, aka Stinky Bob, is a wild geranium and was once a popular shade tolerant ground cover. It spreads quickly by ejecting sticky seeds 15 - 20 feet. It is very invasive and if left alone will dominate the understory of a forest. (Photo courtesy of Paghat's Garden)





High Priority in Clackamas County:

Garlic mustard, shade tolerant herb, spreads rapidly and is extremely tenacious and difficult to eradicate. This pest can dominate the understory of the region's forests. It is a fairly new pest in Oregon. The seeds lie dormant for about 20 months and are believed to be viable for up to 5 years. (Photo courtesy of dnr.wi.gov)





Giant Hogweed, can grow up to 20 feet tall. It is considered a public health threat that burns and scars anyone who comes in contact with its sap. At one time it was considered a garden favorite. A native of Asia, it is a monocarpic herb of the carrot and parsley family.  (Photo: Donna R. Ellis, University of Connecticut, forestryimages.org)

It looks very similar to the Cow Parsnip which grows to about 10' tall and the Queen Anne's Lace which grows to 4' tall. The Cow Parsnip and Queen Anne's Lace can cause dermatitis issues also but not as severe as the Hogweed who's sap can cause blindness if it gets in your eye.  Part of this information is from The Wild Garden.

Spurge Laurel, a shade tolerant shrub grows to 5' tall.  Seeds are spread by birds feeding on the dark berries., It will choke out native vegetation and suppresses forest trees from establishing. All parts of the plant are toxic and can cause severe skin irritation. (Photo: Randy Westbrooks, USGS, Bugwood.org)



Purple Loosestrife, a perennial plant that can grow to 10 feet. Once considered a garden ornamental, it can crowd out native vegetation required by wildlife and is currently invading a number of sites in Clackamas County. It is most commonly found in wetland areas.
(Photo: Gary A. Monroe @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)


There are tons more noxious weeds that need to be eradicated, lest they take over. As I said, some are downright pretty things... but you can't judge a book by it's cover!

There are several websites that have lists and pictures of noxious weeds and it has been very interesting to root around in them as I recognize many pictures as being things I have seen in one or both of my properties. Thankfully none are on the "A" list.  The main sites I have looked at for information and pictures are:

Oregon Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
East Multnomah County Soil and Conservation
Clackamas County Soil and Conservation
The Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health
King County Washington
The Garden of Paghat
The Wild Garden

The next post will be more fun information, like Native Plants for Landscaping and Fire Resistant plants for Landscaping.



Friday, May 18, 2012

Cabbage I

Cabbage I is doing very well.  It seems to enjoy the Oregon Spring weather so far and is trying to make 3 heads off of the stem I planted!  I'm just amazed.
Some bugs did manage to lunch on all the cabbage family that I planted but I think they're under control now. You can see where the 3 little heads are trying to form (the leaves are more of a blue green than green or green yellow like the rest).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I am sad to report that Celery I died some time ago, I think I had over-watered it, but I'm not sure. It was buried in peanut butter and consumed by me. It was quite tasty.

Celery II was doing great until I put it outside in the (cheapie) greenhouse and I don't think it liked it in there at all... I think one night it froze because I put it too close to the opening where air could sift in. It might have caught a cold... or in it's case, a freeze. I laid it to rest this afternoon because it wasn't improving after I brought it back in the house. It was not buried in anything, just tossed out because it turned brown.

However, Cabbage I is still going strong and it appears that each of the leaf groups is really the start of a new head.

I'm thinking that I should have divided that stem I put in the water so that there was only one nubbin on each piece.

We'll see what happens.

**************************************************************


I would have never known that celery could re-grow itself until I read that article and actually tried it. Amazing to me. (Yeah, I know, I'm easily amused. ha ha)

The first celery experiment is now about 6" tall and showing some good stalk. But it's still mostly leaves right now.





You did notice that I said the "first celery"... right? *snicker*


I have also started another celery, it's about 4 days old now and more than an inch tall. Just for grins, since I had just finished cutting all the leaves off a cabbage for slaw... so, I put the core in the water with Celery II... and I'll be darned if if didn't start growing too!






I've tried growing Pineapples from Pineapple tops and Avocado from Avocado seed, but neither ever grew for me.

Of course, I know that potatoes grow from the eyes of potatoes and I think Onions and garlic will reproduce themselves.

Actually, leaf lettuce you can leave in the ground and just take the amount you want off them and then new leaves will grow. I found the new leaves to be more bitter than the originals, however. But I might try it again with a different variety.

Year before last, I learned that when you cut the head off a planted Broccoli plant, two new heads will grow to replace it and I thought that was pretty neat.

Think I'll get a greenhouse started and stagger plantings of things that will regrow themselves with little or no effort on my part... then I won't have to buy them any more! ha ha

Note: these are the kinds of things some of us do after retiring :) I am also learning all about pollination and herbs. You will probably hear about that too! :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

User friendly Furniture Polish

Squeeze about 4 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, or use the pre-squeezed stuff and pour it into a small spray bottle.
Mix the lemon juice with 3 Tablespoons water and two or three teaspoons olive oil.
Put the sprayer in the bottle and shake well.
Use a soft cloth instead of paper towel to do your wood furniture cleaning.
I make it up when I'm ready to use it because the olive oil could get rancid if it sits too long.

I have used 4T of fresh squeezed orange juice in place of the lemon juice and that worked just as well.

I use olive oil because that's what I use for cooking, but it doesn't seem like it should make a big difference if you used a different oil.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Update -You don't need pets to get fleas in your house

You don't have to have a dog or cat or any other pet to end up with fleas in your home. Flea's live in your yard and travel over from your neighbors. Maybe you visited someone with a pet who had fleas and a few hitch a ride home with you. Maybe that nice BBQ in the park with all your friends netted you some unwanted visitors. The years when the weather is mild, no extremes of heat or cold, will give the fleas (and other bugs) extra breeding time as well as a longer life expectancy.

In my personal case, I have a cat and two large dogs. The cat, who is not only sneaky... he's fast! He's hard to catch so I wasn't keeping up on his Frontline applications. The dogs are much easier!

My cat, didn't seem to like it in his room (hereafter referred to as the "cat room") much and I had thought he had gotten into a fight since he had some scabs. Of course, not feeling up to par made it easier to catch the wild buggar and get some Frontline on him. He started living in the bathroom, specifically the bath rug and bath tub. Then, he started living upstairs where the kitty I'm babysitting chose to live for her duration here.

The other night, I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and looked down at my bare feet to discover about 8 or so fleas on them! I was not happy. Brushed them off and crawled back into bed. That night, I was taking a nice warm bubble bath and looked down at the rug seeing quite a few black things jumping and moving around in the rug. HORRORS!!

I jumped up, dried off, avoiding both rugs in the room, and quickly, but carefully rolled up both rugs and shoved them into a plastic garbage bag, closed it and, after dressing, tossed the bag into the garbage can for morning pickup. I might add that the rugs had only been in the room for about 3 days having just been washed and dried.

Next night, I went into the cat room, wearing white socks, and looked down to discover more than a dozen fleas on my socks! NOW, I was pretty sure why they cat chose not to live in that room and also was pretty sure that the scabs on him were not from a fight, but from flea bites.

I took to the Internet since I can't be sure I could capture my kitty to move him outside so I could bomb the house, plus I have the visitor here. On the Internet I looked for information about "green" ways to rid my house of fleas and not harm any of the pets. I found a few good informational sites:

Barefoot Lass's Favorite Pet Hints and Tips
Daily Puppy
VetMedicine

There were others but those were the ones I bookmarked and they all pretty much said the same thing. Some of the other sites went on and on about buying several different "essential oils" and that sort of thing, but that just seemed like a lot of expense and trouble to go through, so I opted for the cheaper route of Vinegar. From these sites (and the other sites) I learned these things:

1. Vinegar kills fleas instantly (I don't think it kills eggs, however).
2. Fleas don't like brewer's yeast or garlic... feed it to your pets to help repel the fleas from them.
a. I did read on one other blog that brewer's yeast can cause yeast infections in your pets, I have decided to put a bit of garlic powder on their food.
3. Fleas are attracted to white (remember my white socks?)
4. Fleas can't swim
5. Salt will kill fleas, but its not as fast
6. Dog soap - 1/2 apple cider vinegar and 1/2 Dawn dish washing soap
7. Spray your pets fur with your 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water mixture, rub it into the coat, even
after a flea bath.
8. Fleas don't like cedar chips
9. A female flea can lay a trillion eggs in a season.
10. Fleas have 4 stages of life.
11. Fleas hatching can take two days to a few weeks, depending on your conditions.
12. Fleas like moist, warm climates the best and thrive in them.
13. The second stage, the Larvae stage usually lasts 5 - 18 days.
14. The third stage, the Pupa, is when the Larva is in it's cocoon. It can stay in it's cocoon for
3 days or more than a year. It will wait in the cocoon until the conditions are just right and
then it will come out and become an adult, the final stage. I didn't read anything that said
how long an adult lives.

Before doing anything else, I dumped about 1/2 cup of table salt on the floor and vacuumed it up so when I vacuumed up live fleas, they would die in the bag and not get back out.

Keeping those things in mind... I armed myself with a bottle of apple cider vinegar and a spray bottle of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water and sprayed everything in the bathroom with it, including the towels that were hanging up. I dumped some straight vinegar on the floor and gave it a good mopping, rinsing the mop frequently (which netted many more fleas that were now dead).

Next, I took a deep breath and entered the cat room, which is also a storage type area. First thing to go was a runner rug that I had in there. I stepped on it and several fleas appeared on my feet and lower legs.... which I sprayed with the spray bottle to kill those ones. Rolled the rug up and put it in a plastic garbage bag, gathered up the other two little rugs and did the same with them.

I sprayed vinegar on me, my socks, and pants bottoms as well as hands and arms... then went back in and started spraying other stuff so I could move them... not ONE flea on me! I even watched one large flea do a very "Hollywood death".... staggered around for a moment, appeared to rear up, then toppled over! LMAO He/She shoulda been a star!

Sprayed the cat trees and hauled them out to the garage (I'll be removing the carpet parts off the trees and replace it with clean stuff). And, then I washed down the floors with straight vinegar. I sprayed down everything that I could in that room.

I followed that same procedure in the rest of the rooms on the main floor, although, in none of the other rooms did I have fleas jumping on me. Not even where the dogs spend most of their time. But, better safe than sorry I always say.

Lastly, before I went to bed last night, I put some water and dish detergent (about 1T worth) in two white sandwich plates and placed one in the cat room and one in the bathroom. The bathroom one had nothing in it when I got up this morning, but the one in the cat room had about a dozen and the water dish had another 1/2 doz or so in it. I emptied those out and put both with water and soap back into the cat room. Before I put one of the dishes down, two fleas jumped into it!

I placed one dish over where the cat normally slep,t if he wasn't on his tree, and it now has 6 fleas in it. The other dish I put near the closet entrance, where I was attacked by fleas this morning and have since cleaned. It has two in it.

I intend to hook up one of those vessels that attaches to the hose that enables you to spray fertilizer and such on your lawn, but fill it with vinegar instead and spray my lawn, after I mow today or tomorrow. Also, going to get some cedar chips and spread around the foundation of the house, as fleas don't like cedar either. It won't kill them but it will deter them.

Incidentally, the straight vinegar tended to remove a layer or two of the wax I use on my hardwoods.

The larger carpets/rugs you can use 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water mixture in most carpet cleaners.

There is still much to do as I have 2 stories and the basement, but I feel like I might win this war with the fleas now.

I did receive several bites from the critters on my feet but they only last for a short bit. I guess all the brewer's yeast used to make the beer I drink is not tasty to them so they didn't bite long or hard. Chalk one up for the benefits of beer! LOL

One last thing you should know.... once you've had fleas on you... every time you have a piece of hair brush your face or something touch your leg... you just KNOW there is a flea there, even it there isn't... you will develop a sort of parasitophobia that hangs on for a while.

Now, I need to get on with the cleaning of the carpets and laundering of all the bedding and towels etc. I hope this information will be helpful to you.

UPDATE
Although the vinegar/water treatment around the house netted many, many fleas... and the white dishes with water/Dawn in the cat room netted even more... I felt that perhaps a "bomb" or "fogger" with real chemicals might be in order to really get a handle on things. So, I did that.

Feeling relatively certain that the fogger would get to places the vinegar couldn't, I threw the dogs outside, put the cats in carriers and put in my car, set off the bombs and took the cats to the vet. While the vet was looking Psycho over and we discussed his flea issue, I told him that I was bombing the house as we speak. He was not impressed. He is not a proponent of "bombing" because they don't get to the areas where fleas tend to live, like behind the baseboards.

He said that studies have proven time and again that foggers and all the others only reach that which it settles on. Hence, it likely was doing very little good for the problem. Sigh.

When I got home, I aired the house out as instructed, vacuumed the pet areas and used Lysol liquid to clean off surfaces that the pets might get on. Since it was already getting hot out, I had set the fans going to vent out the window upstairs and etc etc so I could get the "kids" in as quickly as possible.

I decided to put the white plates down again in the cat room.... just to prove the vet wrong. As I left the room to get the plates... I looked down at my feet to discover about 1/2 a dozen fleas on my feet. Sigh. The vet was right!! The fogger did very little more than the vinegar, yet it has caused me much more work around my house to have to wash everything AGAIN, wash down everything AGAIN, washing all the plush dog toys, and on and on.

He said, and I now totally believe, that the only way to stop the flea cycle is to Frontline (Advantage, Revolution, or other flea killer protection) your pets faithfully every month so they don't keep bringing them in. Vacuum frequently, especially if you know you have a problem existing. I will continue with the vinegar/Dawn bathing of the dogs, vinegar/water washing of floors and rugs, and spraying vinegar/water on things like my stuffed animals (after I wash them all in the washer).

So much to do... so little me. I wish I were twins!

UPDATE:
After I wrote the original article, about ridding the home of fleas, I learned that if the problem is big enough... vinegar ain't gonna fix it! Borax (Boric acid) is also a popular "green" item to rid your carpet of fleas, but again, I didn't read where it would actually kill the eggs or pupua.

Vinegar treatment will fix an immediate issue and make them drop dead off your legs and arms if you spray them, but it is not a long term solution if you have a major infestation. For 3 weeks after my initial vinegar washing of the floor and spraying of virtually everything in that one room (the "cat room"), I set out white plates on the floor with water and a small squirt of Dawn dish washing liquid in them. The plates continued to capture and drowned fleas to the tune of about 3 dozen per day - EVERY day!

I bought some foggers and fogged the whole house. That didn't do a damn thing. I walked in the room right after that (after waiting the time you're supposed to wait) and lo and behold... my legs were assaulted by about a dozen fleas. So, sprayed them off and set out new white plates of water. Again, captured and drowned about 3 dozen fleas per day.

Bought a set of fumigator foggers.. set of TWO in that small room a couple days ago... just walked in there to see how that worked.... walked out with four fleas on my legs and 3 on my shirt. Only difference is these are smaller fleas than before. Sigh. I cleaned out all the fleas from the white plates, filled them with more water and Dawn and have set them down on the floor to see what happens.

Next step will be a professional exterminator to come in and deal with that room because, frankly, I'm sick of it. I think some major chemicals are going to be required to kill off the rest of them. I was so disappointed to find fleas on me. In the other room where fleas would jump on me, the vinegar washes and spraying eventually seemed to end the problem there, but the problem was not as prolific as it is in the Cat Room.

Now I must go shower and make sure I have no more fleas because every time my hair touches my skin, I think one is crawling on me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gardening

I hadn't realized how long it has been since I last posted anything! Life sure gets busy. Spring has finally arrived and Summer is right around the corner. I was reading recently about healthy lawns, composting and worm bins and thought I would share the highlights with you. I am not an environmentalist or an "eco-nut", but some things do make sense! Most of this information I got from Metro Recycling, although some is from websites. Metro Recyling's website is: Oregon Metro

If you keep your lawn healthy, it will naturally cut down on your weed population, diseases and pests. Pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides can not only be spendy, but they are toxic and can pose a threat to your pets or children if overused or carelessly applied. The also can kill beneficial insects, earthworms, birds and other useful organisms which then throws off the healthy ecological balance of your lawn and garden. Fertilizers with a fast release of phosphorus and nitrogen can pollute storm drains, streams, rivers and on and on creating a health hazard for fish and amphibians.

There are steps you can take to create a healthier, happier and more carefree lawn and garden.

1. Build healthy soil by adding 1/2 to 2 inches of compost or aged manure every year by tilling it into the soil. Do a soil test, if you need to add fertilizer, use an organic fertilizer. Most will last longer and provide more support for your beneficial soil organisms without adding chemicals.

2. Grasscycling. Leave your grass clippings on the lawn. It releases nutrients back into the lawn and reduces the need for fertilizers. Grass clippings do not cause the dreaded Thatch!

3. Water about an inch a week, that's all you normally will need. Over watering promotes disease and leaches nutrients from your soil.

4. Older lawns may need to be aerated in the late Spring or early Fall.

5. If you do have weeds, pull them out. At the very least, cut off the part that has seeds in it and put them in the yard trash recycling bin. For instance, don't just pull off the head of the opened (or unopened) dandelion and toss it aside... that won't stop the seeds from spreading.

6. If you do pull out the entire weed and leave a bare spot, sprinkle a little grass seed on it and cover with weed-free compost.

7. Grow a diverse garden in your yard.... it will provide beauty as well as decrease the amount of lawn you have to care for. (Note: if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you can obtain a list of "Appropriate Plants for Northwest Landscapes" by calling Metro Recycling Information at 503-234-3000. Planting plants that known to thrive in your area will be much less expensive in the long run than buying plants that would have a low survival rate for this area. It's also a lot less work if you don't have to replant every time something dies.

8. Again, you don't want to use chemical pesticides in your garden. It will likely kill off essential insects and harm birds and other wildlife. Once your essential insects are gone then you will need more and more pesticides to keep the bad bugs out... let the good bugs do their thing. If you really need a pesticide, use the least toxic product like an insecticidal soap. (NOTE: You can call Metro Recycling, 503-234-3000, and ask for a copy of "Natural Gardening: a guide to alternatives to pesticides").

9. Rotate crops and annual plants year to year to keep potential pests and soil diseases from getting established in your garden.

If you want to find out if a bug is beneficial or a pest, there are several books on the subject, Master Gardeners can tell you, take a sample to the a garden center or nursery and ask them.

I thought these websites are very good about good and bad bugs:
Attracting Beneficial Insects
Top 10 Beneficial Garden Insects
Recipes for Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden

Composting!
Why buy compost when you can make it in your own backyard, using stuff you're going to pay someone to haul away anyhow, just following a few easy steps? First and foremost.... you cannot put every bit of your waste into a compost pile. Compost is used as a soil amendment (which, if you live in the Portland area, you have clay for soil and an amendment is very beneficial), mulch, potting mixture,

Absolutely no human, dog, or cat wastes can be composted. No dairy products, meats, fats, oils, grease, diseased plants, or weeds with seed heads should be composted. Dispose of those things in other ways.

What you can compost is (Green stuff, used as 1 part of the total) fresh grass clippings, green leaves, plants stalks, hedge trimmings, vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds (including filters), tea bags, and egg shells. Manure from horse, cow and poultry is good. (Brown stuff, is one or two parts of the total) such as woody prunings, leaves, twigs, straw, wood chips, old potting soil, shredded newspaper.

Composting is accomplished when a variety of organisms found naturally in organic matter work together to break down materials. Bacteria are the first microorganisms. Fungi and protozoa soon join the bacteria. Later on, centipedes, millipedes, beetles and worms arrive to finish the job.

To make things easier for them to feed and break down the materials, chop garden debris into 6" or smaller pieces or use a lawnmower, when possible, to shred the material.

Compost piles trap heat generated by the activity of the millions of microorganisms. A 3 x 3 x 3 foot pile is considered an ideal size for hot, fast composting.

The compost pile needs to be damp, like a wrung out sponge, in order for the microorganisms to work at their best. Extremes of sun and rain can adversely affect the balance. The most efficient temperature for the decomposing is between 110 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

One thing you should be aware of and think about is that rodents will be attracted to your pile if you put fruit and vegetable trimmings in the mix. If you are going to add those things, get yourself a rodent-resistant composting bin. If rodents aren't a concern for you, you can just plop it all on the ground in a space of about 3 x 3 feet. Or put it in a simple holding bin made of wire mesh or salvaged lumber. Just add your chopped browns and greens to the area as you generate them. Be sure to mix moist green materials, like grass clippings, to the pile as to not attract pests. In 4 to 12 months, you should have soil-like compost to harvest at the bottom of the pile.

Hot composting requires more effort and space but it is the fastest method for composting yard trimmings. A two or three bin system that allows access to the compost for turning is ideal.
Mix your brown and green materials and dampen the pile as you go along. About a week later, turn and mix the materials into the next bin. Do that a few times and then let the compost cure for several weeks. If it seems dry, add water. If it didn't heat up initially, add more high nitrogen material or nitrogen fertilizer. Commonly, it takes about one to three months to complete. It is finished when it is cool and looks nice and brown.

If you live in the Portland Metro area, you could benefit from visiting one of the sites that holds composting demonstrations. There are 4 in the area. 1. Metro Natural Techniques Demo Garden, 6700 SE 57th Ave, Portland (call Metro Recycling for hours), 2. Clackamas Community College site, 19600 S Mollala Ave, Oregon City, 3. Fulton Community Gardens site, SW Barbur Blvd and SW Miles St, Portland, in the Burlingame neighborhood, 4. Leach Botanical Garden site, 6704 SE 122nd Ave, Portland - there is more than a 1/4 mile walk to look at this one. Compost bins can be purchased at a deep discount from the Metro Paint store at 4825 N Basin Ave, Portland.


Worm Composting!
Using worms to compost turns fruit and vegetable waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Red worms or "red wigglers" are the best to use because they live in the top layer of soil under the organic debris that is their food. They process large amounts of organic matter, reproduce quickly, and tolerate fluctuations in temperature, moisture, and acidity that other species cannot. Oregon metro can tell you where there are outlets for that particular worm.

If you recall, I had made a post a while back about Worm Poop... you might want to go back and read that again too.

As with the regular composting... no dairy products, meats, oily/greasy foods, or grains go into the compost bin. No human or animal waste goes in the compost bin. Fruit scraps, veggie scraps, coffee and filters, tea bags, eggshells, shredded newspaper, leaves and straw DO go in the bin. A pound of worms is usually enough for a small household.

The worms get fed at least once a week, mostly because the scraps will get smelly and attract flies if you wait longer than that to feed it. As with the other compost, the smaller you chop the scraps, the faster it gets composted. Each time you add food, put it in a different part of the bin. Always keep the worms and food covered with 2 - 3 inches of damp bedding.

There will be other creatures in the bin. Most are good bugs who help the worms to decompose the materials. If you have centipedes, that is bad because they eat worms. Millipedes have two pairs of legs per section.. they are good bugs... centipedes have only one pair per section and need to be removed.

The size of bin you need depends on the amount of waste, weekly, there is to be composted. The bin should provide a surface area of 1 square foot for each pound of waste per week. For instance, if you produce 4 lbs of waste weekly, you will need a worm bin with 4 feet of surface area. This could be a bin whose floor is 2' x 2' or two bins, each with floors that are 1' x 2'. The bins should be no more than 1.5' deep.

Your bins should be placed in the shade in the Summers and insulated in the Winters. The best temperature range for your worms is between 55 and 80 degrees.

Worms need a loose, moisture retaining environment with lots of air pockets to allow for drainage. Bedding should shredded newspaper in thin long strips, fluffed up and dampened with water. Mix with leaves or straw to prevent compacting. The bin should be 3/4 full of damped bedding with a few handfuls of soil to provide bacteria and grit that the worms need.

You can start harvesting three to six months after the initial setup. Make sure you harvest at least once per year to ensure your worms have a healthy environment. To harvest, just scoop out the compost, worms and all.

A few websites for you about worm composting:
Composting with Red Wigglers
Worm Composting Guide
Red Worm Composting
How to Make Your Own Worm Compost System

That's about it! Since you have to pick up and dispose of your various wastes anyway, why not put it to work for you instead of paying someone to haul it away? Have fun!









Saturday, February 12, 2011

Finding People

The multitudes of websites that can, for a fee, find public records on people can be a great tool for those who are trying to find lost family members or want to find out if Suzie's new boyfriend is a criminal or not. They can be quite useful. But for the unscrupulous who access such websites, it can be a pretty scary thought.

When people had to actually burn some shoe leather to physically go get a public record, they were probably less likely to go do it, but it is so easy now and many times it's just a couple bucks to get all kinds of information from the comfort of your own home.

I was already aware of some of these sites I've listed, but the amount of these sites that some less than honorable person can use to find you to do you harm is just astounding. Some of the sites have an "opt out" or "blocking" option, but many do not. Here's just a few:

Search Government Records
Will search for spouse details, criminal history, military history, business records, immigration records, and other records for $59.95 for a lifetime access and $39.95 for 1 year access.

USA People Search
Has a people search as well a reverse phone lookup, background check and criminal record check. It will also give the names of other people attached to the subject you're looking for. For a one time $1.95 you can get names, phones, addresses, birthdays, aliases, and relatives. For a 30 day access of $39.95, you can get people, property, marriage, divorce, death and unclaimed money searches. To get criminal records or business records, that will cost you $10 more each.
Their privacy policy doesn't offer any type of "opt out" or "blocking" option.

Lookup Anyone
Public records, reverse phone, background, cell phone ID, property report, email lookup, death records, and business search. Also provides relative/associate information attached to your records. It costs $1.95 for basic information (name, age, income, address history, phone), $19.95 for unlimited searches for 24 hours for basic information, and for $39.95 you can also get a background check, civil and criminal, property liens, aliases, neighbors, marriage, divorce, death, bankruptcy, lawsuits and judgement information. I didn't see any "opt out" or "blocking" option.

Detective Magic
For a special price of just $6.99 a month, if you continue use after the first month, you will gain access to email address, phone number (including unlisted numbers), hidden assets, FBI record, driving and police records, background checks, addresses, credit reports, track online activity, learn how to make untraceable calls and emails, obtain alimony and child support records, maps birth and death certificates and much more. I didn't see any "opt out" or "blocking" option.

Zabasearch
I like zabasearch and I've used it in looking for possible relatives still living, in my genealogy research. It does have a "blocking" option, you have to mail them a copy of your Government issued ID with your name, dob, and address on it and they will block that information, however, if your public record is not expressly written as what is on the ID card, then it won't get blocked.
The basic search at Zabasearch will give you name, month and year of birth, relatives, a map to the address. I think the address history goes back up to 40 years. It will then direct you to Intellius will then allow you to buy the background information, sex offender check, neighbors, home info, criminal checks, small claims and judgements, etc all for $49.95. You can also do a search by SSN and a reverse phone search.

KnowX
A part of LexisNexis, which has you agree to not use their information for the purpose of employment, credit or insurance, will, for a fee give me bankruptcies, judgments, lawsuits, liens, FEIN, corporate records, and business address and phone information. Their pricing list is too extensive to list here, but it's pretty spendy. Their list of databases is also extensive. There is no "opt out" or "blocking" option.

PC World Article
This article provides 5 additional good places, according to it, to find people and their public, but potentially sensitive, information. It includes WhitePages.com, PeopleFinders, FriendFeed (which searches 40 social networking sites for your subject), Spock (looks for school, work, and social affiliations and photos) and, of course, the ever popular Facebook.com

All People Information on Demand
When you register for free, you can get photos, phone numbers, city, age and associate/relatives. I didn't get to the cost part of this site, but to send an email to your subject, find them on social networks and run a background check it takes you to another part of their site. There is also an "affiliates" link, which if you are not familiar with the concept, it means that any Joe Blow can operate a site that links back to this Background Report 360 and for each "sale" you make through your site for people to run backgrounds, you earn 75% commission. They offer no "opt out", because, like the others, they don't own the information they provide you, it is owned by 3rd parties. Also, like many of the others, when you visit their website, they may collect non-personal information on your computer's IP address, browser type, web site that referred you and your search criterion which they may share with the 3rd parties.

PeekYou
This site lets you search by name, username, interests, work, school and more. If they have a picture located, you get that too. When you run a name, you get city and state matches, facebook matches, myspace matches, public record and background checks (5 days unlimited access), phonebook, email addresses, wikipedia, LinkedIn, Photo Albums, Twitter, Documents on line, web results and Images if found. I clicked on their privacy policy and found a link for "Protecting your Privacy". It is run by Reputation.com. They have a monthly, annual and 2 year program ($9.95, $7.95 and $4.95 per month respectively) that will remove your name, address, age, phone number, past addresses and other personally identifiable information from the web; continually monitors the Internet and requests the removal of personal information whenever it becomes visible; blocks unwanted paper mail from your home postal mailbox; creates a "do not track" list for you on over 100 online networks; and provides 24 hour help.

There are also some nifty websites that can school you on how to search properly and get the results you want to find. One such is The Spider's Apprentice. Another is Find Free People Friends. The LawFirm provides you some links to 5 free people searches and gives a few helpful hints, including when to hire a professional (go figure, eh? LOL)

Okay, that's about it. These examples barely touch the surface of what can be found on you. Those social networks are a treasure trove of information, be careful what you put in your profile. If you are a celebrity or other high profile person that gets interviewed frequently and that sort of thing, your all over the Internet anyhow. These things are nice for people who you may have lost touch with and would want to see again, but, as I said before, they are great tools for people who may want to do you harm also.... and they don't have to do much at all to get your information.

Take care!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Holidays and other Observances

This website is great! If you’ve ever wondered about little known holiday/observance dates, this is the place to look! Or maybe you’re just in the mood to celebrate something and need a “cause”... this is a good place to look!

History for the main observances we all enjoy I have researched and put the “history of” on my website. I try to remember to post the link before the holiday arrives, but, I get busy with stuff and have a very short attention span, so sometimes I forget. The information below is all from the holiday insights website and is their research notes. (My remarks are in parens with my initials).

It lists the normal Federal holidays (all of which get moved to a Mon or Fri, except the last 3), namely:
1/1 New Years Day;
1/17 MLK day;
2/21 President’s Day;
5/30 Memorial Day;
7/4 Independence Day;
9/5 Labor Day;
10/10 Columbus Day;
11/11 Veteran’s Day;
11/24 Thanksgiving Day;
and 12/25 Christmas Day.

Other special days include:
2/2 Ground Hog Day
2/6 Super Bowl Sunday
2/14 Valentines Day

3/8 Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday)
3/17 St Patrick’s Day
3/20 Spring Equinox

4/1 April Fools Day
4/15 Taxes Due
4/17 Palm Sunday

5/1 May Day

6/21 Summer Solstice

10/31 Halloween

12/22 Winter Solstice

Some of the little known to most of us special days are:

1/3 Festival of Sleep Day!
The origin of this celebration is not known

1/5 National Bird Day!
There was no documentation found that this is really a National Day, which requires an act of Congress. It was established by bird activists to recognize the plight of captive birds.

1/16 National Nothing Day!
Quite simply put... a day for nothing! There was no documentation found that this is really a National Day, which requires an act of Congress. It was created by newspaperman Harold Pullman Coffin in 1973. (Perhaps it was a slow news day? dsb)

1/21 Squirrel Appreciation Day!Christy Hargrove from Asheville, North Carolina started Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21, 2001.

2/16 Do a grouch a favor day
Look around for someone who is in a grouchy mood today. Then, do him or her a favor that will cheer up their day. The origin of this celebration is not known

2/17 Random Acts of Kindness Day
The origin of this celebration is not known. It’s a fun and good thing to do.

3/14 National Potato Chip Day
Potato Chips are America's #1 snack food. Potato chips were first made by Chef George Crum in Saratoga Springs, NY on August 24, 1853. The origin of this celebration is not known. There was no documentation found that this is really a National Day, which requires an act of Congress.

3/22 National Goof Off Day
Sort of self-explanatory don’t ya think? LOL The origin of this celebration is not known. There is no information found to suggest this is truly a national day, but there were references to this day as International Goof Off Day.

4/3 Don’t Go to Work Unless it’s Fun Day
The origin of this celebration is not known. Probably someone who hated going to work created it!

4/17 Blah, Blah, Blah Day
The intent of this day is to do all of the projects and things that you have been avoiding, like the “honey do” list. It is a copyrighted holiday created by the folks at Wellcat.com

4/30 National Honesty Day
Created by M Hirsh Goldberg, former press secretary to a governor of Maryland in the early 1990's. He felt that the month of April, which begins with a big day of lying (April Fools Day), should end on a higher moral standard. There was no documentation found that this is really a National Day, which requires an act of Congress.

6/4 Hug your Cat Day
If you don’t have your own cat to hug, be advised that June is also Adopt a Cat Month... so go adopt a cat and hug it! The origin of this celebration is not known.

6/25 National Catfish Day
No, you don’t have to hug one, but it is a day to enjoy eating one in your favorite recipe. This is truly a National day as of Proclamation 5672 in 1987, President Ronald Reagan.

7/14 National Nude Day
(Oh my gosh, if you’re going to celebrate this one... please do so in the privacy of your own home! dsb) This holiday appears to have originated in New Zealand. There was no documentation found that this is really a National Day, which requires an act of Congress.

7/23 National Hot Dog Day
Eat a Hot Dog! The origin of this celebration is not known. There was no documentation found that this is really a National Day, which requires an act of Congress.

7/31 Mutt’s Day
Spend the day relaxing and doing all the things you and your non-purebred dog like to do. The origin of this celebration is not known.

8/27 Just Because Day
Today is the day to go out and do something “just because”. Finally, you have a chance to do something without a rhyme or reason. The origin of this celebration is not known.

9/16 POW/MIA recognition Day
Day of remembrance and hope for the speedy and safe return of American Prisoners of War and those still Missing in Action. It also seeks the return of the remains of fallen soldiers. It is the 3rd Friday of September. The first official commemoration of POW/MIAs was July 18, 1979. It was the result of resolutions passed in Congress. In 1986, it was decided that the date would be the 3rd Friday in Sept because that date was not associated with any wars. Each year, the president of the United States issues a proclamation on this day.

9/28 Ask a Stupid Question Day
(It’s self explanatory I think. dsb) The roots of this special day goes back to the 1980's, there was a movement by teachers to try to get kids to ask more questions in the classroom without fear of ridicule.

10/7 or 10/14 Bald and Free Day
Honors those with a shiny top! Zero tolerance for bald jokes this day. The origin of this celebration is not known.

10/17 Wear Something Gaudy Day
(I think many in my area practice this EVERY day! dsb) Look for something to wear that's really wild and wacky, and will stick out like a sore thumb wherever you go. The roots of this day go back to the hit 1970's television comedy show "Three's Company". Larry Dallas (played by Richard Kline), one of the characters on the show, declared a Wear Something Gaudy Day.

11/8 Dunce Day
It’s all about learning. Duns Scotus of Duns, Scotland was a medieval scholar. He believed knowledge would flow from the point of the cap, down and into the head of the wearer, making that person smarter. (Alrighty then! dsb)

12/16 National Chocolate Covered Anything Day
(Does this really need explanation? dsb) Pour, spread, or drizzle chocolate over cakes, cupcakes, pies, pancakes or waffles, nuts, raisins, even ants. The origin of this celebration is not known.


These are just a few of the multitudes of special days that are in that website. It was quite amusing and turned my normal morning coffee at the computer time to a relaxing and amusing 3 hours! It also has holidays around the world, birthdays, anniversaries, “this day in history”, and recipes. It was pretty interesting and you should take a look at it! Maybe you'll find that special day made just for you! LOL

Incidentally, today, January 4, is Trivia Day. It is an opportunity for us to share those many little trinkets of knowledge that somehow managed to stay lodged in our brains for later use.

Happy whatever!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Shelf life of home canned, commerically canned, frozen, and raw foods

Shelf Life of Pantry and Freezer Goods
First... and a no-brainer... if the product, either home canned or store bought, has a bulge or dent, any signs of leakage, a bad seal, or any signs of rust on the outside near the seams... get rid of it.

For home canned goods, including jams and jellies and presuming they are properly canned, use the high acid item (tomatoes, green beans, pickles, etc) within a year and dispose of everything past a year. For low acid foods, 2 - 5 years is acceptable. When I talked to a lady at NorPak canning, here in Oregon, she said the reasoning for that is likely because that little band of stuff that seals the jars is so thin that aging, cracking, and leaking are of greater concern, making the product less stable earlier. I personally have used my home canned goods up to three years old and had no problems with it. Also, once again, one has to use their senses to determine if that food is going to be edible... does it look fresh? does it smell fresh? Is the seal good? If it fails any of those tests... throw it out.


Commercial canning for nearly all vegetables, including the high acid ones, is three years from the date it was canned for optimal quality.

As a general rule, I think I will just not can more than I can eat up in a couple years max. I like to be safe and not have to run to the store in the middle of a recipe because my product was not good when I opened it. I also like my dishes to be tasteful as they are intended to be and don’t want to have to guess at how much extra spices or herbs I need to put in it because the herbs are deteriorated. I will buy my spices and herbs in smaller amounts too.

In an article in Women’s World, dated 12/14/09, they give us the following information about how long some foods can be used after the “use by” or “best by” dates. They indicate that their information is from the US Dept of Agriculture. The magazine cites the following:

Eggs... still good up to 3 weeks past the "use by" date. There is a note that you should keep eggs in their original container because every time you handle the egg, you risk bacteria seeping into the egg's more than 17,000 pores.

Hard Cheese.... still good up to 3 months past the "use by" date. If there's mold on it, trim it off and eat the rest. Mold needs moisture to multiply, so soft cheeses like cottage cheese you can't eat at all if there is spoilage or past the date. After the cheese has been opened, wrap it tightly in saran wrap trying to keep the air out of it. Air is cheese’s worst enemy. (We did that at the deli I worked at... which meant we went through A LOT of saran! LOL)

Milk... if properly refrigerated, even if it's open, it's still good up to 5 days past the expiration date. Don't store it in the door, that's the warmest place in your fridge.

Yogurt... safe to use up to 5 days past the "use by" date. Store in the fridge upside down, it creates a seal that keeps bacteria from seeping in.

Fruit juice... good up to 6 days past the "use by" date. Frozen juices or the kind that don't require refrigeration can last up to a year past the date.

Bottled water and soda... both have expiration dates but they never actually spoil and are safe to use. The soda may lose it's fizz though.


It has been, until most recent years, a pain in the neck to figure out whether a product is too old to be safe to eat. The codes the manufacturer used made sense only to them. Of course, you could always call the company to find out if that particular product was still edible and safe, but who has the time to do that?

Most manufacturers now use the “best if used by” date on their products, which, of course means that the product should maintain its optimum value until the date printed, after that the taste, coloring and nutrition start to deteriorate. The “best if used by” date is not a food safety date. It is not an expiration date.

If the date stamped on the product is a “use by” date, that is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. Again, this is not a food safety date.

Spices and herbs don’t expire per se, they just loose flavor, smell and color. Even if it’s old, if it still smells good, tastes good and looks good. Why not use it?
Well.... I was going to make some candied bacon yesterday. So, got the brown sugar on the bacon and took out a can of Cayenne powder... opened it, sniffed it (smelled good), tasted it (tasted okay), looked at it (didn't really like the color so much) and decided it could still be used since it smelled and tasted okay. Sprinkled the powder on the bacon and noticed these rather large (considering it's powder, they were large) dark things on my bacon. Got the magnifying glass out and plucked out one of those dark things and from the side it looked like a hard body flea!
So..... had to toss out the pound of bacon I just powdered, I was afraid to use it.
Got out another pound of bacon and re-did everything, except no Cayenne, popped it in the oven, got side tracked, didn't hear the timer go off and it burned.
There will be no candied bacon this year. Sigh. Threw out the Cayenne too!
So, the point of that story is that you need to shake some of that spice out and really inspect it for things that shouldn't be there!

Salt and Pepper don’t expire either. Salt, however, if it is Iodized, has a shelf life of about 5 years. It has to do with the Iodine that is added to it. Pepper, like the other spices, loses it’s color and flavor over time. Whole spices last longer than than ground ones, but then you have to grind your own and sometimes, that's just an added annoyance that takes up your precious time.

A couple years ago, I contacted my local County Extension office because I had found many bags of dried beans, rice, and noodles when cleaning out my Dad’s cupboards. They told me that those products don’t expire or go rancid, however, the older the product the longer the cooking time and beans in particular should be soaked over night or they may not “soften”. (I found that to be very true.) They also said that the rice, beans and noodles that had been stored in glass airtight containers, instead of their plastic bags, would retain freshness much longer.

In the case of things like past-date boxed Mac and Cheese, toss the cheese packet out and keep the noodles. The cheese will become rancid, but the noodles are still good. Why risk ruining the whole meal because you didn’t check the cheese, seasonings, or gravy packets first? If they look bad, smell bad, or tastes bad when you stick a finger in it to test it, get rid of it and make your own!

A bit about frozen foods. First, freezer burn does not make food unsafe, according to the Johnson County, Kansas Environmental Dept, it is just dried out at that spot and looks icky because air reached that spot. If it is heavily burned, you might want to discard the item due to quality reasons. Properly packaging your foods will diminish the probability of freezer burn. They also tell us that freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, the recommended storage times in their chart are for quality only. But then they say that some foods will develop a rancid or “off” odor when frozen too long and should be discarded.

The US Dept of Agriculture site says the same as the JCED site. Actually, much of what I am reading in the USDA site is exactly what the JCED site says so one has borrowed from the other.
The next information is from the USDA site:

Whole eggs should never be frozen, if one freezes and cracks, throw it out. If it happens to freeze and not crack, you can safely thaw it in the fridge and hard cook it, but most uses are limited after they’ve frozen since the yolk becomes thick and syrupy. It won’t blend well with the egg white any longer.

You can freeze almost everything but some things like Mayo, cream sauce and lettuce just don’t do well in freezers.

During a power outage, a stand alone freezer full of food will usually keep about 2 days if the door is kept shut; a half-full freezer will last about a day. The “fridge” freezer may be less efficient. If the freezer is not full, quickly group packages together so they will retain the cold more effectively. Separate meat and poultry items from other foods so if they begin to thaw, their juices won't drip onto other foods.

The chart says:
Bacon, Sausage, Ham, Hot dogs, and lunch meats will retain quality for up to 2 months; Casseroles, Gravy, cooked meats, soups and stews will retain quality for up to 3 months;
Frozen dinners, uncooked ground meat, and uncooked giblets will retain quality for up to 4 months;
uncooked Poultry parts will retain quality up to 9 months;
Egg whites, uncooked roasts, steaks, chops, and poultry will retain quality up to 12 months.

Also of interest, it says “There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Small items may defrost overnight; most foods require a day or two. And large items like turkeys may take longer, approximately one day for each 5 pounds of weight”.

I personally have used and do use a vacuum system for preparing my meats and some other things for freezing. I know some folks who said it didn’t work for them, but I do my best to make sure there are no air bubbles in my bag as it’s sealing and that it has a good seal. I have eaten steaks that were in my freezer for two years. Of course, first I thawed it out, made sure it didn’t feel slimy, the color was good, and it didn’t smell rancid or funny. I cooked it and it tasted great. As the websites above will point out to you when you read them, packaging things properly makes a huge difference as to the quality your product will retain. The sites will tell you proper wrapping methods for freezing.

I did look, briefly, at the American Frozen Food Institute’s website for more information, but at the onset it seemed to just have a bunch of political crap on it, so I quit looking fairly quickly.
I looked at the Frozen Foods Foundation website and found nothing particularly interesting in it either.

I did find this website on food safety to be pretty informative and interesting, including food recalls and alerts. It is a “Gateway to Federal Food Safety Information". If you click on a link, it will take you to the agency that has the information you are looking at.

The websites I looked at were in basic agreement regarding basic shelf life times. Unfortunately, those basic shelf life times they list are what the manufacturers now put as a date on the item itself. I found relatively little authority as to how long a product is good or safe to eat AFTER that date, but it seems it's all a "quality" issue not necessarily a "safety" issue.

The website Still Tasty, has a section called “Keep it or Toss it”. It has a section on just about any type of food that you are interested in, whether it is a canned food or fresh food. They say a primary source of their research is from the food safety research conducted by Government agencies, including the US Dept of Agriculture, US Food and Drug Administration, and The US Center for Disease Control. As well as, state Government agencies, non-profit studies on food storage and safety, and actual manufacturers. But, again, I didn’t see anything that indicated how much longer AFTER the “best by” date a food might reasonably be used and not have a food safety issue. It’s a good and interesting site however. I thought this site was very helpful for raw food storage with tips on how and where to store.

Here's some other good sites I came across:

Canned Goods Shelf Life and Stamped Code Decoder (a list of some products dated 1997 and 1998) Sally Strackbein’s Emergency Kitchen.

Fact sheet regarding Food Labeling and Dating USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

Kikkoman Products shelf life and date code information. Different sauces have different times from their production code date to be used by, they range from 18 months to 3 years.

Frank’s Red Hot products use by and product coding information. Their product will maintain good flavor quality for a few months after the “best by” date, particularly if refrigerated, however refrigeration is not required.

Tabasco Sauces open and unopened seem to not make a difference. Original Tabasco pepper sauce is fine for use up to 5 yrs, but best if used by the third year. Their other sauces have a shelf life of 18 - 24 mos. Even though the color may change, the product won’t spoil. Refrigeration almost always helps slow the color change, but is not required.

Kraft Foods. If you go to the Customer Service link, it will take you to the frequently asked questions. You can put a search in the box and it will show you the topics available that may answer your questions. I was interested in Chocolate shelf life for Baker’s Chocolate, which I had 4 bricks of. It told me how to read the code and further stated that the product should be consumed by that date. After that date, freshness, texture and taste may have deteriorated, so they only assure freshness to the date on the package. Another neat feature on this website is on the opening page, it has a place where you can enter the main ingredients you have and it will try to find a recipe for you to make! I like that!

McCormick’s site was pretty neat too. Instead of having to figure out what code they used, you just enter the code in the search box provided and it will tell you when and where it was manufactured. Incidentally, if the product is from Baltimore or if it is a “tin” container, it is at least 15 years old (except black pepper). If you click on the “Keeping it Fresh” link, there is a shelf life chart for their products, which appears to be the industry standard. Ground Spices are good for 2 - 3 yrs, Whole Spices are good for 3 - 4 years, Seasoning blends are good for 1 - 2 years, Herbs are good for 1 - 3 years, and Extracts are good for 4 years except pure Vanilla which lasts indefinitely. Incidentally, all Schilling products are at least 7 years old. There is also a bunch of recipes in this website.

Spice Islands products. It has a bit about testing for freshness and how to prolong freshness and some other tips. There is also a spice education section with video’s to watch. Has the same “shelf life” list as McCormick does.

Durkee spices and some of their other products. In their FAQ section there is information on their product code dates and shelf life of some of their other products. It is not clear if the shelf life time listed is the time after the “Best by” date or if the “Best by” date is the shelf life time. There is also recipes at this site, like the Durkee Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar.... sounds yummy! LOL

Morton Salt’s website has information on all types of salt products as well as a nifty conversion chart. This chart is to convert recipe amounts from Table Salt to Coarse Kosher Salt, Fine Sea Salt, Coarse Sea Salt and Canning/Pickling Salt. There is also a handy “Uses for Salt” chart showing what you can use different types of salt for. It also has a recipe section.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension program. It has an extensive list of basic products and the optimal life span of each before it peaks and starts to deteriorate.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A BRIEF HISTORY OF COINS IN AMERICA

When I started cleaning out piles and files of this and that, I happened upon my coin collection. I had some of these coins since at least high school, which was long ago, but I think I started before that, I don’t actually recall. Dad and Mom started us out on this coin collecting, but in adult years, it waned as the pressures of career and other pursuits took the forefront.

Well, anyhow, I must have looked at them since that time, probably at the time I packed them away, because I also had a 2003 coin value book and a paper money value book. In anticipation of the treasures I might uncover in the various places I had squirreled away change and in my nest of older coins, I perused the coin book. I found the history of coins to be very interesting and thought I might share that information with you.

According to the Official Red Book, A guide Book of United States Coins, 2003 by RS Yeoman, the Spanish Milled Dollar and its fractional parts of ½ and 1 “real”, 2 and 4 “reales” were the principal coins of the American colonists and the forerunner of our silver dollar and its fractional divisions.

The early settlers of New England used “wampum” to trade with the Indians. Wampum was mussel shells fashioned in the form of beads. Beaver skins, wampum, and the tobacco from Virginia became the mostly commonly used media of exchange. The settlers had little use for coined money for exchange but when the traders from foreign countries arrived, coins were usually demanded for payment of goods.

The Spanish milled dollar, or “piece of eight”, continued to be a standard money unit throughout the entire Colonial era and was circulated, with it’s fractional parts, with official sanction until 1857. One “real” equaled 12 ½ cents and was known as a “bit”. A quarter of the dollar then became known as “two bits”, which anyone over 45 years old probably would remember that as a term used by a parent or grandparent.

England made no effort, in the beginning, to provide gold or silver coins to the colonists. The first coins minted in America were minted by John Hull in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beginning in 1652.

Coins and tokens of many types were introduced and employed by the colonists until the Articles of Confederation, adopted March 1, 1781, provided that Congress should have the sole right to regulate the alloy and value of coin struck by its own authority or by that of the respective states. Each state had the right to coin money, but Congress was the regulating authority. Vermont, Connecticut, and New Jersey granted coining privileges to companies or individuals. Massachusetts erected its own mint to produce copper coins.

It took several years for a national, uniform, coinage to come about. It was actually discussed beginning in the Colonial years. So, by July 6, 1785, Congress gave formal approval to the basic dollar unit and decimal coinage ratio in its resolution. Because of other pressing matters, the idea was on the back burner and it was not until George Washington became President and the new nation was on firm ground, that Congress turned their attention to the subject of currency, a mint, and a coin system.

Finally, in April 1792, a bill was passed providing “that the money of account of the United States should be expressed in dollars or units, tenths, hundredths and thousandths of a dollar. So at that time we had a $10.00 Gold Eagle, $5.00 Gold Half Eagle, $2.50 Gold Quarter Eagle, a Silver Dollar, a Silver Half Dollar, a Silver Quarter Dollar, a Silver Disme (dime), Silver Half Disme, Copper Cent, and Copper Half Cent. The mint was constructed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1834, a new law was passed reducing the weight of standard gold. Branch mints in Dahlonega, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina were established in 1838 to handle the newly mined gold at the source.

In 1848, the California gold discovery prompted a series of private, state, and territorial gold issues in the Western states. The result of which was to establish another branch of the mint at San Francisco in 1854. In 1849, the legislature passed an act providing for a mint and specified five and ten dollar gold coins without alloy. Oregon City was the selected location for the mint since it was the largest city in the territory. About this same time, Oregon had been brought into the United States, by Congress, as a territory. When the new governor arrived in March, he declared the coinage act unconstitutional. The people, however, continued to work for a convenient medium of exchange and soon started a private mint which was named the Oregon Exchange Company. They produced the coins specified in the original act, despite what the Governor said. Incidentally, in 2003, those five dollar coins, in good condition, were valued at $11,000.00 each and the ten dollar coins at $27,500.00 each. Uncirculated condition coins were valued at $38,000.00 and $87,000.00, respectively. The coins had a beaver on the front of them. There were only 6,000 five dollar coins minted and 2, 850 ten dollar coins.... all made from virgin gold.

The law of 1857 abolished the half-cent piece and reduced the size of the cent. The new cent would contain 88% copper and 12% nickel. In 1864, the weight was again reduced and the composition became 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. (Additionally, in 1962, the alloy was changed to 95% copper and 5% zinc and in 1982, it was changed to 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper).

The law of 1864, provided for the new bronze two cent piece. The two cent piece was the first coin to bear the motto “In God We Trust”. The denomination proved to be unnecessary and was discontinued 9 years later.

In the Spring of 1865, our country began producing a three cent piece of 75-25 copper-nickel alloy, until 1889. We also a had silver three cent piece until 1873.

In May of 1866, the five cent nickel was born with the same alloy as the three cent piece. The silver half dime was retired in 1873.

A mint was erected in Carson City, Nevada in 1870 as a convenient depository for the miners in that area and operated until 1893.

The law of 1873, eliminated the silver dollar. The coin had not been circulated in the US to any extent since 1803 for various reasons, even though it had been turned out steadily since 1840.
In 1878, the Bland-Allison Act authorized coinage of the silver dollar to resume. Coinage of the silver dollar was, again, suspended after 1904 when teh bullion supply became exhausted. Under the Pittman Act of 1918, more than 270,000,000 silver dollars were melted down and in 1921, coinage of the silver dollar was resumed. From 1921 - 1935, the Peace dollar was issued without congressional sanction under the terms of the Pittman Act. From 1971 - 1978, the Eisenhower dollars were issued. Next was the Susan B. Anthony dollars, issued from 1979 - 1999 and the Sacagawea dollars that began production in the year 2000.

From 1875 until 1878, there was a twenty cent piece created for the Western states. It was confused with the quarter dollar and discontinued.

So, anyway, it took me all day just to go through my pennies. I had a lot of them and they weigh a ton. I was kinda excited when I found one dated in 1921, it was the oldest one. I tore the book open to see how much my old penny was valued at in 2003, trembling with anticipation.... only to find that my penny was only valued at 20 cents! (Okay, I wasn’t really trembling with anticipation, but I thought it sounded more exciting that way! Ha ha)

Later on, I did some Internet checking and discovered that my penny is now valued at 50 cents. I have to admit that I was disappointed to find that the little coin that had survived through 82 years of use by 2003 and 89 years by 2010, was only worth that much. It seemed rather sad, actually. But, if you think about it, the little penny is now worth 50 times more than it was when it was produced... so now, I feel better!

The book I was reading has so much more information in it. I’m tempted to get the 2010 version, or actually, the 2011 version when it comes out. Plus, it shows pictures of the old original coins and tokens and they’re pretty interesting to look at. There were many more stories of different coins that were produced by the states before the uniform ones that we use, but since I wasn’t looking to re-write the man’s book, I just took out some stuff I thought was interesting! There’s also tons of different stuff that you need to watch for when you’re going through your coins that are specific to a coin, a year, a mint, or whatever, that may (or may not) increase the value of the coin.

While perusing information on the Internet, I found this site to be very helpful with today's values. It also has many links to other information, including pointers to finding a legitimate coin dealer and recognizing fake/altered coins.

From this site, I got the mint marks which show where the coin was minted. There are several U.S. Mints that struck coins over the years, below is the list:

1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mint- coins from this mint usually don’t have a mint mark if they do it will be a P.
2. San Francisco, California Mint- coins with a S stamped on the reverse or obverse.
3. Denver, Colorado Mint- coins with a D mint mark on the obverse or reverse.
4. Dahlonega, Georgia Mint- this mint also used a D and is stamped on gold coins from 1838-1861 only.
5. West Point Academy Mint- Coins with W mint mark. Only the American Silver Eagle (beginning in 1996 to present), Modern gold coins, and the 1996-W Roosevelt Dime.
6. Carson City, Nevada Mint- coins will have a CC mint mark on the reverse.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana Mint- coins will have an O mint mark on the reverse.
8. Charlotte, North Carolina Mint- is a C mint mark and is only on certain gold coins.

Happy collecting!