For Our Health

We thought we would give you an update on some of the ways we have tried to improve our health in the last year or so. We have intentionally eliminated a number of things from our bodies and feel we are much healthier because of those choices.

In March, 2014, I decided to stop using commercial hair care products. I am happy to report that I am still very satisfied with my routine of baking soda and water for shampoo, with apple cider vinegar and water for a rinse and conditioner 17 months later. 

We still use baking soda for toothpaste, and make our own simple lotion and lip balm. By the way, that small batch of lip balm we made one year ago today is not gone yet. We would have used many tubes of commercial lip balm by this time. It truly is amazing.

Lip balm

I still use the same reusable food wraps and panty liners we wrote about last year. There are so many simple things we can make for ourselves that are less expensive, last longer and eliminate more chemicals from our bodies.

We told you about Frank’s difficulty getting off of Zyrtec, and recently we weaned ourselves off of low dose aspirin as well. The more we learn about how synthetically made ingredients affect our bodies, the less likely we are to consume them.

 

We have added fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and peppers to our diet. We continue to make sourdough bread with our fresh ground whole wheat flour, but we have eliminated all white flour and sugar. Our diet consists of foods high in nutrients, low in carbohydrates along with quality protein and fats. We continue to

make and consume kefir everyday, even though Frank would tell you he could go the rest of his life without kefir. We feel the probiotics we get from the fermentation process in making sauerkraut, sourdough and kefir help our bodies absorb and use nutrients in a much more efficient and effective way.

A little over a year ago, Frank and I chose to change our lives by changing the way we eat. In doing so, we have now each lost over 50 pounds. We are definitely healthier and accomplish much more than we ever did while carrying around the equivalent of a sack of animal feed all the time.

Something we have not done yet, but will someday, hopefully soon, is make lye soap. We have everything we need, but have yet to carve out the time to do it. Our friend, Grace has made her first batch of soap, so now it is our turn.

The older we get, the more we learn about natural ways to care for our bodies. Our modern world has much to offer in the way of conveniences and comfort, but what it has to offer is not always the best thing for our health, in fact, some of what it has to offer is down right deadly. A new year has dawned, make the most of it. Take care of your health, for you will need it to be ready for what is coming.

Until next time – Fern

How Did It Work Out? Some Updates & Things

You know how it is when you read about someone trying something new, but never hear how it worked out? It can leave you wondering if it was a success or a flop. So I thought I would let you know about a few projects we’ve written about recently.

First up are the reusable food wraps. I love them. They work great on bowls of stuff. I have yet to try wrapping food in them without using a bowl, but my main goal was a way to cover bowls of things in the frig without using plastic wrap or a plastic lid. I’ve used them to cover fish, ground meat, coleslaw, onions, herb cheese, and I don’t remember what else. The first time I put it over
a bowl of salmon I really wondered if the wrap would stink. Nope. It still smelled like beeswax. The next stinky test was the onion. I was glad to find out that the wrap will not absorb the odor of the food item it is covering. Clean up is an easy rinse with lukewarm water, dry thoroughly, fold up and store for next time. I’m glad I made the smaller wraps while I had the beeswax out making lip balm. I use these smaller wraps the most.

They do get creases where they are bent or folded, and I haven’t done anything to cover them up yet. But, from what I have read, you can use hot water and your hands to smooth out the wax on either side of the crease and cover it back up. I am very happy to be using something besides plastic lids or plastic wrap. These appear to be very durable, are quick and easy to make, and are made with more natural products than plastic.

Next, are the reusable panty liners. I am still very pleased with the design I came up with. They are effective for my use, comfortable, easy to make and care for. I haven’t made any more yet, we have been doing a major clean up and organizing task. But I will make about a dozen more before long, probably on one of the next cold, yucky winter days. If you have a sewing machine and a need, I would highly recommend making your own. If not, there are many vendors that make a good, quality products. It’s an easy way to eliminate the many detrimental chemicals that are so easily absorbed by women’s bodies.

The lip balm we made is great. We really like knowing exactly what we are using, and again, eliminating more chemicals from our daily routine. I have used Carmex, and Frank Chapstick, for many years. One thing I found out when I switched to our lip balm is that I seemed to have a kind of withdrawal. I know, withdrawal from Carmex? I never considered it before we switched to our lip balm. My lips got pretty chapped for about 10 days. During that time we had some really cold weather with strong north winds that may have contributed some, but I really think most of it had to do with a Carmex ‘withdrawal’ period. It didn’t occur to me at first, but as time went by, I began to notice an improvement. So, at first, I used our lip balm many times a day to deal with the chapped lips. Now, I only use it a few times, similar to how I used the Carmex. We are both very pleased. I have infused some olive oil with lemon balm and peppermint that I picked from the herb bed for our next batch. We’ll let you know how that goes.

One thing I have not written about, nor did I take any pictures of the process, was the simple lotion I made. It is only beeswax, olive oil and herbal tea made from some of the lemon balm and peppermint I picked. Very simple. The recipe called for mixing with a blender, which I do not have, so I used a slotted spoon. Obviously, the spoon did not do the mixing job a blender would do, and sometimes there is a couple of droplets of water on top of the lotion. But it doesn’t bother us at all. We really like this lotion. I will take pictures and write about the next batch. I’m going to try using the KitchenAid with the whipping hook on it to see if it will mix it up better.

When I first started using the lotion, I only used it on my hands. My skin is very sensitive to a lot of things. For many, many years the only hand lotion I could use is the original, plain Vaseline Intensive Care. It’s a good lotion and worked fine. I cannot use any soap or cleansers on my face at all. They break me out in fine little red bumps. So, I wash my face with water and use Eucerin lotion and nothing else. But, after I used our lotion on my hands and it didn’t break them out, I tried it on my arms for a few days. That went okay, so after about a week I got brave and tried it on my face. No little red bumps. I was very happy. But the same kind of dried out reaction happened to my hands, arms and face that happened to my lips. I wondered if it was the quality of moisturizing components of our lotion compared to the chemicalized store bought version. You know, those chemicals we can’t pronounce? Things like isopropyl myristate, PEG-40 sorbitan perolrate, glyceryl lanolate, sorbitol, propylene glycol, cetyl palmitate, stearic acid, magnesium sulfate, aluminum stearate, lanolin alcohol, BHT, methychloroisothiazolinone, and methylisothiazolinone. I have no idea what these ingredients are, or what they do to my body. But, you know what? I really think our bodies are so accustomed to, and almost addicted to, all of the chemicals we put on them every single day, that we have withdrawals. When I first thought of that, I thought it sounded kind of weird, but the longer I used our non-chemicalized products, the more I think it is true. I have long considered these two lotions to be good quality products, but until now, I have never read the ingredients. Or tried to, anyway.

Now, I know that the olive oil I have is processed. And the beeswax is processed. And the lard we bought to use in the lip balm has preservatives in it and the pigs it came from were fed highly chemicalized feed. But at least we were able to eliminate many of the man made chemicals that are the basic components of lip balm and lotion. That’s one more small step we were able to make. We really hope in the near future we will be able to render our own lard and harvest our own beeswax. That will be wonderful.

One of the things we are excited about is making lye soap. We have researched and gathered the necessary ingredients for a basic lye soap. When time allows, and a few other projects are completed, we will give it a try and share the results. We haven’t experimented with many projects that could be dangerous to our health, but making lye soap is one of them. Remember, safety first.

We will continue to learn and experiment with eliminating more chemicals from our lives. We really feel that the more naturally we can live now, before we have no choice, the better off we will be. If we can learn how to make our own natural care products with minimal, hopefully renewable ingredients for the most part, then when the stores are empty, we won’t miss them as much. Don’t slow down and let a life of learning pass you by. There is so much to learn and do, the journey is a never ending process. It will keep you young and ticking.

Until next time – Fern

A Simple Lip Balm With a Rant

Now that I have a nice supply of beeswax, I have been looking into making a few more things I have thought about for years. Just like making reusable food wrap, making this simple lip balm took about 10 minutes

after the needed items were assembled. Ten minutes? Unbelievable to me. This type of endeavor is supposed to be difficult and complicated, that is why we depend on the store to provide all of our needs, right? Well, the more we learn, the more we realize that there are many things that we can now provide for ourselves, and not depend on them. This decreases our dependence and increases our independence, which is one of our goals, as our world spirals more and more out of

control each and every day, right before our eyes. I know you weren’t expecting this commentary at the beginning of a lip balm article, but it’s just another example of marketing and brainwashing. I can make a very simple lip balm with minimal ingredients that can be acquired locally. That is one more small measure of comfort I can provide when the SHTF. With that said, here is my first effort at making a very simple lip balm.

But, before I get to that, I want to show you how economical it is, and how manufacturers are continuing to decrease the amount of product we receive, while maintaining the prices, in a effort to disguise just how bad inflation has become. If you don’t pay attention, you won’t notice that you now put much less on your plate for the same amount of money than you could a year ago, or even six short months ago. I know the cost of gasoline at the pump has recently gone down, but it doesn’t change the amount of food on your table.

Frank and I have used Carmex and Chapstick for years and years. Well, after we moved here six plus years ago, we started saving the empties. Yes, we are turning into our grandparents and saving all sorts of odd things, but I thought maybe someday I would learn how to make lip balm and refill them with our own stuff. One of the interesting, but irritating things we noticed a while back is how much less the containers are holding than they used to. We ran out much quicker than before. For example.

Older Carmex, current Carmex, our lip balm. Carmex used to be flat on the bottom.

Without further verbal wrangling, here is what I did to make lip balm. I found a great site, The Nerdy Farm Wife, that gave the basics of lip balm with recommended options, but without a lot of fluff. I also obtained a great little eBooklet recently from Leigh at 5 Acres and a Dream titled How To Make An Herbal Salve. It has some great simple recipes that I plan to try now that I’ve gotten my feet wet with this experiment. We bought a tub of lard recently for our first attempt at making soap. It is another project that is on the list of things to learn. There is some pig fat in the freezer waiting to be rendered, but, for now, we bought the lard. Farm Wife gave me the information I needed to make a very simple lip balm.

First, to gather the needed materials.

Beeswax
Olive oil
Lard
Measuring cup
Pan
Containers

These little containers have a short story. Our friend down the road, Grace, loves garage sales. A while back she found these little containers and brought them to me knowing I wanted to learn to make salves and such. I’m happy to finally be putting them to use, and the smaller ones are just the right size for lip balm. After I finalize my recipe, I will start filling up the old Carmex jars as well. After I gathered the needed ingredients and materials, it was very simple to complete this recipe. I am still amazed. So here goes.

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. lard
1 heaping tbsp. beeswax 

That’s it!

The lard has almost melted & the beeswax has just started.

Put about two inches of water in the pan, measure ingredients into the measuring cup and place it in the pan with medium heat,  and watch everything melt. This creates a type of simple double boiler. I used a plastic spoon this time because I wasn’t sure how difficult it might be to wash off the wax. I have an extra measuring cup just in case I couldn’t get this one clean enough, but I washed it immediately after use with hot water and Dawn and it came clean just fine.

After everything was melted and stirred well, I took the cup out of the pan and dried it so it wouldn’t drip any water into the mix as I poured it into the containers. Warning, the handle on the measuring cup was hot and I needed to hold it with a towel. I was surprised that this small amount of ingredients filled up four of these small containers. That will last us quite a while.

 

It only took about 10 minutes for the liquid to totally solidify and be ready to use. The texture in the jar is very similar to Carmex, but feels more oily when applied. Frank and I are very pleased with the outcome, and will let you know how it goes as we use it over time. Now that I have tried this, I plan to infuse some olive oil with peppermint and lemon balm, which are growing out in the herb bed, to put in the next batch.

 

When I finished this little project, Frank asked me how much it cost to make this much lip balm. I didn’t know so I went and looked up the prices and did some figuring. Here are the approximate prices.

  • beeswax $0.40
  • olive oil $0.44
  • lard $0.09
  • TOTAL $0.93 = approximately 6 oz.

Carmex at the store: $0.98 = 0.25 oz.

The recipe I used made approximately 6 oz. of lip balm compared to 0.25 oz. of Carmex. That would be 24 times as much for a few cents less. So, the equivalent amount of my lip balm would cost about $0.04 compared to $0.98 + tax for Carmex. Amazing!

 And while I was at it and had the beeswax out, I needed some smaller reusable food wraps. So while the lard and beeswax were melting for the lip balm, I cut out a few more pieces of fabric, sprinkled on some wax and popped them in the oven. Another new item for us that takes very little time once you have the needed items on hand.

 

 

You see, if I am going to make lip balm or bread or a meal, I’m going to use simple plain ingredients that I hope to be able to produce here on our farm. If I am really serious about being self-reliant and being able to manage when, when not if, the end of the world as we know it arrives, then I have to be realistic about how I learn and do new things and not play head games with myself.

I know we will not be able to produce olive oil in a survival situation, but we plan to be able to produce lard. We don’t have

them yet, and don’t really like to read about what people are going to do, but we will be adding American Guinea Hogs and bees to our homestead come spring. This will provide us with a source of lard and beeswax which can be used for so many things besides a food source. And if for some reason those plans don’t work out, there are other folks around that have bees and hogs that we can barter with. We have been homesteading for many, many years and know from the school of hard knocks that things don’t come together overnight, and sometimes don’t work out at all. But with gumption and perseverance, they can and do come together. 

Learn something important today. Obtain, or begin to research the knowledge and skills you need to do something useful for your family that will make life better when all of the chips are down. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It may be one of the most important things you have ever done. Time is wasting, and may run out before we know it. Work with fervor and a prayer in your heart.

Until next time – Fern