Tag Archives: natural

Homemade Coffee Creamer

Things have been crazy-go-nuts here on the homestead with harvesting, cutting and splitting wood, prepping for fall classes, and having a mobile little one running amuck. That being said, I figured that I owed you all at least a quick post seeing how it’s been so long.

For the past month or so I’ve been living off from homemade creamer in my coffee. It was an idea I found mentioned on a few other homesteading blogs and I decided to run with it. The recipe is easy enough to memorize and make any time you’re out:

– 2 cups of any type of milk or creamer

– sweetener to taste

– 1 tsp. of vanilla

– spices to taste

So far I’ve played with using cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk, heavy creamer, whipping cream, and light cream. Maple syrup, honey, and sugar all work well for sweeteners. Cinnamon sticks, cloves, and almond extract have all joined in the mix on occasion. This is a wonderful add on to any cup of coffee, chai, or cocoa.

10 Ways We’ve Improved

I was getting a little disenchanted with the whole homesteading thing this morning while reading a friend’s post. This friend has been going at this much longer than I, has more knowledge, and is much more efficient. However, it got to me nonetheless, and I felt like I just haven’t been doing enough to simplify our life and help with the homesteading schemes and dreams as they were. For us, this means doing things naturally, safely, and mostly on our own. I decided to sit and think of at least ten ways that I’ve made our family healthier, safer, and/or more self-reliant.

1. Avoiding chemical cleaners and using organic methods instead, like for combating mold/mildew.

2. Swapping to organic, human, and local health products. I personally only use baking soda and apple cider vinegar on my hair now. Joe uses Dr. Bronners, and for soap we’re now buying goat’s milk soap from the farmer’s market.

3. Adding a wood stove into our home.

4. Taking the plunge of getting our first livestock: laying hens. They’re free ranged with no antibiotics. Great, healthy eggs high in vitamins than store bought ones and we know how the girls are treated.

5. I’ve increased the amount of repairs done to clothing to keep things being used longer.

6. Knitted items are being burned our at a decent pace now and a braided rug has been started.

7. Canning and stashing began with a bang this year. We all ready have the same number of jam jars in the freezer that we did over the entire course of last season.

8. We’ve made a full swap from using DEET products.

9. Joe’s been finding numerous projects to do using the free pallets that we’ve been able to track down.

10. We’ve been able to focus on making even more food at home than before, which is great! Bread, ice cream, pasta, and many other attempts have come out well. Some things we’ll still buy as we only have so much time in the day, but its’ nice o know that we can do these things in a pinch.

DEET

One of the things that I’ve been cringing at lately is the use of insect repellent. Last night was the first night of the year that mosquitos were out in droves (or so says the husband as I had a kiddo to feed). While it’s something that we no longer deal with as a family, having swapped to all natural Bite Blocker years ago, the idea of people using DEET based repellents just sends shivers up my spine, and not just because of the “urban myth” of the dangers involved with it. The Cornell website puts if plain and simple: “Products containing N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide and isomers (Deet) are beneficial as insect repellents, but have also been associated with dermal and neurological reactions in humans .” The emphasis is mine here, but I think that it’s unneeded as anyone could see the glaring issue with it.

Reading through the the CDC’s website on DEET is a disturbing thing to do this early in the morning, but it’s eye opening nonetheless. Here’s a glimpse of some of the studies done (here again I’ve highlighted the important part to draw attention to for those just skimming this post:

“AA study was done involving 143 National Park Service employees at Everglades National Park to determine the effects of DEET on varying use groups. Exposure groups were classified as low (non-users), medium (0.01-0.52 g/day) and high (0.71-69.38g/day) use of DEET. It was found that 36 of the workers (25%) reported health effects that they attributed to DEET. These effects included rashes, skin or mucous membrane irritation, transient numb or burning lips, dizziness, disorientation, and difficulty concentrating. Headache and nausea were also reported. A statistically significant difference was not found between reported effects from high-exposure and medium-exposure workers, although the incidences were significantly higher than in the non-users (McConnell et al. 1987). “

Then there’s the EPA’s list of precautions to take, some of which include:

•    Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.  
•    Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children.  
•    Do not allow young children to apply this product.  
•    Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing.  
•    After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.  

I don’t know about any of you, but I have yet to meet an outdoorsy person that’s not going to have a cut, wound, or rash as its par the course (or at least it is for me). The warnings of not to get it near the eyes or mouth, or on anything a child could chew on, such as hands, scared me. Many alternatives (there again, Bite Blocker is a wonderful one), is made of FOOD GRADE ingredients. While you wouldn’t want your child drinking the entire bottle, it’s fine if they accidentally lick their hands. You can respray as often as needed, there’s no limit due to the possible side effects of overuse. While it’s a good idea to wash your hands when you come in anyhow, getting soybean, geranium, and castor oil on the furniture is nothing compared to getting DEET all over the place.

Just as with the pesticides that Carson exposed in Silent Spring, I can’t help but think WHY are we using these man-made chemicals that can cause havoc? There are natural solutions to the DEET problem, just as there are to the DDT problem. (What is it with chemicals that begin with Ds?) I can’t even begin to pronounce the chemical name in DEET (N, N -Diethyl- meta -toluamide). What I can pronouce are natural ingredients like soybean oil, geranium oil, castor oil, purified water, coconut oil, glycerin, lecithin, wintergreen oil, citric acid, sodium bicarbonate, and benzoic acid. The past couple summers I’ve been on a min-crusade, trying to get people to stop buying DEET based products, offering anyone I come across that needs bug spray to try mine, which I keep in my purse all summer thanks to that lovely mosquito allergy. I’d rather have to respray every hour or so than worry about what they’re going to find out that DEET causes later on.

Let there be fire!

I’m not going to make this a long, lengthy post as I think Joe would be the best one to handle explaining all the background and particulars of our long journey to wood burning, but we’ve done it!

We’ve been using the stove for over a month and love it. We do still have oil backup since Teeny (lovebird) can’t get below 62F for long at all, but it’s barely been running.

Needless to say, we love it! :-)

Natural Hydration

While staying hydrated is something that is vitally important in daily living, sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of such when life gets busy. Every now and then we have minor issues with hydration. Normally this family rectifies it by drinking down a huge jug of electrolyte-added soft drink designed for athletes. When trying to lead a natural lifestyle, this is kind of a sore spot when you think of the added colors, corn syrup (which one family member is allergic to), and the artificial additives that abound in these drinks.

Until now. While wandering through Hannaford, this grocery shopper noticed that there is something new on the market. Something that she was surprised to find, but very happy about given that she already knows it’s something she can stomach.

O.N.E. Drinks, out of California, has started selling packaged coconut water. Potassium, sodium, and magnesium, and calcium are all important electrolyte makers. Coconut water naturally has all four of these.

O.N.E. Coconut Water

Ingredients
100% natural coconut water
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 11.2 Fl. Oz.(330ml.)
Servings per Container: 1
Amounts Per Serving
Calories: 60 Calories from fat: 0
Total Fat 0g 0% Daily Value*
Cholesterol 0g 0%
Sodium 60mg 2%
Potassium 670mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%*
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%*
Sugars 14g
Protein 1g
Calcium 40mg 4%
Phosphorus 17mg 2%
Magnesium 25mg 6%

Not a significant source of vitamin A,
vitamin C, calcium, or iron.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a
2,000 calorie diet.

Gluten free
Gently pasteurized

While the flavor is still has that odd bitter after-taste of regular coconut, it was much more pleasing to drink than the tart soft drinks that I have had in the past. It was just dry enough of a feel that it left you thirsty and either wanting more coconut water or regular water.

Add in the concept of a container that contains no BPAs, is recycable, and can easily stack in the pantry, and I think this might become a household stable for “emergency” re-hydration purposes.