Grandma Susan’s Almanac Calendar is an informal monthly journal that encourages homemakers to do more things for themselves - crafts, handiwork, “from-scratch” cooking, gardening, and other domestic arts.  Grandma's motto is: "Let's work together to improve our lives by simple living, self-reliance, maintaining our religious faith, and sharing the blessings of life with others."




Saying of the month

 "I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
-   H. W. Longfellow

 Recommended reading:

Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom


December, 2010
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

New Moon  1st Qtr  Full Moon  Last Qtr

     12/5         12/13      12/21         12/27 



Some Bible verses for December

"That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby, watching their sheep. Then, an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining around them, and they became very frightened. The angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I am bringing you very good news that will be a great joy to all the people." (Luke 3:8-10) 



Some Bible verses      
Saying of the month
Recommended reading       
Cut back on paper use
 Reduce kitchen plastics     
Left-over candle wax
Recipe of the month: Baked potatoes, plus





Just a few years ago, almost nobody thought about the use of paper products in the home and office. We used a lot and wasted even more. Paper was cheap, and if anyone mentioned all that wood being used for paper, the easy answer was that trees were totally "renewable" resources. There were innumerable forests and rebuilding those that were cut down seemed to be a reasonable solution. If parts of forests were cut down, trees could be planted to replace the loss and within a few years there would be a new growth. So, why worry?

Now, we know that the earth loses vast forest areas every year, and that unthinking tree-harvesting practices do uncalculated damage to our global ecology and, may even be a challenge to the lives of generations to come. Our wasting of paper is inexcusable if we hope to save more of our forests.

Clearly, it isn’t possible, or reasonable, to eliminate all paper usage in the home – we definitely need toilet paper and paper for print outs from the computer. On the other hand, we can get “greener” on this issue and reduce our paper consumption a lot.

Consider the usual ways that we use paper in the home – for cleaning, hygiene, eating, and communication. It is possible to reduce our use in each of these areas. We can also directly recycle some paper products for reuse in the home. We save a lot of money at the same time. Here are some of ways that I personally have been able to cut back on or recycle paper  products.

-Use rags and kitchen towels instead of paper towels.  They're free or very cheap and completely re-usable. Kitchen towels don't need to be expensive or you can easily make them at home. 


 -Use cloth napkins and forget about paper napkins. Make your own napkins out of an easily washable fabric or buy small white terry-cloth towels – the kind that can be bought in bulk at the hardware store. 
-Use dishes for food and not paper plates (large-scale picnics being the only exception)
-For computer printing, be sure to print on both sides of your paper.
-Carry home and use scrap paper from work (or any other place where you can get it).
-Pay bills on-line (or by phone).
-Use email instead of writing letter and notes.
- Get your news from the Internet rather than newspapers or magazines.
-Use washcloths instead of face wipes.
-Use cloth handkerchiefs instead of tissues. They last a lifetime if you hand-wash them.
-Use cloth diapers instead of paper diapers.
-Use newspaper for cleaning  up spills and for cleaning windows glass and mirrows.
-Carefully, unwrap gifts and save giftwrap paper for future reuse.
-Save strong cardboard boxes for  storage or shipping containers.
-Use crumpled paper as padding for shipping or storing fragile items.
-Save greeting cards, Christmas cards, and calendar art for craft use by cutting out shapes or pictures.

-Send e-cards instead of traditional greeting cards.


Plastics are everywhere in our life – at home, in the car, in schools, at our work places. They are so common that we don’t even see them for what they are. Plastics are made from toxic substances that contaminate earth, air and water. Both the production and the disposal of plastic put poisonous chemicals in our ecosystem and cause harm to living things. For people, plastics in the environment mean added risks of cancer and birth defects. For many species of animals and fish, it has already created physical degeneration and is accelerating their extinction.

Once created, plastics are non-biodegradable and will stay indefinitely in our environment. They can be transformed, but they don’t go away. That means that, burning and putting them in landfills only removes them from our immediate vicinity, but their toxic waste will make it back into the environment. Their presence around us, or anywhere, continues to poison our air, water systems, rivers, and oceans. Their recycling only transforms them into other products, but doesn’t change their harmful nature. In addition, the workers who recycle plastics develop terrible illnesses because of their exposure to toxic fumes. 

You'll want to have the least contact with soft plastics as possible. When people use plastic packages for foods, the chemicals tend to filter from the packaging to the foods they contain, and this apparently is true for all types of plastic. It’s worse yet when items are heated in microwave ovens because that accelerates the migration of toxic substances. Some plastic products, like vinyl shower curtains, do harm by just their presence, putting out poisons that circulate in home air systems.

The only way to reduce the damage that is done by plastics is to cut back on their use, and thereby, overtime, slowing their industrial production. You can do your part by refusing to buy “disposable” plastic products. That means trying to extend the lifetime of the useful existing plastic items that you already have and refusing to buy new ones, even if that creates some personal inconvenience.  

You may have to be inventive about finding alternatives to plastics, but there are always other ways to accomplish our objectives. That’s the key: Think objective, first, and then think means." (Because of our dependence on personal comfort, too often, we let ourselves become habituated to "means" and  accept habits that, in the long-run, are harmful to us and the earth.)

All this leads to the motive for this blog, and that is: Look for ways to rid your home of plastic products, whenever you possibly can. (If you 


say "no" to plastics”,  you’ll save money, be healthier for it, and do some good for the earth -- all at the same time.) Because a lot of plastics end up in the kitchen, that’s a good place to start. Try all these suggestions:

- Buy fresh food products, whenever possible, and carry your own paper or cloth bags to put them in.

- When you buy processed foods, search for those that come in glass bottles or metal cans. Buy larger-sized products so that the containers can be reused; recycle them when you're finished.

- If you aren’t carrying your personal shopping bag, ask for paper bags. Shop at stores that have them. 

- Make sure your using as few cleaning products as possible. Look for large-size packages or containers for these products. That way you won’t have to buy so much plastic on a regular basis.  Reuse or recycle all these containers.

- Don’t buy plastic bags or plastic wrap. Wax paper and butcher paper are excellent products for your temporary food storage and lunch bag needs. If you want neater packaging, you can use a bit of tape to hold the paper together.

- Use paper bags for the kitchen trash. (Of course, someone in your family will come home with an occasional plastic bag. When that happens, use it for trash or as a lunch bag.)

- If you are required to use a large plastic bag for trash removal day, line your street collection can with it, and make sure that is the only plastic bag you use during the week.

- Don’t buy or use plastic drinking bottles. Always carry your own metal drinking container when you leave the house.

- Don’t heat or store fatty or acid foods in plastic containers. You’ll heat and store just as well, and without dangers, using the glass containers that you've recycled.

- Don’t give babies or toddlers any kind of plastic cups, teething rings, or spoons that may be chewed on.




Those of us who hope to be greener are always looking for new recycling projects. We are all too aware that there is a lot of waste in most households and that there are uses for many objects that we have been throwing away. 

For those of us who like to use candles frequently, we collect a lot of extra wax that remains in the container after the candle stops burning.  So, what do you do with all the left over wax pieces after candles have finished burning?

Leftover candle wax is an easy recyclable. Here are 2 ideas:

(1) Save extra candle wax, sorted by colors or by scents and treat these leftovers as candle supplies to make new candles.  I buy only white or cream colored candles with very little scent, that way I can use all my extra wax without bothering to sort it.

It’s really easy to make candles. Here’s how:

    - Heat the wax in a double boiler until it liquefies. Use a pan that will only be used for this purpose in the future (and never again for cooking).

    - Use your rinsed-out tin cans as the molds. The small vegetable cans are just the right size for votive candles. (The tops of tall cans can also be punctured with a tin punch for a fancier look.)
    - For the wicks, buy braided wick or pre-dip twine or heavy cotton string in the melted wax. Place your wicks on a flat surface so they remain straight.

    - Make 2 small cardboard circles for each can, one slightly smaller than the  the bottom, and another a bit larger than the top; punch a hole in the middle of each circle. Grease the cans so that you can take out the bottom cardboard circles before burning the candles and, that way, the same cans can be used over and over.

    - Insert the wick in the bottom circle, with an inch or so below, and hold the wick up while you fill up the can with melted wax up to 1 or 2 inches from the top.

 - Place the top circle on top of the melted wax with the wick pulled through the middle hole. Let the wick hang over the side of the can.


    - The candle will cool and set quickly in the air at room temperature or it can be placed in refrigerator for faster setting.

    - When the wax has set, trim the wick to a length of about 1 inch, and your candle is ready for burning.

(2) Extra wax is also a great fire starter.

     - Take a large cardboard egg carton.

     - Place sawdust or tiny bits of paper in the egg part of the carton.

     - Pour melted wax over the sawdust or paper bits and allow to set.

     - Cut the carton into individual egg parts.

     - Use one egg part at a time to start a fire.



Baked potatoes, plus


Bake medium-size or large potatoes in the oven until done – 1 per person. Cut off the top of the baked potatoes - on the long side - and set aside the tops. Scoop the potato out of each skin, but leave some so that it makes a shell for the mashed potatoes.

Mash the potatoes with milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, butter, and sour cream. Add cooked or canned green peas or broccoli bits to the mashed potatoes. Put some shredded cheddar cheese in the bottom of each shell.

Stuff each shell with mashed potato mixture. Put some more cheese and toasted sunflower seeds (optional) on top of potatoes. Set the potato tops back on. Place potatoes on a cookie sheet and broil in the oven on medium high for a few minutes (until cheese is melted and bubbly).

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