6.05.2015

My new favorite beauty product

Hello! Just popping in to let you know about my new discovery.

I have struggled with oily skin most of my adult and teenage life. I was a slave to those silly over-priced blotting papers in high school, and even went so far as to saturate my face with rubbing alcohol one night when I was in seventh grade...resulting in a horribly dry, peeling, scary face the next day.

However, after the birth of my last child nearly nine (!!!) months ago, my face has done a 180, and I now have dry, rough skin that seems immune to any outside interference. I made my own scrub with equal parts sugar and olive oil, but it had no effect even after multiple uses. I used a yogurt mask (smear your face with yogurt and let it sit for 15 minutes) which is supposed to be magical due to a bunch of good stuff that do awesome things (sorry to get all technical on ya...). I used a Neutrogena Naturals facial scrub, I tried washing my face with only water for a while. I used my children's super gentle hydrating body wash. I moisturized with sweet almond oil (my usual go-to), olive oil, homemade lotion, shea butter, and even that Neutrogena Norwegian Formula lotion that is like, the most moisturizing stuff on the planet. NADA. My face did not care, not even a little.



Enter: old raw honey as a facial cleanser.

I kid you not, I used it once. ONCE. And my face felt brand new. No more roughness, no more dull and dry skin. My face looked fresh and almost dewy (in a good way). My mineral face powder had previously been making me look slightly dragon-esque, but now it goes on nice and smooth.

Simply take about a teaspoon of crystallized honey and gently massage it into dry or slightly damp skin for a minute or two (yes, it will be a sticky mess and feel really weird). Make little circles all over your face, spending extra time on any trouble spots you might have (mine was my cheek bone area). Rinse thoroughly with warm water. I follow it up with a homemade apple cider vinegar toner and then moisturize with organic avocado oil. MAGNIFICENT.

Or, use it as a mask: spread about 2 teaspoons over a dry or slightly damp face and let sit for 15 minutes. In this case, it doesn't necessarily need to be crystallized, but it should be raw. (Raw honey contains enzymes that will soften the skin and act as a natural antibiotic for any blemishes you may have. Always make sure to get your honey from a reputable source, as a lot of conventional, pasteurized honey is cut with high fructose corn syrup.)

So there you have it, folks. Old gritty honey as a face wash. DO IT.

5.19.2015

Honey bees have arrived!

We have bees!!! Three pounds of them, or approximately 10,000 bees. They are Russian, Carniolan and Italian hybrids raised in natural small cell comb. So says the husband, who is entirely in charge of these little guys. I had a hard time staying the same room with them, but stood fast to show the little ones not to be afraid. No reason for them to inherit my irrational fear of insects. I surprised myself by remaining relatively calm, though. The little buggers are actually kind of cute. 

Kind of...







My husband is considering doing a post or two on the bees, such as how to buy them, information about the hives, maintenance, etc. Maybe even some videos! Don't worry, I'll just keep poking him in the ribs until he agrees. :)





5.04.2015

Sunday Meal Prep


  • Put 1 whole chicken in the slow cooker Sunday night, then picked the meat off and strained out the gravy Monday morning. Bones go into a big bag in the freezer for stock.
  • Roasted carrots, potatoes, and onions
  • Put 5 cups rolled oats to soak overnight, cooked Monday morning. Ate some for breakfast, then mixed the rest with cinnamon and vanilla extract and spread in a Pyrex dish. Will slice, fry in butter, and top with homemade jam for the rest of the week. (I’m not a fan of reheated soaked oatmeal. Tastes different to me somehow.)
  • Ground 2 lbs buckwheat, most likely used for pancakes
  • Giant batch of beef for taco bowls- 1 lb grass-fed ground beef, organic corn, 1 container black beans (I soak and cook a whole pound at once, then portion off into pint containers with some bean juice and store in the freezer. I use each container like you would a can), two large onions, homemade taco seasoning.
  • Big batch rice (used the sprouted rice and quinoa blend fromBJs)
  • Shredded a block of cheese
  • Pumpkin and Sunflower Seed Butter (seeds were soaked and dehydrated last week)
  • 2 quarts of yogurt (cultured overnight)
FYI, I don’t have a meal plan. This is just stuff that we eat a lot, so I figure why not make it ahead of time? Many different meals can be made with this prep and what is already in the fridge/pantry.Tonight, we are frying up some plaintains, and will eat those alongside some of the beef/bean mixture, topped with the conveniently pre-shredded cheddar. The seed butter can be spread on the oat bars, blended into smoothies, or just eaten by the delicious spoonful. The potato mixture can be reheated and eaten with the chicken, topped with gravy, or fried in the morning and topped with overeasy eggs. I don't always do this, but it is so helpful that I hope to continue. 

Do you prep for meals? What are some things you try to do ahead of time? I'm always looking for ideas to get ahead in the kitchen!


4.29.2015

BJ's Grocery Haul



Grocery hauls seem to be all the rage at the moment, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon with one of my own. It’s like going through someone else’s cart at the store, but way less creepy and intrusive. I have never been one to snoop through someone else’s medicine cabinet, and I don’t care for eavesdropping. But I will stare down your cart at the supermarket like an exhibit at the Guggenheim.

I LOVE BJ’s Wholesale Warehouse. We’ve shopped there for years, and continue to do so even after moving an hour away. It’s that good. And it’s getting even better! I found some awesome stuff there yesterday, things you may not think a place like that carries. Hence this haul post! 

I’ve included my plans for the item, as I’ve seen others do that and I think it makes it more interesting. 


Smoked Salmon- I have some leftover cream cheese in the fridge and couldn’t resist. Plus, my toddler loves it and it packs a ton of nutrition.
5lbs organic carrots- stir fry, juicing, raw with dressing, red bean stew
4lbs frozen Wyman’s blueberries- pancakes, stirred into yogurt, smoothies
3lbs frozen organic mixed berries- to make jam
Cabbage - spaghetti squash chow mein
Luke's Organic Brown Rice Chips- Splurge item. My husband is gluten free at the moment and I had a coupon, so I thought I’d get him a treat.
Kosher salt- to clean my cast iron pans and for kid crafts. (We use sea salt for eating.)
Truroots Sprouted Rice and Quinoa blend- how awesome is this?! Real food is truly making a comeback.
Bota Box Malbec- mama juice.
Harvestland Kielbasa- no funny stuff like preservatives, corn syrup, etc. Haven’t tried it yet, but how bad can it be?
Avocados- because of course
Bear Naked Bars- I usually make my own snack bars, but I love having something like this around as a treat, for car trips (mine are kind of sticky), or those days when you really just need a quick something to hand to the toddler before they get hangry. Haven’t tried them yet, but the 2 ¾ year old loves them.
Land O Lakes Light Cream- not exactly my favorite, but I REALLY want to make ice cream and raw cream is like a million dollars a pint.
Organic Maple Syrup- 13.99!!! Most are double that, even for non-organic. There’s no grade listed, which is a bummer, but hey sometimes you need to take what you can get.
Organic Russet Potatoes- for fish and chips this Friday
Plantains- I was like a kid in a candy store finding these. I may have actually squealed with delight. I LOVE plantains! Thinly sliced, fried to perfection in palm shortening, and sprinkled generously with salt. My dad used to cook them that way when I was little. Add a lightly mashed avocado on the side and you are golden.
J&J Floss- hygiene, you know.
Kerrygold Dubliner cheddar cheese- to be honest, this is not my favorite it terms of flavor. But it’s the only grass fed cheese available to me, so I make it work. It’s pretty great in other stuff, just not for plain eating. It’s a bit like Gruyere.
Kale- for juicing
Izze- This was a splurge. We never buy soda or anything like that, so we get this every once in a great while. There may or may not be a bottle of Absolut Citron not pictured that is awaiting a union with one of these bad boys later tonight. 
Not pictured- 2 adorable board books and a 100' hose

There you have it! I really need to put myself on a strict grocery budget, as I simply cannot be trusted in a store with good food like this. I am a master of justification. 

If you enjoyed this, let me know and I will keep it up.

4.23.2015

The state of things



Things are picking up around here.


 We have a beehive! Bees are arriving in early May!

Two baby chicks sleeping in their food bowl. They did this regularly.

There are 14 chicks in our front porch. 10 are one month old, 4 are one week old. 


We lost Rizzo over the winter. She was one of what we called the Old Guard, the first 6 chickens we bought back in 2011. We also lost 5 chicks from the first new batch, and 1 from the second, which was the hardest. I tried desperately to keep her alive- giving her water with a little dropper, fortified with trace minerals and a bit of raw apple cider vinegar. She drank reluctantly, and became increasingly lethargic. I then switched to feeding her a bit of milk kefir, hoping to give her some much needed calories. But I guess it wasn't enough, and she died. Homesteading is hard, man. Not for the faint of heart. 


 I started a bunch of seeds last weekend, and many have already sprouted. However, I somehow managed to lose my heat mat and haven't been able to buy a new one yet, so I fear many of the more finicky seeds won't germinate (cucumbers, tomatos, and peppers). I have to see if I have enough time to try starting them again (with a mat) or if it's too late and I should just purchase transplants in May. The growing season is quite short up here in Maine, so if you don't start early, you lose. I wonder what homesteaders did back in the day, before the creation of heat mats and grow lights and the internet, when you simply saved your seed from last year and started them in a sunny window. Did they have trouble with things like tomatoes and cucumbers if it wasn't warm enough? Or has the internet led us to believe (like so much) that things are far more complicated than they really are?


This weekend, we will have a brand new lawn tractor, 210 cubic feet of soil, and 90 concrete blocks. So, weather permitting, this weekend we will finally be able to mow the land, mulch the leaves, start our compost pile, build the raised beds and plant the spring garden (lettuce, peas, carrots, kale, cabbage, radish, and probably other things that I can't remember right now). Most people relax on the weekend, but that's our busiest time! 


 We were totally going to get a dairy cow this year, but figured it would be piling waaaay too much on our plates. So we're sticking with the huge garden, bees, extra laying hens and 50 meat birds. Next year, dairy cow and pigs. This year, trying to figure it all out and not let anything else die.


 I'm still adjusting to life with two littles and a big house. To say I haven't found my rhythm yet is a massive understatement; I don't even know what song I'm playing anymore. Each day is a new chance to flounder and stress out, to raise my voice too much and leave another project unfinished. I'll get it, I know. I keep writing my lists, planning things that will never get done, but hey, I tried! I sometimes look back on the day and wonder what on earth I accomplished, what exactly prevented me from doing what I needed to? Then I remember that I kept two little humans alive and (usually) happy. The house is clean, just a bit cluttered. We ate real food that didn't come from a box, even if it was just scrambled eggs and an unseemly amount of cashews. Everything else is secondary, everything else has time. Childhood is fleeting. 
 
The last of the snow still holding on for dear life.
If you are interested in our little journey and what's happening in my kitchen, make sure to follow me on Instagram. And put your email address in that little white box at the top of this page, so you will get my new posts via email. And comment! Facebook is totally lame and my posts hardly reach anyone anymore, so the conversation needs to move here. Do you homestead? What are your spring plans? 

Oh, and does anybody use MeWe? It seems like an awesome alternative to Facebook and I am considering making the switch. 

Stay tuned for a homestead tour, my favorite toddler snacks, and a peek inside my medicine cabinet!