Friday, May 31, 2013

Liquid Soap

When we belonged to a co-op, 
 soap was purchased at a discount.
Dr. Bronner's liquid was the soap of choice.
I had also bought a few bars of it when the price was right.

Recently, we were getting low on liquid soap, 
so I found this recipe.

The recipe calls for one 8 oz. bar of soap,
2 T glycerin and 1 gallon distilled water.

The grated soap goes into the water and the glycerin is added.
The burner is turned on medium-high heat.

It should only take a few minutes 
for the soap flakes to dissolve in the water.
 Then it's taken off the burner and left to sit for up to 12 hours.

After the recommended 12 hour wait, this is what it looked like.
For whatever reason, it didn't look like the recipe I had read about.
I added the rest of the 2nd bar, which totaled 10 oz.
I let it sit for another 1/2 day.

 This is what it looked like.
Not exactly what I expected, as only a portion of it thickened.
I found it necessary to go to Plan B.

Using the hand whizzer, 
the mixture was blended for 5 minutes.

 That helped.
Now it was more the consistency that I was expecting.
It was poured into 2 bottles that were saved
and I even had enough to return some of it to the empty water jug.

The date and scent were noted on the jug,
so that I will be able to see how long it lasts.
If I want to stretch this soap even further,
I can use it to make foaming soap.

A lot of these type of endeavors are trial and error
and you have to be willing to figure out why something doesn't work
or rethink the whole procedure.
This one seems to be worthwhile and I'll keep working at it
until I find the best possible solution.
It's all about the learnin'.

***Hurricane season starts tomorrow!*** 
~Make sure you have your supplies!~

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wanna Get Naughy?

Do you like saving money?
Are you the kind of saavy shopper who says 
to paying full price for anything?
Are you living on a strict budget 
and need to get the best deals possible?
I've got a place you may want to check out...

It's called
and it's chocked full of discount  and promotional codes
for everything from clothes to sunglasses to household appliances.

To find the discount code, simply use the drop-down menu
listing the multitude of shops available.


I'm not much of a shopper.
Spending money just to have new things around
doesn't sit right with me.
Practicality always wins out.
Most of our purchases are made at thrift stores or flea markets.
But, if you're gonna buy something, 
why not save a little money?
You'll have more to use toward the things 
that really matter in your life.

Just this once, it pays to be naughty.

Homestead Barn Hop

ABFOL One Project at a Time

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How We Homestead Series-Week Three

This is the third installment in a 5-week series 
about the origins of our homesteading endeavor.
Today we discuss
 Real Food.
Please make sure to join these four bloggers 
who write from their own perspectives:

 In all honesty, 
there was a time when I didn't give food much thought.
Once I started working full-time, some 30 years ago,
food was a means to an end.
I just needed to keep myself fed so that I could continue working
and doing the things I enjoyed on my time off.
Most of this time has been as a vegetarian, 
although I now eat fish.

 Several classes were taken along the way.
Courses on vegetarian cooking, 
nutrition and other health-related issues
were a few things that were explored in my 20's and 30's.

 After I had Lil' Guy, my perspective changed.
It was one of my highest priorities 
to ensure his good health by cooking from scratch.
We cut out preservatives, dyes, artificial colors and flavors
and wafted toward more organic and natural products.
Most of our meals were prepared at home by me, 
so that I could be sure we were eating as healthily as possible.

Then Lil' Guy developed asthma.
Or so I thought.
After a few years of being on all kinds of meds to treat it,
trips to the pulmonologist and numerous tests and treatments,
I finally figured out that he was actually sensitive to wheat.
Once I removed that from his diet, his "asthma" disappeared.

He hasn't taken asthma meds in over 7 years.

He still suffers from many sensitivities,
so I'm still cooking from scratch.
He must avoid wheat, dairy, soy, 
apples, bananas, coconut, white potatoes
and a few other foods.
 I had to learn a whole new way of cooking to keep my boy healthy.

I think he's the only 12-year old I know 
who's never been to Mickey D's
and has absolutely no desire to sample their wares.

 It wasn't until I watched "Food, Inc." 
that I really thought about where our food was coming from.
I forced Big K to watch it too and his eyes were opened.
It was decided then and there 
that we would make a more concerted effort
to support food providers 
who treated their animals with dignity and respect.
We started going to the farmer's market to seek out these vendors.
Unfortunately, in our town, no one was growing organic
or even selling their own produce.

I was determined to find the resources we desired.
 A small garden was started in our backyard with inconsistent results.
I had a lot of growing to do, in so many ways.

It got me started on a local search for organic and humane providers.
It hooked me up with a local CSA, about whom I posted a story.
As much as I really loved what they were doing there,
we weren't able to make the monetary commitment.
The next step was Craig's List.

I found local free-range eggs.
I went to meet Colleen and her hens and liked what I saw.


Then I hit the Motherlode.
In the "farm & garden" section, I had seen a small ad stating, "Pesticide-Free Produce".
The phone number stayed on my desk for a couple of weeks 
until something compelled me to call the number.

The most amazing folks were on the other end of the phone.
We've been buying produce from them ever since
and we now consider them good friends.
As if that's not enough, 
 they are allowing me to apprentice at their farm
so that I can learn to be a better gardener.
All I can say is that I am so very blessed.
It's been a long journey,
but I know that every step was a necessary part of the trek.

One of the best things I started doing since 
diving into this homesteading lifestyle
is make homemade bread.
Bread is almost a religion around here.
We are big carb lovers.
If you think making bread from scratch is too much trouble,
perhaps we don't share the addiction.
Count your blessings.

But try it anyway.  You won't regret it.

I still have plans to master canning, 
hosting bees for honey and chickens for eggs,
but we aren't able to pursue those things in our present location.

When we relocate to North Carolina,
we will be using the Local Harvest website 
to aid in finding our new community.
We want to live near farms, farmer's markets 
and folks who share our concerns about food and the environment.
We are willing to work hard to lead a more independent lifestyle.
We want to know our food is safe 
and that the earth that grows it is being well cared for.

We want to live a conscious life in every way possible.
These priorities in our lives will surely lead us 
to the perfect place to start Maple Hill.
The dream is taking flight...

How We Homestead Week One
How We Homestead Week Two

motivation-monday-6 hosts  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Farm School Week Eleven

Farm School is really heatin' up.
It's still spring, but feels more like summer.
Fortunately, up on the hill, there is always a breeze.

No time to use this, we have work to do!

Almost ready for the pickin'.

A tray of leek starts is doing well under the shade.
Hard to imagine, but these long, slender seedlings,

grow into this healthy and copious harvest.

My favorite type of lettuce had recently bolted.
The Red Salad Bowl variety had done well 
up until temps starting scaling the 90's.

New seeds were planted in hopes that 
changing the growing location could allow for another crop.

Pots are filled with Lynn's soil mix.
A couple of taps on the bottom settles the soil just right.

We work assembly-line style,
filling all the pots before beginning the next step.
It's an efficient way to ensure tasks are uniformly completed.

A pre-cut plastic form is placed on top of the soil.
See the nail in the middle?
That helps to make certain of proper centering of transplants.
The form is removed and the dirt is extracted from around the nail with a trowel.
The plant is placed in the hole and checked again for center.

The plastic ring is placed back on top and two nails keep it secure.
We water each plant as it is placed in its new spot.

The current location will be under these covers.

Twenty percent shadecloth is folded over twice, 
giving 60% protection.
A plastic overlay is placed on top of the shadecloth.

This should keep the crops safe from sweltering sun, 
blustery wind and pounding rain.

About 30 pots fit under one of these structures.
I sure hope it does the trick.
I have been Jonesin' for some of this delicious lettuce bigtime.

Let's see what else is goin' on here at the farm.

The peppers looked like this just a week ago.

Now they're turning beautiful shades of crimson,

and getting sweeter every day.
Peppers are one of the few crops we can grow 
in our humid summer climate.

Faye & Lynn also grow banana peppers,
which have a mild flavor
(they get their name from their shape).

Kohlrabi is another crop that is tolerating the heat so far.

Merely weeks ago, the dill seed started sprouting.

Now it's filling the same pot to overflowing.
This plant reaches upwards of 6 feet.

Here's our haul for this week.  
It feels great to be able to feed my family
veggies that are not from GMO seed,
haven't been sprayed with pesticides,
and have flavor far superior 
to anything we could find at the grocery store.

So far, it's been hit and miss with my own gardening attempts,
but I'll keep working at it.
With everything I'm learning at Farm School,
I know it's just a matter of time 
until we are consistently harvesting goodies like these 
from our own backyard.