Keeping cats off our counters… Pet Shock Mats

Our 2 barn rescue cats are driving us nuts. They refuse to stay off the table and counter’s of which are the only 2 rules I insist on.

They literally have free range over the entire house. But they refuse to listen to me.

Can you see how the phrase… What, were you raised in a barn fits here?

Get it?? Hahahaha

So recently we were joking about electrifying the table and counters and then just after we were joking about it…. Amazon was showing us add in social media for products that do just that… Only in a more humane, safe way!

So we laughed about it. Then jumped on it and bought them. Since it was amazon prime day we bought 2 different kind and this is our review on both of them.

This first mat we opened was by Seerway. Scat Pet shock mat https://amzn.to/3zLc530 It came 2 to a pack and they seemed like a really good deal till we discovered the cats could walk on top of them for several seconds without them being triggered.

They do have 3 modes… Beep only, Buzz only, and beep then buzz… The quality seems a little less then the other mats and not as efficient. Here is a video of Charlie.. Look how long it takes for it to go off while he is standing on it.

The other mat is Dog Care Pet shock mat https://amzn.to/3zTfWuL. The quality of this mat just feels more superior. It lays flat nicer and the controller on it seems to be of higher quality. It also has the same 3 modes. But the feature to turn it off an on is on the side and much easier to use.

It also reacts faster when a cat walks on it. Here is the video of Henry’s first run in with the mat…

Here is the Tiktok of both animals and my initial review… you can see Charlie literally standing on top of it for awhile before it even goes off.

@thebettencourts

ok.. let’s see some video of the training mats in progress… there is definitely one we are preferring over the other. I will do a product review and comparison in a few more days. #catsoftiktok #cats #kittensoftiktok #trainingcats my flowers are guarded like #fortknox

♬ original sound – The Bettencourt’s

Honestly, we like the Dog Care one so much we ordered 2 more. Here is the review of both of those below…

Before I close out on this let me say, comment carefully. I can not be in the room with them all the time and I run this homestead. Meaning there are safety reasons why I don’t want them on the counter and table. Hot items, food and items that are dangerous for them… and Charlie, who is getting bigger and still insists on jumping behind the tiny hole behind the fridge. My fear is one day while I am out doing errands he will get himself stuck once again and I won’t be there to rescue him.

So these mats, that give a tiny shock equivalent to sticking your tongue on a 9 volt battery… could be the very thing that saves his life till he finally learns he is not supposed to be up there!

https://www.tiktok.com/@thebettencourts/video/7130740375135718699?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id=7112945846195062315

All links to products are amazon affiliate links of which there is no charge to you… but I do get a small fee from Amazon.

Pantry List

This is my personal list that I work off every year to determine what I have used and need when I go do my stock up shopping trips.

This list is pretty personal as it shows the items we use. So be kind. I also feel the need to explain how we eat. We actually don’t purchase items that come in boxes. Example, brownie mixes we make from scratch. We make our own Pasta from grinding our wheat berries. We make our own cookies and so on. We also can most of our own food annually. So we can tomatoes, and marinara sauce. However, we purchase Tomato Sauce and paste from Costco. For us, the amount of tomatoes needed to make these items is greater then the cost to purchase them.

That doesn’t mean we don’t ever make tomato sauce. On occasion when we have an abundance of tomatoes, we make our own sauces. It just means we have a supply on hand for those times we don’t have them.

We also are phasing out having pre-ground flours on hand. Meaning we will be carrying a selection of whole grains that we can mill into flour as we are baking. This is probably not something others would want to do. So those columns could be deleted. Or replaced with something you do stock, that isn’t already on the list.

The idea is that you make the list your own. You save a copy of it to your own computer and you tweak it throughout the years to work for you!

With that said, let’s talk about how I use the list:

The list is made into categories like a grocery store. And I have also stored the items in this same way so when I go to do my inventory, it takes less then 30 minutes to make my list and head to the store.

I have listed the ‘buy’ prices which are 2019 prices. I intentionally haven’t changed them because they were actually 2016 prices that never changed. This way when I see a price that is close to the one listed, I know it’s a great deal!

The Store/Price is the store I have found to consistently have the best price on that item.

On my personal list I have everything filled out in the “On hand” column for our family and the amounts we have on hand. Which will be different for each family.

The list is simple to use…

Print it out.

Here is the links to the List:

This is the excel spreadsheet you can download and manipulate in excel or you can use straight in google drive…. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Nk8btzWWKLa8OvupEu7TKg3SlRXd-xeO/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=105840082908432996010&rtpof=true&sd=true

Or for those that want a straight PDF file here you go:

Attach it to the coolest clip board you can find.

  • Print it out.
  • Attach it to the coolest clip board you can find.
  • Run around the house looking in all cupboards and rooms.
  • count each item and right how many you see in the ‘Have’ column
  • Subtract the the ‘Have’ from the ‘On Hand’ Column and write it in the Used.
  • Subtract the “Used” Column from the “On Hand” and put that in the “Need” column.
  • Dress in the cutest outfit and head to the store to meet new people.

Be prepared for people to look at you funny while you walk through the store’s with clipboard in hand. They will make comments…. I just roll with it. Loudly exclaiming I am shopping for a large camping trip… Or commune.. or one I have retired… I am stocking up for when the world collapses and I need to hunker down. (That one doesn’t get laughs as it used to anymore.)

I like to have the separate columns so that I can see how many each year we have used and adjust my on hand column as needed. But as I said before, each family is different and how often you do inventory is up to you.

I do recommend not waiting too long these days. I used to shop twice a year and in 2020 it took me 3 months to get the items we used the last 6 months. I now shop off the list every time I go in to town.

Which is usually every other month. Remember, I live pretty rural, and while we have a grocery store in out tiny area, I use it for emergency items. The savings on purchasing the items in the big town more then pay for the trip inland in gas when I do go shopping.

The best thing about using this list is I don’t run out of things and find myself in the kitchen trying to find an emergency substitute for an item so I can finish dinner. Couple the list with my shopping lists I have created on my Alexa, and I simply have her add it to my shopping list when I grab and item off the shelf. Then It keeps a running grocery list for me at all times.

Let me know over on tiktok if you have any questions. I would love to answer them for you.

@thebettencourts

The massive pantry list is here… all for free sharing with you in hopes it will help you become more organized and better prepared for anything you might find come your way. #pantry #groceryshopping #homestead #savingmoney #organization #prepping #prepared

♬ original sound – The Bettencourt’s

Mom’s Homemade Granola

As a kid I would love the moments my mother would whip up a batch of her homemade granola. There was something about the cold milk flooding in the bowl over the warm fresh out of the oven crunch that I still love to this day.

Add in the fact that it is so simple to make and it literally is a bonus!

You can add dried fruits as in raisins and cranberries and dates at the end of the cooking phase after it has cooled.

  • 8 Cups of Oats
  • 3 Cups of All Bran
  • 1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds
  • 1/4 Cup Flax Seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut flakes
  • 1/3 Cup Wheat Germ
  • 1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 3 Cups Assorted Nuts – Chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 Coconut Oil Melted
  • 3/4 Cup Honey
  • 3 Cups of assorted Dried Fruit (optional add in at after cooled)

Step one

Mix the oats, all bran, sesame and flax seeds, coconut, Wheat Germ, nuts and salt in in a large bowl. Stir together. Pour in the oil and honey and mix together. Pour out on a cookie sheet, in a thin even layer and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir. Bake for another 10 minutes. Stir. Bake for 5 Minutes. Stir.. and continue to bake for 5 minute increments till evenly toasted.

Step 2

There is a fine line from the sweet toasted phase to the burnt phase. As a rule, I stick to the kitchen and focus on the toasting till it’s done!

Step 3

Let cool and add in Raisins, Dried Cranberries, dates, or any dried fruit of choice if you desire. Or leave plain and serve over yogurt.

Canning Pickled Peppers and Carrots

This recipe is amazing. But sadly I can’t find it on the internet anymore so… Steven thank you we have enjoyed it for years.

Below you will find my conversion for making it into a bigger batch.

This is the amounts needed for a 25# bag of carrots. Make smaller batches but this is what you will need for shopping. Total 7 batches.

  • 25 Pounds Carrots
  • 12 White Onions
  • 4 Pounds Jalapenos
  • 3.5 Gallons Vinegar
  • 21 cups sugar
  • 1 cup and 8 tsp canning salt

Review of the Chef Choice Meat Slicer

Why would you buy a meat slicer? You might be asking yourself that question. I did for so many years… Till I asked a friend how she got her homemade bread sliced so perfectly and she laughed exclaiming she just used her meat slicer!

That right there was genius!!!

I was also making our own lunch meat and was having a hard time getting perfectly sliced pieces… So I really started thinking about it.

And then I researched and found a vast different in pricing and quality and pricing!!!

After reading all the reviews I settled on this guy…. Chef’s Choice 609A it is going for 139.99 right now.. Slightly more then what I paid for it 2 years ago. But still a great deal considering some of twice that price.

We also added this blade that would allow us to cut our own hard cheeses… At 36.50 for the blade I like having the option for doing cheeses and softer items.

The above links are amazon affiliate links. No extra charge to you, but I do get a small commission on the purchase. And I would really appreciate it!

In all honesty you don’t need the slicer. I am however glad I have this bad boy and it saved on the wear and tear of my hands. While providing me with the perfect sliced bread and meats that make my CDO heart happy.

Here is my review of it on TikTok… and the following of it in action…

@thebettencourts

Replying to @ginam6025 this is the meat slicer. I have written a review of it on our website with direct links for you. website in my bio

♬ original sound – The Bettencourt’s

Here are the links to Tik Tok that show it in action.

@thebettencourts

meat slicers are amazing for slicing bread…. multi use tools. #homemade #bread #meatslicer

♬ I’m So Hungry – Karter Zaher

And here’s the final video where I show the meat it sliced…

@thebettencourts

is it cheaper to make our own lunch meat or buy it from the store.? (spoiler… we keep spices on hand…. and we didn’t count those in the total. because salt and pepper could be used) #lunchmeat #homestead #homemade #meat #brisket #savingmoney

♬ original sound – The Bettencourt’s

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

Simple. Flaky. Delicious.

What more could we ask for?

I think I should premise why I choose to use this recipe with the ingredients.. It’s rather simple. The ingredients are all in my pantry and in all honesty, none of the items need to be refrigerated. Meaning all the items are already in my long term storage. So I don’t need to run to the grocery store to pick anything up to make it. I just plop it all in a bowl… incorporate and fold and bake.

It really is that easy!

But here is the best part. They are cheaper and easy to make. So much so they match or beat the store brand and Pillsbury biscuits that come in that freaky can that scares the crud out of me.

Here’s the breakdown…

2.68 with a count of 8

makes each biscuit .33 cents each.

And 4.34 for a count of 20 makes each biscuit .217.

While this is a better match it;s still cheaper to make them.

1.98 for 5 biscuits makes each one .396

which is not a deal at all. Why do I remember them being in 6 count or 8 ct? This packaging seems rather small and odd to me.

Then there is the store brand at Walmart being 1.58 for 8 coming in at .19 each.

This is the exact price it costs to make them from scratch. But the thing is I would still have to go to the store to buy the package and go home to pop it open and make them.

And honestly, once you start cooking from scratch, you start to taste the chemical taste in the processed food.

Don’t believe me? Try making something from scratch for years and then go back to the store bought brand.

You won’t like the taste.

So what does it cost me to make biscuits?

.19 cents a piece.

I make a batch of 12 biscuits which costs me 2.34 cents for 12. I heat my oven once and after they are out and cooled I put them in a ziploc bag and store them in the freezer. Taking out only what I need when I need them. Saving me the cost of gas to go get the can, and the cost of heating my oven over and over again for each can of biscuits.

Not only that, I am using freshly ground whole wheat in my biscuits which gives me the health benefits of the natural vitamins and minerals in each bite.

I am literally sold on making them myself! And here is the recipe so you can make them for yourself.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 2 cups of soft white wheat flour ground on the pastry setting or fine setting.
  • 1 T Baking Powder
  • 1 T Sugar
  • 1/2 t Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 t Sea Salt
  • 1/4 t Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Shortening (ok, I use Crisco at the moment, I know!)
  • 1/8 cup Buttermilk powder
  • 2/3 cup water

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Mix Buttermilk powder and water together in a small bowl and set aside to rest. Use a pastry cutter and incorporate the shortening into the dry ingredients till small sized texture. Then add water and mix gently till incorporated. Just enough to place on a well floured surface patting out and fold over 3-4 times mixing in flour only as needed. Then cut and place in cookie sheet.

Bake at 450f for 10-12 minutes

Enjoy!

Canning Salsa

Today While on Tic Tok we did a live event and then an actual video post on just how simple and easy it is to can homemade salsa.

It really is that simple!

We used this book:

Put ’em Up! By Sherri Brooks Vinton which is an amazing canning book to add to your bookshelf!

Not only is the salsa recipe a hit in our family, but this is also the book I use for the Salsa Verde I canned up every year.

This was a simple water bath canning method, where we just used the following equipment…

In Total I got 19.5 jars on the 2 batches that I made today and each jar cost just .46 a jar. Keeping in mind I actually had to buy the tomatoes and cilantro and Jalapenos. Which normally I would grow and wouldn’t have to purchase them in the store. All in all, I am pretty happy with that sale on tomatoes.

Happy Canning my friends! You can do this!!!

Long Term Storage of Full Mason Jars

What is the best way to store those canned up mason jars that are full with perfect gold?

It’s recommended that you don’t stack jars in order to prevent a false seal, so that leaves you with building shelves for every single layer of jars. Or, you can head on over to U-Line and purchase boxes designed and made specifically for storing mason jars. Giving each size jar the perfect amount of headspace above the precious lid ensuring no false seals.

For the Quart jars you would choose this box…

https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-18945/Special-Use-Boxes/15-7-8-x-11-7-8-x-7-1-8-Canning-Jar-Boxes

Here’s the direct link…. https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-18945/Special-Use-Boxes/15-7-8-x-11-7-8-x-7-1-8-Canning-Jar-Boxes

For the Pints I use these:

https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-18944/Special-Use-Boxes/14-7-8-x-11-1-8-x-5-Canning-Jar-Boxes

Here is the direct link to them: https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-18944/Special-Use-Boxes/14-7-8-x-11-1-8-x-5-Canning-Jar-Boxes

They offer more sizes, but these are the one’s I have ordered and can attest to working. The cardboard is very sturdy and personally, I would use these to move my entire collection if and when we decide to move.

Here’s the deal with U-line: You have to order in groups of 10 and you have to pay shipping which can be a lot depending on where you live. But when you look at what they want for the price of one of the plastic deals that aren’t even secured… just snap together, and look so odd… it’s about 19.00 for just ONE!

So spending 104.00 out the door for 20.00 looks like a steal of a deal. I have been using them for 2 years now and they hold up amazing!!

Now, if I ever get rain in the house… I might change my mind on that. But so far, I have been able to keep them dry!

Tabitha’s Wheat Berry Summer Salad

We have been trying to get more whole grains into our diet. More on the why’s of that at a later time. But recently, I have been learning how to cook Hard Red Wheat and have fallen in love with the warm sweet nutty flavor that it fills the house with.

So I cooked up a batch in the Instant Pot and threw together a cold summer salad for us to share over dinner. As my husband was walking through the kitchen he snuck a bite and then proceeded to tell me that I needed to write it all down because he needed the salad in his life forever!

No better compliment then that is there? So here is the recipe.

Tabitha’s Wheat Berry Summer Salad

  • 1 Cup hard red wheat berries
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup diced jicama
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber
  • 1/2 cup red onion
  • 1/2 of one diced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Put the hard wheat berries and the water in the instant pot and lock lead and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Natural release of 10 minutes then drain and let cool.

Add all other ingredients to the berries once cooled.

Dressing

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp finely chopped orange zest

Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad.

Serve.

Growing up During World War II

With the way of the world going now, do you ever stop and wonder if your kids will be ok? How to get them through the turmoil if a war would hit us in these times?

For years I have been fascinated with how people found the will and courage to survive during tough times. What gets them up in the morning and tending to their daily chores? What drives them?

I am especially interested in WWII… always have been.

So when I got the chance to sit down with my mother and her friend Sue who both grew up under the cloud of a World War… I took the chance and was granted the privilege to film them so others could join us.

What was it really like being a kid, growing up, during war time?

Tune in and let’s hear it straight from the source: