Posts tagged ‘organic’

Dance Therapy & Positive Energy Meditation

Basic Homemade Pasta Recipe & How-to

Making pasta is so easy, you are going to wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. The recipe is ridiculously simple and the prep is a cinch. I am embarrassed that I did not start making it years ago. However, let us not dwell on the past! I am making it now and I will show you how you can, too.

The Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of water

See? That’s literally all you need. Combine the flour and the salt, then make a well and add the lightly beaten egg. Mix these together, then add the water and work it until a stiff dough forms. (It’ll be very crumbly, so keep working at it with your hands until all the flour is incorporated.) Once you have a ball of stiff dough, knead it for 4 minutes and then let it rest for at least 5 minutes so that it is a little easier to work with, otherwise it’ll be too difficult to roll out.

pasta1

After the dough has rested, roll it out with a rolling pin until it is thin enough to fit in between the rollers on your pasta machine when they are set at the widest setting (on mine, this is 7). If you don’t have a pasta maker, just keep rolling it out. If you need one, this one is like mine.

pasta9

When it’s thin enough to fit between the rollers, just roll it through.

pasta11

Dialing down the settings on the machine, decrease the space between the rollers so that the pasta gradually gets thinner and thinner. Once mine gets down to 4, it is usually pretty long, so I cut it in half.

pasta5

You can make the pasta as thick or thin as you want. I usually stop at 2, where it is thin enough to see my hand through. The picture below is on 3.

pasta3

The end result is two very long, very thin pieces of dough.

pasta10

Now, I feed them into the fettuccine attachment on my pasta maker and cut them out. If you are not using a pasta machine, then once you are done rolling (which will take quite a while), you can then use a very sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut your pasta noodles out.

pasta7

pasta8

Once they are done, put them in a bowl, dust with flour and toss them to coat so they don’t stick. You may still have to pull some apart.

pasta6

From this point, they can be prepared, frozen or hung and dried. I hung a few batches the other day so that I can store them. I don’t have a pasta drying rack (yet), so I just sterilized two plastic hangers and used them. Worked just fine.

pasta2

If you dry the pasta, it needs between 8 and 24 hours to dry, depending on how thick it is and the humidity factor in your home. When they dry, they are pretty brittle, so be careful when handling them. You can add basil, spinach or many other herbs to the egg before you add it to the flour for an added zip. Bon appetite!

Looking For an Alternative to Those High-Priced Rain Barrels? Try This.

If you’re planning to move to a homestead, you’ve undoubtedly researched rainwater harvesting and water purification. For us and for most people, the biggest hurdle is cost. A rainwater system is expensive and so is a purification system. Like, really expensive. For instance, a larger reverse osmosis system costs upwards of $300 and it requires power to run. This problem can be eliminated by using a berkey water purification system – costs a bit less than $300 depending on the size and requires no power to run – but what about the rainwater collection itself? Purchasing a system is nice, but for a family of 3-4 people, you’re looking at over $1,000. Some of us just don’t have that kind of money, and the barrels themselves are very expensive.

Searching for alternatives, we came across this article about rain harvesting. It is the ibcanswer we have been looking for. That answer is industrial IBC food grade containers. They are made from materials that are safe to hold food or water, and they have only ever held food or water substances. They mostly come in 275 gallon size, they can be cleaned for reuse and best of all, they are a fraction of the price of rain barrels. I found some on this website for less than $100 each. (They also sell food grade barrels, wooden crates, pallets and other very useful stuff, but some items have a minimum order stipulation.) That means, for example, that a 430 gallon collection system which would have cost me over $800 just for the barrels now costs a fraction of that and I get 120 more gallons. You don’t need to be a math whiz to figure that one out, folks. It’s a lot cheaper. Check Craigslist, Amazon and eBay. They’re out there.

There are few things to consider with these containers, but the main consideration is algae growth. As you can see, these particular tanks are translucent. That means light will filter through, and light means algae. You’re going to need to keep these tanks covered with something so that light cannot penetrate the material, or you will have an algae problem. You can also buy or build a box for them to sit in and you could probably also bury them, but we prefer them to be where we can see them and get to them if something were to need adjustment.

We are getting ours soon. If you have any other ideas, let us know in the comments! Good luck!

The Importance of Greywater

If you live on a homestead or are planning to in the future, you’ve probably heard of greywatergreywater. So what the heck is it?! Grey water is a term used to describe the relatively clean waste water from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances. Basically, grey water is “used” water that is not toilet water (that’s called “black water”).

If you are moving to a homestead, you need to have a plan for what will happen to your greywater. It has to go somewhere. Many folks use it to irrigate their garden or orchard, but this can be tricky if you use detergents or harsh soaps in your laundry. Too much of that stuff can kill your plants, and you might not have the money or knowledge to create a complicated filtering system. A good way to get around that is to use non-detergent soaps in your cleaning applications. You can either buy it or make your own using non-detergent “soaps” like yucca root and soapnuts, as we do. You should still filter the water at least a little, of course. There can be organic matter in it, such as from washing dishes and it needs to be purified a bit. However, if you are composting your scraps and not allowing large particles of food down the drain, you don’t have to worry too much.

It’s easy enough to divert your greywater to your garden or orchard site. You simply run itwater filter
through a pipe that opens into a drainage area. That’s it! It’s best to use a system that relies on water flow rather than pooling or collection. This cuts down on pathogens and bacteria allowed to grow in it. You don’t want to store greywater unless you’ve got a good purification system set up for cleaning it. If you’re going to use it for a garden of edible veggies, ditto. We personally use vinegar in the laundry rinse water, as a conditioning rinse for our hair in the shower, and we plan on constructing a natural filtration system for it in the drainage area. You could also add hydrogen peroxide to your greywater system to help with purifying it. It can be good for plants, too!

It should go without saying that it isn’t recommended to reuse greywater for drinking or cooking, regardless of whether you’ve cleaned it or not. If you need a clean drinking water solution for your homestead, try harvesting rain water and purifying it with a Berkey water filtration system. No power needed!

Raw Milk vs. Pasteurized

A lot of people don’t drink milk for various reasons, and humans are the only animal that still drinks milk after infancy. We are also the only animal that consistently drinks the milk of another animal. Weird, right? However, if you do the dairy thing, you might be interested in this infographic comparing raw milk to pasteurized milk.

Raw-vs-Pasteurized-Milk-v2

Making Money With Your Homestead: How to Make Your Land Work For You

So it finally happened! You’ve got your land and you want to create a self-sustaining homestead. Perhaps the most important thing you can do with your land is to make it work for you. You can produce enough food and energy to take care of your family and your animals on even a small parcel of land, but you might be interested in ways you can use your land to make money for you as well.

Here are a few ideas you could utilize to make some extra cash with your land.

Hunting

  • Offer a hunting or fishing lease. Depending on the laws and how much land you have, offering hunting leases is a great way to make some extra cash from your property. There are lease listing services that will take care of the headache and promotion for you, so all you have to do is collect the money. Of course, you want to make sure your ponds are stocked well and there is an abundance of game on your property before offering it for lease.

camping

  • Offer camping. If your property is near a state or national park, a waterfall or any other recreational activity or landmark, you’re already way ahead of the game. We stayed at a rustic campground during a vacation to Delaware Beach and it was loads of fun – as well as being much cheaper than a hotel. Your campground can be as primitive or as luxurious as you’d like, and can operate seasonally or year-round. Hunters love camp sites! You could have a small petting zoo using your livestock, offer hiking in a nearby national park, horseback riding, swimming if you’ve got a lake or pond, fishing, boating, you could put up small cabins and rent them out, offer meals for more income… whatever you can afford and would like to offer. The possibilities are endless and are truly up to you. (Just about any one of these things could be offered alone as well, if camping on private land is not permitted in your area.) Check with your local government to make sure camping is permitted. An alternative to this idea if you have money to invest in it is to open a bed and breakfast or resort of some kind.

goats

  • Breed and sell animals. This is perhaps one of the best ways to make some cash with your land. Depending on how much land you own, the investment you can put in to a breeding pair and what the laws are where your land is, you could bring quite a bit of money in by breeding quality animals, either for show, companions or for food. This includes goats, chickens and rabbits, as well as dogs and cats. (Some people breed mink and foxes for fur, but we do not believe in raising or wearing fur and besides that, if any of these animals ever escape, they can devastate your ecosystem in a very short period of time. Especially minks; weasels and their relatives are pound for pound the most ferocious predator in any ecosystem.)

farmers

  • Sell fruits and veggies. If you find yourself with far more than you can possibly eat, open a roadside stand or become part of the local farmer’s market. People love to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Some farmers also offer baked goods as well.

spiritual

  • Create a spiritual retreat. It’s like a campground, but with spirituality-related activities. Some are more spa-like and others are rustic. Some are traditional, offering prayer groups and other Christian activities, while others are less traditional and have more esoteric or nature-based themes. It’s totally up to you. Spiritual retreats might offer things such as drum-circles, yoga, group meditations, art workshops, sweat lodges, instruction on meditation, herbal remedies or aromatherapy, aromatherapy treatments, massages, acupuncture, soul clinics, past-life regressions and much more. A variation on this is to create an artist’s retreat, where creative folks can come to create or be inspired in peace.

These are just a few of the ways you can make extra income with your land. Land is one of our most precious resources and one of the most valuable things we can have as human beings. Tell us your ideas in the comments!

DIY Facial Mask & Beauty Regimen

So I’m not much of a girly girl. I’m not into fashion and clothes and makeup and hair. My teenage daughters are though, and it’s always a struggle for me to find something to do with them that we are all interested in. Then it hit me: natural beauty treatments. I like natural, they like beauty. It’s girly enough to make them happy and not too girly that it makes me want to run screaming from the house. It’s a win-win.

Here are a few of the things we like to make. Links to buy everything are included. We make them, then we hang out talking while they work. My oldest rolls her eyes sometimes and sighs, “Mo-THER!” at me sometimes when I’m talking but she also asks me things like, “What does this oil do?” and “Which of these herbs is best for my skin?” so it’s good enough for me. She’s 18, so really I should be thankful she even talks to me at all.

Natural Glow Honey Cleanser

  • Raw honey (not kidding, that’s all you need)

Dab the honey onto your face with your finger and then spread it out, massaging upward until it covers your whole face. Leave it on anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. (I make the facial mask while we’re waiting.) When your time is up, wet a rag and wipe it off, just like you would any cleanser. It comes off really easily (don’t get it in your hair). You’re done! Honey has so many purifying benefits that it is a natural cleanser, even for problem skin. It even fights acne! You can use it every day, up to twice a day. It might sound silly, but seriously… don’t knock it until you try it. Honey is also a humectant, which means it draws moisture into your skin at the same time it’s cleansing. I love nature.

You could alternately mix the honey with some milk to enhance the softening and purifying properties of this cleanser if you like but it’s not really necessary. This cleanser can be used on your whole body. I do it at least once a month.

mask

Mask is almost dry.

Chamomile & Rosemary Facial Mask

Place the distilled water in a small pot and simmer until hot. Place the herbs in the water and steep about 20 minutes, until the water looks brown like tea (you’ll know when it’s ready). Add more water if you need to. Strain the herbs out and set the herb-infused water aside to cool. When it’s cooled enough, mix the water and clay together, adding more of either until the desired consistency is reached (you want it to be creamy and smooth; if it’s too thick it won’t spread and if it’s too thin it won’t be a good enough layer on your face). Add the essential oils (optional, but I always use them because I have them) and mix very well. It’ll be a dark greenish-grey. Apply to your face and let it dry. When dry and stiff, wet a rag and gently scrub the mask off. Done! You’ll notice a difference right away in how your skin looks and feels.

After mask. I know, I got some in my hair.

After mask. I know, I got some in my hair.

Fuller’s Earth Clay is a natural antioxidant and brightener for the skin. It’s excellent for lightening acne marks and evening out skin tone. Chamomile calms the skin, evens tone and is also a natural brightener. Rosemary increases circulation and tightens skin, and using a fresh or dried infusion of Rosemary is less harsh on the skin than using Rosemary essential oil. Rose oil promotes circulation, renewal and much more. Geranium is good for tissue regeneration, healing and many other things. Texas Cedarwood oil aids elasticity, tightens skin and promotes circulation. Patchouli softens, smooths, heals and all these oils fight aging.

Some variations of this mask include adding a few drops of Tea Tree oil to fight acne and oil, adding some dried or fresh Hibiscus flowers to the water instead of Chamomile to promote young, fresh skin (Hibiscus-infused water will stain your clothes if it gets on them), adding Lavender essential oil to the clay or fresh/dried Lavender flowers to the water to promote circulation, to calm the skin and to soften… the variations are endless.

There are some oils you should not use on your skin, including citrus oils. Yes, they smell great and they have antioxidant properties but they also create photosensitivity on the skin, which can lead to a chemical burn if you go out in the sun. Cinnamon essential oil of any kind smells wonderful but it will also burn the crap out of you. Best to avoid these altogether as additives to beauty treatments. Because of the lightening properties of this particular mask, I would not use it more than once a week.

ACV Toner

All done!

Done! If you’re wondering if this regimen works, keep in mind that I am 35 years old. :)

Dilute the vinegar with the water at a ratio of 1:1. You might find you need to dilute it further, depending on your skin sensitivity (ACV can be harsh if not diluted enough). I use a 1:3 dilution on my face. That means 1 part ACV to 3 equal parts water. So if you were to use 1 cup ACV, you’d use 3 cups water (that would make a lot of toner, but you get the idea). When I use ACV to rinse my hair, I can mix it a little stronger. You can add essential oils to your toner, or infuse the vinegar* with herbs to get their benefits. Rosemary is fantastic for this and so are roses or other flowers. Shake the toner and then apply to your face with a cotton ball or the tips of the fingers.

We usually follow this with a thin layer of plain coconut oil right out of the jar to moisturize. You can do that or try this instead. So there you have it. A beauty regimen you can do with your girly daughters. I use this time to teach them about natural things and they feel pampered and beautified. These recipes also actually work. Win-win!

*Infusing vinegar is very easy. You simply place the herbs of your choice into a jar or container with a lid, heat the vinegar to hot but not boiling and then pour the vinegar into the container, completely covering the herbs. Let it sit for a few weeks in a dark cabinet, shaking once in awhile, then strain the herbs out and use the vinegar. Simple! (Infusing vinegar for eating or use with food requires more care. Doing it wrong can lead to some serious problems, so please research more before attempting it.)

Essential Oil Spotlight: Lavender

Lavender_7

Oh, lavender. I love it so much. I am literally never without a bottle of it. Lavender essential oil has so many uses, in some ways it is the only essential oil you really need. I use it in soap, lotion, for pain relief, to treat wounds, for calming my dogs and my kids… this oil truly is multi-purpose. It also smells divine and can relieve a headache just with a sniff.

If you have no other essential oils in your home, pick up a bottle of lavender. It’s great for your skin, your hair, your nerves and so much more.

Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil:

Bug Repellent: The smell of lavender essential oil is potent for many types of bugs like mosquitoes, midges, and moths. Apply some of the lavender oil on the exposed skin when outside to prevent these irritating bites. Furthermore, if you do happen to be bitten by one of those bugs, the lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that will reduce the irritation and the pain associated with bug bites.

Sleep: Lavender essential oil induces sleep which has made it a common recommendation for an alternative treatment of insomnia. Frequent studies on elderly patients have shown an increase in their sleep regularity  when their normal sleep medication is replaced with some lavender essential oil being placed on their pillows. It has such a relaxing impact on people that it can often replace modern medicine for sleep issues.

Nervous system: Lavender essential oil has a calming scent which makes it an excellent tonic for the nerves and anxiety issues. Therefore, it can also be helpful in treating migraines, headaches, depression, nervous tension and emotional stress. The refreshing aroma removes nervous exhaustion and restlessness while also increasing mental activity. It has a well-researched impact on the autonomic nervous system, which is why it is frequently used as a treatment for insomnia and also as a way to regulate heart-rate variability. One study showed that people taking tests showed a significant decrease in mental stress and anxiety, as well as increased cognitive function when they inhaled lavender oil and rosemary oil before taking the exam!

Acne: According to dermatologists and aromatherapists, lavender essential oil is one of the most beneficial oils in the treatment of acne, which is a very uncomfortable and embarrassing condition that primarily affects young people as they move through puberty, but can also afflict adults. It is characterized by red, raised sores on the face and body that develop due to a bacterial infection near the sebum gland. When sebum cannot be properly secreted from the sebum glands on the face, it begins to build up, particularly because puberty stimulates extra sebum and bacteria feeds off of it, creating a vicious cycle of irritation, infection, and visible sores that can result in serious scarring.

Lavender essential oil inhibits the bacteria that cause the initial infection, helps to regulate some of the over-excretion of sebum by hormonal manipulation, and can reduce the signs of scarring after the acne has begun to heal. Adding a small amount of lavender essential oil to other skin creams or ointments can greatly increase the potential for relief and healing.

Pain relief: Lavender essential oil is known as an excellent remedy for various types of pains including those caused by sore and tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backache and lumbago. A regular massage with lavender oil can also provide relief from pain in the joints. A study done on postoperative pain relief showed that combining lavender essential oil vapor into the oxygen significantly reduced the amount of pain experienced, versus those patients only revived with oxygen after a major surgery.

Urine flow: Lavender essential oil is good for urinary disorders because of its stimulating effect on urine production. Furthermore, it helps in restoring hormonal balance and reducing cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder. It also reduces any associated cramps with these and other disorders.

Respiratory disorders: Lavender oil is widely used for various respiratory problems including throat infections, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. The oil is either used in the form of vapor or is applied on the skin of the neck, chest and back. It is also added to many vaporizers and inhalers that are commonly used for colds and coughs. The stimulating nature of lavender essential oil can also loosen up the phlegm and relieve the congestion associated with respiratory conditions, speeding up the recovery process and helping the body naturally eliminate phlegm and other unwanted material. The vapor of lavender essential oil also has antibacterial qualities which can battle respiratory tract infections.

Hair care: Lavender essential oil is useful for hair care because it has been shown to be very effective on lice, lice eggs, and nits. Furthermore, lavender essential oil has also been shown to be very helpful in the treatment of hair loss, particularly for patients who suffer from alopecia, an autoimmune disease where the body rejects its own hair follicles. A Sottish study reported that more than 40% of alopecia patients in the study reported an increase in hair growth when they regularly rubbed lavender essential oil into their scalp. Therefore, lavender oil is sometimes recommended as a preventative measure for male pattern baldness!

Cancer: Although more research needs to be done on human subjects, there is significant research on the effects of lavender, in combination with other essential oils, as a way to prevent the occurrence of breast cancer in mice. However, this could be an indication of an increased chance of lavender battling other carcinogenic effects and the presence of cancer.

Blood circulation: Lavender essential oil is also good for improving the circulation of blood in the body.Research suggests that aromatherapy using lavender oil has beneficial effects on coronary circulation. It also lowers blood pressure and is often used for hypertension. This means that not only do the organs increase their levels of oxygenation, promoting muscle strength and health, but brain activity can have a noticeable boost, skin remains bright and flushed with blood, and the body is protected from the risks of heart attack and artherosclerosis that is often associated with poor circulation.

Digestion: Lavender oil is useful for digestion because it increases the mobility of food within the intestine. The oil also stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile, thus aiding in the treatment of indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting and diarrhea.

Immunity: Regular use of lavender essential oil provides resistance to a variety of diseases. It is well-known that lavender has antibacterial and antiviral qualities that make it perfect for defending the body against rare diseases like TB, typhoid, and diphtheria, according to early research in the 20th century.

General Skin care: The health benefits of lavender oil for the skin can be attributed to its antiseptic and antifungal properties. It is used to treat various skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammatory conditions. It is commonly used to speed up the healing process of wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns because it improves the formation of scar tissues. Lavender oil is also added to chamomile to treat eczema.

Other: Other health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to treat leucorrhoea. The oil can also used to repel mosquitoes and moths, which is why you will find many mosquito repellents that contain lavender oil as one of the primary ingredients.

As with many other essential oils, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using lavender essential oil. It is also recommended that patients with diabetes stay away from lavender oil. It may also cause allergic reactions to people that have unusually sensitive skin. Some people may also witness nausea, vomiting and headaches due to either common or excessive use of lavender oil.

Need more info about essential oils?

You can download the most popular essential oil encyclopedia app on Amazon. This app is also available on the Google Play store.

*Benefits reposted with thanks from OrganicFacts.com 

Starting Your Homestead: Which Animals Should You Raise?

farm

Once you’ve decided to start your homestead and found your land, it’s time to start planning what sort of crops and animals you are going to raise. You might have a broad range of animals and plants you could raise, or the region and restrictions could make it a bit narrower. For us, the Midwest is fertile soil for just about any crop and the land we’ve purchased has no zoning restrictions whatsoever on animals so long as they are fenced appropriately and treated humanely.

After you’ve researched your land’s viability and zoning laws, it’s important to consider what you want your homestead to do. If you want to sell produce at a local farmer’s market or create a breeding program from the animals you raise, you will probably want a larger diversity in the type of each that you have. If your homestead is only intended to support your family, that makes a difference.

For us, it has come down to self-sustainability. The point of self-sustainability to us is to eliminate the use of cash as much as possible. This means we will only be raising animals that can give back to our little eco-system, so that we are not losing money. Because of that, we have to decide which animals are the most economical. For instance, my children would dearly love a horse or two, and while I’ve not said no, there would not be much use for a horse. We have ten acres but we don’t plan on planting huge fields of crops or anything like that, and there is nothing to clear. There just wouldn’t be much work for a horse to do, if any. We certainly wouldn’t eat him, so he would be an 800lb pet that we have to pay to feed and care for. I love horses; he would be loads of fun and wonderful to have, but he would also be expensive to keep and that needs to be kept in mind at all times.

We have decided for sure on chickens and ducks, both for laying and eating. We’ve decided to keep goats as well; goats give milk (which can be consumed but can also be used to make all manner of wonderful natural beauty products) and they can also be eaten if need be. We have discussed having one cow, but thinking economically, there is just no need for a cow if we have goats. We could not butcher a cow ourselves and I would never send an animal off to strangers to be slaughtered, so her contribution would be milk only. Goats make this not necessary. We have decided against pigs for the same reason: too difficult to butcher alone. Plus, for me personally… I have seen too many factory farm videos involving pigs to ever be able to kill one, even though on my homestead they’d live like kings. I don’t eat pork very often at all; pigs are too intelligent and I just don’t have the stomach for it. If we are not going to eat them, they just become pets we have to feed. Big pets.

The subject of rabbits has also come up a few times. Rabbit poop is excellent fertilizer and – while my family probably would not eat a rabbit in a regular situation – they can be sold for meat or eaten if necessary. We will probably end up keeping a few for the valuable fertilizer these little guys produce. It can be added to the compost pile or just put directly into the garden.

Don't let him fool you. He is a rodent assassin.

Don’t let him fool you. He is a rodent assassin.

We do have a few pets, but even they have jobs. Our two dogs, Sage and Char are excellent guard dogs and they will earn their keep by protecting our homestead. Our cat Jake is a terrific mouser and he will keep the pest and rodent population down – and be happy to do it, by the way.

Everybody has their job on the homestead, even the animals. If we look at it like that, planning becomes much easier.

Kitchen Measurements Cheat Sheet

measurements-cheat-sheet

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