Our little piece of the world

A mother, wife, and teacher aims to make life simple

Archive for the tag “Self-sufficient”

Update: How I started cleaning my face with the help of olive oil

About 6 weeks ago I posted about how I started using olive oil, castor oil, and tea tree oil to clean my face instead of harsh chemical cleansers. I wanted to give everyone a quick update about how it’s been going.

  • I am still using this method exclusively to clean my face.
  • I have found that the dryness has subsided quite a bit
  • I have only had one zit on my face the entire time… not that I usually get many, but it’s usually more than that.
  • My skin feels softer. I don’t feel like I’m “glowing” like I’ve heard some people say about using this method, but I still feel great
  • I have not used much of the mix that I made at all, I figure that by the time I finish the bottle that I made (330 ml) it will have lasted me about 3 months.

All this got me thinking about cleaning my hair without shampoo, which has been on my mind because my scalp seems unusally dry and itchy lately. I am eager to see whether it would solve that problem. However, my current problem is that I can’t stand the idea of having greasy hair while I’m still working. I might take the opportunity to try it out over the summer, but that seems so long away.

In the meantime, I’ll be trying it with my son’s hair as soon as his “baby shampoo” runs out. I know that it contains all kinds of chemicals that I would rather keep away from him.



Well said, Jamie Oliver.

Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food.

Jamie’s TED talk on why we should include educate children about the importance of good food.
I’m proud to say that my school does teach a “family studies” class to grade 7 and 8 students about healthy eating and cooking.
… not sure they’re getting it after I see them eating poutine every day, though.

Urban “Vertical Greenhouse”

Today I came across this article about a vertical greenhouse that is being built in Linköping Sweden, set to open in 2013. This concept does away with the idea that you have to live in a rural area to be self-sufficient or self-sustaining.

The future seems so unclear to me. While my husband and I have decided that living rural is the best fit for our family, it does seem to be true that there’s a tendancy among our generation and younger generations to move to urban areas. It’s easy to see why: urban areas are not only more hip and cool, but they also offer more job opportunities and amenities (I would never be able to live without a car here because of that lack of public transit, but in a city that’s no problem for most people.

So if the future is urban centres, it follows that we need to find a way to make these areas more self-sustainable, and ideas like this are exactly what we need. With these vertical greenhouses cities may be able to grow local, healthy, nutritious (perhaps even organic?) foods for its population. Given a city composting program, some planning, organization, and perhaps a little bit of time, seeds could be collected from the plants there and the greenhouse could become, essentially, self-sustaining. Am I the only one that finds this incredibly exciting?

Food is, of course, only part of the discussion of self-sustainability- but it’s a start.

Earth Hour

This past Saturday was earth hour. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it (which is probably not many of you- but I digress), earth hour is an initiative that was created in order to raise awareness of climate change as well as to reduce energy consumption for a little while. It’s a very simple concept- everyone is asked to turn off the lights, tv, and other electronic devices at 8:30 pm local time.

It’s really too bad that it’s come to this… that asking people to turn off their lights and tvs for one day a year is actually asking anything at all.   My husband and I try to make it a goal to do this for a night at least once a week. We light up a couple candles, play a board game or just chat for the night with a glass of wine. I’ve heard of other families having a family board game night or a no-electronics night. Everyone has their own reason for doing this: some want to save electricity, some want to spend some time together with loved ones, some genuinely enjoy having less dependance on electricity in their lives.

For our family it’s a combination of all those reasons. We often talk (on our electricity free nights) about how nice it will be to someday have a firepit outside, or a bunch of lanterns in the house (we’re working on our collection), or a working masonry fireplace. We think fondly about the day that we’ll be able to have electricity-free days, and we’re genuinely excited about the prospect of this happening in the near future.

Did you celebrate earth hour? Did it inspire you to make a bigger change in your life?

Visualizing a plentitude economy

This is an absolutely amazing video about the ways our economy could change in a way that encourages homesteading, self-sufficiency, a shorter work week and a better economy. I would love to see this kind of society move into Canada and the United States.

Clyde’s garden planner

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you have probably already figured out that a big part of self-sufficiency to me is cultivating your own food. Nutrition is one of the most important things to survival and if you can take care of that yourself you have one of your most important bases covered.

I am very much an apprentice gardener, but I have learned a lot over the past few months of research. Since I live in a fairly cold climate with a short gardening season (zone 3a), starting seeds indoors is very important.

Not too long ago I heard about Clyde’s Garden Planner, and ordered it that day to see what all the fuss was about. For $5 how could I loose?

…this thing is amazing.

For a novice gardener I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of information this tiny little chart contained. The problem with following the information on the seed packet is that it doesn’t take regional frost dates into account.

The downsides of doing it yourself

As I’ve mentioned here a few times, my husband and I are in the process of building our own home. We’ve been working on it in earnest for about almost a year now (the foundation went in last june). Though we’re certinaly not done, we’ve come a long way.

I’m off work for a week right now for march break (yay!) and my husband is off for a few weeks… so we got down to work. I took the day on monday and cleaned the place from top to bottom. I swept up sawdust and used the shop vac to get as much of it as possible. I did a run to the dump, and burned a ton of scrap lumber in the woodstove in the garage. It was a rainy day, but it felt great to get the place tidied up.

For the rest of the week my husband and his uncle (who does this kind of thing for a living) continued working on framing interior walls, and getting ready for the plumber to come finish up the rough ins. We really want to get some inspections completed over the next few weeks so that we can have the drywaller and tilers come and do their jobs.

Yesterday I left to go pick up our son from daycare, and we went home and made dinner for us and the guys working on the site. When I came back with dinner I found out that my husband had hurt his hand on a grinder when the blade broke, and had been driven to hospital to get stitched up.

Oh boy.

So we drove to the hospital and he was just having the stitches done. We waited around a bit (amid chaos in the emergency department- I am so glad I don’t work in health care and am so grateful for those that do), and finally drove home once a tetnus shot was had.

Unfortunately my husband now has one hand out of comission for the next little while (I say this as he’s currently out at the house, lifting plywood with one hand) as his hand is so swollen he can’t move his thumb.

So, is doing it yourself worth it? There is an immense satisfaction that comes with building your own home, and it’s a level of customization that you can’t get from just paying someone to do it for you. Not only that, but you do save so much money as well, and we’ve been able to build a home that we would never have been able to buy otherwise.

Of course things move more slowly, and it is exhausting. I would be lying if I said that I haven’t wished that someone else could just make the decision for me, or book the electrical inspection, or dig the hole, or clean up the sawdust. All that being said, even considering my husband’s injury- I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world (and I know hubby would say the same).

Growing Your Grub podcast

A few weeks ago I acquired a Blackberry playbook to use at work with my students, but have been finding more and more ways that I can use it at home too. I went in search of some decent podcasts that I could listen to on the way to work and came away with an amazing one that I wanted to share with all of you.

Growing Your Grub  is an amazing resource for novice gardeners who want to focus on organic techniques. Despite the fact that the creator, Steve Howard, lives in Texas and I live in Canada, I have found his information to be so useful as I plan and fanticize about the garden that I will someday create. I have listened to almost all of the episodes, and I’m planning on moving onto his other podcasts Born to Farm and Persuing a Country Lifestyle for a different perspective on my goals. Steve also has a very interesting blog that I read from time to time when I’m feeling uninspired.


Infographic: How big a backyard would you need to live off the land?


I came across this on pinterest this weekend and was very surprised by it. I would be interested to hear if anyone reading this has any insight on this. My husband is a hunter, so we won’t be raising livestock for meat, but I do have it as a long term goal to try and raise chickens and goats in the future (for eggs and milk).

Book review : Country Wisdom and Know-How

Amazon link

This was the first book that my husband and I read about homesteading so it was only natural that it’s the first book review I do on this blog. My parents actually bought this book as a gag-gift for my husband, but it quickly became clear how useful it actually was. This book has so much information in it, it took us a few weeks to fully process all the information and figure out how we wanted to use it to improve our lives. The book contains information on raising livestock, quilting, gardening, training cats and dogs, home brewing and so much more.

There are countless tables, check lists, recipies, and step-by-step instructions for making even the most inexperienced (ie. me) would-be homesteader feel comfortable living a self-sustaining lifestyle.

The only problem that I encountered (and was mentioned over and over in the reviews on Amazon) is the physical size of the book. It’s far too big, and it’s a soft cover, so it’s difficult to hold and read. My copy also seemed to be missing a few pages… I’m not sure what that’s all about (but it could have been a problem with how my mom bought it).

Regardless of those problems I would recommend this book to anyone who was interested in homesteading, whether novice or experienced. There is so much varied information that I’m sure there is something that anyone could learn from it.

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