Easy, No Sew Kitchen Scrubbies from Produce Bags

Don't toss those mesh produce bags! Upcycle them into free, easy to make, no sew kitchen scrubbies.

So many types of produce come in mesh bags – from onion sets to citrus fruits.  I hate to just throw them out, and I can only reuse so many for storage, so I decided to upcycle some of the produce bags into easy, no sew kitchen scrubbies.  If you have more than you can use yourself, they also make a nice addition to a natural cleaning gift basket.  I found that four mesh bags from oranges made a firm scrubbie that fit well in my hand.

How to Make Kitchen Scrubbies from Produce Bags

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Best Ever Cornbread Recipe

Best Ever Cornbread recipe with Gram Irene's Secret Ingredient - always moist and delicious.

Whenever I make homemade baked beans, I always make up a batch or two of cornbread to go with them.  We call it “cowboy food”, although I’m sure the cowboy version would have been a lot simpler and probably not nearly as tasty.

I got this recipe from my mom (Irene), after having tried it at her place and commenting on how good it was.  The texture is great – really moist and tender, not dry and gritty.  The “secret” is in the sour cream.  I’m sure you could make it with whole wheat flour, although I admit, I normally use white or a gluten free blend like Namaste.  I recommend full fat dairy, organic if you have it. [Read more…]

How to Put Up a Snow Fence

How to Put Up Snow Fence - Install Snow Fence to Keep Your Driveway Clear

When I was a little girl up in northwest Wisconsin, we had a lot of Big Snow winters.  The snow started early and lasted all winter long. (Sound familiar?)  The country roads cut through massive snow banks that my friends and I would build tunnels through.  (We always used the buddy system so someone was on the outside to watch for the plow or dig you out if needed.)  One year I made several snow carvings of different animals, each about 5 feet tall – a duck, a horse, a swan – it seems there were others, but I can’t remember now.  Cars would slow down as they passed mom’s place, trying to figure out what those odd shapes were back off the road. 

One of the other fixtures I remember from years ago was grandma’s snow fence.  Grandma had a fairly long, thin driveway, and without the snow fence, I’m sure it would have been blown shut more often than not.  When my brother bought grandma’s place, he planted a treeline where the snowfence had been, which now protects the driveway like the fence protected it for grandma – probably even better.

One of the first things we did when we moved here was to plant windbreak trees, but they’ll take a while to grow.  Like grandma, we have a long, narrow driveway – except it’s even longer than grandma’s was.  Unlike my brother, Rich, we can’t plant trees parallel to it along the whole length, because part of the land upwind from it belongs to our neighbor. 

After spending many days last winter literally stuck at home because the driveway drifted shut almost as soon as it was plowed (see the driveway in the post, ‘The Long Winter), we decided that this year we were going to put up a snow fence in an attempt to keep the driveway passable.  Since my husband will be home again this winter instead of working out of town (yeah!), he needs to be able to get out reliably to get to work.  Our neighbor used a short section of snow fence for one of his worst drifting spots last winter and it worked well, so he was cool with us running fencing through his field just for the winter.  (He does our plowing, too, so I know he’d appreciate it if the driveway stayed plowed for a while.)  In this post I’ll discuss why and how snow fence is used, so you can decide if you’d like to use it for your home. [Read more…]

How to Make Money Homesteading

How to Make Money Homesteading So You Can Enjoy a Secure, Self-Sufficient Life

How to Make Money Homesteading So You Can Enjoy a Secure, Self-Sufficient Life

How to Make Money Homesteading So You Can Enjoy a Secure, Self-Sufficient Life” is a new book by Tim Young, author of The Accidental Farmers: An urban couple, a rural calling and a dream of farming in harmony with nature.  Tim and his wife, Liz, farm at Nature’s Harmony Farm in Elberton, Georgia, where they currently focus on artisan cheesemaking.

One of the most memorable passages in the book (to me) is where Tim discusses the role of money in our lives:

I suspect what we really want is not money.  Rather, we simply desire increased freedom…the ability to do more of what we want, when we want, without our time (labor) being controlled by someone else.  And since most of use were born into a world centered on money, we seem to believe the path to this increased freedom is having more of it.

He goes on to discuss ways to reduce our expenses, which to my mind is a common sense choice for most of us who wish to have greater financial freedom.

Pros About How to Make Money Homesteading

  • Suggestions for Reducing Expenses and Eliminating Debt
  • Many, many ideas for income streams – from those that require larger acreage to those that can be done in a small home or apartment
  • Interviews with real homesteaders are various stages in their homesteading journeys
  • Personalized Homestead Entrepreneurial Life Plan Template to help your organize your homestead income making ideas

Each of the 18 interviews includes the following questions/information:

  • Name
  • Location
  • If you left a “real job” prior to breaking away to become more self-sufficient, what was it?
  • Homestead/Farm Highlights
  • What inspired (or scared) you into pursuing a more self-sufficient lifestyle?
  • What were your criteria when looking for land?  how did you make your choice?
  • What are your income streams now?
  • Why did you choose these income streams?
  • How did you acquire the knowledge/skill to generate income this way?
  • If starting over again on the path to self-sufficiency, what would you do differently?
  • If relevant, what do you miss about city/urban life…you know, the “real” world?
  • Finally, what advice do you have for someone considering leaving a “real job” to become more self-sufficient?

This information can help readers to see if a similar option may work for them in their area/circumstances.

Cons About How to Make Money Homesteading

I’m always a fan of photos, so I would love to see the small black and white images replaced by color, but that doesn’t significantly impact the utility of the book.  I was also hoping to see more interviewees who were making a full time income off their homesteads.  Instead, most are still working full time away from home.  Hard numbers would be great, too, although I realize most people would be uncomfortable sharing that information.  There’s a better breakdown of potential hourly wages from various homesteading income sources in The Weekend Homesteader.

To Summarize:  If you’re stumped for ideas for possible revenue streams to fund your homesteading dreams, this book is chock full of possibilities.

Win a Copy of How to Make Money Homesteading

Tim in sponsoring this review and giveaway.  One Common Sense Homesteading reader will win their very own copy of “How to Make Money Homesteading”.  Just use the rafflecopter widget below.  Leave a blog post comment, sharing your ideas for making money homesteading or the challenges you face working to create an income.  Good luck to everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All entrants must be over 18 years of age.  Contest sponsored by Tim Young.  Open to residents of the United States only.  Winners will be chosen within 48 hours of contest completion.  If winner does not claim prize within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.  Retail value of prize is $9.86.  Contest ends 11/24/2014 at 12:00 CST.

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Preparing for Cold and Flu Season with Essential Oils

Preparing for Cold and Flu Season with Essential Oils - How to use essential oils as germ fighters and immune system boosters.

This week’s installment on prepping for cold and flu season is a guest post by my friend, Jo, from Jo’s Health Corner.  Jo has a TON of great information on her site about using essential oils, and she’s shared some of her experience preparing for cold and flu season with essential oils.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are concentrated extracts that have been distilled from aromatic trees, herbs, and grasses. They are located in leaves, stems, fruits, roots, flowers, and bark of different plants. The essential oils are responsible for the plant’s unique aroma. [Read more…]