Homemade Wipes: Household, Personal Care & Baby Wipes (Disposable and Reusable options)

When my babies were babies… which they definitely aren’t any more, things were tight. Not necessarily that they HAD to be, my hubby had a good job, but I had left a good job to stay home with our kids and wanted to do my part to make sure we didn’t get stretched too thin. Plus we had a goal of being debt free, so we chose to buckle down.

I was a budget crunching, penny pinching coupon clipping mama.

I also wanted to use the best products for my babies with the least amount of artificial fragrance or bad chemical mojo possible. I made my own baby powder, baby oil and baby wipes (for a fraction of the cost, I might add.)

Homemade wipes are incredibly simple and versatile.  The same method works whether you’re making baby wipes or household cleaning wipes.

So here we’ve got instructions and recipes for both household cleaning wipes and baby wipes; disposable and reusable variations.

Solution Recipes:
Thieves Household Wipes:
2 cups water
2 capfuls Thieves Household Cleaner

*Add thieves essential oil, lemon essential oil, lavender essential oil for an extra punch of cleaning power.

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Baby Wipes/Personal Care Wipes:
2 cups water
2 Tbl Baby Wash or Body Wash (I prefer to use 1 Tbl Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap)
2 Tbl Baby Oil or Skin Care Oil (Like Almond, Grape Seed or Apricot Kernel oils)

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Instructions for homemade wipes:

Disposable Wipes:

The most important thing you need is paper towels. Preferably good quality paper towels or they will tend to fall apart.

  1. Cut a paper towel roll in half vertically.  (Serrated blades do not work well here.)IMG_0316
  2. Place your new, short roll in a plastic container.  (It’s okay if its a tight fit.)
  3. Pull the cardboard insert out from the center.IMG_0318
  4. Pour your solution over the roll and pull up the center paper towel. (Sometimes the towel will pull up on its own when you remove the cardboard roll.)IMG_0333
  5.  Put your lid on top and cut an X in the center.IMG_0335
  6. Pull the new wipe up through the X and viola!

*If you don’t have a container that will fit for this method you can also cut the paper towel roll in half horizontally and use a plastic shoebox container or even just use a zip-top back if that’s all you have.  Lot’s of options here.

My amazing cousin, has found the perfect sized wipes container & I had to share the idea with you.  She eve get’s all pinteresty , spray painting and adding a chalk label.  I think they’re stinking adorable, but alas, my husband refuses to drink anything but his brand of coffee so I can’t use these.

 

Instructions for Reusable Wipes:

If all the paper towels are gone too, you can use the same concept with squares of cloth.

For household cleaning wipes, lint-free scraps of material work best.  Tea towels & cloth napkins are my favorite but you can even cut of an old pillow case or sheet and it will work just fine.  Just soak your cloths in the cleaning solution, wring out,  wipe your kitchen, bathroom, door knobs or whatever and throw into the laundry.

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For personal care or baby wipes, any material will work if you are in an emergency. But squares of a soft fleece material is ideal. Soak your cloths in your solution, wring out, use the wipe and drop in a bucket lined with a trash bag (and lid) or in a zip-topped bag.

Here are some TMI details, if you are out of toilet paper and ready to embark on this journey.

*Important notes about washing resusable cloth:

Do not wash the cloths with other laundry.

You don’t want any of that left in the bottom of your washer. You’ll need to shake off (in the pot) any excess “soil” before putting in the washer (or better yet, use a peri-bottle or squeeze bottle with a narrow spout for a make-shift bidet effect before wiping which will dramatically reduce the mess.

2 Simple Steps for washing reusable cloth toilet paper. If you use cloth diapers, you already know the drill.

  1.  Run them through a COLD rinse cycle first.
  2. Wash in hot water WITHOUT fabric softener. (Fabric softener will effect the fabric’s absorbency)

 

I hope you will find these ideas useful in time of need! Happy Wiping!!

Homemade Wipes

Homemade Healthy Ranch Dressing

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I love making ranch dressing in the summer with fresh herbs from my garden but in Alaska we are zone 3 and our growing season is pitifully short. I don’t always get to use the fresh herbs that I want but that doesn’t slow us down on flavor around here.

This is the recipe I have developed using dried herbs and I am just as happy with it! In fact, my skeptical hubby even approves this one.  And believe me, I tried a LOT of other homemade ranch dressing recipes before he became a convert.

It couldn’t be simpler to throw together!

Start with equal amounts of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. (I make my own Greek yogurt) I do not have a blog post up for that just yet but hopefully will get that up for you shortly and I will update this post when I get it done.

Here’s the recipe

Healthy, Homemade Ranch Dressing


3/4 of a cup Greek yogurt

3/4 of a cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or garlic powder)

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon mineral salt

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/2 teaspoon dried chives

2 to 3 tablespoons milk (Go easy on this- you don’t want to make it too runny and a little milk will go a long way.  This dressing is best when it’s made very thick.)

Mix all your ingredients in a mason jar and stir well.

Refrigerate before serving, preferably overnight.  It can be served right away but the longer the flavors have to soak the better.

5 Ways to Support your Immune System during CORONA-MADNESS 2020

Everyone is in a panic.

Toilet Paper, hand sanitizer and water are flying off the shelves like it’s a zombie apocalypse.

(And the media-hype fear mongers have you right where they want you.)

Fear.  It’s a powerful, tool in the hands of those who would want to control you.

CHILL.

Is it possible for a  major pandemic illness to sweep the country or the world?  Well, yes. It is possible…

Is this is the next black plague?  No.

However, it seems to be all anyone can talk about, so I’m here to share what my family is doing to avoid the the Corona Virus, Influenza, the common cold, the Black Plauge … and to keep the zombies at bay.

It’s very simple.

Keep calm & use common sense.

You don’t need more toilet paper. You need to KEEP YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEMS BOOSTED AND HEALTHY

The most important thing you can do for you and your family is support your internal health, your immune system. Yes, it’s important to wash your hands, try to avoid touching your face, etc. But if you are proactive with your health it will pay off in the long run.

I’ll break it down to 5 basic things:

  • Try to get a good nights sleep.
    •  Shut down electronics an hour before bed.
    •  Turn off your wifi before you go to bed.
    •  Diffuse (or apply topically) thereputic grade Essential Oils like Cedarwood, Lavender, Vetiver, Patchouli, & Chamomile

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  • Get lots of vitamin C – Don’t underestimate this. 
  •  Eat Healthy
    • Reduce your sugar intake (and quick sugar carbs like white bread & white rice)
    •  Focus on vegetables, fruits and protein.
    • Avoid processed, junk food

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  •  Take Elderberry Syrup (or gummies) It’s super easy to make your own!
    • Click Here for more info and my super easy recipe.

Elderberry Collage

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And let me just add one more thing. Call it a bonus.

STOP STRESSING

Stressing about this and giving into fear will actually compromise your immune system even more. Our body and brain are in constant communication and it has been proven that psychological upsets can result in physical symptoms. Our immune systems are affected directly by our stress levels.

So take a deep breath and chill out.  The zombies aren’t coming for your toilet paper.  You just need to support your overall health and immune system.

 

Essential Oil Cold & Flu Bombs

Whether you are sick and looking to kick something or wanting to get ahead of an illness you’ve been exposed to, these bomb-diggity cold & flu bombs are what you are looking for.

We use these bad boys faithfully whenever the mountain man or I start to feel any inkling of under-the-weather symptoms coming on.  My kids aren’t able to take the capsules just yet, so for them I put this same mix in the diffuser and on their feet (mixed with a carrier oil.)

The combination of this oil blend and my elderberry syrup recipe has kept us well through many near-miss brushes with sickness over the past two years.  I have actually been using this blend off and on for several years, but the honest truth is, in years past, I tended to get a big cocky from time to time, and convince myself that I didn’t need to take them or didn’t have time to make a big batch.

“Oh, you’re fine, you’ve got this.”  –  What do I think I am, a magician?

“You don’t need to waste the oils.” – Why else do you have them?

“I’m too busy to make them right now.”  – A capsule seriously takes 30 seconds to make.

These times when I’m feeling too stubborn to make the darn capsules are the only time I get sick. So if you wait too long, and really let a bug take hold, you may have to deal with some of the consequences. These bombs help to support a healthy immune system. They can play a huge part in helping to take the edge off of your symptoms and shorten the duration of an illness, but they don’t always just kick the cold out the door.  IF YOU WAIT TOO LONG.

However, I have learned that the morning I wake up with a sore or scratchy throat or yucky feeling coming on. I go strait for the oils.  I try to keep a batch of these on hand in a jar at all times to be on the safe side but seriously, it’s 30 seconds to make a capsule, just do it.

Here’s what you need.

  • Vegetable capsules
  • Carrier oil (I prefer Young Living’s V6, but any culinary oil is also fine)
  • Thieves essential oil
  • Tea Tree essential oil
  •  Frankinsence essential oil
  • Oregano essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Peppermint essential oil

Depending on the size of your capsule, you can usually fit 2 drops of each oil in a capsule. Oh sure, you could make it complicated and use 3 drops of this and 1 drop of that but do you really want to have to stop and think about that kind of thing? No. Just keep it simple.  2 drops of each, and top off with carrier oil.  (Preferably not on an empty stomach & don’t forget the carrier.)

Recommended dosage:

If you know you were exposed to an illness or are wanting to keep all your bases covered, before a big vacation or event, I recommend 1 capsule in the morning and at night (with food.)

If you are already feeling symptoms coming on, take a capsule 3 times a day for a few days until you feel completely in the clear.

If you are definitely under the weather give yourself a bigger boost by taking a capsule every 4-6 hours until you have been in the clear for a few days.  It can double back on you if you quit too soon!

*IMPORTANT NOTE: If you don’t have every one of these oils, make them any way.  I have needed to leave one or two oils out from time to time when I unexpectedly ran out, and they have still worked fine, but if you have them all, USE THEM ALL for the most effective results.

**ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: Regardless of the ads that pop up at the end of this blog post, do not ingest any essential oil that is not labeled ‘Therapeutic Grade’. And for heaven’s sake, DO NOT BUY YOUR ESSENTIAL OILS FROM AMAZON. I only use Young Living because they have by far surpassed all others in their efforts to offer the cleanest most pure essential oil on the market with their Seed to Seal process.

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If you have questions about Young Living, feel free to comment on this post, email me at homesteadstateofmind@gmail.com or check out this post.

***Disclaimer: These bombs are NOT meant to fight off a stomach bug. Think, common cold, flu, etc.

****Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nurse, or any other form of medical professional. The content of this blog is based simply my own experiences and opinions and have not been evaluated by any government agency. This information is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Natural Homemade Shampoo (with a crazy secret ingredient)

Many, many, moons ago, I decided to take yet one more step on my journey to a healthier home.  Let’s be honest, going chemical free is not something that can be done over night. If you even tried you would go broke, drive your husband miserable and loose your ever-loving mind in the process.

It is an important goal. It is a goal worth putting your time and effort in to.  The average home has over 60 toxic chemicals. They are in cleaners, paints, cosmetics, lotions, soaps and perfumes. Studies have confirmed that within 26 seconds of being exposed to cleaning products, traces of these chemicals are found in every organ in the body and according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 150 common products have been linked to birth defects, cancer, allergies and psychological issues.

But if you are here looking for a DIY shampoo recipe, you probably already know that.  Because, who would be wanting to take the time to brew up their own shampoo rather than dropping it in their shopping cart.  With their floral essences and silky smooth talking commercials, you’d have to just be one of them crunchy hippies to resort to concocting your own.

Or maybe you’re just smart enough to put your foot down and take your health (and your hair) into your own hands.

So, back to my original story, after taking baby steps of making my own household cleaners, baby products and toothpaste, I decided to go for the “no poo” crunchy mama badge.

My hair has always been a problem.

Back in my traditional shampoo days, I had to wash it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. In the morning. Without fail. Or I would be left with an oily, limp, wet spaghetti mop.  And for a girl who spends 10-12 weekends a year camping and hunting, that’s just not something I could do.  I spent our time in the woods cringing as I tucked my oily mess under a ball cap and couldn’t wait to get in the shower the second we got home.

So the baking soda and vinegar route, sounded ideal.  I had read about these women who were going 2 weeks without a wash! I had also read some bad reviews from those who had done it for a few years and really felt like it wrecked their hair, but in order to get away from the chemicals and the daily demand of a hair wash, I figured it was worth the try.

It did okay.  Really it did. At first.  I couldn’t go 2 weeks without a wash, I was lucky to go 4 days but even then it was looking grungy. Day one would be great, but over time it just started to look sad. The volume I was getting started to feel more like build up and I started to have a serious problem with a bad, dry scalp.  Like cradle cap bad.

I knew my baking soda days were over. I even tried to go back to regular shampoo, but I was faced with the same limp locks and oil factory that I always had dealt with before.

That’s when I got really brave.  I decided to take the plunge and start experimenting with my own recipe using castile soap as a base.

There were some definite fails, but by George, I found it.  I mean, I really found a fantastic option for a natural, homemade shampoo and I’m NEVER going back.

My hair has NEVER looked like this before.  Not even with that fancy, store-bought, chemical-laden stuff. I have never had volume like this until now.

And guess what? I don’t have to wash my hair every day anymore.  It is quite happy to go 4 days, with just a dry shampoo boost on day 3 or 4 if needed. (Don’t worry, I SHOWER EVERY DAY.  I just leave my hair out of it.)

NOW … for the super crazy secret ingredient … A teensy, tiny smidge of Young Living’s Thieves Household cleaner.

I warned you it was crazy, but it makes all the difference. I found this out by accident when I once mistook my bottle of Thieves Cleaner for my bottle of ACV rinse in the shower one day.  The results were magical and the rest is history.  You SHOULD already have this in your chemical free arsenal. If you don’t already have it, YOU NEED IT.  Seriously, an amazing smelling, incredible, plant based household cleaner for less than $1 per bottle?  You’re crazy if your not using this stuff.

If you don’t have the YL Thieves cleaner, you can replace it with vegetable glycerine, but I honestly do prefer the Thieves.

Without further rambling, I’ll lay the basics on you and get you to the recipe.

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Here are some things to take note of:

  • If you don’t have oily hair, you can probably get away with significantly more oil in your shampoo mixture.  Most recipes I have seen online use more.  But if I use the tablespoon they call for, just call me Severus Snape for the next week. –When trying out your homemade shampoo for the first time, it’s better to start small with the added oil and work your way up to find what works for you.
  •  Start with a small batch in case you don’t love my version, adjust it to suit your own hair.
  • If you are switching over from traditional shampoo, be prepared to have your hair freak out for the first week or so.  As our body learns to balance with the new shampoo, sometimes it goes a little oil crazy. Don’t give up.  It WILL find it’s balance and you’ll be pleased as punch with the results.
  •  I use an apple cider vinegar rinse to condition my hair.  I typically don’t apply it to my roots, due to my oil issues, but most folks can.  I will rinse the entire scalp with the ACV mixed 50/50 with water about once a week or so to keep my scalp healthy though. — I also use a (homemade/healthy) conditioner spray on my ends as needed if I feel like my hair is feeling a bit dry or do a natural, deep conditioner occasionally if my ends are starting to feel dry.  Again, if you are able to use a bit more oil in the shampoo base, you probably won’t need to worry about that.

Here’s the recipe!

DIY

1/2 cup liquid castile soap

1/2 cup strongly steeped chamomile tea

1/2 tsp grapeseed oil or jojoba oil

A few drops Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner concentrate (It’s crazy, I know.)

(Replace Thieves concentrate with 1/4 tsp vegetable glycerine if desired)

Cedarwood, Lavender and Rosemary essential oils

  1. Add all ingredients to a plastic bottle with a small spout (the only time you’ll hear me say, NOT a mason jar. You will use too much shampoo and waste it!)
  2. Shake well before using.
  3.  Drizzle just a few drops here and there, all over the scalp.  It will not spread well throughout the hair, so you’ll need to strategically place your drops in each quadrant of your scalp.  But it lathers like CRAZY, so you don’t want to use too much!
  4.  Gently scrub scalp.
  5. Follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse for conditioning.

And as always, if you have questions about the recipe or the essential oils products I use, please reach out to me in the comments here or at homesteadstateofmind@gmail.com.

 

Life in Alaska at 60° below zero

With the world’s current fascination with life in Alaska, I thought it would be fun to give you a REAL life account of a day in the life. (As opposed to the over-dramatized versions you see on TV.)

Funny story, we have actually been contacted by a TV channel scout to be a part of a new Alaska show and had to laugh and say “No thanks.” Not only do I have no interest in a bunch of cameras following me around, I’m pretty sure everyone in our little community here would send us packing.

However, for the sake of giving the people what they want….

Here are three different perspectives of a day in Alaska at 60 degrees below zero from myself and my two good friends here who all live within about a 5 mile radius we have homeschool COOP together, take care of each other’s places and chores when someone is out of town and generally “do life” together.

So, do you ever wonder what life might be like during an Alaskan cold snap?

Here’s a glimpse:

Friday, January 10th, 2020

Eastern Interior Alaska

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Jodi’s Journal –

12:00 AM – I realize what time it is and that I need to go to bed. I’ve been up late writing & tending the fire. I stoke the fire and choke it back so that it will keep us warm without burning all the wood up before I check it again. Next, I pour hot water down the downstairs shower drain to melt any ice build up in the pipe that would cause a freeze. This is the only drain in the house that we seem to have issues with (and the coldest room in the house.)

3:30 AM – Get up to check the fire again and melt/clear the shower drain again.

6:30 AM – Get up to get hubby out the door for work. The weather app on my phone says -53 but it’s all lies, the analog thermometer outside says -60 (maybe even -62.)

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We put most of our time and construction budget this summer to build an attached garage. The heat from the log wall of our house keeps the garage warm enough that the car starts up with no trouble. Matt leaves for work and I, once again, stoke the fire and clear shower drain. There is a thin layer of ice on the bottom of the shower from the last time I poured hot water down the drain.
7:00 – I wrap up in my favorite, fuzzy shawl and curl back up like a lazy bum because I had choked the fire back too far last time and the house is now 56°; also, because I was up until 1 AM with my late night writing session and I’m not 20 years old anymore.

8:00 – AM – I wake kids up and start running a hot bath. Unlike my friends Sara and Charity, we aren’t actually “off grid.” We have electricity to the house for lights, appliances etc. but our Kitchen Queen wood cook stove “Bessie” is our only source of heat, our only stove/oven and in the winter, our hot water heater.  Water is super heated by cycling it through our woodstove and back into the hot water heater saving big $ on electricity. But if we are running the fire too hot for a long period of time without using the excess hot water, the hot water heater will blow off. We have a hose which is supposed to send the excess hot water down the drain but occasionally the hose decides to cut loose and fly out of it’s drain… flooding the upstairs bathroom with boiling hot water. Yesterday, this very thing happened and drained directly onto the downstairs ceiling fan causing a sprinkler effect and sending water flying in all directions.  Thankfully my computer wasn’t sitting at the kitchen table where it normally resides.

8:30 AM – Get the kids started on morning chores and hop in the hot bath with a good book. (You know, because I can’t waste all that hot water… it’s a rough life.)

9:00 AM – We should be starting school right about now but there’s something about life in Alaska that makes time more of a relative thing… when you have almost all sun or all dark… the whole “burning daylight” thing isn’t really a thing.

I go out to feed and water the useless chickens that have taken up residence in the garage. We didn’t have time to build a warm chicken house for them before winter because we were building the garage. I swap their frozen water out for fresh warm water and feed them. I bring in a frozen pot of moose stew in from the garage and put it on the wood stove to thaw for lunch.

Each kid takes a turn in the bath while the other one does school work. Reading time can be either in the bath or snuggled up behind the wood stove. (Hey if we don’t get to take a day off for cold weather, at least there can be a few perks. Interesting fact- even public schools in Alaska aren’t canceled due to weather because of the risk that children might be dropped off at the bus stop waiting for a bus that never comes.)

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12:00 PM – Last night’s wood supply is all used up so I bundle up and make a few trips bringing in firewood.  It’s kind of like carrying in ALL the grocery bags at once, super human strength kicks in when you don’t want to make more than 2 trips outside.

I once again… stoke the fire & clear shower drain. Matt comes home for lunch. This has been major perk here in Alaska, the girls have so much more quality time with us here at home. After lunch we have our read aloud time (we are reading Heidi right now) while Daddy rests his eyes for a few minutes before going back to work.

After the hubby leaves, I realize that the oven in the wood stove is hot enough to bake and I really should’ve been taking advantage of the constant oven today and had a baking day.  That reminds me that I have the first stage of sourdough “resting” in it’s refrigerated state (on the bathroom floor where it’s nice and cold) and pull out my cloche, working more flour into the dough so I can bake bread this evening.

I remember that I forgot to pull some meat from deep freeze in the shed outside so I bundle back up to go get what I need for supper. While the meat is in the deep freeze, it doesn’t really need to be. The compressor on the freezer hasn’t run since late October.  There are boxes of groceries from our last Costco run just sitting out in the shed which has now become a walk-in freezer.

1:30 PM – The girls are finished with school. We normally have about an hour and a half of quiet time (sanity time for Mama) in the afternoon but today I put on some music and they have a “dance cleaning party” instead. We try to change up our afternoon routine once in a while so the kids don’t get too stir crazy.

2:30 PM – Bandit, our one year old pup is bouncing off the walls by this point. He is 2 breeds of hunting dog and a third part cow dog, so to say he’s high energy is an understatement. He seems to be taking it personal that he has nothing to do and is on the (playful) attack. I give him a caribou bone to keep him busy.  Not helpful.  He runs around the house with his bone whining for the next 45 minutes because he wants to go outside and bury it.

3:00 PM – The girls are done cleaning so they get to put on a movie now. I realize that the dog has gone quiet and is missing.  After a brief search I find him hiding in our bedroom devouring the bone in blissful privacy.

I shape my sourdough loaves and set them on a chair in front of Bessie, the wood stove, to rise.

5:00 PM – I stoke the wood stove again and open it up wide now to get the oven hot enough to bake bread and start prepping supper to be cooked on the wood stove.  There is only one “burner” on my stove top but I’m running it hot enough tonight that the entire surface will be hot enough to keep things simmering.

The hubby comes home and tells me I need to go see the moon outside.  It’s bright, full and looks close enough to almost touch.

full moon

7:00 PM – I get the sourdough loaves into the oven and finish supper. After supper we watch a movie and then the rest of the family goes to bed.  I, in my night usual, night-owl fashion, stay up late doing dishes and writing.

12:00 AM – Stoke fire, clear drain, go to bed

Sara’s Journal –

A Day in the Life at 50 Below
3:00 – My husband Stretch woke up to start the generator and plugged in his truck so he can get into work by 6:30. He had started his truck and let it run for about 45 minutes around 11:45 before going to bed. He also started the wood boiler. Of course, I slept through all of this.
9:20 – I let the three dogs out to go potty. Within a minute the puppy and retired sled dog are rushing back and forth between the two outside doors. One of the kids let them in and yells that Nation, our 18-year-old blue heeler isn’t at the door. I rush outside to find her stuck, her muscles no longer working, hallway to the opposite door. I gently pick her up and carry her inside. Her leg muscles cramp as she tries to walk when I put her down inside. This is probably the hardest part of the intense cold for me, watching Nation suffer in the simple act of relieving herself. We never imagined she’d have to live through another winter, but she’s still here, plugging along.
10:15 – The voltage on the inverter is reading 23.3, so it’s time to fire up the generator again. We are actually planning on running it more often today than normal so it doesn’t go too long between starting. I go out the door, quickly lift up the rigid foam box Stretch built to keep the heat from the heating pads stuck on the generator in, turn the key, and push the start button. The engine sputters then roars with a loud knowing sound as all the parts and pieces get moving. Time to do a load of laundry (a never-ending chore in a family of seven).
11:48 – Batteries are charged, and the generator is turned off. I had to stay outside a bit longer than turning the generator on since I needed to wrap the box that houses the generator in the comforter. By the time I was done, maybe 30 seconds, my boogers had frozen in my nose. Gross, I know, but that’s one way to judge if it’s really cold … how quickly it takes your boogers to freeze. I made the mistake on the way inside of taking a deep breath through my mouth. Instant pain in the chest. No wonder the weather app says the air quality is unhealthy.
12:40 – Homeschool science experiment time. Titus wanted to find out if a myth about 50 below was true. If you opened a can of soda, would it turn into a slushy instantly? So me and him geared up in our coats, hats, and gloves and headed outside. We were thoroughly disappointed when the soda simply fuzzed up with no slush.

1:45 – Maddox checked his tap water and finds that it is frozen. Pretty amazing that an inch or so of water will freeze solid in half and hour. The boiling water was still liquid, so another myth busted today.
2:36 – Battery levels are low, so it’s time to start the generator again. As it struggles to get going, I was reminded of the Little Engine That Could. “I think I can. I think I can … Wahoo! I did it!!” Sadie checked her water again, and it was finally frozen.
3:30 – Pup, the high-strung Wire-haired Pointing Griffon, has decided that today is the day she’s used to us and would like us to learn all about her energy. Finding ways to exercise a 5-month-old puppy that has spent her entire life in a kennel with other dogs and can’t really go outside due to the insane cold makes for an interesting afternoon. Her new favorite thing to do is terrorize the kids, especially the Titus, the10-year-old. Probably because he’s the one that has taken her running the most. Her attempt to play is not very fun for Titus since Pup becomes completely focused on jumping and grabbing at his arms and clothes. Out came the RC car and we had her chase that for a while. Now that she has calmed a bit, the children are watching videos on training overactive, aggressive puppies. Not that she’s mean or anything, she’s just bored and has finally decided to let us know.
4:15 – Batteries are full, so generator is off. The sun is gone and dusk is over. About half an hour more and it will be completely dark outside. Makes the evening long with the short days. I laugh at myself when I look at the clock thinking “I’m ready for bed and it’s only 6:30!”
4:45 – I get a text from a friend who told me earlier in the week she was going to visit. Did I remember? No. Was I still in my sweats and hadn’t brushed my hair? Yep. Was the house a disaster? It’s a good thing she comes from a large family.

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7:30 – Boiler is done running, so the generator gets turned off again. We aren’t the most efficient with the generator when it’s this cold. At this temperature, we have to run the boiler twice a day. It’s actually one of the benefits of the Garn boiler we installed. Our boiler works differently than other systems. We fill it full, fire it up, then two hours later, we have a tank full of hot water that we use for our domestic and heat. It’s great. One less thing that has to watched constantly.9:00 – Stretch turns on his truck and lets it run for about an hour and a half.
10:00 – I’m off to bed. The full moon is shining so bright my entire room is illuminated. Gorgeous.
When I woke up the next morning at 6, the generator decided it was upset with us for letting it get t cold. I pushed the button and all it’d do is click. Good thing we have a spare!

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The door has beautiful ice formations on it!

Charity’s Journal –

Ever wonder what life might be like during an Alaskan cold snap? Here’s a glimpse:
4:30 am: I get up to put wood in the woodstove. There are plenty of coals, but at the temperatures we’ve been having, maintaining a comfortable temp in the house requires constant burning at maximum load. I will feed the fire every 3-4 hours all day long. I lay back down in bed but Savannah wants to eat and Luke’s alarm goes off at 5. I guess I’m awake for the day.
5:45 am: Luke leaves for work. The outside thermometer reads 60 below. Inside it’s 63 above.

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6:30 am: I go out to the garage to get the fire going out there and feed the chickens. There are a few coals left and it doesn’t take long to reignite. Chicken water is frozen but I’m able to switch it with a bucket that’s still unfrozen by the stove. Also bring in a wheelbarrow full of wood from the outside. If I don’t keep the fire going in the garage, not only will the (worthless) chickens freeze, but I won’t be able to start my diesel vehicle or the diesel generator, from which we get most of our power during this dark time of year.
7 am: One benefit of having to run the woodstove wide open all the time is an endless supply of hot water. Most of the year we use propane to heat at least part of our domestic hot water, but right now the woodstove heats all of it. I take a nice long shower. After that I heat up leftover oatmeal in the oven for breakfast. The heat from the oven brings the inside temp up to 65.
8:30 am: All the kids are up by now. Stryder discovers his fish is in a bad way from getting too cold. We move it to a warmer spot and Stryder works all day at trying to gradually warm it up and bring it around. Unfortunately the next night it expires.
10 am: Finally fully light out. We have begun school, which keeps the kids occupied for the morning.
Noon: Lunch is leftovers today and a chance to run the oven again and add some more heat to the house (we don’t have a microwave). It is perfectly clear out and the sun hits the solar panels for about an hour and a half. We have about 45 minutes more daylight than at winter solstice 3 weeks ago, for a total of 5.25 hours from sunrise to sunset. We’re still getting less than 1 kwh solar power a day and I’ll have to run the generator to charge our batteries tomorrow. I will also run the well pump to replenish our 500 gallon water storage tank and do two loads of laundry to hang in the basement while the generator is running. After lunch we clean up and finish school for the day. I take another trip to the garage to feed the fire.

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2 pm: Looks like the high for the day is 52 below. I make everyone take a mandatory rest time in their beds, though they can read a book if they’re not tired. When everyone is cooped up inside all day, I need a break from the constant noise. I lay down to nurse Savannah to sleep. I don’t intend to fall asleep, but end up taking a 20 minute nap.
3 pm: Everyone but Savannah is up. The kids play and I do a little cleaning and start supper prep. The sun sets and the temperature starts to drop back downward.
4:30 pm: Luke arrives home from work. It is mostly dark by now.
6:30 pm: After supper I need to go to the store for some supplies. Wrangell goes with me to help and I have to tell him how he needs layers, boots, etc….does he not realize it’s 55 below?! I take Luke’s little Honda and the clutch gets stiff before the 5 mile drive is over. Visibility in town is very poor because of the ice fog. We are only in the store for about 20 minutes and I leave the car running. The clutch thaws out but the tires get a little square even in that short time. When we get home I park close to the basement door to unload all the groceries and get them inside before they freeze. I’m even successful at bringing home the lettuce without it freezing! When I put the car in the garage I stock the fire out there up for the night. It’s not above freezing, but considerably warmer than outside.
8 pm: Bedtime. The temperature in the root cellar has dropped to 32 degrees, despite the little muffin fan blowing air from the basement into there constantly. I bring the potatoes and carrots inside and Luke brings me a tarp to hang around the parsnips and beets next to the muffin fan opening in the root cellar. Hopefully this will keep them warm enough until it warms up.
We have a full moon tonight. It’s so bright out you can easily get around without artificial lighting of any kind. If you step outside the cars on the highway half a mile away sound like they are in the driveway. The temperature is 56 below when we head to bed, but we have hope that it will warm up in 2-3 days.

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So there it is folks, the REAL life below zero.

*Special Note: Sara Blackard, my friend who wrote the 2nd journal here, is a fellow writer and published author. If you like good historical fiction with some romance and adventure thrown in, you really need to check her out!

Facebook

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and on her blog .

This is her most recent book, the first in a fantastic series.

 

 

 

What the heck is a “Homestead State of Mind” anyway?

Today I celebrate the fact that we now have actual internet at our house! After a year and a half of only being able to get some partial use from the internet on a smart phone (with very little phone service) or by going to the library to use the computer, I am giddy with excitement at the idea of being able to start offering some new blog posts and newsletter updates again.  So as I sat down this morning with my cup of coffee I was faced with the question? What on earth do I write about first?

That is when it dawned on me that I started this blog, Homestead State of Mind over 3 years ago, and I never really have explained myself or my choice of title.

SO, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…” (if you didn’t just sing that in your head, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.

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The term homesteading originally referred to the Homestead Act, of 1862 of which granted 160 acres to any US citizen willing to settle on, and farm the land for at least 5 years.  Side Note: My own great grandparents homesteaded land in eastern New Mexico that our family is still blessed to own and it is one of my favorite parts of my heritage.  Now-a-days, obviously there is nowhere in the US that you can actually “homestead” by those terms (yes, even here in Alaska.)

So why is there this large movement of people claiming to be homesteaders?  I’ve actually heard people criticize those of us who use the term “homesteaders” for not living off only of twigs and berries, just as I have heard people criticize  those who use the term “off grid” for having electricity and internet in their home.  

It comes down to this, Homesteading IS a state of mind.  It is the desire for a more self sufficient lifestyle & a simpler way of life. 

Here’s what it means (and doesn’t mean) for our family:

  • It doesn’t mean that we live only off of the land, with no outside income.  My husband works a regular job, and provides for our welfare because that is what God has called him, as a husband to do.  However, he has intentionally chosen work that doesn’t consume him or take him away from his family for large periods of time.  Once upon a time, he was a supervisor in the oil and gas industry in charge of multi-million dollar projects and was on track to just keep moving up the career ladder, but for the sake of his sanity and our family’s welfare, he stepped away from that career path and never looked back.  We have absolutely no desire to chase a dollar or “keep up with the Jones” in any way shape or form.  Our vehicles are functional, not fancy & our home is comfortable and cozy, but maybe not exactly chic.

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  • It does mean we have a subsistence lifestyle which means we try to live as self-sufficiently as possible.  Subsistence is defined as the means of maintaining or supporting oneself.  We hunt, fish, forage, farm and garden for as much of our food supply as we are able.  We preserve food for winter by canning, freezing or dehydrating the food that we raise, grow, or hunt.  Our yard is our garden, we don’t have a carefully manicured lawn for the neighbors to compete with, we have vegetables to feed our family with.  The reason we love going to all this extra effort rather than just buying what we need is that it is important to us to not be completely dependent on others for our survival.  We want to be producers, not consumers, as much as possible.  

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  • It means we worked hard to become debt free and we do things as affordably as we can so that we keep it that way.  If hard work can save us some money, that is what we are going to do.  This past week, my dear hubby cut and peeled logs, milled them as needed (with a chainsaw) and that ended up saving us hundreds of dollars in lumber for our current project of building a bigger shop before winter.  

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  •  It can also mean living a more remote or even somewhat isolated life in order to achieve that simpler way of life.  For our family, that meant moving 3,000+ miles away to the Alaskan interior where subsistence and a simpler way of life is more attainable.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t live a homesteading lifestyle where you currently are; it is all about making the choice to separate yourself from the rat-race of commercialism and keeping up appearances, and just live your life.

This is just an overview of what a Homesteading State of Mind really means.  Later on I’ll share some small, tangible ways that you can change your state of mind too.  (That is, IF you want to…)

 

4 Keys to Reclaiming Your Thyroid Health

Have you ever had that dream where there is something really important that you need to do or to focus on but you just can’t quite see well enough or move fast enough? Everything is shadowed in darkness, your body is unable to move, there is a force closing in around you, the darkness is swallowing you whole and encasing you in wet, heavy cement that, bit by bit, is beginning to harden… There is no other fatigue like Thyroid Fatigue.

Never fear though, THERE IS HOPE!! One of the most important keys to a Homestead State of Mind is reclaiming your health from Big Pharma and Modern medicine. 

I was diagnosed in 2010, with hypothyroidism and was put onto the typical thyroid medication.  It was during my first pregnancy and my thyroid just tanked; it was no surprise really, both of my parents had also been diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction.  I had no idea at the time just how vital and how all-encompassing thyroid function really is.  All I knew was that I was tired all the time and struggling with my weight.  In reality, thyroid dysfunction affects EVERYTHING, absolutely everything. 

But after 8 years on thyroid medication I found that my levels were only getting worse, and my dosage increasing over time rather than improving.  Let me tell you folks, there IS a better way.  I wish I had known earlier how much we are able to support our own endocrine system with diet, supplementation and for me, the most important component, essential oils. 

Here are 4 keys to support your own endocrine system and thyroid function:

  1. Diet – By this, I do not mean “dieting” like, “lose 20 lbs in the next 30 days” fad diet nonsense.  What we’re talking about here is good nutrition and avoiding or moderating a few particular culprits that are fighting against you.  Two of the main Bad Guys that are going to sabotage your thyroid are caffeine and quick sugars (anything that will spike your blood sugar.)  This is all a balancing act folks, a tired thyroid cannot defend itself against a dose of adrenaline and both caffeine and quick spikes to your blood sugar do exactly that. 
    • Caffeine.  This is one of the hardest things for me to do because I LOVE coffee.  But deep down, I know that it does not love me back.  If you are a coffee addict like me, and some days herbal tea (which I also love) just isn’t going to cut it, chicory root is a great substitution and comes with a whole host of its own nutrition benefits.  There are many brand choices out there, I use Dandy Blend, which you can find it on Amazon.  It combines Chicory root and Dandelion root for a super beneficial nutrition boost to your day.  Another herbal option with a pick me up is Yerba Mate, which has its own (more gentle) non-caffeinated energy boost but this option will be more like an herbal tea rather than the darker “coffee fix” of chicory root.
    • Quick sugars.  Many others I have spoken to will say that avoiding gluten all together is the key, and that’s always a safe way to go; but for me, I’ve found that I can tolerate some gluten in moderation.  The key is fermentation.  I can enjoy sour dough bread in moderation without all the negative side effects because the fermentation process eats up the sugars in the wheat.  But we’re not just talking bread here folks.  Sugars, highly processed grains and fruit should also be avoided or moderated.  Along with sourdough bread, I have found that I can occasionally enjoy some fruit (berries are lowest on the glycemic index and your best choice) and whole grains like brown rice, whole oats etc. but not on a daily basis.  Overall, a lower carb style of eating is a good rule of thumb.  Weight loss is also something that will help to improve your thyroid function but since weight gain is a symptom and byproduct of a slow thyroid, it can become a vicious cycle.  Lowering your consumption of quick sugar foods can help both with your weight and with your thyroid at the same time.
    • Supplementation – This one for me is very simple.  Vitamin D, Iodine (with Kelp) Magnesium and a good probiotic.  (Rather than purchasing a probiotic, I use a variety of fermented foods to support my digestive health, but Young Living also carries pro and prebiotic products that are fantastic.  Plexus also provides a fantastic line of supplements, but for me, Young Living has been life changing. Young Living also has a Thyroid Suppliment called Thyromin which is a special blend or extracts herbs, amino acids, minerals and essential oils that maximize nutritional support for healthy thyroid function. 
  2. Sleep – Once again, we are working to support your thyroid and an overly taxed adrenal system will stop you in your tracks.  Getting regular sleep is vitally important.  If you are having trouble sleeping Cedar wood and Lavender essential oils are my favorite combo to support a healthy sleep cycle and as an added bonus, Cedar wood oil is one of the beneficial supports for a healthy thyroid. 
  3. Endocrine disrupters – This is one aspect that I didn’t take seriously enough for quite some time.  Chemicals like artificial fragrance are known endocrine disrupters meaning they seriously affect and hinder your endocrine (or any hormone) system.  I slowly began to weed out as many of these chemicals over time and hadn’t realized the real difference that it had made until after our move to Alaska last year.  During the moving process I found my old favorite perfumes and candles and I started using some perfume here, burning a candle there… and then I started cleaning cabins for some side work.  The combination of fragrance and chemical cleaners sent me spiraling!  Headaches, inflammation, fatigue, brain fog and mood swings were OUT OF CONTROL.  Thankfully I realized what might be happening.  As soon as I stopped using the scented perfumes, lotions and candles and started bringing my own Thieves Cleaner (from Young Living) to work, I was good as new again!  The difference was unmistakable, I am so grateful to have beautiful smelling oils for perfume and diffusing, and an exceptional, plant based, household cleaner at hand at all times.
  4. Essential Oils – This one is no joke people, I don’t know that I would be successfully off of thyroid medication without it.  Endoflex – This is my main go-to here, a powerful combination of oils that support healthy thyroid function.  I find that I get the best results when I take the Endoflex, Clove and Copaiba internally and thanks to Young Living’s line of vitality oils, you know that they are safe.  I DO NOT suggest ingesting any essential oil other than Young Living.  To my knowledge Young Living’s line of Vitality oils is the only line of essential oils to be granted a GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) by the FDA for ingestion. Some other oils that will help support your thyroid are:
    1. Frankincense
    2. Myrrh
    3. Myrtle
    4. Cedar wood
    5. Clove
    6. Basil
    7. Lemon Grass and so many more…
    8. Ningxia Red (superfood, antioxident drink)

“…This sweet and tangy drink’s formula includes wolfberry, which is touted for its health benefits. Also featuring plum, aronia, cherry, blueberry, and pomegranate juices and extracts, Young Living’s NingXia Red is packed with superfoods to support overall wellness.

In addition to these antioxidant ingredients, NingXia Red’s formula includes pure vanilla extract and Lemon, Orange, Yuzu, and Tangerine essential oils for a great-tasting, healthy treat.

Young Living NingXia Red benefits include support for energy levels, normal cellular function, and whole-body and normal eye health. A daily shot of 2–4 ounces helps support overall wellness with powerful antioxidants.”

*I also use Young Living’s Progesence Plus Serum and Lady Sclareol or Sclaressence to finish rounding out the support for my female hormones.  Something important to remember is that when one part of the Endocrine System is out of whack, it’s a spiraling cycle of dysfunction.  Working to balance all hormone related systems will improve all systems.

All in all I am posting this in hopes that someone else who is struggling with their Thyroid health will find some improvement in their own quality of life like I have.  If you are interested in finding out more about the essential oils that I have mentioned here or how you can buy the highest quality oils available at wholesale prices, follow my link here. https://homesteadstateofmind.com/2018/02/01/discovering-essential-oils/

Happy Thyroid Awareness Month folks, it is a happy one for me and I hope that soon, you will be able to say the same.

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nurse, or any other form of medical professional. The content of this blog is simply my own experiences and opinions and have not been evaluated by any government agency. This information is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Taco Night!

Being raised in Southwest Colorado (with Eastern New Mexico roots) I am a bit spoiled when it comes to Authentic Mexican cuisine.

We are a long way from the Southwest now, but living in the remote interior of Alaska certainly isn’t going to keep us from our favorite foods.

One of our family favorites is, of course, the beloved Taco.

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I LOVE TACOS…
I mean, who doesn’t right?

Whether its corn tortillas, flour tortillas or jicama shells; ground beef, pulled pork, chicken or steak; pico de gallo, pickled onions, Asian slaw or taco sauce; no matter what you put them in, fill them up or what you top them with, Tacos are just about the best food there is.

While I love to try all kinds of variations of Tacos, the original, basic version of ground beef (actually Moose or Caribou in our case) and a corn tortilla is still probably my favorite. It feeds hungry hubby’s and kiddos in a jiffy and keeps everyone happy.

Whenever we have taco night, it is always made with my Homemade Taco Seasoning and Taco sauce.

In honor of Taco Tuesday, I wanted to share these SUPER easy recipes that will ensure you can have Taco night ANY night (not only when you’ve been to the store to buy Taco Seasoning and Taco Sauce.)

If you want to get the scoop on how enjoy Taco Tuesday (or any day) without packaged, processed ingredients look no further than these 3 links.

Easy Taco Sauce from Scratch

DIY Taco Seasoning Blend

Homemade, Traditional Refried Beans

DIY Taco Seasoning Blend

Taco Seasoning

Okay folks, this post is a super short one, no time to muddle around with a long winded explanation or story.  If you don’t already know about my love affair with Tacos, or why the super short post here, you can read the rest of my Taco Sauce recipe post here.

For now, I’m going to get right to business and share my homemade Taco Seasoning Blend recipe.

There is NO REASON to be wasting your money on those packages of Taco Seasoning from the grocery store again.  Seriously folks, keep your money, avoid the MSG and other processed ingredients and lets get back to basics.

I keep a jar of this seasoning mix on hand at all times.  It makes dinner such a cinch and I never have to worry about running to the grocery store.

Its also great to have on hand for Taco Soup when I need a REALLY fast meal.

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So here you go.  Not much introduction or instruction needed.

Taco Seasoning Blend

  • 2 Tbl Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Tbl Garlic Powder or Granulated Garlic
  • 1/2 Tbl Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried pregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp arrowroot powder or other thickener (cornstarch, flour, etc.)