Living in a Concrete Bunker – Our Insulated Concrete Form Home – Part 2 of 2

Living in a Concrete Bunker @ Common Sense Homesteading

What’s it really like living in a concrete bunker? This is part two of a two part post on our ICF (insulated concrete form) home. In this post I’ll discuss how much energy is saved (for heating and cooling) by using ICF construction, costs, whether is suitable for the do-it-yourselfer, and how an ICF home performs during emergencies. Read part 1 here.

Exactly how much energy can be saved with ICF construction?

[Read more…]

Fight Rising Home Heating Costs – 5 Facts You Should Know About Wood Heat

Dry, seasoned fire wood

With gas prices rising, it’s only a matter of time before the cost of petroleum home heat fuels follows suit.  If you’ve been considering wood heat but didn’t know where to get started, here are a few basics you should consider

Wood Heating Basics –

Getting Started with Wood Heat for Your Home

You Must have an Ample Supply of Clean, Dry Wood [Read more…]

The Best Natural Shower Cleaner


My favorite shower cleaner

Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different “natural” shower cleaners, and most of them just haven’t worked very well, or have required large amounts of elbow grease.  As luck would have it, I tried another cleaner when it was on sale through our local buying club and finally found a winner. [Read more…]

Practical Feng Shui

feng shui basics

Plants, less clutter and abundant natural light are all parts of feng shui

I use feng shui in my home and had been planning to write a post on it for some time.  As luck would have it, I was contacted by Michael Schnippering of Feng Shui at Work, who asked about writing a guest post.  So, for those who aren’t familiar with feng shui, here’s a little taste to get your started with practical feng shui for your home.

What’s “feng shui”?

Maybe you’ve heard of the term “feng shui” – maybe not.

The online dictionary defines feng shui as “the Chinese art of determining the most propitious design and placement of a grave, building, room, etc., so that the maximum harmony is achieved between the flow of chi of the environment and that of the user, believed to bring good fortune.”

Some snub this practice as nothing more than mystical hocus pocus.  The fact that it has been consistently used for so many generations validates it as a viable life tool. Choosing to make use of this will benefit your home, family, mind, and wellbeing in numerous practical ways.

How does feng shui work?

There are several levels of feng shui, from simple to complex. It is these advanced forms of feng shui that tend to scare people away from every attempting to make use of the ancient practice. But there are multiple tenets that are easy to perform from which a homeowner can benefit greatly. Most of these simply consist of wholesome, healthy living.

First – Clear the Clutter

The first rule of feng shui involves purging the home of unloved things. This is simply getting rid of clutter you never use or do not need. The fact is that this is a chore most people desperately need to get done anyway. Getting rid of clutter functions both literally and symbolically. Think of it as therapy. Letting go of things that remind you of painful or negative experiences will liberate your mind as well as your space. In feng shui, clearing clutter prepares the way for harmonious energy to enter.

Second – Surround Yourself with Positive Things

Another aspect of feng shui involves surrounding oneself with pleasing and beautiful things. This does not mean filling your home with expensive décor. Rather this element of feng shui is concerned with finding the things you value regardless of their monetary worth. This might include special gifts you received from loved ones or souvenirs from a family trip you associate good memories with. These are the beautiful, positive things of life that should inhabit your living space that will help bring good chi (the universal energy that permeates everything in the world).

Third – Bring in Air and Light

Next, a homeowner must fill the de-cluttered space with good air and good light. In feng shui this step is essential to chi as it prepares a place for this energy. Open the curtains to allow natural light in versus lamps. Make a habit of opening windows to regularly allow fresh air into the home.

You might even consider acquiring air purifying plants (like the Lady Palm or Bamboo Palm) to the space or using an air-purifier. Practically speaking, this step provides a healthier habitat for you and your family that includes fresh air and the vitamin D in sunlight. In these ways, feng shui marries tradition and practicality for better living.

This is a guest post by Michael Schnippering.  Michael is the founder of Feng Shui at Work. He is committed to the true art and science of Feng Shui. Over the years his Feng Shui practice has taken him to various parts of the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Colombia and Argentina. If you’d like to learn more about Feng Shui, read Michael’s blog and follow him on Twitter @fengshuiatwork

How to Build a Rain Barrel, Plus Care and Maintenance

How to Build a Rain Barrel, Plus Care and Maintenance - Collect Rainwater for your Yard and Garden

Last spring, I finally asked my friend, Bob, who does handyman work, to help build some rain barrels.  I had actually acquired two food grade 55 gallon drums from the meat shop just a couple miles down the road shortly after we moved here, but they had been living in my greenhouse waiting patiently for installation.  Make sure you use FOOD GRADE BARRELS, not barrels that may have contained toxic substances.

We decided to located the rain barrels under the stairs so they would be out of the way, but still close to the greenhouse and garden.  Say “Hi”, Bob. [Read more…]