Posts made in August, 2018


Ever since our oldest was born, we have lived on one income. Both Trent and I feel it works best to have me stay home with the kids while they are young, and we have prioritized making sure our life is affordable with Trent’s income. I’ve loved the time I’ve had with the kids, and living on one income has been totally do-able.

The amazing thing is that we really do feel rich! We eat delicious food, have clothes, are building a beautiful debt-free tiny house, we love each other, and we even have enough money to buy a few “fun” extras.

I want to share some tips for making end meet on one income. These are all things we practice on a regular basis and have found to really make a difference in our budget.

 

Cook whole plant foods from scratch

People often say that healthy food is super spendy, and it is if you’re buying pre-made food, such as bread, crackers, sausage, drinks, and stuff like that. But if you’re willing to buy whole foods and cook from scratch, healthy food is the cheapest food you can buy! I find whole foods to be super affordable for the bulk you get. My family eats a LOT of food, but we still manage to keep our grocery budget around $500 because I mostly buy whole foods. Here’s a list of foods I often buy:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Fresh veggies
  • Bananas
  • Peanut butter
  • Almonds

These are all affordable, nutrient-dense foods that are also delicious!

 

 

Grow a garden 

We eat like Veggie Kings in the summer and usually enough to can or freeze for winter. It’s really nice to have some home-grown food to eat in the winter and it eases our wintertime veggie budget. We usually spend about $20 on our garden and we get way more than $20 out of it!

 

Forage food

We pick blackberries from our yard and freeze them (free!) and forage apples from a nearby orchard’s windfalls (free!) and that really helps in the wintertime. This year so far I have dehydrated a huge bag of apples and picked 7 gallon bags of blackberries! It only costs some time and elbow grease.

 

 

Make broth

Broth is basically made from what would have been garbage: meat bones and veggie scraps. It transforms into a super nutritious liquid which makes amazing soup or rice! Everyone knows that soup helps stretch your budget, and when you make your own broth, you can make a soup dinner for just a few dollars!

 

 

Buy thrift store clothes

Thrifting makes sense on so many levels. It is easier on your budget, helps reduce waste, and it helps not contribute to the toxic problem of the clothing industry. I have also been very blessed to have been given most of my kids’ clothes, and I am very thankful for it! 

 

Make herbal medicine

You can make a few simple medicines that are cheap, easy, and healthy that also save a you a little money! I make wound salve with lavender and plantain from my yard that takes place of Neosporin in our household. I make tea blends with bulk herbs, which saves us a load of money. I also make a few simple tinctures that boost our health for very little money.

 

 

No monthly subscriptions

We don’t keep a monthly subscription such as magazines, Netflix, Amazon prime, Hello Fresh. I feel like these type of things get forgotten easily, but meanwhile, your card keeps getting billed! If I do a free trial of a subscription, I always write on the calendar when I should cancel it so I don’t lose track of time.

Go camping

I realize this isn’t for everyone, but camping can be a really wonderful way of taking a fun, memorable vacation and keeping your expenses low. We took a super fun vacation this summer boondocking for free on BLM land all over Oregon. It was a 5-day vacation and we only spent about $300, gas and food included! It was a vacation we’ll never forget.

 

Sunset in Christmas Valley, OR

 

Call utilities for discounts

I have successfully lowered my phone and internet bills by calling and asking for a lower rate. Sometimes they have a promotion or sometimes they seem to scrape a discount out of nowhere. It has surprised me every time how willing they are to lower my monthly rate. 

 

Check Craigslist first

Before we buy any large purchase, we often check Craigslist first. Sometimes we find what we’re looking for, and sometimes we realize it’s just more cost effective to buy it new. But it’s always nice to make a informed decision and give ourselves the chance to find a bargain and save a few hundred dollars!

 

 

Share your money saving tips in the comments; I’d love to hear them!

 

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I’m excited to share my experience with the GAPS diet. I hope it inspires you to pursue health and healing in your own life, no matter where you are! I also discuss  learning to accept the body you have and focus on health and strength, not chasing that “perfect body”.

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

 

I got married when I was 19. Before our wedding, I was stressed, and like any bride, eager to not regret my body in the wedding pictures. So I ran a lot and ate very little and got my weight down to 139 lbs. I liked my body, I liked my wedding pictures, and I was ready to take on the world.

 

 

Yeah, let’s just say the next 6 years hit me like a locomotive. They were beautiful years of holding babies, nursing babies, and loving babies. But they were also desperate years of back-to-back pregnancies, sleepless nights, and tired days. Yet no matter what the challenge, food was something I could count on to comfort me. Desserts were a “reward” for getting through the hard day. And they did make me feel better. Kind of. 

After our fourth and final baby was born, I was 180 lbs and I felt frustrated with all the extra fat on my body. I never had been fat before and I didn’t feel like myself. But I never thought that losing so much weight would be a option, so I decided to embrace it and bought a bunch of “fat clothes”. 

 

Starting the GAPS diet

Six months later when we decided to follow the GAPS diet as a family, our major motive was Trent’s health, but I also secretly hoped it would help me lose weight. 

In the midst of our whole family becoming healthier, I began to see the fat basically melt off my body very steadily. I was losing 1-2 lbs a week, and before I knew it, I had lost 20 lbs and my friends were starting to comment about how good I looked. That felt great. 

 

 

After 4 months of following the Full GAPS diet, we took a few weeks to go back and do the GAPS Intro diet, and I kicked my last 10 lbs. I was 150 lbs, a wonderfully healthy weight, and feeling great about myself. I had new clothes, I fit in my “goal jeans”, and I didn’t cringe when I saw a picture of myself.

I also had much more mental clarity, sustained energy, and a heightened sense of well-being.

 

Learning to Accept My Body

About a year and a half later, I am still 150 lbs and still feeling pretty great. And we don’t even follow the GAPS diet anymore! We eat several gluten-free grains (like sprouted rice!) and even splurge every few weeks when we encounter “junk food” the we’re out-and-about.

Do I still kinda hate parts of my body? Absolutely. 

Do I see other women and wish I had their body? Yes.

But I am choosing to not let it take over my life. There will never be a perfect day where I am completely satisfied with my body. 

I have also realized that, even if I lost every ounce of fat on my body, I would still not look like a supermodel. I just am not built that way. And that’s OK. I want to be healthy and strong and that is my priority at this point. 

 

 

Is GAPS the only way to lose weight or be healthy?

While I think the GAPS diet is an amazing way to heal your gut and lose weight, I don’t think it’s the only way you can achieve your health or weight loss goals. My mom has lost 20 lbs in 8 months following the Keto Diet. I know others have found healing through the AIP Protocol and SCD diet.

One thing I really like about GAPS is that it allows you a period of time where you heal your gut wall. Once you are healed, your gut is no longer “leaky” and is able to properly digest the foods you do eat. This can be a wonderful reset for your system.

Understand that following the GAPS diet is a big commitment of time and effort. You will spend many, many hours making broth, straining broth, chopping veggies, blending soups, and mixing salads. You have to be committed before you start or you will fail. But the time you spend in the kitchen will be well-spent when you start feeling healthy, thinking clearer, and seeing your kids thrive.

 

Recommended Reading

This explains everything you need to know about the GAPS diet:

This is a beautiful GAPS cookbook that helps you through each stage:

 

Feel free to share with us all in the comments what diets or protocols have helped you reach your health or weight loss goals!

Be sure to like my Facebook Page to receive updates each time I post on my blog! Thank you to each one of you reading; I really appreciate you. 

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How to Sprout Rice

How to Sprout Rice


Posted By on Aug 17, 2018 in Recipes, Sprouting | 3 comments

I’m excited to share some kitchen magic with you– sprouting rice!

Before the advent of harvesting machinery, grain was scythed and tied into sheaves. Over the next few days the bundles would sit in the field and the morning dew would help the grains germinate. Now in the days of Big Ag, conditions are much more controlled to produce a consistent product and the grain crop is cut, threshed, and shipped off to storage all in one day. This means that if you want to eat sprouted grains, you’ll need to sprout them yourself!

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

Why Should I Sprout Rice?

 

  • All grains contain something called phytic acid, which inhibits the body’s absorption of minerals. Soaking removes some of the phytic acid, but sprouting removes nearly all of it. 

 

  • Sprouted grains have more vitamin C, vitamin B, and Carotene.

 

  • Sprouted grains have many enzymes that help our digestion.

 

  • The taste of sprouted brown rice is delightful! It tasted almost cheesy and sweet.

Supplies

All you need is:

  • Brown rice (I use Lundberg brown rice.)

 

 

Note: White rice doesn’t sprout because the outer layer (bran) has been removed.

 

Instructions

Fill your jar halfway full of dry, uncooked rice. I used a half gallon mason jar and added a quart (4 cups) of dry rice.

 

 

Fill the remainder of the jar with water. 

 

 

Cover the jar with a lid (I used a solid one, but you could use your sprouting lid!) and set aside to soak for 12 hours.

 

 

After 12 hours of soaking, drain all of the water into the sink, using the sprouting lid as a strainer.

 

 

Set the jar upside down and at an angle in a bowl, so the extra water can drain as the rice sprouts. 

 

 

Rinse and drain 2-3 times a day and return it to it’s bowl each time. Wait and watch as the germ end of the rice swells and then sends out a exciting little sprout! It always feels like magic. 

You can cook it as soon as the first sprout emerges, but you can also wait several days as the sprouts get longer. It takes about 2 days for the first sprout to emerge, but you can continue to germinate it up to a week if you want to.

 

 

When you’re ready to cook the sprouted rice, pour it into a pot and cover it with water or broth in equal amount to the dry rice you started with. For example, I started with 4 cups of dry rice, so I added 4 cups of broth. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until all of the liquid is gone. Add salt to taste and enjoy! 

 

 

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A few years ago, I started making my own body products. I wasn’t being cool and zero waste, I was being cheap. But when I started to learn about the zero waste movement, my efforts ended up melding into a general combined push to not produce as much garbage in my home. This is a long process and I am certainly not anywhere near being truly zero waste, but I have definitely made progress. That’s all that counts. 

The awesome thing about zero waste is that it usually goes hand-in-hand with using more simple, healthy ingredients and less chemicals. So it’s a win-win for you and the environment!

Here are some products that I now use in my becoming-zero-waste bathroom. Some of them are homemade, some of them are store-bought.

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

Bar Soap

This is definitely not a groundbreaking idea. In fact, it’s just one of those old-school things that shouldn’t have faded. It works just as well as liquid soap, if not better. I make my own, using this recipe from The Prairie Homestead. It’s so simple and you never have to worry about your dispenser breaking. The kids also love feeling the slick bar as they roll it around in their hands!

 

Shampoo 

When I heard about shampoo bars, I thought it was such a weird idea because I had used liquid shampoo all my life. But they are actually pretty awesome and perform as well or better than liquid shampoo. It takes a little while to learn how to use them, but once you learn, they are wonderful. I make them myself, using Wellness Mama’s recipe. They are a pretty awesome alternative to bottled shampoo. It’s not totally zero waste since the soapmaking ingredients come in plastic, but it’s a fraction of the plastic use compared to store-bought shampoos. The bars have a great lather and I make it from my homemade tallow. (Same process as lard!) There are several companies that make good shampoo soaps if you’re not into making your own soap.

 

Norwex’s EnviroCloth

I was newly interested in a no-chemical life when I went to my first Norwex party and their rags totally dazzled me. They are made of mircrofiber, which grabs bacteria off your surface. Basically these rags mitigate a need for most cleaning products because all you need for cleaning is your Norwex rag and water. The EnviroCloth is their main workhorse cleaning rag, and I have really enjoyed using mine. I wash all my bathroom surfaces with the EnviroCloth and I love the way it leaves the surfaces shiny and clean. I use it with a Window Cloth to clean my bathroom mirror and it leaves it spotless. (At least until a greasy little hand comes along!)

 

Norwex’s Body Cloth

The Body Cloth is similar to the EnviroCloth, except it is smaller and thinner. I have loved mine. It is really good at removing dead skin and excess oil from the skin. Soaping your entire body every day disrupts the micro-biome (beneficial bacteria) that colonize your skin and protect you from disease. It also strips the oils from your skin, which can lead to overly dry or oily skin. Because of this rag, I’m able to get my skin clean without using soap. It makes my face feel so clean. It also helps me get a better shave on my legs.

 

Toothpaste

Toothpaste almost always comes in a plastic container. Even the “natural” ones have stuff in them that I don’t want in my mouth. We have tried many different toothpastes: Coconut oil and baking soda, just coconut oil, herbal tooth powder, and Bentonite clay powder. But whatever weird new DIY toothpaste I am trying at the moment, I always house them in the same cute little jar. We also whittle chopsticks flat on the end and scrape our teeth. This works great for a once-a-week deep clean.

 

Deodorant

I make my own deodorant and I swear by it. I mix 2 parts coconut oil with 1 part baking soda and about 10-20 drops of anti-fungal essential oil (I usually use tea tree or lavender). It is the most effective deodorant I have tried. This is also the most zero waste too, since I reuse the same little glass jar over and over. It’s a little more messy than stick deodorant because you have to apply with your fingertips, but man, does this stuff block odor. I can even spread it on after I stink and it kills the smell.

 

Conditioner

The best zero waste conditioner option I have used is a apple cider vinegar rinse. I am beyond pleased with this method and it’s so simple. Add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water. Many people apply it with a spray bottle, which worked for me until the vinegar “mother” that formed in the bottle clogged my sprayer. So… now I just unscrew the lid and dump it on my hair! I would recommend storing it in an upcycled bottle, such as a kombucha bottle or a castille soap bottle. After I pour the conditioner on my hair, I let it sit for a minute and then I rinse. It leaves my hair tangle-free and super soft. I feel the main drawback is how difficult it is to apply. It’s hard to get the right amount on my hair, not get it in my eyes, and deal with the fact that it feels really cold in the winter! But for me, it’s worth it. (Do you know of a better way to apply it? I’d love to hear in the comments below!)

 

Skincare

I’m not a fancy person and my skincare routine is very simple. Once I get out of the shower, I rub coconut oil on my face, legs, and arms and call it good. It makes my skin glow. I love how simple it is and that I don’t have to make another body product.

 

Menstrual Care

Yeah, I’m one of those people that uses a menstrual cup. I’m also one of those people who loves my menstrual cup. It feels great to not clog up the garbage can with disposable pads once a month. For leaks or light days, I have some awesome cloth pantyliners. Most disposable pads are not only super wasteful, they also have questionable ingredients, which makes me glad to wave bye-bye to Disposable-Pad-Land forever.

 

bamboo hairbrush

Hair Brush

I have used this hairbrush for about a year now and I love it. It’s made from bamboo and boar’s hair. It is so soft and goes a good job distributing the oils in my hair and fluffing it up. The kids love using it too and they fight over it when it’s time to brush their hair. Bonus! I doubles as a back scratcher! (Or at least that’s what Elsa thinks!)

Hankies

We have totally switched from tissues to hankies. I don’t see tissues as being a horrible product since they and their packaging are compostable, but they are still technically making waste. Hankies are definitely more of a hassle (just like any other washable multi-use item) but their pros far outweigh their cons. I love that they are super big and thick, so they can take on even the worst runny nose. I made some smaller ones for the kids from cute flannel fabric and they love them. They are also awesome to have in your pocket for any amount of unforeseen events (as long as they are freshly washed and not soiled yet!): Bandaging wounds, holding berries, washing faces, making a tourniquet, holding a poultice in place, a doll’s blanket… the uses are endless. I keep them in a drawer that the kids can reach. 

Ways I want to improve:

  • We are still using plastic toothbrushes and I want to buy wooden toothbrushes next time we get new brushes.
  • I use a plastic brush to clean my toilet. When it gets worn out, I want to replace it with this.
  • We still use normal floss and little plastic flossers. I’d like to switch to these.

Zero waste is always a good goal. I know it can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to change everything in one day. I want to encourage you to think about small steps you can make in your life to move towards zero waste. 

What zero waste practices do you use in your bathroom? Share in the comments below!

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Ah, tea. The ancient drink that causes us to slow down, calm our busy minds, and enjoy the here and now. It awakens all our senses: the rising steam mesmerizes, the heat warms, the smell calms, and as for the sound… to be honest, it’s usually the screaming of a forgotten kettle and me running through the house. 

We all need to slow down. The practice of putting on the kettle, waiting for the boil (obviously I need some work in this area), pouring the steaming water over healing plants, and enjoying in good company or wondrous silence— it is a good way to slow the frantic rhythm of our day and just enjoy the moment. 

There are so many ways to make tea. English breakfast tea in a teacup with cream and sugar. Herbal looseleaf tea in a favorite mug. A teabag carelessly plunked in a random mug. 

I’m going to talk about herbal tea because it is a really easy way to begin your journey as a herbalist. Herbal tea is one of the easiest herbal preparations. It is a very gentle, yet effective way of delivering herbal medicine to the body. Teas are extra effective for treating stomach, kidney, bladder, or intestine conditions because it is absorbed by the digestive system.  

 

What is tea? 

Tea, also know as an infusion, is water that has extracted the medicinal compounds out of the plant. You can make two types of infusions:

  1. Hot infusion
  2. Cold infusion

In a hot infusion (also known as hot tea), the boiling water speeds up the extraction of the plant. A cold infusion (think sun tea or iced tea) takes much more time, since the water is room temperature. It uses the power of gravity in a science called Circulatory Displacement. I don’t understand the details of it, but I have seen it at work. Once I made a cold infusion overnight and let the infuser ball drop to the bottom. In the morning, the color of the water hadn’t changed and it definitely wasn’t tea.

 

Hot infusion vs. cold infusion: which should I use?

If it’s a cold day and you want to cuddle with a mug, make a hot infusion. If it’s summer, you might want to make a cold infusion. Just remember that cold infusions take about 8 hours, so if you’re in a hurry, make a hot infusion. 

Getting more herbal-y and technical, cold infusion is good for plants that are slimy, or demulcent (such as Marshmallow or Slippery Elm), since the boiling water will make them coagulate into a hopeless mess. It is also a gentler way to extract from plants that have volatile oils (such as mint or blossoms). 

Whatever method you use just remember this: don’t use one herb longer than 12 weeks without a break, because your body begins to ignore it and it isn’t as effective as it was in the beginning. Our body likes to be surprised by changes in food and medicine.

 

Loose tea vs. tea bags

Tea bags are a great way to go if you’re starting out but aren’t committed to tea-making. I like Traditional Medicinals’ lineup of herbal teas. But if you want to save money and reduce waste, loose-leaf tea is the way to go. A box of tea bags costs about $4 and contains a little more than a 1/4 cup of herbs. Loose leaf teas from Mountain Rose Herbs are about $10 for a cup of herbs. You can get such a superior quality for about half the cost! Another good reason to use loose-leaf tea is that you end up with more small bits of the plants, which feed the good bacteria in your gut. This allows your gut to absorb even more of the nutrients from your cup of tea.

 

Supplies

  • Tea kettle (or a saucepan) for boiling water
  • A favorite mug
  • A infuser (I use this one from Amazon, and these are really fun for kids!)
  • Herbs or herbal blend of choice (I use herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and they make wonderful tea blends too).

 

How to make a hot infusion 

To make a cup of hot tea, bring water to a boil.

While it is heating up, put 1-2 Tablespoons of loose herb in your infuser. For a pot, use 4-5 Tablespoons of herb or more, depending on how big your pot is.

Once the water is almost boiling, pour it over your herbs and cover. This keeps the volatile oils from escaping. Let it stand anywhere from 10-30 min. The longer it infuses, the more medicine extracts from the plant. I usually let it infuse until it’s a good drinking temperature. Use it within 24 hours. 

How to make a cold infusion

Put 1 Tablespoon per cup of water in your vessel (I use a mason jar).

I totally made this wrong for the pictures. I put 1T for 1 quart of water. I should have done 4T. Duh.

My helper is cute, but as you can tell from the herbs scattered on the table, he is not super helpful quite yet. Oh well, he will be in a few years.

Make sure the infuser is hanging so gravity can pull out the constituents. Let it sit for 8 hours. I usually make it in the evening and Trent takes it to work with him in the morning. Use within 24 hours.

Keep herbalism alive and make a cup of tea today!

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