A Rant About Walmart - How it went from worst to first to third in our household

Love it or Hate it - Walmart is a fixture of our daily lives. Read on to hear how Walmart went from an infrequent stop, to our number one store, and back to the sidelines.
Once upon a time, I used to shop for groceries based on which store had the best produce department. Fresh fruits and vegetables are important to me, and they are expensive - even more expensive if they end up in the trash...

Then my husband lost his job and I looked for any way to cut costs - so I started using coupons and driving to multiple stores to get the "best deals." It was an educational experience!

During this time, I frequented 2 or 3 stores per week. I may have shopped at Walmart once every 3 or 4 months to buy paper towels, cat litter...stuff like that. But groceries were my main spend and Walmart was never part of the rotation.

Eventually, our local Walmarts became "super centers" and started carrying more food. Their produce was abysmal so I avoided shopping there. Then I started to notice that most "coupon items" were sold at Walmart for less than the regular grocery store. Time became a premium and I started buying more of my food from Walmart.

Then Walmart came out with the savings catcher app. This app scanned your receipt and then matched any advertised price automatically. What a time saver! I found it to be about 80% effective at catching price deals and so Walmart became my ONLY grocery stop.

The produce section was still lacking but did seem to be improving. We grow a lot of our own fruits/veg or pick at orchards over the summer/fall and load up our freezer with good stuff, so I thought it was an okay compromise.

But I could never get over the gross feelings I have whenever I'm inside a Walmart store. It's not the "capitalism." Target, Cub Foods, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Aldi - they are all big capitalist giants. They have the same low wages, same tax breaks, same environmental destruction, same greedy CEOs.

No. It's the fact that everyone at Walmart appears to be depressed, ill, or deranged. Now, keep in mind - I live in an upscale area. I am a stay at home mom, so I shop during the day when only people without jobs go to the store. The stores are not packed. They are reasonably clean.

But the people still look ill. Maybe it's just what America is really like? It's hard to know because my neighbors, friends and acquaintances are mostly healthy, young professionals. Walmart is the opposite.

In case you're wondering.... I have also shopped at Walmart stores in disadvantaged areas. And I've had the interesting experience of going to Walmart at night. It's more intense, but it's just a brighter picture of the same. People in scooters. Carts loaded with garbage food. People in a zombie like daze.

Why? I don't know, but it bothers me every time I go to Walmart.

Since you've read the title of this article, you realize that I eventually stopped shopping at Walmart to often. The ick feeling is part of it, but I was clearly willing to put my own feelings (and health, to be honest) in order to save money. I am betting most people would have reacted the same.

Here's why I stopped shopping there. Maybe a year ago, Walmart started the policy of "checking your receipt/cart" every time you left the store. ANNOYING!!

I have never in my life stolen something from Walmart, and I hated being rallied up in a line to have our receipts checked. Every. Single. Time!

In all honesty, it made me want to steal from Walmart. They were accusing me anyway! And it would be so simple. Their stupid receipt checks did nothing to prevent it. This miffed me royally and planted a seed of real hatred.

The saving catcher kept me hooked. Then - they decided you had to use Walmart pay to get any rebates from the savings catcher app and that was the last straw. The thing is, I have the walmart app, they have my credit card saved. It's just pulling my phone out at the register instead of my credit card, but it was too much. It was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I already hated their food selection (and by food I mean, produce, dairy, the bakery, and meat). Their boxed foods are the same as anywhere else.

I started to realize just how damn loud it is in Walmart - there are big ass blower fans, music overhead, people, uggh. I also started seeing more of the in store shoppers - the walmart delivery people and they were clogging the aisles with their gigantic rolling carts. They were on timelines so they were bossy and rude - their goals clearly more important than any one else's. Plus it's dim and lit by overbearing fluorescent bulbs.

So I wasn't sad to say goodbye to Walmart. I may go there every once in a while to buy cat litter or underwear (yep, I'm cheap like that) but it's not "my grocery store" anymore. It's actually been a lot of fun and an eye opener. I am really loving the meat department and the fresh fruit areas in my local grocers. Awesome stuff!

As luck would have it, for the past month I went to walmart 3 times. Wow - you say. Well, during this time we did adopt 3 stray cats and everyone needs new underwear at Christmas, so.... But the ironic part of those visits is that I was not stopped to "check my receipt" even once. WHAT???!!! How exciting. Maybe enough people complained. Why didn't I complain? Because I complained to Walmart customer service once in the past and it was as horrible as waiting in the store customer service line. Took forever, nothing was accomplished.

So... there you have it. The round trip of how we barely shopped Walmart, to making it our main hang, then back at the end of the line.

In case you are in a place where you want to "save money" and start using coupons - just don't. I recognize that we all have to learn for ourselves, but it's just not worth the health costs to eat that junky stuff. All coupon items are overpriced and the coupon just makes it closer to a realistic price, but the food is generally really poor quality. Buy real food - and probably not from Walmart until they make further improvements in fresh food quality. Just my 2 cents.

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The Benefits of a Mechanical Gate Opener In the Winter

The Benefits of a Mechanical Gate Opener In the Winter

The time you save in not having to exit your vehicle to open or close gates in the winter is only surpassed by being able to stay in a warm environment between farming chores. Below are a few direct benefits of installing a mechanical gate opener.

Fewer Needs to Get Out to Handle the Gate
The drive between pastures is one of the few times farmers and ranchers get to climb in the vehicle and warm up between chores. You will no longer have to stop and hop out to open and reclose the gate. It keeps you warmer and preserves the heat building up in your vehicle.

Reduced Chances of Slip-and-Fall Injuries at Gate Openings
Gate entrances seem the most likely area for water to begin pooling from melted snow and ice. It can become a literal skating rink when the temperatures drop. A mechanical gate opener allows you to pass through this area without incident.

Durable Mechanical Parts
Using automatic openers for gates that are poorly designed can lead to breakdowns when cold weather strikes. Mechanical openers have fewer parts and are not dependent on electricity to operate. The mechanical features will work whether it's raining, snowing, or sleeting. As long as you have a push bumper or flat surface, the gate will work beautifully.

Performs Well In Cold Weather
Installing a mechanically operated gate opener system is the best option to try in a colder climate. It can be difficult to keep a live wire out to the far reaches of your property that would provide juice to an electronic system. You can trust that your new mechanical opener will work every time.
Installing an mechanical gate opener is a decision you'll be happy you made once the winter temperatures begin to take hold. Find out how mechanical gate openers can benefit your farming or ranching operation.

Maximizing Profitability On Your Farm

Maximizing Profitability On Your Farm

Working on a farm means long days and a lot of obstacles to overcome every day. Any equipment you can invest in that would make your job easier is not only worth it, but it will also pay for itself by allowing you to be more productive. Buying helpful equipment for your farm can also help you to avoid the injuries that come from repetitive actions, which is also going to add to your productivity.

Gate Openers

Some of the products that are available to make your life easier on the farm can seem unnecessary, until you start really thinking about their value. An automatic farm gate opener at all of your gates is going to not only save you time, but it is also going to keep you out of the elements on those days where you could otherwise wind up getting sick and losing work time.

Surveillance Cameras

When you think of all of the time you have wasted driving around your farm to check on potential issues, then you can start to appreciate the value of surveillance cameras. Not only can surveillance cameras help you to protect your land and buildings, but it can potentially save you days of driving time every year. Instead of driving to the other side of the farm to check on something, you can just check the video.

Utility Vehicles

Most farm owners have a couple of pick-up trucks they use to run their farm and you can see those trucks constantly driving around the property all day long. The problem is that pick-up trucks use a lot of gas, require expensive maintenance and are usually not necessary. A four-wheel utility vehicle that has a small cargo carrying area could do the same job and cost considerably less to own and operate.

Every farm business owner wants to maximize their profitability, and there are plenty of good ways to do just that. When you focus on profitability and quality, you will be able to run a sustainable business.

3 Benefits of Skilled Home Care Services

3 Benefits of Skilled Home Care Services

After seniors go through an injury or a major health event, they often move to a retirement community. This is a logical option, as retirement communities can provide seniors with the skilled care they often need as they age. It’s not the only option, however, and for seniors who want to remain in their own homes, in-home caregivers can have many benefits.

Medical Support for Chronic Conditions

When seniors choose in-home care services, they can find a care provider with the specific training they need. For seniors with chronic health issues like Alzheimer’s, for example, there are caregivers trained to support seniors with cognitive decline. These caregivers know how to communicate with seniors with Alzheimer’s, stimulate their minds, and deal with the physical side effects of the condition.

Medical Support for Post-Injury Recovery

When seniors are recovering from injuries, on the other hand, caregivers can help to restore physical functioning. They may have training in physical therapy methods, which can help seniors recover lost muscle mass and strengthen bones. After an injury, caregivers can also provide seniors with adaptations for daily activities. By giving them the tools to perform the daily activities of living, caregivers help seniors stay independent for as long as possible.

Individualized Attention

Individualized attention is one of the main benefits of in-home care. While seniors who live in retirement communities receive high-quality care, they don’t receive the personalized attention offered by in-home healthcare staffing services. In-home caregivers spend lots of one-on-one time with seniors, which gives them the chance to monitor and assess senior health. This familiarity makes them more likely to notice health aberrations. Because of the time spent together, seniors and their caregivers often form emotional bonds. Regular socialization often helps to boost mental and emotional wellbeing in aging adults.

Best and Fastest way to pick up acorns, pecans, and other nuts!

2018 was a mast year for acorn production. It probably stems from the droughts we had in 2017 and 2018 - both winter, spring, and summer.

What it means....is we have acorns all over our yard. Now, acorns are great fun. (click here to see how we made pancakes out of our northern red oak acorns) Acorns also feed wild turkeys, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and other wildlife.

As great as they are, they really mess up your lawn. They make the ground "bumpy," acidify the soil, and generally weaken the lawn. My children and I would sit on the ground and pick up acorns for hours. We could easily collect multiple 5 gallon buckets of acorns each year.

It was a frustrating process. Then I saw someone pick up pecans with a nut weasel and wondered if it could be used for acorns. The answer is YES.

We bought the medium sized nut weasel. We have rather large acorns - northern red oak and the weasel was able to quickly and easily pick up every single one. Now, it did have trouble if the acorn was buried deep in the grass, but rolling over a few times or kicking it out with your feet made that less of an issue.

Emptying the weasel was also super easy - you just pull the tines apart for a few seconds and all of the nuts fall out. If I had any complaints it would be this - it doesn't really pick up caps. It may get a few acorn caps but most of them stayed in the yard. Those are relatively easy to rake, but still....

It is still an amazing invention and my son and I marveled at it as we worked to clean up the acorns - in less than 1/4 of the time it would have taken us picking by hand.

I intended to buy this for my husband for Christmas, but since I happened to see it in the store just as acorns were upon us, I decided to get it now. It was definitely worth it!

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Type A deodorant Review - Do natural deodorants really work?

Is conventional deodorant safe to use? Does aluminum cause Alzheimer's disease? Do natural deodorants work? These are all questions I have asked. Lucky for you, I have also done a lot of testing on these theories. I once went almost a whole year without wearing conventional deodorant - you can read about the first 7 months here.

Around a year of "no deodorant" my husband frankly told me to start using it again. So do natural deodorants work? Yes and no. They can help a lot with odor, but they almost always do nothing for sweating. And they are not always the best at odor control either. I found that over time, my body almost became "resistant" to the natural products and would hold a certain level of smell. I would use clay masks under my arms (dead sea mud to be exact) to detox and remove the ingrained scent so I could start again with my natural deodorant regimen.

To be fair, when I was using conventional deodorant, I would often have times that it just wasn't enough and I'd have to switch to a "clinical" deodorant for a while. Might just be my body chemistry. Using the dead sea mud masks really did provide a reboot - a clean slate, if you will.

The other irritating part of natural deodorants is the delivery. When I made my own deodorants - or even when I bought them - they tended to be messier, less shelf stable, and/or less convenient.

So I went back to using regular deodorant. Secret is the brand I use most often. I've tried other brands, and for me they either smell too flowery or they just didn't' work.

Then I had the chance to review Type A deodorant. It claims to be "powered by natural ingredients" and be "aluminum free."

So why does any of that matter anyway? Well... there is good evidence that chemicals we put onto our skin can/does make it's way into our bloodstream.

There is also evidence that aluminum is associated with Alzheimer's disease. Before I get a bunch of comments telling me that recent news has suggested no clear link between aluminum and Alzheimer's - the actual data suggests a link. The news does not always sell the truth...

This does not mean aluminum causes the disease. It does mean that it is somehow involved. Like all human diseases, they are multifactorial and complex. But having metals in your body - and consequently in your blood vessels and organs is generally not a good thing.

So - most of us would like to limit our exposure to aluminum because why not try to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's any way we can? Personally, my father has Alzheimer's disease. It is a life robber. Plain and simple. It is horrible and there is no way to sugar coat it. Do I think aluminum caused his Alzheimer's? I think it's part of the story - but probably not because he used deodorant. He has Alzheimer's for a host of complex reasons.

My dad did have a high aluminum exposure but it was because he used a lot of over the counter heart burn medicines (antacids.) They are loaded with aluminum, and they lower your stomach acid which is actually a very bad idea. But I am getting off topic. I have a chart full of all the things that may/did contribute if anyone is interested...

Bottom line - we want more natural ingredients that are not going to cause us harm. And we want a deodorant that actually works. How does Type A stack up?

First the Good

  • Type A is probably the easiest/least messy natural deodorant I have ever used. It is super easy to apply and does not leave stains or crumble.  
  • It smells nice. I used the "minimalist" scent and was so happy to be free of the "lavender" scents that most natural deodorants use. 
  • It reduces odor. I wore it for a few days during my regular life. I went out in the sun, I went for a run, I did my usual stuff. I didn't have an odor at all. I even felt fresh in the morning before my daily shower. 
  • It may have better ingredients than traditional deodorants. (see the Bad section for more info)

Now the Bad

  • The tube shape might make it difficult to get the last bit of deodorant out. I am not near the end yet so I am uncertain how much will be wasted. 
  • I did not notice a reduction in "sweating." After picking grapes outdoors (76F) for about 1/2 hour, my shirt was soaked under my armpits. 
  • This deodorant contains a mix of natural and synthetic ingredients. I don't know that we should actually care that an ingredient is synthetic vs natural, but it can not be lumped in with "all natural" deodorants when it has both. 
  • It says it doesn't contain aluminum but that is untrue. It contains zeolite which is a natural aluminosilicate mineral (basically aluminum sand!) that is traditionally used as a desiccant/odor absorber in horse barns and chicken coops. Is it natural? Yes. Is it aluminum free, no. Does the aluminum separate from the silica and absorb into our skin? I don't know - possibly not. Is it less toxic than aluminum zirconium trichorohydrex used in conventional deodorants? Maybe? I don't know.
  • It contains a lot of "grain starches" like corn starch, arrowroot powder, and tapioca starch. These are often used in other natural deodorants, but with the use of so many other fats and synthetic ingredients, I would be concerned about these starches absorbing into the blood stream rather than sitting on the surface to absorb wetness. 
  • It contains titanium dioxide which was recently implicated in diabetes and damage to the pancreas.

I would really love to see studies done to see how much of this deodorant (and all deodorants!) actually cross the skin barrier. Clearly - if you have recently taken a hot bath/shower (opening pores and possible soap residue breaking the skin barrier) or shaved under your arms (broken skin) then the absorption rate is increased. I wonder how different ingredients within the deodorants effect  the skin barrier and increase/decrease absorption.

I currently use a deodorant that contains aluminum, so the aluminum containing zeolite in the type A deodorant is my lowest concern - though I do question the labeling that clearly says "aluminum free."  I have enjoyed the odor control and the easy applicator. I did not see a reduction in wetness - though my usual antiperspirant is not perfect here either.

If you wonder why I am concerned about the grain starches - then I suggest you search "persorption" of raw starch to see what happens when raw grains cross the intestinal barrier (aka "leaky gut") and how that can lead to autoimmune diseases - like IBS, multiple sclerosis, food allergies, and more. If there is a chance that any of the other ingredients make the skin barrier more permeable (as soap does....) then it would be a risk that these molecules could cross into the bloodstream (where they do not belong!) and could cause an immune reaction leading to long term problems. At first glance, I do not see anything that I know to increase skin permeability - but this is the stuff I think the FDA should be testing.

In the meantime, Type A does list and discuss every ingredient used at typeadeodorant.com  None of my thoughts are meant to dissuade you from using or trying this new deodorant. I am using it. It works pretty well, smells nice, and is easy to use. I am just not convinced that it is better or worse than what is currently available though I do appreciate the convenience/smoothness of application. I also appreciate people trying to make something better.

Please join the discussion and leave a comment below. I would love to benefit from your knowledge/experience.

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Stop throwing away lettuce, make your berries last longer, make your food healthier!!

It's not uncommon to find myself throwing out lettuce or spinach that I JUST opened a day or two earlier. It is beyond frustrating. Because of this, I rarely buy greens at the store. I grow my own and eat them only in season - from the ground to the table - and that's it. As you can imagine, there are pluses to this method but also major downfalls.

No spinach/lettuce/greens from August-May, except for a few microgreens I manage to eek out of my window pots.

As luck would have it, I came across the site of a very proactive mom that was trying to germ-free her home. Mostly viruses but also bacteria. I learned a lot from this lady - about laundry, germs in the sink, on the countertops, and even in bagged greens. Wow! If you want to saunter down that rabbit hole - here info is here: http://www.dranniesexperiments.com/

It turns out the triple washed spinach is still teeming with bacteria - and that's why it gets gross after just a day or two of being opened. Sad stuff.

So when I came across this fruit and vegetable wash - claiming to increase the shelf life of all produce BECAUSE it kills of bacteria/fungus/etc - I was ready to go for it.

I used it on grapes, blueberries, stawberries, ground cherries, apples, cantaloupe, tomatoes, greens, and mushrooms.

Did it improve the shelf life - Yes, I think so. I did not conduct super scientific studies, just my general sense was that they did last longer. I am, however, conditioned into using up my produce quickly and there were I times I meant to leave the tomatoes for weeks only to use them the next day....

I could feel/taste a difference when I washed grapes. This was super satisfying. No matter how much I washed grapes in the past, I could still taste "something" and it made me stop buying grapes for a long time. Even organic grapes. Most people don't realize how much copper and other junk are actually sprayed on organic grapes. It's a sad world out there.

But with this spray, I felt like they were actually clean and fresh. There was no chemical aftertaste, no artificial anything. They just tasted like fresh, clean grapes. This alone, makes me really happy. I will continue to buy this product. I like to go to orchards in the summer and fall to pick blueberries, strawberries, and apples - we are also building our own 40 acre orchard right now. It's important to have something - something natural - to increase shelf life and from what I've read on Dr. Annie's site - bacteria is a big part of the problem.

This spray gets a full 2 thumbs up from me - easy to use, all natural, does the job it says it will, makes my food cleaner and last longer! Love it! If you want to check it out - you can find it here.

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The links in this post may be affiliate links and products are often received for review purposes. Read the full disclosure.

Ultimate 2018 Christmas List - Yes, it's time to get ready!!!

It's never to soon to start thinking up a list of things you might like for Christmas. I keep a running list all year long. Not because I'm a greedy sow!

But because there is a lot I want to do/try in life and sometimes that means I need tools/parts/equipment. So I keep track of things that might make my goals easier - or that I just plain need.

Here are some fun things I found that were unique and possibly really helpful to most people - something different from the everyday practical things and  beekeeping/pruning gear that I usually select.
Mason Jar Spout with glass jar included Imagine making a delicious blueberry sauce for your pancakes or a homemade ranch dressing. Of course we store this stuff in mason jars - they are convenient and perfectly sized. But they pour like crap. This might be the solution!
Conforming Wrench - This is the bomb for women or men! One wrench to rule them all! Seriously, this wrench can unscrew or tighten to any size bolt/nut. It conforms automatically.
Corner Clamp - I okay, I admit that this one will be used for beekeeping. I need it for putting together the bee box equipment. But if you build/repair furniture, frame pictures, or do any other woodwork where you need to make corners, this looks like an amazing time saver.
Pet Hair remover - you toss it in with your laundry and it is supposed to remove the pet hair. Does it work? I don't know. What if it does? It would be amazing to leave the house without cat hair on all of our clothes...
Magic hinge kit - Turn any bookcase or doorway into a secret passageway. LOVE THIS!!!
Stand up weeding tool - because at some point bending over to pick out every weed just gets old...

That's my Christmas list for this year. I think any/all of these products would be real life improvers - not just dust collectors!

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Making Dried Flower Bouquets from Black Eyed Susans

This week we have been busy gathering black eyed susan flowers. I am attempting to dry them out and turn them into a beautiful bouquet or unique stems to accent a dried flower centerpiece.

They are so bright and cheery when they are fresh. They apparently keep as a cut flower for at least 6-10 days. That's sounds great, but I'm not sure about the drying results.
They turned out a little haggard in my opinion. Any advice? This is all new to us so I would love any tips or tricks. Please comment below.

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How to kill japanese beetles that are eating your plants!!

The Best Way to Kill Japanese Beetles - Easy and Without Touching Them!

Japanese beetles are always defoliating my beans, raspberries and linden trees. For years, I would go around my plants and smoosh the bugs between my fingers. Gross, I know and only marginally effective. Why? Because Japanese beetles jump off the leaves just as you are about to squeeze them.

There has got to be a better way....and there is! Today I came home to find JBs defoliating my cherry tree.

They were literally destroying it. So I grabbed a little bucket, put in a drop or two of soap and filled it halfway with water. The water just has to be barely soapy. You can see by my pail that there wasn't even suds.

I did this for a while and at first I maybe caught only 25% of the bugs I went after. I was tapping the tree with a paint brush to get the bugs to fall off. Some would fall but the rest would fly away. By the end, I had perfected it and was getting 80% of the bugs I went after. The trick - just touch them. They fall down when you touch them to get away - they fly more often if they are disturbed in any other way.

Plus - I found that having a shallower dish helps. I was using a tall bucket with just a bit of water at the bottom. Some of the JBs had the opportunity to fly back out before hitting the water. I did find the handle on the bucket to be a nice touch when trying to do multiple things at once but I either need to swap to a shallower bowl or fill the bucket with deeper water. Either way - the tree is now free of bugs (and I have went out every hour to grab any newbies.) Use this tip if you are being harassed by Japanese beetles. They can not fly out of the water and they drown.

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