Bath and Body, Health, Personal experience

My First Homemade Soap Fail – Sort Of

Oatmeal honey soap
Trial photo of Oatmeal Honey soap

Trying to change our habits to a healthier lifestyle, I decided I wanted to start making our soap instead of buying it from the store. I purchased a book or two for soap making, and chose my first soap from the book, “Natural Soap Making”, by Elizabeth Letcavage.

I decided to start with a simple yet healthy soap, Oatmeal, Milk and Honey soap. I made it just as it said, using the cold process (CP) method. I did everything it said and let it cure for 4 weeks. They seemed a little bit smaller in size than they should have been because I didn’t catch that I bought a 3-pound mold, and the recipe called for a 5-pound mold. So when I poured it, I had a lot left over and had to hurry up and pour the rest in the first plastic container I could find.

The soap I cut from the mold looks fine, but the remaining soap is cut in funny, small shapes, that I doubt I could sell. Let’s just say I will not run out of soap for a long time! 🙂

Really, this wasn’t a total fail. Just two pounds of the five-pound recipe. I am working on designing packaging because I have decided to OPEN AN ETSY SHOP! I am so excited, but kind of scared. Not selling anything would be so disappointing.

I just have to remember the first thing is that I love making them. The second thing is that it is pure, organic, and healthier for me, my family, and whoever else decides to buy them. I will just continue researching, learning, and enjoying every minute of it!

Oh, P.S.  If you are interested in purchasing one of my Oatmeal, Milk and Honey Soaps, just let me know through my Contact page, and we will set up a way for you to buy one, even before they are listed to the public!

Christian, Health, Personal experience

Jesus Freak

IMG_2622My life has changed. As I have previously mentioned, I am now on long-term disability with chronic neck and back pain. To have my life so drastically change, from hiking up mountains to sitting in the four walls of my house almost 24/7, I can only give my faith completely to God.

Yes, I am a Jesus freak.

My life is devoted to Jesus Christ, and I am not afraid to say so. I know that He has a plan for me, and I can’t wait to see what comes in the future! To God be the glory!

Wondering what God wanted me to do, now that I am home all the time and have plenty of time to serve Him, I pray daily and read the bible. I almost felt stressed and restless not knowing what I should be doing, and feeling lost that I might be failing to follow God’s lead.

I finally got an answer that I did not expect.

“Rest.”

That’s all He said. I was confused and startled at the answer, but a bit relieved that I then realized that I wasn’t supposed to be doing anything in particular. Just rest.

Sometimes when we are feeling lost, hurt, confused or even angry, what we should do next before we do anything rash or off our right path is just rest. Rest our mind, rest our body, rest our soul, be still, and know He is God.

Just rest.

Bath and Body, Fibromyalgia, Health, Homesteading, Personal experience

It’s All About the Weeds

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Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) aka Weed

I don’t know how many times over the years I pulled weeds just to find them growing more abundantly than before. One of the biggest jobs a homeowner has is killing weeds so they don’t take over the yard. It can be very frustrating. Too bad most people don’t realize how beneficial those weeds really are.

After having herb gardens on and off for at least 15 or 20 years, I decided I wanted to devote more of my life on learning about them. After all, they seem to be the best thing I grow. I let the pests overtake and kill most of my brand new little vegetable garden. But my herb garden remained healthier than ever.

Do I want to start a little herb business again like I had 15 years ago? I loved that little business! I had a beautiful little herb garden. I made dried spices that I sold, dream pillows, teas, catnip toys, gift baskets. I really enjoyed doing it.

I wanted to do that again! This time, I was going to spend more time learning about herbs and their many health benefits. After all, being on long-term disability due to chronic pain, it would be very beneficial to find out what would help me be more comfortable and healthy.

In my research, I found incredible information, not only about beneficial herbs, but how beneficial those “weeds” are! We are killing the stuff in our yard that can be way more beneficial then the boring, stagnant grass is! Many herbalists say, “grow weeds, not useless grass.” Because weeds aren’t “weeds.” They are herbs that can heal wounds, help the digestive system, strengthen our immune system, stop pain, and so many other things.

Take the above “annoying” weed for instance. It is the plaintain (Plantago lanceolata) (not the banana). See the very defined, straight veins in the leaves, all going straight up and down? That is a distinct characteristic of the plaintain. There is also the Plantago major, which has fuller, rounder leaves. It also has the distinct veins going straight up and down, and has the exact same benefits as this one. This precious, God-given plant can heal cuts, scrapes, minor burns, bee stings, and even draw out a splinter! And we are doing our very best to kill the poor thing.

I have purchased organic plantain seeds (Plantago major)  to grow next Spring so I can continue to make healing salves for my family and friends. I named the salve “Champion” because it is the champion of healing ointments. It is organic, pure, and way healthier to be rubbing into your body than any ointment you can buy in the store. It has plantain-infused olive oil (Plantago lanceolata), St. John’s Wart-infused olive oil (Hypericum perforatum), Witch hazel extract, organic beeswax, lavender essential oil (Lavendula spp. 40/42), and organic Peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita).

Champion Healing Salve
Not the best picture, but you get the idea.

I didn’t really plan this post to sell anything, but if you have the need, just let me know through the Contact page, and we will plan a way for you to buy one from me. I only made it for family and friends, and if you’re reading this, you are my friend, so I am more than happy to help you and your family start living a healthier lifestyle.

You would be shocked to know the benefits of other plants growing wild that we normally call weeds. I plan to devote special posts here and there highlighting one of those wonderful weeds, and you will never look at them same way again!

When it comes to our health, it really is all about the weeds.

 

Health, Homesteading, Personal experience

Homesteading, It’s a Thing

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Chickens on the homestead…but not mine

The internet has a smorgasbord of everything! I was researching ways to grow my own food, and do everything organic, and I learned so much! Did you know that when you grow and raise things to supply your family with food: fruit, vegetables, and even chickens and cows, it is called homesteading?

Homesteading: “a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and may also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.” Thank you Wikipedia!

I’ve seen a farm before. I can do this! “It will be is so easy!” I thought to myself. Yep. I bought the first plant starts until I could learn how to harvest the seeds for next year. Organic soil, organic amendments, checked on them every day. The garden was growing beautifully!

For a little while.

Then the garden pests arrived. In the Spring, it was those pesky slugs. How many of those things are there! I had a very small vegetable garden, so I kept hand-picking them off. I heard about putting a little bowl of beer by the plants that they like and they will go in it and die.

Well, apparently slugs don’t like good beer, because it didn’t work. The FaceBook Homesteading group I joined said, “No, it has to be cheap beer.”  Really? They prefer Bud Light over Phat Tire? What the heck?

Once the slugs were gone, all hell broke loose. I have never seen these “squash bugs” before. Where did they come from? I don’t understand how all of these bugs, which I have never seen in my yard before, are all of a sudden moving their entire family in to eat my garden. I first picked off and squished one here and one there. Then there were multiples all over the place. No way could I sit there and search for them all.  Too hard on my back. I did harvest two zucchinis before they killed the plant entirely. Over time, some other “cute” little worms, completely ate up my brussel sprouts and cantaloupe, too.

My garden started looking like little dead raised garden beds that would have been quite charming to the Addams family, but not to me. I was so disappointed. The tomatoes were still growing well, and bugs didn’t seem to like bell peppers, so that was good. So, my very first raised garden wasn’t a complete fail. As a glass half-full person, I got to harvest something for the very first time, and I learned a big lesson. Homesteading is NOT easy. It takes work, persistence, and a positive attitude. And you need all three of those qualities to make it work. I’ll get it right next year, I just know it! 🙂

What was still growing well? My herb garden. I’ve grown herbs before, and now they are still standing strong. I started two small raised herb garden beds by my back patio a couple of years prior, and they looked better than ever! Bugs apparently don’t like their strong aromas that many of us humans long to smell. They are wonderful. They are peaceful. They are still alive.

All is well with the world.

Christian, Fibromyalgia, Health, Homesteading, Personal experience

The Journey Begins

Surreal. I never thought I would ever have a need to use that word. Surreal: unreal, bizarre, unusual, strange, dot dot dot. I have suddenly landed in this position and it’s hard to believe I am really here. It’s all so surreal.

One day, I was working at my 8 to 5 job, minding my own business. I was probably day dreaming about going hiking again. My favorite place to hike is Crowders Mountain in Gastonia, North Carolina. The Pinnacle is my favorite path there. And one of the hardest. Or I might have been day dreaming about the last trip to Myrtle Beach. I love the beach. As a native Miamian, who could blame me? I love to take a walk along the shoreline and gather sea shells for my collection.

Anyway, I noticed that my neck was a little stiff. Eh. I must have been looking down at my computer too long. It’ll go away.

Fast forward about 2 years, and I am missing work at least 2 days a week due to severe neck and back pain. Even the hour-long ride home was torture. When I did work, it was often only half the day before I was crying on the way home because I was so miserable. The next thing I know, in November, 2017, I am on short-term medical leave. A few months later, the pressure point injections, physical therapy and massage therapy did not improve my condition at all.

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The heat feels really good, but looks kinda funny.

My short-term disability ended, and my job let me go. Soon after, at the beginning of February, 2018, I was approved for long-term disability. I am basically retired. Done with working. At only 55 years of age. When practically yesterday, I was hiking up a mountain.

What just happened? I still can’t believe I’m here. As I sit in my quiet living room, my head is still spinning at the reality of it all. I don’t know if I am relieved that I no longer work in great pain at a very busy, high-pressure job, or if I am horrified at the thought of being disabled and still have a mortgage to pay, and other responsibilities. I think it is a little bit of both. Or should I say a LOT of both.

Now that I am realizing that I have to make new plans for myself, I sit here and look around me and think, “What can I be doing all day everyday (with pain) that will help with paying bills or at least help with meals? I decided to spend a little time researching on the computer. The idea struck me while I was looking around on Pinterest. As I used to do at the “old” house I lived in before, I can grow herbs and tomatoes. But this time add in a vegetable garden. I had a micro business once upon a time; with herbs, herbal gift baskets, handmade catnip toys, etc. I can do that again. I enjoyed tending to the herb garden so much. I know with my condition, I could only do a little a day, but it would be great for me mentally.

As I was looking at my 0.57 acres of land, on part of which sits my house, I could picture where I wanted my herb garden, my vegetable garden. “A cute potting shed over here,” I thought. “Oh, and a flower garden beside it, and an herb garden in front of that, and the vegetable garden over there.” As I continued to research, I learned about Homesteading. Living off the land. My land. Natural health remedies, fresh homegrown food. That includes herbs, vegetables, some livestock like chickens, or goats, or bees, or cows. No cows. I don’t believe my HOA would be ok with Betsy on my half acre anyway.

I would be very happy to have all those things right away, but as the time-tested homesteaders say, just start a little at a time. And in my case, that would be a good suggestion to follow.

I have to say, looking through all of the articles I found online gave me a lot of ideas. I made a Pinterest Board for them called Homesteading and one called Herb Garden Ideas so I can keep them for further review. I also joined some of their newsletters and paid for some of their wonderful printouts for planning and inventorying the gardens. It only strengthened my desire to start on this homesteading/herbal journey more.

I can’t go without saying that I made definite progress toward the next chapter in my life, with a LOT of mistakes and lessons learned. This is, after all, a new beginning for me. A journey I have never taken before. And the crossroads can seem so hard to navigate. But it is all good! God has the driver’s seat.

And so the journey begins…