Digging up the Roots

Discovering the Wisdom of the Past


Big Trent and little Trent sanding some cutting boards.

One evening this week, we all ended up in the tiny house together as Trent sanded some cutting boards. Right now, there is building materials and tools everywhere, which makes it not such a great hanging out spot, but we seem to manage. I can’t imagine how big the house will feel once it is finished and the tools are out!

Kitchen taking shape!

The kitchen cabinets are coming together! It will be a u-shaped kitchen at the end of the house. Right under the window will be the sink; you can see the drain pipe and PEX water pipes waiting. Ironically, I think this kitchen will have more counter space than our 800-sq-ft rental house! I know it will be much more custom and functional. I cook almost all the food we eat, so a good kitchen is important to me.

The kids always find something to play with! You don’t need much more than some wood chips and a few dolls to be happy at their age.

Our wood stove is so good at heating the house. We are very pleased. It gives such a deeply warm heat, like only a wood stove can.

We are getting very excited to live in our new home.

Read More

It took me almost a year, but I finally finished the braided wool rug for the tiny house! I really am not a crafty person and have not finished any large handicraft projects, so I was not prepared for how proud of the finished product I would feel! It all started last Christmas when my sister Karen gave me wool strips from the Pendleton Outlet store in Portland. She brought the most humongous bag and pretended like it was nothing and that she had just tossed some change out to get it, but I know it was a rather costly gift.

 

 

I stripped the wool into 2-inch wide strips as we sat in front of the fire at our beach rental at Christmastime last year. It was a cozy project and a wonderful memory.

 

Braids ready to be stitched into a rug!

 

As winter wore on and spring began to come, I braided and braided. Braided while we watched movies. Braided while I talked to Trent after the kids went to bed. Braided while I listened to podcasts during the day.

When I reached the end of one colored strip, I would stitch on another strip of the same color. As I braided, I rolled the ends of the strips under so the fraying edges wouldn’t show and the top of the rug would be smooth.

All summer and into the fall, I stitched the braids together. This was the most time-consuming of all. As the rug grew larger, it became really hard to manage. Instead of sitting on the floor and working around the rug, I insisted on having it on my lap. This turned out to be a mistake.

 

It’s a braided wool boat!

 

We watched YouTube videos about forest kindergartens as I stitched the last stitch. I couldn’t wait to lay it all out and admire it.

I laid it out and… aughhhhh! It was more suited for being a braided wool boat! Disaster!

My mind started to wander to worst case scenario. What if I have to rip out 6 months of stitching?

I just about cried.

 

 

But thankfully, after a little soak in the bathtub and some stretching and pulling to the edges and a little smooshing to the middle… it laid flat!

 

 

And what a beautiful rug it is! I can’t wait to set it in front of the couch, light a fire in the stove, and curl up with some tea.

I also have some dreams of always taking it with us, no matter what house we live in. I hope someday my grandkids will play on it.

Thanks Karen for the wool. You’ll be with us wherever we go.

 

Read More

Yes, we made our mattress. And it’s stuffed with straw, like pilgrims.

We knew we needed a new bed since Trent’s and my loft in the tiny house is smaller than a queen sized mattress. When we started looking at different mattress styles, we learned about Japanese futons. I loved how eco-friendly and simple they are, but I still couldn’t bring myself to spend somewhere around $500 on something I will lay on to sleep.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea of the straw mattress… probably Trent, since he comes up with all of our far-fetched ideas so far. When we realized we could possibly make a great sleeping surface for just a few dollars, we couldn’t NOT try it and see if it would work.

There isn’t much information about making a straw mattress on the internet, but I did find this blog post. Sometimes it’s just nice to see that you’re not the only person doing something. I sewed basically a large pillowcase of old sheets together. I think the dimensions are about 5’x6.5′. I re-enforced the top layer with an old hospital-style blanket that is thick and tightly woven.

 

Me, with my creation- the cover for the bed.

 

Then, we bought a very large bale of straw for $10. That was the only money we spent on the whole project. Trent fluffed up the straw, I put it in the cover, and Wade held it open for me.

 

Me stuffing the tick with Wade’s help.

 

Trent used a little punch to make snaps for the end. I’m not claiming to have made a great product here and the little flap on the end is super funky and looks like a old-fashioned pair of pajamas with the drop-seat bottoms. But hey, it seems to work and it’s covered with sheets the whole time.

 

Trent added snaps to the end

 

Then we were left with this funny lumpy mass. But I knew a few small people that could take care of THAT problem for me!

 

Funny lumpy mess

 

If there’s one thing my kids love to do, it’s JUMP!!! They had that thing flattened in no time!

 

Jumping it flat!

 

And here is the final product! We will be able to sleep on it for several months before we move into the tiny house, which will give us time to figure out whether we like it.

 

 

So how has it been so far? To be honest, it’s good, but it’s also a bit of an adjustment. Here are my pros and cons so far:

Pros:

  • It smells like straw!
  • It makes me not want to stay in bed when I wake up.
  • It seems to be making my back more strong (There have been studies that prove that sleeping on hard surfaces helps to realign the back.)
  • You make a nest or indentation for your body at the beginning of the night and that feels strangely nice and primal
  • It’s simple, cheap, and compostable!!

 

Cons:

  • The straw compresses a lot when you sleep on it. It’s not a soft, fluffy bed at all.
  • It’s a little extra work to fluff it up and to make a little nest at night.
  • We will need to change the straw from time to time.

 

Time will tell how we like it, but overall, I do like it so far. And you can’t beat spending $10 for a eco-friendly mattress!

*UPDATE*

We have been sleeping on the mattress for about 3 weeks now, and we still love it! It has actually helped reduce my lower back pain/weakness, which I have been thankful for! We each have a little “nest” where we sleep that is contoured to our body.

Read More

Our tiny house feels a little more like home now. This weekend, Trent and I installed the Cubic Mini wood stove in the tiny house.

This is the cutest stove ever. It measures 11 x 12″ and takes mini firewood pieces, but this thing can crank some serious heat. Trent worked hard to make sure the tiny house was as insulated as possible, and it shows in the way it holds the heat that the wood stove puts out.

But let’s back up a little bit and see what the wood stove is sitting on.

 

Trent made a cabinet and covered it with pallet wood that he had stained a deep brown.

 

 

Then, Trent poured a mix of concrete and pebbles into a form. Once it had dried, he polished it with dramatic side lighting.

 

 

This is what it looks like now that it’s polished. Wow.

 

 

Here is the Cubic Mini, installed in its cozy corner. I think the combination of stainless steel, brass, concrete, and cedar tongue-and-groove looks absolutely stunning.

 

 

And strangely, having the stove installed makes the tiny house feel more like a home. I can easily imagine sitting at the table doing school with the kids on a snowy day, with the wood stove adding cheery fire sounds. I can also imagine a cold winter evening, perhaps with a few Christmas decorations up, playing music and enjoying the glow of the fire.

I can’t hardly wait for those days. But for now, it keeps Trent warm while he works on the house, which is a welcome addition.

Are you interested in following every step of our journey? Be sure to like our Facebook page and sign up for email updates. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Read More

She’s sitting outside in the grass, playing with her Barbies. The November sun shines off her golden-white hair. Her body is grounded to the Earth’s electricity. Her skin is soaking up vitamin D. She is playing alone, which is a wonderful new advancement for this 3-year-old. She helps the Barbies dig at the Earth and is experiencing the wonderful, magnificent world of imagination. 

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

I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of kids exploring the outside lately. It seems to be taking over my mind, and the more I’ve researched it, the more important it has proven to be.

One excellent study was conducted in Portugal found that these three things contributed greatly to learning and development:

1. Contact with natural elements

Nature is a wonderland of ever-changing scenery as the weather and seasons change, as bugs crawl around, and birds fly overhead… there is always something changing outside to capture kids’ minds. It is also a source of “open-ended materials”, such as rocks, sticks, bodies of water, bark, lichen, moss, dirt, and leaves. These materials can have numerous uses assigned to them. Sticks can be people. Rocks can be cars. Moss can be a ladybug’s bed. This helps kids develop creativity, thinking outside the box, and problem solving skills. 

 

2. Importance of risk

Our culture is so safety conscious, it’s starting the feel like we should bubble-wrap our kids to keep them from ALL danger. While the job of parent is to keep your kid from danger, we cannot insulate them from all pain. Risk-taking is a important part of the human experience. Kids need the stress of risk and the joy of achievement. According to the study, risky play promotes persistence, entrepreneurship, self-knowledge, and problem solving. Know your kid and what they can and can’t do physically. Teach them to trust their instincts and assess their own risk, for example, say, “Do you think you are able to climb that tree? Climb slowly and if you feel unsafe, don’t go any higher!” This teaches them to listen to their senses and make their own decisions, and of course you are standing by to help them if they get in a pickle. 

 

 

3. Socialization opportunities

When kids are in a natural environment, they are faced with challenges and risk, which is a good opportunity to learn a variety of social skills with other kids. They can work together to build a stick fort or help another kid climb on a log. I also feel like kids are more verbal when they are outside, and more likely to talk and exchange ideas with their siblings or friends. 

As I’ve said before, being outdoors is very important to our family, especially as we prepare to live in a tiny house. Our house will be small, but their “playroom” will be very, very large.

If you have a habit of letting your kids interact with nature, good work! It will pay off in so many ways. Childhood is for play and so is the outdoors. I feel such a concern for the modern kid, made to sit for so many hours each day and snatched away from nature.

Now, as I look out the window, her older sister and brother have joined her and they have a grand spread of Barbies in the grass. True to the research, they are engaged with the changeable outdoors as they move around grass and dirt, they are imagining, and they are building their social skills as they work together to make a good home for their Barbies. Soon they will be adults with worries and heartaches, but for today, they are kids and they are playing.

 

 

For more reading on this subject…

This scientific study is very intriguing.

This book is excellent. It’s probably the best book I’ve ever read:

Read More

It’s been cold and grey lately and I feel the seasons changing. We have had a lovely, colorful fall with a lot of sunny days. But Fall is giving way to Winter. The darker, more thoughtful days are here. It’s time for us to spend more time inside and catch up on some more quiet, indoor projects.

But with this season always comes the dreaded cold and flu season. It’s been so bad in the last few years. I’d started to have a deathly fear of it until we started to learn more about the immune system and wellness. I had begun to think the bugs are getting worse and worse each year, but now I’m pretty sure it’s just our immune systems that are getting worse and worse. Of course, I’m not a doctor and don’t understand all the details about these things, but it certainly can’t hurt to approach the cold and flu season from a different angle:

Don’t fear it, fight it. Don’t let it happen to you, let you happen to it. Strengthen your body so you don’t get it in the first place.

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

In order to strengthen our immune systems, we take some things away from our bodies and we add some things to our body.

Sugar, sugar, sugar. Ahhhh! It’s causing so much harm to the world. We take as much sugar as we can out of our diet. This goes a long way to helping us stay strong.

And as for what we add? Here it is.

Thieves Oil

This is the legendary blend of essential oils that was originally mixed by a group of marauders during the Black Plague that looted the plague victims’ homes. The blends of spices and oils that they rubbed on their bodies before looting kept them safe from the bacteria.

Young Living has their take of these spices in a essential oil blend called “Thieves”. This is an awesome blend and I love it. But because I’m super cheap, I just can’t spend the money they want for that oil, so I’ve blended my own.

There are lots of recipes out there with different proportions of oils, but the main components that all these recipes have in common are lemon, rosemary, eucalyptus, cinnamon bark, and clove. I make it from Mountain Rose Herbs organic essential oils, and I also love their recipe. They have good, clear instructions on usage and safety.

This oil smells wonderful and spicy and Christmasy. I add it to the kids’ bath, rub it on our feet, and diffuse it.

 

Rosehip Tincture

This is something I kind of came up with on my own. I found out that most vitamin C supplements are incomplete and not very usable by the body. It actually takes nutrients from your body to process it. Oh my! I really wanted a good source of vitamin C, and was interested in rosehips, since they have 10-50 times more vitamin C than oranges. But heat destroys vitamin C, so making tea was out of the question.

I decided to make a rosehip tincture. There is some information about this on the internet and in books, but not much. It seems to work great for us and as an added bonus, the kids love it. The tincture turns out tasting somewhat like a syrup and the kids beg for it.

**edited to add** Here’s how I make the tincture:

The basics are that I mix dried rosehips with vodka. You could use glycerin instead of vodka if you are concerned about alcohol.

I usually fill a pint canning jar halfway with dried herbs, then fill it to the top with vodka. For the tincture pictured below, I did the same thing, but I used a quart jar for some reason.

I store it in a dark cupboard and shake it every day for 4-6 weeks. Once the tincture is done, I strain out the marc, or solid chunks of herb, and bottle the finished tincture!

This is a great article about tinctures, glycerites, and vinegars.

 

 

Cod Liver Oil

This stuff is so good for you. It’s rich in vitamins A and D, as well as Omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 Fatty Acids. It’s good for your mood, skin, bones, and teeth.

But vitamin D is also important in immune function. I think that’s why the flu hits so bad in the winter; we aren’t getting much sunshine and our bodies get depleted of vitamin D. Sunshine is an awesome way to get vitamin D, but in the winter, this is super important that we take this supplement. We use the Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil. The kids love the Cinnamon Tingle flavor. It’s spendy, but it lasts a long time and is worth every drop. It’s cheaper than getting dental work done!

Elderberries

I was able to forage a ton of elderberries this summer, and I’ve preserved them to use for this winter. I froze some for fresh eating and dried some for making syrup.

Elderberries are a powerful plant ally that offer antibacterial and antiviral properties and have been used for a very, very long time by many generations of humans. They have been known to kill the H1N1 virus, and in addition to that, they have been found to reduce the severity and length of a cold. Get to know this plant; it is here to help you!

 

 

I’ve enjoyed sharing how we prepare for cold and flu season. A healthy immune system is a central to a wonderful, healthy body, so don’t underestimate it! Share with us in the comments what you do to ward off sickness!

If you are interested in keeping up with the progress we are making on the tiny house, be sure to like my Facebook page. I post (nearly) weekly pictures of our progress. I will be blogging more about this journey in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Read More
Why Do We Wear Moccasins?

Why Do We Wear Moccasins?


Posted By on Oct 25, 2018 in Health | 0 comments

For a year now, Trent and I have both been wearing leather-soled moccasins. They are pretty cute and they are super comfy. I absolutely love wearing them!

But they are more than a style statement. We wear them to be in connection with the earth’s electricity, which is called grounding or earthing. 

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

Our electrical body

Let me explain a little about the science behind grounding.

Our bodies have an electrical charge. The earth also has an electrical charge. Our bodies are healthiest when they are the same electrical charge as the earth. In order to equalize the charge in our body, we have to touch the earth. 

This is where the problem sets in: many of us don’t touch the earth in the course of the day. We live in a house off the ground, we wear rubber-soled shoes, and we don’t usually touch plants or the ground. When we live our life like this, our body builds up a positive charge, which isn’t good for our health. We start to get inflammation, our blood is more viscous, and we tend to have more chronic pain.

But when we go barefoot, touch plants, or touch the ground, our body immediately starts working better. The earth is a powerful, free natural medicine. These are some of the benefits:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced chronic pain
  • Better blood flow
  • Reduced stress
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Increased wound healing

Who doesn’t want that?!? The longer sessions we can have of being in connection with the earth’s energy, the better it is for our body. But even a short touch to a green plant leaf will have some health benefits. 

These are some of the substances that conduct electricity:

  • Metal
  • Water
  • Leather
  • Natural fibers (such as wool)

These don’t conduct electricity:

  • Wood
  • Rocks
  • Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Clothes made of synthetic fibers (which is pretty much all clothes, unfortunately)

 

 

Our grounding experience

Ever since we heard about grounding, Trent and I have been intrigued by the idea. It is such a simple concept that makes a lot of sense.

For a year now, I have been wearing leather-soled moccasins, in addition to going barefoot whenever I can. My feet are stronger, I am more aware of the surfaces I am walking on, my feet feel more free, and I stand up straighter when I wear my moccasins. I can run really fast in them, too! On top of all that, I love the way they look.

Beyond just going barefoot or wearing moccasins, there are a lot of things you can do to connect yourself with the earth. There are many products at The Earthing Store that can connect your body with the earth when you are inside working or sleeping. There are grounding sheets, pads, blankets, and bracelets.

We have been using grounding bracelets on our ankles while we sleep for about a year. To be honest, they are a little annoying. We just went with this option because we are super cheap and this was the cheapest option. But it is worth it to me to wear them because I know for a fact that I sleep more deeply and peacefully when I wear it. (When my kids let me sleep deeply and peacefully, that is.) It is great to ground while you sleep, because it helps your body as it renews cells overnight.

I can’t say grounding has changed our lives, but I do believe it is one thing in many that we practice to maintain good health.

 

Buy the shoes!

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to buy moccasins from the Etsy shop that we got ours from… Check out this shop. Gary does excellent work and has great customer service. They are the best, most unique shoes you will ever buy. This is not sponsored– I just really love his product.

 

 

 

 

 

These sandals are a good summertime option if you want to be grounded, but not barefoot.

Read the book

 

Watch the movie

 

 

I hope you enjoy discovering this wonderful concept and how it applies to your life. There is so much more to this world than we can see with our eyes… and I find that so wonderful and mysterious.

Read More

Ok, I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again. Plastic takes 1,000 to turn into dirt, folks. It is filling our landfills and polluting our oceans. It needs to be used moderately. Single-use plastic is so sad to me because it never has a chance to have a second life. Food packaging is the worst when it comes to single-use plastic, so this is why it is so important to evaluate this part of our life as a consumer.

Ever since I have become aware of plastic in my life, I have been trying to use less and less of it. I even stopped shopping at Costco as somewhat of a cultural statement– I want to be conscious of my plastic usage. I’m going to share with you some things I do to reduce my plastic consumption.

I don’t want you to think I am some zero waste goddess that never uses plastic, though. It is pretty much unavoidable to use some plastic. The point I hope to make, though, is that it is super important that we try to reduce our usage. My goal is to always be a little better than the year before.

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

 

Reusable produce bags

Use reusable produce bags

There are a lot of reasons I like reusable produce bags. First, they look cool. Second, they help reduce single use plastic consumption and garbage. Third, its just not cool to eat food out of a plastic bag. They are affordable and really handy. There are a lot of styles you can choose from. I bought these but I think if I could go back and choose different ones, I would get these or these.

 

Use reusable shopping bags

These really help cut down waste, and they are sturdier and don’t tear. Plus… they make you look super hip and cool.

Don’t buy processed food

Processed foods use so much plastic! It always amazes me how much they manage to use. The food isn’t good for you and the packaging isn’t good for the planet! This is probably the most important tip. If you can cut processed foods from your diet, you will drastically reduce your single-use plastic consumption, and you might find yourself feeling better too!

 

peanut butter

Grind your nut butter

Several grocery stores offer a on-site nut-grinding service free of charge. The store I visit lets me bring my mason jars from home, making it a waste-free situation! I always weigh the jars at home before I go. Once I’m at the store, I grind peanut butter right into the jars, then tell the cashier when I check out how much the jars weighed when they were empty. We eat a lot of nut butter, so it really helps cut down our plastic usage.

 

bulk

Use the bulk section

I make use of my reusable produce bags when I get beans and grains from the bulk section of the grocery store. Another alternative to this would be to purchase dry goods from a company like Azure Standard, where they often come packaged in large paper bags.

 

Make Lard

Lots of oils come in thick plastic containers, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and vegetable oil. A lot of times, these containers are also hard to reuse. By making lard, I am reducing my plastic consumption and giving my family a good-quality fat with lots of the fat-soluble vitamins our bodies need. Learn how to make it here.

I hope these tips help you get started on your zero waste journey!

Be sure to like my Facebook page for updates each time I post, as well as weekly photo updates on our tiny house progress! I hope you’ll join in our journey as we finish the last stages of our tiny house!

Read More