Sheet Mulching my zone 1 Permaculture gardens *YouTube video*

So in just the first 1/4 of the book Gaia’s Garden it dives into soil fertility, reviving life in your soil and that you really have to start…for lack of a better phrase…”from the ground up”. And you do that by starting with your soil. Yes you can plant things in crappy soil and then just add fertilizer but why make yourself need to have to buy something that only gives you temporary “fertility” and then you have to redo quarterly or year? If you promote healthy soil life and then take care of it (which is actually less work than you might think) then your soil becomes living soil and it will go through the normal ecological cycles of life all on it’s own and take care of everything you have planted in it.

 

I just cannot say ENOUGH about the huge kudos I give to the author of this book! It has changed how I look at EVERYTHING in relation to gardening. And I have utmost confidence that I will be able to put certain things in place that will make my land here in the “barren desert” very fertile and fruitful! I just know it!

 

Yesterday I started working on the sheet mulching project for 2 beds in my zone 1 garden and I decided to do a video about that. I’ll be wrapping up this project in the next few days and so there will be more videos to come.

 

For now check out this video I put on YouTube of the sheet mulching process, layers and stages.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Books I’m reading to learn about homesteading & permaculture! *YouTube video*

I have always been an avid reader and it’s something I just LOVE to do to relax and enrich my mind. Which also is why I love to write! So I knew to really dig into research for homesteading and permaculture I needed to not just troll YouTube videos of fellow like minded (awesome) people but I needed to READ, stuff from the pros! So I have an Amazon wishlist that is just for books and I tell ya…it’s a mile long! (literally 120 books in there right now) and not only is my 1 bookshelf in my living room full (of books I’ve mostly read) but each nightstand by my bed has at least 6 on it. Coincidentally, the left side is all my homesteading books and the right side is all my historical and philosophical books that I enjoy so much. So…I have plenty to read and learn from to enrich my life and “grow my brain” (as I always say) and so I will resist the urge to order more for awhile.

 

Now about the books; I met this wanna be future Homesteader family with like minded ideas and values on a Homesteading Facebook group and we began chatting one on one and really hit it off. So before Christmas they asked me if they could send me a present. So I asked for books! I sent them a list of 5 that I’d love to have any 1 of them and they actually sent me all 5! So I put together this video on YouTube of the books I got from them and a special shout out to them! If you love any of these or have read any, let me know!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Our chicken coop situation, project & video on YouTube!

When we moved to this property we knew we’d have animals in the future. We also knew there was an existing chicken coop attached to the shop and a detached tack shed but otherwise no other animal “structures” on the property. The coop hadn’t been used in years and the run was pretty demolished by who knows what.

 

So since I’ve spent the first 5-6 mths on this property cleaning up around the 8 acres, fixing up the house and doing minor repairs inside I decided it was time to start on animal projects. I’d love to get my chickens and pigs before we come out of winter just because I want to have them here and give them time to adapt to their new home before we go into summer, as I presume that will be the hardest time of year for them here in southern Arizona.

 

So last week I decided to go ahead and start doing something about this chicken cook situation. Below I’ll show you photos of what it looked like before and also some photos of the work we did on it last week PLUS a video tour I posted on YouTube! The link to that is near the bottom of this post!

 

HERE ARE PICTURES OF WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE WHEN WE MOVED IN AND UP UNTIL JUST RECENTLY.

 

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This is the outside storage area, like a “carport” off the coop.

 

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Inside the coop

 

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Inside the coop

 

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Inside the coop. It has a little shelf over there in the corner and there is power in here to YAY, I can add a light on an automatic timer switch if I need to give them either more light in the winter or put a heat lamp in there. In the summer I’ll have a fan on each size of the breeze way circulating air in there to try to keep them cooler.

 

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Behind the coop, the old run. With a big desert bush in the middle.

 

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I’m not sure what is up with that half way behind the storage area but it looks rough!

 

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That bush.

 

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THEN I GOT TO WORK ON CLEANING UP THE OUTSIDE STORAGE AREA AND FIXING THE COOP DOOR.

 

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Outside storage area as of about 2 weeks ago.

 

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Over the last few months as I have been removing or trimming trees I have been saving certain limbs that I thought would be useful in the coop. I read an article about having some limbs attached to the inside of the coop and that the birds like to “chill” or “play” on them, lol! So that is what some of these are for!

 

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I cleared out all the stuff I had in there and just raked out the whole area. It was just all nasty. I moved these little storage shelves I had in the shop out there as temporary storage. Then once I did that I got to thinking about how that opening faces the south and how this little area gets good sun exposure but not direct all day long. So I got to thinking this might be a good area for a temporary green house type experiment. Or maybe when I start seedlings inside I can bring them to this spot to transition to outdoors before I plant them outside. More research to be done on that though later!

 

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Then the door wouldn’t open more than 1 foot…

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So I started raking all the dirt out of the way blocking the door and quickly realized it wasn’t just that but 1 of the hinges on the door was broken.

 

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I got the hinge repaired, added some support nails and got the dirt all cleared so now she opens 75% of the way and closes perfectly since it’s all level now! Yay!

 

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I put some pots here because I’m just trying to envision really what it’s going to be like. I know there are a few herbs that are really good for chickens and since I’m also studying Permaculture at the same time I have decided there is at least 1 fruit tree that I’m going plant right beside the run so they can eat the fruit when it drops (plums) and then also I’m going to plant blueberry bushes along their fence line for them to eat as well and I can harvest the other side they can’t get to. But to start I’m going to plant some herbs in pots near the door so that those can start growing and I will use those to cut some off and give to them as treats as I walk by all the time.

 

THEN WE GOT TO WORK ON CLEANING UP THE FUTURE RUN A LITTLE BIT.

 

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What you see here is the coop in the middle, a covered storage area on the left, to the left of that is the wood fence to my backyard, on the far right is the outdoor storage area beside the coop that I showed you above and to the right of that is the gate that leads to my house and where I park. I had to tackle removing this big bush since it takes up (what I presume) is all of the OLD run. The new run will be much larger.

 

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Before I started this project I put out a reqeust on Facebook on local farming/homesteading pages asking for advice on how to remove this bush/tree and if anybody knew what kind it was. Since this is the desert and that thing was surviving all by itself just fine without being watered or cared for I knew it had to have deep roots. Which would make it harder to remove.

 

Luckily, within a few minutes I had some very helpful people sharing great info with me! Turns out it is a Greasewood bush also known as a Desertbroom bush. These guys not only are natives to the Sonoran Desert and DO have super deep roots BUT they are also very beneficial! They need no maintenance technically and their leaves have medicinal purposes. So upon researching the type further and confirming it is in fact a Greasewood bush I found that the leaves when crushed and used in numerous ways are anti bacterial, anti viral, relieve muscle aches, help upset stomachs, you name it! I’m all about having “useful” plants on the property so I was very glad to learn all about this guy here on the farm and how really there is no reason for me to get rid of him. The birds will like some shade and might also want to play in some of the lower limbs so I decided to keep it.

 

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Since it has a bunch of smaller limbs I didn’t think my chainsaw would work, I thought I’d have a lot of kickback. So I did first try my jig saw and a hand saw and neither went very well. So I went and got my chainsaw and Riley helped hold the smaller limbs down while I cut so that they weren’t popping back.

 

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We got the majority of the bigger ones along the bottom cut out and pulled away.

 

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Then got to work on the smaller ones around the bottom with the pruning sheers.

 

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So we got a lot cut out but the run was still a mess and the sun was setting.

 

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This is what this guy looks like close to the ground. Lots of big and lil limbs just going all over the place. I’ll have to make sure to prune this every few mths so it doesn’t get all wild again but that’s totally fine by me.

 

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Finally got the whole area raked out of debris, trash, horse poo, etc.

 

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She’s all cleaned up! The biggest thing left to do for the run is build all new fence around it, put in a gate/door, predator proof the bottom with hardware cloth, put netting over the top and add some features inside the run that I want to do like you’ll see below in my Pinterest inspiration photos. So yeah, still a lot to do but cleaning this up motivated me to keep at the project finally!

 

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MY FAVORITE BEFORE AND AFTER WITH THIS PROJECT SO FAR!

 

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I’m still amazed at how it actually looks like a tree from a distance even though it’s just a bush. It is so tall it has to be at least 3-5 years old. And something that has survived that long on it’s own I just couldn’t dare remove.

 

Here is the video on YouTube I just published today talking about this chicken coop project, doing a tour of the inside, introducing my puppies to you all (lol!) and a photo collage at the end of all these photos I just shared on here!

 

JUST SO THAT YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHERE I WANT TO GO WITH THIS COOP HERE ARE SOME IDEAS I’VE FOUND ON PINTEREST THAT I’VE SAVED AS MY INSPIRATION PHOTOS!

 

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I want a run built like this but with netting over the top!

 

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I like the idea of having a super cute door like this on the run as a “gate” just because it’s so cute! And I may have an extra door or two I could use for this it is just a matter of making it work. But I do love the pop of color as well!

 

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I’m going to plant some things in the run in boxes like this for the chickens to eat as they grow UP because I just think it’s such an awesome idea! So this will go outside in the run!

 

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I’ve also read that chickens like to “play” on stumps and I have plenty of logs big enough for this so I’ll jam a few in the ground in the run for them to play on.

 

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Not only am I in love with the “fresh eggs” sign and just have to have one but I also love that they have all these potted plants and flowers right outside the chicken coop. I probably won’t do any non edible flowers unless I’m trying to bring bees to the area (there’s an idea….) but I will definitely do herbs and cumfrey right outside the door and also along their fence line.

 

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I love this PVC automatic chicken feeder idea!

 

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I want the chicken coop to be on solar for the minimal things that will be running out there and not really because it needs to be because there is already power to the coop but just as a step to gradually move all structures on the property to solar and all NEW structures will be only on solar.

 

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This is one of the ideas I saw where they use tree limbs in the coop for the chickens. In fact, I hope my coop looks a lot like this one because I’m going to paint it white in there and I also have to do the ceiling and I have enough limbs to do a setup just like this one for my chickens.

 

Well, thank you again for stopping by and checking it out! I hope you enjoyed the post and the video! If you have any suggestions on what I’m working on or what type of dual purpose bird to raise here in the Sonoran Desert that can handle the heat, I’m open to suggestions!

 

Please subscribe to stay up to date on what we’re doing here on our start up homestead! =D

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Our First Hugelkultur bed

So upon getting this land and quickly diving into research about farming, gardening, farm animals, homesteading, etc I stumbled upon Permaculture. Shortly after that someone on a Facebook homesteading (nationwide) group mentioned a Hugelkultur bed. So then, of course, I had to research Hugelkultur and I was just blown away!!!

 

Hugelkulture is where you dig a small ditch or trench (depending on what size you want) down into your soil and then place old tree logs  down in it. They can be any size, any length, any thickness as long as they fit into the area you dug out. So you can dig an area to fit whatever logs you have and what you’re working with on your land! Which is fantastic! Then you layer on top of that dirt, twigs, more dirt, water each layer and then finally cover with dirt so you have a mound and top that with mulch! The REASON you do this is because (it is totally genius I’m not sure why everybody isn’t doing this with their extra wood laying around their property…if they don’t have or use a wood stove) as the wood begins to rot and decompose under there it is putting nutrients (GOOD nutrients) into all the soil around it. The dampness from you putting water on that layer when you first built it in combination with the dirt and leaves added to it to retain that moisture, aid in that break down process. Also, when you do water that mound in the future, those logs help the entire mound to HOLD ONTO every bit of water you put onto it, as does the mulch. So you’re keeping more water right there where you need it to do what you need it to do without irrigation. And since the bigger logs could take years to break down, you have a setup that takes you maybe an hour tops and it is a self-fertilizing gardening mound for YEARS! Brilliant!

 

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So I knew I’d incorporate this on the homestead somewhere but I didn’t know where. The big site I plan to do the food forest on is going to need a lot of prep work before I can plant anything or even put in hugel beds to sit and break down for me as I’m not sure where I’ll want them yet. So one day raking up some leaves in my small front yard area (fenced in in front of the front deck) I decided I could totally do it in one of these raised beds that goes around the front deck. It is a large deck so there are 3 pretty good sized raised beds.

 

So I got to looking around for supplies because I knew I had wood logs, twigs, mulch, top soil, etc and so I just wanted to make sure I had what I needed. Then I remembered another video I had seen where they talk about using dead, dry leaves as part of the layering and I had those as a few of our trees just started (or finished) shedding the very few pitiful leaves they had, lol! So I got to work!

 

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This is the bed I started out with. Pardon the extension cord running out to Christmas lights, haha! There were some nice little weeds that started growing in there with some recent rains we had. Also the overhang of the porch waters this area pretty abundantly when it rains (until I add a water harvesting system in the future, of course!). So I pulled a lot of these by hand and dug out some of the peskier ones with a shovel. I didn’t worry about getting them all.

 

So I had my trench area dug out.

 

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Then I grabbed cottonwood tree logs I had cut up and set aside for outdoor bonfires but hey…this is way more important than that! =D Put those guys in there. As soon as they were in I watered the area down so those logs would be wet.

 

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Then I covered that with a little bit of dried leaves and debris from the yard, not a ton.

 

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Then I covered that with some of the dirt I had dug out.

 

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Then I covered that with cottonwood twigs and kindling.

 

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Then I covered that with some potting soil because I had some handy and I didn’t think it could hurt. Then I sprayed this down again with water.

 

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I put more top soil on this and then spent some more time digging out additional weeds on each side. And then watered it down again.

 

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Then once I felt the twigs were mostly covered and the ground around it was all good and I had covered it in water then I added my final layer which is mulch. This was the last bag of this stuff I had so I can’t do the other beds until I buy some more supplies, which will hopefully be here soon.

 

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I just finished by cleaning up that concrete area to the left, which is what is just off of my deck with a pergola above. And she was done!!!

 

THE PLAN is for these to sit and develop and let the wood start breaking down. I won’t plant anything in these until spring and I need to do a little more research about what I want to plant right up by the house. I know a Wisteria vine is going up on the pergola but that is a few feet further to the left here that you can’t see and doesn’t have anything to do with this one bed. I’m thinking I’ll do a mix of herbs, maybe a flower or two (something like citronella which will repel the mosquitoes come spring and summer) and then some lettuce type crops that you can frequently harvest from since these are so close to the house.

 

I will water this weekly just to give it a little soaking and help aid in the process as we do not get regular rainfall here. And I’ll probably take weekly pictures just to kind of keep a record and keep an eye on it and how it does.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

If you have any suggestions on what I should plant here in Zone 9 in southern Arizona that would be great to have right off the front deck, also an area all visitors see and walk passed as they walk up to my front door, I’m open to suggestions. Please comment below with ideas and don’t forget to subscribe to the page so you can get a quick email any time I share a new post about our homestead setup adventures! Thanks so much for checking us out!

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Lemon Burst DIY Deodorant

In my recent post What we have done so far to move towards self-sufficiency I went over what I believe self-sufficiency is and also what methods we have already put in place. After making the majority of my cosmetic products naturally (found in this post) I then ventured into making almost all-natural liquid laundry soap! Shortly after that I decided to tackle homemade, natural deodorant because I was running out of what I had on hand! So I’m sharing the recipe I used below and will conclude with my review on this product after about a week of using it.

 

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I found the recipe for this online on Pinterest and you can find it here. I chose to go with this one because it called for ingredients I had on hand, minus the cornstarch. I later learned that cornstarch is a “drying agent” and so it helps to reduce or absorb the actual moisture. The baking soda helps to neutralize any odor, coconut oil helps to moisturize the skin and also act as a carrier oil for any essential oil you use in the recipe.

 

Lemon Burst DIY Deodorant

-4 tablespoons of coconut oil

-2 tablespoons of baking soda

-5 to 10 drops of lemon essential oil

 

Quick directions:

1- Melt your coconut oil BRIEFLY in a microwave for maybe 10 seconds.

2- Add your baking soda to your coconut oil and mix well.

3- Add your essential oil to the mixture and mix well.

4- Put mixture into whatever container you want it to be in (old deodorant bottle, small bowl, etc) and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes for it to form into more of a solid.

5- Remove from the fridge and use as you would any other deodorant.

 

Here is the break down!

 

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The 3 stars of the show…well the only stars in this show!

 

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Baking soda in bowl

 

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Coconut oil at room temp…

 

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Coconut oil briefly warmed…

 

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Add coconut oil to baking soda

 

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Add lemon to mixture, sir well! Then sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.

 

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After being in the fridge for 30 minutes this is what it looks like! I put mine in this container because it was small and I had it handy and I do not have any old deodorant bottles in the house to use because I previously used spray deodorant.

 

My review…

 

I will say at the very onset I quickly noticed how the coconut oil moisturizes my skin! I have long thought that underarms are sadly forgotten areas of skin on our bodies that we tend to overlook! If you’re a woman you shave them every day or every other day, wash up, get out of the shower and don’t moisturize it like you do the rest of your skin and then put deodorant on there. And say we pretend there aren’t toxins, metals and cancer causing ingredients in store bought deodorant…we still neglect our under arms! So the daily moisturizing I get now from the coconut oil makes my under arms feel…HAPPY!

 

The lemon scent is just very subtle, I think it’s really perfect! When I do another recipe and I go for something maybe more fruity or floral I think I might choose to make it a bit stronger smell wise, just to have that enjoyable aromatics.

 

Sweating! I have noticed very minimal sweating after a week of using this deodorant. I made sure to do some work in the yard on top of my regular stuff to test out the STRENGTH of it and I never had an issue.

 

Moisture: I did notice that from the time I’d first apply it and then for about 2-3 hours after my under arms felt moist. I’m assuming this is due to the coconut oil on my skin and the lack of the cornstarch which absorbs moisture. So the next time I make this recipe (after I run out of this since it is mostly efficient) I will make sure to have the cornstarch on hand and then also try a different essential oil just for fun!

 

Have YOU tried to make homemade, natural deodorant? Can you share a recipe with me that you have found that works wonderful? And have you tried any spray natural deodorants?

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

Thank you for checking out the post and our progress here at Little Farm Big Dreams and please make sure to subscribe to the blog so you can get a simple, quick email any time I share a new post! Thanks so much!

 

UPDATE: I wanted to take a minute to update this post because after a week of using this homemade deodorant I ran into an issue. I think it is because I didn’t use the cornstarch that the original recipe I had found called for (because I didn’t have it). But what would happen is when I did start to sweat, there would be no odor but there would be moisture. After awhile of that I found that I always wanted to have my arms in the air to let my arm pits air out, lol! After it moved beyond the annoying stage (and me stubbornly persisting) I began to get a rash on my skin, I’m assuming from the moisture sitting on the skin and my arms being down the majority of the time. I tried putting coconut oil on my under arms when I went to bed to moisturize the skin but that didn’t do much to help it. So after 2 days of a small rash on each, I quit using it. I will soon redo that recipe with corn starch and when I do I’ll post an update post.

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All natural skin care routine

So when I tell people I want to do everything all natural, homemade or organic in my home I get questions on beauty or skin care. So I’m going to share what I currently do for skin care and also which remaining store bought items I plan to replace next!

 

This is my little stack of homemade, all natural face products. I do not make all of these. The two that have little labels a friend of mine in New Mexico makes. She is an esthetician and knows what she’s doing and I met her a few years ago here in Arizona and after she taught me how to understand MY specific skin, I bought a few products from her to work with my skin and the results were amazing! So now she has moved to NM and I order these from her online either through her site or her Facebook page. You can find her business Facebook page here!

 

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Okay, so please don’t judge my plastic containers as I AM on a mission to replace all plastic containers with glass but that is actually pretty hard to do and a process to find all different shapes and sizes if you don’t want to just go on Amazon and buy them all brand new. That being said…

 

My products are:

Organic coconut oil (top left container): this is the remainder of my organic coconut oil that stays in its glass jar until it gets to the bottom and I put it in this thing to make it easier to use each time in the shower.

Use: I use this to wash my face, remove make-up, remove dirt, you name it. It gets all the make-up off including water proof mascara in a breeze! You just wet your face, put some on your fingers, rub it in all over you face and eyes then use a warm wash clothe to wipe it off. You will see the dirt and make up come off on the cloth! AND…it’s so gentle that after I rub it in on my eyes I can open my eyes to find my wash cloth, which I often do, lol, and it doesn’t burn or anything!

My homemade facial/body sugar scrub (left bottom container): I make this and you can find the recipe about half way down through this blog post of mine.

Use: I use this on my body daily and my face every few days as a gentle exfoliator. Sugar is actually gentle enough that you can use daily on your face if you want but someone with more sensitive skin might want to do every few days on their face. I could handle daily but honestly I just don’t take the time to do it.

Raw Shea Butter with Tea Tree Oil (glass black container front and center): This is a homemade mixture my friend does that is specially blended for my skin. The shea butter is whipped because I prefer that texture over any other after a few different tries. The Tea Tree Oil in it is necessary for MY skin to help kill bacteria as I have skin that is prone to that cyst acne which is the kind that happens under the skin and then you get white heads. Basically due to excess toxins, dirt on pores, pores being too big or too open and the dirt getting trapped in said pores. Also, she pointed out to me that people who are Native American tend to have issues processing cheese and so sometimes they/we can have acne or white heads caused by the cheese basically trying to escape the body, lol! Sounds crazy but makes total sense to me as I LOVE cheese…..tremendously! And I won’t give it up to have a 100% clear face, that’s for sure.

Use: This is my daily moisturizer! After washing (and the side effect of moisturizing) my face with the coconut oil in the shower, I then add this moisturizer as soon as I get out. A little goes a long way and so any morning I forget to use it within a couple of hours my face feels tight and dry.

Peppermint Epsom Salt for bath (back right green glass bottle): this is a therapeutic salt bath mixture I made and you can find the recipe here!

Use: This is good to use for the therapeutic benefits of Peppermint or just to soften skin in the bath. I shower more than I take a bath but when I do this is what I use to spoil myself.

Lemon Burst DIY natural deodorant (bottom right small container): this recipe I just made yesterday and after I’ve had a few days to use it and try it out in different situations then I’ll finish my blog post about it with an honest review of what I think of it.

Use: Deodorant….dur. =)

Lemon Cream Face Mask and Scrub (middle right glass container): this is another one my friend in NM makes for me. After working out on the property here all summer I noticed I had a few dark spots above my upper lip and also above one eye brow (odd, huh?) and I freaked out. I sent her a message and asked what was happening to my skin. After many questions she determined it was likely sun damage =( due to me being outside so much and not using any SPF or wearing a hat. Another sad face moment.

Use: This mixture was created for me after her trial and errors and the lemon in it helps stimulate skin to have new growth of healthy skin. So this is a powder mixture that when I want to use it as a mask I just mix it up in a tiny bowl and I actually use one of those hair color mixing bowls and brushes and mix it up into a paste. Then I get my face wet with warm water, apply the mask generously and let sit for 30 mins. Then I wipe off with a warm wash cloth. This is something that could heal the sun damage but she said it could take 2-3 times a week for a few months to see the difference. I’m patient and all but in truth I do this maybe once a month when I remember. It isn’t high on my list of things to do. But if I want to feel like I’m pampering my face (or say I’ve spent all day outside working) then I’ll wash my face (to get it clean), do my sugar scrub (to exfoliate dead skin) and follow up with the lemon mask (to replenish and pamper my skin) and my face feels super happy after!

 

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Shameless selfie! Lol! I took this picture not smiling so you can just SEE my skin. I love my skin! This is post shower, after putting on my tea tree oil moisturizer and yes…I’m wearing mascara. But that’s it. I try to not wear make-up much. If I’m home (which I generally am for days at a time) I wear no make-up and not even mascara. If I have to run a quick errand or something I’ll put on mascara because I am blessed with long eye lashes and without mascara I feel like I look tired. If I am “dressing up” I wear powder, blush, eye shadow and mascara. But really all that stuff is nothing but crap for your skin. So I try to really limit it. My esthetician is working on an all natural powder for make-up now made out of something wonderful but she’s still ironing out the kinks so when that is done I will totally try it!

 

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These are the ONLY remaining beauty/hygiene culprits, which I will be eliminating in the near future; herbal essences shampoo (15 year avid user), Vaseline lotion (6 year avid user), herbal essences spray gel for curly hair (10 year avid user), Dove bar soap (probably 15 year user), Dial liquid hand soap (I’ve always loved Dial) and then Arm and Hammer tooth paste. This tooth paste I’ve only been using about 6 mths but I really love it and the results I’ve had, which I think is thanks to the baking soda in it!

 

So since I just switched to natural deodorant I think my next change will be the toothpaste, when I run out of this because I don’t want to waste what I have on hand. I also have like 12 bars of Dove soap, lol (I shop at Sam’s Club) and I hope by the time I run out of that not only am I making my own homemade soap but that it has cured and is ready to be used. I am reaching out to my NM esthetician about ordering some of her homemade soap to replace all the dial liquid soap I have at each sink in the house. We’ll start there and not buy any more of that and then replace the Dove once I run out of it.

 

I have been researching all natural shampoos but I have some ingredients to buy before I can try a few recipes. I also have found a lot of info on LOTION BARS home made and I’m super excited to try some of those. I’m totally confident I can find a luxurious diy recipe for lotion to replace Vaseline…which I use religiously (daily) on my entire body head to toe, okay…foot to collar bone! And if I ever go a day without lotion (I forget or I’m in a rush post shower) I can tell all day long and it kills me. So I need a good solid replacement. And this bottle is running low and I really do not want to buy another…

 

So there ya go! If you have recommendations on diy all natural shampoo, conditioner AND the light spray gel for curly hair I am all ears! I am most concerned about what exactly I’ll replace my spray gel with because it took me years of trial and error to find this 1 product that works perfect for my naturally curly hair and makes my hair feel just the way I want it too, not too firm, not too loose. So, please comment here and share any recipes you have tried that work!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

And if you like what you see here and want to keep up with what is going down on the Little Farm with Big Dreams in Arizona as we setup our homestead and walk the rather misunderstood path of trying to become self sufficient PLEASE SUBSCRIBE so you get a quick email any time I write a new post! Thanks so much for checking us out!!! <3

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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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DIY twin bed frame FREE!

So a couple of weeks ago I decided Riley needed a new bed frame. Let me clarify, he has one…but it is at my ex’s house still and so when we moved here we just put his two mattresses on the floor and he didn’t care because…he’s a boy…and…he was glad he could go plop down or throw himself on his bed, lol, without having to worry about breaking anything! Ha! Boys! Well it got to bothering me and one day in the backyard taking clothes off the line the pile of old wood 1x4s caught my attention and I GOT AN IDEA!!!!

 

The idea to TRY to make a twin size bed frame totally out of just our mind’s creation was born! I could have looked it up online to get some guidance but I was just pumped to go at it, do it with Riley and us figure it out together along the way through good ol’ fashioned trial and error!

 

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Here we go!

 

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This is a pile of 1x4s we had laying around from a trellis we tore down.

 

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This is a 2×2 post from what used to be part of a porch or something on the back of the house. Now it just hangs out there all alone so I cut that off with the chainsaw to use as the 6 feet or supports.

 

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We did measure the mattresses and stuff to figure out what our final width and length would need to be once assembled, I let Riley do the math while explaining a few things to him and then we cut some pieces down to the size we needed.

 

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I let him do A LOT. Because once we started the project he really got intrigued and had a genuine interest in building something tangible which is probably the first time he’s ever done that. Typically if I need something demolished, he’s my guy. But now, I’m fostering this love of building in him as we both have much to learn and it’s a very good thing!

 

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I must say that he approached this project with this idea that (based on HIS experience in his video games and especially Minecraft) that he can just build and do anything. Even though in real life he lacked a lot of the actual skill and really had zero experience. And I quickly noticed his “Get it done attitude” quickly changed to “What in the world am I doing here” because he realized his ideals of what he thought he knew how to do were not really in line with reality. This was a beautiful thing for me to see as a Mother!!!! I took it as an opportunity not to criticize him on the false security his video games give him but rather to sit and show him how to properly hammer in a nail, ways to hold it, how to hit it in straight, how to fix it if it isn’t straight, etc. Once he realized he didn’t know a thing about it, lol, he was willing to listen to Mama Bear.

 

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A frame is taking shape! AND we lost daylight. This idea was born at like 4 or 5pm and it got dark quick so we put the tools up and headed in and Riley himself (I totally was too) was super excited to work on this again the next day. Anything I can do to encourage him to be self motivated to get outside and especially work on a project (being as he’s home schooled, basically an only child with his younger brother living in Arkansas, we have no neighbor kids nearby and he’s an introvert anyway) then I’m all for it!

 

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So Day 2 we set out and since he had gotten a handle on a lot of the basics on day 1 with just using a hammer and nails and putting stuff together, I did a lot of over-seeing. Proudly, might I add.

 

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Max had to come out and meander around, wondering what we were up to. Once he laid down right in the middle here, lol, until he was in our way. Riley liked having his best buddy around to watch or “help”! 😉

 

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Well now that is kinda lookin’ like a bed frame! =D

 

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We measured our support pieces, nothing here is perfect, let me say that. I made sure that the frame was level, were the right final dimensions and all the feet were level. Beyond that, we left the wood that old peeling blue paint that was on that aged trellis for at least 10 years. We cleaned off each piece and actually came across a few pieces that had termites on it so those got pitched to maybe use later for something else. So these were all cleaned up, dust free (mostly) and bug free but definitely is not perfection, which we’re totally fine with.

 

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He has a navy blue bed skirt somewhere but for life of me I couldn’t find it so temporarily so we could revel in the accomplishment of the completed project, I put this green one I had on there.

 

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Tada!!!! <– As Riley would say! =D It is done! He has this Angry Birds blanket my Mom got him years ago and now that we have our sewing machine I plan to quickly learn how to quilt to make both of my boys awesome bed quilts in their favorites themes. Riley’s will be a Minecraft quilt and I’ve already picked out the inspiration and pattern so hopefully I’ll get that done this winter!

 

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Here is an over view of the final few steps!

 

Riley, is SO happy with the project! Not only did he do probably 80% of the work but we did this in 2 days, just an hour or two each time, he learned a lot, I learned a lot, I immensely enjoyed watching my child’s knowledge and experience grow in a subject I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to teach him until NOW and he has a bed up off the floor.

 

Even though when I first mentioned this idea he wasn’t even sold on having a bed frame because he liked his mattresses on the floor NOW he is convinced. He loves it, our dog Max who sleeps with him loves it, everybody is happy!

 

I kid you not for days when I’d walk into Riley’s room and he’d be laying on his bed watching a video on his phone I’d just look at him and say “Omg, you’re on your bed! How awesome is that thing!” and we both would just beam with pride!!! That is a feeling INSIDE that you can’t replace and you sure can’t buy!!!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

If YOU know of any other super, super easy wood working projects my son and I could try together please comment below here on the blog so that we can look into them! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a post! <3

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Many uses for old tires!

How many of you have either come across tires, have a pile at your place or  just see them thrown out on the road side or in empty fields in the boonies next to your home? *raises hand* I do!!! I see them all over the desert out here and the reason why is because here we can’t take them to the dump or when there is a place to take them, they CHARGE you to drop them off. But thankfully, due to Pinterest, I came across an abundant re-uses for old tires!!!!! How awesome is that!

 

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Check this out! This first collage is a big gathering of 13-15 of my top favorite tire uses I’ve found on Pinterest. Every single one of these I personally want to do. And when I do, you can bet that I will share each project when they happen!

 

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This is just a few samples of all the different ideas to REUSE old worn out tires in a garden! Whether that be a vegetable garden, a potato tower or just flowers!

 

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This is beautiful! I can see this in many cute areas around my farm! They take the inside of the tire and cut it so they can then fold it out and it create this flowering look! Of course, you then paint the outside of the tire any color you want. I love how they layered short flowers around the edges with tall ones in the center!

 

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Here is another idea to make a w hole flower bed look like an actual flower itself!

 

 

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This is cute! This might be a little girly for my taste but I think any little girl would love to help make this for our special little spot in the flower garden!

 

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This arrangement of tires that almost looks just randomly thrown in something that really speaks to me. It almost looks like tires were painted red, thrown on the ground and nature took over and grew within it. I love the  mix of green plants in the red tires. This may be something I do near my front porch area to add some green and color! Maybe an herb garden off the front porch?

 

 

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There are so many uses for tires OTHER than in the garden. These ideas above are my favorites!

 

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How cute are these tire swings! I want to do at least one of these for sure!

 

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This is a cute remake on a tire swing but they planted some flowers in it instead and I think it’s just plum adorable!

 

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I love the “seats” in the background where they stack two on top of each other, secure them together, make a top out of (I’m assuming) plywood cut into a circle covered in foam and cloth to create an outdoor seat! So this project wouldn’t be totally free but it’s super adorable nonetheless. A good way to throw some random seats around the porch, shop or garden when you or visitors want to just take a minute to sit down.

 

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This is cute as well and if you have an extra piece of glass of find one at a flea market or garage sale or something then you could put together this table in a snap!

 

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This is a personal favorite of mine because it is super cute! In the picture though you’ll see a little sign on the seat portion that says “Do not sit”. I would have to make these secure enough people could sit on them because how do you make seating so adorable and not allow people to sit on it. Maybe I could do 2 tires from the floor up and 1 as the back that way there are 2 forms of support and there ya go!?! This would be cute in a she shed, a tiny house, a gardening shed or in the shop!

 

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Reuse old tires to make a waterer or feeder for animals! I love this!!! I will definitely be doing this for those future pigs of mine!

 

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A dog bed! How adorable! You literally just clean it up, paint it however you want it and stuff a big enough pillow in the bottom of it! Simple!

 

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This one is a little more artsy but super adorable still! They put feet on the bottom and I’m assuming plywood support in the bottom as well as on the top above the padded seat portion. Just another take on the same idea above but with feet, very cute!

 

SO….

 

After I came across all these ADORABLE and amazing ideas and ways to reuse tires I got to thinking and I remembered my dear neighbor telling me that she accumulated some great building materials and items a few years back because she just asked family and friends to bring her anything that they were going to be taking to the dump, that she might be able to use! It would save them money and she would get some useful items for free!

 

THANK YOU, ROSE!

 

The idea was born! I have plenty of room to pile and sort items and a blog I follow recently made a bartering poster that they posted up on a bulletin board at a local small gas station to let others know they were looking for certain materials and eager and willing to barter. Then my idea was born!!!

 

I decided to make a poster (made in PowerPoint turned into a jpeg file so I could share it online easily) and instead of printing and taking it around to places I just got to sharing on a bunch of local Facebook pages and groups I’m on. I put it in every one I could that was no more than an hour away from me, as I assumed most people wouldn’t want to travel or haul anything more than an hour to dump it for free.

 

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Here’s the ad I made! I made sure to be clear on it that not all items would be accepted, did not provide my exact location so people don’t come and randomly dump things on my property (although it’s entirely fenced and locked so they’d have a hard time actually getting in, lol, thank God!) and I just invited people to reach out to me and let me know what they had they’d like to get rid of!

 

AND IT WORKED! Within 30 mins I had people commenting on the numerous posts and one Facebook friend of mine asked me right away if he could bring me an old washer and I said yes! Because I had heard that you can reuse the motor parts out of a washer and you can also use the guts to make fire pits! He was at my house within a couple of hours dropping off my first free items ready to be reused, yay!!!!

 

Then I had a guy ask me if I’d take tires and I said ABSOLUTELY (thinking of all these wonderful ideas) and he said he had 50!!!!!!! I said, “Bring ’em on!” It was the weekend before he had time to get them to me but I’m sure glad he did!

 

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Look at all those tires! We stacked them up nicely, 3-4 tall on each row and, man….50 tires is a lot when you get them all in one place, lol! I’m not overwhelmed by this at all. I have no rush or timeline to do these projects but I’m sure glad I have ample tires to work on all the above mentioned projects! And aside from that, I’ve had other people reach out to me to bring me other items and we’re working on getting a time right for everybody. If I score anything huge and wonderful from this poster in the future I’ll make sure to write about it.

 

This is something you can implement where ever you are as well! You can do the paper flyer in a shop method or you can go viral online and post on craigslist (I did that, too!), share on Facebook groups, tweet about it, share wherever online you can. Just make sure not to put any real personal info on the flyer so that people have to contact you to make it work. And then that way you can quiz them on what they have.

 

Another tip: Don’t say yes to everything. Just because someone has 2 items to get rid of and 1 you could use but the other you can’t, don’t take an item you can’t find a use for. If you don’t KNOW if you can reuse it just research it online. A woman messaged me yesterday and asked me if I’d take OLD asphalt roof tiles and I thought “What in the world would I use that for?” assuming that they were damaged and that’s why they were re-roofing the house. And then I realized I could totally use that on the roof of future animal shelters, even if I had to do 2 layers and maybe do some patch work, that is at least free roofing materials for any future out building! So I told her “Hell yes!” and we’re going to sort that out this week!

 

Side note: Another woman asked me if I’d come take a car from her. It peaked my curiosity so I asked a bunch of questions about the car. Turns out her ex had it, did some work on it, then he left her and left the car and she doesn’t need it and she’s just pissed it is taking up space in her garage. It doesn’t run so she can’t take it anywhere to sell it. I have 3 good local friends who are great mechanics. So after talking to my friends they said they’d take their trailer and go pick it up for me if I ended up getting it and they’d help get it running order while also teaching ME how to do said work (which I’d love!) so I’m working with her to research the VIN and make those arrangements on the car. If I do end up getting a free car out of this flyer….believe you me…I’ll be ecstatic and will definitely do a while post devoted to that!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Many uses for Peppermint Oil

 

 

 

 

 

Now I’m not talking about actual peppermint candy, although it is delicious and there are NUMEROUS recipes (especially sweet treats and especially THIS time of year..you can find MY personal favorite peppermint treat recipes here) that have glorious peppermint candies in them…this post is about the fabulous uses for Peppermint Oil!

 

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First and foremost, the facts!

Peppermint is actually a HYBRID MINT PLANT that is a mix between a water mint and spearmint plants!

 

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Peppermint can basically grow anywhere but they do prefer moist, shaded locations and they expand underground. Because they can grow so rapidly, for a home gardener it is often recommended to grow them in pots to try to control just how much they grow or spread out.

 

Interestingly, Wikipedia says:

“Pliny the elder, 79 AD, an ancient Roman author, natural philosopher and naval and military commander wrote Naturalis Historia. It tells us that the Greeks and Romans crowned themselves with peppermint at their feasts and adorned their tables with its sprays, and that their cooks flavoured both their sauces and their wines with its essence.”

Find the full content here!

Most people won’t grow peppermint plants and go through the process of making peppermint oil THEMSELVES and so for the sake of that I won’t include that information here. But, I do hope to do that in the future myself just to see how it goes and when I do I’ll definitely share the details!

 

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So most people who are accustomed to using any essential oil knows that they can just go out and buy in a wide variety of places. You can get them online, health food stores and also a lot of direct selling companies do oils now as well. So get it where ever you get it...as long as you feel it is a good product then you’re good to go!

 

 

 

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Uses I’ve found to be amazing AND work:

-peppermint sugar scrub for the skin (peppermint acts as an antibacterial)

-peppermint oil and water in a spray bottle sprayed on anything itchy (bug bite, bee sting, etc) not only has a cooling affect but also somehow takes the itch right out. (Since this is sprayed directly onto the skin I heavily dilute it and only use about 5-7 drops of peppermint oil to the whole container of water)

-stomach aches! If you or a child have a stomach they can not only suck on an actual peppermint candy but  you can also get peppermint oil on your finger and rub it onto the stomach. It tends to work just as fast as something like pepto bismal.

-homemade peppermint bath salt, my own recipe found here.

-use peppermint oil and other oils in a homemade mosquito repellent! Here is the recipe I’ve tried.

 

 

Uses I’ve researched but not personally tried yet:

-externally it can be used for muscle pain and nerve pain.

-in folklore peppermint oil has long been used for nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, indigestion, irritable bowel, and bloating.

-in aromatherapy the smell of peppermint oil tends to provide alertness and so it can be good to use in your homemade bath products (as long as you follow the proper ratio for essential oil and carrier oil in the recipe so that the peppermint doesn’t cause any skin irritation, do your research)

-make a homemade peppermint lip scrub and find the directions here.

-make a homemade flea shampoo for dogs, directions here.

-try a homemade diy peppermint toothpaste recipe here.

-use honey and peppermint oil to make a homemade facial toner, found here.

-make a heatwave peppermint spray to cool you down! You can find info on that here.

 

If you are eager to research peppermint oil more I urge you to do so. It is but one tiny plant but as you can see, so many uses! And if you’re living the homestead life, I can see why Peppermint Plant is one that we all need on our homesteads, if only for upset stomachs and bug repellent!!!! =D

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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