Making homemade fried potatoes & a new kitchen tool!!!

I was super blessed to get this DashGo peeler for Christmas from my aunt which is coming in super handy in the kitchen!! So I did a YouTube video on how it works and people are loving it everywhere! If you want to check out that video you can find it here!

 

I went on to use said tool to help me make my fried potatoes and I will never peel those by hand EVER again, unless I run out of batteries, lol!

 

So if you’re curious how you make EASY fried potatoes the southern way then you definitely want to check out the video on how to do it on YouTube! I probably won’t post or share frequently about cooking as I’m not sure how much of an audience there is for that and I’m not a pro or anything. I actually have just been honing in my cooking skills the last 12-18 mths and now I’m trying to learn how to do things the “hard” way, the old school traditional BY  HAND method for everything! As that fits greatly in with my idea of homesteading and so anything I can do to not need “modern convenience” I’m all for it.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Fleur de Lawn – flowering lawn!

So since I am currently mesmerized with the idea of using my entire front yard as a zone 1 food forest, edible landscaping I am thinking of using THIS idea for my backyard! It is a wonderful option for people in the desert like me but it is also cold hardy while still drought tolerant. It is a “flowering lawn” or a “mow-able meadow”! Who wouldn’t love that! I found this idea when I came across this guy’s video on YouTube and you can find it here in the YouTube link! His channel is worth following if you’re interesting in Permaculture or edible landscape!

 

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How gorgeous is that! It doesn’t get super tall and it is a mix of drought tolerant grass, wild flowers and clovers!

 

Here is where you can get the product:

PT 755 Fleur de Lawn®

 

 

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Doesn’t that look so soft to walk in!?!

 

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And if you love the flowers and blooms (like I’m sure I will) you don’t even have to mow it. It doesn’t get really tall like other grasses or weeds would but rather stays fairly low to the ground. So if you were walking around in it it isn’t over your shins or anything, lol! For my backyard for the kids and my dogs to play in I think it’d look just gorgeous and provide some green to my desert but also start to help rebuild my soil back there and add some flowers, color and life where it is much needed! I think I will shoot to try to do this this upcoming spring in 2016!

 

 

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If you or anyone you know has done something like this before or you have a review of this particular product by chance please do comment below and let me know! I’d love to know your thoughts and feedback on this idea!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

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Our first Christmas on the farm!

 

Our first Christmas on the farm is special to me because I always love this time of year but I also love to decorate for the holidays. A lot of our decorations we did have had been in storage for years so it was like getting all new stuff to start decorating here. Fun! I did decide not to buy Christmas lights because we had SOME and we didn’t need a ton and maybe next year when the farm is more established I will fee more like budgeting in to add more festive lights or something.

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I think I might have had the most fun decorating the gate. I love that we have this at the start of our property that I can change the decorations with the seasons and holidays. It makes me smile when I come home. I’d like to think that every so often my neighbors maybe enjoy it. But hey, even if they don’t, I love it and I guess that is what counts! =D

 

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Cute! The stuff along the top and the stars I did buy new but I got them at the dollar store! Lol! I didn’t spend more than $10 on a few new decor things to add to what we had.

 

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This is the gate from my parking area to the front porch. I love Poinsettias!

 

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I threw 2 strings of white isicle lights up along the front of the deck and that is really about it. I don’t enjoy hanging lights and we had so many that were broken and a tangled mess (a typical issue for most) that I didn’t want to fuss with it. The inside decor was more important to me because we see it all the time.

 

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I put together this cute center piece for the dining room table of all fake flowers from the dollar store, a red ribbon and some other little things. I really enjoyed having this on the table for the month!

 

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Sticker to go over the buffet with garland and poinsettias ON the buffet.

 

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Our festive dining room setup! =D

 

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Our tree!

 

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When we put this tree up I thought I’d write a whole blog post about how important a tree is or how symbolic it can be. But since I didn’t at the time and now the occasion has come and gone I thought I’d just say something breifly about why it is so important and symbolic to ME! I had my 1st son when I was 19. The first 9 years of his life our lives were closely tied in with my Mother. We either lived with her or really close to her. So Christmas was always about her tree, her decorations and when both of my boys would bring home homemade decorations from school they’d proudly go up on the tree. Well a couple of years ago I had so many special ornaments from my boys that I didn’t want them lost, broken or anything so I started separating our Christmas stuff. Then my Mom moved to Louisiana and I had a “hand me down” artificial Christmas tree. Two years ago when I thought I’d get a real tree I sold my fake tree. Then that next Christmas I didn’t get a real tree, we didn’t even decorate and instead left Az and spent the holidays in Louisiana with my Mom, my younger son and the rest of our family out there. So THIS year…after getting everything out of storage for the first time years…I found all those special ornaments. But we had no tree. I didn’t think about it and didn’t budget to buy a tree. I considered getting a real tree and I didn’t feel like I could afford it. So I went to the store on a whim and said “Screw it, I’m doing this!” and I bought a decent artificial tree with pre-lit lights (praise Jesus…if you don’t have one you don’t know what ease you’re missing, lol!). And you know what….I WAS PROUD! Because this was mine and my son’s first Christmas tree that we bought, all on our own, in our own house, on our first homestead, doing and living entirely on our own away from family and most of our friends and….I WAS PROUD! I let Riley setup the tree after we combed over our favorite special decorations and we really enjoyed ourselves. Once the tree was done I couldn’t help but stare at it and just feel proud of not only where we are but how far we’ve come! So THAT to me…is why a Christmas tree can be so symbolic. If you have ever spent a Christmas without a Christmas tree…the next time you have one you might realize just how special they are!

 

GIFTS!

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Seriously, this year everyone in my life totally outdid themselves. I’m wondering if everyone feels sorry for us out here in the boonies living on our own or if everybody was just “better off” financially this year but hey, either way, we have people in our lives that really care about us and have blessed us with an abundance of gifts!

 

I met a family recently on Facebook who is a family hoping to start homesteading soon and they started following my journey through this blog and my Facebook page and they asked if they could send me gifts for Christmas. I said there were several books I’d really been wanting to get myself so I sent them 5 examples. THEY SENT ME ALL 5!!!! I was totally shocked! Lol! Above are 4 that came in 1 day and the 5th one is below! I seriously can’t wait to get through these all, I’m so super excited about each one!!!!

 

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Then one of the gifts from my sister came in the mail unwrapped and it was these GORGEOUS blue vintage mason jars! OMG!!!!

 

TIME FOR FESTIVITIES!!!! Southern style!

 

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For Christmas Eve I made some hot chocolate to take to my Aunt’s house before we headed over.

 

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I put said hot chocolate in the mason jars my sister got me! How cute!

 

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At my Aunt’s Riley helped my Mom make fudge. Her and my Aunt Suzan came in from Louisiana for the holidays and it was wonderful to get to see them, all of them! This was one of the best holidays with a big part of my family in a long time!

 

CHRISTMAS MORNING CAME! And so did Santa….

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Almost all of these gifts under the tree are from my Mom and my sister Jennifer to Riley and myself! A lot of them came in the mail already wrapped and some for Riley I had to wrap but for a Christmas tree for just 2 people you can tell me we were very spoiled this year!

 

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Santa left a laptop under there for Riley! 😀 😀 😀 He noticed it right away…

 

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The dogs started out helping and then they ran outside. This is Riley digging in to find his laptop! He’s been asking for one hardcore for about 3-4 mths and since it will be useful in our homeschooling I told my Mom he could go ahead and have one now so she got it for him.

 

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A few of Riley’s presents that I’m most proud of really just because I always call him my “city boy in transition” because he still doesn’t totally understand the country life and such and so getting him into outdoor/country hobbies is my goal to help him realize how amazing this lifestyle of ours is! So he got new arrows for his bow for Christmas!

 

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He got another light saber so him and I can play together! Lol!

 

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He got a wood sword and a case and belt for it because he has this new obsession with swords so I figured I should start him out with a wood one!

 

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So Riley has had a pocket knife now for about 2 years that he earned in Cub Scouts but now that he’s getting older I figured he should graduate to a swiss army knife and then maybe next year when he’s 12 start carrying an actual hunting or survival knife! Progress. My boy is growing up on me!

 

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I got a ton of kitchen stuff for Christmas which is A-mazing! From my sister I got this glass mixing bowl set which I desperately needed….like…you don’t even know! Lol!

 

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My sister also got me this huge 128 piece home and auto tool kit! SO needed that! Love it!

 

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So we headed out super early, like 7am to go to my Aunt’s house to do Christmas morning presents with them after we did ours at home. We got to see the rare Christmas Full Moon sinking just before the sun rose on our drive over.

 

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Then to the east as the moon went down the sun came up behind the clouds and gave us this gorgeous view!

 

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My aunt’s Christmas tree! It is Minnie Mouse theme for the 3 year old grandbaby in the family, lol! I won’t share a ton of photos of my family as that is their life/privacy but I thought I’d share a few highlights.

 

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This is me and my cousin’s baby girl Amelia who is just a couple of mths ago. She’s my baby love and when I’m there I try to always have her, lol!

 

So while at my Aunt’s I got the rest of my presents from my Mom and all my family and they were totally over the top. I find it amazing that everybody totally listened to what I had said or hinted at as wanting. They all know that I’m trying to be this Pioneer Woman and that developing my cooking skills is really important to me. My Mom has seen the food pics I share on Facebook and I do that strictly because just a year or two ago I would never have dubbed myself a chef of any sort. But I’ve been working hard to go all natural, all organic, no processed food and in doing that you just have to learn how to cook. And when you’re learning how to cook you quickly realize what all cools and utensils and appliances you desperately need and which ones really aren’t that useful. So I told my Mom a few things I’d been wanting and the rest they ran with and I totally hit the jackpot!

 

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Mixing bowl set!

 

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Pasta Machine! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes!

 

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Canning mason jars!!!

 

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A peeler! This thing is awesome, we used it Christmas day for dinner to peel potatoes, lol! It’s great!

 

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A food dehydrator! Hello self sufficiency here I come!!!!

 

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A fry maker!!!! We will totally use this!!!

 

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My first cast iron set!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay! Pre-seasoned and even comes with a dutch oven! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve wanted this forever and my Mama did so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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The awesome, huge tool set from my Mom!

 

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A canning setup! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another step down the road of self sufficiency!

 

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Christmas Day sunset out in the desert! My cousin Amanda’s husband is an Arizona native and he likes to go out to the desert for a lot of reasons and he wanted us to all go out to do a bon fire and just hang out so we did! Them and their kids and me and Riley!

 

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Here is Riley helping my cousin’s husband start the fire.

 

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Me and Riley enjoying the fire!

 

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Riley and his cousins playing in the fire, lol!

 

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An Arizona desert bon fire on Christmas Day at sunset! It was cold and a lil windy but the kids loved it and so I had fun!

 

THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS!

My cousin’s 2 older daughters wanted to come to our house for a sleepover so we had them over and other than selfies and being piled up on the couch we watched movies and stayed up late, lol! They ended up staying over all weekend!

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Fun times with the kids!

 

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Sunday running my monthly errands to go grocery shopping I decided to spoil myself a little more (I totally didn’t need the additional spoiling but I did need the jacket) and bought myself a new hoodie! I’ve had a black CenturyLink zip up hoodie for over 5 years from when I worked there and it’s…on the outs! So I bought a gray pull over hoodie that is Browning and has PINK CAMO!!! =D I love it!

 

I hope you guys all had a fabulous Christmas and I really just had to put this post together because I don’t want to ever forget just how amazing of a time we had and how lucky we are to have such good family! We have had a rough last year or two but all the great things that have happened this year on top of the quality time and conversations with my family this holiday season has really been not only a firm reminder of how lucky we are but also a much needed emotional reprieve for myself personally!

 

I hope everybody had a chance to recharge their batteries and spend the holiday season feeling loved!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

P.S. You KNOW in the very near future I’m going to be sharing a post about using each one of those amazing Christmas gifts for the first time because I’m so damn excited to cook with my cast iron, use that food dehydrator, make homemade pasta (Gahhhhh!) and everything! I’m just so excited about them all so when I do get to use them I’ll totally share how fun it was!

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Homestead Video Tour at Little Farm Big Dreams 6 mths in!

Hey everybody! I put together a quick post strictly to share with you my first video tour of our start up homestead in southern Arizona! I wanted to show everybody what it is now as I’ve become utterly fascinated with homesteaders on YouTube sharing not only their farms and many helpful tips but their LIVES with the world. And maybe one day I’ll have so much going on here that I can do a video or two a week but for now I thought I’d start by sharing with you what I’m working with.

 

We have lived here about 6 mths now and in that time it was a huge transition period; getting used to living in the country, doing some repairs to the house that had sat empty for awhile, working on cleaning up and clearing 2 of the 8 acres (which is what the house and all out buildings set on, the rest are raw, as you’ll see in the video) and getting started home schooling.

 

I shared a post here about our big 5 mth update with a ton of before and after photos of what it was like when we moved in and things we’ve done!

 

If you’re interested in our endeavors in home schooling I shared a post about that here with a ton of information about why I chose to home school as a single Mom who is self employed!

 

So, about a week ago on a super windy day (I know, I’m sorry, lol!) I decided to do a quick video tour of the property. This is my first time working with videos and tying them together through YouTube and learning some basic editing tricks. I still have much to learn but I’m excited to one day incorporate more videos into this blog for an over-all experience for those following along for education OR entertainment!

 

Here is the link to our YouTube video, our first homestead tour!

Please give it a like and hey, maybe you’ll even feel like subscribing to keep an eye out for any future videos and/or to make me feel special! Lol! 

 

As always, thanks for stopping by our little piece of heaven here online! =D

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

#startuphomestead #singlemomhomesteading #southernarizona #sonorandesert #8acreproperty #littlefarmbigdreams

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ALMOST all natural laundry soap liquid

In our efforts to go as homemade and natural as possible, I decided it was time to switch to homemade laundry detergent because…well…I was running out of the store bought stuff, lol! So after going over probably 30 recipes and finding a few that used products I already had (I was not going to go buy anything to make this happen!) I found the one I wanted to do. I had actually had it saved on Pinterest for about 2 years!!! Finally…the time has come!

 

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Let me clarify why I call this ALMOST all natural! Reason being is the recipe calls for any bar of soap you want to use…which isn’t natural unless you make your own. In the future after I’ve learned how to make homemade soap then my laundry soap will be made with THAT and at that time I’ll feel more comfortable calling it “all natural homemade laundry soap”. =)

 

I really dislike those recipe blog posts that are like 15 paragraphs long and you have to skim through all that and all their photos before you get to the actual ingredients and directions SO I won’t do that to you. In case someone comes across this post simply to check the ingredients list and see if it includes what they want to use or have on hand, then here ya go!

 

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Ingredients:

1 bar of soap (any kind you want)
2 cups of Borax
a big pot ( that holds more than 2 gallons or if you don’t have one you can improvise like I did)
a grater
a funnel
a long spoon
2 empty gallon jugs/containers

*optional essential oil for scent

 

How ya do it simply:

1-Grate your soap into your big pot off of the stove.

2-Pour 1 gallon of hot tap water to your pot, put pot on stove and bring to a boil.

3-After a rolling boil, add your borax to the pot. It will bubble up, that’s normal.

4-Let this mixture boil long enough that it thickens up slightly. It won’t become a gel but it will feel slightly different in consistency.

5-After that you add your 1 gallon of cold tap water to the mixture. Your pot will be full or close to. The mixture will take on the color of whatever soap you used, FYI. Simmer that for maybe 5 minutes.

6-Remove from heat, turn off stove, let it sit for about 20 mins.

7-Add your drops of essential oil to the mixture for whatever scent you want.

8-Use your funnel in your clean, dry jug (I used milk jugs) to pour your mixture into.

9-Put it in your laundry room and use. Each time you use it give it a shake first and then measure out 1 cup per load of laundry. All done!

 

Now for the detailed picture filled description of what to do and what everything looks like during the process in case you like those kinds of posts! =) 

 

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Grating the Dove white bar of soap (the bar soap I use myself and have in bulk). This was fun, not like cheese but still fun!

 

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Just the middle left now…

 

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This is what it looks like in the pot with a whole bar of soap grated into it. It actually makes a lot!

 

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Pour your 1 gallon of hot tap water into the pot and turn on the heat!

 

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Bringing it to a boil…

 

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Then add your 1 cup of borax…(see disclosure below, you really need 2 cups of borax)

 

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After adding borax it foams up like this.

 

Disclosure: I first did everything up to this point, added 1 cup of borax, brought to a boil and rather quickly the bubbles rose to the top (like 5 seconds) and I had to move the pot off the burner. So I thought “Okay, I brought it to a boil.” And proceeded with the following steps. After adding cold water I didn’t feel like it was thick enough so worried I hadn’t boiled it enough. I scooped out some water, added a second cup of borax since the recipe I was following called for 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda and so I decided I’d substitute all borax totaling 2 cups of borax. So then I brought it to a slow, gentle boil to let it roll for a bit to see how if it’d begin to thicken up.

 

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After it boils and thickens only slightly (it won’t be like a gel) add  your 1 gallon of cold tap water. Let me say my big pot I have here is my double boiler I use for my pasta and it only holds about 1 and 3/4 gallons, which I measured out and knew before starting the recipe. So for MY recipe I just did 3/4 a gallon of the cold water to bring the mixture up to the rim knowing that when I’m done it will not completely fill 2 milk jugs and that’s fine.

 

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Fillin’ her up to the top…

 

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Letting that mixture sit off the heat to bring the temp down before adding essential oils.

 

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I added lemon because it is a great cleaning agent and I love the way it smells!

 

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This fun process here…adding the mixture to the milk jugs.

 

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As I mentioned above, because the 1 pot I have to boil in only holds about 1 and 3/4 gallons, I knew these jugs wouldn’t be full when I finished. So I just put enough into each to be even…I am OCD after all.

 

NOW…Some added input on my opinion here. I noticed upon researching this that there is a lot of hype and stigma out there that these homemade laundry soap detergents will not get your clothes clean, leaves dirt and residue in your clothing and whether that be because your soap is weak, the washer doesn’t agitate it enough or whatever…I have formed an opinion on this myself.

Let me give you a brief back story; I don’t buy Tide. I’ve never been able to bring myself to buy products like Tide and Charmin because they’re “the best” and the most expensive. I think that is marketing BS and there are cheaper products that get the job done…or at least almost do. And I have never been one to enjoy wasting money, no matter what that is on. Being as I’ve been a single Mom for a long time and yes I have a boy and they seem to get the dirtiest clothes around and add to that now with me working on this homestead and trying to repair the grounds and stuff, we both frequently have nasty clothes. And we haven’t even started adding farm animals yet!!!! But so what I want to say is that, I have been using generic CHEAP liquid laundry soap (like dollar store cheap) for YEARS. And after moving in here we have this super old, I wouldn’t even dare show ya (lol!) washing machine and no dryer. We hang everything on the line. It was a necessity when we first moved in and I quickly, QUICKLY grew to love it as it reminded me of summers in Arkansas helping my Mamaw with the laundry on her clothes line.

 

Something about looking out your kitchen window and seeing clothes flapping in the breeze on the line makes me feel like the world is right. Maybe that is a bit dramatic but every time I see my clothes on the line I think to myself “Yep, I’m drying my clothes…TOTALLY…FOR FREE!” It doesn’t require me to buy a dryer, I’m not wasting electricity and therefore I also have cheaper electric bills every month. To me that is a win, win, win all around.

 

So when I hear people talking about homemade laundry soap just not good enough and maybe even bad for your clothes here are my thoughts I’d like to point out:

1- My homemade laundry soap has now been used on 4 loads of my laundry and my clothes come out of the washer clean.

2-I use a homemade epsom salt scent booster in my wash as well and my clothes home out smelling fantastic.

3-I’m about to make a homemade vinegar fabric softener which will also help with the “health” and longevity of the actual fabric as well.

4-We hang dry our clothes so not only does the sun add another level of disinfectant but the good ol’ fashioned wind makes the clothes smell even more heavenly when I bring them in.

5-I use a homemade stain remover recipe for stains that are real hard to get out and that goes on clothes BEFORE going into the wash, only when needed.

6-We aren’t picky! We are country folk, doing our best to live on the land, get to being one with nature and if 5% of the dirt particles do not come out of my clothes and I put those clothes back on my body do you think I’ll notice? No! Because if it is a day that I’m not leaving home to work with my real estate clients my old jeans, boots and worn out t shirts go right back on me for me to right back outside to work again and get dirty all over again,

7-The conspiracy theorist living inside of me says that all this hype to NOT use homemade laundry soap is media or government driven to STOP people from being or TRYING to be self sufficient. And since I won’t go into politics here, let me just say, I wouldn’t believe any experiment, video or website I saw about how homemade laundry soap doesn’t work because I just don’t want to and I don’t trust most “people’s” opinions. Now if you’re living the same lifestyle I am or am trying to live, and YOU tell me it doesn’t work then THAT is something I’d ponder.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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What we have done so far to move towards self-sufficiency…

As I write posts and find myself sharing on Facebook homesteading and self sufficiency groups I have people asking me how I wish to be 100% self sufficient and how that isn’t really possible these days. I guess I should explain what I mean by being 100% self sufficient and we can start from there.

 

To me this is what being 100% self sufficient looks like:

All your meat comes from your own animals

All your produce, fruit, berries, herbs and medicinal herbs come from your own gardens

Using solar panels, wind turbines and a well to be “off the grid” of society and also remove those bills

Using rain water, swales, trenches and gray water to be useful on your property for watering to cut down on use from the well

All your food intake comes from somewhere on your farm or possibly bartering with nearby locals doing the same with resources you don’t have yet

Being 100% debt free, maybe aside from a mortgage

Making your own clothes and bedding

Having the skills to hunt for meat, not for sport

Having the skills to survive in the wilderness for a week with just a backpack if you had to

Having the skills and equipment to protect your home and land

Having a way to make your own ammo

Having a general understanding of how electricity, plumbing and building structures all work

Having a GOOD understanding of how to care for your livestock animals for their health and your safety

Using medicinal herbs or homemade essential oils for all medical treatments

Having enough general knowledge AND equipment for most first aid or medical safety skills to not need a hospital other than a life threatening emergency

Making all your cleaning agents and personal hygiene items yourself so that you know there aren’t toxins or heavy metals in them

Using all glass dishware to avoid the hysteria of possible toxins

Knowing how to do laundry the pioneer way for when it is necessary

Knowing how to play at least 1 instrument…(hey, we all need amusement, right?)

Having all the basic tools you need to do any task for the home or on the farm, even if it’s harder work or more physical labor, as long as it gets the job done

Knowing how to take care of any issue in your home yourself without having to call someone for help or hiring something out

 

Now THAT is a long list but I think I about covered it. Now in the ways that we cannot be TOTALLY self sufficient unless I didn’t have to work and we rarely ever left the house…I’d still need to buy gas for the car to go places and general maintenance and upkeep on the car. But I have to say, to be frank, if I never left the house again and we survived financially and healthfully I think I’d be okay with that. Of course, I’d still want to go see family and friends and we’d have to use our transportation to go barter for items. But I do hope to one day have a road side farm stand where I can sell our excess produce in season and also sell my homemade hygiene items for the health conscious people and maybe even sell some quilts. But those things I can do from home. I would still have to have our satellite internet so maybe that is what people say when they say I can’t be all self sufficient. But I will say, I want to do what I want to do for a couple of reasons.

 

The reasons I want to be AS self sufficient as possible are because:

It makes me feel good, strong and capable!

It makes me feel like I’m teaching my son invaluable lessons he can’t learn elsewhere or wouldn’t learn in society

It is very affordable to live if you’re producing all your own stuff

You have less bills when you don’t need all the “extra stuff” like cable, multiple computers, video gaming consoles, etc.

It reminds me of an old way of life that has always intrigued me.

Maybe I was born in the wrong era…

I want to not have to have a day job of any kind and still be able to have our homestead because the few “bills” we have to pay for I can supplement with the items we sell from the homestead.

 

 

So now that I’ve said that I want to share what we’ve been doing and the things I’ve been working to begin our SLOW but steady MIGRATION to one day NEAR self sufficiency homesteading!

 

What we have been working on the last 6 months:

Stopped buying ALL frozen food EXCEPT Riley’s damn chicken nuggets =/ *grunt, roan* (will explain later in another post)

Started stocking up on all “pantry essentials” that thrifty single Mom’s usually don’t keep.

Making homemade cleaning products

Homemade facial products

Not using paper towels or napkins, instead dish towels.

We hang dry all of our laundry

We recycle items

Burn trash instead of using trash service

Redirecting gray water to be useful in gardens

Homemade spider killing spray

Homemade bug repellent

Homemade anti itch spray

Homemade febreeze

Monthly preventative septic treatment instead of hiring a pro once a year

Fixing small plumbing issues ourselves

Bartering with neighbor for fresh chicken eggs

Selling unused items to have additional funds to go back into the homestead

Homeschooling instead of relying on the public system

Find a reuse for everything we possibly can. Thinking twice or 3 times before putting something in the burn pile.

Making homemade dog food

Buying all of our grocery items in bulk at Sam’s club

Prepping homemade meals and freezing them so they’re just as easy as store bought frozen meals

Doing a TON of research on how to make and cook as many homemade things as possible, with the least amount of preservative type items in it.

Stocking up on Mason jars and glass bottles to use and reuse.

Working on getting rid of most of our plastic storage containers due to the potential toxins when heating

Buying organic meat and produce until we have our own to fill our freezer and pantry with.

Finding new uses for old warn out clothes we’d otherwise just donate

Working adamantly to pay off my one car loan so that I have one less debt…and possibly something big to barter with!

Continuing to teach Riley how to shoot a gun and a bow and arrow with efficiency, part of his home schooling “life skills”.

Teaching Riley how to drive so that when we have a tractor or quad he can be my go to man if I need him, even though he’s only 11 (useful farm skill).

NETWORKING with a large variety of people nationwide but also in our backyard to help teach us about raising animals in Az, homesteading do’s and don’ts from people nationwide, joining local bartering groups, etc. All in an effort to get “in the know” with the homesteading thing and hopefully learn from others! Which has already happened tremendously!

 

 

What we are researching to do next:

Doing a TON of research on how to make and cook as many homemade things as possible, with the least amount of preservative type items in it. (This is a huge thing for me and I’ll do a whole other post to go into this and what all I’ve learned that is just plum fascinating!)

Research which seasonings we need to buy and keep in bulk for cooking until we can get the herb garden going.

Currently researching homemade soaps, shampoos and deodorant to get our hygiene products 100% homemade.

I have spent COUNTLESS hours researching the most effective way to garden productively and “with nature” in the low desert with our hot summers, year round cross winds, small predators and late summer monsoon rains. Researching this BEFORE setting it all up to make the first trial run as effective as possible, assuming there will still be some stumbling involved.

Researching how to dig a root cellar since I’m going to need somewhere to store all that canned goodness.

Researching how to grow wheat and what plants and trees I need to grow to one day produce all of our own oils and flowers used in cooking, baking and skin care.

Also researching what types of solar power and wind turbines will be useful and efficient on our specific property and how to set those up.

Researched how to get the house on our private well so that we can be off city water 100% and that project is in the works, easier than I thought. So then we’ll have 1 less utility bill.

 

 

If you have any insight, advice, suggestions or anything at all to share PLEASE DO! Consider me an eager baby bird ready to be fed knowledge from any source I can find it in because that is just about how I live my life 24/7…always learning! Thanks for reading!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Making bed rails out of reclaimed wood!

So here on our little farm we’re all about reusing, up-cycling, no waste, etc. I have this gorgeous wrought iron headboard and foot board I snagged from a local friend about 2 years ago now. At some point in the process of a move the side rails were lost and then this sat in storage for a long time because we had a king sized bed. Upon moving to the farm the only bed I had was an old set of full size mattresses and then this head board and foot board. When we moved in I was able to buy side rails somewhere (I don’t even remember) and so I eagerly put the bed together. To my dismay, (and it was great dismay) the full size mattresses just BARELY fit into the rails and so basically every other time I got in bed the mattress would fall through onto the floor and I’d get super, SUPER irritated.

 

After re-fixing that probably 5 times I gave up and took the bed apart and had the mattresses on the floor for a few months. I mean, I’m not fancy and I have no shame. My mattresses are comfortable and the whole house was really “in transition” AND we rarely have company over so who cares anyway.

 

Then one day a couple of weeks ago I was walking around in the backyard while taking a break from digging in the future garden and came across this pile of 1x4s that we set aside when Riley demo’d part of the backyard pergola and I thought of my bed! It just hit me!!!! How I could cut them down to the size I need and make supports across the bottom part of my bed. My Mom had told me months ago that’s what I needed to do to fix the bed issue but I just kept thinking I needed to go buy 1x4s and since I just have a car and didn’t want to spend the money on it I just put it off.

 

Alas, a new project was born!

 

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With Riley home schooling now I like to take every opportunity I can to teach him anything hands on, useful, homesteading skills, building skills, etc. And honestly about half the time we’re learning something new TOGETHER as I’ve never done it either. It all makes for fun times! Here is Riley using a jig saw for the first time, right after I used it for only the second time ever!

 

We cleaned off the old boards, took nails out and then cut them down to the size needed for my bed frame.

 

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Then we brought them in and laid them across my bed frame put together again and they all fit perfect. I mean, it took us maybe 15 mins total and that includes gathering the jig saw (got from a yard sale for $5 back in the summer) and the saw horses (got for free as a salvage find on an abandoned property) and getting everything ready to measure, cut and go! Super easy project! And totally free, which is my favorite part.

 

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Well…no…maybe my favorite part is having my beautiful little bed all set up again for the first time in a long time! I love how old it looks and it just fits in well with my room decor and my old quilt! Love, love, love!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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How to re-use washer gray water!

So in early November walking around my back yard I noticed some water standing at the back of the house and after some curious poking around I realized it was the gray water draining from the washer to the side of the house and then due to improper setup and slope it was running under the house. Standing water anywhere is a no no, but especially near, under or up against your home!

I didn’t want to call a handyman out to fix it and I got to thinking with all the research I’ve been doing lately about gardening, permaculture and especially desert gardening with minimal or the least amount of water. So I got to doing some research on the uses of gray water…and quickly landed on this idea to redirect the washer gray water INTO the side yard where it is supposed to go but to then dig a trench so that the water will be gravity fed into that side yard in certain areas SO THAT I can have my future rose garden there. Ever since we moved in I wanted this small area to be a rose garden one day and this water drainage “issue” can now be the SOLUTION for that. As Geoff Lawton of Permaculture always says, let the problem be the solution!!! Think about it!!! =D

 

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So I quickly got to work on that. This project took me about 2 half days maybe, all by myself in early November and the only tools I used were a shovel and a rake. After the project was finished to make it look cuter I gathered some bricks and river rock laying around on the farm and “fancied” it up a bit and that’s it. So the project was 100% free, very necessary to not cause damage to the house and will be free water for a future non-edible garden AND…reusing something that would have otherwise gone to “waste” and just been absorbed into the ground elsewhere and non-contained, non-purposeful way! Those are all major bummers!

 

This is a heavy picture post as I took pictures throughout the whole process, as I always do. The visuals are very necessary for me to see my way through a project and to ALSO help me feel more accomplished. I also decided to do some videos of this project strictly to send to my Mom to show her but then I ended up sharing them publicly on You tube and since they help you see the water in action and everything I decided to share them on here as well.

 

VIDEO DISCLOSURE: I am no professional film maker (I know there is a word for that??) and in fact I’d call myself a super newbie to “recording videos” of anything other than family and kids playing! So these are a little shaky and there is no special editing or anything, very cut and dry and less than 1 minute for most of them.

 

Let the fun and pictures begin!!!

 

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As a fun little reminder, this is what that side yard looked like when we moved into the home about 6 mths ago now.

 

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Then this is what it looked like early summer after we cleaned up the weeds and junk. There used to be a chainlink fence there that a tenant’s animals knocked down, I guess.

 

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In early Fall I was poking around outside on a windy day and I thought I’d reuse these trellis’ we took off the front deck and put them up as a “temporary fence” since I had the posts so I just cable tied them up there. No it doesn’t look fancy or even pretty but it serves its purpose for now and when we redo the front fence, I’ll put new fencing up here as well. But free is always nice!

 

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Day 1 of the project!

This is what the area where the washer drain comes out goes to. This is the side of the house, directly under the laundry room and also next to the Ac. You can see there are bricks there I guess someone else had this intention of the water flowing towards our view (towards the camera) and out that way….it does not do that. Lol!

 

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Here is what that area looked like the day I walked over and decided to do this project.

 

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Step 1 for any project for me is always CLEAN UP! I have to start with a clean slate. Some people say that wastes time but I will tell you there is nothing more productive than working on a project with a happy, positive outlook and having a “clean space” is what gives me that outlook. Therefore…I always clean up first.

 

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This is the area just between the house and the fence, where the AC and electric meter live. These are also between myself and the majority of the side yard where those future roses will go. So I knew before starting my first trench would have to come out, around the AC and go between these two guys to then lead out into the main part of the side yard.

 

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I removed one of those bricks that was in the ground there to create an opening and got to digging the trench. I just used a regular rounded edge shovel because it is the only one I have. Thankfully the ground wasn’t too bad on this side of the house, I’m assuming from periodic soakings from the washer. Although you’ll see in the first video below the majority of the washer water does not actually come THIS way, as you’d think it does.

 

So I dug that first trench and then dug it around the AC then straight out into the side yard only maybe 2 inches deep the whole way. I really started was starting my outline and seeing what shape I wanted to have, where I wanted it to go. After doing that I dug 4 channels off of that main trench. And THEN I turned the washer on to drain so I could see what would happen after that little bit of work. This video below shows what happened the 1st time I ran the washer…

Digging a trench from washer drain part 1

Let me just say, at 20 seconds in when that water starts to go into that channel it made me feel like a Mama Bear proud of a kid doing something on their own for the first time. It was like I immediately thought “OMG, this is going to work!!!! How cool!!!”

 

So in this video we learned that with the trench obviously not done and not deep enough, after that water fills up that initial basin it then rises up and runs UNDER the house! Which is then where all the remaining water goes, preventing it from entering new said trench! Progress!

 

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So then I got to work on digging these existing trenches and channels all a little bit deeper and making some parts wider. At this point I just have 1 trench with 4 channels off of it to the left and right.

 

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A little deeper…

 

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Then I shift my focus back on that basic and I dig it deeper and wider as well, to catch more water initially.

 

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Then, thinking of that water running under the house I start shoveling mud from the pile of what I had dug out and start mounding it around the drain. I put it all up against the side of the house and all around, to block water from OVERFLOWING anywhere other than into the new trench!

 

And then I filmed video #2!!!!

Digging a trench for washer drain part 2

 

You see about half way through this video that this is the first time the water in the trench had MADE it around the corner and passed the first channel! It ALSO starts filling the basin and spilling over that brick wall on the front side AND a little bit starts spilling over on the right side going under the wire for the AC unit and back behind there. =( Add to that that once it got about half way down the channel, none of it was really deep enough so then it just started flooding the banks and overflowing. Lol! Learning as we go!

 

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Overflowing the banks because all the channels were too shallow at this point.

 

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Adding more mud around the main basin to keep water in the places I want it, without over flowing.

 

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I dug every trench deeper and as the water would flow through I’d watch curves or corners where it’d slow down so as that would happen I’d be there with my shovel to make certain areas wider or deeper as needed.

 

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At this point I still only have 4 channels off of the main trench. But I had dug them all to 4-5 inches deep, which was as deep as I felt they probably needed to be. So I ran the washer (not videoed) and with the washer draining TWICE with each load, it put out just enough water to fill the trench, all 4 channels and then over flow the very last channel but ONLY after that second drain cycle. So I concluded with a 5th channel, then it should be fine to hold (and trap, to soak into the ground to water nearby flowers) the water from 2 cycles from each load of laundry. I didn’t plan for it to hold more than that as we typically do about 1 load of laundry per day and that’s it, rather than doing a ton all in a day.

 

 

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With water standing in the whole system it made for digging and trenching THAT much easier. Thank God for that with our Arizona hard, clay-like soil…if you can even call it soil!

 

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I put 2 stray bricks on each side of the wiring for the AC unit just to try to keep water away from it and then put up a mud mound on the left side of it as well so that water won’t even go that way. I also put a mud mound on this front side of it where you used to be able to see the bricks in the ground, now you can’t.So it made that berm type thing about an inch taller.

 

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By this time, I added that 5th channel off the end since it was still overflowing at the end after a second drain (2 per load).

 

Digging a trench for washer drain part 3

You can see in the video that channels 3 & 4 weren’t as deep as all the others yet.

You will also see by the time of this video I no longer had issues with escaping water at the start, from the drain or the basin! Yay!!!!

 

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Day 2!!!

 

Time for clean up and small modifications!

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I started working to level all the dirt at this starting point because although you can’t see it, where I’m standing to take these pictures is a small chain-link gate. So once I started this project I decided this gate and this area would need to stay clear for myself or handymen to come access the AC to work on it or when I clean it seasonally. So in the future there may be a cute little mulch or gravel walk way here. So I leveled out that mud that was just all in a pile before I got to raking everything BEAUTIFUL!

 

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With all the trenches perfectly deep enough and 2 drain cycles putting out JUST enough water to fill all channels to the top but no more…the big work was done. So here I just leveled out the mud piles and started raking so that finished look I love so much!

 

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Main trench, channel 1 and part of channel 4.

 

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Channels 2, 3, 4 and part of 5!

 

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This side that butts up against the house I noticed while working the ground slopes down to the house so all that excess mud I had I threw that way and at the end I leveled it out so that it is a flat surface but also berms up a tiny bit at the house so that rain water or anything will flow away from the house, as it should.

 

Digging a trench for washer drain part 4

Video 4 is just a picture, video collage I put together on my phone to try to show some photos of it start to finish. Again, video disclosure, no sound or music or anything fancy. =)

 

A FEW DAYS LATER…

 

Riley man came outside and offered to remove 2 stumps from some old bushes that used to be here. As far back as 3 years, any time I’ve ever been to this property, there were never bushes here. They were always just those stumps. So I think we could resolve that they were 100% dead. And Riley loves destroying things, being a typical 11 year old boy so he got the shovel and went to town.

 

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ABOUT A WEEK LATER…

 

I was doing laundry and decided I’d come out to watch my little system with pride just to see how it was holding up a week or so after finishing and I decided the basin area just had to look a little cuter. So I gathered some bricks and river rocks from around the property and just made it cuter! My goal is to actually fill the trench and drains with sand one day so it looks cuter when it is empty and then of course I’ll plant roses. I recently decided I will be adding hibiscus to this flower bed with my roses and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that!

 

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This is how the channels are holding up about a week later. You can’t really tell I raked which is a bummer but that’s fine, the dogs had to run around and explore what I had done differently of course. Plus after Riley removed the 2 stumps I didn’t rake so that is all disheveled as well but oh well! (You see that little green patch of grass that came up where channel 1 ends and some water pools right there? Nature is a beautiful thing!

 

Digging a trench from washer drain part 5

Video 5 I filmed one morning early after I had started laundry AFTER everything was done and I added the rocks to the basin. You can hear the birds chirping, my dogs eagerly running around for the first time in the morning and my son Riley off in the distance in his chonies (not pictured, of course!) because he came out to see what I was doing, lol!

 

I love how in this video within just like 20 seconds the water is marching down that main trench like it is on a mission and it knows exactly where it is supposed to go. No issues in the way, no confusion, nothing. Just on it goes to fill up the whole system with ease. Bliss. And perfection! Pride swells!

 

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True before and after of the whole thing! =D

 

3 WEEKS AFTER THE PROJECT WAS COMPLETED…

I was outside walking around and I hadn’t done laundry in maybe 2 days so these channels were just dry (which is fine) but I noticed something green. So upon closer examination I found 4-5 spots where little grass is shooting up in the trenches or on the sides! How marvelous is that!!!!

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Since I’ve spend this whole last week currently studying Permaculture like it was my last dying wish or something (seriously, about 45 hours this week of studying and researching) these little green patches of life make me so happy and proud. Because Permaculture teaches that Mother Earth will rebound and heal itself and become lush and wonderful with a few simple techniques. These trenches I dug to redirect washer gray water are a small scale version of exactly what Permaculture is all about. All I did was redirect a wonderful resource like water and although I haven’t planted anything here yet, nature is responding, the dirt is happy, it is moist and it gets ample shade and sun and it is coming to life all on its own! It is just such a wonderful thing for me to see in action! Someday soon…or maybe in the spring, there will be happy roses and hibiscus of 10 colors here!!! And…as expected, I will smile every time I come home and walk passed this garden to get to my front door as I see the beautiful colors and smell those glorious roses!!!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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DIY Laundry Stain Remover

Every time I mention homemade laundry stain remover on my Facebook here I get questions and comments and asked for the recipe. So this last time I made it I decided to do a blog post to share with you guys and I’ve also pinned it on my Pinterest board “DIY home products” here. There is ample information for all things homesteading, DIY and self sufficiency on my Pinterest profile so please check it out when you have a chance!

 

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Let’s get down to the recipe!

I first found the recipe on Pinterest on this woman’s blog here so let me give credit where credit is due! The ingredients are simple things that almost anyone has at home.

You need equal parts of:

-Dawn

-Baking soda

-Hydrogen peroxide

 

(Insider tip: In case you didn’t already know 1- Dawn is amazing and 2- Hydrogen peroxide almost always gets out blood!)

 

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So I was originally going to put this in a cute glass bottle and then I realized I really don’t need that much mixed up at one time so I thought this small little bowl with a lid would better do the job, although not as pretty. This little guy holds maybe a cup. In my mixture I did 2 tablespoons of each product so that in the end my final mixture was about 6 tablespoons total. Keep in mind, for a stain you may only need 1 TEASPOON to treat a spot. So make however much you feel your family may need.

 

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I put in my baking soda first, add my hydrogen peroxide and then pour over the dawn. You can see when they start to have a natural reaction or a “bubble party” as I like to call it. These ingredients are happy together AND they also do a good job!!!

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You just mix it all up and you’re good to go, it really is that easy!

 

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Here is a photo of my finished product. This sits on the shelf above my washer in my laundry room and over time you might see the ingredients separate a little bit. All you have to do is give it a little shake then take the lid off to use however much you need.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Prepping Lemongrass for winter!

Have you ever heard of LEMONGRASS!?!?!

 

Well just in case you haven’t, the first time I heard about it was when I was researching “natural” ways to repel mosquitoes here on our homestead.

To break it down, as stated on this website; “Lemongrass is a tropical herb packed with strong citrus flavor. The lemon taste is prized in Asian cooking, as well as in teas, sauces, and soups. In the garden, lemongrass forms a tall, grassy clump 3 to 5 feet tall. Its appearance rivals that of many ornamental grasses and can easily fulfill a similar role in the landscape.”

Lemongrass being a grass, lasts outdoors most of the year but lasts longer in warmer climates. Here in Arizona we’re in Zone 8 so it lasts the majority of the year. It is recommended to uproot it and plant in pots in the winter and bring inside when temps are below 40 degrees.

 

Our Plans

We want to have a good defense against those pesky mosquitoes this next year and when a local small farmer mentioned on her Facebook page that she had some free Lemongrass stalks for anybody who wanted some I totally went and grabbed up some. They sat on my front porch for over a good month because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to risk it and go ahead and plant them in the flower boxes around our front deck now and pray they survive the winter or what. So we finally did this week for Riley’s handicraft lesson in Gardening (his choice), which is the word to describe the extra curricular subjects children learn with the Charlotte Mason Method for home schooling. I explain handicrafts in depth in this post.

 

Where do you get it?
If you aren’t blessed with a giving local farmer or friend who has some lemongrass on their property, where do you find it? Well, it’s actually SUPER easy! When I was researching HOW to take care of this cute little grass I came across a blog post about how you can buy lemongrass in the grocery store and prep it to plant! <–Make sure you check that out!

 

Over on the blog The Prairie Homestead, whom I eagerly follow because she’s currently living a lot of my dreams on her farm/homestead and her blog is packed full of USEFUL information! I found this post on her blog about how to grow and use Lemongrass and in that they start it from a seed and germinate the seed! Awesome! At the end of the post there are also some linked posts with ideas and recipes for other uses for lemongrass other than as an aromatic bug repellent.

 

Something I plan to get obsessed with in the very near future is homemade soap making and you can find my ideas for that on my Pinterest board Soap and more soap! DIY Ya’ll! And you can use lemongrass a lot in homemade soap recipes! Things to come!

 

If you just want to follow all of my MANY Pinterest boards you can find my page here!

 

So after our research online a few days ago Riley and I gathered our donated lemongrass stalks, some empty pots we had in the shop and a bag of soil.

 

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As we went through all these steps I was trying to teach Riley the little bit I had learned about lemongrass and the little bit more I learned about planting in pots that I learned from my Mom growing up.

 

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Those donated lemongrass stalks!

 

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It took us MAYBE 20 minutes! But it was a great “Gardening 101” lesson for Riley’s once weekly gardening handicraft for home school.

 

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Proud boy!

 

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This is what I hope our lemongrass looks like come late winter or early spring!

 

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The GOAL is that our lemongrass will look like this by late Spring and it’ll be happy in its new home in the flower beds around our front deck. I’ll probably put some out by the shop as well since I often find myself there. And if we do our pool in the backyard again next year then I’ll put some out by it because the bugs were pretty annoying out there this past summer.

 

There is no telling if we did it exactly right or what will come of it but that is the fun of doing something new the first time. If we have issues with our potted sprouts I can at least get some at the grocery store and try to begin again before Spring. Live and learn!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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