Searching for Buried Treasure

Living in a nearly 300 year old house, my husband and I are always hoping to find some hidden treasure in our house. It doesn’t have to be treasure in the “someone hid a box of gold in our floorboards” sense, but something old, something interesting, a box of historic letters would be cool. Sadly, in 3 years of ownership we’ve not found treasure. There are some very old license plates wedged somewhat permanently into a crevice in our basement, but that’s about it.

But! A few weeks ago my husband and I got the bright idea to pry open the door on one of our old chimneys. The chimney itself was long ago cemented off, but we had a thought that maybe we could rebuild it and put another wood stove out there. Plus, I’m insatiably curious. If there’s a door, I want to open it. If I can’t see something, I want to peek. So with pretty minimal convincing (my husband shares my desire to peek inside things) and some WD-40, we opened her up.  Continue reading

Homemade Laundry Detergent Redux

Here we go again…

As part of my ongoing quest to live a life that is more sustainable, I’ve been implementing a few changes to further lessen our family’s footprint. This week I’ve finally gotten around to hanging up an outdoor clothesline, and I’m making the effort to switch to washing most of our clothing in cold water only. What this means is that my trusty and tested powdered laundry detergent isn’t going to work. Like at all. So I set out to make a great big old batch of homemade liquid laundry detergent. I used the recipe from Wellness Mama, because it seems to be a pretty common and popular method. Check out her site for the full directions and measurements.

I can’t report on efficacy yet, because strangely for someone with pets, kids and a gardening habit, I actually don’t have any major laundry to do today. I’ve got one load in now, because my son had a small overnight accident – woo hoo! So, my first test will be on how well it gets out urine smells.

I do have a few thoughts on the process though, and the final resulting product. Continue reading

I’ve got 99 projects…

Updates time! I’ve still got a million unfinished projects in the garden, but some of them are gradually approaching something like completion. Progress has been derailed by work and life and general chaos, but it’s getting there.

We turned an empty raised bed into a multi-layer strawberry tower, because my dog keeps using the existing strawberry bed as a toilet.

wooden raised beds

Beginnings of a strawberry tower thingy

I planted an ungodly amount of potatoes. All in containers of various kinds due to the aforementioned dog.

Potatoes in a basket

Potatoes sprouting in the cupboard. May as well plant those too!

potatoes in a trash can

Some potatoes went in a giant garbage can that already had holes in it because it had a previous life as a compost bin.

plant pots

Some potatoes went in pretty containers, because I can’t always be function over form.

Continue reading

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

Garden Planning 2015: What Shall We Use to Fill the Empty Spaces?

Since turning my backyard into a giant vegetable garden, I don’t have too many empty spaces left in the back of my house, but the ones I do have are haunting me. Then there’s the front yard. A bare, unused small patch of grass with some torn up spots where I pulled out the ugly shrubs I hated. I also hate these unlandscaped sad empty spaces, but landscape design is not my jam. I am a total loss for what to do with these bits and pieces. Do I plant some blueberry bushes over there on that one weird slope that’s so hard to mow? Do I turn my front yard that no one uses into a butterfly/pollinator garden? Plant a bunch of veggies out there with a sign for my neighbors to wander by and help themselves?

I turned one empty space into a dog run (showcased in my post on poop composting) but I’ve still got this:

Unused space #1

Unused space #1

Continue reading

Compost All The Things!

Let’s talk about poop, shall we? More specifically, dog poop. We have a large dog and he poops a lot. I hated the idea of just picking it all up and throwing into the garbage to get sent to a landfill, but I can’t just leave it sweltering in the sun stinking up the joint either. So I started researching dog waste composting. I found cool instructions for building your own in-ground dog waste composter and figured that was the perfect solution.

So last year I redid the dog’s whole side yard (he’s since totally destroyed my efforts, bad dog) and installed my very own in-ground dog waste composting system. You can just see the lid of the in-ground composter in the far corner. Continue reading