Wacky Wednesday

Wacky Wednesday

Yay! It’s Wacky Wednesday!

doTerra-Lemon

I’m giving away a 15 ml of Lemon!

#loveurselfieuseEO

All you have to do is:

  • post a selfie with  your favorite essential oil on my Facebook page EO Living by Julie in the comment of the Wacky Wednesday post
  • Like EO Living by Julie page
  • Like and share my Wacky Wednesday post

Just a few simple steps and you could win a free Lemon essential oil. Post a selfie by midnight on Tuesday, March 22. I know, I know, I hate selfies too, but this is for FREE oil. So come on…just post a picture of your favorite EO. From the posts, a winner will be chosen randomly. The winner will be announced the following Wednesday (March 24).

Don’t miss out on the fun and a chance to win a FREE Lemon essential oil (Retails for $13.33).

Lemon has multiple benefits and uses. Lemon is a powerful cleansing agent that purifies the air and surfaces, and can be used as a non-toxic cleaner throughout the home. When added to water, Lemon provides a refreshing and healthy boost throughout the day. Lemon is frequently added to food to enhance the flavor of desserts and main dishes. Taken internally, Lemon provides cleansing and digestive benefits and supports healthy respiratory function.* When diffused, Lemon is very uplifting and energizing and has been shown to help improve mood.

  • Cleanses and purifies the air and surfaces
  • Naturally cleanses the body and aids in digestion*
  • Supports healthy respiratory function*
  • Promotes a positive mood

I’ve been putting a few drops of this citrus limon in my glass water bottle. It has all the above benefits and really makes my water tasty!

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So get your favorite oil, take a selfie with it and post it at EO Living by Julie. Don’t forget the hashtag: #loveurselfieuseEO!

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Wacky Wednesday – Cedarwood Essential Oil

Wacky Wednesday

Another Wacky Wednesday!

I’m giving away a 15 ml of Cedarwood!

#loveurselfieuseEO

All you have to do is:

  • post a selfie with  your favorite essential oil on my Facebook page EO Living by Julie in the comment of the Wacky Wednesday post
  • Like EO Living by Julie page
  • Like and share my Wacky Wednesday post

No kidding! Post a selfie by midnight on Tuesday, February 23. I know, I know, I hate selfies too, but this is for FREE oil. So come on…just post a picture of your favorite EO. From the posts, a winner will be chosen randomly. The winner will be announced the following Wednesday (February 24).

Don’t miss out on the fun and a chance to win a FREE Cedarwood essential oil (Retails for $17.33).

Cedarwood-15ml (1)

Known for its rich hue and warm, woody scent, Cedarwood essential oil provides a myriad of benefits. It’s native to cold climates, thriving in high altitudes and growing up to 100 feet high. Reminiscent of its size and strength, Cedarwood has a grounding aroma that evokes feelings of wellness and vitality. Cedarwood has a warm, woody, balsamic fragrance that promotes relaxation. Additionally, this oil is frequently used in massage therapy to relax and soothe the mind and body.

  • When applied topically, Cedarwood has clarifying properties. This oil is known for promoting clear, healthy looking skin, After noticing a fresh skin imperfection, apply one drop directly to the affected area to immediately improve the appearance.
  • Before exercising, massage one to two drops into your chest to maintain vitality throughout your workout.
  • Diffuse to relax the mind and body.
  • Naturally repels insects.
  • Used aromatic and topically.

Tip: Add 1 drop to a cotton ball and place in closets, storage boxes or other areas to keep moths at bay.

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So get your favorite oil, take a selfie with it and post it at EO Living by Julie. Don’t forget to post it with #loveurselfieuseEO!

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Step #6: Fear

Minimalist Monday

The opposite of freedom is FEAR. On The Minimalists blog, they write about the fear of loss in day 6 of the minimalist journey: “Sometimes we’re afraid to give up what we think we have.” The advocates for less brings more freedom go on to encourage the reader to stop being afraid of what’s keeping happiness away.

Getting rid of the excess in life is truly liberating, but also dealing with the fear that is holding you back is FREEDOM.

This weekend, I created my vision board. Even at my age, there are still things I want to accomplish…my quest to focus my attentions, getting rid of all the non-essentials and live my life simply!

So you may ask, what does a vision board have to do with fear? For me, as my mind focuses on my vision for my life, my focus becomes my vision and less on the fears that are holding me back. If your fears are all you think about (excessive debt, health, loneliness)…these fears become reality.

The following quote is attributed to Winston Churchill. “Create your own universe as you go along.” As I prepared my vision board, I am a huge believer, that it’s your thoughts and also your feelings that shape your life. Your life is a physical manifestation of the thoughts in your head. Taken from the movie the SECRET, “In quantum physics you can’t have a universe without the mind entering into it. The mind is actually shaping the very thing that is being perceived.” I love that!

With this in mind, a vision board sets your thoughts, your feelings to where you want to be. It shapes your life to what you want in it. I still have a few more things I want to add it, but so far, here is what I have for my vision board.

Vision Board

I hope you will take some time, if you haven’t already and put together your vision board. I would love to hear about your experience. Please share in the comments below.

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It’s Gingerly!

Wacky Wednesday

It’s Wacky Wednesday!

#loveurselfieuseEO

I’m giving away a 15 ml. bottle of Ginger! I don’t know how to describe the scent except to say, it smells just gingerly!

Here’s are the contest rules.

Ginger bottle

 

All you have to do is post a selfie with  your favorite essential oil on my Facebook page EO Living by Julie.

That’s right — post a selfie on EO Living by Julie by midnight Tuesday, January 26. From the posts, a winner will be chosen randomly. Okay, okay — if your can’t imagine yourself in a selfie, then just post a picture of your favorite EO. See! It’s easy. The winner will be posted on Facebook the following Wednesday (January 27).

Ginger

So here are the steps:

  1. Like EO Living by Julie Facebook
  2. Post your selfie (don’t forget to use hashtag “loveurselfieuseEO”)
  3. Share the original Wacky Wednesday FB post

Don’t miss out on the fun and a chance to win a FREE ginger essential oil (Retails at $52).

This essential oil that is distilled from the root of the ginger plant is so versatile. It’s used frequently in culinary dishes and well-known for beverages. It’s healthy benefits has been known to aid in the reduction of inflammation from arthritis and respiratory.* The list is endless!

Please note: * denotes statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Ginger Chews

Therapeutic Thursday

I have been taking a course offered through Vintage Remedies. They shared a recipe that sounded great and gingerly. Ginger Chews. I had to try. It did not disappoint.

Why ginger chews? Ginger has anti-inflammatory benefits.It aids in reducing inflammation with both arthritic and respiratory. This root also supports a healthy digestive system and reduces nausea and vomiting.

Here’s the ingredients:

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I weighed the ginger to be slightly over the 1 ounce to account for peeling the root. I then chopped up the ginger. The first batch I did fine, but medium to course will work just fine.

Set up the cooling dish by lightly oiling the bottom of a loaf pan with coconut oil. I used a 9×9 pan, if a loaf pan isn’t handy. Then add parchment paper over the bottom and oil the paper with coconut oil. Now, we’re ready to make the chews.

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The first process is infusing the ginger in the coconut oil. My first batch I did on medium heat and the ginger turned brown to dark brown. It didn’t affect the taste, but the color of the chews were darker. The second batch I heated the oil and ginger on a low temperature and the color of the chews was more tan than brown. You’re just warm up the oil. You will need to heat the oil with ginger for 20 minutes…just watch it and stir as on occasion.  Enjoy yourself at this stage, the smell of ginger is heavenly.

4After 20 minutes, take the pan off the heat and strain the ginger out of the oil. Combine the organic sugar and honey with the oil and bring to boil using a medium to high heat.  Enjoy yourself at this stage, the smell of ginger is heavenly.

5This is where you need the candy thermometer, you need to bring the temperature of the mixture  up to 245º (soft-ball stage).  Enjoy yourself at this stage, the smell of ginger is heavenly.

6Take the mixture and pour in the prepared pan. Let it cool to set up.

8Each batch can make up to 32 squares. I used a pizza cutter and had better success than cutting with a knife. After it’s cut in squares, wrap them in wax paper. Did I already say, enjoy yourself at this stage, the smell of ginger is heavenly.

Ginger Chews

Store in mason jar or air tight container for up to six weeks. I don’t know if I should be honest and say my family loved them so much we went through one batch in one day. You’ll probably see visions of a wild and crazy group hyped-up on ginger…well you’d be right.  So, I hid the second batch. 

So, got ginger? Are you gonna try? Please share, if you do. I would love to hear about your experience.

 

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Cream in the Crust

Tasty Tuesday

Going gluten-free has been difficult, since I love pumpkin pie. I have been making pies without any crust, but I really miss the crust—until now.

Yay! Gluten Free on a Shoe String has saved me. I found a recipe on her blog and tried it with great results. Here is a recipe for an easy and great tasting pie crust. Here is what you will need.

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  • 1 1/2 c gluten-free gum-free flour (here is the previous link on the flours.)
  • 3/4 t Xanthum Gum
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 6 T butter
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • ice water

Mix flour and dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter.

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Add the sour cream and mix adding ice water as needed to make the mixture moist and binding together. Shape the dough into a disk and cover the dough with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

 

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Time to roll the dough out. I use wax paper to roll out my dough. It makes the roll out part as easy as pie. Make sure to lightly dust with flour…top and bottom.

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Place the rolled out dough in the pie plates.

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Cut off the extra crust and form the edges as you like. I just pinch the edges using my fingers.

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As I mentioned, I love pumpkin pie, so I made pumpkin pie using the crust. I just used canned pumpkin and followed the recipe on the can. For added spice, as a few drops of cinnamon bark in the mixture. Tastes as good as it smells.

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With the left over pie crust, my mom would make cinnamon and sugar cakes. My son, Matt, loves them.

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What do you think? Do you have a favorite GF pie crust recipe? What is your favorite pie?

 

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Step #5 – Things

Minimalist Monday

The purpose of life

In this step, Day 5, The Minimalist directs us to evaluate all the things in our lives. Moving beyond what is essential on to developing a discerning judgment on the things that occupy our life. This may be quite a timely post right after a holiday that is highly commercialized, huh?

This stage wants us to understand several concepts. Acquiring things cost us money. Maintaining things cost us money. Using things take our time. Keeping things bring us added stress.

I read an article a few months ago that identified how the social normative teaches us early on to become consumers. Sometimes, I think it becomes our quest to buy things so we can experience happiness. Yet, this quest to obtain all these “gotta haves” is insatiable. And during which our focus gets turned to the outside. It becomes all about the appearance — what we have — what we look like; instead of focusing on being a beneficial person and making the world a better place.

Believe me; I get caught in this too. In fact, I am probably deep-seated in it. This has been difficult for me break the behavior. Just to relate a recent experience. There was a white elephant present game over the Christmas holiday, I “stole” a gnome from someone (Sorry, Janet). Certainly, it was part of the game, but really? Yep. Definitely, the gnome was adorable. Of course, it would look even more adorable in my garden. But really, is a gnome in my possession really necessary? Would it really make my life more complete? Would it make ME more valid? 

My favorite author, Henry David Thoreau, wrote, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” In acquiring possessions, it’s not the money spent, it’s the time given. So, before bringing something new into our life; we really need to be discerning on defining what value this “thing” brings.

 So, this new year, here are 5 criteria that I am going to start using before I add new items in my life.

  1. Do I really need this?
  2. How will it add to my life?
  3. What am I giving up to make this purchase and/or bring it home?
  4. Will this help me meet my goals?
  5. Am I buying this to validate who I am?

I am going to try this year to be more discerning in the things that occupy my life and focus more on becoming a better person — realizing that happiness is a choice in the journey and not found in the things I have acquired along the way.

…make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

What are your thoughts? Do you have challenges with “things”? Do they get in your way of making a difference?

 

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Wacky Wednesday

Wacky Wednesday

Guess what today is?! Wacky Wednesday!

With Thanksgiving coming up, everyone should have DigestZen on hand when enjoying heavy holiday meals. I’m giving away a 15 ml of DigestZen®!

#loveurselfieuseEO

All you have to do is post a selfie with  your favorite essential oil on my Facebook page EO Living by Julie.

That’s right. Post a selfie by Tuesday, November 24. Again, if you can’t do the selfie thing then just post a picture of your favorite EO. From the posts submitted this week, a winner will be chosen. The winner will be announced on Wednesday (November 25).

Don’t miss out on the fun and a chance to win a FREE DigestZen essential oil (Retails for $41.33).

DigestZen_15ml
This oil is also known as a “tummy tamer”. It’s great in supporting digestion, soothing an upset stomach, and maintaining overall digestive health.* This unique blend contains Ginger, Fennel, and Coriander to help ease occasional stomach discomfort, including motion sickness and indigestion. Added benefits of Peppermint, Tarragon, Anise, and Caraway aid with digestion and help maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract.* DigestZen is great to have on hand when stomach upset occurs and is safe and effective. DigestZen is a healthy, natural, and gentle way to soothe an upset stomach or maintain a healthy digestive system.* USES • Add a few drops to water to take internally or rub on the stomach before flying or taking a road trip for a calming aroma. • Have DigestZen on hand when enjoying heavy holiday meals to promote digestion.* • Take DigestZen with you when traveling or trying new foods to soothe occasional stomach upset.* • Add to water or tea to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract.*

Applications:
Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Internal use: Dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with dōTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity. See additional precautions below.
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So get your favorite oil, take a selfie with it and post it at EO Living by Julie. Don’t forget #loveurselfieuseEO!
CAUTIONS: Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. 

Step #4: Essentials

Minimalist Monday

If you define abundance in terms of feeling there is plenty, you will be rich every day of your life. (1)

In Zac Brown Band’s song, “Homestead”, the lyrics go: “I’ve got everything I need and nothing that I don’t.” While these words are easy to understand, I took a moment to let them sink in. How simple! How true! I have everything need…but too, I have a whole lot of things that I don’t need. What a great yard stick to measure what is essential in life.

Step 4 of minimalism is essentials. Coming from a life of consumerism, this is challenging to get down to only the essential. As I have mentioned before, I’m challenged. So, as a wimp, I start small.

I started with my kitchen counter.

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These pictures reveal clutter. I am a person of convenience. If it isn’t convenient, chances are I won’t do it. So, I wanted to take things off the counter to easily keep it clean, but I still needed easy access to some of the items. I had a hard time determining what is essential and what isn’t. This was not be easy for me.

In my reading of organizational tips, I learned placing items together at “point of use”. So I have a my teas together on the right, all my baking/cooking items in the area on the left (in addition with all my supplements). The counter is premium “real estate”, so I only wanted things I use daily on it. While I do take my vitamins daily, all the bottles make the counter look very cluttered. So, I wanted to move them to the cupboard.

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The counters now. Only things that are needed daily have earned a place in the prestige spot on the counter. I still have my kombucha on the counter, so I have to decide if its necessary there or I should move it to another location.

The look of minimalism…tidy, organized, clean.

“I’ve got everything I need and nothing that I don’t.”

This song provided a paradigm shift that I needed. It’s going to be my motivation to continue on. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, here is the Youtube link — enjoy.

I’m loving this simple, minimalist life.

So, what do you have on your counter? Is it only the essential things? Have you been able to minimize its contents even further?

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Corn Pancakes

Tasty Tuesday

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I usually have my grandson, Skooter, on the weekends while my daughter works. He always wants pancakes for breakfast and he is a picky eater. I make several different kinds, but mine (and his) is favorite is corn pancakes. Since I have gone gluten-free, it has been a challenge adjusting recipes leaving out the gluten to get the right texture. I think I have discovered it; and today, I’m sharing the recipe with you.

Corn Cakes

1 c. All-purpose Gluten-free Gum-free flour. (Here is the previous post about this flour.)
1 c Cornmeal
3 T Baking Powder
1/4 t Salt
1/4 c Sugar
2 c Milk (you may need more to get the batter to the right consistency)
1 T vanilla
3 eggs
4 T butter, melted (or bacon fat if you have it available — and depending on your healthy choices.)

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Mix dry and wet ingredients separately and then combine. Add more milk if needed. My family likes a thinner pancake, so my batter is the consistency of a thin cake batter.

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I use coconut oil to cook them in or you can use bacon grease if it’s available. Either one will make them scrumptious.

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Day #3:The Packing

Minimalist Monday

Challenged…again! My challenge? I have a hard time of letting go of things. Day 3 of The Minimalist is packing. The instruction is to box up everything and then when you need something, find the box, take it out. I am just too practical — okay, LAZY — to box up everything and then when I need someone to find the box. But I’m on this quest, I adjusted this step a little…okay a lot. I started with my bedroom, specifically my closet. You may be thinking, what a wimp. This, however, was the most difficult. I love clothes…it’s a curse and I blame my mother!

This is what I started with…my closet (please, don’t judge).

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I followed the guidelines of Project 333. The strategy is to choose 33 items to use for three months. If you are interested, here are some resources with more information:

Project 333, simple is the new black.
Declutter Your Closet
Or simply perform a google search of “Project 333”. You will come up with about 216,000 results.

A word of caution: Do not…I repeat do not tell anyone of the male species the guidelines of this project and how challenging it is for you. Their response will be laughter. This will be laughter at you, not with you or beside you, but at you. I made this mistake several times before learning to just keep my mouth shut. On the other hand, most females are very sympathetic.

So, again, this was really difficult for me to make choices on what to discard or keep pieces. So, I purchased 4 bins for each season. 

3In these bins I started tossing clothing appropriate for the season designated on the bin. At this point was able to move through my closet relatively quickly. I got rid of duplicates and discarded the pieces that were worn out or items where I asked the question, “What was I thinking!”

I recently read an article mentioning a study by Princeton University. It talked how certain habits can zap your energy. On the list was clutter. Clutter appears to be my  middle name. The study recommended starting small and when you see the benefits you will have the motivation to move on. Working through my closet gave me motivation to move onto my room. I’ll save that for another post.

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I faced the beast. I conquered! This was liberating.

This challenge has also changed my shopping behavior. I don’t feel it’s a requirement now to find something to buy when I’m on a trip or tagging along with a friend who’s shopping. I realize. I have 33 items. I don’t need anything else. Also, buying something means I have to give up something else. When I retire pieces from my wardrobe, I’ll have a reason to shop and will end up with new items which I need and will fit with what I have. Then I won’t end up with nonsensical items because I was compelled to buy it.

Also, with only 33 items in my closet, getting ready in the morning is a breeze. So, this challenge is saving me money and time. 

Anyone else heard of Project 333? Have you embarked on “simple is the new black”? Interested in taking on the challenge? I would love to hear.

Clove…it’s not just for cooking

Wacky Wednesday

Another Wacky Wednesday!

I’m giving away a 15 ml of Clove! It’s aroma is very spicy, warm, woody with a subnote of leather…really grounding.

Clove_15ml

#loveurselfieuseEO

All you have to do is post a selfie with  your favorite essential oil on my Facebook page EO Living by Julie.

That’s right — post a selfie by midnight, Tuesday, October 20. From the posts, a winner will be chosen randomly. Okay, okay — if your as critical of your selfies as me, then just post a picture of your favorite EO. The winner will be announced the following Wednesday (October 21).

So here are the steps:

  1. Like EO Living by Julie Facebook
  2. Post your selfie (don’t forget to use hashtag loveurselfieuseEO)
  3. Share the Wacky Wednesday FB post

Don’t miss out on the fun and a chance to win a FREE clove essential oil (Retails at $18.67).

Clove

You may ask, “What the heck can I do with a bottle of clove essential oil?” I’m so glad you asked Happy face. Cloves are:
• Powerful antioxidant properties*
• Promotes circulation
• Supports cardiovascular health*
• Helps soothe teeth and gums
• Promotes oral health
• Supports a healthy immune system

With flu season upon us, who wouldn’t want to beef up your immune system and get more antioxidants?

Clove has been used for years in dental preparations, candy, and gum for its flavor and ability to cleanse the mouth, yet it provides a myriad of benefits. Its main chemical component, eugenol, makes it a very stimulating and energizing essential oil that can be used as a warming massage oil. Clove contains powerful antioxidant properties and supports cardiovascular health when taken internally.* As a cooking spice, Clove adds a spicy flavor to any dish or dessert while providing internal health benefits.* One drop can clean the teeth and gums while promoting fresh breath.

You can use clove oil in the following ways:

  • Add one drop to toothpaste to clean teeth and gums.
  • Place one drop in two ounces of water and gargle for a soothing effect.
  • Take in veggie capsules to support cardiovascular health.*

So, what’s your favorite essential oil?

Please note: * denotes statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Get Your Kraut On!

Tasty Tuesday

This is yet another fermentation recipe. In its defense, not only are these recipes tasty, they are great to keep the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Yep, you read that right, I just mentioned your gut.

Kraut can be bought or bottled, but the taste of these products are created by processing the cabbage with vinegar. The unique taste of this recipe is created by fermenting the vegetables.

Sauerkraut, of course, uses cabbage but you can add whatever vegetables you have available to the mixture. My grandchildren (bless ’em) picked all my green peppers from my garden for their picnic. They soon discovered, green pepper wasn’t quite the taste they were going for, so I ended up with the leftovers. It’s all good! It worked great to add them to this recipe.

First Step: Finely dice, shred or chop the vegetables. In this recipe, I used, red cabbage (Because it is so pretty!), but any cabbage will do. I added onions and those green peppers so lovingly picked by my grandchildren. You can use shredded carrots, turnips, beets , etc. Also add spices to your liking. The amount of vegetables you need depends on the size of your container. I use only a half a head of cabbage and then add the veggies need to fill my container. Remember during the process, the vegetables are broken down quite a bit, so start off with more than you think you will need.

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Second Step: Add salt…about 5 to 7 tablespoons. 

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Third Step: Then using your hand, squish the vegetables between your fingers crushing out all the crispness vegetables. The veggies will let off a liquid. The one with the most liquid wins the game. Add any other spices you would like to use to flavor your mixture.

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Fourth Step: Then place the mixture in a crock or jar. I use a jar made specifically for fermenting. I purchased it from culturesforhealth.com if your interested.

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Fifth Step: If your vegetables didn’t create enough liquid to keep all of it fully immersed, then you will need to add water to top  it off. Some people use distilled water, if you are worried about contaminants in your water.

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The jar that I purchased also came with glass pebbles to weight the contents down and keep it submerged. You don’t need this. I have also used a dinner plate sized to fit nicely inside the container — so be creative.

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Set it aside, away from other fermenting recipes. It should take a week to 10 days to process. The length of time you need to let it set depends on the temperature. The cooler temperatures, the longer it will take. I have had this recipe setting on my counter now for about a week and it isn’t ready. So, just keep checking back every few days. When it smells heavenly and a taste to match, the process is done. You can move the contents to the fridge. As long the mixture doesn’t have a repulsive smell you should be good to go. Yes, this is the criteria I judge whether food is edible or not — as long as it doesn’t have a repulsive smell — I’m good to go.

As with all fermenting, there is an art to it. It’s easy, but each environment adds so many variables; so be patient.

This is a great end of season recipe to use up all the straggler vegetables harvested out of your garden.

Any readers get their kraut on? I would love to hear about it.

 

 

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Bath Bombs

Therapeutic Thursday

Bath BombsHere is a recipe that I have come to enjoy immensely when I have a bath. Okay, for those that know me know that baths are my thing. So, if you like baths as much as I do; here is the bomb for bath enjoyment. You  will wonder how you lived without them.

You will need:

  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ½ cup corn starch
  • ½ cup oil (almond oil, olive oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil, etc.)
  • 8-10 drops of your favorite or combination of essential oil(s)
  • Silicone mold or ice trays

Ingredients

  1. In a bowl, place citric acid, baking soda, corn starch, and oil.
  2. Add 8-10 drops of the essential oil of your choice.
  3. Mix well with a spoon or with your hands until a soft dough is formed. It should have the consistency of damp sand. At this point you could also add food coloring, dried herbs, or flower petals to the mixture. If the mixture is too wet, try adding a little more baking soda and corn starch until the consistency is right
  4. Put the mixture into a silicone mold. Let it sit for at least 24 hours before removing from mold.
  5. The bath bombs are ready to use once they are completely dry. To use, just drop them in the tub/shower until they dissolve.

Choose the EO that speaks to you and makes everything right in your world. If you’re new to essential oils, here are some recommendations to try if you looking for support in:

  • Calming use Geranium and Lavender
  • Self-confidence use Balance and Frankincense
  • Mind clarity use Lemon and Rosemary
  • Relaxation use Bergamot and Lavender
  • Motivation use Rosemary and Peppermint
  • Sleep use Lavender, Vetiver and Marjoram
  • Rejuvenating use Frankincense and Rosemary
  • Muscle Mender use Ylang Ylang and Clary Sage
If you define abundance in terms of feeling there is plenty, you will be rich every day of your life.

Step 2: The Plan

Minimalist Monday

If you define abundance in terms of feeling there is plenty, you will be rich every day of your life.
Following along with The Minimalist 21-day challenge, I began to make a plan, attempted and began to make a plan again. This has been difficult, but since I have began the journey, the results have been encouraging. I want to live my life simply and only keep in it, what’s important. It’s been hard for me to make the distinction of what is truly necessary. The Minimalist recommends making a must list. This list is to identify what you must do to achieve your why. I used their list (they did an excellent job on) and adapted it to fit me and my why. Here’s my list.

  • I must live healthy every day.

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  • I must focus on eating clean, real food.

I have been on this quest for a while and have failed as many times as I have started. A friend told me once, “It’s a process.” As everything in life it IS a process. You are only one meal away from eating healthy — no matter how many times you need to start that beginning. Just take it one meal at time.

  • I must exercise at least four times per week.

Once upon a time, I exercised faithfully. About three years ago when I started graduate school, exercising was the first thing to go as my schedule went from busy to mind-boggling busy. Since completing school, it’s been difficult getting back into the groove of exercising. I found this blog, busybugeter.com, that recommends setting up a reward system for “good behavior”. Since I love rewards, this will be my salvation! Here is the spreadsheet I made up (modeled after the blogger’s), if you’re interested.

  • I must build loving relationships every day.

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  • I must live within my means, while contributing to savings and charity.

I recently attended a Financial Peace University course by Dave Ramsey. It completely changed the way I think about money. It has several steps to move you towards financial peace. This will continue to be a “must” for me.

  • I must live deliberately and be self-sufficient.
  • I must write every day.

As I blog, I want to improve and become a better writer.

  • I must show value to those I meet and associate with daily.

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  • I must read every day.

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  • I must listen to music every day.

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  • I must grow as an individual every day.
  • I must live passionately and cease the day.

Passion

  • I must end each day with gratitude.

As directed by The Minimalist, with this list developed; I now will answer the following questions to ensure a successful plan for this journey.

What is standing in the way of my musts?
When did I give so much meaning to my possessions?
What is truly important in my life?
Why am I discontented?
Who is the person I want to become?
How will I define my success?
How will my life improve if I own less stuff?

So far the weeding out of my possessions has brought me relief and clarity to my life. How about you? Has your journey brought you to be a minimalist? Please share any comments or tips.

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Crème de la Coop

Farm Fresh Friday

I am a blessed mother of four children — three of them sons who can just about figure out anything. As such, all I have to do is show them a picture, video or article and they can figure it out and build it up.

One day I found this YouTube video of a chicken coop designed to minimize cleaning, feeding and maintenance. I posted it to my son’s, Matt, Facebook wall (isn’t that how everyone communicates now a days?). Well, the next thing I knew he began building a new chicken coop for me. All from scrap wood of a recent remodel.

 

The View (4)

The feeding area has tubes that can funnel the food and water into the containers. So, you can feed and water the flock without even going into the coop.

The Feeder & Water

The nesting boxes are located outside the coop so you can collect the eggs just by lifting up the roof. I keep a step stool under the nesting boxes as the first thing the grandchildren do when they come over is check for eggs.

I keep the roof up in the summer time to keep a breeze going through it. The lower left picture shows the screen that I keep over it to keep the hens in. The wood laying boxes hold plastic bins with the bedding material. These can then be taken out for easy cleaning.

Nesting Boxes

My son made the roost out of natural branches. In his researched he found this to be the most preferred and beneficial for the hens.

The Roost

The best part of this is how easy it is to clean. I just open the back door and with a square garbage can up against the back I scoop out all the poop and straw. It takes me 15 minutes. It’s a snap!

The Easy Clean

So, there you have it. A very functional coop that fits the flocks needs and minimizes my time for care and maintenance of the girls.

So, anyone want to share their backyard chicken coop? I would love to organize a tour of the area’s chicken coops. Anyone interested? Please post interest below. Or post a link of your coop below and we can have ourselves a virtual tour Happy face.

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Gluten-free Flours

Tasty Tuesday

Here is my bible to gluten-free (GF) cooking.

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If you want to go GF, this author, Nicole Hunn, provides a painless way to do it — and you won’t miss the wheat. She provides “cup for cup” GF flours that you can use with her recipes or substitute in your own. 

This book has several recipes; even sourdough! (This I will attempt in another post.) Her recipe measurements are by weight, so I recommend getting a scale. It makes it a lot easier; of course, I was never good a math. A scale de-stressed the process for me.

Scale

I use the following two flours which I have had very good luck with. Here is an all-purpose flour.

All-Purpose

Here is the recipe with the link to the website.

All-Purpose Recipe

Here is the gum-free recipe. This is great for quick bread recipes.

Gum-Free Recipe

Now, where to find the flours used in these recipes? Natural Grocers, Dixie Nutrition, Harmon’s and even Walmart carries a variety of flours. It’s pretty comparable in price for the packaged flours too. However, if you can buy the four in bulk, it’s going to be the cheapest. Harmon’s has brown rice and tapioca flour/starch in bulk. As for the All Natural Fruit Pectin, Walmart has the cheapest price.

I mix up enough of the recipe to have enough flour to last me a while.

Ready to Use Flours

Has anyone else bakes gluten-free? What do you use for your flour?

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Wacky Wednesday

Wacky Wednesday

Another Wacky Wednesday!

I’m giving away a 15 ml of Eucalyptus!

#loveurselfieuseEO

All you have to do is post a selfie with  your favorite essential oil on my Facebook page EO Living by Julie.

That’s right. Post a selfie by Tuesday, September 22. Okay, okay — if your too shy and don’t want to post a selfie just post a picture of your favorite EO. From the posts, a winner will be chosen randomly. The winner will be announced the following Wednesday (September 23).

Don’t miss out on the fun and a chance to win a FREE eucalyptus essential oil (Retails for $18.67).

Eucalyptus_15ml

This oil has purifying properties that can be beneficial for the skin, cleansing the surfaces and purifying the air. It has been proven in studies to be effective in helping to lessen tension.

Combine with Lemon and Peppermint in a spray bottle and use it to wipe down surfaces in your kitchen or bathroom.

Add one drop to moisturizer and apply to skin for revitalizing benefits.

While showering, place a few drops in the hands, place over your nose, and inhale deeply to invigorate and promote vitality.

This oil is great to diffuse for a feeling of clear breathing and open airways for creating a soothing experience.

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So get your favorite oil, take a selfie with it and post it at EO Living by Julie. Don’t forget #loveurselfieuseEO!

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The BALLS have IT!

Therapeutic Thursday

I’ve mentioned before my quest to rid my life of chemicals. Well, since I loathe static cling on my clothes, I figured dryer sheet would always be apart of my life. Well guess what! I’m tossing the sheets from the dryer to the garbage. I found a solution! Wool balls solve it.

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For the past month now, I’ve been using wool balls in my dryer. It prevents static cling. Honest! I know, I’m still amazed about it as you probably are. But…it really works. And they’re really easy to make.

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So, we start with pure wool yarn. I was only able to find it at JoAnn’s. Walmart has 90% wool, but we need pure wool. So, if you know of another source that sells pure wool yarn in this area, please share and leave it in the comments below. Yarn color didn’t matter to me, so I just purchased what was on sale. I bought four skeins at $3.97 each bringing the project total to $15.88. (I am not really that fast at math; it took me a few minutes to add this…and I had to use a calculator.) This made four balls — a skein of yarn for each ball — just in case you missed that. Hey listen, I state the obvious because I’m usually the one missing the obvious. I digress.

Continuing on with the project, I rolled each skein of yarn into a ball. This was somewhat fun — I live with low expectations for my life. In fact, this brought back memories of getting ready for a past project. A project that would sit unfinished for years until I finally couldn’t take anymore and gave it away to the thrift store. Okay. So, the memories this activity brought wasn’t so pleasant, but this experience turned out different. This could be life changing!

Crochet hook

Using a crochet hook, I pulled the end of the yarn through the middle of the ball to secure it tight. And that’s the beauty of this project — we’re almost done!

Place balls in an old nylon stocking with knots between each ball.

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Wash the balls in the clothes washer. It’s OKAY — you can wash the wool — we won’t tell. Then dry the set of balls in your dryer. Boy, we’re breaking all the rules here!

When completely dry, cut out the balls out of the nylon and you’re set to go. I store these in a large glass jar on my dryer.

How to use them

With each use, apply 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil to each ball and place in dryer with a load of clothes. I promise this will work. In fact, the research claimed to even reduce drying time on your laundry load. Cool! Nifty and thrifty!

The only problem I’ve had with the balls is I have adult children living with me. Need I say more? Well actually they’ve saved me more times than I can count. However, they do their own laundry and sometimes I have to hunt down the balls.

Please let me know if you use these or if you’re intrigued and “gotta” try them. Please put comments below. I would love to hear about your experience.

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Wacky Wednesday!

Wacky Wednesday

Today is Wacky Wednesday! I’m launching #loveurselfieuseEO contest. Take a selfie with your favorite essential oil and then post on my Facebook page EO Living by Julie. Those who post their selfie before midnight on Wednesday, August 26 will be entered in the contest. I will pick a name from these posts to receive — for FREE — a 15 ml of Lemon essential oil. That’s right…for FREE. AND you don’t live in southern Utah’s Dixie, to play. I’ll post the winner on Friday!

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The essential oil of Lemon has multiple benefits and uses.

  • It’s a powerful cleansing agent that purifies the air, disinfects surfaces, and can be used as a non-toxic cleaner throughout the home.
  • Added it to water, to provide a refreshing and healthy boost throughout the day.
  • Use it in cooking to enhance the flavor of desserts and main dishes.
  • Due to its high limonene content, Lemon is a powerful antioxidant that can help ward off free radicals.
  • Taken internally, Lemon provides cleansing and digestive benefits, can soothe an irritated throat, and supports healthy respiratory function.
  • When diffused, Lemon is very uplifting and energizing and has been shown to improve mood and cognitive ability

UNDAY MORNING specialSo find your favorite essential oil (it doesn’t have to be doTERRA) and take a picture of yourself with it. Like my page EO Living by Julie (if you haven’t already) and post your selfie. Share the love by inviting your friends to join the contest.

Don’t get left out of the fun. Stay tune because one Wednesday a month I will open up the #loveurselfieuseEO contest, highlighting a different oil for the prize. Can’t wait to see all the selfies!

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The Feed to Achieve the Bionic Egg!

Farm Fresh Friday

I follow several backyard chicken blogs. Recently, one posted “The Breakfast of Champion Layer” feed. The recipe made me curious. I had to see if I could find the ingredients locally and what the cost would be for this area and finally, if I saw any benefits in my girls. There are several farm supplies around town. The one with the best prices is definitely Steve Regan. The draw back with this store though is it doesn’t have retail hours. It’s only open Monday through Friday from 8 to 5. For a working girl, that’s me, those hours don’t necessary accommodate my schedule. I mean, in order to get there, I’d have to schedule it during my lunch hour. So for me, that takes some planning — as I usually like to eat during my lunch hour. The store is worth the inconvenience. The other three farm supply stores are pretty comparable in prices to each other. You should watch the sales, but for the most part they will be within a few dollars of each other. Another benefit of Steve Regan store is the protein content of the layer bag. It is 18 percent protein. The other stores carry the 18 percent in the all flock feed, but it’s even more expensive than what I have listed here. What I couldn’t find locally in the recipe, I mail ordered (Amazon Prime comes in handy for these occasions).

The Feed Barrel

In my normal routine, I just buy two 50 pound bags of layer pellets and two 50 pound bags of scratch. This runs me about $70 every three months. This also fits nicely in the feed barrel. This ratio is not recommended. I’ve since learned hens need more protein for better egg production, so I wanted to give this recipe a try and see how the cost compared to my current routine.

The LootHere is the recipe as it was published on the blog, Fresh Eggs Daily. I will provide my notes below this recipe.

Qty

Ingredient Cost

Store

1 50 lb. bag Layer Crumble

$14.50

Steve Regan
1 Large canister Old-fashioned Oats

$3.94

Walmart
2 c Cracked Corn (omit in summer or give less)

$0.33

Steve Regan
4 c Shelled Sunflower Seeds

$3.60

Amazon
1 lb Omega Ultra Egg

$2.00

Tractor Supply Co.
1.5 c Thomas Labs Brewer’s Yeast and Garlic Powder

$1.69

Amazon
1.5 c Probiotic Powder

$5.15

Amazon
1.5 c Diatomaceous Earth

$0.13

Steve Regan
1 c Sea Kelp

$2.83

Amazon
Handful of mixed dried herbs

Total

$34.17

NOTES:

  1. I do not use the layer crumble, I use pellets. The hens make a mess of the crumble and a majority of it seemed wasted. It only took me one lesson on this mistake on this — that’s irritated I was over this. So, I get the pellets. It is the same cost per bag.
  2. I buy my oats in bulk from the health food store, so I didn’t actually purchase any for this recipe. Another option would be to purchase it from the feed store as well. The bulk rate would bring the cost down considerably.
  3. I also purchased the raw sunflower seeds in bulk from Nature’s Market in Washington, Utah. They will not post prices though, so you will have to compare on your own.
  4. The Tractor Supply had the Omega Ultra Egg on sale, so this cost will need to be adjusted as the situation changes.
  5. No cost  on the dried herbs, I just used herbs I dried from my garden.
  6. PLEASE NOTE: These prices were pulled around the time of this post. Obviously, they will change, but this should give you a general idea of cost.

Here is the breakdown to purchase all the items to make the recipe. Some of the items will have product left-over for for the next batch.

Ingredient Cost Store
50 lb. bag Layer Crumble

$14.50

Steve Regan
Large canister Old-fashioned Oats

$3.94

Walmart
Cracked Corn (omit in summer or give less)

$8.35

Steve Regan
Shelled Sunflower Seeds

$10.79

Amazon
Omega Ultra Egg

$11.99

Tractor Supply
Thomas Labs Brewer’s Yeast and Garlic Powder

$25.31

Amazon
Probiotic Powder

$5.15

Amazon
Diatomaceous Earth

$9.65

Steve Regan
Sea Kelp

$2.83

Amazon
Handful of mixed dried herbs

Total

$153.02

So if you want to give this a try, here is your shopping list and approximately what you will spend at each store. This does not include taxes and shipping costs.

Steve Regan

·       50 lb layer pellets

·       50 lb cracked corn

·       25 lb diatomaceous earth

$32.50

Amazon (follow the links)

·       Sunflower Seeds

·       Thomas Labs Brewer’s Yeast & Garlic Powder

·       Probiotic Powder

·       Sea Kelp

$104.59

Tractor Supply

·       Omega Ultra Egg

$11.99

Walmart

·       Canister of Old Fashion Oats

$3.94

Total

$153.02

The GirlIt took a day for the girls take a liking to the new recipe. Scratch is considered a treat and the ratio I was using practically gave them a treat in every bite (or peck). They would move their beak around in the feeder, pushing the pellets away to get to the grain. Girls! So, yeah, this recipe pretty much put them in shock. This will be healthier for them though and bring better egg production. They have been on it for about a month — so far; so good. As a side note, it takes about 1.5 pounds of feed a week per laying hen. So, this recipe should feed about 6 hens for about 5 weeks. Unless you’re like me and also feeding the entire neighborhood of free-loading birds…then you better deduct a week or two.

Anyone have a special recipe they follow? Who’s going to try this one out? Please let me know how it works for you.

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Kombucha!

Tasty Tuesday

My scoby is multiplying!

This past week I posted on Facebook, asking if anyone was interested in a scoby to make Kombucha. I explained I have a few extra of these cultures and was willing to give one away to a good home. I had some takers. Woohoo! Some were even excited. I can understand…it’s $3 for a 12 ounce bottle in the grocery store. So, “brewing” your own kombucha probiotic drink (I love saying that, even in my head) can save you a pretty penny. Explaining this “brewing” process a few times and seeing some takers seem somewhat nervous to take the scoby home, I decided the next post on Tasty Tuesday would be about “how to” get some kombucha going. Well, at least how I do it. So, here we go.

  1. Get a scoby. I have seen them even on Craigslist, however, Amazon.com is where I purchased mine. This is actually my second attempt. My first purchase was a dehydrated culture. I had a difficult time getting it active. The scoby, this time around…well….IT’S ALIVE! It’s also prolific. So, please keep in mind, like any live cultures, they do multiply.the tea (1)
  2. Brew some tea. I use green tea and some other types of herbal teas with it. I brew the tea in a coffee maker running two pots of water through one tea herb mixture. This gives me a gallon of tea. The tea will need to be cooled down to room temperature. Otherwise the culture will die from the high heat. To complete the brewed tea, I add a heaping cup of organic granular sugar (regular white sugar will work too, just as well). Yes, I do have a sweet tooth, but sugar is what the cultures live on. You can use any tea. I use a mixture of green tea and herbal tea. I have just started using this type of tea and really like it. I found it at Dixie Nutrition, I will update this post if I find it in other stores.the tea
  3. I cover the tea with a coffee filter and use a rubber-band to hold the filter in place. This keeps the bugs out and allows air to the mixture. I put the bottle on the counter and let the scoby do it’s job. It takes about a week for the kombucha to be ready. This, however, depends on a few things: a.) the size of the scoby…the ratio scoby to tea makes a difference in the fermentation speed; b.) room temperature…the hotter the area of room the jug is placed, the faster the fermentation process.the wild (3)

Some of you may already know the health benefits of adding fermented foods into your diet. I once heard, “All disease begins in the gut.” (I think Hippocrates is attributed to this quote.) Foods laden with good bacteria help improve digestion by improving gut flora. Therefore cultivating a healthy gut will bring health and wellness. More specific information on the health benefits can be found through a google search about probiotics. I also like Dr. Axe’s website. He provides some great information. So since probiotics have great health benefits, I usually have a few cultures developing in my kitchen from time to time. Kombucha is one of them…and one of the easiest to “brew”.

In past posts, I have talked about kefir and ginger ale. Anyone else have a favorite culture or other fermented food they would like to share? I’d love to hear about it.

Laundry

Chemical-free

Therapeutic Thursday

LaundryNow before you begin to wonder if this is an AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting, chemical-free in this post does not mean drugs, but the toxic chemicals that is sold on the grocery selves to us everyday, specifically—cleaning products. Yes, I said it! Cleaning products are bad and toxic. Now, this isn’t a get-out-of-jail free card to get out of cleaning…although if you are anything like me, I wouldn’t need the free card. In fact, I am a minimalist in this area—hands down. Yes, I said it!

Last night I held a Make & Take workshop on DIY cleaning solutions. I have been doing baby steps to move away from chemicals and minimize their use in my life. I have to admit, I have been pleasantly surprised how great these recipes work.

Highlighting just a few in this post, I will start with the laundry. I have made my own laundry crystals for the past year now. They work just as well as the name brands in the store and cost considerably less. I talked about this in an earlier post here. The laundry detergent, my daughter started making and then I have just taken it over. Here is what you need:

  • 2 c Borax
  • 2 c Washing Soda
  • 1 c baking soda
  • 1 bar grated Castile Soap Bar
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil
  • 15 drops peppermint essential oil

Combine all ingredients and put in an airtight container. This recipe comes from DrAxe.com. Prior to finding this recipe, I was using ZOTE bars or flakes. The flakes are large and had a hard time getting through the washer dispenser. So, it may be best, in whatever soap option you choose, to go with the bars and use a small grate. I did find another way to break up the soap bar. Cut the bars into four pieces and microwave on high for 1 minute. It takes several minutes for the pieces to cool, but then the pieces can be broken down into almost a powder. I found this took more time, but crushing the pieces of soap between your fingers was quite therapeutic…especially after a rough day at work of dealing with difficult people…YES, therapeutic indeed.

So any supermarket will have the first three ingredients here in southern Utah’s Dixie. Walmart of course is going to be the cheapest for the first two, but Costco has baking soda—CHEAP. The Castile soap bars are sold at Natures Market and Dixie Nutrition. It runs about $7 per bar. On walmart.com, another option is “Kirks” Castile brand for only $3.97 a bar and free shipping if you ship it to the store of you choosing. They are stocked in various scents, but with using the essential oils, I took the unscented. The recipe calls for specific oils, but any essential oils you are drawn to will work…go for the HAPPY on this. As rumor has it, (and I have found this to be true) citrus oils are a great stain, grease lifter and the scent is energizing. Anything to help through those loads of laundry, right?

If you would like a copy of the compiled recipes I made, I will be happy to send you a copy— just IM me through one of my social media sites. The recipes are not my own, but just ones I have collected and found them to be worthy of inclusion.

How about you? Do you make your own laundry detergent? Please share in the comments…especially, if you have any helpful tips you have discovered. I would love to hear them!

Minimalist…discover your why.

Minimalist Monday

Minimalist! Minimalist? “What exactly is a minimalist,” you might be asking. I came upon the term about a year ago while watching the TEDx YouTube channel (yeah, I am geeky like that , but there are some really great videos Happy face.) The topic was presented by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn. Their tagline…“A rich life with less stuff.” Since hearing the term, I have noticed people all-around simplifying their lives. I was intrigued. Evidently, the movement still continues and has gained momentum. People are getting back to the essentials, realizing that the true meaning of life has been lost in the quest to accumulate “stuff”. Several years ago, I had already begun my journey of getting back to the basics with my food source to become less dependent on commerce. So, I started raising chickens (a long story…a past blog entry). So, moving from a minimalist foodie to other areas in my life seemed logical…the next step.

Since the initial exposure of minimalism, I have found quite a few blogs about people who have embarked on the journey to reduce the clutter in their life and in turn, to have more time for the things that are most important. One such blogger took a challenge not buy anything for one year. Something I feel would be quite a feat, but somewhat worthy of a quest.

Another blog focused on clothes, capsule wardrobes. Referred to as Project 333, a search can find information all over social media, with quite a bit of information found in YouTube and Pinterest. This will be something I will try to explain, attempt and journal in a future post.

Back to the overall minimalist…Joshua and Ryan have a website: theminimalist.com. The website has a 21 day schedule to follow in the pursuit of becoming a minimalist. They also offer a game, if you just want to dip your toe in, and get just a little wet. One blog, bemorewithless.com laid out seven simple steps to get started. The common thread in all these blogs is the starting place—discover your why. So, I thought with my first returning blog post, I would lay it all out and get started on this life altering pursuit. Why do you want to simplify? Why do you want to de-clutter? Why do you want to be a minimalist?

Discover the “why” of becoming a minimalist. Joshua from theminimalist.com website expressed it:

“In time, Joshua realized most of his stuff—about 90% of it—was weighing him down, keeping him from the freedom, happiness, and fulfillment he so desperately wanted.

So he let go. Over the course of eight months, Joshua jettisoned approximately 90% of his possessions. As he let go, he began feeling freer, happier, lighter. As the external clutter was removed, so was the internal clutter: emotional clutter, mental clutter, stress, anxiety”.

So, here is my why: I have discovered the true meaning of life isn’t what you have, but who you are with…your family, friends, those that love you unconditionally. I realize that I have lost sight of the true meaning of life, getting caught up in acquiring stuff just for the sake of buying and hording. I want to rid my life of all the clutter that is weighing me down and keeping me from really attaining in life what I value most. I want my future decisions evaluated with; will this will bring me the quality of life that is important…will this bring me closer to what I value: family, relationships, self-reliance…living deliberately.

Take a look here at the 15 minute TED talk of Joshua and Ryan. See if it isn’t life changing for you too.

So, what do you think? Are you in? Ready to start getting rid of stuff and simplify???

Before and After

Flock Friday

Hey, this will be my last post for a while. One more semester of graduate school…need I say more? Hope to see you on the flip side when I have my life back. Bigger and better things to come.

If you have chickens, occasionally you will need to respectfully harvest them. And knowing that I bought two turkeys this year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is Thanksgiving. He could strut like no other Tom, but then again…I have to admit…I’m not really all that experienced with a turkey strut. It was pretty entertaining to watch.

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BEFORE

Well, recently, I harvested one of them. It weighed 42 pounds!

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AFTER

To prepare the bird, I put the meat in a brine solution for 36 hours. The brine solution was made up of 3/4 cup salt (I used Morton’s Tender Quick) per gallon of water. Then I added quartered onions, quartered garlic cloves, lemons (sliced), soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and some brown sugar.

Before smoking the bird, I rubbed it with olive oil and a Cajun rub. Then I placed it in my propane smoker with mesquite wood chips.

If you haven’t ever smoked meat, I encourage you to try it. It tastes as heavenly as the aroma during the cooking process.

I won’t be writing any posts next week because of Thanksgiving. So I wish you all a very food-filled, family-fun, football frenzy Thanksgiving!

Buttery Biscuits

Tasty Tuesday

You won’t believe these are gluten-free!

photo

This recipe can be found on my favorite GF blog…http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/

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You will need the following ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose GF flour, plus more for rolling out dough

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

7 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, roughly chopped and chilled

7 fluid ounces (14 tablespoons) milk or cream, chilled

Combine all the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter and then using a pastry blender mix well.

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Make a well in the mixture and add the milk. I used kefir instead of milk or cream as the recipe calls for.

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Once all dry ingredients is moistened, put half the dough out on a floured, 12×12 piece of wax paper. Sprinkle flour on dough and place another piece of wax paper on top.

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Roll thin. Then remove top layer of the wax paper. Replace. Flip. Remove the top piece of the wax paper.

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Fold the flattened dough in half.

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Fold in half again. It should look like the dough pictured above. Mold edges of dough into the shape of a circle. Repeat rolling out again. On the second time roll to a thickness of 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick.

 

Pair

Place biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When all dough has been cut up, place cookie sheet in oven that has been preheated to 375 degrees. Or place uncooked biscuits on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once biscuits are frozen, you can place them in a bag and freeze until needed.

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Looking for GF flour? The St. George Harmon’s has the best selection of GF flour. It is expensive, but in a pinch if you don’t have any made up, you have several varieties to choose from. If you want to make your own, here is link from the same’s blog. Absolutely fabulous!

Try this recipe, you will absolutely wonder, “Who needs gluten!?” Do you have a favorite GF recipe? Please share it in the comments.

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Garden Wonders

Gardening Thursday

I am getting my soil ready for spring. Here’s my son, Matt, tilling the front yard. It use to be all lawn, but now I am converting all areas of my yard to raise food. I’ve added worms and compost to these areas this fall. I hope doing this will yield better success and a great harvest next year.

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I want to share this video. John, from growingyourgreens.com, gives viewers a tour of his home garden.

I’m totally jealous of his garden. I hope you enjoyed his tour as much as I did. He was very enthusiastic. He introduces some new plants I’d never heard about before. I hope to try some of them in the spring. I will write posts about the information as it becomes available. He also talks about adding rock dust as a soil amendment. I have found out in other vlogs that he uses Azomite. This is actually a Utah company so I’m going to check out this weekend to find out where I can purchase this locally, if it’s possible. I will update this post to let you know where it is available.

How does your garden grow?

Connecting to the Earth

Grounding Monday

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Below are a collection of YouTube videos about grounding or earthing. “What is earthing”, you ask? Earthing is simply connecting to the earth’s natural, negative surface charge. This is accomplished by walking bare feet on the grass, dirt or even concrete will carry the negative charge. This is such a simple practice, but can help improve your bodies health and well-being. The Earthing Research explains how this benefit comes by restoring “a lost electrical signal to the body that seems to stabilize the complicated circuitry of our essentially-electrical body. Our built-in self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms become more effective. There are head-to-toe improvements. Better blood flow. Less pain and inflammation. More energy. Deeper sleep.”

Some can benefit greatly while others find a minimal renewal. The Earthing Research instructs further:

“Earthing transfers negatively charged free electrons into the body that are present in a virtually limitless and continuously renewed supply on the surface of the Earth.  The existence of this unseen electron “reservoir” has been established by science. Maintaining contact with the ground allows your body to naturally receive and become charged with these electrons. When thus “grounded,” any electron deficiencies and free radical excesses in the body are corrected.  A natural electrical state is restored.”

The Earthing Institute explains why this so important:

“Electrons are the ‘object of affection,’ so to speak, of positively charged free radicals, the biochemical agents that cause oxidation in the body.  Electrons are the source of antioxidant power.  We believe this influx of electrons from the ground serves to potently neutralize or quench free radicals that would otherwise steal electrons from healthy tissue, activity resulting in tissue and chronic inflammation at the basis of many common and serious diseases.”

“The eternal ground energy feeds and nurtures living things – plant and animal life – that have their roots and body parts in direct contact with the land and the sea. But we are disconnected from this energy.  We live on the planet but are not in direct physical contact with it. Modern living has increasingly separated us from Mother Earth’s great natural endowment of health-nurturing energy.  Instead of conductive leather or footwear made of hides, we wear insulating shoes with soles of plastic and rubber.  We rarely walk on the Earth barefoot anymore.  We don’t sleep on the ground as in times past.” (http://earthinginstitute.net/about-us/)

Again, here are a collection of videos that I feel illustrate how to do earthing and what are the increased health benefits by applying this practice.

If you don’t have a grounding mat or would prefer the outdoors earthing environment, here is a meditation that can walk you through the process and visualization of releasing unneeded energy and opening up to the energy of the earth, connecting and allowing its energy to flow into you to heal and support you.

So tell me…anyone else found benefit in this practice? Anyone intrigued to try it?

Diatomaceous Earth

Flock Friday
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Scooter feeding Tanny mealy worms.

I delight in knowing my chickens are healthy and happy. Occasionally, I notice things that need some attention and treatment. Healthy chickens will lay eggs that are clean and free of any feces, even though the egg comes out of the same vent as its poop. (You’re probably thinking, “Yuck!”) Recently I took out some eggs from the laying boxes that looked liked this.

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Seems pretty disgusting, huh? But I read somewhere…you know you’re a homesteader if there is poop everywhere and you’re okay with that! I amaze myself, sometimes, with what I have become okay with.

Anyhoo, I have read that dirty eggs like these mean the chicken has some kind of intestinal issue, like worms. After reading a few articles and asking around, I found a few options on how to treat them. I like to go the natural route whenever I can. Someone told me about diatomaceous earth (DE). This ground-up fossilized aquatic organism is basically the cure all for any ailment…for any one. I am serious. If there is one product that could solve all the world’s problems, this would be it. Okay, yes I’m getting crazy here, it can’t solve all the world’s problems…but pretty dang close. From fighting bugs to fighting parasites to curing most ailments of man, food grade DE seems to be the answer…but let’s get back to my girls. I learned this fine powder will de-worm the hens. Locally, I purchased some DE from Steve Regan. You can buy it in a 5 pound bag or a 25 pound bag. You may ask, “How in the heck will I use 25 pounds of this stuff?” Well again, this is amazing stuff and it can be used in many applications, not just with your chickens. Further down the page I share a video on its other uses. For now, when using DE to fight an intestinal issues for my chickens, I just sprinkle a little powder in their food dish.

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A bottle of diatomaceous earth sits waiting in the food barrel to be applied to the hens feed every few months.

This helps keep the messy eggs at bay. You can also use it to dust your chickens with DE to get rid of mites or other pests. Here is a video that details that information. DE can be found at other farm stores or even available online. When purchasing, just make sure it’s food grade.

Here is a video that touts more of DE’s benefits:

Here is my disclaimer, in my research it is highly recommended. And personally, I have had great experience with this. Please note, this is not approved by the FDA and you can find a few opposing views on using this.

Let me know what you think…leave a comment below.

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Putting Ginger to My Ale

Tasty Tuesday

I have been unbelievably busy. I went to Front Sight in Pahrump Nevada for a 2-day shot gun training.

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It is amazing how just a two-day road trip can send you 7 days behind. Then with school, teaching and my full-time job…life has been very demanding. So, I apologize for missing last week’s posts. Well, I promised a ginger ale recipe and here it is. This is quite a process that takes days…well, really weeks…of fermenting. You start by making a ginger bug. Once you get this established, the process only takes a week to make a batch. Let’s get started, here is what you need…

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Peel, dice and smell the ginger. Try to stay on task as the aroma surrounds your nose.

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In the quart jar add 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger, 1 tablespoon of white sugar and 2 cups of water.

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After mixing up the ingredients, put a coffee filter on top of the jar with a metal ring screwed down to hold it in place. For the next 5 days add a tablespoon each of ginger and sugar daily.

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This is what it should look like at the end of one week. The ginger bug is now to the point we can put together a batch of ginger ale. This next process you will need the following items…

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In a large sauce pan add:

3 cups of filtered water

1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, minced. Add more to taste as the more you use, the stronger the taste.

½ cup of organic sugar

½ tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt

Simmer these ingredients until the sugar has been dissolved and the ginger aroma is lingering throughout your house. Remember to stay on task as the smell of ginger surrounds your nose. Set the pan off the stove and add:

5 cups of filtered water.

Adding this additional water should bring the mixture to room temperature, if not wait until the liquid has cooled. Then add:

½ cup fresh lemon or lime juice

½ cup ginger bug

Put the mixture in half gallon jars and cover with an air-tight lid. Set it out on the counter for another 3 to 4 days.

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After this period of time has past, the ginger ale should now have some fizz to it. If not, let it set a few more days longer. Strain the ginger pieces, lemon seeds and pulp out of the liquid.

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I put the strained liquid in swing-top bottles that I purchased from this website. You can also put the ginger ale in a large jug.

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Set the bottles in the fridge until ready to drink.

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So, yes, this is quite a process, but there are a plethora of health benefits received from your efforts.

The most common use of ginger is to treat various types of stomach problems. These can include motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. In addition to the bottle of ale, ginger can be used topically to relief from joint pain as an anti-inflammatory. In a bath of essential oil, float some ginger slices to help aching muscles and joints…sounds scrumptious. Also, use ginger in a tea to soothe a sore throat and get rid of congestion.

Wellness Mama’s blog is where I found this information which continued my fermenting quest with ginger. Here is where you can find her ginger ale post.

So tell me, do you make ale?

Bokashi, What?

Gardening Thursday

I discovered this blog that posts on Thursday information about organic gardening. One of the posts by Kelly, the blogs writer, explained about Bokashi composting. Well, the practice originated in Japan and bokashi means fermented organic matter. As she explains in her post it’s a fermentation process made from kitchen scraps and used for compost. I love using fermented foods in my diet. In fact on Tuesday, I am going to share and demonstrate a ginger ale recipe made by fermenting ginger (so you gotta come back by on Tuesday). The probiotic benefits of fermenting is phenomenal for the body. It just makes sense to follow those same practices into your garden by adding good bacteria in the soil. I want to let you know, I haven’t tried this, but I will definitely start stewing some as soon as things quiet down around here. I just had to share the information. Here are her two posts on the subject.

Thursday’s Bokashi Composting Lesson – What the Hay is Bokashi?.

Thursday’s – Bokashi Composting, the bucket has fermented for 2 weeks, what’s next?.

You can purchase a Bokashi composting system here for $35. Or Kelly uses just one 5-gallon bucket. Still, in my research, I found a Youtube video taking that inexpensive idea one step further. He drills evenly spaced holes around the bottom of one 5-gallon bucket and then nestles it inside another bucket. The holes in the bucket allow the moisture to drain down into the second bucket. Other videos I watched used this “tea” as a valuable fertilizer for their garden. Here is the link.

The bokashi bran mentioned in the blog and videos can be found in several places with an online Google search. Locally, I haven’t been able to it, but if that changes, I will update this post.

Let me know if you have used this composting method. Would love to hear how it worked or is working for you.

Heal Thyself

Grounding Monday

As this blog suggests, I have been getting back to the basics of life and this has included using natural remedies to aid in healing the body and lifting the mind. With that, my daughter and I looked to essential oils for maintaining health and healing. Recently, we signed up as wellness advocates for dōTERRA Essential Oils. I decided to go with dōTERRA oils for two reasons. First, the oils are of therapeutic-grade; so, this grade allows the essential oil (EO) to be used internally as well as topically and aromatic. Second, I receive a discount as a wellness advocate. So, why therapeutic-grade oils? While you may be able to find less expensive EOs, if they aren’t therapeutic-grade, they cannot be taken internally. If you are just going to use them in other applications, then it will require more product to reach the same effect of what a few drops of this grade will do. Even though therapeutic-grade is more expensive, it really is the best buy. Believe me! I know this because I’ve been there, and done that!

There are several brands out there so shop around and find what you like. And of course, if you want to check out dōTERRA, please take at look.

So now, here are few things I do with EOs.

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Here is what I used to make my crystal fabric softener.


Fabric Softener —you know those crystals that you can buy at $5 for 28 oz. Well you can make it with Epsom salts and essential oils. I found a 6 pound (96 ounces) bag of Dr. Teal Epsom Salt for $4.97. I used 6 cups of the Epsom salt and 60 drops of your favorite EO or combination. I used lime and serenity (30 drops each). It smells heavenly and works perfect. The best part is you end up with a better product for a HUGE savings! And yes, inside the jar is the lid from the store bought product Happy face.

A blended essential oil: Balance

I also love warm soaks in the tub. A 1/2 cup Epsom salt and few drops of your favorite oil turns a simple bath into the ultimate stress reliever.

 

 

 

 

Also a blended oil: DigestZen

For upset stomach or heartburn, I use the DigestZen blended oil. It will help alleviate an overstuffed feeling (it will really get used a lot this holiday season), to a slight upset stomach feeling and even heartburn. I am amazed at how quick it relieves the discomfort. Here is a post about its other uses from dōTERRA’s blog.

 

 

Here is a infographic that identifies the many uses for EOs, just click on the graphic and it will open up in another browser window.

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Do you use EOs? Please share in the comments.

Light the Night

Flock Friday

It can be a hard, cruel world out there and egg production can suffer because of it. The girls aren’t getting along, the house is messy or the food is sporadic—all this can contribute to a stressed, unhappy flock. Yes, that’s right! If things aren’t just right at home, the girls won’t make breakfast. So, here are some things to look for if your hens’ egg production is down.

  • Hen pecked? Hens not getting along? There will always be a pecking order going on, but sometimes hens will be relentless in tormenting the newest hen. This stress can prevent them laying eggs. Here’s a link that may help to solve that problem.
  • An unkept house? If the laying boxes are dirty the hens will avoid them. Keeping them clean with bedding material such as wood shavings or straw will make them inviting. And the hens, well they may be willing to come and sit a spell…at least long enough to lay an egg.
  • No food in the feeder? Running out of food or having a sporadic food supply will also affect the egg production. Keeping an eye on the feeder and making sure the hens have a plentiful supply of feed will ensure the eggs will keep coming.
  • Not enough daylight hours? As the days get shorter, naturally the hens will stop laying eggs…and so now, the reason for today’s post.

In my first year of raising chickens, my hens had just started laying eggs in the fall. Wrangler Man told me they will stop laying in the winter. What?! Yes, I found out it’s actually a natural process for hens to taper off egg production as the days get shorter in the fall. So, he gave me a tip to keep the hens laying all winter long. Add lights.

Hens need 12-14 hours of sunlight to keep producing eggs. So, lights are added in their chicken coop in the fall to keep the egg production going all yearlong. So, last fall I put lights in my hen house to give the girls the artificial sunlight they needed to keep up their production of eggs.

To get lights in the hen house, I just purchased solar landscape lights from the local hardware store…nothing fancy (but then nothing about me is really fancy). I stuck the light on a push in plastic fence pole that I purchased at the same store. Here is what it looks like…

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The light should be shining on the feeder and where the hens roost. Now I have an open coop which makes lighting the coop very simple. Others who have a closed coop will need something a little more complex…like electricity or solar power added to the coop.

Here is a short video showing how an electrical light was brought into a coop.

If you can’t get electricity to the coop, then here is a video showing how lights were added with a small solar power system.

I also found a warning on not using Teflon lights in the coop.

As with any research, you will find different schools of thought. So here are the cons to providing a light through the winter.

  • Decreases the egg laying years of a hen (not its life, just the years of it laying eggs)
  • Just plan unnatural
  • No resting period for the hens
  • Loss of calcium production for strong eggshells

In my opinion, feed is expensive and when you don’t get any kind of production from consumption of feed, it is just too costly. You can compensate for any calcium loss by adding a supplement of oyster shells to the chickens’ feed. All the other reasons…I’ll rationalize by saying, “That’s just life on the farm.”

What do you think? Questions or comments, please leave below.

Say Cheese

Tasty Tuesday

I went to a soft cheese making workshop about four years ago. The presenter, Heather Carter of Nature Hills Farms, demonstrated a 30-minute Mozzarella cheese recipe. I followed up that class with one of her hard cheese making classes. With all of the many demonstrations she provided, the 30-minute Mozzarella cheese is the only one I even attempted to make. I have even purchased items to move my cheese making art further along, but regretfully I haven’t taken the time. Someday, one of my dreams is to make a cheese cave and perfect my skill of making cheese to my hearts content. Making this cheese gives me a glimpse of that life as a cheese making master. After all, “Blessed are the cheese makers.” ~Monte Python  Right?

Anyway, here is how to make 30-minute Mozzarella cheese. What you need is…

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I have here, a gallon of goats milk, a package of citric acid and a package of cow rennet.

1 gallon Milk (this can be raw or pasteurized; goat or cow…no discrimination here!)
1 1/2 t. Citric Acid (dissolved in 1/2 c. of water)
1/4 t. Rennet (or 1/4 tablet) (dissolved in 1/4 c. of water)
1 t. cheese salt (any non-iodized salt will work)
1/8 or 1/4 t. Lipase Powder (dissolved in 1/4 c. cool water and allowed to sit for 20 minutes, for a stronger flavor) Optional

You will also need a good thermometer one that can measure temperatures past 100 degrees, a slotted spoon, a good large pan.

  1. Add citric acid solution to cool milk 55° F. Mix thoroughly. (If using lipase, add now)
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I have added the citric acid mixture to the milk and its texture has already started to change.

2.  Heat milk to 90° F over medium/low heat. (Milk may start to curdle.)

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3.  Gently add diluted rennet to the milk mixture in an up-and-down motion. Heat the milk between 100-105° F. Turn off heat and move pan to the side. Let set for 5 minutes or until a firm curd has formed.

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The yellow liquid is the whey separating from the protein.

4.  Check the curd; it will look like custard, with a clear separation between the curds and whey. If too soft or the whey is milky, let mixture set for a few more minutes.

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I pour off what I can of the whey to make it more manageable.

5. Pour off as much whey as possible then scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and put into a microwavable bowl. Press curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible. You can reserve the whey for ricotta or another cooking recipe requiring liquid.

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This is what the curd looks like after the first microwave step of 1 minute.

6.  Next microwave the curd on HI for 1 minute. You will notice more whey has run out of the curd. Drain off all the whey as you did before. Quickly work the cheese with a spoon or your hands. The cheese is really hot, so I just use the slotted spoon. If you want, you can use rubber gloves. This will help insulate your hands from the hot cheese.

7.  Microwave 2 more times on HI for 35 seconds each. Drain off the whey and repeat the kneading of the cheese in between each microwave step. Add salt to taste as you knead after the last microwave step.

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The more you knead the cheese the more its texture will look shiny…almost like it’s plastic. The cheese will be very elastic, kind of like string cheese.

8.  Knead quickly now as you would bread dough until it is smooth and shiny. After your mozzarella cheese is complete, just package it up in a plastic food storage bag and refrigerate.

A generous gallon of milk only makes approximately 2 cups of cheese. If you have access to raw milk and it comes in an abundance, it is a great way to make use of the extra milk or to process it for longer storage. Making cheese is also a way to be less dependent on stores and in control of what goes into your food.

I get my rennet and other specialty items for making cheese from The Cheese Maker. As always though, you can Google search “cheese making” and find many options.

Now, you can WOW your family and friends with homemade cheese.

Please share if you try this recipe or if you make cheeses and have any tips or recipes to share. Happy cheese making.

 

Got Worms?

Gardening Thursday

If you’re looking for a natural, organic fertilizer to build your soil…add worms.

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I have been adding worms to my garden areas for the past three years. Although, I’ve been pretty sporadic planting my annual vegetable garden (I’m in graduate school); I have at least kept improving the soil. This includes annually adding compost and worms to the areas. If you interested in finding out these benefits, here’s a video that gives some highlights.

Here’s my grandson, Scooter, adding worms to the garden soil…I guess you have to have a stomach for it.

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These limbless invertebrates seem to grow on you though.

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I get my worms mail order through Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. I’ve ordered from this site three or four times now and haven’t had any issues. The worms come well packaged and in great shape. From my research, this vendor has been the most reasonably priced too. At any rate, a Google search can get you connected as well. In some of my investigation for this post, buying worms was discouraged. What!? In fact, an article provided instructions on how to check the health of your soil. This is determined by how many earthworms call it home. Here’s the article’s link. If it turns out you don’t have as many worms as you’d like (really, the more the merrier…and healthier) and you don’t want to purchase them, this website provides tips on encouraging earthworms to come and stay in your garden. Here’s that link.

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Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm ships the lumbricina in a box sealed tightly inside this green bag.

I usually save a few of these prehistoric squirmy worms for the girls (my hens). They’ll jump pretty high to get these tasty morsels. It’s quite entertaining.

Anyone else have worms? Please share if you use another vendor and what your experience has been.

The Salt of the Earth

Grounding Monday

Ocean beach

Picture yourself on the beach. It’s a warm sunny day. The sun shining on your skin. The sand squishes between your toes and as you breathe in the warm ocean air you feel that heavy, fresh air fill your lungs. Ah! The salty air!

Of course, salt has been know as a great antiseptic. Growing up, if someone had a canker sore, it was doused with salt…yes painful, but it worked! Well, did you know there are actually many known health benefits to breathing in the salty air? Pure salt blocks have been used since the 19th century as an air neutralizer and providing many health benefits.

This benefit was discovered in the salt mines of Eastern Europe. Miners with bronchial afflictions found relief or even cured of these ailments while working in the salt mines. With this discovery, salt rooms (salt blocks in rooms) were used as a therapy for children with allergies or asthma. It was found with consistent treatment, the children’s need for steroids or inhalers were reduced.

So, you may be asking: “How does it work?” Going back to Chemistry 101…okay, that’s just too long ago for me, so in recent research…salt molecule contains a positive sodium ion and a negative chloride ion. Breathing in the air of these salt rooms brings these salt molecules into the moist airways of the lungs causing a release of the negative ions. “It’s the negative ions that clear the mucus from the lung linings and improve immune response to pathogens. People with chronic respiratory conditions lack sodium chloride in their airway linings and salt therapy helps resolve this deficiency. It alleviates symptoms; helps prevent them from reoccurring, and reduce dependence on medications like nasal sprays and inhalers.”  (Latimer, J. (2013). The healing powers of — salt? Maclean’s, 126(5), 1.)

The health benefits of salt therapy are not just limited to the respiratory system. It can also benefit skin ailments and temperament. Yes! Salt can trim crankiness. Studies found it’s the negative ions released during salt therapy sessions that have reduced skin disorders such as eczema. It has also lessened headaches, loss of energy, moodiness and improved mental alertness. So, how do I sign up, right?

Well, salt therapy can be obtained at home using salt lamps. These lamps are made from a block of salt that is hollowed out to fit a small light bulb inside. The heat from the light warms the salt block and generates the negative ions to neutralize the air and provides the additional health benefits. It is important to note that the salt blocks are made from Himalayan salt which is considered the purest salt.

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These lamps give off a beautiful amber glow.

If you are interesting in trying out these lamps, I recently found them at Natural Grocers in Washington (Utah) located on Telegraph Street. They have a pretty good selection and are reasonably priced. I purchased another lamp and it was a 4-6 pound salt lamp for $19.00. In fact, this is a better price than the first one I purchased. You can also Google search “salt lamps” and find many options.

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This is a 4-6 pound salt lamp I purchased at Natural Grocers.

Do you have a salt lamp? Please comment and share your experience.

True Confessions of a Chick

Flock Friday

I haven’t always been legal. I have a big 6-foot fence around my backyard thinking I could keep my girls safe, secure and secluded. I had to; because, believe it or not, there was time when my girls were an underground flock.

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It all started in the spring of 2013. I love baby chicks. They are so adorable; I can’t resist them. So, I bought 2 ducks, 2 turkeys and 6 hens. (Okay, yes; I have a problem.) Likewise, I wanted to raise them and give my grandchildren an opportunity to see them grow…something I missed as a child. Before the purchase was made, I arranged with Wrangler Man to take them when the chicks reached a size they could survive on the farm. It was my secret hope, though, that I would be able to raise the chickens for fresh, daily eggs. In addition to the ultimate entertainment of having hens, I also wanted to decrease my dependency on commerce and increase my ability to raise food; healthier than what could be purchased at the local grocer.

Squished Dreams
So, I kept them. The lot of them. I loved going out to the hen house and gathering the eggs. For the grandchildren it was like Easter morning finding eggs in the nesting box. Well, my dream came crashing down by way of something I received in my mailbox. An envelope contained a “courtesy letter” from the code enforcement officer. The letter was complete with pictures of my backyard showing my blatant disregard for the chicken code (and my neighbors blatant disregard for my privacy…but I digress). The letter informed me that my lot wasn’t allowed to have chickens because it was under 10,000 square feet.

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I was baffled. I live in a community whose heritage was farming…self-reliance. How could the community be against chickens? I posted on Facebook my sadness and frustration over this whole ordeal. A friend, and farmer in a nearby community, saw my post and gave me a suggestion of who to contact on the city council. Well, because I was leaving town for my summer vacation, I only a days to get into compliance. I gave away my six laying hens, two baby ducks and two goofy-lurkey turkeys to mi amor. (Is there a Christmas carol in there…somewhere?)

Operation Chicken Code
Motivated by my sadness, I went to work to save the chickens. I contacted the member of the city council recommended to me. His campaign platform was resolving issues with the city’s codes and enforcement. He was a great help, but I wanted to find others in the city interested in changing the code. At first, I tried to put up petitions at the local farm stores, but policies prohibited displaying them. So instead, I made flyers and passed them out at farmers markets, community events, including tacking them on every community bulletin board I could find. The flyer referred readers to a Facebook page providing information on this campaign. The goal of the page was to build awareness about the city’s ordinance and organize support in in amending it.

Operation Chicken Code FB

I also contacted the local newspapers. A few articles were published about the ordinance; an online, two opinion pieces (here and here) and other various stories ran throughout the process ordinance change.

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Amazing that at one point the government encouraged citizens to raise hens.

Uncle Sam

To sum up, the whole process took about a year. The ordinance was finally amended in April 2014. The ordinance still has a minimum size lot of 6,000 square feet to have chickens. I don’t understand why the council saw the need to keep a minimum size lot to have chickens, but at least it’s better than before. So, I’m celebrating the change…and I’m LEGAL!

Top 5 Lessons I learned:

1. Social media is a great way to generate leads to resolve your issue. If I hadn’t posted on Facebook my frustration, I wouldn’t have received the contact information from a friend’s comment.
2. Social media is also a great way to build a community with the same interest. Start a page for your campaign. It’s a great channel to rally the troops and inform them what is going on as well as solicit their help. To increase followers, I had drawings for free t-shirts. Audience members were  entered into the drawing if they liked, commented and shared the post.

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T-shirts ordered from: http://www.cafepress.com/

3. Get the media involved. It’s a great way to get your story out there.
4. Contact city council members. Find someone to advocate for you. It may take a few tries before you find someone willing to go to bat for you.
5. Contact other organizations whose mission is similar to your cause. They may be willing to help advocate with you and they may be able to increase your audience with their members too.

How about you? City Codes got you down? Do you have a similar story with backyard chickens? Please share what’s happening on your side of the asphalt farm.

Eggs-tra Special Frittata

Tasty Tuesday

With chickens, there are times when I have an abundance of eggs. You get to be pretty creative at how to use them up; such as: pickling, deviling or freezing. Of course, another thing you can do with eggs is bake. Quiche has been one of my favorites dishes and it takes six…count ’em 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…6 eggs to make it. Well recently, I have been baking pretty much gluten-free. So, I stopped adding a crust to my quiche. I guess, technically, a crust-less quiche now becomes a frittata. Here is my recipe, adapted from Paul Deen’s Spinach and Bacon Quiche…but now it’s a frittata. Oh heck, less calories and DANG easy, who cares what it’s called?!

Ingredients
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 pound bacon, fried crisp and cut in pieces
6 eggs
1 1/2 c. Milk or Heavy Cream or Half and Half
1 1/2 c. Swiss cheese, shredded (I have used any kind of cheese before, but you get a better taste with Swiss)
small can of diced chilies
2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I chopped up the bacon raw. Then I am not trying to cut it up when it is hot. And you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to cut up slightly frozen to give it some form. Place the pieces in the skillet and fry it until crispy brown.

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While the bacon is cooking I get the rest of the ingredients prepared.

Chop the onions and bell peppers.
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Shred the cheese.
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Chop the spinach.

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Take the eggs and milk and beat them together in a bowl. Add the can of diced chilies. Salt and pepper the milk mixture to taste.
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After the bacon is done to the crispness you like, remove the bacon from the skillet and place on a paper towel to drain off the extra fat. After removing some of the fat from the skillet, add the chopped onions and bell pepper to the hot pan. Saute them until they are soft.

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With the sauteed veggies the way you like them, start layering the ingredients. First layer…bell peppers and onions.

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Second layer…spinach.

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Third layer is the cheese.

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Fourth layer…bacon, lots and lots of bacon.

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Then pour the egg mixture over the layered ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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Mmmm mmm good!

These “pies” freeze well too…just in case you get ambitious or find you have a dozen eggs you need to use up.

Composting

Gardening Thursday

Most of southern Utah’s soil is deficient in organic matter. To increase my garden’s success I am getting ready to add organic matter. Adding compost will increase the soils moisture holding capacity and increase the soil’s texture. Fall is a great season to add organic matter. It is recommended annually to add 2 inches of compost to your garden and then till it in 6 to  8 inches deep. Be aware that adding this organic matter  will use up nitrogen available in the soil. So, you will need to add additional nitrogen. The reason nutrients should be added with compost is because its the nitrogen in the soil that breaks down the compost.

There are several places to get compost. The least expensive place is the landfill. It is $20 per ton for residents. Follow this link for more information. Western Rock also has a great compost. Here’s their website. The local nurseries sell compost by the bag.

For me, I make my own by collecting my yard and kitchen (minus the meat) waste into a compost pile located in the backyard. It’s placed where the hens can get to it. My reason for this is to allow the hens to scratch through the pile and eat what they like. While doing so, they poop a little in it…actually…it’s a lot…they poop a lot in it. As a result, their activity turns the waste quickly to compost. The girls are like a compost making machine.

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Today is turning the compost day.

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The girls are checking out my work. Woohoo! Everyone seems happy. In a few days, I will be adding this compost to my garden.

If you want to read up more on adding compost to your garden, Utah State University puts out a great publication. Click here to access it.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Grounding Monday

Your mind shapes your universe. Whatever you’re thinking about or feeling about today is creating your future. A shifting of your thoughts can shift your day and your life. There are laws of the universe…law of gravity, law of relativity, the law of cause and effect. There is also the law of attraction. This law reveals that we attract to us what we are focusing on. Everything has energy—high or low. It is this energy that attracts other energy of the same—high or low. Controlling our feelings to be positive increases these vibrations, or energy, and we will attract good things in our lives. One of the best ways to do this is to be grateful for what we have.

In a TedxUCDavis talk, Allison Ledgerwood refers to a study out of UC Davis that found study’s participants had a significant increase in happiness and health just by taking a few minutes each day to write down things they were grateful for. So the benefits of seeing the positive in life has even been documented in research.

Most of this post’s information comes from the movie The Secret. Check it out on Netflix or view it on YouTube here. It is worth your time to watch it. It is life changing…or not…it just depends what you focus on. At the very least, though, start a gratitude journal. It is amazing how your attitude will improve. An improved attitude brings an improved life. So, yes, it’s true…your mind does shape your universe.

Hypnotizing A Chicken

Flock Friday

Want a fun Friday night activity? Hypnotize a chicken!

Next Friday’s post, I promise to post something that would be considered practical and useful. Today, though, I just had to share this video of my granddaughter, Emma Bear, hypnotizing a chicken. She is now known as the “chicken whisperer”. Anyway, this is possibly something you could do for a fun Friday night activity…if you’re as easily entertained as we are.

Emma hypnotizing Starlight

Emma hypnotizing Starlight

Kefir…Anyone?

Tasty Tuesday

I have been making kefir (pronounced kee-fer) for about four years now. There are two types of kefir “grains”: milk or water. Labeling them grains is a misnomer; it’s actually a rubbery, irregular, shaped morsel made up of yeast and bacteria. Its make-up means these grains multiply with use; so eventually you will have enough grains to share, sell or compost. Or you’ll need to get really creative to use up all the kefir you’ll produce. The milk grains (which I currently use) turn milk into a drink with a taste and texture similar to yogurt. The water grains use water and sugar to make a fizzy drink. The health benefits of this prolific little grain are the probiotics (that’s the good little bacteria) it adds to your digestive system. The value of probiotics are too numerous to mention—a Google search will show how amazing it is—but suffice to say it is a great immune system booster…even better than yogurt.

Currently, I am using the milk kefir grains with raw goat’s milk.  Lately, I have been processing about a gallon of milk a week. You can also use pasteurized milk, but I prefer my milk to be raw and of the goat variety—I’ll reserve another post to go over my rationale. It takes about two to three days for the grains to work through the fermentation process of the milk (depending on the grain to milk ratio and the preferred taste—sour to really sour).

I am getting ready to process my kefir, so I thought I’d show the step-by-step directions of how easy it is.

What is needed is two large jars (pictured are half-gallon jars), a non-metal strainer and a spatula. Non-metal utensils are needed for processing kefir because metal kills the active ingredients in it.

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The jar on the right is how the milk looks when it is time to process. You can see the separation of whey from the milk protein.

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Using the strainer over one of the bowls, I pour off as much as the whey as possible. Then with the second bowl, I pour the rest of the fermented milk through the strainer pressing the drink down through the grains.

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This is what the grains look like in the strainer after that process.

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Then I put the kefir grains into a clean jar and add more milk.

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This is what it looks like at the beginning of the fermentation process. I have the jars covered with a coffee filter and metal ring to allow air to circulate through, but keep dirt and bugs out of the solution. In the comments, please add any helpful hints or tips that you’ve discovered. I would love to hear.

Stay tune for ideas on how I use the kefir. But for now…you may wonder what do I do with the whey that I poured off the kefir? I know you’re sitting at the edge of your seats just dying to know…okay I live in a delusional world…but just in case my delusions aren’t delusions but reality and you really want to know…

Kefir-chickens

I give the whey to the chickens. The chickens love it! The probiotics are great for them too. Tune in Friday for another tip about my girls.

If you would like to give kefir a try, my BFF, my Wrangler Man, my partner-in-crime, my mentor, Carson, has some grains for sell. Contact me and I will forward you his information.