Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Busy Wednesday

I just finished placing an order for rhubarb crowns from Seeds of Change. I ordered three. I think that will be enough for us. I also placed an order from St. Lawrence Nurseries for a number of things. Raspberry bushes: 6 Boyne, which is summer bearing & 6 Autumn Bliss, fall bearing. Ten Sugar Maple trees that are about 2-3 feet tall which will eventually produce sap for syrup. Hopefully we will live a long life so we can tap them :-). I also ordered a couple ornamental-type trees. Ten dogwood trees to use as screens for electrical transformer box & septic covers in the areas around the barn. Two Forsythia to plant for color. Last, Staghorn Sumac which is ornamental, but you can also make a drink from the seed heads similar to lemonade & very high in Vitamin C.

We better be in good shape when spring comes. We have a lot of trees to plant! I'm still hoping for some help like we had last year. A dollar a tree to plant from a permaculture intern on another farm. So we will add these with the 100 Hazelnut bushes & the 10 Chestnut trees already on order...Wow, I don't want to think about it! Really though, I am very excited about planting more trees & bushes. The more self-suffient we can become food-wise, the better.

The next thing on our list is to decide about expanding the garden to twice it's size (see this post for existing garden size) & also planning where to plant everything this year. Overwhelmed is the feeling I get when thinking of planning the garden this year. That's why I keep putting it off. All the seeds are ordered. I just have to have a few hours of completely undistracted time to do this & break it down into small steps. Brain injuries suck! There I said it. I feel better now. I try to keep a positive attitude but sometimes I get a little (sometimes a lot) down about the whole thing.
Some good news having to do with the chiropractor only wants to see me every 3 weeks now. Yippee! My neck is loosening up more. It's a big deal to me because I am getting very tired of being at the doctor all the time. Now I will just have the brain therapy appointment once a week and the chiropractor every third week. Steve is going to the chiropractor every third week now too. The scar tissue in my hip seems to loosen up after exercising so I will be doing more of that because I'm so tired of having a limp when I'm stiff.
(see below for Chester)

Chester from "Gunsmoke"

For us old people who remember "Gunsmoke". For the younger people, he had a limp.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Feel Good" Tuesday

Good news always makes us feel better. With all the bad news about the economy, I thought I would write about something happy.

We are so proud of our kids. Sometimes you wonder when they are younger if you are doing the right thing, teaching them good values, work ethic, etc. Our kids have shown us that even if you have made some screw ups, they turn out great. In the last week we have found out that daughter Kristin has gotten a promotion at work. She is a physical therapist at a major hospital in central Illinois. She is now the Rehabilitation Unit Manager. She, like all of the kids, is a hard worker. Daughter Amy just had a great performance review. She handles IT for the business she works for. She also entered a photo contest & is a finalist. Her picture will be on display at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show. Son Shane's news is on a personal level. He and his girlfriend are moving in together at the end of this month. Her name is Kristi & she is a really great person. Her dog Keyla is joining them so we have another "grand-doggie" in the family. As you can see, Shane has already bonded with Keyla!
Photo By Kristi

Another good thing is my brother-in-laws birthday was Sunday. He turned sixty. We are going out to eat for his birthday celebration tomorrow night.

We have a lot to be thankful for. Even in times like these. Count your blessings. I know everyone can come up with a few.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Microwaves & "What am I going to do without one?"

We have made the decision not to have a microwave at the farm. This is one of those decisions that you make solely on a health basis, not on a convenience basis. Of course it is easy to have a microwave. We all know that. Why would anyone want to make life harder than they have to? There is a change in thinking out there called the Slow Food Movement. Slow down. Appreciate the moment. Yes, I know you appreciate how fast the food gets done in a microwave :-). That's not what I am talking about. How can we live without a microwave? If you are my age, you have. Those of you who are younger than 30, might not have. We have been cutting back on microwaving for years. It's just not healthy. Remember you only have one body...consider it a temple & treat it as such. I came across an article in a natural health magazine that gave ten reasons to throw out your microwave. This is based on research from the Swiss, Russian & German scientific clinical studies. Other countries are usually ahead of us on testing things for safety. Here is the list:

1. Continually eating food processed from a microwave causes long-term-permanent-brain damage by "shorting out" electrical impulses in the brain.

2. The human body cannot metabolize or break down the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.

3. Male & female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating microwaved foods.

4. Effects of microwaved foods are long-term or permanent within the human body.

5. Minerals, vitamins & nutrients of all microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, of the body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.

6. The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in a microwave.

7. Microwaved foods cause stomach & intestinal cancerous growths (tumors). This may explain the rapidly increasing rate of colon cancer in America.

8. The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.

9. Continual ingestion of microwaved foods causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland & blood serum alterations.

10. Eating microwave food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability & a decrease of intelligence.

One thing not mentioned is the danger of plastics in the microwave. Toxic chemicals can leach into your food from the containers or the plastic wrap & paper plates you use.

Well, I don't know about you, but if you even think one of these is correct, it is enough of a reason to stop using a microwave.
So tonight when you get home & are starving & want a quick meal from the microwave, have an apple or other healthy snack, pop the meal in the regular oven & relax. Wind down, listen to music, read a little, slow down. Let the stress of the day flow out of your body. When your dinner is ready you will not be eating in a stressed state which is terrible for digestion.

Then, when people look at you (all calm & relaxed) in horror & think you are crazy for not using the microwave, just think of me. I am used to being viewed that way about drying clothes on the line, using natural homemade body products, eating a mostly raw food diet, not going to a "regular" doctor.... & on & on. I tell you what though. This will be our secret. We are healthier for it. Being non-mainstream is a good thing. Enjoy your knowledge & maybe, just maybe, some of those people will eventually see that this is a good path to be on.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Stay at Home Weekend

We decided to stay home this weekend & work on some projects for the farm here in the shop. We get some really great things from Freecycle & this is one of them. This is oak flooring from an old house that someone had taken up but never used. We knew we could use it at the farm someday. A portion of it will become stair treads on the stairs going up to the second floor. Today we sorted through it all, measuring for the size we need for the treads. There are 13 stairs & we need 6 strips to cover each stair. Seventy eight in all. Looks like we will only have to piece a couple of them together. The rest are long enough. Now it is just a matter of cutting them to size, gluing them together, staining & installing.

Last weekend we were at the farm. Steve framed in another wall in the foyer & we will be making use of another Freecycle item in that wall. It is an octogon window that someone planned on installing but never did. We are really being rewarded for people not finishing their projects! :-)
This is the wall between the foyer & the shop area. The reason for putting a window here (which will be covered in a non-see-through material, like a contact paper. The shop view isn't that great :-) is to let as much light into the foyer as possible limiting the light usage. There is an outside window right next to this wall in the shop.
We also worked on the kitchen layout. This is really exciting to me. I know it is at the "hard to image" stage now but it is exciting to be this far. I'll go into more detail about the layout sometime soon. Last night we sat down at home & did a little more planning. We have some nice extras like roll-outs for the cabinets at the shop that will work great in the new kitchen.
Today we are going visiting. We'll go out to lunch with Steve's dad & then to the nursing home to visit his mom. Then on to my mom's at the assisted living home.
Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are We There Yet?

The cabins we stayed in at Hank's Resort

Did you ever take long car trips when you were a kid? Ever wonder how you made it through them? We vacationed in Minnesota from the time my Mom & Dad were married until now. Here is a short story I wrote about our trips to Minnesota...Mom, Cathy & me (the little one) in the new Chevy

Having fun at the lake. That's me with the braid.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? The question my parents were asked endlessly on the way to northern Minnesota when I was a child. Six hundred miles. A never ending, restless, sticking to the plastic seat covers trip. Sizzling hot comes close to describing the feel of legs touching the plastic as you slide across into the backseat. Sometimes Mom thought ahead and brought a towel, saving the back of our legs from looking like we had lain out in the sun too long. Those were the sixties. A time of free love, drugs, the moon landing, civil defense drills, Vietnam, Woodstock, the Beatles and the Monkees. The free love and drugs just passed me by. By the end of the sixties I was in junior high and was not aware. Growing up in the country next to a small town named Elburn, which is short for Melbourne in northern Illinois, I lived a very sheltered life. The typical small town with a grocery store, drug store, 5 & dime, butcher and bank. In the last year, the grocery store and the drug store closed. A big chain store came to town. Everyone calls it progress, but I disagree. We lose so much to gain a few cents or a few minutes.
I have great memories of my time in the country. We had a three-bedroom house on an acre of land with plenty of room to play with Barbies. My Barbies were tough. Not the sophisticated doll Mattel had in mind. They had a lot of outside adventures. My favorite was the blond with the ponytail. Climbing trees, swinging on the rope swing, swimming in the pool. She would do laps and dives off the edge, never losing her black and white striped suit. But her hair was never the same after swimming. The rubber band fell out of the ponytail, leaving a huge bald, rubber spot in the back. Did they think we would never let their hair down? Barbie’s hair felt, well scummy, if you can imagine, from whatever chemical was added to the pool. My sister and I were lucky to have worn swim caps, even though they made us look like aliens, saving our hair from the pool slime.

Cathy & me, lookin' pretty

Always barefoot. I can still feel the grass through my toes on a summer’s morning, moist from the dew, and the gravel in the driveway that made me walk like I was having a spaz attack. Enormous oak trees shaded most of the yard except the one side where we played badminton, wiffle ball, flew kites and my dad had his garden. Usually it was a garden of beauty but it would turn into the garden of horror when the big, black with yellow on their back spiders were out. Not to mention the bumblebees. A farmer’s son, my dad had several gardens which he tended to every day. He grew juicy red strawberries, rhubarb, many different vegetables and flowers. When we left for vacation in mid-July, our grandparents took turns coming over to water the garden and the house plants.

Time went by slowly while waiting for vacation but July was finally here and it was time to pack the car. The most memorable of car packing years was 1969. The year Apollo 11 landed on the moon. My parents didn’t want to miss the important event so we brought the TV with us. The nineteen-inch black and white portable. Not so portable by today’s standards. A car-top carrier was built out of wood and attached to the top of the car with large suction cups. Life jackets, fishing poles, minnow buckets, shoes, clothes, whatever fit went up there to be covered with a canvas tarp tied down with clothes line. The trunk space was now free for the TV. It was a enormous undertaking, but my dad was the master-packer. Everything was in its place. Four kids packed and ready to go. Now if we could just go to sleep so we could rise at three am.
And there we were. A family of six in a big roomy Chevy Impala. Bill, the youngest, sat in the front with Mom and Dad in his car seat. The car seat was unlike anything you would consider safe nowadays. Plaid plastic with two metal bars that wrapped around the back of the front seat. He sat up high, with his little red baseball cap on, curly hair hanging out the back (a baby mullet) steering with the miniature wheel and honking the squeaky red horn. Meanwhile in the backseat, the three of us would fight for our territory. My sister Cathy, the oldest, sat behind Mom. She usually slept the most of any of us or at least pretended to. My spot was behind Dad, brother Bob in the middle. Bob tended to get carsick. A little gray plastic pot was kept under the seat just in case lunch decided to make an exit.
Car packed the night before. Leave at 4am sharp. Drive straight through. It was like that every year.
Wisconsin at dawn is a beautiful sight. We took the back roads. The ones with the hills that roll gently into each other. I would stay awake and talk to Dad while everyone else slept. Being the responsible middle child that I was, I didn’t want him nodding off due to boredom. The scenes of those early mornings are as clear to me now as if I was eight again. Amazed at the hills, one after another. A child of Illinois. Flatlanders they call us. Fog in the fields, hovering over the small farm ponds and streams. Rays of sun poking out over the horizon like a laser light show at a Who concert. Wait, I flashed back to the wrong decade. The sky is shades of purple and pink and I am fighting sleep now with dreams mixing in with reality as everyone else starts to stir. Dad needs body fuel. The car slows as he stops for coffee, a donut and a stretch. I barely hear the crunch of gravel as we pull back onto the road before drifting off.
“Get you shoes on. Time to eat breakfast.” My stomach is growling with anticipation. Shall it be French toast with melted Wisconsin butter and sweet maple syrup or Frosted Flakes? Cathy stays in the car and sleeps the sleep of no other siblings bugging her.
After breakfast we knew that we would be given something to keep us busy. It could be a toy, a game, a coloring book or paper dolls. Anything to keep us busy. We still had a long way to go. My favorite game was Travel Bingo.
A couple naps, toys and games, a stop to empty the plastic pot and we are almost there. Our invisible territory lines drawn on the seat almost forgotten in the excitement. Two weeks of heaven. We see the sign.
Population 225.
Doesn't someone look upset that he couldn't hold the fish?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do You Know Where Your Almonds Come From?

We always try to eat organic foods. Of course they are not always available. So there are choices to be made. Some foods are worse than others as far as chemical use to grow them. Some time ago, I found out that raw almonds from the US are fumigated. The fumigant is propylene oxide which is recognized as a carcinogen by the EPA. The USDA is being sued by the almond growers to stop the mandatory fumigation. The USDA's regulations allow these fumigated almonds to be labeled as "raw" which is deceiving the public. Fumigating the almonds destroys as much as 90% of their nutritional value by altering proteins & destroying disease-fighting phytonutrients. They should not be able to be sold as "raw" almonds. A large number of people make recipes using raw almonds & expect them to be safe. Raw almonds should be just that. Raw & not tampered with. Just like other foods that are raw. Best left in their natural state. Leave it to the USDA to meddle with Mother Nature & then not tell us about it. Nutrient destruction should be labeled as such. Most almonds come from California. Other countries are not required to fumigate. So much for eating locally (or foods from this country). I hate to say it, but don't buy almonds from the US. If your store shows the point of origin, make sure the almonds come from a different country. I feel sorry for the growers who had no say in the matter. I hope they win their lawsuit.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cabin Fever Saturday

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

We are at the farm & I have a severe case of cabin fever. All day long I have been looking for things to do outside. It's a beautiful cold day here in Wisconsin. Just finished bringing in more wood for the fire. The sun just set, so that limits doing much more outside. Went out & trimmed trees for most of the afternoon. Took a walk around the farm, looking at the trees we planted last year. About 6 or 7 pines trees didn't make it, but the other 19 look good. They are pinyon's. The kind you get pine nuts from. All the apple, pear & cherry trees look great. No damage from mice that I can see. As I was walking, I was thinking about where to put the 100 hazelnut bushes we will be getting this spring. Tomorrow Steve is going to take a walk around & we can decide then. We are hoping that the permaculturist we buy from has an intern this year to help us plant. An intern planted the fruit trees last year for us. I know this year (due to the accident) I'm not in as good shape as last year. I've lost a lot of muscle tone & I usually end up with neck pain if I do too much. I know I will feel down this spring if I can't be as productive as last year but we'll get it all done somehow!

Right now Steve is working on the foyer walls. I'm typing to the hammering. He took a break earlier when Eli came over to visit. Eli is talking about tapping maple trees with another Amish family. Steve would like to go with him & see how it is done. Yummm. Maple syrup.

I'm really glad this week is over. Monday was the chiropractor, Tuesday the therapist & I've been studying (or trying too :-) Wednesday & Thursday as my "therapy homework" . I still have more to do. I guess Monday after work it'll get finished before seeing her on Tuesday again. I really love studying natural medicine. It feels so good to get back into it. Now if I could just remember more of what I read...

This evening we are going to stay home & sit by the fire. I can't think of a better way to spend the evening.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our Weekend With Amy

We had a lot of fun this weekend. Our daughter Amy & her dog Hero came up for a visit on Saturday. We worked on some inside projects. It was great to have Amy there helping us! Steve built three more walls to put up around the stairs. Doing this in sections made it much easier to handle.
Hero was helping us too!

Amy was in charge of putting all the screws in the drywall & did a great job.
The next step was to put up the walls. With a little heavy lifting, it was done. The hole in the wall is head room for the stairs to the basement. The area in front of it will be made into a workbench of sorts in the shop area.

Here is the view from the top of the basement steps.
And here is the wall from the "up the stairs" view.

When our work was finished at the farm, we went to a nearby town to see a ski-jumping competition. It was sponsored by the Snowflake Ski Club in Westby. This competition has been going on since the 1920's.
Here is Steve & Amy in front of the main ski jump.
The people you see on the slope are grooming the area for the next competition. This is an Olympic size jump used for US & international competitions. After the jumps we went to the rod and gun club to see a band and have a couple beers. (Except me. I'm the designated driver :-)
Sunday, Amy & I went to town to shop at the food co-op & an antique-junk store. She found an autographed book from the 40's about flower arranging & we saw a toboggan to tell Steve about. Went we got back to the farm, we all took a walk in the woods. Hero had a great time running around.
We showed Amy the tree that fell last year in a storm. It is a huge oak that
split down the middle & is stuck into another tree. Would love
to get it down to use in the house for the floor or cabinets.

Before going back in the barn, we stopped in the garden & found the brussel sprouts that were buried in the snow. Still green & a beautiful sight in the middle of winter.

Can't wait to get started in the garden....

Words for Reflection

Judy at My Freezer is Full posted some thoughts of the Dalai Lama. Please take the time to read it.

Some Things You Might Find Interesting About Organic Cotton

Recently I ordered some organic cotton undies & it came with a fact sheet. Thought I would share.

First, why conventional cotton undies are bad...

They are processed with chlorine bleach & hydrogen peroxide & formaldehyde is also applied in the processing of the fabric.

Dioxin is a carcinogen derived from chlorine bleach & is responsible for hormone disruption.

The dye process also has heavy metals that contain harmful carcinogens.

Conventional cotton production account for more than 10 percent of pesticides used & 23 percent of agricultural insecticide sales.

Contamination of ground water is directly linked to pesticide & fertilizer use on cotton crops. Nitrates found in these fertilizers are found to cause "blue baby syndrome" in infants.
Use of chemicals in processing makes the fibers weaker & therefore wear out faster.

Now the good news...
Organic cotton doesn't use any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

Growing the crop organically doesn't damage the soil, environment or human health.

Organic cotton farming doesn't poisen farm workers or their families.

No GMO (genetically modified) is allowed in organic cotton.

Organic cotton is stronger due to the lack of chemical processing.

So what do you want to put next to your body? I know you are saying "But it is more expensive than regular underwear". Okay, good point. I understand that. But if you are buying cigarettes or eating fast food, or have other things you spend money on that you don't really need, maybe you could cut back on one of those things & be able to afford to buy organic. You only get one body in your lifetime. Treat it with care. It'll last longer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Using the Pump n'Seal

I finally tried the Pump n' Seal. We watched the video first (it's on their website too) & then found a couple jars to seal. It works really well. Kinda fun too.

First you take the push pin & poke a hole in the lid. Then place a small yellow tab over it & place the Pump n' Seal over it. Just pump away. It only take a little pumping to seal the jar depending on how much air is in the container. The one thing we never seem to use up fast enough is salsa. So we sealed it & put it back in the fridge. I think I will be having fun the next few days looking for stuff to seal. It also comes with a hose so you can seal plastic bags. We haven't tried that yet, but when we do, I'll let you know how it works.

So... I give it an A+

Questions From Chris

Chris from A One Acre Homestead in Ohio posed these questions on his blog yesterday. Let's see if I can answer them...

Basic Questions About You

1-What is the biggest goal of your lifestyle? to be self-sufficient

2-When did you start this lifestyle? two years ago

3-What was your main motivation? healthly living

4-Did you have any previous experience in anything you're doing now? have always been handy & had skills like sewing, etc.

5-Does your spouse/significant other (if you have one) share the same ideas? yes

6-Do your friends and family understand and support these choices? What about your kids? Friends & family think we are kooks :-) but kids are great even if they don't understand all of it.

7-How happy are you with your achievements so far? Have come a long way but need to work on it more. Living 2 places makes it harder, though.

8-Are you more of a gardener, homesteader, prepper, health conscience, "green"' or a combination of several? A combination of all of the above.

9-Has this change of lifestyle affected your personality? I have always been on the quiet, shy side. I now enjoy talking more with like-minded people.

10-Has it changed your view of your life before? Now I realize how automatically programmed we are to consume. I consider myself "deprogrammed"

11-What about how you view others that don't understand it or naysay? I just know that they haven't read between the lines, they may watch only mainstream media or they might be closed-minded or scared to see reality. I still have hope for them though.

12-If you could convince someone to live the way you do in ONE sentence, what would you say? That's hard to anwer. "What would you do if all of your electronic devices quit working?" At least that would get their attention.

Other Questions-

1-How large is your vegetable garden? football field size.

2-Do you grow any fruits, and what and how many? Yes. Apples, blueberries ,cherries & pears

3-Do you have any animals and what are they? (other than pets) Not yet

4-Do you can/dehydrate/freeze/store your own produce? Yes to all

5-Do you work with mainly power tools or hand tools in your gardens and others? (wood cutting, splitting, tiller vs. broadfork etc...) Both

6-Do you compost? Yes

7-Do you recycle? Yes

8-Do you consider yourself energy conscience? (conserving to save $) Yes & always looking for new ways

9-Do you make any of your own household cleaners? Yes

10-Do you make your own bread? Not yet.

11- If in an emergency situation, are you able to not leave home for a week? How about a month? A year?? Working on it.

12-Are you tired of answering questions yet? :-)

13-If you prep, what do you consider to be your most useful tool/items? wood stove, saved seeds, matches, food storage

14-Are you able to heat your home without gas or fuel oil? One home yes, one home no

15-Are you able to cook without gas or electricity? Same as above answer

16-Again, if in an emergency situation, could you live in the wild or out of a tent? ( camping,hunt/fish, cook,etc.) yes to camping, fishing, cooking

17-Have you ever practiced your prep skills? (turning off main power for a day or 2) How did you do? (this can include a power outage due to weather as a test) Not yet at the townhome but we didn't have electric or plumbing for quite a while at the farm

18-Do you have the knowledge & skills (plus tools) to hunt and fish for food? Not to hunt but to fish

19-If you don't prep, why not?

20-Do you or can you sew your own clothes and make your own bedding? Yes

21-Can you field dress a deer, drink a coffee, smoke a cigarette, make a cell phone call, light a fire, AND answer all of my annoying questions at the same time? lol thanks for playing! Great quiz Chris. Thanks!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Late Night Thoughts

Okay. I can't sleep. I was almost asleep until the snoring distracted me (not Steve. It's our cat). So I'm awake now & thinking of a question someone asked me about storing the necessities. I think I have an answer for her. You just have to image this.
It is the middle (or end or beginning) of winter. An ice storm rolls in. Power goes out. Trees are blocking the roads. Streets & main roads are a sheet of ice. No snowplows are going to salt. No one is going to come & save you. Things could be this way for days. I know for some it is hard to imagine. In the sixties, we had an ice storm like that. We lived in the country. Only a mile or so from town. But for a couple days, we lived with no electricity. Our family had friends in town so after a few days we went to their house & ate some hot meals. We also had a fireplace, but that really wasn't an efficient heat source. There were four of us kids. No flushing toilet. We had a basement which was warmer than upstairs so we slept down there.
What I am saying is that it could happen. It has happened. Recently. Down South. It really is wise to be prepared.
So what should you stock up on? I have been going over this the last few weeks myself. We have two homes. The townhome in Illinois & the farm in Wisconsin. Some things are here, some there. Not very good preparations. It's difficult to buy for both places. With that in mind though I have been looking up one-burner camp stoves & small propane heaters for the townhome. I am asking myself "Could we live here for a week without electricity, which means no heat or cooking meals?" I can say "yes" to the farm for that. We have lived there that way. We have a wood stove & camping equipment there. Most of our food stores are here though. We do have Amish neighbors that can get to town with the horses through almost any weather but would stores in town be open? Here we hardly know the neighbors. Everyone is gone working (including us) & we are gone most weekends.
So, the answer is... store those necessities. Water (drinking & for flushing the toilet), toilet paper, canned foods, extra dog food, can openers, medical needs like band aids & medications, etc. Have an alternative heat & cooking source. Go to a website or blog that survivalists write. They have lists of what you might need in an emergency. You're not being radical. Your being smart. Go with your gut feeling.
Now I can go to sleep....

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Lavender is a great antibacterial. There are many uses for it. Here are a few to try.

Use lavender (or any other essential oil you might like) as an air freshener. Just take a small spray bottle, fill it almost full of water (avoid tap water if possible, especially if your water is chlorinated or contains fluride), add about 10 drops of lavender. That's it! Save money & keep the nasty chemicals out of your home.

Ever use those pre-packaged wipes or baby wipes for travel? Here is what you need to make your own.

Container that seals
Either cut up material (old t-shirts work great) or use paper towels cut in half
Pure water (enough only to moisten the wipes)
Lavender essential oil

Pour water into container, add the lavender (about 2 drops per the number of cloths you are using). Mix well.
Put your wipe material in the bottom of the container to absorb the liquid.
Now you have a great antibacterial wipe to use anytime. Put them in a small container & put them in your glove compartment. Take them on the plane with you. Personally, I'd rather use them than wash my hands with the airplane water :-).

Another item made with lavender that you can use when you will be in crowds or on a plane.

Take Q-tips with a few drops of lavender on them & swab your nasal cavity with it before you go out or fly.
There are so many uses for lavender & other essential oils. Replace the expensive products you use now & save money & the planet at the same time.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Studying Again (Yeah!)

Tuesday was my weekly appointment for therapy. Liz (my therapist) decided I should crack the books again as part of my homework for her. I am to read two chapters a night & write an outline of them. Saturday is a day off & Sunday I need to write from memory what I remember about what was read. The book I'm studying now is the Textbook of Natural Medicine, Volume I. This is no small book! About 1400 pages. I had just purchased it right before the accident so I am starting from the beginning. Last night I started the process around 5pm. I'm still not finished writing the outline as of this morning. I have a problem with distraction & we all know that life is full of distractions. Since I also tend to get overwhelmed very easily now, I am thinking maybe one chapter a night might be better. I've left Liz a message & am waiting a call back. She has no idea what book it is I'm dealing with :-)
It does feel good to get back into the swing of things again, though. I just hope I remember what it is I read.

My friend Pat at "Not Now, I'm Counting!!!" just wrote how she is in a rut. I think everyone needs a little spring right now. Go over & visit her & leave a comment if you can. I know it always makes me feel better when I know that someone is reading my blog. Pat is the one who taught me how to knit. She makes beautiful items that she shows on her blog. I only hope someday I'll be able to do half as good of a job as she does!

Even the sight of weeds are beautiful this time of year!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Last Weekend at the Farm: The Wall in the Foyer

It was a sunny weekend at the farm. The temperatures got into the 30's & it felt like spring. Enough of the zero & teens weather! Unfortunately, today is very, very cold again. We drove up on Saturday morning instead of Friday afternoon. Work seems to get in the way sometimes. Seemed to be less traffic this whole trip due to no rush hour through Madison on Friday & the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Steve brought up his cross country skis hoping to get a little fun time in but the snow was just too crunchy. So we got to work...

There were some holes in the floor to patch from pulleys that the Amish use to run their machinery. First the holes needed to be squared off so we could easily fit a new piece (see the 2 side patches) in place. Another larger piece was glued around the edges & attached under the floor from the basement to hold the new piece.

Next, a new wall needed to be built. This wall forms the foyer hallway & butts up to the stairs (up & down). To build the wall, we laid it out on the floor, then nailed it together.It reached almost 60 degrees in the unheated area we were working in.
Passive solar is great!Here is the wall put together but not yet moved into place.
First we wanted to put the drywall on since it would be against the stairs.
After the drywall is on & put into place.This was exciting for us. To be able to define a space with a wall. In this shot, I am standing in the foyer area looking into our kitchen.
And so ends another weekend at the farm.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Other Uses for Baking Soda & Vinegar

I am all about using less chemicals on & in your body & in your home. I have been using a few different cleaners that are so simple & that you don't have to worry about holding your breath while you are cleaning.

The first can be used for just about anything.

Cleaner for all-purpose jobs

2 cups of white vinegar & 2 cups of water.

Optional: Add essential oils*, about 15-20 drops ( Why shouldn't cleaning smell good while you are doing it).

*A note on essential oils: lavender has been said to be toxic to cats & some essential oils stain (chamomile, cedar and orange) so try on a tissue first in an inconspicuous area.
Warm the mixture for tougher jobs.

Furniture Polish

1/4 cup white vinegar
a few drops of olive oil
2 tsp of lemon juice

This should be stored in a refrigerator. Test in an inconspicuous area first. Use a clean, dry cloth & pour a little polish on it. Rub in the direction of the grain.

Reasons to not use a popular furniture spray

1. Propane

2. Isobutane

3. Butane

4. Isoparaffinic Hydrocarbon Solvent Silicons (say what?)

5. Water (okay, that's all right)

6. Storage: keep away from children. Store in a dry, cool, well-ventilated area. Keep from freezing or excessive heat. (where is your can stored?)

7. Disposal: take to the nearest steel recycling center.

Enough said?

Drain Cleaner

1/2 cup each of baking soda & white vinegar.

Pour baking soda down the drain & follow with the vinegar. Let it sit for around 30 minutes & flush with boiling water. Try again if it didn't work the first time.

Reasons not to use a popular drain cleaner (right from their material data sheets)
Warnings: CAUTION: Eye irritant. May be irritating to skin. For sensitive skin or prolonged use wear gloves. FIRST AID: EYES-Flush with water for 15 minutes. IF SWALLOWED-Drink a glass full of water. Call a physician. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. Avoid contact with clothes, fabric or carpet. Do not use or mix with other household chemicals as hazardous gases may result.
Acute Health Effects: From MSDS Inhalation: Exposure to vapor may irritate eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Injures mucous membranes on direct contact. Skin Contact: Injures skin on contact. Some clinical reports suggest a low potential for sensitization upon exaggerated exposure to sodium hypochlorite, particularly on damaged or irritated skin. Eye Contact: Corrosive to the eyes. Ingestion: Nausea, vomiting, and burning sensation of the mouth and throat may occur.
Chronic Health Effects: From MSDS Occasional clinical reports suggest a low potential for skin sensitization upon exaggerated exposure to sodium hypochlorite if skin damage (e.g., irritation) occurs during exposure. Routine clinical tests conducted on intact skin found no sensitization in the test subjects. The MSDS further states "The following medical conditions may be aggravated by exposure to high concentrations of vapor or mist: heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or obstructive lung disease."See the accompanying chemical database file for a further discussion of potential health effects of the chemical ingredients that are found on the label or mentioned in the MSDS.
Carcinogenicity: From MSDS The manufacturer's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) states that the product contains no substances that are considered carcinogenic or potentially carcinogenic by NTP, IARC, or OSHA.
Handling: From MSDS Keep out of reach of children. Wear safety glasses and gloves. Use general ventilation to minimize exposure to vapors Avoid all splashing; particularly in eyes, on skin and clothing. Keep children away from basins containing Liquid Plumr. Do not use plunger with Liquid Plumr. Do not use with ammonia, toilet bowl cleaners or other drain openers. Do not reuse empty container.

Just think of how much money you will save by using these cleaners & there are no metal or plastic containers to recycle. You can re-use the empty glass bottle of vinegar for the furniture polish or other cleaner. I know it is "easy" to just go out & buy the ready made stuff, but you really do owe it to yourself & your family to clean up your home of chemicals. Break the habit & start a new tradition in your home of safe cleaning.

Monday, February 2, 2009

7 Things Meme

Judy at My Freezer is Full tagged me for this meme:

Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
Tag 7( I could only think of 5) people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog
Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I have always wished I had a different first name.

2. I clean dishes as I go when I am baking or cooking.

3. If given the opportunity, I will put black olives on my fingertips to eat them.

4. Little House on the Prairie & The Walton's are my "comfort" TV shows.

5. Had the opportunity to tour with a band (I played guitar & sang) the summer I was sixteen. Couldn't understand why my mom & dad said "no"!

6. Got drunk & played music in a catholic church (at sixteen, after hours) with the band I wanted to tour with. We were all in high school. Crazy kids!

7. Still have my old Barbie dolls.

Okay. Here are my tags. Play if you want, if not it's okay.

Peggy at Hidden Haven Homestead
Pat at Not Now, I'm Counting!
Pelenaka at Thirty Five by Ninety
Melissa at Melissa's Ramblings
Earth Heart at From My Homestead

Shampoo No More!

Okay. My challenge is done. For a week, we have been washing our hair with baking soda & water. I won't go back to shampoo if my hair stays looking like it does now. I cannot tell the difference! My hair usually requires washing every day to look good. I have always had oily hair & it looked oily after skipping a day. I haven't used a cream rinse in quite some time but always felt I needed it in the winter with the dry air. I have to say that now, my hair is clean & not fly-away. I am so happy to report this! No more questionable chemicals being absorbed into my skin. In the past I have used an herbal vinegar rinse that I made. I used that every other day this week. I really don't see any difference when I do. If you are using "regular" products on your hair, I would try the rinse to get the build up out. For a simple vinegar rinse use either apple cider vinegar (which is quite strong smell-wise) or use white vinegar (organic if possible). Add water to it at about one part vinegar to 3 parts water. Rinse well.

Washing hair can be so simple & now cheap. With most people trying to save money now, I feel this is something to try. Please don't go to the dollar stores & stock up on cheap shampoos. The chemicals in those shampoos are terrible. Your skin is the largest organ in the body. Don't put anything on it that you wouldn't eat. (I know you are picturing yourself eating your lotion right now :-)