How to Make a Nourishing, Infused Oil for Dry Skin

It is so dry around here that I do believe a stale cracker blowing across the desert in a windstorm has more moisture than my skin has right now.  Colorado is always dry-most of the state is high desert- but winter is the worst!  It is time to make a nourishing infused oil and calm that itching down.

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A small crock pot is perfect to keep in the bathroom plugged in.  After the concoction is infused in the crock pot, you merely have to turn it on warm as you get into the shower.  Or pour a bit into the bath.  Use on lips, hands, face; the whole body will just absorb it with fervor.

You can easily just use the oil as is.  In Ayurveda sesame oil is used.  Olive oil is a natural sunscreen and has a long shelf life.  But I am more of a sunflower girl, myself.  Rich in vitamin E and oleic acid, sunflower oil is nourishing and absorbs easily.  I am also an herbalist so I infuse some medicinal herbs into my oil.  It makes it all the better.

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In 32 ounces of sunflower oil poured into the crock pot, I added a small handful of roses, calendula, mullein leaves, and lemon verbena.  I let that infuse on low for a few hours.  The herbs are dried so they won’t mold and sunflower oil lasts easily two years.  Other herbs that might be nice are lavender, pine, or geranium.

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No need to strain.  I use my fingers to apply but you could use a small sponge.  This time of year the oil absorbs faster than you can apply it so be liberal and feel great.

Everything I Do Kills the Planet

mother-earth-wallpapers-for-android-For-Free-WallpaperI still get those dreams.  The “if-we-don’t-change-things-now” dreams, then glimpses of what will be.  They frighten me and I become extremely aware.  I look at my fake nails (I have no idea what came over me to go get nails last week) and can see all of the plastic nails in all of the salons and the chemicals that pervade the colors and liquids and fumes.  I sigh and look at my fingers…ooh sparkly!

Mother Nature can and will, of course, change as she sees fit.  Fires, floods, and I well know that her own temperature has raised and lowered over many more eons than I have been here having dreams.  I know that the polar bear on the internet could have died from illness.  Yet my heart breaks all the same.  My ancestors would have never seen that.  They would only know what they could do to heal the waters or the air in their own neck of the woods.

People spark outcry for the drilling on our beautiful lands then fill their cars with the very same fuel that they protested at some point and drive…everywhere.

I would love to live in a little off grid sanctuary- full knowing the work involved- and heal a small area of space in time.  That is not my husband’s dream though.  What can I do, then, in this space of the planet to be mindful?  The bouncing Christmas lights color my home with joy (and electricity) and my coffee is hot and welcoming to the day (and comes from who knows where) and my car doesn’t drive on air and the gifts I am buying may end up in landfills and I sigh and know that we really have gotten ourselves way over our heads.  We know that we are doing great harm and that we need to change as a society but we have no idea where to start because by the time we get done looking at starving polar bear pictures and put away our protest signs we have lost sight in despair followed by complacency.

What can we meditate on this Yule season to spread healing to the waters and air and lands of this earth?

Perhaps I will get a bicycle.  Stop coloring my hair and nails for godsake.  I could start making my own cleaning products again.  Unhook the pipes and let the water run into 5 gallon buckets that I could then water the trees with.  Sneak a composting toilet in this place.  Or I could stop using paper cups while getting coffee.  I could stop buying packaging.  I could stop buying junk.

If I were to feel more gratitude and wonder here in this place in time that I breathe, I would naturally remember what is good for me and the earth and be more mindful in the coming year.

That could be my new dream.  I can’t save the world, but I can start here…

What will you do?

Hypocrisy and the Homesteader’s Guide to Saving the Earth

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First things first, a compost bin.  The very weekend we move in I do hope Doug can build me a compost bin.  He makes it with pallets, three open spaces to move the cooking fertilizer through.

The thing about apartment living is that it is really difficult to be ecologically friendly.  They don’t recycle in this town.  There is nowhere to put scraps (no chickens to be found).  There is nowhere to compost (piles of coffee grounds on the balcony would be a bit weird).  There are hills of trash here, eye-opening, mouth gaping amounts of overflowing trash near the dumpsters.  I am shocked and saddened.  And yet, my things join the piles.

I am very much against the pipeline going through Indian land. I am also very much against the fracking, hideous wind mills, and pipelines going through farmer’s land (who don’t get to protest, by the way, they just get the land stripped from them) across the country.  I can get mad and share a post on facebook about stopping the black snake then I go get in my car and drive to work.  I understand that I am among the billions of hypocrites on this lovely planet.

The answer lies, perhaps, in mindfully (perhaps maniacally) opting to use less electricity, oil, and its many ugly faces.  We know we are killing our beautiful Earth (we know she is getting mad as hell) but we seem to not know what to do about it.  Our life has woven itself so thickly through the oil reserves that we don’t know how to function.

Once I step into my new homestead tomorrow I will be starting a compost pile.  I will find recycling.  I hope someone still does it.  I will reuse.  I will be like my elder generation where one is not sure if the contents of a container in the fridge is butter or leftovers.  I will get chickens and feed them my scraps.  I will use organic methods to grow as much of my food as divinely possible.  I will get oil lamps again and still crazily unplug appliances and Doug’s IPOD.  I will use carbon neutral wood to heat my home (though it will be nice to have that back up furnace!).  I will be more mindful.  I will do the best I can.  I will walk.  I will ride my bike.  I will purchase less.  I will sew more.  I will….

We must….

The Importance of Hobbies (doing more of what we love)

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What did you love to do as a kid?   Or a young adult?  I used to love to do many things drawing.  I do a good job of trying to keep up with my hobbies and passions but a few things start to creep in.  My closet is already filled with paintings!  Art supplies and frames cost money.  What will I do with all of them?  I sell about two paintings a year.  Now what do I do with the rest?  And then there is the ever, well, I am not quite as good as other artists…I try to quiet down these rogue thoughts that try to keep me from doing hobbies I love.

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I have moved to an enchanting place.  It is the most beautiful and most magical place I have ever lived.  I have seen bald eagles, two different types of owls, hawks, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, antelopes, horses running across miles and miles of open pasture, and sunsets and sunrises that have left me in awe.  Without the neighbors and buildings so close, like in town, I have been able to greet the dawn as soon as she makes her way over the ridge of prairie grasses and it fills with me a sense of peace as I admire her colors and paintings.  I want to capture them as well.

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I purchased some pastels and paper from the store and woke up before dawn each morning and painted a different scene from each window.  There are more dawns to capture, and sunsets too, as soon as the weather warms.  I placed them in frames that were on sale and will take them to a local coffee shop.

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If you are an artist, a previous artist, or a budding artist, you can call around coffee shops and ask to hang your art work.  Many of them will let you sign up for a month at a time.  They get rotating art from local artists and you get exposure and perhaps sell a piece or two.

Another piece I will display this month.

Another piece I will display this month.

I am also going to look into Etsy.  And art galleries.  And displaying art at our shows (though I do not like doing outdoor markets with art.  Too nerve racking!  One gust of wind and….eek!)  The point is, if we love to do something, even if it doesn’t bring us an income, then we should find ways to incorporate it into our lives and if it is only because things are piling up in the back room that we stop, then we should share our hobbies with the world.

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I gave art as Christmas presents this year and sold one.  This month at the coffee shop I will bring my new pieces and a few of the old.

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The landscape out here is different than any other I have lived in, even though I am a Colorado native, it’s like I have never seen my own state before.  Out here feels like one western painting after another.  Like every piece of fine art portraying western scenes was painted out here.  I also bought an inexpensive set of oil paints.  I used to paint with oils and I would like to try it again.  Why not?  When it gets warmer I will be out on the roadside attempting to capture a snippet of what God’s painting looks like.

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How to price art?  Let’s talk about that.  Few can afford fine art these days.  Don’t price your art according to the huge dealers downtown.  One would be hard-pressed to get $700 in a small town or even a big town these days.  Price it reasonably.  Then you’ll have more room to make more art and a little change in your pocket.  I am going to sell my pastels for $20.  After the 20% the coffee shop takes and the cost of frame I will make $11.  But I loved creating it.  It made me get up and view the dawn, to greet the day, and it was a pleasure pursuing what I love.

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What would you like to do this year?  Grab a sketchbook?  Start quilting?  Start a blog?  Learn to make cheese?  Take a dance class?  Finish a project from a long time ago?  Go to a knitting club?  Let’s spend this year doing as many things as possible that we love!

Electric Items We Could Live Without (but don’t…yet)

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A few days ago I mentioned what electric devices we do not use and don’t miss.  Electricity is tricky.  See, it seemed like a blessing upon its discovery and I am sure in many ways it was, but not without a hefty price.  Electricity and oil, resources that cannot be replaced, have become such a huge part of our world that no one wants to give them up.  We have billions of car parts that will never decompose.  They use tons of oil and gas and have the ability to maim and kill.  Of course, I don’t particularly want to walk to the next town over (seven miles on a highway) but I seem to be without a horse and carriage as well.  Electricity becomes such a constant factor that we only become aware of it the few times it goes out and we then realize (horrified) that we cannot make coffee!  Pollution, fracking, it is all a bit much so that we can turn on a light at 1 am.

wind turbineThe larger electric companies, like the one that serves Denver, is creating huge grids of solar panels and they have a large wind turbine farm an hour east of here.  I used to cheer and carry on with joy about it.  Except those are not perfect forms either.  Disposable solar panels, batteries that never decompose, and wind turbines that take out thousands of bats and migratory birds every year.  They would have to use so many of these forms because none of us want to give up an ounce of our electricity.  We should be educating people of another option.  Gasp.  Use less.  Ok, someone help me down off of this pulpit.

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I could go completely off grid.  Prairie style all the way.  Doug would be searching for a cellphone signal around the tiny cabin and probably catch a taxi.  We have to make compromises.  If we did get a little solar power, a small one we could keep the few things that we enjoy.  It would certainly be a smaller footprint than how the large companies are doing it and we could be more self sufficient.  Here’s a few things that we could give up, may give up, but haven’t yet.

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1. The Television.  We watch precisely three television shows a year.  Sometimes less if we get bored.  This does not include Bronco football games.  We watch American Idol, The Voice, and So You Think You Can Dance.  We both missed our chance at Divadom and though we can sing at Rodney’s house on his karaoke system and sing to the chickens (they rather enjoy that), we like to see what others out there are doing with their voices and dance skills.  It also keeps us from getting terribly bored and wandering out to eat.  Perhaps when all the kids move out completely we can think of other things to do.  Ahem…

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2. The Coffee Grinder. I can indeed sit there for a half hour contemplating the universe while grinding coffee by the early morning light of dawn.  But the quick buzzing thing does it in twenty seconds!  I’ll work on it.

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3. The Computer. Not bloody likely, my husband would say.  He needs wifi like he needs morning coffee.  I could be happy writing this at the library.

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4. The Music ChannelAlong the lines of getting rid of the television (or could we keep it just for movies?), there would also go my music stations.  I could pick up the piano again, or the fiddle, or listen to Doug play the mandolin.  We could start a band, or just sit on the porch with cold beers and entertain the neighbors.  We could make mountain music.  We could hum to ourselves.  We could make our own music.

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5. The Stove I want a wood cook stove so bad I could cry.  I would love to be able to heat the house and cook up some biscuits and eggs all in the same place.  I know that after cooking on a gas stove for many years I would miss the quick kettle heat up, the fast soup heat up.  I would need a summer kitchen in order to stand cooking indoors.  Oh wait, I need that anyway!

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6.The RefrigeratorAnd the last thing that requires electricity is the refrigerator and freezer.  I would need a darn good root cellar and a cold creek to get away with that one.  Let me think that one over.

There are many ways that we can lessen our use of electricity.  A potato masher instead of an immersion blender, turn off the lights when not in use, give up the curling iron (you look great), unplug chargers and turn off power strips when not in use.  All those invisible currents are still pulsing out.  These things not only save us money (that we can spend on seeds) but helps out the planet.  Even if it doesn’t feel like a lot now, in a few generations it will, because everything we do has a trickle down effect.

Electric Items We Can Live Without (part 1)

When I saw my electric bill this month, I nearly fainted and was tempted to go out for cocktails to forget it.  I instantly blamed Shyanne for running her electric heater that looks like a fireplace all the time.  She lives in the dungeon of a basement here and it is ten degrees cooler down there.  Which means these days it’s pretty flipping cold.  Her lights are always on as well.  Doug said it was more likely the animals.  Who would have thought that the farm animals would use more electricity than my teenaged daughter?  Electric heat lamps and water heaters are adding exponentially to the already high bill.  Is it summer yet?

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It does seem silly to be working so hard at creating a homestead, doing things the old fashioned way, yet we are using more resources than less.  That is what happens when the thermometer breaks records all winter with below zero temperatures.  Thank goodness spring is right around the corner.  We do not have a wood stove at this house, and I cannot bring the animals indoors (Doug said) so I will pay the bill and move onto the next month.

I may not be able to shut off the furnace or the water heaters, but there are some electric items that I have lived without for a long time.  And there are more that I am working towards omitting.  There was a lot of hubbub about making women’s lives easier at the turn of last century and though I think that was a noble cause, it was primarily to make a lot of money off of subpar products that would actually create more work for us and pollute our planet.

These are the things I have found that I do not need (that much less on the electric bill!):

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1. The Microwave.  We truly do not need a microwave.  Microwaves were originally war technology and I sure don’t need any extra radiation running through this house.  So, one could zap food to instant boiling in a matter of seconds.  In a pan on the stove, I can do it in a few minutes.  It also doesn’t scorch the tip of my tongue off or kill all the nutrients.  Additionally, I have more space in my kitchen.  When I put it out on the curb for Goodwill, the kids howled that it would be missed, yet for six years now we have survived!  I truly do not miss it.

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2. The Coffee Maker.  Sacrebleu!  What is this mad woman talking about?  I drink scores of coffee in the morning, folks, don’t worry. I am a normal farmer.  I just really love the process of putting the coffee in the French press, pouring the boiling kettle of water over it, and smelling the delicious aroma stir up. I swirl hot water in the carafe that I will pour the coffee into and carry around with me all morning.  It keeps the coffee hot, no plastic taste, no plastic-non-biodegradable coffee pots in the landfill every year, and really, I think the French press makes the best coffee.  See my post here for more on it.

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3. The Dryer.  After our third dryer in five years broke down and smelled like it could catch fire at any moment I realized that the washers and dryers past that actually lasted were a thing of the past.  Companies make more money if we send lots of things to the dump and buy more.  The low end for a dryer is $250.  That’s the cheap model, heading upwards of two grand.  Which could get me a decent car.  Ever since I started using a clothes line six years ago I have found that our clothing lasts so much longer.  If I wash the clothes with items in the pockets and send stains all over everything, I can easily rewash it.  Stains do not set on the clothes line.  The clothes line is a means of forcing me twice a week to stand outdoors in the fresh air, in nature, for ten minutes and put clothes on the line like my grandmothers did.  The breeze makes everything smell fabulous, the cat hair is whipped off, there are no fires on the clothes line from overheated engines and clogged airways.  They dry in a day, even on cold days.  Should a sudden snow or rainfall come by the clothes are all the fresher when they dry.  Should I not have time and leave it out there for three days, they do not get wrinkled.  See my post here if you are considering leaving the dryer buying rat race.

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4. Overhead Lighting.  Especially fluorescent lighting.  Lord, help me.  The natural ebb and flow of the day is supposed to speak to our bodies.  The sun peeks over the horizon sending lovely banners of color across the sky welcoming us to a new day.  We get up, we work, we rest in the heat of the day, we work, we go to bed when the sun goes down. I notice that I sleep so wonderfully naturally getting up with the sun and as the sun fades behind the hills and the oil lamps are lit, I start to get sleepy.  I highly recommend getting some oil lamps, they are as low as $10 at Walmart and create excellent lighting scattered throughout the house with the help of some bright tapered candles. We add twinkly lights throughout for a magical feel and a bit more lighting.  Those could burn out though, and I’d be fine with just the oil lamps.  Should your eyesight require a tad more lighting for your nightly reading, then by all means add a lamp, but for heaven’s sake, turn off the overbearing overhead lights!

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5. The Porch Light.  The porch light serves more to tell folks you aren’t home than to provide security.  Goodness, with all the street lights, who needs a porch light?  Do me a favor, drive out into the country and look towards the horizon.  Do you see that glowing light like a bomb just went off?  That is light pollution and it is getting worse every year.  It throws off the migration patterns of birds and animals and uses a lot of unnecessary electricity and valuable resources to run even a simple porch light.

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6. The LED Clock.  I unplugged Doug’s a long time ago.  As soon as I get him a wind up one, it will join the microwave.  I use a cuckoo clock gifted to me by my dear friend, Kat.  I wind it twice a day.  It is repetitive and soothing and the joyous little bird that reminds me of the time is becoming an old friend.  (Perhaps I have been on my homestead too long.)  I do not require a clock outside of the happy cuckoo in the living room.

Oil is finite.  Whether we are arguing about foreign oil, or homegrown oil.  I am watching the fields around me be ripped up to put in pipelines.  And in the end, it doesn’t procreate.  Oil will run out.  I am trying to leave a whisper of a footprint behind (to make up for the ginormous footprint of my youth) for my grandchildren.  The reward is that I have more quiet living environment, less artificial light, and more meaningful moments homemaking.  Can getting rid of some electric appliances bring more peace?  I believe so.