Transformation

It’s been far to cold to mill lumber over the past couple weeks, however it’s perfect weather for working in the woods. I’ve taken this opportunity to clear an area of forest which will become the Disposal Field for our on-sight Sewage System.

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After several days of slogging through 3 to 4 feet of snow just over half an acre has been transformed into an open space producing several cords of firewood and over 60 good sized logs which I will be mill into timbers for the house. Once the Disposal Field is in place we will develop an orchard within the remaining portions of this site.

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The next project is to clean out some of the fallen and dead debris in the forest surrounding the building site and expanding the garden area on the east side of the house. With a forecast for warm weather on the weekend skidding logs out will also be a priority, to get them to the mill.

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Easy “Natural” laundry soap

4If you are planing to change a few things around your home to remove and reduce chemicals and toxins, this is the easiest way to start. Clean your cloths without synthetic dyes or perfumes that can be extremely harmful to people with sensitive skin or allergies.  You will never go back to those pricey store bought laundry soaps again.

I started making this laundry soap over 6 years ago and still make it using just a few “back to basic” ingredients.

3We buy Eco-Pioneer products that we use for almost everything to clean our home. You will need:

Pure Soap Flakes (made from vegetable oils)- Forces out dirt
Pure Washing Soda- Cuts grease and softens water
Pure Baking Soda- A Natural deodorizer
Borax- Kills germs and whitens

We buy these products through Well.ca but you can find most of these ingredients at your local grocery store.

Here is the easiest DIY natural laundry soap.

In a large bowl I mix:

    • 1 cup of Soap flakes
    • half cup of Borax
    • half cup of Baking soda
    • half cup of washing soda

Add a teaspoon of your favorite essential oil and mix up very well. Best scents for laundry are Sweet orange, Lemon, Lime, Peppermint, Grapefruit, Tea tree, etc.

Once you have mixed up your laundry soap, store it in an air tight jar to keep the essential oils locked in.

2This will last you many, many washings. I add 2 to 4 tablespoons in about 2 cups of hot water to dissolve it before adding  into the wash, this helps dissolve it since I wash with cold water. I add vinegar to the final rinse to soften the cloths and to help remove any soap residue. Please note that you will not get a lot of bubbles, but it’s not needed since your cloths will come out nice and clean. This is a great laundry soap for cloth diapers, babies clothing, people with sensitive skin, and will work with HE washing machines as well.

HAPPY LAUNDRY DAY!

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Homestead Apprentice Wanted

 A homestead or farm presents many skill requirements and numerous young people are willing to learn these important skills. Acquiring  apprentices is an important means to assure the continuation of small farms and farming, as well as teaching youth the essential skills of basic survival. I have had the opportunity to share the many facets of my woodworking skills with several apprentices over the years but have never considered passing on the extent of my other learning in natural subsistence and sustainable survival skills. I have decided to seek out prospective applicants for a program formatted towards essential farming/homesteading skills. The mission of this endeavor is to enhance our relationship with the rural Cape Breton landscape by applying and teaching the essential skills of sustainable living and small-scale farming, thus invigorating a more functional collaborative community. Over the next few weeks I will draft an application including a detailed outline for this program.

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Focus for this program will include Organic Gardening, Sustainable Forestry, Traditional Arts and Cottage Crafts, Renewable Energy, Alternative building, Herbology just to mention a few. Stay Tuned for further details!

DIY Natural dish soap

4 A good friend had asked me awhile back if I had ever made my own dish soap….

I had never tried it before, I would take my laundry soap mix and sometimes use it to wash our dishes, only if I had run out of our regular dish soap. It worked O.K but I would never use it on a daily bases.  So, I really wanted to give dish soap a try. I researched a lot of different DIY recipes online and finally found one that I liked.  Funny thing is, I can not find it again to give you the link. I just wrote the recipe down on scrap paper.

I doubled up the recipe and tried it out. I’m very impressed with how well this cleans the dishes to a shine. It has a bit of bubble  (I like) and the best part is that my sink looks extra clean after all my dishes are done. I have always had to scrub out my sinks with Comet after. I know, I know…… This is on my next DIY list.  Make my own natural comet cleanser.

What I didn’t like was how runny it was.  Glycerin in this recipe is optional so I did not use it. I added Lemon Eucalyptus to my first batch and found it way to strong of a smell for me. I like this scent, but not all day leaning over my sink.

It is best to use antibacterial essential oils like Lemon, Eucalyptus, Sweet orange, Geranium and Lavender.

Here is the 2nd try with my very own recipe.

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Ingredients:

1 Cup of Soap flakes

4 Cups of water

2 Tablespoons of Washing Soda

3 Tablespoons of Vinegar

1 teaspoon of Lemon and 1 teaspoon of Sweet Orange essential oils.

Instructions

  1. Add grated soap to water, bring to a boil and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add washing soda to the soap mix and stir. Turn off heat and cool down.
  3. Add vinegar and stir.
  4. Let mixture cool completely, then add essential oils.
  5. Transfer to re purposed soap dispenser and use as regular dish soap.

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Please note that this dish soap will thicken within a few hours. I was very surprised with this but it’s due to the washing soda. If you find it too thick, just add some warm water to the soap and shake it up. You can adjust the amount of washing soda you want to use.

Breath Well

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Today I’ve decided to make some natural room spray. This can save on some serious cash, while saving your home environment and lungs from chemicals, toxins, and a whole lifetime of respiratory problems. Try making your very own with 100% essential oils. They don’t just smell amazing, they also have therapeutic benefits. I have been mixing essential oils with nothing more than water for years to freshen our home. I always took my favorite scents and blending them without thinking about their benefits. Now, I am reading up on the many different benefits and uses. I made a room spray to keep the cold and flu away.

Here are some essential oils that work wonders for just that:

Peppermint:

Eucalyptus:

Lemon:

Lavender:

Tea Tree:

Thyme:

Oregano:

Most of these oils are antiseptic, antibacterial, detoxifying, disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, purifying, cleansing, deodorizing….

I did have some of these oils so here’s what I’ve mixed.

20 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus

20 drops of Peppermint

10 drops of Lavender

10 drops of tea tree

This was added to a 4 oz blue glass spray bottle with spring water and shaken well. Please note that a dark glass bottle is much better than clear glass or plastic ones, the darkened glass will extend the life of your spray.

to extend the life of your spray.
to extend the life of your spray.

Fresh Bread

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I have been putting my hands to making more bread over the last few months. And, I’m so proud of myself. It’s taken me years to make an edible bread., yup, my first few tries had been tears and stress over making bread.

When our older kids where little, I would pull out the flour, yeast and whatnot, get my hands messy and try making bread, Henry would come home to find me flustered with bread in the garbage. I had no idea why my bread never turned out.

Now, I think I go into it much differently. I prepare myself mentally before hand. I tell myself to remember to be patient. I also have a special something, my Grandmothers bread bowel, given to me when we first moved back home here. For some reason, everything just turns out perfect when I mix in it. Like magic. The photo above is an easy no knead bread. If I can make this bread, anyone can. I enjoy her sense of humor in her writing and easy to follow steps.

Above is the No Knead bread with the link of the recipe below.

No Knead Bread

aThis bread is the same recipe I have had for years. I have 1 cookbook in my home and have tried this recipe many many times, years ago. This is the bread I have cried over, and swore I would never try it again.

Over 7 years later,” and my magic bowel”, this bread tastes amassing. I have also replaced the milk in the recipe with our hand made Soy Milk. It saves on money and gives it a slightly different taste. Now that I feel confident in my bread, I want to try many more recipes.

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Oatmeal and Honey Bread

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I took my soy milk bread recipe and added leftover cooked oatmeal and honey with it. I had to add extra flour when kneading it. It’s one of my best breads yet.

Do you make your own bread? What challenges did you have? Do you have a favorite recipe?

My goals for 2014

It’s been a year and a half since we purchased our land. A lot of work has been done to get us closer to actually living there. I found the past summer was hard for me, only because I want to be living there, gardening, exploring the forest, thriving from our land together as a family. Oh, the things that I dream about each time I step foot onto our property. It’s overwhelming but exciting all in one. A workable portion is now cleared and full of stumps and root piles. So much snow now blankets it all.  My one goal for 2014 is to have a portion landscaped for a place to start our garden and another space for our children to enjoy.

Here are some other of my goals:

Spend more time reading my books on herbs and gardening. I wish to also spend more time reading other books here on my book shelf. The hard part for me is finding that extra time. Goal #2…. find more time for myself.

2Henry gave me these new books below for Christmas. He is already an expert in herbs and gardening but I too wish to learn so much more about them.

1We will need to budget ourselves and save some extra money over the next few months so we can pull out the stumps and landscape. I’ve already started a list of the seeds and I can’t wait to order them to begin seeding them out for spring. I want to learn more about using the herbs we grow and the many different things we can make with them.

3Our mantel already holds several infused herbs in preparation to add them into our handmade soaps and balms. Winter months are the perfect time to take in as much information as I can before our land is ready for the many plants we will be propagating there.

Today – Outside

 

The New Year came in like a Lion, snow, snow and more snow along with cold temperatures and high winds. Even with all this crazy weather it is enjoyable to be outside.

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We make snow caves and tunnels in the drifts and snow piles, it’s an endless playground and the caves provide shelter from the blistering wind.

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I’m gradually running out of space to pile all the snow from the driveway, especially around the mill which is slowly disappearing behind 7 foot high piles of snow and drifts.

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Once done with outdoor activities there is hot Turkey soup and a warm fire to melt away the chills. The extended forecast is calling for warmer weather and rain ….. I’ll have to put away the shovel and snowshoes and get out the umbrella.

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T’is the Season to Make Gifts

Oh, let me tell you that we love to make all our gifts.  To me, a handmade gift comes from the heart.  And anyone can do it. This year is no different than all the previous. We have been busy, Henry in his work shop making things with wood of course and me in my studio sewing up a storm. But we do combine our creativity with so much more. This year we both made soaps, bath salts, body creams, and chocolate. These gift sets are for our good friends…..

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Here’s what’s inside.

cBath salts to help relax and rejuvenate after the Holidays. These bath salts are quick and easy to make.

Combine equal portions Sea salt and Epsom salt together, then added dried herbs and flowers. Be creative, there are so many things you can use here.  We added some essential oils and mixed everything together.

 Note that Essential oils have many different benefits, read up on them before you mix them together.

I made some Hemp/cotton muslin bags with a draw string to hold the bath salts.

Whipped body cream.

This is much easier then I thought it would be.  After looking at many different recipes, we decided to go with equal parts of Coconut oil and Cocoa butter. A few drops of Vitamin E and scented this with Sweet Orange essential oil. It’s best to whip this up with an electric mixer until thick, like icing. Ours ending up smelling just like the Milk Chocolate Oranges  you can buy this time of year.

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We added a natural wash cloth Not made by us….. this wash cloth is made with 100% Agave fiber and is a nice exfoliant. These are made in Mexico.

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The best part of this gift set is the Chocolate.

Here are the links we used to make some simple, quick and easy chocolate barks.

Dark Chocolate:   http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/dark-chocolate-bark-almonds-seeds-53420000023756/

White Chocolate:   http://www.forkandbeans.com/2013/11/15/vegan-white-chocolate-bark/

Outside

 

 

We’ve had a fair bit of real winter weather lately, two feet of snow and counting plus a dash of rain to top of the fresh snow. Yesterday morning we were greeted to a beautiful sunrise after some major snow. This was short lived as the weather turned white once more.

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The view this morning is quite different, yet pretty in its own way.

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Nature has such a eloquent manner of decorating herself for a Yuletide spirit. Cones, Icicles and a frosting of snow embellish the trees with a festive ambiance.

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Along with all the other hustle and bustle around the house shoveling piles of snow has become the main activity over the past week. The mill has sat silent for quite a while now, hope it doesn’t feel neglected.

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Maybe later today, if time permits, I’ll take the kids sledding. School has been cancelled for the last two days and they are going totally bonkers not to mention driving Tracey and myself nuts.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!