Aug 252013
 

So, let’s talk potty.

Not quite the usual topic of conversation around here, eh?

But eating healthy, living healthy, being healthy, and following God’s natural plan and order — that’s normal stuff.

So.. it turns out that our anatomy is designed to squat to eliminate.

This should come as no big surprise there to anyone who has had any exposure to natural childbirth; squatting is the best way to allow that baby to get out, too.

This was brought to mind for me again recently by Mommypotamus’ excellent article on pelvic floor issues and incontinence, Why You Need to Pee in the Shower.

But our “western civilization” toilets, for some reason, have been designed in a different position altogether. And it’s causing us to struggle with constipation, hemorrhoids, and a host of other complaints.

Until now, your only choice was pretty much to remove your toilet and create a squatting toilet similar to those common in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and some parts of Latin America.

But now, there’s a great, inexpensive, non-home-damaging option! (Click the graphic to visit their website)

Want a visual on the anatomical issues (non-graphic, in all senses of the word)? Check out Squatty Potty’s video:

Visit Squatty Potty to find out more, or order yours.

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your costs will be the same but As For My House will receive a small commission. This helps cover some of the costs for this site. We appreciate your support.

Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe may be good products/services for my readers.

I disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jul 102013
 

Hopefully you’ve all noticed the none-too-publicised admission by the powers that be that raw milk is, get this, a safe and healthy food! (If not: Raw Milk is a Safe and Low Risk Food info at Weston A. Price Foundation has all the particulars)

So if you live in a state where your access to raw milk is legally limited – it’s time for action! Call your state legislators and tell them to get things changed!

Anyone who would like to see raw milk available in Mississippi, here’s the point of contact: Taylor@mspolicy.org.

I emailed our governor and my state representatives, and one response I received was this:

“Good stuff Tiffany! I suggest you contact Jameson Taylor of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, as he’s shown an interest in this topic. His email address is below. I hope your contact will get this ball rolling!”

GO GO GO!

The adorable photo is not mine, but was featured at HealthyVibrantHappy (a website with which I’m not otherwise familiar) in a terrific post, The War against Raw Milk… Really.

Mar 292012
 

What, you don’t think this is a fitness blog??

Okay, it’s not. But (a) I do care about your health and well-being, and (b) as a former fitness model and personal trainer, I do have some idea what I’m talking about in this area.

With that out of the way, let me tell you about the wonderful book that I recently had the opportunity to review (and you now have the opportunity to win!):

Yes, it’s Day THREE 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.

As you may not know, if you haven’t delved into the murky “about us” back-story posted here somewhere, I used to be a fitness model and personal trainer. I was also very involved in mentoring women on their fitness journey, through various online communities which sprung up around the “Body for Life Physique Transformation Challenge”.

I stopped working as a trainer because of time conflicts with my family responsibilities, and of course I would not compete these days due to the immodest apparel and attitudes involved. But none of that means that I think being in shape is a bad idea!

For a long time, the book and concept of Body for Life has been the defining product out there, in my opinion. It doesn’t have any fads, or “magic pill” solutions – just a sensible, healthy eating and exercise plan. It was the book I’d recommend to anyone who talked about getting in shape.

Well, the time has come.

There’s a new kid in town, and he’s taking over the “King of the Hill” spot!

Dustin’s book is without question the best resource out there for a woman (or anyone!) looking to get in shape. It combines a common-sense approach to healthy eating and exercise, with all the latest research available to improve the effectiveness of your diet and training.

There is an emphasis on real, wholesome food over “supplements” and “replacements”, which is very important to me (and in fact I think this is the one area in which he might have gone even further).

Strength training is combined with highly efficient “burst training” cardio – no boring hours on the stairmaster here! Dustin also addresses ways to strengthen your body with various physical limitations, and of course busts all the still-too-common myths about strength training for women.

A nice addition to the book is the success stories interspersed throughout. Real women, sharing their real challenges and journeys – and triumphs. A few look like bikini calendar girls, but most of them do not – there is probably someone in the book with whom nearly every reader can identify.

There’s also more information, and a newsletter, available on the Dustin Maher Fitness website, as well as community on the Fit Moms for Life and I Love Being a Mom Facebook pages.

FIVE STARS. This is a book that every woman interested in being more healthy, energetic, and “in shape” should read. Absolutely.

And now you can win a copy of Fit Moms for Life! Enter below…

I received a copy of the book for review purposes. I was not compensated in any way for this review. This review has not been approved or edited by anyone. Fit Moms for Life 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

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…

Oct 212011
 



Yep, we finally put the pieces together!

We took our lovely wheat from our recent bulk order…

And ground it into flour in my brand-new NutriMill Grain Mill.

Then we used the EZ Wheat Bread recipe from Everyday Food Storage (we’ve been using her EZ White Bread up to this point).

(Nick actually made one batch with our fresh-ground flour prior to this, but used the recipe we’ve been using for white bread. As you might expect, it was rather short and dense).


Anyhow, off I went, piling the ingredients in the bowl.

Here’s my lovely assistant, the KitchenAid mixer, doing all the “hard labor” part of the job.

After that, it rises in a bowl for about an hour. It took a bit longer, as it was (surprisingly) chilly in my kitchen.

Then punched down, shaped in to loaves, and left to rise in the loaf pans for another hour or so.

Here are the loaves, after that second rise, ready to go in the oven. I didn’t do a very good job of dividing the dough in half, did I?



So, into the oven they went.

We had tweaked the time and temperature a bit on her white bread recipe, but since this was (a) a different recipe, and (b) a new oven from when we worked that all out, I decided to go with the (higher) temperature listed on the recipe.

I didn’t think it was quite done, but it had to come out before we got to “charcoal” on the top.

Sitting there, buttered and shiny, it sure looks good, doesn’t it?

But, alas…

It was not, in fact, done in the middle.

While I was, naturally, very disappointed in the waste, as well as not being able to enjoy the fruits of my labors, I do realize that this is a learning process.

Although we have been baking our own bread for several years now, we have stuck with one “tried and true” recipe — and we went through this same process in the beginning getting it worked out, too.

So, today, we are back at it.

The flour has been ground, and the mixer is churning away.

We’ll lower the oven temperature 25 degrees, and extend the baking time a bit. I’ll keep an eye on things and see if it look like it might still need foil over the top, as well.

Hopefully we’ll have a delicious treat later this afternoon. One step further down the road…

Oct 142011
 

[Tiffany: I discovered this post by Wolf while trying to wade through my overstuffed "Drafts" folder. He wrote it a year ago, but somehow it never got published! Our timeframe had shifted somewhat, but the principles and thought process remain.]

Contentment on a shoestring budget.

And on a two year timeline.

We are setting a two year timeline for the project because of our oldest son. He will be old enough to move on to college or wherever in two years. Two years sounded like a good timeframe for trying to get a lot of things ready for us to move out to the homeplace.

I will be doing most of the work myself (with help from Tiffany and the kids, when possible).

I have worked construction and I’m a pretty handy guy. I have no problem with the labor and I can grasp the concepts if I get some input and counseling for the engineering parts.

Heck I can even do a fair job if I can get my hands on a good book.

We need to build out the home my father built, to suit our family and lifestyle.

  • We want a summer kitchen and a stone wall and tower.
  • We plan to build the building around a courtyard style structure.
  • After that, we will need to build all the animal and equipment structures needed. A barn for the animals and for the equipment we will have. We want a fenced perimeter to keep the animals from wandering away.
  • And of course don’t forget about the things needed for a self-sufficient life: We are figuring on having a mill (water wheel) to supply some of the power we need. Solar and wind power would be good things to have, too, for alternatives.

The first thing I’m looking for is the best foundation to have in the area.

I’ll be building a stone wall about one to two feet thick around the outer perimeter of the building we will live in.

I don’t know if it’s best to build the floor inside the walls on footings or to have the floor joists run into the walls. Maybe not even do the joists at all, but I think it would be cheaper than a concrete slab.

I also want to make sure it lasts for a long time. I would like for my kids to take over when I get too old and their kids after that. The construction should be easy to repair when needed.

I guess the first thing I will need is a sawmill. It will be a great benefit to have our own lumber capabilities. I’ve seen those portable bandsaw things around. Or I could go the John Walton way and hook up an old car engine to a big circular saw blade.

We’ll just have to pray and study on these things for a while. If you have any helpful ideas or materials, let me know.

(Photo from Homesteading in Tennessee)

 Posted by at 11:30 am
Oct 112011
 


I wish I’d taken pictures of the bulk food order we picked up from the LDS Cannery in Slidell last week…

It was on this big flat cart, like you use at Lowe’s, and it totally filled up the back of my Tahoe (that was before Clyde – wait, you didn’t read the story about Clyde??).

As you can see, R.T. enjoys the wheat berries straight out of the bag!

All in all, we got:

  • 3 bags of wheat (25 lbs. each)
  • 1 bag of black beans
  • 1 bag of white beans (great northern)
  • 1 bag of sugar
  • 1 bag of oats
  • 1 box of potato flakes
  • 1 box of rice
  • 1 box of spaghetti
  • 1 box of macaroni
  • 1 box of powdered milk
  • Plus a package of 100 Oxygen Absorbers to package with the food for storage


Naturally, we got home to discover that we didn’t have enough of the 5-gallon buckets accumulated to store it all! It’s been slow going getting them from the Commissary bakery, but I have a couple of other places to try now, so maybe we can get caught up.

I’ve also gotten in with a group of ladies on an order for combined shipping, to get some Gamma Lids – that will resolve my issues with a couple of buckets I have that are lidless, as well as making life easier in general. (They snap on with a gasket like the regular lids, then the center part screws open (but seals tight) for access).

That’s a lot of supplies! Time to organize the “pantry” space in the back hall closet…

Jul 072011
 


Read about the beginning of our natural deodorant adventure HERE.

Looking at the date I first wrote about natural deodorant made me realize that it’s been SIX MONTHS now. There have been several interesting developments that I wanted to share with you – at least if you consider anything about deodorant interesting!

One of the first things was giving up on the store-bought deodorant stick dispenser.

Fist of all, it’s not made for that kind of use. After a refill or two, the pusher-upper stopped pushing – the threads had stripped.

Secondly, it’s not really, really suited for this product. Your “Secret” doesn’t turn to liquid if it gets a little warm in your bathroom…

My first through was that it was “a bother” to scoop some of the mixture out with my fingers and smear it on my underarms. After all, then I also had to wash off my hand.

Wow, really?

I had no idea I was that much of a prima donna!

Then I ran across a great quote. Someone shared on Facebook, so I’m not sure this is an exact quote, and I have no source… But I like it!

Simple living does not mean removing all complexities.
It means focusing your energy on the complexities that matter.

No, mixing up the deodorant is not quite as simple as buying a tube of that stuff at the store.

No, applying it turns out not to be as simple as swiping some on from that tube.

But… it’s better. It’s more wholesome. It even is, in the grand scheme of life, a more simple – straightforward – product.

So, I continue.

And Wolf got on the bandwagon, as well, with trepidation.

He has used deodorant spray for many years, because stick deodorant clogged his pores and caused under-arm irritation.

Besides, he hates coconut. I don’t say “hate” much… I think it applies here.

The verdict?

A new convert!

He is not bothered by the scent. He does not have irritation or clogged pores. And apparently it’s getting the job done.

Oh, and he totally agrees with my rambling thoughts on the “complexity” of creating and applying it. ;)

Jun 082011
 

I have enough shopping bags that I can usually take care of all my grocery shopping, especially since it is now more often split up between the Commissary and the Farmer’s Market… Did I mention that the most wonderful ones ever are on Etsy, from Hillbilly Creations? She has listings with new as well as upcycled fabrics, or she can custom-upcycle from your items!

ANYHOW, I’ve almost gotten into the habit of always having the bags with me, and that’s all feeling pretty settled.

So now other things are starting to occur to me.

1. When we went up to visit family over Memorial Day, I packed our church clothes and shoes. Usually, I put each shoe (or each pair, depending) in a plastic grocery bag, to keep the suitcase and clothes clean. What do I use for that?

My same shopping totes would work, of course – although that didn’t occur to me at the time, for some reason.

2. We also use the plastic shopping bags for cleaning the cat box. It’s much more convenient to be able to clean the cat box without, for instance, taking it outside to the trash can. Plus, who wants the stinky cat litter sitting around making the trash can gross?

3. And what about produce? Bananas or pineapples can be free-floating, but it would be much easier to have a bag to contain the peaches, plums, or tomatoes… and when things are sold by weight, you don’t want to use a big (heavy) cloth tote!

Presumably, I want something like these (set of 3, from 3BBags.com)?

Anyone have any good suggestions, for these situations, or other “next steps”?

Mar 142011
 

Sounds serious, eh?

I’ve never “gardened”.

Houseplants, yes. Water the lawn and mow it, yes.

“Garden”, no.

But if we’re going to make Contentment (see our explanation page, and posts about it) a reality, it’s going to take quite a bit of farm know-how.

So I figure I better work on knowing how, now.

I’m starting with the most-recommended book in my informal survey of gardening friends:

I have to make a few decisions such as -

  • Where to put the garden in the yard
  • How big to make it (in this case, how many “squares” to create)
  • Dig into the ground only, or build raised beds on top?
  • How best to make a fertile plot of of this horrible, sandy soil (what needs to be added)

All before we even get to the fun questions, such as choosing which crops to grow!

I sent for the Free Catalog from Gardens Alive, which includes a $25 coupon (not a sponsored endorsement, just sharing a deal!). Using it, I got their 10 pack of seeds, since they meet my primary requirement of being open-pollinated / heirloom varieties. I may not be saving any seeds this year, but I know that that is part of our future.

I want to eat the food the way God designed it, and I want it to reproduce itself self-sufficiently – also the way God designed it.

Their 10-pack includes:

  • Blue Lake 274 Bush Bean
  • Detroit Dark Red Beet
  • Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce
  • Cal Wonder Pepper
  • Cherry Belle Radish
  • Danvers 126 Carrot
  • Bloomsdale Spinach
  • Early Summer Crookneck Squash
  • Brandywine Red Tomato
  • Sweet Burpless Cucumber Hybrid

We will probably not grow the beet or the radish, but will use the other eight as our first experiments with each of those vegetables.

Important things we’re considering adding include Corn, Blackeyed Peas, Pole Beans, Winter Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Garlic, Onion, and some friendly and edible plants like Nasturtium and Marigold.

Some things I’m anxious to grow we won’t start until we move up to the land, since they’re not annuals: Asparagus, Blueberries, etc.

And how do Strawberries grow in Mississippi? In Florida they’re an annual crop, since there’s no winter to speak of to create the dormancy period which would signal them to produce again… So, here, can I keep them going?

I plan to grow a few little trees in containers – like Clementines. Not sure whether I should start those now, or would the trip still traumatize them too much?

Yes, I’m totally overwhelmed. Likely I will end up throwing myself on the mercy of the garden department staff at Lowes….