Healing Tallow Cream for Problem Skin – Coming Soon!

We have a little neighbor (as in she’s a kid, not exceptionally short) with dry, painful, cracking hands from psoriasis. I mentioned to her mom that tallow is supposed to be great for psoriasis, but that I didn’t know for sure. But I said I’d whip up a healing cream or two for her daughter to try. I gave her a tallow lotion bar and threw together an herb-infused cream using tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, lavender, chamomile, and calendula (also trying a new method for whipping up body butter type lotions!). Initial feedback: she says her hands felt SUPER soft afterwards and haven’t felt like that in ages. Hooray! So. I’m going to whip up another batch for her soon and actually take pictures this time so I can share it with all of you.

But in the meantime, if you’ve got access to tallow and itchy, dry, eczema or psoriasis prone skin, give one of my previous tallow recipes a try!

Happenings on the Half-Assed Homestead: Projects Galore

So spring has sort of, kind of, almost come to New England. Not that you’d know it lately since we’re back to lows of 30s and highs of 40ish. But we’ve taken advantage of the few warm days to start tackling a million different projects – stacking random firewood that got lost under our 12 feet of snow this year, adding an invisible dog fence for our fearless Plott hound Grover (which necessitates replanning much of my garden, oops), trying to remedy the damage done by Grover to his previous dog run, digging up beds, planning paths… If my yard looks like a wreck under the best circumstances, it’s that times infinity right now. So here’s what’s been happening, in no particular order. Stay tuned for progress pics as all these projects (HOPEFULLY) approach completion!  Continue reading

Quick Tip: Use Oregano Oil in Your Homemade Hand Sanitizers

Last week I did some last minute pinch hitting for some friends of mine with a very young baby. They both had norovirus, and were terrified of their tiny infant getting it. I took their baby out for the day to both allow them to get some rest and to get the poor kiddo out of germ central. Norovirus is something I emphatically don’t want to get. Ever. So I threw latex gloves, antibacterial hand wipes and a hastily prepared”hand sanitizer” of sorts into my bag before I left.

I had purchased oregano essential oil a while ago based on some research I’ve seen suggesting that it is effective against MRSA and a host of other nasties; I wanted to use it in a combo lotion bar I was making for my sister, who was just finishing up her degree in Early Childhood Education.

While I’m big on homemade and natural remedies, I’m also a researcher at heart, and very skewed towards science. I’m not going to eschew modern medicine because some random natural living blogger says I should (sorry random natural living bloggers). But I read through a few articles on PubMed on various essential oils, and felt good enough about the research I found on oregano oil to give it a go. Continue reading

Super Lazy Bone Broth in the Slow Cooker

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but “bone broth” is becoming a THING. Bone broth shops are popping up in major cities, where you can pay upwards of $8 for a steaming hot cup of stock in a variety of flavors. I’ve seen folks spending crazy amounts of money at farmer’s markets for mason jars full of chicken or beef stock. For sure there are a ton of health benefits to drinking, using, and cooking with homemade stock. And like any good half-assed thrifty homesteader, I’ve been making my own stocks and broths from leftover bones and vegetable scraps for years. I didn’t realize I was so on-trend, I just thought I was being frugal!

While I love always having homemade stocks and broths to use for cooking, I really hate babysitting a big pot of chicken stock for hours. So with the exception of vegetable broths, I now just throw everything in the slow cooker. The benefit of the slow cooker method is clearly in the sheer laziness factor. Toss in your bones, add some water, turn on, leave it alone until you feel like dealing with it. But the other big bonus is how incredibly easy it is to get rich, gelatinous stock (or bone broth if you’re fancy) with a minimum of effort. The difference between a simple broth and the health-boosting bone broth is all in the cooking time. By the time you’re done simmering, your bones should crush between your fingers. And once chilled, you’ll have a gorgeous bone Jello rich in nutrients. To really achieve this, you need to simmer for 24-48 hours (24 for chicken, up to 48 for beef). So I just turn on my slow cooker and let that baby simmer away for a day or two. No skimming, no fussing, no babysitting. It’s so easy, I almost feel dumb writing up a recipe for it. But I know from talking to friends who don’t make their own stock that the slow cooker thing is a revelation, so I’m sharing for all those who haven’t made the jump to making their own stock. It’s easy, cheap, and allows you to get more use out of things you would have just thrown away. Your thrifty grandmother would be proud. Continue reading

Growing Potatoes Two Ways

As most of the snow has now left my garden (not all of it yet!), I’m beginning to emerge from my long hibernation and really start garden planning in earnest. I keep looking outside at my still frozen sad looking garden and dreaming. Maybe I’ll put a strawberry tower over there, or experiment with growing something fun like hardy kiwis over here… I’d like to put in more fruit, perhaps some golden raspberries, or a blackberry patch. My difficulty is that even though I have a pretty large space to work with, once I start planning I realize that there isn’t enough room for everything I want to do. For example, last year’s potato patch would probably be a great place for a future blackberry or raspberry patch, but then where to put potatoes?

I think my solution this year will be to build some potato towers so I can maximize my space. Once I do that I’ll be sure to post pictures and plans, but in the meantime, I thought I’d revisit the previous ways I’ve grown potatoes – the 5 gallon bucket method, and growing in straw. Continue reading