Welcome to Mama Homesteader!

Follow my family in year 3 of our homesteading journey. Along the way we try to answer the question ," What can one small family do to change their lives on little more than 1/10th of an acre?" Let's Find Out!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Homemade deodorant

The following is my recipe for homemade deodorant, which I snatched from Lindsey at Passionate Homemaking. I've been using this homemade deodorant since summer and really like it. It has few ingredients and works wonderfully.

Homemade deodorant

6-8 tablespoons coconut oil
1/8 cup baking soda
1/4 cup + 1/8 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/4 cup Shea Butter  (optional)

Mix thoroughly and store in a jar, or a recycled deodorant bottle. If using recycled deodorant bottles, this recipe is enough to fill two.

You CAN put this into an old deodorant container, I've done so in the past with great success. The only drawback is the fact that the coconut oil melts during warm weather. With a recycled deodorant container you most certainly will have to refrigerate your deodorant to keep it from leaking. I've bypassed the need for this by simply keeping the mixture in a jar, and applying with my hands.


                                               Cheers!~ Mama Homesteader

The benefits of Shea Butter

Recently, I purchased  five pounds of raw grade A Shea Butter to replace some of the products found in my family's medicine cabinet.  For those of you who don't know what Shea Butter is, it is the fat extracted from the nut of the African Shea Tree Vitellaria Paradoxa. Commonly, it is found in the cosmetics industry and is used in lotions. It is also edible. In Africa it is used as a cooking oil, and in the chocolate industry it is sometimes used in place of cocoa butter.
Over the last few months, I've strived to eliminate many harsh chemicals out of my household. In Shea Butter I've found an all natural product to use as a moisturizer. It relieves dry itchy skin without leaving skin feeling greasy. It's gentle enough to use on my daughter, AND I don't have to worry about her ingesting any of it. (Which is a big deal when dealing with curious three year olds!)

I even added some to my last batch of homemade deodorant. I've found it to be an excellent additive to sooth the bumps associated with shaving. No more irritated underarms (EW!) And I also plan on adding some to homemade soap this summer.

With my Fibromyalgia I've used it as a massage for my joints and other areas of pain. It doesn't require a lot of rubbing (which I can't stand) to be worked in, and I find it to be very soothing. I'm also anxious to try out Shea Butter for nasal congestion. Apparently massaging some into the face can help relieve congestion by relaxing the facial muscles. My husband is prone to congestion, so this would be awesome if it worked!

And did you know that plain raw Shea butter is safe for your cats and dogs as well? We have a few of our feline friends who've struggled with severe itchy, scabby skin.  Within two applications of Shea Butter the scabbing has cleared up, the itchiness has dramatically increased, and their skin is now looking normal. Their coats are soft as kitten fuzz- and one of our cats Callie, is back to acting like a kitten! I've been so happy with the results that I believe that a bit of Shea Butter occasionally applied to your pet's coat is a wonderful gift for your furry friend.

I'm hoping that this is just the start of discovering the many benefits and uses of Shea Butter. I've fallen in love with it, and I highly doubt I'll be returning to store bought lotion anytime soon!

                                          Cheers~ Mama Homesteader

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Trademarking a Lifestyle

In this day and age I thought I've heard and seen it all. Until reading a post at Hexemaus Farms that is. I urge you to read their post in its entirety. Apparently, a prominent "Urban Homesteading" family by the name of Dervaes in California have trademarked the following names:

* Urban Homestead
* Urban Homesteading
* Path to Freedom
* Grow the Future
* Homegrown Revolution
* Freedom Gardens
* Little Homestead in the City

OK Dervaes Family, SUE ME. C'mon I DARE you. While I get "Little Homestead in the City" and MAYBE "Grow the Future"- the rest is sheer hogwash. You started your 'Urban Homestead" in 1985, YEARS after the original urban homesteaders of the 1960's and 1970's. Hell, my GRANDFATHER was urban homesteading in the 50's and 60's! I thought what you had accomplished in the city was admirable, enviable even. But now the world has seen you for what you are: greedy individuals corrupted by money. You CANNOT trademark a lifestyle, and I will not abide by your trademark.

                               Cheers~ The Urban Homesteader named Mama Homesteader


Winter in Ohio vs Compulsive Gardening

This has been one unusual winter here in Ohio. Or utter lack thereof. We've had little snow and the weather has been more akin to a very early spring than the heart of winter. Luckily we did get snow this weekend that seems to be staying a spell. Kiddo was happy yesterday to have finally gone out to play in it. Sled riding, snow angels,and  snow balls made for lots of fun with Daddy.

I have garlic growing out in the garden that bigger than anything I had last season. Hopefully it will still grow for me come spring's official arrival. But the un-winter like weather has me impatient, chomping at the bit, absolutely frothing for garden weather to kick off. LOL I've been busy putting in the effort to choose what I really want in my garden this year. Last year I primarily settled on plant varieties I could get my hands on at the local Walmart. Very few were heirloom, a vast majority were hybrids.  I had a bumper crop of squash, pumpkins, corn, and beans. But I felt  things could have been better.

 I was in LOVE with my heirloom Dutchman and Djena Lee Golden Girl tomatoes, while other varieties I could have lived without. So for many reasons I have decided to go the route of  95% or better of my garden planted in heirloom varieties. Going with heirloom vegetables is my experiment on getting away from sub standard GMO tasteless produce. I for one am not keen on GMO  foods (which is a whole different discussion for the future). Secondly, I want what is in my garden to taste good. I want my food to taste like what I remember from my childhood. A tomato tasted like a tomato, and not a bland pile of mush.

Heirloom seeds are not the only major revolution in this year's garden. This year I'm adding 7 additional beds to my 8. And they will ALL be made over into raised beds. This will allow me to have my garden elevated somewhat above the occasional puddles that develop in the low areas. My plants wont get drowned, and the clearly defined edges will allow for weedwacking to keep the yard tidy. (This is a must since I live in town!) PLUS the boxes will be filled with better quality soil to promote better growth. The raised beds will also warm sooner in the spring and allow me to plant sooner. But the biggest surprise to this years garden will be the addition of Gooseberry, Currant, Elderberry, Haskap, and Strawberry beds. Once established along with my black raspberries, my family will be able to enjoy fresh fruit right out of our own garden!

But while I've reached my limit of what I'm investing in my garden this spring, the planning doesn't stop  there. With Raised beds in place, I'll be able to construct quick hoops (and maybe one cold frame)  to extend my growing season into colder months. With determination I may be able to add several more raised beds next year. But a priority for next year will be the addition of cranberry beds, as well as a dwarf apricot tree and a dwarf cherry tree.

Sigh. If only spring would arrive instead of teasing us Ohio gardeners, then all would be right in the world!

                                     Cheers!~ Mama Homesteader