Jul 092012
 


Okay, I admit it, the title is a contrived way to try and be cute while telling you about this fabulous offer.

I recently received a letter from the Bulk Herb Store folks, in reference to my Holy Week reviews of the Making Babies Book and the Making Babies DVD Series.

They had this to say:

On behalf of the Bulk Herb Store, I would like to thank you for helping us reach the world with the good news of natural health and wellness with herbs. One of the most moving ways that we have been able to encourage others in their journey toward health, has been with our Making Babies Series. What better way of equipping families to give their precious new babies the best start in life?

As a token of our appreciation for your review of the Making Babies Series, Bulk Herb Store would like to offer your readers a SPECIAL 40% OFF of the Making Babies Book & DVD Series. That is a huge savings of $44 dollars for you and your readers! Have a fantastic day and happy blogging!

WOW!

So you, my lucky friends, can head on over to the Bulk Herb Store and decide if you want the book, the DVDs, or the complete set.

Just enter the code MBBFMH at checkout for your 40% discount! And hurry – this is good for one week only, until July 16th.

May 062012
 


I had big plans for Easter activities with the kids.

But the Easter activities didn’t seem to be on board with my plans.

We got a bit of a late start trying to grow grass on our Easter Garden after seeing the idea posted on Facebook (I apologize – I have no idea who to credit with the idea and the lovely garden pictured here).

First we discovered that Lowe’s didn’t really have a terra cotta pot small enough. Since we were already behind, we got the smallest one they had. [We have since learned that Michael's has adorable small sized pots for craft use].

We had trouble with the steep slope this created for our hill, but we soldiered on. Jewel and R.T. dutifully took turns watering the seeds with a spray bottle.

The grass was JUST beginning to sprout by Easter. Not ideal, but, it worked…

On “Easter Eve,” we made Easter Story Cookies.

The kids had fun making them, and we enjoyed reading the Easter story to them along the way.

The first batch, I realized I was in trouble when I got to the final step that said “add the nuts” … since I had put the nuts into the bowl after breaking them up in the first step!

Yes, I know I should have read through more thoroughly first, but it was the best I could do with a migraine.

So we put them in the oven and sent the kids to bed.

Then Wolf and I set about re-making them. (Yeah, we were going to “cheat” and stick them in the oven and not tell the kids!)

We beat and beat and beat, but they never fluffed. We read some other meringue recipes to try and figure out what the problem might have been.

Throwing them out, we made another whole batch with a couple of tweaks. We burned out the cheap hand mixer I’d just picked up (I should have known better). Then we burned out my stick blender! Ack! And still, no fluff.

We did put them in the oven, but with no hope of success.

The kids were surprised to see that they had “baked” overnight, but there was no miraculous “cracked open” or “empty (hollow) tomb”.

And I don’t even know what to do differently next year!

The only up side?

We couldn’t find a rock big enough to cover the overly-large tomb opening in our Easter Garden… But one of our Easter Story cookie-patties worked as an excellent stand-in!

Some good lessons learned for next year, and one mystery unsolved.

Good thing Easter isn’t about my homemaking endeavors!

Apr 162012
 

Wolf will be going to his Reserves duty in Georgia for almost two weeks this summer, and we were considering whether it might be fun for the kids and I to go along and make a bit of a vacation out of it. (More for us than for him, poor thing!)

We’ve done this type of thing before, when he did some duty time at the Columbus, Mississippi base, and had a great time. We thought of that one more because he has family in that area, but really it’s fun to get away anywhere!

The complication is that this will be the first time we’ve gone anywhere since I started eating a gluten free diet back at the end of February.

No casual stops to eat out along the way… Even “obviously gluten free” things (such as meat) can have gluten containing seasonings on them – and restaurant staff doesn’t always know.

It’s not simple to “just swing by the store and pick up anything we didn’t pack”, since many stores have a very limited (or even none at all).

Certainly I will plan and pack – and I AM a planner! – but being the first time, I know there will be lots of things I never even think of.

Do any of you who are further along this path have any tips for gluten free travelling?

Sorry, no photo credit to be had. I picked it out of a composed meme picture floating around on Facebook…

Mar 282012
 

It’s Day TWO of the As For My House Holy Week Giveaway Bonanza!

What? A bunch of blog giveaways aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “holy” or “Easter”?

I know… But I wanted to share my joy with you at this time of year, and share gifts in honor of the Greatest Gift of All that Christ gave us.

There will be five giveaways, each lasting for a week, leading up to Easter Sunday.

I appreciate all the wonderful sponsors who have made this possible. Enjoy!!


Let me introduce you to Maple Hill Dryer Balls.

The owner, Rebecca, is a stay-at-home mom, making the dryer balls with wool from the sheep on her father’s farm. (Isn’t that sweet?)

She was a delight to do business with, and her products are very professional in appearance and even packaging.

Dryer balls are sold in many forms these days, all claiming to reduce drying time by allowing the air to circulate better among the items in the dryer.

Wool is a 100% natural way to do this, with no dyes or chemicals.

According to Maple Hill Dryer Balls, and confirmed by my experience, these dryer balls:

  • Decrease static cling
  • Fluff up clothing
  • Are 100% reusable and very durable
  • The XL size is much larger than others you’ll find (or the typical tennis ball substitute), and that much more effective!

The more you use the better your results. Maple Hill Dryer Balls recommends that people use 4 balls for small loads and 6+ for large loads to optimize drying time and benefits — or up to 12 for super large loads, heavy towels or cloth diapers, etc.

I purchased a set of 6 Extra Large Essential Oil Scented dryer balls – lavender mint. I do use a clothesline when possible, but I also rely on my gas dryer when it’s raining, humid, or the laundry is just too much at one time for the line.

The smell was delightful, and I certainly enjoyed handling them. It didn’t seem to last very long, though, and since it doesn’t impart any scent to the clothes I don’t think I’ll spend the money to re-scent them.

The dryer balls have done a wonderful job!

I have absolutely noticed a decrease in drying time (think of the money saved on the gas bill!), as well as a softer, fluffier result. Why did I wait so long to try these little beauties?

As an As For My House Reader, you can take 10% off your purchase at Maple Hill Dryer Balls from now until April 10th. Use code AsForMyHouse10 at checkout.

Enter below to win a Coupon Code good for 50% Off your purchase at Maple Hill Dryer Balls

I received a discounted product for review purposes. I was not compensated in any way for this review. This review has not been approved or edited by anyone. Maple Hill Dryer Balls is providing the prize for this giveaway, shipped directly to the winner.
I was “disclosing” before it was cool. See my Review Policy for the full scoop.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mar 262012
 

At only $4.99, this looks like a terrific little eBook for all of us – the frustrated wanna-be homesteaders!

What if… you could fulfill your homesteading dreams without having to relocate?

What if… you could start a journey towards a simpler way of life where you are right now?

Wherever you live right now– THAT is your homestead.

Contrary to popular belief, a homesteader doesn’t have to be someone who lives on hundreds of acres with the perfect red barn and white picket fence.

They live in apartments in the middle of the asphalt jungle. And in suburbia with mini-vans. And on a few acres on the outskirts of town.

Your Custom Homestead takes you through a 21-day process of moving closer to your homesteading dreams, no matter where you may live.

In this 79 page eBook, we’ll examine different motivations for homesteading, define exactly what modern-day homesteading means, and then work through the prepwork and actual processes of accomplishing a homesteading lifestyle that will perfectly fit your unique situation.

I’m definitely going to check it out – it has information on making the most of an unlikely location, planning for (future) farm animals, and many other topics that are right on my “To Do” list.

And a great bonus? You can have it however you want!

Buy the .pdf version

- or -

Buy the Kindle version

If you hurry, you can also enter to win one of three copies (.pdf) from GNOWFGLINS.

(Links in any posts may contain affiliate links, in which case your purchase helps support the maintenance of As For My House – and we thank you!)

Mar 082012
 


Although the lab work from the end of last year came back negative, my doctor was just as convinced as I was that the pattern of symptoms was very clear: I likely suffer from some degree of intolerance to gluten.

The only way to find out, really, is to go gluten free and see how you feel – after 4-6 weeks’ worth of vigilance. You have to allow time for all the gluten to be fully purged from your system, then additional time for your gut to heal from the stress and damage.

I began my gluten free diet semi-coincidentally at the beginning of Lent. We don’t observe Lent, but since that was when I was ready to begin anyhow, it seemed a nice symbolic and easy-to-remember date.

Since I was planning to share my reviews of gluten free products and recipes anyway, I decided to put them “out there” in the world a little more. I am now the Biloxi Gluten Free Examiner at Examiner.com. If you click through you can see a page listing everything I’ve published there, as well as subscribing to my feed if that interests you.

In two weeks I’ve learned a lot… In some ways it’s even harder than I thought, but in some ways it has been easier. I’ll keep updating you on my journey – but don’t worry, the focus of the blog isn’t changing. (That’s part of the reason I started posting that content over at Examiner.com).

Feb 172012
 

The hand laundry continues, with much slow progress along the learning curve.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned so far about the process, and the products.

Breathing Washer, Rapid Washer, or laundry plunger.

When I started my journey, you may recall, I went with an inexpensive rubber toilet plunger (new!). A plunger is a plunger, right?

Wrong. Of course.

The rubber plunger lasted through just a few weeks of hard use before it gave out – the rubber isn’t designed for that much bending, all the time.

The breathing washer has been a lifesaver, and valuable investment. It is a sturdy plastic cone that doesn’t flex, so no stress on it that way. It uses pressure and suction to push/pull the water through the clothes, offering very effective cleaning.

Must have tool for hand laundry.

Clothesline Drying

Wolf got my lovely new clothesline set up in the back yard. We chose this one as a good balance between the right item and the right price:

On the advice of a friend, we installed it with a T-post in the ground rather than trying to dig in its sleeve, and added reinforcing dowels on each arm with cable “zip” ties.

I use good ol’ wooden clothespins to keep things from falling off every time a breeze blows by.

That part works like a charm.

Mississippi weather? Not so much. Brief but frequent rains, and high humidity, make drying outside sometimes quite challenging. Although I try to use it as much as possible, I am very thankful that we still have our gas dryer hooked up and available!

But let’s go back to the washing for a moment…

Wringing

We had purchased this wringer:

…and Wolf set me up a lovely little laundry stand with a utility sink, the mounted wringer, room for a bucket to gather clothes in from the wringer, and room underneath for storage (or, in my case, the cat boxes!).

He bought the utility sink at Lowes, then had to build a table to raise it since we’re so tall. The side also needed to be reinforced to support the wringer, and it needed a more functional drain/plug. It now lives in the “mud room / laundry room” by the back door, using the same plumbing connections the washer used.

Other than some challenges with finding a drain setup that works in that sink (which was designed for just a rubber stopper), the laundry station setup has been working out very well.

The wringer? Not so much.

First, a picky complaint: the description states, and the photo shows, wing nuts to adjust the tension. It did not, however, show up with wing nuts. Luckily, Wolf replaced the “plain nuts” that were included before I ever even saw it, and I went about doing laundry.

But the design is seriously flawed.

When mounted on the side of the laundry tub, the rollers are, obviously, dangling over the tub (allowing the water wrung out to go down the drain). Over time, due to friction rubbing the finish off, and constant exposure to water, the ends of the rods quickly start getting tiny rust specks… Which are then ground off at each use, and the greasy, rusty water drips off — right onto the clean laundry waiting to be wrung (or the next load just placed in the tub).

Over time, now, the black paint on the arms has worn all the way through, and those surfaces are rusting as well, resulting in more “gunk” in the works – which is now also creeping in along the rollers (soiling clothes as they are wrung), rather than “just” dripping down onto the clean clothes below.

The work-around we have come to is that Wolf completely disassembles and cleans all the interior bits of the wringer about once a month. Meanwhile, I wait between each load of wash (and rinse) for the drips to dry up and stop before cleaning out my tub and beginning the next load. It’s an awkward situation, but it is what we have to work with for the time being.

The company from which I bought the wringer didn’t seem concerned with my feedback, declaring that they have sold “thousands” of these over the years. They say that, while not perfect, it is made in the USA and they are proud to offer it. I feel they are likely missing the point: I imagine that most people use the wringer for weekends at the cabin, or other intermittent or light use. It still bears noting that under heavy, full-time use, it has the above (serious) issues — my suggestion was not that they stop selling it, only that they add some clarification to the description.

The manufacturer of the wringer, who previously chatted with me by both email and phone about his design ideas for related products, did not respond to my two emails on the subject, nor to an inquiry by a mutual friend.

Wolf is working on a way to rebuild the wringer that will solve this problem. He had actually hoped that the wringer company would be interested in such an improvement, and it could be manufactured this way for the benefit of a larger population. Since that’s not the case, he will do a “one-off” rebuild of my existing wringer, and I, at least, will be happy.

So, on we go.

Learning, and in many cases, building, everything from scratch…

Jan 102012
 

We’re still working out the kinks in our relationship with Green Pasture‘s Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil. (Read the beginning of the saga HERE).

We’ve tried several new things since the first post. Some have been notably less successful than others.

The Littles, who cannot yet swallow pills, have the fewest options. They take the Butter Oil by itself, and then both have settled on the Peppermint flavored Emulsified Fermented Cod Liver Oil as the best choice for both texture and flavor.

Wolf and I find the Butter Oil the least appealing part of the equation. Something about the texture is just icky.

Nick, on the other hand, isn’t too bothered by the Butter Oil, but gags on the Cod Liver Oil.

We (the Big People) are all happiest with the Butter Oil / FCLO Blend Capsules – but the cost per dose is so much higher that way, we don’t feel that’s the best choice.

Our first plan was to compromise and let each person have one of the products in capsules, and take the other straight. So we bought all four components, and everyone went their own way.

As bad as the chocolate blend was, we were still hopeful. When Green Pastures offered to send us a product for review, we chose the blended gel in Cinnamon Tingle flavor.

Sadly, it was just as much of a failure in our house as the chocolate. Everyone preferred their previously-settled-upon method of taking the two separately.

Lately, we have a new hope, discovered by Wolf. He found that you could lick the gel off the spoon with the tip of your tongue, “toss it back” and swallow it quickly — and somehow totally avoid the taste, except for a hint of cinnamon. I’m sure this has to do with the placement of the various taste receptors on the tongue.

We’ll have to keep trying this out, and see if it continues to prove useful. Certainly, having only one product to keep on-hand would be a lot simpler than the current system!

In an amazing instance of “Great Minds Think Alike”, Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, posted today with a video demonstrating How to Best Swallow Cod Liver Oil.

Breath control – something else to try!

Whatever it takes, though, we are committed to these supplements. I’ve just read too much to discount the benefits, and it’s certainly not something we can get from our diet (here and now, anyway).

If you’re ready to give it a try, you have a few options:

  • Directly from Green Pastures
  • Radiant Life, who has slightly lower prices on a few items (and the same on the rest), and a percentage discount on multiple bottles
  • Dr. Ron’s Ultra Pure, who also has essentially the same prices as Green Pastures, offers Free Shipping on order over $150 (at least as of now), and does full case and half case discounts if you’re really ambitious

.

I received a product free from Green Pastures for the purposes of this review; I was not compensated in any other way. This review has not been approved or edited by anyone.
Links in this post may be tracked for affiliate commissions, in which case I thank you! (Truly, I think only one of the three companies mentioned is, in this case. That’s really not why I’m doing this, you know.)
I was “disclosing” before it was cool. See my Review Policy for the full scoop.

Nov 092011
 

I recently had the opportunity to test out the Laundry Detergent from Tropical Traditions.

Their information describes it as follows:

  • Powdered Laundry Detergent is safe and effective at ALL temperatures on whites, permanent press, bright colors, pastels, prints, and delicates in hard or soft water. (Not suitable for Silk or Wool)
  • Tropical Traditions Powdered Laundry Detergent is non-toxic, environmentally safe and contains no phosphates.
  • Powdered Laundry Detergent cleans and safely bleaches your clothes with the added power of Oxygen Bleach Destainer and Deodorizer.
  • With our Laundry Detergent there are no harmful by-products upon decomposition.
  • Powdered Laundry Detergent dissolves as completely as liquid detergents and rinses away completely leaving no residue in your clothes.
  • Powdered Laundry Detergent costs less to use than commercial liquid detergents and costs no more to use than commercial powdered household laundry detergents.
  • Powdered Laundry Detergent contains no dyes, perfumes, fillers or phosphates.
  • It looks just like any other laundry powder. It does, in fact, dissolve easily and well even in cold water. No cloying perfume scent. All good so far…

    And?

    The clothes are very clean.

    I think my favorite part is how easily and thoroughly it rinses out. Doing the wash by hand I am far more aware of this consideration than I would be with a washing machine!

    Want to try it? Tropical Traditions has a free gift for you through their Referral Program:

    If you are a new customer, as an As For My House reader you will receive a complimentary copy of the book Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people’s lives and how it can change yours! by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy with your order. This book is filled with testimonies and research showing how healthy coconut oil is, and it also includes over 85 recipes showing how one can incorporate coconut into their diet.

    Just select “Referred by a friend” when asked, and in the box that says “How did you hear of us?” enter my Sponsor ID number: 5689476.

    …and be sure to come back and share your results!

    Want to win it??

    Check out my cool new Rafflecopter giveaway form, below!

    Please note that some entries require making a blog post to qualify, but only entries that are entered in the Reafflecopter form will be actual contest entries. This is something new for us, so I want to make sure nobody misses out.
    .

    I received this product free from Tropical Traditions; I was not obligated to write a review, nor compensated in any other way for this review. This review has not been approved or edited by anyone.
    I was “disclosing” before it was cool. See my Review Policy for the full scoop.

    Continue reading »

Nov 042011
 

Well, obviously it does. More importantly, my laundry saga continues.

We purchased a basic utility sink from Lowe’s, and the Dyna-Jet wringer (cheapest place I found it was Wisemen Trading and Supply).

Wolf used heavy plywood to make a square base, to which the legs are screwed, and a side panel for stability and secure wringer mounting.

The hot and cold water taps formerly for the washing machine, complete with washing machine hoses, provide the water. We don’t currently have hot water there, though, which is another story entirely.

Wolf also plumbed the sink’s drain, tapping into the former washing machine drain line.

It took several tries to find a drain plug that will stay in place while clothes are being agitated! Challenges that never even occurred to me in advance…

And the wringer?

It’s SO nice!

But there’s definitely a learning curve.

On the one hand, yes, it is very simply to feed the clothes through it and turn the crank.

But there’s the question of tension…

You have to tighten it down very hard to get a good squeeze on thin things. But then it is challenging to feed through some thicker things. And certain things, such as jeans, I don’t think can be usefully wrung at all – by the time you loosen it enough to get the bulky waistband through the wringer, it’s not going to be tight enough to squeeze the legs.

Do you loosen and tighten it as you go? Or pick a middle-ground setting and just crank on through?

And then came… The icky drips.

The ends of the rollers are metal. So, possibly from tiny rusting spots, or possibly from the lubrication that allows it to turn, it is creaking this nasty gunk.

If you were using this on a freestanding stand, to wring out your shammies at a car wash, this would be a non-issue.

But in my case, it drips into my laundry tub – often right on top of the newly-washed clothes! Bleah.

Clearly, there are still kinks in the system that need to be worked out.

Nobody said it was easy to be a re-pioneer!