Updated March 10, 2013: Ok, this is going to be fun and something I should have done a long time ago. This is where I will post my recipes and tips for my home beauty and health regimens!
Natural Health and Beauty:
Updated March 23rd, 2013: More fun for bath time!
Homemade Bath Fizzies: These are also called Bath Bombs but I just don't like the word bomb and fizzies is a much nicer sounding word to me. The Cake Pops in the background are another story how to make them follow the bath fizzy instructions.
You can see the finished bath fizzies in my hand. These ones I made with large sized plastic Easter Eggs using the top half for one and the bottom half for the other. I didn't have luck with this type for making a solid egg but I got another type of plastic egg mould that is cut along the length and should work out much better. I'll post pictures of those when I make them.
2 parts Baking Soda
1 part Citric Acid
1 part Espsom Salt
A few sprays periodically of Witch Hazel
Optional: colorant and fragrance
To get started, you will need Sodium Bicarbonate (regular old baking soda, helps with the fizzing and also softens the water), Citric Acid (not anything scary. It is used in Fruit Fresh to keep fruit from browing, and can be found online and at most Wine and brewing shops. It is what combines with the baking soda to make your creation fizz!), Epsom Salts (good all around for soothing aches and pains, reducing swelling, drawing out impurities, softening the skin), and finally Witch Hazel (this will be the binder for your powders but won't actually activate it and make them fizz. It is also a great astringent for the skin).
You can use water but watch the video below as she explains what can happen. You will also need a mould of some sort be it plastic easter eggs, a round or square muffin baking pan, anything of the size and shape you like! Finally any colorant or fragrance of your choice. You won't need much of either so they will last a long time for many batches. I used Wilton gel food coloring and real Essential Oils. Just a few drops of each colors and scents each batch!
You start with your powder ingredients, mix them well and really powderize by rubbing with your hands. Also, use a wire whisk to mix thoroughly. Next, add a few drops of your colorant, and mix again by rubbing all of it through your hands. Then next do the fragrance and rub rub rub.
Now, you can add the Witch Hazel. You can use a spray bottle, or just add a few drops to your hands, rub them together, then rub this through the mix. Keep adding it this way slowly until it becomes grainy like corn meal. Then grab a handful and squeeze it together into a clump and drop back into the bowl. You want it to be moist enough to stick together but still powdery if that makes sense.
Next, pack into your moulds tightly. You want to take it out of the mold and place on a soft surface like a folded towel covered with wax paper or parchment to let dry and cure for 24 hours before you store them. However, you can use them right away!
Here is a great video that shows how to make it and the best recipe in my opinion since it has the minimalist ingredients with no additional fillers such as corn starch.
DIY Bath Fizzies Video:
How to make Cake Pops:
Making cake pops is actually much easier than I thought it would be. I got the sticks and the "Candy Melts" from my local Michael's store. Candy Melts are just big white-chocolate chips of varying colors and flavors that liquify when you heat them up and solidify when cooled. Kind of like the chocholate used for dipping strawberries in (Dolce Frutta).
To make cake pops: simply bake a pan of your favorite cake. I used just a package mix for this batch. After your cake has cooled, cut it up into 1 inch pieces and place in a big bowl. Then mix with a bit of icing. I made homemade icing that I will list below. After you mix with about 1/4 C to 1/2 C of the icing, you then form the mixture into balls. It will no longer be cakey and will be more like a moist dough. Place the balls of cake dough onto a piece of wax paper in a container and place in the fridge or somewhere cold to get firmer. You can store them like this for a couple of days in advance if you have a Cake Pop making party!
Next, once they are ready, you can just melt your candy melts in different custard dishes in the microwave per the instructions on the bag. You can also add a bit of oil to each bowl and mix well to make it more runny and silky smooth for dipping which I did with olive oil.
Dip each of your sticks in a bit of icing first, then spear into the cake balls. This will seal them onto the stick well. I used a floral foam wreath wrapped in decorative tissue paper as a holder. After we dipped the cake pops, we just inserted them into the floral foam as a holder to let them set up. Then, we dipped into the next color or coat and so on.
These are super sweet so trust me that even though they are only golf-ball in size you won't be eating as many as you'd think you could! After they are set, you can wrap in decorative cellophane and give as gifts. As long as the candy melt coating completely covers all the dough and seals it in they should be edible for up to 3 days at room temperature.
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 stick of butter (room temp)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Cream butter, then add sugar and cream together. Add vanilla and continue to cream. Can add more sugar or even a tsp at a time of milk to get to the consistency you desire.
Note: "Spa Day" is a state of mind. You can have one anytime you've got some free time to take care of yourself and in your own home. Have plenty of towels, pillows, a nice sheet and blanket you spread out on the floor or any linens you won't mind getting a bit of body oil or facial ingredients on. You will need a nice warm spot that you can spread out to stretch, have room to move around for massaging and even yoga if you'd like. Also be sure to have dim lights and favorite relaxing music (both are good for relaxing the brain and inducing the right brain waves), aromatherapy of your choice (candles, incense, essential oils), and plenty of water handy. Be well fed but not overly stuffed. You might want to start out with a hot bath to get clean and prep the skin for relaxation and exfoliation. Another when you are all done will finish the experience off nicely. Enjoy!
A good friend and I recently visited a local all women's spa that was fabulous. We partook of some of the services there such as massage and full body exfoliation. They have all sorts of neat rooms with various temperatures of Jacuzzi/hot tubs, steam and dry saunas, various hot rooms with special F.I.R. lighting, etc. Even with my $50 gift certificate after it was all said and done I spent close to $200. Well worth it but not something I can afford more than once or twice a year, and that is if I am really really good.
I actually have done a lot of relaxation type things myself over the years, and am feeling I am at a point now with my kids being a bit older and cooperative that I can actually take the time to pamper myself again so I have been really focusing on ways to eat healthier, supplements (natural whole foods and herbals), and also head-to-toe skin care.
I already make a lot of my own soaps, lip balms, and even shampoo. More recently I have been making my own lotions and body balms. I even have started experimenting with tinting my lipbalms! In most of everything I use real essential oils of one type or another. Keep reading for natural beauty recipes and pampering techniques.
Before I go any further, I thought I'd share a link to a site that has a great article all about Cleopatra. She has got to be the historical figure that the rest of us aspire to when it comes to natural beauty and pampering. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I did!
So, if I have kept you thus far, here goes:
Newly Awakened's All Natural Best Body Balm/Butter:
I am not actually sure what the qualifiers are to be called a butter or a balm, but this oil treatment is solid at room temp and melts in your hands as you spread it over your body. Every ingredient has a purpose. They are all excellent for the skin and used in many skin care products. Why not just make your own? There are no chemicals or preservatives (depending on your aloe vera gel source), so make sure your storage vessel is clean and so are your hands when you reach into it.
Ingredients/Recipe: 1 1/2 C Coconut Oil (I use OG cold-pressed. Any type will do for external use however). Great for skin moisturizer and stretch marks! 2 TBSP Jojoba oil (Technically a wax, it is the closest plant oil molecularly to that of human sebaceous oils. Great for skin and hair. Shown to be as effective as many chemical psoriasis treatments!) 4 TBSP Aloe Vera Gel. (I use a brand that is 99% aloe vera and the rest of the ingredients are natural essential oils and minimal preservatives. You can also use real aloe from a plant if you have it but it can be time consuming to extract it from the leaves and you don't want to get any of the yellow-green juices from the plant into your gel. It is ok if it turns brown over time- it is just oxidizing which is what natural aloe gel will do). Aloe vera is know to be healing of many skin conditions, including psoriasis! It also hydrates the skin. 20 Biotin capsules (I used 1000mcg capsules) cut open and squeeze out the oil into your mixture 2 tsp of Vitamin E oil. I use 30,000iu per tsp concentration ***(Most of these amounts are approximations. You can use as little or as much of each ingredient as you'd like). You can melt your coconut oil which will make it easier to mix everything more thoroughly. Place into a jar with a tight lid. That way you can shake it as it re-solidifies in case any of your ingredients want to settle. It will be softer once it hardens than plain coconut oil thanks to the addition of the other ingredients. This body balm can be used everywhere: •Makes a great massage oil. Just drop a few drops of your favorite essential oil into the palm of your hand and mix together. *It makes a great makeup remover. Just smear it on, rub it over your eyes even and wipe off. *Can be used in combination with salt or sugar for body and face scrubs. Just mix your exfoliant of choice with the oil and spread over your skin and gently rub around and scrub away the dead skin cells and moisturize at the same time! Great Lip-scrub (All natural): Do you have dry lips? When you put on lip balm and rub your lips together does it feel all grainy and dry? Then this is the best, fastest, and easiest way to exfoliate your lips! Very gentle as well. Ingredients/Recipe: 1 tsp of brown sugar and enough honey to make a paste. It will be thick. You can always add a drop of water to it once it is on your lips if you need it thinner. •Get your lips wet and let the water set on them for a bit to soften the skin before you exfoliate. •With your index finger, rub firm but gentle in small circles all over your lips, then back and forth, and on about 1 cm outward on the skin surrounding your lips if needed as well. Keep rubbing until it feels less rough. Once your sugar has melted you should be good by that point. Rinse well. •You can repeat up to 3 times if needed. Now, when you place on your lip balm your lips will feel smoother than they have felt in an age guaranteed! All natural facial mask: I swear your skin won't turn yellow with this one! Ingredients/Recipe: 1/2 tsp Turmeric 2 tsp Milk (Use whole milk. Raw goat milk or cow is best if you have it! Any will do in a pinch so don't worry on it if you don't have raw) •Mix the two together, and gently spread all over your face. Keep repeating and building it up on your face. This doesn't sound like much but you will have plenty for all over your face, and also your neck and torso if you choose. The turmeric powder is slightly exfoliating and rub it in gently over your face and neck. Just pat it on lightly over your eye area to avoid stretching the skin. •Leave it on for up to 20 minutes. Pat it off of your face by using a wash cloth with hot water and lay it over your face to steam it off. Repeat several times. Then pat your face dry. Do not scrub your face after as you want to leave the milk and turmeric residue on for it's benefits! This from www.homeremediesblogger.blogspot.com: Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agents making it great for skin care. In fact, it is used in the beautification process of brides in India and Pakistan: a turmeric paste is made and applied on the entire bride’s body and then washed off. It is believed to help even out skin tone and help soften the skin. Recently, Japan has conducted research that suggests that turmeric helps sooth inflamed joints as well. It is known to also be useful in treating cuts and burns since it is a natural anti-bacterial. Here is a great link about why milk is good for your skin: Chamomile Tea Bags: Want to rest your tired puffy eyes? Don't like the idea of placing cucumber slices on your face or just plain don't have any around? Drink a big cup of Chamomile tea and keep the bags. Cool them off first of course and just lay down and relax with them over your eyes, or in the tub while steaming off your facial mask. Don't believe me? Read this: Self Massage: Now there are a many books and courses out there on how to give massages to yourself or others. You can even go to an accredited school and get your license in it if you want. For the rest of us, we just do it. I have had close to if not more than 100 massages in my life due to 3 separate car accidents. I only mention this because basically I have picked up a few pointers and techniques due to this exposure. I don't like to take drugs for pain since they only cover it up and don't actually treat it (except for anti-inflammatories but those must be taken in the first couple of days of any muscle injury to be most effective). Since I tend to be of the constitution of being able to deal with pain, (but I don't actually like it), I have learned to deal with chronic back pain and have found both Chiropractic and Massage to be beneficial. I won't go into Chiropractic too much except to say that is does definitely work for some types of injuries. I had horrible numbness and tingling to both my arms immediately following my first car accident that lasted until my very first Chiropractic adjustment to my neck which was effective. As soon as I left the office and sat in my car in the parking lot it was gone! However, during my first pregnancy my breasts enlarged and the weight put so much pressure on my neck and shoulders that the numbness returned. No amount of adjustments took care of it and my Chiropractor told me it wouldn't go away until after the baby was born and he was right. It only works if you actually have a vertebrae out of alignment to the point it is pinching on a nerve and they are able to move it back into the proper position. I have had so many adjustments over the years I have learned my own techniques for adjusting my neck, upper back, and lower back. I would not recommend anyone doing it themselves as you can really mess yourself up if you do anything wrong. I just wanted to point out that it can be done. You never know, you may even be able to find a Chiropractor out there who can show you how to do self adjustment techniques. Many medical doctors are coming on board with chiropractic, but the main area of concern I have heard with the ones I work with is adjustments of the neck (Cervical spine area). There are special holes along the vertebrae that the veins and arteries travel along. It is rare, yet common enough for people to injure those vessels in the neck and cause strokes. Note that there are many reasons those vessels can bleed: whip lash, turning head to the side rapidly (think parade formations), having someone twist your head, etc. Also, rubbing along the carotid artery area of your neck is a no-no. This can cause your heart to slow down dangerously (Vagal response), and if you are unlucky enough to have hardened brittle arteries there or plaque in them it can cause pieces of them to break lose and get pumped up to your brain which equals a stroke. These are the main reasons for concern. Anyway, as to the massage: It has many benefits. The most obvious is relaxation of tensed up muscle fibers. The next is expelling of toxins and waste products and increase in circulation. As you rub and smooth along the skin while pressing down, you are pushing out old blood and substances from the capillaries (the microscopic arteries) that are in the outer most layer of the skin. As you push this out, newer fresher blood fills in. This can expedite turn over of older cells into new ones and help "clean out" the dermis and subcutaneous layers. Another benefit is sensory. Overly tactile senses for those with heightened sense of anxiety can be modified over time and reduced and desensitized by stimulating the nerves. It also calms and relaxes the nervous system and thus the circulatory system (blood pressure and heart rate). The basic tenets of massage: Only apply as much pressure as you are comfortable with. There is a broad range between people. If you are massaging yourself you should be able to figure out the right pressure. Keep comfortably warm. Warmth equals comfort and relaxation. Also, keep your body in proper alignment as much as possible and in anotomical position. When not able to do that (which can be difficult if not impossible when massaging yourself), at least keep it ergonomic so you are not hurting yourself. Use plenty of pillows and padding to keep yourself comfy. The muscles have many many layers. On any area you begin rubbing, you will want to start with light pressure to stimulate the skin, then slowly and gradually go deeper as you work through each layer of muscle. Over time you will actually begin to feel the muscles in the inner layers believe it or not! Start low and outward from the core and work your way up and inward. This will aid the body's natural circulation by pushing venous blood supply (the old blood) back to the heart. If you start with your feet you may want to wash your hands before moving on the rest of the body. Start out doing circular upward movement. You can also do long strokes back and forth, but do light pressure as you move down (outward away from the heart) and use firmer pressure on the way up (inwards to the core back to the heart). Again, to move fluids in the body back into the natural circulation pattern of the body to get rid of those waste products and toxins! You can actually massage your belly and lightly around the organs in your abdomen. You should have a very good grasp of anatomy first however, and you wouldn't want to do anything pressure-wise to cut off your circulation or rub over any large vessels either. Doing so might cause damage to the vessels, break off any plaque deposits, or stimulate a Vagal nerve response so bone up on your anatomy and organ massage knowledge before you tackle that one. Drink lots of water before and after a massage in order to assist with moving all the old stuff out of your body. Depending on your constitution and how deep you go, you may need to take an anti-inflammatory afterwards. Don't go deep too often as some think it can actually lead to damaged muscle fibers and scar tissue. Cellulite: Cellulite is fluid trapped in the skin, not fat. It is thought to be the body's lymphatic system's way of dealing with toxins. However, it is more noticeable (usually) on heavy set people, more so on women than men, and more so on the back and side of the thighs and buttocks. Can happen more on people who do a lot of sitting as that cuts off venous blood return and lymphatic system fluid drainage. You can temporarily release this fluid with massage and minimize the appearance of cellulite with massage! It is thought over time you can permanently minimize cellulite with proper hydration of the body and circulation to remove the toxins from the out layer of the trouble zone areas. Start low and work your way up. Get a good amount of your favorite body balm or lotion and rub in firm, vigorous circles in an upward fashion. That's it! Updated January 30th, 2013: I have a few recipes to share. I am very hesitant to share recipes as many are a dime a dozen. However these are a few unique and frequently used ones for us that I absolutely love and figured, "Why not?" Hope you like them!
•It can be used a an oil treatment for your hair. The jojoba oil and aloe gel in it will help to treat any scalp psoriasis, as well as any on the body and also moisturize and soften the dry plaques as well. You can add essential oils of lavender, rosemary, sage, or of your choice which are good for the hair and skin.
•Use it as a facial cream once you get out of the bath at night.
•You can also apply it in the morning. Just rinse your face with water first, pat dry with a towel, and apply all over your face and neck. This will seal in the moisture. Then, let it set in. You can then rinse again with water, pat dry with a towel, and now you have a nice even layer that will keep your skin moisturized and act as a facial primer before you add your makeup. Be sure to set your foundation or skin well with plenty of powder and you are good to go!
•Apply it all over your body and rub in well to any areas of skin that have cellulite, stretch marks, or lose skin. All of the ingredients in it are the best for moisturizing and toning skin.
1 1/2 C Coconut Oil (I use OG cold-pressed. Any type will do for external use however). Great for skin moisturizer and stretch marks!
2 TBSP Jojoba oil (Technically a wax, it is the closest plant oil molecularly to that of human sebaceous oils. Great for skin and hair. Shown to be as effective as many chemical psoriasis treatments!)
4 TBSP Aloe Vera Gel. (I use a brand that is 99% aloe vera and the rest of the ingredients are natural essential oils and minimal preservatives. You can also use real aloe from a plant if you have it but it can be time consuming to extract it from the leaves and you don't want to get any of the yellow-green juices from the plant into your gel. It is ok if it turns brown over time- it is just oxidizing which is what natural aloe gel will do). Aloe vera is know to be healing of many skin conditions, including psoriasis! It also hydrates the skin.
20 Biotin capsules (I used 1000mcg capsules) cut open and squeeze out the oil into your mixture
2 tsp of Vitamin E oil. I use 30,000iu per tsp concentration
***(Most of these amounts are approximations. You can use as little or as much of each ingredient as you'd like).
You can melt your coconut oil which will make it easier to mix everything more thoroughly. Place into a jar with a tight lid. That way you can shake it as it re-solidifies in case any of your ingredients want to settle. It will be softer once it hardens than plain coconut oil thanks to the addition of the other ingredients.
This body balm can be used everywhere:
•Makes a great massage oil. Just drop a few drops of your favorite essential oil into the palm of your hand and mix together.
*It makes a great makeup remover. Just smear it on, rub it over your eyes even and wipe off.
*Can be used in combination with salt or sugar for body and face scrubs. Just mix your exfoliant of choice with the oil and spread over your skin and gently rub around and scrub away the dead skin cells and moisturize at the same time!
Great Lip-scrub (All natural):
Do you have dry lips? When you put on lip balm and rub your lips together does it feel all grainy and dry? Then this is the best, fastest, and easiest way to exfoliate your lips! Very gentle as well.
1 tsp of brown sugar and enough honey to make a paste. It will be thick. You can always add a drop of water to it once it is on your lips if you need it thinner.
•Get your lips wet and let the water set on them for a bit to soften the skin before you exfoliate.
•With your index finger, rub firm but gentle in small circles all over your lips, then back and forth, and on about 1 cm outward on the skin surrounding your lips if needed as well. Keep rubbing until it feels less rough. Once your sugar has melted you should be good by that point. Rinse well.
•You can repeat up to 3 times if needed. Now, when you place on your lip balm your lips will feel smoother than they have felt in an age guaranteed!
All natural facial mask:
I swear your skin won't turn yellow with this one!
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Milk (Use whole milk. Raw goat milk or cow is best if you have it! Any will do in a pinch so don't worry on it if you don't have raw)
•Mix the two together, and gently spread all over your face. Keep repeating and building it up on your face. This doesn't sound like much but you will have plenty for all over your face, and also your neck and torso if you choose. The turmeric powder is slightly exfoliating and rub it in gently over your face and neck. Just pat it on lightly over your eye area to avoid stretching the skin.
•Leave it on for up to 20 minutes. Pat it off of your face by using a wash cloth with hot water and lay it over your face to steam it off. Repeat several times. Then pat your face dry. Do not scrub your face after as you want to leave the milk and turmeric residue on for it's benefits!
This from www.homeremediesblogger.blogspot.com:
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agents making it great for skin care. In fact, it is used in the beautification process of brides in India and Pakistan: a turmeric paste is made and applied on the entire bride’s body and then washed off. It is believed to help even out skin tone and help soften the skin. Recently, Japan has conducted research that suggests that turmeric helps sooth inflamed joints as well. It is known to also be useful in treating cuts and burns since it is a natural anti-bacterial.
Here is a great link about why milk is good for your skin:
Chamomile Tea Bags:
Want to rest your tired puffy eyes? Don't like the idea of placing cucumber slices on your face or just plain don't have any around? Drink a big cup of Chamomile tea and keep the bags. Cool them off first of course and just lay down and relax with them over your eyes, or in the tub while steaming off your facial mask. Don't believe me? Read this:
Now there are a many books and courses out there on how to give massages to yourself or others. You can even go to an accredited school and get your license in it if you want. For the rest of us, we just do it.
I have had close to if not more than 100 massages in my life due to 3 separate car accidents. I only mention this because basically I have picked up a few pointers and techniques due to this exposure. I don't like to take drugs for pain since they only cover it up and don't actually treat it (except for anti-inflammatories but those must be taken in the first couple of days of any muscle injury to be most effective).
Since I tend to be of the constitution of being able to deal with pain, (but I don't actually like it), I have learned to deal with chronic back pain and have found both Chiropractic and Massage to be beneficial.
I won't go into Chiropractic too much except to say that is does definitely work for some types of injuries. I had horrible numbness and tingling to both my arms immediately following my first car accident that lasted until my very first Chiropractic adjustment to my neck which was effective. As soon as I left the office and sat in my car in the parking lot it was gone!
However, during my first pregnancy my breasts enlarged and the weight put so much pressure on my neck and shoulders that the numbness returned. No amount of adjustments took care of it and my Chiropractor told me it wouldn't go away until after the baby was born and he was right. It only works if you actually have a vertebrae out of alignment to the point it is pinching on a nerve and they are able to move it back into the proper position.
I have had so many adjustments over the years I have learned my own techniques for adjusting my neck, upper back, and lower back. I would not recommend anyone doing it themselves as you can really mess yourself up if you do anything wrong. I just wanted to point out that it can be done. You never know, you may even be able to find a Chiropractor out there who can show you how to do self adjustment techniques.
Many medical doctors are coming on board with chiropractic, but the main area of concern I have heard with the ones I work with is adjustments of the neck (Cervical spine area). There are special holes along the vertebrae that the veins and arteries travel along. It is rare, yet common enough for people to injure those vessels in the neck and cause strokes.
Note that there are many reasons those vessels can bleed: whip lash, turning head to the side rapidly (think parade formations), having someone twist your head, etc. Also, rubbing along the carotid artery area of your neck is a no-no. This can cause your heart to slow down dangerously (Vagal response), and if you are unlucky enough to have hardened brittle arteries there or plaque in them it can cause pieces of them to break lose and get pumped up to your brain which equals a stroke. These are the main reasons for concern.
Anyway, as to the massage: It has many benefits. The most obvious is relaxation of tensed up muscle fibers. The next is expelling of toxins and waste products and increase in circulation.
As you rub and smooth along the skin while pressing down, you are pushing out old blood and substances from the capillaries (the microscopic arteries) that are in the outer most layer of the skin. As you push this out, newer fresher blood fills in. This can expedite turn over of older cells into new ones and help "clean out" the dermis and subcutaneous layers.
Another benefit is sensory. Overly tactile senses for those with heightened sense of anxiety can be modified over time and reduced and desensitized by stimulating the nerves. It also calms and relaxes the nervous system and thus the circulatory system (blood pressure and heart rate).
The basic tenets of massage:
Only apply as much pressure as you are comfortable with. There is a broad range between people. If you are massaging yourself you should be able to figure out the right pressure.
Keep comfortably warm. Warmth equals comfort and relaxation. Also, keep your body in proper alignment as much as possible and in anotomical position. When not able to do that (which can be difficult if not impossible when massaging yourself), at least keep it ergonomic so you are not hurting yourself. Use plenty of pillows and padding to keep yourself comfy.
The muscles have many many layers. On any area you begin rubbing, you will want to start with light pressure to stimulate the skin, then slowly and gradually go deeper as you work through each layer of muscle. Over time you will actually begin to feel the muscles in the inner layers believe it or not!
Start low and outward from the core and work your way up and inward. This will aid the body's natural circulation by pushing venous blood supply (the old blood) back to the heart. If you start with your feet you may want to wash your hands before moving on the rest of the body.
Start out doing circular upward movement. You can also do long strokes back and forth, but do light pressure as you move down (outward away from the heart) and use firmer pressure on the way up (inwards to the core back to the heart). Again, to move fluids in the body back into the natural circulation pattern of the body to get rid of those waste products and toxins!
You can actually massage your belly and lightly around the organs in your abdomen. You should have a very good grasp of anatomy first however, and you wouldn't want to do anything pressure-wise to cut off your circulation or rub over any large vessels either. Doing so might cause damage to the vessels, break off any plaque deposits, or stimulate a Vagal nerve response so bone up on your anatomy and organ massage knowledge before you tackle that one.
Drink lots of water before and after a massage in order to assist with moving all the old stuff out of your body. Depending on your constitution and how deep you go, you may need to take an anti-inflammatory afterwards. Don't go deep too often as some think it can actually lead to damaged muscle fibers and scar tissue.
Cellulite is fluid trapped in the skin, not fat. It is thought to be the body's lymphatic system's way of dealing with toxins. However, it is more noticeable (usually) on heavy set people, more so on women than men, and more so on the back and side of the thighs and buttocks. Can happen more on people who do a lot of sitting as that cuts off venous blood return and lymphatic system fluid drainage. You can temporarily release this fluid with massage and minimize the appearance of cellulite with massage! It is thought over time you can permanently minimize cellulite with proper hydration of the body and circulation to remove the toxins from the out layer of the trouble zone areas.
Start low and work your way up. Get a good amount of your favorite body balm or lotion and rub in firm, vigorous circles in an upward fashion. That's it!
Updated January 30th, 2013: I have a few recipes to share. I am very hesitant to share recipes as many are a dime a dozen. However these are a few unique and frequently used ones for us that I absolutely love and figured, "Why not?" Hope you like them!
Pineapple Upside-down Cake:
I am a Pineapple Upside Down Cake aficionado. I have tried many store bought and homemade versions and this one is the best! Thanks to the Food Network with Paula Deen for this recipe. I made a few minor tweaks.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Caramel sauce and toppings:
1 stick melted butter (½ C)
1 ½ C packed brown sugar
1 whole ripe fresh pineapple that has been sliced into ½ inch thick slices with the cores cut out for rings, or can dice into pieces as well. (Can use 2 cans of canned pineapple rings but be sure to drain well).
Small jar of brandied cherries, or can use maraschino cherries or fresh pitted cherries.
3 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt (optional if using unsalted butter)
2 sticks butter (1 C or ½ pound)
2 ¼ C sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 ¼ C whole milk, or whole buttermilk (can make whole milk into buttermilk by adding 1 tsp of distilled white vinegar to milk if you don’t have real buttermilk on hand)
Spray two 9 inch cake pans with non-stick spray or grease, and sprinkle and shake with a light coating of flour to prevent sticking (knock out excess flour when done).
Add equal portions of the packed brown sugar and melted butter to each pan from ingredients listed below.
Place pineapple rings or pieces and cherries on top of the sugar-butter mix.
In one bowl, mix flour and baking powder and set aside.
Whip the 2 sticks of butter together until light and fluffy, slowly mix in sugar and cream together well. Then add 1 egg at a time and thoroughly incorporate together.
Mix in vanilla extract.
Alternate mixing splashes of the whole buttermilk with the flour mixture. Mix until well combined.
Pour batter over the top of the pineapple in equal amounts to each pan.
Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
Cool on racks for 10 minutes before turning out of the pans.
Be sure to place a plate on the back of each cake pan- then flip over and invert cake out onto the plate to prevent spilling the caramel sauce or breaking the cake.
Can be stacked into a double layer if wanted, otherwise you get 2 separate cakes.
Homemade Pizza Dough:
Yes, pizza dough that is fast, easy, and costs only pennies to make an awesome pizza at home.
Recipe is enough to make 2 large pizzas. I have successfully halved the recipe as well when I only want to make one.
4-6 C Flour
2 C warm water
2 TBSP sugar
2-3 TBSP yeast (depending on freshness and how airy you want your crust to be).
1-2 tsp salt
Place yeast, sugar, salt together in bowl with the warm water and mix. Let sit for the yeast to start foaming up.
Start with 4 1/2 C flour in a big mixing bowl. Dump in the water. Depending on humidity that may be enough flour, or continue to add by 1/4 C additional flour as needed until it reaches the desired consistency where you can knead it and it is doughy and your fingers are not sticking to the dough any longer. Knead dough a few times with some flour on your counter to keep it from sticking.
Once you have reached the desired dough consistency, place back into the bowl and let set for 10-20 minutes to rise a bit covered with a towel and on your stove. While this is happening you can get your pizza toppings and sauce of your choice ready. (Preheat your oven to 400 degrees at the start of making dough so it will be ready for your pizza and the heat from the stove will help it to rise).
For a quick and easy sauce, use your favorite brand of spaghetti sauce. Or you can just take a can of plain tomato sauce and jazz it up with a bit of salt, powdered garlic, and oregano.
Once ready, cut the dough in half and shape into rounds. Place some flour on the counter and also dust your rolling pin with a bit of flour and roll out your dough into circles or rectangles depending on the shapes and size of your pizza stones or pans. I very lightly also flour the stones to keep the dough from sticking while baking. Cover your crust with sauce, cheese, desired toppings. Bake in oven with the racks up high in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Enjoy!
How to make your own Red Enchilada Sauce at home!
This makes a very spicy, authentic tasting enchilada sauce that you can make from scratch. Again, something you can make for pennies vs. storebought. I got the original recipe from The Deaf Smith Country Cookbook which is a natural foods cookbook and tweaked and altered the recipe a bit with my own on-hand ingredients and it turned out great.
1/3 C olive oil (or whatever cooking oil you prefer)
2 minced cloves of garlic
3 TBSP flour
2 TBSP red chili powder of your choice
4 TBSP hot water
1 C tomato sauce
2 tsp salt
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
(Double recipe if using a large 9x13 baking dish)
Mix the chili powder and hot water together to let dissolve and set aside. Meanwhile, heat oil in a sauce pan, add garlic and cook. Add flour and whisk continuously until the flour has cooked and turns light brown in color. Add in the chili, and continue to stir while also adding in the tomato sauce. Keep mixing and you can also thin with additional water to reach desired consistency. Add the salt and vinegar.
This is great poured over either flour or corn tortillas stuffed with your favorite cooked meats (chicken, rabbit, ground beef), black olives, and cheese, rolled up and baked. Be sure to put a big spoonful of sauce (1/4-1/2 C or so) in each tortilla before you roll them up. Place all together in a big baking dish and pour remainder of sauce over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes until heated up. Serve hot with sour cream. Enjoy!
How to make your own homemade Sour Dough Starter:
To make sourdough you need to always keep the ratio of flour and water the same. So if you take 2 cups to use for a recipe, add back 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Also, you must keep all the equipment used and storage vessel as clean as possible. Some people boil everything and let it cool before getting started, or just pour boiling water over all your spoons, cups, crocks, etc.
Another "rule" that most people agree on is to avoid using metal spoons, whisks, or bowls. Everything should be wood, plastic, or sealed pottery/crocks. This is because the metal can react with the yeast colony and change the pH and might kill off your culture in the sourdough.
If you use your sourdough every few days consistantly, you can actually keep it on the counter. Just stir it daily and keep it covered. Always add back a 1:1 ratio of flour and water to keep it going. You must also always leave some of the original sourdough to ferment faster anything you add to it. If you do not use it often, it can be kept safely in the fridge in a small covered crock. You will need to "feed" it every few months as the yeast will run out of food eventually and will need more flour (starch) to stay alive or even a pinch of sugar every so often. It will eventually get a layer of a watery alcohol substance on the surface that is called "hooch." Simply pour this off before you use your sourdough.
In a clean glass or ceramin bowl place 1:1 ratio of flour of your choice and water. Can also use milk, or a pinch of sugar. You can additionally add 1-2 TBSP of canned pineapple juice. The enzymes from this are supposed to help deter bad bacteria from growing in your starter. However you decide, once you have your mixture, cover it securely with a clean kitchen towel, T-shirt, or piece of cheese cloth. This will keeps bugs and dust out but allow the mixture to breath and aquire natural yeast spores from the air. Check on it daily and mix with a clean wooden spoon. In 2-5 days it should start to have bubbles on the surface and might even smell a bit "sour." This is great! Your sourdough is now alive.
Place it in a small crock with a bit of headspace and a cover that just sets on the rim and does not tightly seal it off. Your sourdough will produced gas and will need to breath. You can find all sorts of nice crocks and covered kitchen cannisters for cheap at your local thrift store. Place in the fridge when not in use and check on from time to time. Can be left out on the counter covered indefinately if you use it every 1-2 days and always add back a 1:1 of more flour and water to keep it fed and going.
Best Sourdough Pancakes:
Here is a great recipe to use your sourdough for. Remember to always leave a bit of your original mother in your crock and add back a 1:1 ratio of flour/water for it to ferment for your next batch of pancakes!
1 C Sourdough
1 C Flour
2-3 TBSP sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
Milk- enough to make the mixture the consistency you want for pouring
Mix the first 3 ingredients together. Then start adding milk and mix well. Once you reach your desired consistency, add in the dry ingredients and mix well. Cook on a preheated and oiled griddle to prevent sticking
This recipe uses up all that rhubarb you've got growing in the garden and aren't sure what to do with. Plus it uses a lot of eggs so if you have chickens this is a great way to use up those fresh eggs. This is honestly one of the tastiest dessert bars out there and travels well for pot-lucks and is sure to be a unique dish that will delight everyone! Tastes even better when left out overnight and eaten the next day. Store in the fridge beyond that.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
For the crust-
2 C Bisquick or flour
1 1/2 sticks of cold butter
1/3 C powdered sugar
*Mix the flour and sugar with a wire whisk. Then cut in the butter until it is the size of peas. Press into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Cold butter will give you a flakier crust.
4 beaten eggs
3 C sugar
1/2 C flour
4-5 C of fresh Spring Rhubarb sliced in 1/4 inch sized pieces
*Beat the eggs, then add the sugar and flour and mix well to disolve the sugar. Add in the diced Rhubarb. Pour over the pre-baked crust and bake for another 50 minutes or so until the filling has set. Serve warm with ice cream.
Homemade Lip Balm Recipe:
December 30th, 2012: I just realized recently while teaching a friend how to make lipbalm that I never posted my tutorial on my very own website on how to do it! I can't believe it since this is something I have been doing now for 7 years and have shared all over the internet and on my various yahoo and facebook groups I used to have. I found this sitting in an old email and thought I'd bring it over and finally get it posted on my "Articles" page. Hope you like it!
Lip balm containers:
Packaged up to store in the fridge for added shelf life:
Article below added 9/03/12:
Maritime Northwest 12 Month Gardening Calendar:
What to plant and garden chores
(South Puget Sound Zones 7b-8a)
Note: based off last average frost date of May 13th
Edible Wild Forages: Thimble berry and Trailing Blackberry harvests are June-July, and Fireweed harvest is mid-July to mid-August. Blackberries are mid-August to late September. August is a month a lot of wildflowers and herbs go to seed. Gather seeds from valuable plants. Lambsquarters are all over during the summer (an edible wild spinach). Purslane is during Aug-Sept (an edible succulent that is good accent for salads and very nutritious). Chanterelles are late Sept to mid-November for edible wild mushrooms. During winter and downtime months research more about edible wild plants for your area and learn to identify them.
January: Plant trees/shrubs: fruit trees, flowering or shade trees, conifer or deciduous, roses. Dormant spray. Prune fruit trees, most deciduous trees, shrubs. Weed yard and lawn now to minimize Spring weeds. Last chance to plant tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocus. Sharpen mower blades, change oil, filters, belts on garden equipment.
February: Asparagus, artichokes, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, kale, lettuce, mustards, peas, potatoes, raspberries, rhubarb, rocket, spinach, turnips. Prune or transplant trees as in January. LATE FEBRUARY: fertilize trees, dormant spray, start seeds indoors (Summer annuals, perennials, herbs, veggies). Once soil is dry, February is a good month for garden bed soil preparation. Be sure soil is dry. Till and add in compost. Turn under any cover crops. Fertilized lawn and apply moss killer during Feb.
March: Asparagus, artichokes, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, collards, horseradish, kale, lettuce, mustards, peas, potatoes, rhubarb, rocket, spinach, turnips, PLUS: artichokes, bell peppers, burdock, celery, celeriac, cress, leeks, parsnips, tomatillos, tomatoes. Now is good time to plant strawberries. Plant when soil is dry. Fertilize lawn, apply moss killer. Reseed lawn as last step. Do lawn “patch test” to look for pests and deal with accordingly. Good time to still plant fruit trees or set out berries. Prune roses. Weed now!!! Water any plants/trees that may not receive sufficient rainfall (under eaves, containers, planters, etc). Spring perennials should be blooming now: Aubrietia, Candytuft, Rock Cress, Bergenia (make nice rockery plants)
April: Asparagus, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, kale, lettuce, mustards, onions, potatoes, rocket, spinach, turnips, PLUS: artichokes, bell peppers, burdock, celery, celeriac, cress, leeks, onions, parsnips, rhubarb, tomatillos, tomatoes. Now is good time to plant strawberries. Plant when soil is dry. Water any plants/trees that may not receive sufficient rainfall (under eaves, containers, planters, etc). Mulch beds now to cut down on water consumption. Aerating law. Thatch if needed. Still good time to apply Spring lawn fertilizer and moss killer. Still good time to plant fruit trees and berry plants (prefer full sun for both types). Plant Summer bulbs: Dahlias, gladiolus, and lilies. Prune evergreen trees. Repot houseplants.
May: Basil, beans, keeper beets, bell pepper, winter cauliflower, chard, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, curly kales, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustards, onions, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, Summer and Winter squash, tomatoes. Harvest asparagus from 3rd year plants for first two weeks of May. Can harvest for 4-6 weeks on 4 year or older plants. Stop by end of June to allow for top growth and to develop and replenish root system. Plant tuberous Begonias now, and still can plant Dahlias, gladiolus, lilies, and cannas. Plant out Summer flowering annuals: Pansies, snapdragons, stock, dianthus, petunias, geraniums, fuchsias, impatiens, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, lobelia. Perennials to be planted: delphiniums, phlox, daylilies, carnations. (be sure all danger of last frost has past). Can still plant out Spring annuals: Aubrietia, Candytuft, Basket of Gold, Primroses, Coral Bells, Saxifraga. Still not too late to fertilize. Slug control and weed!
June: Beans, basil, bell peppers, keeper beets, winter cauliflower, chard, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, curly kales, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, mustards, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, Summer and Winter squash, tomatoes. LATE JUNE: Beets, Fall and Winter broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, Fall and Winter cabbage, Winter carrots, Fall and Spring cauliflower, collards, endive, kale, Winter onions, Winter parsnips, rutabagas, scallions, Fall spinach, Winter turnips. Prune, pinch, and shape conifers: Junipers and Cypress. Pinch back annuals like geraniums or fuchsias. Plant Spring, Summer, Fall flowering perennials like Primroses, Arabis, Aubrietia, Doronicum daisies. Start any perennials from seed direct in the garden (June, July, August, September). WEED. Fertilize plants that have finished blooming by now such as Rhoddies, Camellias, Azaleas. Aerate, apply fertilizer to lawn if not done yet. Too hot for moss killer now. Fertilize roses monthly during the Summer.
July: Beets, Fall and Winter broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, Fava beans, Fall and Winter cabbage, Winter carrots, Fall and Spring cauliflower, carrots, collards, endive, kale, kohlrabi, Winter onions, Winter parsnips, rutabagas, scallions, Fall spinach, Winter turnips. Plant Summer flowering perennials. Plant Summer annuals: Heathers, Hebe, Abelia, Potentilla, Escallonia. July is the best month to propagate cuttings from Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Junipers, Camellias, and Heather. Take cuttings from mature tip growth. Watering is especially important now that it has heated up. Water deeply and thus will have to water less frequently. Pay attention to plants/trees under eaves, in planters and containers. Hanging baskets will require daily and sometimes twice daily waterings. Can still fertilize the lawn. Spring plantings are finishing up. Late July: Start now for the Fall/ Winter garden.
August: Spring plantings are finishing up. Start now for the Fall/Winter garden. Arugula, beets, Spring cabbage, carrots, endive, green onions, Fall lettuce, Winter cauliflower and radish, over-Wintering onions, scallions, Fall spinach, Winter turnips. Deadhead and pinch flowers back to improve appearance of garden. Weed. Water deeply. Only takes 3 days for lawn to dry out and 30 days to restore the lawn to green again. Perennials and biennials: sow seed directly into the garden. Can divide Spring flowering perennials and transplant. Plant crocus bulbs. Deal with slugs and pests. This month lots of wildflowers and herbs go to seed. Gather.
September: Fava beans, garlic, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, mustards, radish, rocket. Plant bulbs: tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus. Add bone meal and bulb fertilizer if needed. Seed or sod lawn now. Thatch now. Apply Winter fertilizer. Harvest corn, apples, pears, plums. Don’t let go too far past peak or will lose out on flavor. Plant perennials now directly into garden from seed. Plant trees and shrubs. Be on the look out for slugs and slug eggs. Plant cover crops, long growing over-wintering grains. Be on the look out for wildflower and herb seeds. Blackberries coming into full harvest this month.
October: Fava beans, garlic, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, mustards, radish, rocket. Water plants in well now to make sure they make it through the Winter. Get tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths into the ground now. Apply Fall or Winter fertilizer to lawn. Thatch or aerate first if needed. Can still reseed also now if needed. Gather leaves, grass clipping for compost (do not use clippings that have had “Weed and Feed” applied as some types of he’rbicides can last for up to 12 months in the compost and affect your garden). Deal with weeds before they go to seed. Plant fall flowers like Winter flowering pansies and mums. Another harvest month. Plant cover crops to renew garden soil. Winterize tender plants and bring indoors such as: geraniums, begonias, impatiens, gerbera daisies, fuchsias, and dahlias. Deal with slugs and bugs.
November: Good time to transplant peonies, rhoddies, azaleas. Be sure to stake larger trees and shrubs due to winds at this time of year. Good time for dormant spray. Do again in December and then in February. Good time for garden clean-up. Weeds will be germinating here in November. Stay on top of weeding. Good time to fertilize lawn if you haven’t done so yet. Feeding lawn now will encourage good root growth, aid in greening. Lime can also be added if needed (moss prevention as it is a “soil sweetener”). Do not prune yet- WAIT on that! Winterize garden, mulch roses.
December: Good time for deep watering of plants to get them through the Winter. Especially plants under eaves, in containers, etc. that are prone to drying out quick or not getting good amounts of rainfall. Still time to plant tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, and other spring flowering bulbs. Plant trees and shrubs now. Prune stone fruit trees like cherries, plums, prunes, and peaches. Prune apples, pears, and other trees and shrubs later in the season after the holidays. Delay pruning roses until late Feb-early March. Good time to take cuttings of evergreens like heathers, rhoddies, azaleas, etc. Compost leaves for next year’s garden now. Take care of weeds as always. Fertilizing lawn now is considered one of the best times, can apply moss killer as well.
We are newish to the homesteading lifestyle, but we had finally found our "dream" home on 5 nice high and dry acres two years ago and decided to go for it. We had grown food off and on over the years on our little city lot and had fun experimenting with growing veggies out of the half-whiskey barrels either found, given, or bought on sale.
I remember growing tomatoes and lettuce out of those barrels with great delight. There was also a barrel just for the herbs and one even for a pumpkin. But, out of the 10 or so veggies we picked each year my stand out favorite was and still is potatoes. I love them of course for their taste and versatility in the kitchen. I love reading about how potatoes kept millions alive and fed like no other crop could. I am in awe at how easy they are to grow and I am amazed at how well they keep.
Each year we always pick something new to grow and usually try to grow something in a new and different way. My beloved potatoes are no different and after several years of the tried and true "hill" method of growing I decided to give one of the "alternative" ways that potatoes can be planted and harvested a try.
I am talking specifically about growing potatoes in a garbage bag. Now, you may not have heard of that before but I have read about it repeatedly from lots of different sources and of all the various ways to container grow the potato. There is the garbage bag like I just mentioned, and I have also read of growing them in tires, or cardboard boxes, or even rubbermaid bins or garbage cans. ( I would not recommend the tire method as apparently tires can leach toxins into the soil and thus your food).
The reasoning to plant using these methods is really three-fold. The first is for convenience, especially if garden space is at a premium or perhaps you live in an apartment and do not have access to a space of land for a traditional garden. A quick container made from something on hand such as a garbage sack or cardboard box is cheap and clever. Those two items in particular work out well for the balcony gardener as they are very light weight. Try hauling a half-whiskey barrel up a flight of stairs and you'll see what I am talking about!
Then there is the whole "keeps the potatoes cleaner" line of thought. If you are pulling them out of straw or shredded newspaper instead of digging them out of dirt, you don't have as dirty of a potatoe now do you?
The other main reason is that potatoes have a notorious habit of leaving little seed potatoes in the ground and soon taking over your garden. It can be almost impossible to get rid of them if they get loose! Plus, many people like to rotate their crops to minimize disease and pest contamination and potatoes are no exception for this habit.
So, after reading about these methods and being really excited by the idea of it we decided to give it a try. But, also being somewhat of a skeptic and more scientifically minded we decided to give BOTH methods a try to really see the difference. For our experiment last year I planted 22 seed potatoes in black heavy duty garbage sacks, and my husband planted about 15 in the soil. We both used the same soil, manure, and compost. For the sack method I "hilled" my potatoes with straw. We used dirt to hill the plants for the ones in the ground.
I made sure of course to poke holes in the bottoms of each bag to allow for drainage and both sets of potatoes were watered together at the same times using our sprinklers. I did have to move the sacks around a few times to get the positioning just right for them to get watered.
Well, I kept adding straw as the green plants would grow up, but I noticed relatively quickly that my plants did not seem as big and healthy as the other in-ground group of plants did. Also, I noticed that some of the bags would dry out too quick and that some of the other bags had too much water retention.
My plants seemed to reach a point where there was no further growth happening and I decided to go ahead and harvest them. I did that on July 22, 2008 according to my blog records. We were harvesting potatoes from the in-ground plants well into September, a full two months later!
What I basically determined was that A)- the bags got too hot due to the black coloring absorbing the sun's rays. B)- there was too much of a variance in the amount of water from bag to bag, and C)- watering with the sprinkler did not work out as well as perhaps watering each bag by hand would have. I have learned that if you are going to use something other than soil to hill your potato plants you will probably get better results if you can somehow deliver the water directly to the roots at the bottom and not have it filter down through your straw or other hilling material.
I did not do a weight or even a count of how many potatoes per plant from either the garbage sack or the in-ground group. But, I would roughly say that we got twice the amount in both size and yield from the in-ground group as compared to the sack potato group. With the ones planted in the ground I got two big harvests, plus a final round-up of potatoes at the end of the season, versus only the one harvest from the bags. I think if I were to ever give it a try again I would use smaller bags, hand water at the base, and put them in partial shade to keep them from getting too hot.
Also, as a side note, I had read in other people's accounts who used the alternative container method report that they could just reach in and pull out clean potatoes right out from the straw hills. With my 22 plants I did not have that happen on a single one! All the potatoes were growing in the soil only at the base. I also have to complain that it took A LOT of straw in order to hill the plants adequately (especially to keep the plant dark enough around the stalk area to encourage the potatoes to grow out into it).. I was really looking forward to that as I loved the idea of it. In the in-ground group, potatoes were growing into the hills of soil as well as at the base of each plant.
Since we have more land now our garden is on the largish size we try to keep hand watering to a minimum. We set up our hoses and sprinklers so that everything gets a good soaking and it is even throughout the garden. Keep in mind that the year we did this experiment we had also planted 20 fruit trees in our orchard as well as 30 new pine and fir trees on the back side of our property. All of those had to be hand watered which took 2 hours to get them all watered! All in all it was satisfying to figure out that our preferred method of planting in the ground was also the right method for us!
This is not my article, but I have used this recipe since 2007. I pass this on as it is one of the easiest and effective shampoo recipes out there for those of us who prefer a soap based shampoo. I have completely sourced the article, the author, and the original website where I first located the article.
I get all of the ingredients either direct from the garden or from my local health food store. My food co-op sells the large bulk jugs of organic peppermint castile soap for a very good price so I buy the gallon jug for additional savings. Look around at various stores for essential oils and try to buy the best you can afford. You want real essential oils- not fragrance oils! There is a difference.
Here is a copy of the article with the link:
Making Your Own Herbal Hair Shampoo
By Rudy Silva
In 1990 I decided not to use the commercially made shampoos after
reading Aubrey Hampton's book, "Natural Organic Hair and Skin Care."
In this book Aubrey tells you how to read the label on any product
that you put on your skin or hair.
Manufacturers are constantly using toxic chemicals in their skin and
hair products and disregard their toxic effects on your body. This is
easily seen in the list of chemicals that they use. Here are a few of
these chemicals found in many product labels:
1 propylene glycol or glycol– a petrochemical used because it is cheap
2 cetearyl alcohol – emulsifier that can be synthetic or natural
3 methylparaben or propylparaben – typical synthetic preservatives
4 distearate – this is polyethylene glycol or polypropylene glycol
which are petrochemicals
5 isopropyl alcohol – used as a cheap solvent to carry synthetic oils.
Here is a natural shampoo that you can make. This formulation is
something that I have been using for many years. First collect the
4 oz of castile soap with any scent is that available – plain,
½ oz of rosemary - stimulates the hair follicles and helps to prevent
½ oz of sage – has antioxidants and keeps things from spoiling and is
½ oz of nettles – acts as a blood purifier, blood stimulator,
contains a large source of nutrients for hair growth
½ oz of lavender – controls the production of sebaceous gland oil and
reduces itchy and flaky scalp conditions
2000 mg of MSM – provides organic sulfur to your scalp, which
improves the health and strength of your hair. It also helps to drive
herbal nutrient into the skin and follicles where they can do the
One empty 8 oz plastic bottle, or any other empty shampoo or soap
Mix the herbs in a mason jar, which has a lid. Boil 2 cups of
distilled water. Add 3 heaping tablespoons of the mixed herbs into
the boiling water. Pull the boiling water and herbs off the stove.
Let the herb mixture sit for 30 – 40 minutes. Put the 2000mg of MSM
into the herb mixture after 30 minutes of cooling. After 40 minutes
and the MSM is melted, strain the herbal mixture into a bowl.
Pour 2 to 2 1/2 oz of strained herbal tea into the 8 oz plastic
bottle. Now, pour the 4 oz of castile soap into the 8 oz plastic
bottle. Cap the bottle and shake to mix the ingredients.
The shampoo is now finished and ready for use. Use this as a base for
all of the shampoos you make. You can add different herbs as you
learn what these herbs do and how they help your hair. You can vary
the ingredients according to your taste. But now you have a shampoo
that has no additives that can harm you.
Editor Note: MSM is called methylsulfonylmethane, an organic sulphur
compound. You can get it in gel, liquid, powder, cream or capsule
form. Consult your doctor before using MSM, especially if you are
Rudy Silva has a Physics degree from the University of San Jose
California and is a Natural Nutritionist. He writes a newsletter
called "natural-remedies-thatwork.com" and he has written an ebook
called "How to Relieve Your Constipation with 77 Natural Remedies."
You can get more information more on hair health at this site.
Making soap is really as easy as mixing and baking a cake. First, you gather your ingredients, mix them together as per your recipes instructions, mix, and let it do it's thing! The recipe I use most is the main recipe in The Soap Book- Simple Herbal Recipes by Sandy Maine. A lot of people who make and sell their soaps use this as their base recipe. I have tried it against 3 other types and it is the best one based on my limited experience. I would highly recommend watching some videos of people making soap on youtube.com. Watching someone else will really demystify the process.
24 ounce olive oil
24 ounce coconut oil (solid at room temp)
38 ounces vegetabel oil (Crisco)
12 ounces Lye (sodium hydroxide)
32 ounces water
** Use a digital or very accurate scale that measures to at least the 10th of an ounce.
** Mix lye and water first, do this outside on a safe surface to leave it while it fumes off a bit and it will be HOT
**Heat your oils on the stove to get the Crisco and coconut oils to melt
I have found it mixes to "trace" faster if you have both the lye/water mixture and the oils at about 100 degrees. Other sources say higher but that is what worked for me the best. Use a food digital thermometer for the quickest readings. You can have an ice water bath in your sink to set your pots in to get them to cool faster and get to the same temperature if needed.
Once both oils and lye/water mixture are at the same temps, pour the lye/water into the oils and mix with a stick blender for the fastest trace. Once it starts going to trace (will be about the consistency of a thin pudding and leave the marks on the surface when you drip it back into the pot) add your colorants and fragrances.
I only use 100% natural "everything" so I use essential oils (EO's) of lavender, orange, lemon, grapefruit (citrus eo's don't always hold well in the soap just so you know but I like them anyways), lemon grass, citronella, geranium oil, rosemary, you get the idea. And, it doesn't take a lot for a batch this size. Like maybe 1/4 of a one ounce EO bottle or even less if you are using multiples.
For colors, I have used cocoa powder, cinnimon, and tumeric. The cinnimon can be an irritant to some people with senstive skin but I only use about a TBSP in this big of a batch and it did just fine and gave a nice speckled appearance. I don't like white soap so a little or a lot of cocoa depending on the shade you want will give it a nice off white or brown appearance more in line with a homemade soap.
**So, back to trace. Once it is tracing, add your EO and colorants. Take out a bit of oil in a small bowl to whisk your colorant powder with first, then add it to the main pot that way there won't be any lumps of powder in it. After you get it all mixed and at trace, pour it into your molds. I used to use the flat cardboard boxes that a case of soda comes in and cut them in the size of a deck of cards. My new favorite way is to pour it into the quart size milk and half and half paper containers that a friend told me about. They are lined with a wax and you just cut the top off, pour, and peel it off the soap the next day.
Let your soap sit about 24 hours covered with a towel. If you peek on it and notice it looking translucent, that is it going through the "gel" phase which is a normal chemical conversion it goes through. It may gel several times through the next day.
After 24 hours or so, peel off the container or cut out from the mold. If using the milk cartons for your molds, place the soap on it's side and cut with a knife, or I think even easier a piece of dental floss. You slice it like a loaf of bread with this method and only the two ends have a rougher edge vs. if you do it in a big flat mold all the surface on the top side will be rougher. Also, with the flat mold method you will have to put down a liner of wax paper.
As with anything, gather all your equiment, ingredients, and supplies first and laid out before you get started. Last and MOST important: have eye glasses/goggles, gloves, and also some vinegar on hand. I wear glasses all the time so that area is pretty much covered. I have tried making soap without the gloves ONE TIME and always wear them now. Also, I have gotten one little tiny lye crystal on my toe before under my flip flop strap and will never wear open toe shoes again...The vinegar neutralizes the lye so if you get some on you, pour it on your skin.
Also, I use it to pour on all my bowls and equipment before I touch it to clean it just to be safe, and also to wipe down the counters and stove when I am all done. Also, keep your bowls, mixers, stiring utensils, etc separate and dedicated for soap making only. I admit I do use my big stainless steel heavy bottom pots from the kitchen for heating the oils and the final mix and have not had any problems with using it for food consumption but that is just me and my own personal experience and I trust my own ability to properly clean it out afterward. I use LOTS of vinegar as well. Another very reputable soap source says they do the same thing so I know I am not crazy on this, hehehe
The site is old-school in it's formatting but contains is a wealth of info. http://www.millersoap.com/index.html
Special Utensils? - I've read in so many places that you should have special pans and tools for making soap that I just had to put in my two-cents worth here! I have never set aside my kettles, bowls, pitchers or stainless steel utensils only for soapmaking...it would seem silly to me. A wooden spoon is a different case. Wood is absorbent and you could never wash out all the junk in the wood after using it on soap (kind of makes you wonder how sanitary it is for other things as well!). If you are stirring with a wooden spoon, then by all means label it for soap and use it for nothing else. I use my regular beaters for soap, and everything else is used for other cooking purposes as well. Lye is not going to absorb into your stainless steel, plastic and glass containers (if it was that tricky, it would absorb its way right through the plastic container you buy it in)! Just wipe them out well (if there's raw soap in or on them... toss that into the trash to save your pipes from the grease) and wash with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water...just like you would any other dish. That's it. I don't know why we carry our respect for lye into paranoia, but I suspect we run a greater risk from eating off dishes that come out of our dishwasher, than to use our soapmaking utensils for cooking purposes! Enough said!
I do keep all my stuff separate except my metal pots.
Let your soap sit up on a shelf somewhere out of the way or spaced out in paper bags for a minimum of 3 weeks "just to be sure" all the lye has converted out of it. Finished soap with the proper proportions of lye to water and oil will no longer contain any lye once it has set for the 3 weeks.
Here is a picture of how you should place your yarn that you spin on a drop spindle in order to spin properly. You should wrap your yarn around the "shaft" or "spindle" part of the whorl in a cone shape.
Look at the drop spindle and hold it so the tip of the hook is pointing to the Left to make it look like a backwards letter "C" or a ? mark. This is the position you should have it in each time you wind your fiber onto the shaft and up the whorl and around the hook to get ready to start spinning again.
You should always have the yarn end at the bottom of the cone (1), then bring it up the Right side of the whorl (2) parallel with the hook. Take the yarn over the hook to the left, then wrap it around to the back side of the hook (3).
You can see the crucial areas in this picture. I have learned these 3 critical techniques through trial and error and this is the best way. Plus, I have not really seen it described in any video or in any articles.
Here are some links to different Youtube videos and also some websites..
How to use a drop spindle (websites):
These first two links from the Joy of Handspinning website have great
pictures and videos along with the instructions.
(Most of these are very informative and great just to see what the spinner is doing.
A couple move pretty fast and don't give a lot of instruction, but it is still good for the
learning experience to see what they are doing and to see how fast you can actually
get with practice :)
Drop spindle basics:
Drafting wool for spinning:
Spinning yarn on a drop spindle:
Finishing yarn and wrapping a skein:
Handspinning yarn on a drop spindle:
(This one shows very good close-ups and technique. It is a quick video..
Watch it over and over and watch closely to what she is doing: Spinning,
draftting, wrapping or winding onto the spindle)
(This is the one that moves fast and doesn't give good instructions...)
Drop spindle demo:
(A good overview)
Hope these help. Notice that the spinners use both hands. One is the "working" hand. It is the one closest to the spindle and it is also your "control" hand. With your fingers on your working hand you will pinch and control how much twist you allow to travel up your fiber strand. The back hand or the one farthest from your spindle is the "drafting" hand. With these fingers you will pull back on your fibers and "draft!" This hand keeps the twist from "getting away from you" and going into the rest of your fiber strand. Both of your hands and fingers will be working together to make an even product. Start slowly and the first few times you spin should be just to see what you are doing and to make sure you understand the WHAT and WHY of what you are doing. THEN you can spin to produce yarn once you have had a few practice runs.
I suggest checking out the links and the videos now, and again once you get your kit. The main thing to remember is that spinning is fun and relaxing and don't take it too serious. You will get better each time and a pro much sooner than you think!
(If the links don't work once this gets formatted as an article, just copy and paste them into your browser).
Like many of us with livestock, you may have wondered about shearing your own animals. If you are able-bodied, have the time and desire- then it might be the task for you! Even though shearing costs may be economical depending on how many animals in your herd need shearing, for some it actually pays to invest in a good pair of shears and do it yourself.
I researched and bought the best, most heavy duty shears I could find. I settled on the professional grade Andis shears. They are specifically designed for commercial shearing and are perfect for shearing anything from goats, sheep, cows, and llamas and alpacas. My shears paid for themselves on the 11th shearing we did with them. I keep them in good condition so they are always ready to be used. Also, they were an investment and I want them kept nice as Andis shears tend to hold their value well for resale.
All shears from small ones for human hair cuts to large ones for livestock are pretty much the same. All you will need is a good screw driver. Most shears come with their own specific screw driver but if not, a good flat-head and Phillips screwdriver is usually all that is needed. Maybe a set of Allen wrenches depending on your model but I have not seen that.
The other thing you will need to get started is a big flat space to lay out the shears and parts as you dismantle (don't worry, it's usually nothing more than a couple of screws, the blades and cutters, and maybe the plastic casing that covers your motor. Also a good quality white/clear clipper oil. Food grade is best if you can get it. Rags would be nice as well.
I lay out a space covered with newspaper. Then I gather the shears and with the brush that came with the shears I start brushing it firmly to dislodge any hair and dirt build-up. An old toothbrush would work fine as well. Once it is as relatively clean as I can get it with the brush, I then rub it with the rag. I beat the rag outside frequently and just keep using it until the shears are as clean as I can get with this step.
Then, I start to dismantle it. Once you have the screws and blades off, you will see areas that have hidden fibers and dirt in them. Brush out and rag wipe again. It is ok to blow on it as well to really blast out the little crevices you may see dirt in. Once I have it completely apart, I pretty much lube up all the screws and holes and get a brand new set of blades and cutters to put on the shears. I also chose to take the plastic motor cover off as well just to make sure no hair or fibers and dirt has got inside of it. Keep your old blades and clean and oil them well. There are people online that you can google search and ship your blades to and have resharpened for $1-2 per blade.
Once I have it looking as clean as I can possibly get it, I start to put it all back together. Shears come with an owner's manual that should show you exactly how to dismantle and reassemble. However, it is honestly so simple and easier to just take it apart and set your screws, blades, cutters, and any other parts out on your table in the order you removed them so you can just put them back on in the opposite order.
You may also notice some little holes here and there on your shears. These are for oiling. Most shears come with a little oil bottle that has a small tip to fit in the holes. You should oil your shears frequently while using them, and also after you have cleaned and reassembled the shears for storage. After I get my shears all put back together and oiled, I turn them on and adjust the tension to get it set "just right." I also oil it (again!) to make sure the blades are all lubed up well.
Cloth diapers need to be stripped if they have a "funky" odor, even after washing, and/or if baby develops a rash. The natural fibers may be holding residuals of detergents and also uric acid build up. Both of these can cause chemical buring to tender baby skin.
How to strip:
The easiest way is to just place clean diapers in the wash, and wash several times with plain hot water until the water comes out clean. This is key as the plain hot water will dilute out and strip any residues off of the fibers. DO NOT USE ANY DETERGENT! You are only washing them with HOT water. If you notice ANY soap suds at all, then continue to wash them until this no longer happens. It may take 4 or 5 cycles of washing to completely remove all residue. You can also soak, then wash and repeat that until all residue is gone.
Some people add vinegar, baking soda, or oxi-clean to aid in deodorizing and removal of build-up but that may not be necessary. Also, if using these, do it on the next to the final cleansing process. That way you get the deoderizing power of your agent of choice and a final rinse wash of just hot water to really be sure there is no residual of any product left on your cloth. All of the soaking and cleaning should be done with the hottest water you can muster. I use the "sanitize" cycle on my machine which can take up to 2 1/2 hours per cycle! The last time I stripped diapers it took all day. Some people boil up water, then soak the diapers, then keep adding new boiling water to the batch and just end up with a big batch of soaked diapers and water. Again, the main point is to really soak and rinse your diapers with plain HOT water to clean all fibers of any residues that may be stuck which is what causes the odor and even baby rash.
Making your own things are easy. Cloth diaper covers is a prime example. They sell on average for $25 on eBay! You can make them in any size, and the easiest way to get the right measurement is to just use a regular disposable diaper that fits your baby as your template. Be sure to have at least a one inch seam allowance all the way around your template cut-out compared to the size of disposable diaper you use.
The best materials are things that are breathable and wick moisture away from the baby's skin and back into your cloth diaper insert. The old plastic covers are awful! Too hot, and they don't breathe. Please don't use plastic diaper covers on your baby if you choose to use cloth diapers!
The two best materials are polar fleece, and wool. You can easily find both at your local thrift store in the form of old sweaters and coats. There are even great instructions online with a little searching on making them out of old wool sweaters and you use the sleeves/cuffs for little leggings! I prefer polar fleece as it is the easiest to wash. Just be sure you get the type of polar fleece that repels water. There are some types that will soak it up. It is usually the really soft stuff you find in the fabric store so beware. You can test it by pouring some water on it. If it pools up- that's the type you want.
For a pictoral step by step instruction, please visit my yahoo group forum posts that I did on this subject:
You want to become a homesteader do you? Then you've got your work cut out for you. Here's a list of what you need to do in order to get started, keep you on-track, and keep you organized so you can "live the dream." It is by no means all-inclusive, but just a generalized list to give you ideas of what to do, how to get started, and motivation to switch how you view and think about your current lifestyle.
Research- Read, read, read. Web sites, magazines, and books. Compile a library of all the books and articles that motivate and inform you on things you would like to do with your homestead. Books on livestock, fruit tree orchard care, gardening, seed saving, food storage, bee keeping, DIY books like how to make soaps and natural products, how to build things, fiber arts and homemade crafts, etc. would be useful. Get a mentor if you can either on-line or in real life who can help you out. Try not to "reinvent the wheel" as it will slow your progress and as a homesteader, time is extremely valuable! Hang out with other like-minded folks and learn from them. Volunteer to help someone you know with a farm. Talk with people who set up the agriculture displays at your local fair. Make contacts and learn as much as you can.
Make choices- Decide where you would like to set-up your homestead. Are you happy in the city and want to be an urban homesteader? Do you have land or want to get land in order to live out your lifestyle? Figure out where you would like to homestead and build your resources around that. Decide if you want to keep any livestock for food, dairy, eggs, breeding/pets, etc. If you live in the city, learn about any local ordinances. Some areas allow chickens (but no roosters). Some allow rabbits. Some allow goats. Some don't allow any animals. Do your research and figure out what works good for you. Already got a rural locale and planning for some bigger animals? Figure out how much space they need, what type of fencing is best (yes- fencing and shelter is species specific so do your homework!). Figure out what it costs to care for and feed your chosen livestock. Is it something that seems feasible? Do your research now to avoid headaches later.
Learn how to be prepared- Being a homesteader is a mindset. Most of us homestead-minded folks are in agreement that you should be as self-sufficient as able-for you. So, in a continual effort to learn how to provide better and more for yourself, decide what you are capable of and what appeals to you. Get a wood stove if you can. Get on a well if you can. Have a back up hand-pump for water if you can. Be able to store and use propane if you can. Check into solar/wind if that appeals to you. Have extra first aid supplies, batteries, and flashlights ready. Have camping gear ready. Read up on food storage and start a pantry. Have enough clean water for you and your family's drinking,cooking, and bathing needs for at least 3 days. This is all common sense stuff for disaster preparedness. Next time the power goes out you'll feel better that you have a heat and cooking source, lights, and food/water ready to go :)
DIY- most homesteaders are of the "do it yourself" variety. Learn how to put up your own fencing, build your own animal shelters, and be able to do routine maintenance on your tools and equipment. DIYers learn how to cook and can. How to sew and knit. How to make their own soaps and various household items. Learn about all the readily available edible foods in your area. Think back to the pioneers that came before you... How did they get by? How were they able to survive? What types of things did they do in their day to day lives? Those are the types of thoughts that will get you in the right frame of mind to homestead and ways to change from your modern "convenient-instant access-gimmee everything right now" lifestyle into a more slow paced, down to earth, and self-reliant lifestyle.
Take baby steps- No one does or learns anything instantly. It took hundreds to thousands of lifetimes just to learn how to do something as relatively simple as making soap. Give yourself a break and just move along at your own pace. Do not get competitive. Your online resource or guru may be ahead of you and be totally off-grid. Or, they may have 100 head of cattle and are a rancher. We all have different backgrounds and likes/dislikes. Chose what works for you and do your best to reach your goals. Keep your focus and motivation. Do not get discouraged. Take breaks if you find you are getting burned out. Find fun in it.
Decide on an area of focus- Everyone has to be able to do something that is beneficial to society as a whole. No one person can be completely independent and self-sufficient. Find your niche and research and implement your area of focus. Do you like to make soap and cosmetics? Do you like to bake and put up foods? Do you like to garden and grow plants or save back seeds? Do you find chickens really interesting and want to sell eggs? Do you want to make wines? Are you a weaver and enjoy making fabrics, blankets, quilts, and shawls on your loom? Do you want to learn various other fiber arts and sell your items? Do you enjoy working with animals and all the training and care involved? Do you like to work with leather or other specialties? Do you enjoy it all and want to be a generalist? Find you niche, and attempt to build your community and learn what other's around you are doing. Set up a barter system.
Learn to keep things and fix/repair- A good junk pile comes in handy. You never know when that free pile of wood you found in the alley behind a construction site may be useful. There is nothing wrong with a barn or chicken coop built out of salvaged materials. Or wearing a pair of jeans or T-shirt that has been mended. Having a good supply of tools or even get a sharing group going of people you can share equipment with. Again, no one person is an island and can have everything. Maybe you've got a nice wood chisel collection, and your neighbor has everything you need to can like a water bath and pressure canner. Get a reliable, honest, and trustworthy groups of folks together that you can borrow/lend things to. Get out of the habit of being a throw-away consumer. This is one of those baby-steps. An example would be switching from disposable baby diapers or feminine hygiene products to reusable cloth diapers and pads. Look around on line. Spend extra for something more durable. Learn to repair your lawn mower instead of going and buying a new one just because it needs the oil changes, is clogged with dry grass from last year, and has dull blades. Learn about how to compost your everyday household waste and start a compost pile. Even better- use it once it is ready in your garden :)
Here's my list of things you could consider having on hand and kits you could put together to be more organized and prepared for a power outage, extreme weather condition, or natural disaster:
My Dad recently gifted me this great book and it is one of the best that I have ever received! You can help the author even more by going to his site directly to see and purchase this book there: www.wildfoodadventures.com but it can be found on amazon.com as well. It is the first book in a series that this foraging expert plans to write. This first book focuses on the most readily available greens. I think it is perfect for both the city and country dweller as you will quickly learn to see the wild foods readily available all around you.
The author focuses on the best parts of the plants to use, and even recipes. I think he took the time to do so as most people are put off on harvesting "weeds," let alone when they actually try one (think dandelion leaves), they think, "Yuck, this stuff tastes awful." This is not a pocket field guide for the quick identification of a plant, but rather more of an in-depth look at the plant, look alikes, and the best ways to utilize said plant. That being said, it is not tedious to find the plant or information you are looking for and I have already been able to quickly flip back and forth through it and find exactly what I am after in an instant.
The chapter on the Mallow plant alone should be enough to get most people out in their yards hunting and pecking for a wonderful Nature provided treat. Recipes for this plant include: various "mumbo" gumbo recipes, Mallow confections using Mallow whites for items like whipped cream, meringues, and "Mallowmallows." Yes, the Mallow plant is a cousin to the Marsh Mallow plant!
The cover and paper used in the book are high gloss and will hold up to years of thumbing through, even from going in and out of a backpack on a "less than ideal weather condition" trip. The photography is excellent and I believe was shot by the author as well. It has the DK/Eyewitness books feel to it which I just love! I think his goal is for people to really "learn the plant" so you will recognize it anywhere.
I live in a more rural locale now, but I remember seeing several of the plants in this book in my yard from when I lived in the city. Where I live now, I was able to walk out my back door and find 3 of the edibles from the book within 10 minutes! I discovered that the weed taking up 80% of my garden is in fact actually lambsquarters, the very first plant in this book and one that the author would like to be renamed Wild Spinach. I have since found ample Common Mallow, Purslane, and Chickweed plants as well growing right in my garden and all are edible which I now know thanks to this wonderful guide. Other plants we have ID'd from this book are Field Mustard, Curly Dock, and Sheep Sorrel.
As with anything, you can make it as simple or complex as you want. A
compost pile can literally be just a hole in the ground that you throw
kitchen scraps into, then cover with some dirt and plant over it. It can
be in fancy rotating containers (now available pretty cheap in the $100
range at Costco and Home Depot), or just a wooden box with removable
sides or a wire cage. Decide how much you want to spend or what supplies
you have laying around to build one and let that be your guide.
Here are some basic rules that most people follow with composting: No
meat scraps or any chemically type things. Paper towels and newspaper are ok to
be composted along with table and kitchen scraps, yard waste, hair
clippings, etc. Rotate, mix up, or shovel around your compost a bit
periodically to get it to break down faster. The time it should "rest"
and be given to break down will depend on what method you use. The more
you rotate and it cooks, the faster you will get well rotted compost. It
is best when it looks like blackened and soil-like. Have a couple of
spots so that when one is full and breaking down, you can have another
newer pile going.
Our pile was a complete "no work" pile. We filled it up with some
camelid poo, then dumped kitchen wasted in it for a good year. Then let
it rest for a year or so. Ding! It's ready :). For a compost box, we
just built one out of wood with removeable sides. Stuff from the house gets thrown into a big bowl or bucket then hauled to the pile.
Here is a funny (but true) list of 163 things you can throw into your compost pile from:
Burlap coffee bags
Lint from behind refrigerator
Popcorn (unpopped, 'Old Maids,' too)
Matches (paper or wood)
Seaweed and kelp
Old, dried up and faded herbs
Bird cage cleanings
Hoof and horn meal
Gin trash (wastes from cotton plants)
Hair clippings from the barber
Tea bags and grounds
Powdered/ground phosphate rock
Corncobs (takes a long time to decompose)
Milk (in small amounts)
Starfish (dead ones!)
Melted ice cream
Q-tips (cotton swabs: cardboard, not plastic sticks)
Expired flower arrangements
BBQ'd fish skin
Stale potato chips
Old leather gardening gloves
Guinea pig cage cleanings
Quail eggs (OK, I needed a 'Q' word)
Tea bags (black and herbal)
Electric razor trimmings
Bagasse (sugar cane residue)
Burned oatmeal (sorry, Mom)
Lint from clothes dryer
Tofu (it's only soybeans, man!)
Wine gone bad (what a waste!)
Fingernail and toenail clippings
Moss from last year's hanging baskets
Stale breakfast cereal
'Dust bunnies' from under the bed
Leather watch bands
Tossed salad (now THERE's tossing it!)
Brown paper bags
Lees from making wine
Vacuum cleaner bag contents
Coconut hull fiber
Old or outdated seeds
Macaroni and cheese
Liquid from canned vegetables
Liquid from canned fruit
Greeting card envelopes
Dead bees and flies
Peanut butter sandwiches
Dirt from soles of shoes, boots
Ivory soap scraps
Spoiled canned fruits and vegetables
Produce trimmings from grocery store
Cardboard cereal boxes (shredded)
When I first decided to get my 3 llamas and 1 alpaca (and later 3 more alpacas) I realized I didn't know a thing about them! I did a quickie crash course on alpacas and camelids in general for the new owners and it got me to thinking about passing on some of what I have learned.
I spent roughly $300 on books and videos in order to learn as much as I could about camelids when I decided to own some of these animals. I originally got them as fiber animals and currently have 4 large bags of their yearly shearings left in my upstairs craft room. While I have processed and even sold some of their various fibers in kits that I have sold from time to time- I want to point out that in terms of money, I have lost tons on feed, vet, equipment, and research costs. There is no conceivable way you can make a profit on llamas and alpacas. An alpaca rancher I know trades her yearly shearings for a discount on Pendleton socks!
I spent a total of $800 for all of my animals. Another $300 on vet expenses. $800 on equipment (shears, clippers, wormer, halters, lead ropes, catch pen). $300 on books/dvd's. Close to $1,500 in feed costs for all 7 animals for hay and grain. I sold all 7 for a total of $600. I threw in the halters and leads. I sold my books/dvd's for $200. I have sold about $100 of fiber. So for my hobby I am in the hole: $2,800. Just putting the info out there for people to understand the expenses involved. This also does not include the costs of the barn and the shelter either.
As to useful day to day info on these animals:
Alpacas and Llamas have been domesticated for over 5000 years. Alpacas for fiber and Llamas for use as pack animals. Both animals can be eaten as well- but that is not their main value. They are thought to be originally from North America based on fossil records. They migrated south to the Andes mountains where they evolved on the poor quality plants in the cold environment. This has made them extremely hardy to cold weather and their nutritional requirements are a fraction of that for a similarly sized animal. Their fiber is considered to be in the top 5 warmest hair fibers on the planet! It is roughly 3-5 times warmer than sheep's wool. It is very similar to human hair in appearance and feel on a mature animal. The smaller the "micron" count the better as it gives a softer feel to the fiber. Usually the first shearing of the cria (baby alpaca/llama) is the finest.
They can live up to 25 years.
They have pads on the bottom of their feet similar to that of a dog or cat. Not hooves. They have two long claws or toenails that grow out and require clipping approximately every 3-6 months depending on terrain for optimal foot development.
They should be sheared once a year. Some areas in South America only shear the alpacas once every 3-5 years!
Terms: camelid is the proper name for the type of animal that alpacas and llamas are. Camels also belong to this group but are actually descendants of the wild ancestors of these two animals.
Llamas and alpacas do not come from Camel ancestry despite the name "camelid."
Alpacas descended from the wild Vicuna and the Llama from the Guacano.
Sire: the male breeding animal
Dam: the female breeding animal
Cria: a baby camelid
Open female: term used to describe a female that is ready to mate
Gelding/gelded: a castrated male
Kush: term to describe the unique way in which camelids sit on the ground with their legs tucked underneath them.
Camelids are the only 4 legged animals in the world to mate sitting down on the ground instead of standing.
Gestation is roughly 11 months
Camelids have finger like upper lips that they use to pick up food with. They are very sensitive and can very finely maneuver through hay for the softest blades.
Camelids do not have upper teeth at the front of their jaws. They have a thick gum pad that the bottom teeth press against to tear off grazing grass or branches and chew with the teeth at the back of their jaw (both upper and lower teeth). Some (both female and male) animals can grow "fighting" teeth. These are sharp teeth that grow from the upper jaw that can be used to cause injury. Some people leave them unless they notice violent behavior in their animals, some learn how to remove these teeth and do so themselves, and others have a vet remove the fighting teeth for them. None of my animals grew fighting teeth so it was not a concern for me.
They take "dirt baths" and will scratch up areas to the soil to create these spots.
Alpcas and llamas are very friendly to the environment: They do not churn up the soil when they walk like heavier animals with hooves will. Their soft feet create paths. They usually only poop in one spot called a dung pile. If they have a larger area to roam they may create more than one dung pile. Their poop can be thrown directly into the garden and will not burn plants/seedlings. It has a high nitrogen content. It takes a camelid about 4 days to digest its food so that is why it is safe to go directly into the soil without fear of damaging plants. You can expect to keep 7-10 alpacas on one acre.
It takes roughly one flake of hay every 2 days per alpaca. A little more per llama. Watch to see how much they eat and give more/less depending. Give about 1/2 cup of alpaca/llama "grain" per day as a supplement just to be sure they are getting everything they need nutritionally.
These animals do not require high protein hays such as alfalfa. In general, there is no agreement what hay is the best. I feel that Orchard Grass (OG) is best, followed by OG/Timothy blend based on observing what my animals would eat and their health and from interviewing other alpaca and llama owners. Camelids can be picky eaters and none of my 7 animals would take local grass hay, or eat any stems found in their hay.
They are picky about their water and like clean, fresh water at all times. Offer water in several locations and in smaller containers to prevent fowling. They will stick their feet/legs into the containers during hot weather to cool off and will ruin the water. At times they may become territorial and prevent other animals from getting to the water.
I read about this method which did indeed solve that issue for some of my animals: use 5 gallon buckets secured to the fence or wall with some hay bale twine. That way they cannot knock the buckets over while getting their feet in and out of them, and if they ruin the water it is only a 5 gallon container you have to refill, and not a HUGE cattle water container. Also, I kept some buckets in the field, some at the outdoor feeding area, and some in the barn as one animal in particular was a bully and ran another herd mate off whenever he tried to get near the buckets at the outdoor feeding area.
I won't go into it here unless anyone has any questions about training. I highly recommend Marty McGee http://www.camelidynamics.com and John Mallon http://www.mallonmethod.com as resources for training.
Autism, Asperger's, and other similar yet distinctly different disorders all fall under the broad diagnostic umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Asperger's syndrome is considered to be the highest functioning level of autism due to the usually normal or even advanced ability to communicate verbally. However, there is a broad range of functioning for those with the actual diagnosis of just Autism.
Autism is thought to be a social disorder. People with it can also have both fine and gross motor deficits, but the main aspects that are the most noticeable are usually the lack of speech, or the odd speech patterns and also odd social behaviors. It is noticed to be somewhat "self-limiting" and behaviors change and even go away as the person ages but this is not always the case.
The diagnosing, understanding and even treatment for autism can be a somewhat frustrating process as no two people with it are the same. Some respond well to certain forms of treatment and therapy; some to others. It can be very time consuming and a trial and error approach should be applied in order to figure out how each particular person will respond. Generally speech therapy and behavioral therapy are universally accepted and documented to improve an autistic child’s ability to communicate and function.
Some that are diagnosed with autism also have other disorders and health issues that can complicate therapy and diagnosing them within any of the ASD's. In the last decade, the ability for diagnosing has improved and with proper screening, children are diagnosed earlier and earlier. Early diagnosis is thought to be important by many. The sooner autism is diagnosed and specific deficits identified the more proactive targeted therapy can be in order to help with cognitive, speech, and social issues.
Common speech issues-
• Lack of speech or the ability to communicate effectively. With training and continuity with caregivers, a system of communication can be developed and some people with autism who are completely non-verbal can actually communicate with sign language, visual aids, or computers.
• Delay in speech at a normal age, usually noticed in early toddlerhood.
• Odd speech patterns such as parroting and making funny voices and saying the same phrases over and over.
• Echolalia is where they repeat what you say or ask them when you pause for a response.
For some, the speech patterns never progress much beyond parroting and echolalia. For others, they do develop normal mannerisms and situation specific speech dialog, and yet even others have a combination of both.
Common social issues-
• Aloofness or even seeming hearing impaired. Tendency towards being introverted and having difficulty approaching others and interacting with people in socially acceptable ways such as back and forth conversations, answering questions, or even acknowledging someone who calls their name. Not making eye contact or walking away when being talked to.
• Hyperactivity. Some people with autism are very active and always moving or rocking. Some have "self stimulating" behaviors also called "stimming" where they rock back and forth, flap arms, shake their hands, or wiggle their fingers. This becomes even more noticeable when they are excited, uncomfortable, or feel overwhelmed. Some children run around wildly and climb and jump anything available. Special care must be taken to help in avoiding injury.
• Hiding. Some autistic people like to be in quiet confined spaces, or like to get away from too much activity and other people. They may retreat to a room or place and it can be difficult to locate them if they do not respond when called. Special care must be taken to keep track of younger children with autism as they have a tendency to run off to be alone.
• Pica- some autistic people will taste non-food substances and put things in their mouth. Even older children will have a more infant/toddler behavior like putting toys in their mouth, chewing on paper, etc.
• Obsessive compulsive issues- some people with autism will repeatedly do the same things over and over, or do similar things in similar situations. They may say the same thing to the same person in the same way every time they see them. They can also have great distress and “melt downs” if something is done out of order or sequence to their liking. Often people around them may not even know what it is that has upset them.
• Stacking or lining things up- Some will line toys and objects up by color or shape, or as a way to play with things.
• Senses- some have unique senses such as taste, smell, and noise. Some will sniff a chair before they sit down. They cover their ears at certain sounds, etc.
• Food aversions- it is very common for autistic people to be extremely picky about their food, the textures, if it touches other food, etc. Some will only eat a few different types of food so issues can occur over food and getting them to eat a healthy variety of nutritional foods. Some will sniff everything before they eat it. Some will spit things out a lot.
Often how a person with autism behaves at home and where they are comfortable can be much different than seen in new situations or when under the care and supervision of others. Communication is important between both parents, home caregivers, and those who provide supervision, therapy, and education while they are away from home.
Continuity is very important and so are the relationships that the autistic person has. They learn well when placed in situations where they are allowed to express themselves in ways that are comfortable for them yet also socially acceptable. One should always state what is expected of them in advance, and allow for creativity yet also be stern enough to enforce the rules as well. Clearly state what the discipline will be such as time out, missing part or all of an activity, etc.
Other challenges can be to not correct someone with autism too much or constantly micro-manage their movements and activities which can be especially difficult with the more hyperactive autistic person. They can develop social anxieties about going places or being around people if they feel that their actions are upsetting to those around them and they don’t feel like being in trouble all the time. There can of course be self-esteem issues with being told repeatedly that they are not doing something right or always being sent for a time-out.
Be flexible and note the changes in behavior and what seems to work and what doesn’t. Go for the “baby step” approach until they master a series of actions. Also, understand that many autistic people tend to learn something and not realize that you can alter what is acceptable in one situation but that it is not acceptable in others. An example would be that they may be allowed to eat with their hands at home but be expected to use utensils in a restaurant. It takes a while to grasp social norms and expectations.
My treatment of this subject will mainly be that of picking blackberries. However, much of what applies to blackberries also applies to other wild berries and even raspberries.
Over the last 4 Summer and Fall seasons I have spent close to 10-15 hours each season picking berries. I now consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on the subject and thought it might be nice to share some of the "Wisdom of the Berry" that these plants have passed on to me with you, the reader.
Picking berries allows for quiet and serene moments spent outdoors and in nature. One's mind wanders and soon you learn the plant's unique qualities and become more and more deft at harvesting.
Here in the Pacific Northwest of Washington state we are very fortunate to have an over-abundance of Himalayan Blackberry, and to a lesser degree even Evergreen Blackberries. There are several other species of Blackberries and they all seem to grow near each other so for ease of use of identification here I will just plainly refer to them all as blackberries. To my knowledge, there are no species of blackberry or similar looking berry that is known to poisonous to humans so pick with confidence.
The only difference I would like to get out of the way up front when harvesting blackberries vs. raspberries is the technique of how you pluck the berry. Beyond this distinction, pretty much all of the other techniques apply. When picking blackberries, grasp the berry between your pointer finger and your thumb. You can either snap the berry off by twisting your grasp of the berry up or down. You will sometimes feel a slight snap and off the berry comes. With the raspberry, you are going to be gently pulling the berry downward off of an inner "core" that will remain on the cane, and the inside of the berry will be hollow.
When you approach a section of berries to pick, it can be somewhat overwhelming to see so many ripe ones spread out all over the place. Overcome the urge to just start picking willy-nilly. You will end up missing many ripe ones and make more work for yourself if you plan on returning frequently to get a full harvest. Treat your harvest like a forensic site, and work in a "grid" or systematic fashion for the most effective use of your time and to avoid wasting an abundant food source that may otherwise go to waste.
Blackberries and raspberries grow in clusters on the end of canes similar to that of grapes. Most are usually an "ever bearing" type of berry which means that the cluster will not all be ripe at the same time. Every day or two you can return for more ripe berries. Picking the ripe ones seems to stimulate the ripening of the next batch so pick as many as you can. Avoid the temptation to pick the firmer, lighter colored ones. In the case of blackberries, only go for the soft, black ones. There will be some very dark purple or wine colored ones. Leave those to finish ripening for the next day or even 2 or 3 days later (depending on how often you can return). For the most efficient manner to harvest your berries, it is best to just pick a cluster and completely harvest all of the ripe ones on it before moving on to the next cluster. That way when you have enough and are done, you can just come back to that spot on your next visit and pick up where you left off if there is a big section to be picked.
When it comes to "wild crafting," most people agree it is best to only pick one for every 3 to 7 plants that you come across. In the case of blackberries, do not worry about over harvesting or even being greedy. Most blackberries are actually non-native "weeds." There will always be more to ripen for the next day, and plenty that you cannot reach or even see that will be left for animals. Besides, the best ones are usually along the very top due to obtaining more sunlight and if the birds want those, they will have no problems getting to them.
Be sure to always bring extra containers as you never know how much time you will have and how many you can get. Nothing is more disappointing to head out to pick and then not have another bucket since you stumbled upon a bumper crop. Also, if you use a plastic bucket/handle, be sure to carry it from the bottom and not the handle once the container gets full. Once you have a container break or drop with all your berries splattered everywhere and dirty you will know why I am mentioning this tip.
Once you think you have thoroughly removed all the ripe berries from a spot, bend down at the waist or crouch down and look upwards under the leaves where you just picked. You will then see sometimes up to about 30% of the amount you just picked that you missed that was hiding under the leaf cover.
The best way to pick without getting stuck by thorns is to grasp a cluster of berries by one or two of the hard green berries. These will not come off easily and you can really pull the entire cluster much closer to you to then pluck off the surrounding ripe ones. I have found this the best way as when I go for just the ripe ones, the cluster may go flying back into the bush and any really ripe ones will fall off into the thorny canes below and be wasted. Also don't despair over any dropped berries. It always seems the best, most biggest and juicy ones are the ones that fall. Such is life and consider it "tribute" to the berry Gods.
Don't worry if your clothing happens to get grasped onto by the blackberry stickers. The easiest way to get them off is to gently grab a leaf or even a part of the cane and pull the branch towards you to unhook the thorns. If you pull back against it, you will run the risk of tearing your clothes and even break off some of the thorns that will then be stuck into your clothes.
There are no poisonous spiders that live on blackberry plants so if you come across a spider, don't be scared. You will usually notice how they go scrambling to get out of the way if you even happen to see one. Be sure to set out your bucket outside or on your porch for an hour or so before you process or clean them to let any bugs in there escape. Trust me, you won't see any bugs on your berries but there are spiders, aphids, ants, and even lady bugs that will come crawling out once you set the bucket down and let it be for a few moments.
As to storage, blackberries freeze well. You can individually quick freeze (IQF) your berries by spreading them out on a metal cookie sheet if you have enough room in the freezer for trays. Then once you pack them in bags they won't come out as one giant block.
My last bit of advice is that if you find a good batch of blackberries growing somewhere, keep it secret! Blackberries come back in the same locations year after year. If you have to drive out somewhere to find a good location that is not near a road or highway, and that has enough to make it worth the trip you will be upset to see other people there or the bushes already picked over. People can become really competitive when it comes to free food sources so I don't usually share my harvest sites with other people. Let them do some research and recon and find their own spots!
To Do List UPDATED 9/03/12
Here are our costs and also what I figure it has cost me PER DAY to feed each chicken:
15 chicks @ $3 each (approx.) $45
Feeder/waterer $20 each (approx.) $40 $40
Chicken tractor (parts/labor) $500 (approx.) $500
Oyster shell $12 $12
9 bags of feed so far @$16 each (approx.) $144
Grit 2 bags @ $5 each $10
Shavings 2 bags @ $6 each $12
Chick feeders/waters $12
Heat lamp and bulb $15
My pullets are about 3 1/2 months old now. I have a total of $790 into them, their coop, feed, feeders, etc at this point in time.
I am going through an average of 4 bags (50 pound bags) a month of feed for my 15 pullets. They should start laying some time in August. For feed costs alone, this works out to 4 x 16= $64
$64 / 15 pullets = $4.26 a month each or roughly $0.14 a day to feed them! Not too shabby :)
I will have about $28.56 into each bird by the time they are laying in feed and cost for each bird. (At around 6 months of age). The grit and oyster shell so far have added less than a penny a day to the costs on average.
So if it is costing me $0.15 a day in feed/shell/grit per bird, that is $2.25 per day for the flock.
Now I know this is a big IF, but...
IF I get roughly a dozen eggs a day out of the 15 birds and hope to sell those eggs for $3 per dozen... drumroll...
Costs per day to feed the flock is $2.25. Sell eggs for $3. That is $0.75 profit.
And this will only be for the laying months. I don't plan on giving artificial light. I don't plan on selling many egss either. It is just nice to see what my actual costs would be.