Our 1.5 Minutes of Fame: My Healthy Green Family on TV!

I enjoy every opportunity I am given to share my lifestyle and the things I have learned, with others. If I can encourage anyone to live a more sustainable lifestyle, I do it. This is also why I have a blog in the first place. A few months ago I was contacted by a reporter from The Weather Network asking if my family would like to be interviewed and filmed demonstrating our “green lifestyle” on television. I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with others so I accepted.

For weeks beforehand we worked exhaustively preparing our place to have a television face. The barn was painted, the chicken coop was painted, the bucks’ barn was stained, the fence was built and stained, the deck was stained, the gardens were weeded, the yard was tidied, the body products and cleaning products were made ahead of time, and the homemade ice cream was ready to treat our TV crew. They were here for 2.5 hours filming and talking, and all of that was condensed to 1 minute and 32 seconds. Phew! Talk about a great way to make sure the property was on its best behavior!

I talked about what kick-started our homesteading movement, I explained how to make wise food choices, I  demonstrated how to make some of my cleaning products, I displayed my homemade body products, I milked a goat, the children collected eggs, we played with baby goats, my husband opened up a hive, we sampled a honeycomb… And The Weather Network picked out what they wanted, cut the rest and produced a concise, short version of our family.  You can’t even see the newly painted barn.  ;)  I don’t think I could handle a Hollywood life.

Since I spent so much time preparing, I thought I’d share with you a link to our 1.5 minutes of fame. So, take a moment, sit back, relax, and enjoy a very short version of our lifestyle! And think of me, not used to a camera in my face, answering questions I hadn’t practiced ahead of time, and trying so hard not to say “um!”  I watched it 5 times afterward before I could even focus on what I was saying. I am pleased to say that, despite my hair poking up like devil’s horns, they picked out 2 of my most important points and shared them with a television audience across the province and online.  The points being: in order to provide your children with a more sustainable future you need to live it yourself, and the value of knowing the difference between your wants and your needs.  Enjoy our “crazy” life!

Click here for the link!

Go Greener: Clean Your House With Just Baking Soda, Vinegar and Lemons.

Going green can be a very expensive transition, or it can be cheaper than you’ve ever thought possible.  Green doesn’t have to mean buying all the “eco-friendly” products that are available for twice the price as the nasty stuff.  In fact, a lot of those “eco-friendly” products, when you read the labels and figure out what is actually in those products, are not very natural at all.  They may not contain phosphates or chlorine bleach etc., but they contain a lot of other ingredients that are not so great.  Especially when you can get a good clean with a few cheap ingredients that are readily available.  And, when your little helper wants to help you clean, you can comfortably and safely hand her a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar and a rag.

So lets go greener than green-cleaning products.  Lets make our own out of simple, economical ingredients.

I clean my entire house with a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar water, with plain vinegar and with baking soda.

Lemon-infused vinegar, also known as citrus vinegar, is simply a jar of lemon (or other citrus) rinds soaked for 2 weeks in white distilled vinegar. You can check out a DIY tutorial for it here.  Strain, dilute to a 1:1 ratio of citrus vinegar to water, and pour into a clean, empty spray bottle.  Lemons and vinegar both cut grease and grime, break down soap scum, and leave surfaces shiny and clean.  The acidity of both kills germs, making them perfect for a bathroom cleaner, a kitchen counter cleaner, and pretty much any kind of cleaner.

Distilled white vinegar.  Vinegar diluted 1:1 with water in a spray bottle is perfect for cleaning mirrors and windows.

Baking soda.  Baking soda is perfect for lifting grease, soap scum and grime.  Baking soda is also a great deodorizer.

Lemons.  Lemons can be used to clean a lot of surfaces. The acidity naturally kills germs and the fresh smell of lemons is pleasant.

Baking soda and vinegar.  When you add baking soda, a base, to vinegar, an acid, you neutralize the two of them and basically render both useless.  I have read a lot of articles talking about combining the two to clean toilets etc.  While the volcano-like explosion is pretty cool, in most cases it doesn’t actually achieve much since you have effectively created a neutral product.

How to Clean Your Kitchen:

Counter tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cuts grease and kills germs.  Simply spray on and wipe down with a clean rag.
Kitchen sinks: Lemon-infused vinegar spray works well, or if it is extra dirtly, sprinkle with baking soda and scrub clean with a scrub brush.  Alternatively, you can use a lemon that has been juiced, to scrub your sink with.  Rinse clean.
Stove tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray will cut the grease.  To help with burnt bits, make a baking soda paste with a bit of water, smear on, let sit for 30 minutes, then wipe clean.
Floor: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will make laminate, tile and linoleum sparkle, leaving no build-up.
Fridge: Spray down with lemon-infused citrus spray, then wipe clean.  Leave an open box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb food odors.  Replace the box every few months.
Microwave: Heat up a small bowl of 1 cup vinegar for about 4 minutes.  The vinegar and steam loosen the grime and make it easy to wipe clean with a rag.  You can also use lemon juice the same way, with the same results.
Stove fan filters: Bring water to boil in a large pan.  Add 1/4 c. baking soda and mix well.  Soak fan filters in it for 1 minute, then turn over, soak for 1 more minute, then remove and rinse.
Dishwasher: Add white vinegar to the rinse compartment of your dishwasher to help prevent buildup on your dishes.
Cutting boards:  Clean stains and germs off of your cutting board by squeezing a lemon on the board and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes.  Scrub clean.

How To Clean Your Bathroom:

Bath tub and shower stall: Scrub bathtub with a baking soda paste and a scrub brush.  The baking soda cuts soap scum and grease off the tub and walls beautifully.  Rinse clean.
Toilet: Sprinkle baking soda in the toilet and scrub clean with toilet brush.  Clean toilet seat, lid, and around base of toilet with lemon-infused vinegar spray.  Wipe dry.
Sink: Scrub sink clean with a baking soda paste and and a scrub brush.  Clean chrome or stainless steel with lemon-infused vinegar spray.
Mirrors: Plain white vinegar in a spray bottle, diluted 1:1 with water does the best job of cleaning mirrors.
Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will keep bathroom floors clean and sparkly.

Cleaning Other Areas:

Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will clean all floor surfaces beautifully.
Walls: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cleans walls beautifully.
Windows: Plain vinegar in a spray bottle diluted 1:1 with water.
Dusting: Spray your duster very lightly with lemon-infused vinegar to replace products like Pledge.
Carpets: to deodorize a carpet, sprinkle generously with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum up.
Mattresses: To deodorize urine or vomit stains sprinkle with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum.  For fresh, wet stains, scrub with white vinegar and rinse with clean water.  Test fabric first.
Laundry: lemon juice, placed directly on grease stains on fabric, and left to sit for 30 minutes, can lift the stain.  Vinegar, poured directly on tomato-based fabric stains, can remove the stain.  Test your fabric first.
Tile grout: Lemon juice and an old tooth brush will bleach tile grout clean.
Drains: One case in which baking soda and vinegar combined can work is with a clogged drain.  Since the physical “explosion” can actually move things around, you can unclog a drain with it.  Pour a cup of dry baking soda down the drain.  Add a cup of vinegar.  Immediately plug with a rag and leave for 30 minutes.  Rinse down the concoction with boiling water and you may have success if the conditions are right.

So forget the bottles of fancy green cleaners.  Ignore the eco-friendly advertising.  Save  your money, save your family’s health, and go greener!  Make your own cleaners with baking soda, vinegar and lemons.  So easy, so cheap and so effective!  Please share any other cleaning methods you might know using baking soda, vinegar and lemons!

You might also enjoy reading about my homemade dish-washing detergent, my homemade laundry detergent, my DIY deodorant recipe and how my entire family’s hair is safely and perfectly cleaned with baking soda (wash) and vinegar (rinse).  All of these recipes use some of the above ingredients as well as a few others.

 

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #64Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #16 , Seasonal Celebration Wednesday, Get Real Frugal Friday Blog Hop #5 and Homestead Abundance #8.

 

 

 

 

Raising Our Own Food in a Food-Dependent Society.

Vegetables from our garden.

Before we had kids we were pretty mainstream.  We bought the products we saw advertised.  We ate our (non-organic) vegetables.  We shopped for the best deals.  We cleaned with harsh cleaners.  We threw away our plastic and pretty much happily lived our life with our heads in the sand.  Until we decided to have children.  And couldn’t.

After years of trying to conceive I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis.  The lining of my uterus was growing not only in my uterus, but outside it as well, on my bowel.  My bladder.  My ovaries.  This all created a toxic environment for fertile embryos, and I couldn’t get pregnant.

I started researching my disease and discovered that there was no cure, and no definite cause.  There was some indication that diet could help control it, and some indication that toxins absorbed by the body through food and body/cleaning products could have caused or exacerbated it.  Major changes started to be made in our lives.

Our own goat’s milk.

I started choosing green cleaning and personal care products.    The food we ate was “free range” or “hormone-free” or “organic”.  Eventually, we did become pregnant and gave birth to our son.  We went on to conceive two other children, although not without difficulty.

While raising our children, we became more and more aware of the food we were putting into our and their bodies.  A gradual change occurred.  We started questioning where the food came from, and what the ingredients really were.   No longer were we interested in putting just plain organic food into them.  We wanted to know exactly where the ingredients came from.  Exactly what the animals were fed that we were eating.  Exactly what organic meant.  We wanted NO pesticides, not just “safe, organically-certified ones”.  We didn’t want produce picked on massive production farms in Mexico.  We wanted our own.

We live on just under 2 acres in a city on the coast of Western Canada.  Most of the acreage is forested.  We have learned to make good use of the unforested areas.

A pumpkin growing in our garden.

I have always had a garden. But each year my garden doubled in size, to what it is now.  This year, we have a good sized glass greenhouse with 58 tomato plants, various pepper plants, lettuce and more growing in it.  We baby our vegetable plants through typical wet springs and fight slugs with ducks rather than pesticides.  We are growing carrots, corn, cucumbers, squashes, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, potatoes, onions, leeks, herbs, peas, beans, chard and more.  We have raspberries, strawberries, currants, blueberries, blackberries, cherry trees, apple trees, pear, plum and apricot trees.   We can, dehydrate, juice and freeze our produce.

We stopped buying processed, prepared food.  We began to make our own bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, granola bars, crackers, yogurt, cereal, soup, dinners and so on.  Our meals are prepared from scratch with a lot of our own food produced on our own property.  That way, we know that the food we are feeding our children is not genetically modified, contains no BPA, preservatives, artificial ingredients, artificial color, or fillers etc.

Our homemade bread.

A few years ago we decided to raise a few chickens for eggs.  It grew from there, and now we regularly have 40 layers (we sell the extra eggs)  and we raise our own meat birds every year.  We feed them organic feed and kitchen scraps, and they free range on our property.  We process them ourselves.  We know exactly what food has gone into them and how they were processed.

One of our Black Copper Marans hens and babies.

Not long after, we decided to raise dairy goats.  Organic milk is expensive, and we go through a lot of milk.  Unpasteurized goat milk does not taste or smell like store-bought, pasteurized milk.  It has no scent and tastes like rich, creamy cow’s milk with virtually no stereo-typical “goaty” after-taste which comes from the pasteurization process.  We have Nigerian Dwarf goats which are capable of producing up to 1 L of milk a day.  Nigerians are compact, clean, friendly and full of fun!  They are just the right size for our small property.  Our goats add a flare of personality and a whole lot of fun to our homestead.  We know what our goats have been fed, how clean our barn is, how clean the goat was before she was milked, and how good that milk is!

Lulu, our milk goat, and her babies.

Honeybees seemed to be the next logical step.  We built 2 top bar hives and now have thousands of bees making pounds of honey.  Bees survive the winter in their hives by eating their own honey.  Store-bought honey is typically made from bees who have been fed sugar-water or even worse, high fructose corn syrup and water.   Nature makes a perfect food for the bees, but we greedy humans prefer to take their honey and sell it, and provide sugar which is essentially the same thing as baby formula: a substitution.   We allow our bees to keep some of their honey so that they can overwinter as nature intended.  From our bees we receive perfect, raw honey and pesticide-free bees wax for candles and body products.

Our honeybees at work inside our hives.

Raising our own food hasn’t come without its difficulties.   Farms require maintenance and my “muscle-in-the-arm” who also has to work a full time job always has work to do around the farm.  My husband has to work long hours so that I can stay home and raise our family.  This places a lot of the daily workload squarely on my shoulders.  As a result we don’t go on holidays a lot, we stay near the farm during the day, and the daily household duties including childraising and housecleaning add to the workload.  Good hard work only makes you stronger!

One of our daughters and a baby goat.

We have lost animals to predators from mink and bears to neighbouring dogs and coyotes.  Bad weather has almost wiped out our bees and our gardens.  I have to do things I never thought I would ever do in my life, such as disbud baby goats, put down suffering chickens, hunt mink and chase away bears.  But we also reap the benefits.

Fresh eggs!

My children have learned the value of food.  They see the hard work involved in harvesting it, preparing it and storing it.  They see the sacrifice made when lives are given for our food.  They have learned how to love and let go of animals that have left our farm by sale or by death.  They have seen and handled the heartache of loss and the rich satisfaction of plenty.  They pick their own snacks, and help make their own meals.  In a day and age where many children have never seen a dairy animal or tasted a carrot fresh from the ground, our children have milked a goat, picked berries and vegetables, held baby chicks and collected eggs.  Food is very real to them.  And valued in a way that many children do not have the privilege of experiencing.

Overall it has been a very rewarding experience.  We have learned so much in such a short period of time.  There is very little that is more rewarding than preparing a meal that was produced entirely on your own land.  We are a far cry from being fully sustainable, but we are thrilled with what we have accomplished and look forward to the next step in our journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

Our son with blueberries from our bushes.

This post was written in conjunction with Farmer’s Daughter’s Green Mom’s Carnival: Food Independence.

This post has been shared on TheMorrisTribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #16, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways # 36, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #72 and Fat Tuesday.

How to make a simple desiccant to keep products dry.

Some homemade cleaning products such as laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent need a desiccant to keep them from clumping together.  A desiccant is a little package containing something that is drier than the container it is placed in.  The desiccant absorbs the moisture that is in the container, keeping the intended product drier and less clumpy.

I made a simple desiccant by using powdered white clay.  Put 2 tbsp. in a thin, child’s sock (or the end of a pair of pantihose) and tie a knot at the end.  Place inside airtight container.  Replace as needed.  Alternatively, you can purchase silica at craft stores, and use the same way.  You can also use cheesecloth, place clay or silica in the middle, and tie the ends together to form a little pouch.