About Common Sense Home – Who We Are and What We Do
Common Sense Home is about using sound judgment to be more self-reliant. It means doing what you can, where you are, with what you have.
We'll cover topics such as:
- Food Storage
- Home Remedies and Natural Health
- Wildcrafting (Using wild plants for food and medicine)
- Homesteading, such as chickens
- Green Home Building and Remodeling
- Book and Product Reviews
- Recipes and much more
Being self-reliant isn't about trying to tackle everything on your own, it's about building community and helping out each other. We look forward to growing and learning with you!
Laurie Neverman is the creator of Common Sense Home (formerly Common Sense Homesteading). She was raised on a small dairy farm in northwest Wisconsin, and worked in the family catering business as her summer job through high school and college. She has a BS in Math/ Physics and an MS in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in renewable energy.
Her gardening adventures include companion planting, wildcrafting (using weeds for food and medicine), vertical gardening, herbalism and permaculture. Her family’s Green Built certified home includes an attached greenhouse, root cellar and canning pantry, which extend the growing season and allow them to store food for year round use. She hasn’t found a wild edible she wouldn’t try (including quackgrass wine), and grows over 100 varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers in her garden each year.
Laurie was a professional caterer during the summer months of high school and college, and earned her bachelors degree in math/physics and her masters in mechanical engineering with an emphasis in renewable energy. Before coming home to raise her family, she operated the world's largest solar water heating system. Learn More About Laurie Neverman.
August Neverman is the Broadband and BCCAN Director for Brown County, WI.
August has experience with: emergency preparedness, all things I/T releated, cyber security, and building design and architecture.
August designed both our homes and has assisted on the design of other homes. August was the CIO for Brown County for 7 years, the I/T Director for the Medical College of Wisconsin for 5 years, and 16 years in I/T with Hospital Sisters Health System. He served 9 years in the Minnesota Air National Guard, which included emergency response training and cyber security work. He has a bachelors in Management Information Systems and a minor in Physics from the University of Wisconsin Superior.
August and Laurie live with their two sons in a Green Built, Energy Star certified home with a permaculture twist in Northeast Wisconsin.
You can reach us via email at laurie at commonsensehome dot com. We do not accept unsolicited guest posts. Visit here for advertising inquiries.
Learn More About Our Homestead
Our Homestead – Then and Now – How Things Have Changed
Just in case you're wondering what that plant is at the left of the new Common Sense Home logo, it's common plantain, Plantago major.
My grandmother used to call it medicine leaf, and it was one of the first wild plants (weeds) that I learned to use. I chose as a reminder that the help you need might be found where you least expect it, and that although everyone may not be able to grow a huge garden, almost everyone can grow weeds – or find them in the wild – and put them to good use. 🙂 Self-reliance is about using what you have, wherever you are.
Other Common Sense Home Writers
Laurie Neverman's brother, Richard Poplawski. Since his service in the Marines, Rich has been a mechanic, fabricator and “fix just about anything” guy for over 20 years. He lives in northwest Wisconsin in the farmhouse that was owned by his grandparents, and maintains a large orchard and perennial plantings, as well as a vegetable garden. He loves spending time with his grandkids, introducing them to gardening or getting in some fishing with “Papa Rich”.
Debra Ahrens lives with her family on a five acre hobby farm in northeastern Wisconsin which she often describes as ‘short on hobby, long on farm'. Besides the School of Hard Knocks (Life), she attended UW-River Falls, majoring in Dairy Science. Along with her husband Jerry and their three youngest daughters, they raise every kind of domestic poultry known to man, and maybe a few that shouldn't be known. Their furry animal family includes a flock of Suffolk sheep, dairy goats, a few rabbits, their dog and a lone beef heifer, Thelma. In her spare time, Debra is a poultry and sheep project leader for Kewaunee County 4-H.
Amber Bradshaw of My Homestead Life.
Amber and her family moved from their tiny homestead by the ocean in South Carolina to forty-six acres in the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee.
While building their off-the-grid homestead, they live like the days of old – cooking without electricity, collecting water from the creek and raising chickens, goats, pigs, turkeys, bees, and guineas. They've recently filmed their journey for a TV show on the Discovery Channel and the DIY Network/HGTV called Building Off The Grid: The Smokey Mountain Homestead.
was wondering if you have a newsletter I can sign up for? or if there was some way I could stay connected to your website…etc…so enjoyed looking around….Thank-you…
LaLonnie – I think I’ve got the rss feed transferred and updated. Hopefully this will work! So much to learn on WordPress. just switched over from blogger this week.
Just purchased a little over a quarter section out here in Canada. Getting ready to retire after many years of saving for our little ranch. Chickens are the first on our list so really enjoyed your chicken information. Next is trying to get something in around our barns to get the knee deep grass down. Any suggestions?
How thick/tall is it? Heavy duty weed whacker or possibly rent a brush hog may be a good fit to take it down initially. My brother lays down tarp for a year to smother patches for starting garden beds. Flame weeders are sometimes useful, but not so good close to buildings.
Nice job on the new blog! Looking forward to learning more from you in 2012. xo, Annette
Hi Annette! Thanks. Lots done, lots more to do. 🙂
whoa, so inspired to find your site today — a friend posted on facebook an article about putting up food. my bf and i are just learning how to make kimchee…. loving that, realizing how much i want to learn ‘old ways’….. thanks for sharing all your learning!!! <3
Welcome! I hope you find the site useful. Let me know if there’s something you’re looking for that you can’t find. I’m always looking for new ides to post about.
It is so awesome reading all of these interesting subjects, etc. here, I would like to know if you have a magazine or something on paper I could subscribe to? my mother likes these things too, but at 82 years doesn’t have computer.
Hi Lou! Glad that you are enjoying the site.
Right now, it’s just me (Laurie) for the most part, squeezing in time between “real life”, so I haven’t given much thought to a print option. As we move forward, it might be something I would be able to do. (I just need a clone!) You are welcome to print out the articles for personal use.
Stumbled upon your site from a post on Pinterest. WOW, you are just what I’m looking for.
I’m diabetic and need to find healthy ways to keep my blood sugar in control, I need to lose weight-the prescribed medications has caused me to gain weight-I’m not real comfortable with the prescribed medication. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I already appreciate you.
Yvonne – are you familiar with cinnamon for regulating blood sugar? A friend of mine has been using it with good results. Also, you may wish to check out the post “Switching on a Healthier You” https://commonsensehome.com/switching-on-a-healthier-you/ In the comments, Matt Stone references a post of about insulin resistance and carbohydrate consumption that may be of help to you. Good luck to you on your journey, and thanks for stopping by.
I see we are ‘Lake Neighbors’ I live in Michigan in Manistee County which is directly across from you. :o) I love this blog you have so much useful information. We are trying to live more sustainably on our small city lot. Eventually we’d like to move out of town a little onto a few acres.
Hi Karen! That’s some pretty country over there. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.
Well done on the move from Blogger! I still have a blog or two lurking over there that I haven’t figured out how to transfer.
Now that you’re on WordPress, if you do have questions or crises, please feel free to join our new WordPress Help group on Facebook. It’s manned by friendlies – and no promotion allowed. If we can help, we will be honored to do so – and if not, we are a nice safe place to chat over coffee 🙂
Thanks, Casey. I just joined. 🙂
Hello, I saw a link to your post over on Frugally Sustainable, My husband and I live in the city where we’ve had a tiny “urban homestead” but we’re growing out of our back yard and our neighborhood has changed so we’re moving to ten acres in the country. I’m adding you to my Google reader and look forward to reading your blog.
Welcome, Jenny. We had a similar motivation for when we moved away from our urban homestead. The neighborhood had changed so much!
Since you’re moving to more land, you may find this new/old book I just rediscovered helpful. It’s called Weeds- Guardians of the Soil.
Oh that’s wonderful!! Thank you so much. For the time being we just mow the front of our property to make it look nice and have let everything else grow. It is cut for hay twice a year (maybe just once this year because of the drought). I’ve started to take notice of the “weeds” though, have identified several and am anxious to start foraging.
Hi! I’ve just stumbled over your site and am really excited to work my way through it. I live in South Africa where our economy and future is best described as seriously unstable, and though I haven’t been a dedicated homesteader (mainly because we’ve moved about 22 times in the past 14 years) – I have always had a keen interest in it. Having moved last week for (hopefully) the last time in a long while, I am really determined to start something properly now and, just from looking through your site, I can see I will get a LOT of wonderful ideas. Thanks so much for sharing your life with the rest of the world! 🙂
Kathleen, thank you for your kind words. We don’t get much news about South Africa here, but I have seen snippets about unusually cold weather, which tends to add stress to already difficult times. The US is in a lot of turmoil now, too, with no end in site. Hopefully we can all work together to come up with real solutions.
I haven’t visited in a while (just read your Facebook updates). Just wanted to tell you that your updated blog looks SO fantastic! Hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.
Hi Danielle! Nice to hear from you! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Glad you like the new format. It’s still a work in progress, but I found a WordPress angel to help me do a makeover. The goal is to make everything easier to find. (I knew I needed help when I couldn’t find posts that I knew were on the site.) She runs her main sites over at http://www.lassgroup.com/, but also provides help to wayward bloggers. 🙂
We had family over yesterday and will be hosting friends today, so I’d best go get the ham in the oven. It’s windy as can be outside, but otherwise good weather, so that makes traveling easier in the area, which is a blessing.
Just started looking at being more self sustainable, though I’ve raised my own vegetables for many years. With the government and economy in such turmoil, we have begun stocking up and getting ready for unexpected emergencies.
I found you on Pinterest and was pleased to find someone from Wisconsin. I’m near Oshkosh. I’ve been up your way many times.
I keep my carrots in the garden all winter by covering with a 2-3ft layer of leaves. We dig 6-8# at a time and bring them in and cover the rest over again. Many years ago, when I planted too many, I had to give away many buckets of them so I could plant my spring garden. I don’t have that much space at this house, but still raise much of the veggies we eat. Being close to the earth is very rewarding. I’m a nurse and believe we have lost the ability to heal ourselves due to all the medications that people take at the drop of a hat. Give you body a chance to fight it off by eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated.
I’ll be researching your earlier posts and watching for new ones!
Welcome, Debbie. At our site here we’re pretty exposed, and everything not nailed down tends to blow away, but maybe one our windbreak trees are taller I could try the deep leaves.
I agree that we’ve lost touch with our own healing capacity in this crazy world we live in, and I’m working to reconnect with that in my own family and share what we learn with others.
We have a large garden and I planted enough potatoes from last year’s crop to feed an army. Now we have a large root celler buried six feet underground. Unfortunately the root celler has been open all summer and only recently closed up, so the surrounding concrete and soil is too warm. Currently I have a small 6″ fan to draw in cold air every night. Problem is, our stored potatoes think its time to start growing, so the sprouting is not good for them. Does anyone know of a way to slow down the sprouting process until the temperature can be brought down into the thirties?
My grandmother used to break off unwanted sprouts as they formed, and I follow the same practice. Anything you might treat them with could inhibit sprouting at planting time. Other them temporary colder storage somewhere else while the root cellar cools down, I haven’t heard of other good suggestions.
Made your sandwich bread. It is wonderful! It has gone inside my cabinet door (where I hang all the best recipes, I may need more doors). 🙂 I live in a rural area where gardens and canning are common for us “country folk”. I love the taste of homegrown food, I won’t even buy tomatoes at the store. I wait for my garden. 🙂
Store tomatoes taste so bland compared to homegrown. Glad you enjoyed the bread!
Laurie, most excellent site and value adding info. I’m adding your site to my Resources page, just followed you on Twitter and subscribed to your newsletter.
Saw your article on oil pulling. I’ve been doing some pulling for about two months now with coconut oil and have noticed great improvements in my skin and sensitivity in my teeth has gone. Just a little testimony on my part.
Common Sense Woman indeed 🙂
Hey Todd! Thanks for stopping by and taking time to leave a comment. I’ve seen your content around the survival boards. One of the things we’re planning to focus more on the year is preparedness, so I’m sure we’ll be running into each other again. Thanks for your words of support.
In depth organization! However; with financial/social chaos coming how will you keep your preps when the FE MA goons come to take your stuff under the existing executive order? Might consider some secure hiding places. Extend your root cellar and build a rock-walled circular raised garden over it? So much to learn and do that it interferes with my theoretical physics research.
John, not everything gets published on the site… I’ll leave it at that.
I enjoy your comments and your exceptional reviews of products. Your education certainly gives you an edge on most preparedness-type reviewers and reviews–that makes your content more credible for both newbie and long-time preparedness folks.
I invite you to interview with me on the Doctor Prepper C.P.R. Talk Show on the Preparedness Radio Network. I think it would help our listeners gain an appreciation for some of the basics necessary for becoming prepared or getting better prepared for the uncertain future.
We’ve enjoyed more than 3.6 million downloads (not hits!) to date, have more than 2 dozen hosts, and broadcast more than 40 hours of original content each week day–and have two days of “Best Of…” shows on the weekends. We average more than 12,000 downloads daily, and that should help more people get to know you. We reach lots of preppers — that will certainly help introduce more people to you and your great information.
My contact information is below. Please contact me and we can arrange a convenient time for recording the interview. Heck, with your information and credentials, you should be one of our hosts!
Looking forward to speaking with you.
James Talmage Stevens / Doctor Prepper
“If you’re gonna do things ain’t never been done,
You gotta try a few things ain’t never been tried.”
Phone: (210) 695-4950
Fax: (210) 695-4200
You have my dream house! Lol…I’ve been after hubby for a long time for an attatched greenhouse! I love the idea of fresh, homegrown all year long!
I am so considering homeschooling…sigh…
Love to garden, although I need to get better at it!
Love your website, it’s on my favorites list.
Thanks, De. I’m a little behind in the garden this year, but I’m gaining on it. I need a few more hours in the day.
Hi, Laurie! I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed this website and how much I have learned from it. Thanks!
I came across this site and thought of how you are all about frugal and do-it-yourself projects. Set the boys to making labels for your canned goods, etc with this:
Look under Craft Recipes in case the link does not totally work.
Don’t work too hard!
I would like to purchase all your books – how much, etc.
The only one currently available is the Common Sense Health e-book. You can find more information on that here: https://commonsensehome.com/common-sense-health/
Working on another that I hope to have ready to pitch to a publisher by the end of the year, but I’m a slow writer.
Hi Laurie, I was hoping to get your input on a project that I’ve been pondering, first a mini bio. I have serious back & neck problems as well as with my left knee, ankle & foot. I live on a fixed income so I am always looking to save where I can. I’m unable to work on my knee’s or in a bent over position as one would with gardening. I currently live in town and the duplex I rent has an attached brick flower bed out front that stands approx. 30″ from ground to top. This past summer I decided to plant Tomatoes in the flower bed and It worked great! I could stand and tend to my plant’s without all of the pain. I even enjoyed some of the comments people walking by would make about my beautiful flowers, lol.
However, the space is limited.
As for my project, I would like to build a raised garden, or what I’ve been referring to as a standup garden. I was thinking of a narrow rectangular shaped plot that would allow enough room for 2 rows of crops. This way I would be able to walk along one side of the plot tending to 1 row and back down the other side tending to the 2nd row with little or no bending involved.
My questions are:
1) What would the width of the plot need to be to accommodate 2 rows of plant’s (primarily vegetables)? The height of the box would be 24″-30″ with no floor, so room for the root system wouldn’t be an issue.
2) What materials would you recommend for the walls? I’m leery of any materials that may have been treated with any sort of chemicals for things such as weatherization, pests, etc.
3) What would be the best soil mixture for a plot of this type?
4) Lastly, I need to keep this as cost efficient as possible. I only need food for myself and wish to eventually have a constant 1 year supply of a continuous rotating stock of canned goods. (again, primarily vegetables)
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Even as to whether or not this is a plausible idea.
Thank You for your time, God Bless,
I recommend checking out the book “Square Foot Gardening” to give you a detailed listing of spacing requirements of a large selection of crops.
As for walls, it really depends on your budget. Cedar and some other woods are naturally pest resistant without treatment, as are some composite materials. Check around your local lumberyard and home supply stores and see what’s available in your area that will fit your budget. Concrete might also be an option.
You can check out this post for good info on organic potting mixes: http://www.extension.org/pages/20982/organic-potting-mix-basics
HI, Just found your blog and I really like it.
I’ve been looking into growing stevia for I’ve
tried several from the stores and have not
found one that I like and plus the cost is crazy.
So I want to grow my own and well the seeds
you suggest don’t show an organic symbol and
I’m not always sure how to deal with seeds that
don’t have the organic symbol.
Also if I buy seeds now can I sow them outside
I am in zone 9 or 10 sounthern California?
Thanks for all your help and now that I’ve subscribed
I have a feeling I’ll be taking a journey with you all. 🙂
There aren’t all that many places that stock organic seeds just yet, and I haven’t yet come across any certified organic stevia seeds, but they may be out there. Many small producers find organic certification to be cost prohibitive.
I haven’t grown in zone 9/10, but I suspect that the seeds would indeed grow and germinate in your area directly sown outside. It just might be easier to baby the seedlings and keep track of them if they are sown inside and transplanted out. They tend to have a low germination rate, so every seed sown will not give you a plant – fussy little things that they are. Once they get growing, they are fairly tough.
Welcome to the site. We can learn together.
Just thought I would throw my two cents out there for you.
Came here by way of Home on the Range (Brigid) blog.
What you post about is what I am striving for. I would like to get all gushy about how excited I am to see your blog…but just can’t put the words down and not cringe at them!
I can say that I am very grateful for finding my way to your electronic life. I can also thank you for sharing your life with us.
Thank you, Pam. It’s really nice of you to take the time to comment and share such positive thoughts. 2013 has been a bumpy year for us, but we’re still trying to hold on to the dream. We have each other, and are reasonably healthy, so in the end that’s the stuff that matters most.
Thanks very much for accepting me to your folds and want to express my joy for being part of your discussions,I read comments from the group and learn more as I keep using my common sense to lead my life,the use of our common sense could have saved our world the many lives lost to diseases created by man in search of real wisdom and common sense.
Thanks again and hope to be here till dooms day.
George Henry Amoah.
Love the recipes. Like to cook with beans and always looking for new ideas. I have a request though. My mother had a cookbook for pinto beans that included a recipe for chocolate cake. Unfortunately it was lost in a house fire and I have been unable to find it. If anyone knows what I’m looking for and where to find it I would appreciate your help. Thank you.
Not sure what your mom’s recipe was like, but here are a couple chocolate bean cake options:
Do you have printer friendly versions of posts available? We do not have internet at our farm. Thanks!
I just added the Print Friendly bottom to posts. Hopefully this will work for you.
How long will the herbal class be offered? Thank you.
It’s a work at your own pace program with open enrollment, so it should be available indefinitely.
So nice to stumble upon this blog! My husband grew up in Kewaunee and my in-laws still live there!
Small world. 🙂
Laurie I love your articles. I studied horticulture for a couple of years in St. Louis and was able to work at Shaw’s Botanical Gardens through a work/study program through the school (several years ago!) That experience embedded a deep love of all things in the garden and it’s been a life long endeavor to always have a beautiful yard – with vegetable plants tucked in wherever I can! I noticed your grow lights. Do you have a good source for these? They used to sell the bulbs at the hardware stores but I have been unable to find them lately. I kept my Kumquat trees going this winter by a single full spectrum bulb in the garage but would love to expand to starting my seedlings again under the fixtures. I used to germinate my seeds in old metal ice cube trays with cut glass tops (to slide off and on) on top of the furnace in my basement. I miss the thrill of hundreds of flower and veggie seeds poking thru the mix! Regards, Kathy
We purchased ours at the hardware store, too, quite a while back. I noticed when searching online, I was getting a lot of results for single, screw in bulbs, and not much else. Maybe ask at a local gardening or hardware store?
Working in the earth is good for the soul. 🙂
How I stumbled across your website . . . I don’t know (maybe with a simple cheese recipe). BUT I AM SO GLAD I DID!!!! I am so happily overwhelmed. Everything I ever wanted to try, experiment, etc. is here! I could read for months but of course that wouldn’t get me DOING. I am so excited. I started reading in the garden section. growing up and into young adulthood my mom & g’ma had green thumbs. Me? Mine was black!!!! Until they passed. I believe they willed me their green thumbs ’cause now I do pretty well in the garden. But I have so much to learn! I am temporarily in MD for the next year (an entire rotation of growing seasons) and had been unable to get my hands dirty until a nice opportunity arose. I was given about a 50yd x 25yd of an old corn field to play with. Whoo hoo! Oh no. I didn’t and still don’t know anything about the weird climate on this side of the country. The local Master Gardners came out and helped me get going. Obviously we didn’t only used about a 40 x 25 ft area. It would be too much for just me otherwise. I have so much to learn and am so grateful for the knowledge I am obtaining from your website. Thank you. I am looking forward to a bumper crop of vegies and storing seeds for next years garden in CA.
Welcome, Devora, and thank you for your kind words. God must have known I needed a pep talk. This weird weather and everything else going on with moving my husband home this spring has thrown a monkey wrench in my gardening, but I know I just need to stick with it and get things done, even though it’s a terrible mess right now. Thanks for taking time to leave a positive comment. 🙂
Love your web site, I am getting two of the same emails at a time.
Madell, did a quick search and found two emails listed for you, so I deleted the older one. Next week you should be down to one. 🙂
I was wondering if you had any suggestions for hot flashes, they are driving me crazy.
I don’t have a post on the site about that yet, but some of the remedies that help with a woman’s monthly cycle will also help ease menopausal symptoms. You might try – https://commonsensehome.com/herbal-remedies-for-pms/.
The article “Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes” also mentions Black Cohosh, Red Clover, Dong Quai, Ginseng, Kava and Evening Primrose Oil.
Also be careful when using herbal remedies, checking for possible drug interactions or sensitivities. Anything strong enough to be medicine is strong enough to use with care.
Your new site design looks beautiful!! Thank you for all that you are doing for me, newbie homesteader in British Columbia, Canada!
Welcome, Teri, and watch for big changes over the next few weeks.
Hi, I wanted to leave a comment regarding the epic kitchen giveaway but I don’t see it on your site. So I am leaving it here. I want to thank you for a chance to win and I love all the items. Have a wonderful holiday season.
Hi Lisa. The giveaway is here – https://commonsensehome.com/easy-cranberry-walnut-pie/
What I’m passionate about at home is seeing evidence all the time of the health of the ecosystem. Our apples have little codlin moth, no doubt because of the thick undergrowth of weeds around them harbouring plenty of predators. It’s springtime for us, and the weeds are growing wonderfully. An Australian named Peter Andrews who has pretty revolutionary ideas about water management on the broad scale, talks about the value of letting the weeds go to seed, as that is when they are bringing the maximum amount of nutrients up from the depths of their root system. He advises waiting until seed is set before slashing or grazing them down. On a small scale, I use the catcher on the motor mower and lay it out around the fruit trees as mulch. Excess is composted, sometimes after sterilizing the seeds by exposure to hot sun in a black plastic bag, or by microwaving. I’ve a row of Chaenomeles japonica bushes which are very spiky, managed by pulling weeds and mulching once or twice a year. The weeds growing in the broken down mulch from previous years, are easy to pull by hand. What I need to learn about is all the other uses each individual weed can be put to. There is a vast pharmacopoeia’s worth out there. A herbalist once walked a group of us through a paddock, stopping to tell of this famine food or that medicinal herb, every few paces. Even in the Australian red center, the Aboriginals had lots of different resources. On a walk for us tourists at Uluru / Ayers Rock an elderly couple showed us a food source every 50ft or so.
That’s interesting! I’ve learned that many weed seeds are edible to humans, too, either as a cereal grain or sprouted for use as sprouts or microgreens. I don’t know if you took a peek at the garden post that went out in the newsletter, but in it I talk about the weed seeds in the garden.
I found your beautiful vertical hanging succulent trellis idea on Pinterist. It was found on commonsensehome.com but I can’t find the instructions for making it. Can you help?
I’d love to be able to do that, but unfortunately, someone pinned an image of something I’ve never done, and linked it to an unrelated post on my site. If you see this response, could you post a link to the pin that you saw? I have a friend who raises succulents, so I’m thinking about hiring her to make a similar project for all the people who’ve been asking.
Not really a comment or reply just a huge question. You posted your mounds and almond joy recipes and mentioned the type of pans you used to do the bars. Could you give me a heads up as to where you found them as I haven’t come up with them yet. I would love to find them asap for New Years guests so no hurry =o)
Thanks for all you do I catch you on facebook..
Hi Connie. I ordered the molds I used off of amazon.com – the “cupcake” mold and the square silicon mold. There are links in the post, too – https://commonsensehome.com/homemade-mounds-almond-joy/
Laurie: My husband and I are seriously planning on building an ICF home in Savannah, GA. I read your article about living in an ICF home. Is it true the outside can be made to look like a normal home? Any advice or warnings you have for me I would appreciate. And is it true that it only costs about 10% more than regular homes?
Hi Beth. Yes, the outside can be finished just like a conventional home, but the builder will have to know in advance what the finish will be. For instance, a brick exterior requires a slightly different pour so that there is a lip/ledge for the brick to rest on. It will also keep down costs if the house is rectangular, since that’s a much simpler pour. If you can fit your footprint to match typical building material dimensions, that will help keep costs down, too. You’ll note that our windows are lined up between the basement and main floor. This is preferred because it makes the structure safer and easier to build. I’m not sure what the current cost is, since we built a decade ago, but the 10% was our builder’s estimate at the time.
Overall the house has performed very well, but we did run into some trouble this past fall with some mold/mildew in the basement. We had a record setting snowfall last winter, coupled with a cold wet spring and a cool summer, then a cold, very wet fall. It set the stage for perfect mildew conditions. If you do choose ICF, make sure you have forced ventilation, and make sure you use it when needed. I try to use natural ventilation whenever possible, but with the lousy weather, it just didn’t work, and it took me a while to spot the problem because that room is used less frequently.
I have been trying to get your newsletter and cannot get on. They said I must change to aol.com.
My e-mail stand for intergrity on line 24 Not aol. Can you see what you can do? I have a son and daughter-in-law so very interested in natural living and I am interested also. Thank you for anything you can do.
Vicki, I entered your email and it seemed to work. I’ve sent you a link to the book download page, and you’ll be receiving an email with a link that you need to click on to confirm your subscription. Welcome.
Sorry, I meant integrity on line. Fingers faster than brain
Have 30 acres in North Country New York, 1mi. from Quebec, 13mi. from Vermont. I was raised on a farm in Indiana. When kids were little had a Jersey milk cow, 20 Barred Rock & Rhode Isl. red chickens-got a lot of double yolks. Two horses eventually, one would “neck rein” for work (pulling logs out of the woods for firewood) the other for dressage for our daughter. My wife has a teaching license and her masters, but opted to stay at home with our four children which varied in age by 13 yrs. Eventually went to small free range chickens. Burned firewood as primary Winter heat source although we have an oil fired hot air furnace in the basement for backup and when gone in our 110 yr old post and beam farmhouse. Insulated attack, put new airtight windows in house, helped heat. We have a four hundred year old Maple tree on the property (estimated by arborist). We had at the time 7 acres tillable (planted in crops for the horses- we would have a neighbor bail it for us and then another neighbor with horses and a big barn stored our hay. Now the kids have spread to the four winds (closest 300mi. & 3 states away, and furthest, 3,000mi. in France). So the woods are encrouching ever closer to the house. Would not trade our existence with anyone. Winters are very cold, but the rest is near perfect, and the Fall colors are spectacular- we are 13 mi. to the Adirondack Park (110mi long, 100mi wide with the forever Wilderness law preventing building. We are 13 mi. to Lake Champlain (5mi. wide, 100mi. long, a sailor and fisherman’s paradise-I sail. On a clear day from Whiteface Mtn, peak in the Adirondacks, you can see Mt. Washington in the White Mtns. of New Hampshire- 100mi. away. Many people here migrated over here from Quebec. Many older folks say they learned English when they went to school. We have two Thanksgivings here, the Canadian one in Oct. and ours in Nov. We often hear more French than English in our shopping areas in Plattsburgh, NY since we are invaded by Montrealers on the weekends and most of the Summer.
That sounds real nice. Thanks for taking the time to share.
Hi I am new to this website and wanted to learn more about oils. I have lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Which oils would you suggest to help with these disease process. I just recently had brain surgery and continuing to have nerve pain. I would like to not have to take medicine for ever.
Any suggestions?? Thanks Vicki
The FDA has made it illegal for bloggers to offer specific advice on medical conditions, especially regarding the use of essential oils. The have shut down websites that provided this type of information. Even if it wasn’t illegal, it would be irresponsible and dangerous of me to offer medical advice without medical training and a full examination/understanding of your specific conditions. Anything strong enough to act as medicine should be treated with respect and caution. Essential oils concentrate the medicinal effects of an extremely large amount of plant matter, and can be dangerous if used incorrectly. See “Top Ten Worst Injuries from Essential Oils of 2014—Part 2“.
Please work with a professional to get help with your health challenges, not random internet folks. Peace and healing to you.
I can’t find your contact info, only this place for replies. Hence, I shall inquire here how to download “Common Sense Homesteading 101”.
That info would be right under where it says, “Contact Us”:
“You can reach me via email at laurie at commonsensehome dot com.”
It’s written that way to reduce the junk mail I get from spambots.
There were links in your confirmation emails to the ebook download, but I’ll just email you a copy directly to keep it simple.
I was happy to discover your website. I like what you do. It is great Just one criticism if I may.
On your site it took me some time to find where you are on the planet. I mean, in which country and climate you live. I think this is important info, because some garden techniques are very climate specific.
I don’t broadcast the details of our place to the casual reader, but anyone who digs a little, subscribes or reads a few articles should find it pretty obvious where we are located, since I don’t attempt to make a secret of it, either. While some things are site specific, many are universal, or at least easily adjusted to different locations.
Hi Laurie, Just trying to get the apple leather article to come up. I could make some this weekend. It doesn’t seem to go to the correct area. Thanks!!
Hope you’re well! I am so happy to have stumbled upon you’re commonsensehome.com and I would love to discuss the possibility of collaborating with you.
As a part of our digital marketing strategy, we are searching for blogs that capture a specific target market and we believe that your blog would be a huge asset to our marketing strategy.
I will provide you with an original article, written around a subject that is featured on your website. The article will reference my business as an authority on the subject and will incorporate a link to my website. I can assure you that the content written will be unique and relevant and thus beneficial to your website.
This proposition is mutually beneficial and if you are willing to collaborate, we can discuss how to proceed from here.
Looking forward to working with you!
Thank you for your interest in the site. At this time I do not accept guest posts from those I have not worked with previously.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom about bread baking. I was one of those, “you never knew what you were going to get”. : / Very frustrated! But thankfully, your hints have afforded me to make six loaves perfectly! Oh how I thank you!!!!!!! What clued me in was the 90 degree water instead of the 110 degree & how to check the consistency of the dough. I’ve searched online for recipes, watched countless videos but never how the details given click with me. Until now! I can’t tell you how thankful me and my husband are for your sharing with us the true “how to” bake the perfect loaf every time! PRICELESS!
Was looking for a yeast dinner roll recipe, any available?
Goodness, I can’t thank you enough so I’ll say a prayer that you be blessed beyond measure!
Have a great day!
Both the potato bread – https://commonsensehome.com/leftover-mashed-potatoes-make-potato-bread/ and the basic sandwich bread – https://commonsensehome.com/sloppy-joes-with-homemade-buns/ make excellent dinner rolls. (I’ll be making a batch up myself for Thanksgiving.) Just roll them quite small – an inch to 1.5 inches across – and pack them fairly tightly on your baking sheet (touching is fine). Let them rise until double in size, then bake at 375 for around 13-15 minutes, until tops and bottoms are lightly browned. You can use an egg wash to give them a shine if you like (just brush with a beaten egg before baking). This technique will give soft sided “pull apart” dinner rolls. These can be made ahead and frozen, or made a day in advance and they will keep well.
If you like a “crackly crust” type roll, use the French bread recipe and shape into elongated rolls or breadsticks. Brush with salt water before baking as with bread, and bake 13-15 minutes, until lightly browned. These are best made the day of the event to preserve the crispy crust, although you could make up and shape the dough ahead of time, freeze, thaw and bake that day of – but that would be more fussing.
Glad you enjoyed the bread baking tips and the site, and thank you for your kind words.
I would love to subscribe, but can’t find a subscribe button. I’m using windows XP. Thank you.
I want to purchase a manual grinder that will grind oats into flour, and do a GOOD job of it without getting mushy or binding. Which grinder is the best for this purpose? I purchased a unit from Country Living, but it doesn’t work well for oats. I trust what you have to say because you have the experience and knowledge, about these things.
I appreciate your help with this issue.
I haven’t personally tried to grind oats, but the Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill is supposed to handle a wide range of nuts, seeds and grains without binding.
Dear I want make nata de coco.
Can i buy nata de coco mother starter culture dehydrated live ACETOBACTOR XYLINUM
The making process of aceto bactor xylinum bacteria from pineapple dregs
I am from Sri Lanka
That’s not a product I’m familiar with. You might try Cultures for Health, or ask around locally if that is a local food.
Do you have a recipe for tomato soup….we have a lot of tomatoes and really like tomato soup…Thanks,Jane
Yes – https://commonsensehome.com/home-canned-tomato-soup/
BTW, if you need to find something on the site, the search box at the top of the site limits results to this website only.
Jane, for next years tomatoes there is a great recipe on Wegmans.com for tomato basil orzo soup. You’ll have to adapt it a little to do fresh tomatoes but it is a great soup
Hi. I need information about grains in bulks, price for package at 50 lbs or more. I need black beans, red beans, lentils and peas.
I don’t sell bulk grains, but you could check out the Resources page for companies that do – https://commonsensehome.com/resources/#Bulk_Natural_Food_and_Product_Suppliers
I used your bread recipe and the results are less than desirable. The bread and rolls are wayyyy too crumbly to even cut. In fact, it sort of resembles corn bread when done. I am looking for it to be more doughy and stretchy when baked. Am I doing something wrong or is there a step I am missing?
I don’t know what you did or didn’t do or didn’t add, but that doesn’t sound like any of my recipes done correctly. You can see a video of the basic sandwich bread on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/p/BMZboZ8BacS/?taken-by=commonsensehome . I’d guess that you didn’t add enough liquid somehow. There is one whole cup of water, then I break an egg into the empty measuring cup and add enough water to reach 1/3 cup. The only other liquid is the melted butter. You should use one entire stick of butter.
I downloaded a copy of seed-starting-dates but would really love to have an excel version so I could make some changes as well as use an online version of the chart. I tried building my own chart in excel but my skills are so rusty I just could not manage it. Any chance you can send me the excel file so I can tweek it to my needs.
Hi Jane. Sending you an email with the Word version of the charts.
Hi Laurie, I grew sesame seeds again this year and I’m just getting around to cleaning them I let them dry and drop into paper bags now I can’t seem to get all the junk out of the seeds. Do you or your readers have any hints
The professionals use specialized seed cleaners. For home use, there are a few different techniques you can try. First, you may want to make sure that the seeds themselves don’t have anything sticking to them by rubbing gently. Once the seeds and debris are no longer stuck together, you can winnow by gently tossing up into the air when there is a a very light breeze, or pouring between two containers when there is a light breeze. This should get rid of the majority of the chaff, but is likely to be time consuming. (This is why a don’t grow more amaranth for its seed. It’s a bear to clean.) When ready to use, you can soak the seeds, and more debris will float to the surface of the water and can be skimmed off. The seeds can then be rinsed and dried or toasted, or used however you like.
I discovered your site through FB and signed up for email newsletters. I love all of them. You are very informative and STI maintain the person touch. Thank you.
I read an article recently I would like to share with my man but am unable to find a place to search for it. Not sure if I was reading newsletter and linked off it or what. But it was regarding choosing solar options pros and cons.
If you can help me find it I would appreciate it.
Thank you for your time. Have a great weekend.
Hi Dawn. Glad you’re enjoying the site and newsletters.
I’m not sure which type of solar you’re referring to, since I’ve talked about solar thermal, passive solar, solar electric and solar cookers on the site, but all of the solar articles are listed on the green home page at https://commonsensehome.com/green-home/.
I just read your great review about the home freeze dryer. I am thinking of buying one but as I am living in Germany the shipping costs are quite high. Do you happen to know if Harvest Right has something like “kitchen lab” where they offer to test the freeze dryer in advance ? I would prefer to fly over and test it before buying. I have tried to contact Harvest Right (Tristan Tesch) but didn’t get a response. I am grateful for every hint. Thank you so much! Best wishes from Berlin, Cecilia (my blog – just in german – http://www.beanbeat.de)
I’ll check with my main Harvest Right contact this week and see what he says.
that’s wonderful! Thank you so much for your help.
You do a wonderful job on your newsletters and your website. It is a welcome sight to see your newest newsletters in my email! About your affiliate links, are you able to get one for a website called Vitacost.com? Their prices are usually lower than amazon and iherb for what I shop for. Iherb is also a good site though. I would love to support you by purchasing through a link on your website, or a link in your newsletter. Just a thought. Thank you for your hard work on your blog and newsletters.
Hi Julie. Thank you so much for your kind words, and your interest in supporting the site. I am a Vitacost affiliate, although I don’t promote them heavily. This link should work – Vitacost
There’s also a link and banner ad on the resources page at https://commonsensehome.com/resources/
Just wanted to let you know I promoted the site in an article Paratus Business News. Love your blog! http://paratusnews.com/life-without-toilets-deadly-disgusting-problems-and-expert-solutions/
Thanks, Morgan. I pinned your post to our Emergency Preparedness board on Pinterest.
I signed up and your links in the first email don’t work. I would also like the printable templates but can’t find them. I’m just learning how to start gardens indoor and move them outside. I bought a green house and am so excited to be gardening. I do really need the printable stuff, I’m a stroke survivor and my memory is not so good. I don’t want to mess this up. It’s my therapy suggestion from my neurologist.
I sent you an email about the links, Laurie.
Hello Sir / Madam,
I have read the ICF home construction article on your website, It is quite interesting, But I have some questions.
We live in India the weather condition there it is winter 4 months summer 4 months and raining season 4 months, So this ICF construction is suitable as I look about the weather conditions will change 3 times in a year.
The durability/life span of a home how many years, it will stand with the living condition.
the cost of construction how it will vary as compared to old kind of construction i.e bricks and concrete use.
Please help me with this, I will be looking forward for your reply.
Properly built, ICF construction should last for decades, possibly generations. The technology has been around since the 1970s, so those early buildings are around 40 years old and counting. The EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) that the forms are created from is inert (non-reactive). If covered with siding to protect from UV radiation and not exposed to fire or noxious chemicals, it is relatively unaffected by normal environmental conditions.
As for cost, it’s difficult for me to say because I don’t have experience with typical construction costs in your area and costs of the forms in your area.There is an Indian manufacturer of ICF forms. In the United States, much of the cost lies in additional labor, with multiple pours of concrete and slightly different requirement for finishing. If you’re comparing to all brick construction, that would be quite labor intensive, so I would expect ICF to be cheaper. Compared to plain concrete, I would expect building costs to be higher, but maintenance, heating and cooling to be lower (and a longer lifespan).
I learned about you from the Modern Homesteading Summit. Thanks for all your interesting information. I have a question: Where can I find information for homesteading in the tropics? All the information I have encountered has been for homesteads in more northerly climates. I live on a small acreage in the very south of Tamaulipas, Mexico at 22.2331° N, 97.8611° W. Can you point me in the right direction, please?
There aren’t a ton of websites out there that focus on the tropics. Maybe they’re too busy enjoy the weather? There’s a thread on reddit where you may have good luck making connections – https://www.reddit.com/r/Homesteading/comments/3zsu8q/any_tropical_homesteaders_here/, but it hasn’t been active for a while.
Just wanted to say hi Laurie, this is a truly wonderful blog! My husband and I also run a homesteading/gardening blog and you are an inspiration!
Good afternoon. I hope you can help me with a question about a recipe I’ve thought up for canning beef sliders. I have only been canning a couple of years now but I see no reason this wont work.
I would like to season ground beef with garlic/s&p, form into thin patties and cook them in the oven, and layer them in hot jars with slice of onion between each patty and process them as I have in the past for ground beef.
I know contents being too dense is an issue, but with the patty prepared thin (a chicken breast is much thicker) and the onion between should help the heat circulate, it seems to me this should work fine. Can you please share your thoughts? Thanks you for your prompt reply.
I don’t know how well they would stay in patty form, but as long as you keep them thin and use the spacing you describe and cover with canning liquid for heat transfer, it would seem that food safety guidelines are being met.
Do you sell Geodesic Greenhouses? If not, might you direct me to, for example, the company you allude to in your Harvest Right article in Cplorado and any others for purposes of comparison?
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
I’m confused about the wording of your question. In the post I clearly state that we purchased a Harvest Right greenhouse in the very first sentence.
“In 2018, we purchased a 16′ Harvest Right geodesic dome greenhouse to review.”
There is no alluding.
Unfortunately, Harvest Right stopped selling the kits shortly after I wrote my review, due to low demand for the greenhouses and continued high demand for their freeze dryers.
I spoke with my contact at the company, and he doesn’t know when or if they will be reintroduced. I am not aware of any similar style units, but if you search you can find some other types of custom built geodesic dome greenhouses.
I have spent the morning making your orange marmalade. I am done water bathing it and it is thin. I don’t know that it will thicken up. What did I do wrong?
Jams, jellies and marmalades normally set up as they cool, so odds are it will be just fine.
Hello, I’m having a hard time trying to find (3.7 Volt 1000 mAh ICR 18650 Batteries). Do you know where I can purchase about 6 of them? The only company I found is alibaba, but you have to buy 100 units.
Unfortunately we don’t have a handy source for smaller quantities matching those specifications.
Hi Laurie, used to follow you on FB…is there any plan to make an account on Gab.com in your near future? I would love it! Thanks
I have a personal account on Gab, but haven’t done much with it. The service has been loading poorly for me, and there are only so many hours in the day.
We do have a MeWe group at https://mewe.com/join/common_sense_homesteading that gets a fair amount of interaction.
The best way to get regular updates is the newsletter. You can sign up using any of the forms on the site, including the one on the Subscribe page.
We’re interested in advertising on commonsensehome.com
Can you please direct me to the best person to speak to about this?