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March 2, 2012

Instead of continuing with this blog, I have created a website at www.lonestarhomestead.weebly.com.  I have more space for recipes, homesteading tips, homeschooling info, etc.  I also have a free newsletter.  Please feel free to sign up for the newsletter on the homepage of the website.  I’d love to send you information on homesteading issues.  A few previous newsletters have discussed beauty tips, how to make the perfect pie crust, gardening and seed planting, and the first issue in March 2012 will be how to make your own homemade cleaners.  It’s all useful information and it’s all free, right to your inbox. 

Feel free to email me or contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.  I’d love to hear from you!

Check out my website!!

March 2, 2012

Economical Beauty Tips

May 6, 2011

In my quest to reduce our grocery bill even further, I’ve been looking into new ways to be beautiful at a reasonable price.  Here are a few tricks I’ve learned:

  • Conditioner is great to use in lieu of shaving cream.  It only takes a small amount and I already have some on hand.
  • Cinnamon & honey (a very small amount of both) can be used to make a healthy facial mask.  Massage it on to your face, let it sit for about 10 minutes and then gently wash it off with warm water. 
  • You can prolong the life of your razor by drying it off after your shower and applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly to it.  It keeps the blade from getting dull too fast and also keepts it from rusting.
  • Try cutting your husband’s or children’s hair.  We’ve been doing this for several years now and it really saves money.  I attempted to let my husband cut my hair … needless to say, I won’t be doing that again.  It was probably one of the scariest moments of my life when he grabbed all my hair in a fist and came at it with the scissors.  I’m the only one in our family who still goes to the salon (but I pay less than $20 for my haircut twice a year).
  • Pamper yourself with your own pedis and manis.  We’ve stocked up our supply of fingernail polishes so that we have an assortment from which to choose.  Plus, my daughter and I spend some quality time together giving each other manicures and pedicures.  Do my toenails always look the best?  No … but knowing that my daughter did them is priceless (and she gets better every time).
  • Use petroleum jelly or cold cream to remove makeup.  You can also use baby oil on a cotton ball.
  • Use epsom salts as an exfoliator.  Rub on to your skin after you bathe and rinse off before you get out! It’ll leave your skin soft.
  • Add two cups of epsom salts to your bath plus a few drops of your favorite essential oil and relax in comfort (without spending a fortune).

Let me know if you have any other beauty tips!

How to Save Money with Baking Soda

May 4, 2011

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

With the rise of inflation we’re all seeing higher prices at the grocery store.  One of the ways that we’re cutting back our grocery bill is to use baking soda for a number of uses around our home.  I thought I’d share with you some of the ways we use baking soda:

  • Toothpaste (simply take a small amount, add a little bit of water to make a paste, put it on your toothbrush and voila – toothpaste!).
  • Drain Cleaner (Pour a tablespoon or two down your drain then pour a cup of vinegar over that.  Stand back and watch the chemical reaction as your drain is cleaned!  After a few minutes run hot water down the drain to rinse it all out.)
  • Deodorant (dust some under your armpits to help with odor)
  • General Cleaner (sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and clean the kitchen and bath, including the microwave)
  • Oven cleaner (Sprinkle the bottom of the oven with baking soda, wet with water so that it’s damp and let it sit overnight.  Clean it out in the morning.)
  • Clean Coffee Pots / Stainless Steel Pots
  • Odor Neutralizer for the fridge
  • As an antacid (refer to package for directions)
  • As a shampoo (In lieu of regular shampoo, make a paste with some baking soda and gently massage into your scalp.  After you’ve covered all the areas of your scalp, rinse your hair.  Spray your hair with raw vinegar (with the mother still in it) and rinse again.  Use a conditioner as you normally would.  This removes all the buildup of sprays, gels, etc. and leaves your hair incredibly soft.)
  • Bath - Add a few tablespoons to your bath water to neutralize odors and remove oils from your body.

There are so many other uses for baking soda.  These are just a few.  If you have any other suggestions, leave me a comment!  I’m sure others would love to know how this economical and budget-friendly cleaner can do more!

How to Clean Beeswax

April 30, 2011

Bubba’s Beez (my son James aka Bubba) is supplying me (his good ol’ mom) with raw beeswax for making lip balm, hand salves, etc.  The problem is, no one wants to buy lip balm with a bee leg in it (or any of the other various bee parts I’ve found over the past week).  At least I wouldn’t want to so that makes me assume that others wouldn’t want to either.

So, how do you go from this:

Beeswax Straight from the Hive

to this:

Clean Beeswax

Before I explain the steps involved, here are a few key tips to remember:

  1. Use a pot or utensils that you don’t need any longer.  Beeswax is very difficult to remove and it’s just easier to part with a pot you no longer want or need than to use one of your good ones.
  2. Do not leave the beeswax unattended.  It can easily catch on fire (as any wax can).
  3. Melt the wax on a lower setting, not high.
  4. Be patient with this process, it takes awhile.

Okay, now that I’ve said those things, let’s move on to cleaning the wax.

  1. Fill your pot with water to about halfway and add the unclean comb.  Don’t stuff the pot though.

  •  Turn the heat to medium or medium-low and let it melt.  When the beeswax has melted and is boiling with the water, then turn off the heat.   Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool down completely.  This takes some time, so don’t hover over it.  I’ll even allow mine to cool overnight.  As the beeswax cools, it’ll separate from the water and the dirty particles that were in the comb.  The beeswax floats on the top and the other particles and water settle underneath it.
  • After it’s completely cool, the beeswax will have pulled away from the sides of the pot, making it easy to remove.
  • Once you’ve removed the melted wax, set it on paper towels to drain. On the bottom of the wax there will still be lots of particles, etc.  Cut these away with a sharp knife so that all you’re left with is a slab of wax.  It’ll still be somewhat dirty, but that’s okay for now.
  • Throw out the dirty water (but not down the sink as any particles and beeswax will clog your drain).
  • Repeat these steps a couple of times.
  • When you’ve removed all the major particles you can, the final step involves melting the wax without the water.  Clean the pot as best you can to remove any of the dirty particles and wax.  To be safe, you’ll want to do this in a double-broiler or at least put your smaller pot in a larger pot of water so that your pot with the wax does not sit directly on the burner.  If the wax gets too hot it can ignite.  Add your clean wax to the pot, turn the burner on low.
  • While the wax is melting, cut up an old, but clean, pair of stockings.  I simply cut the feet off of them and stretch them over the openings of clean, plastic containers (i.e. smaller margarine tubs, yogurt cups, or even milk containers – not the plastic kind).
  • Once the wax is completely melted, pour the wax over the stockings which filter out the final bee particles and dirt so that you end up with clean wax.
  • Allow the wax to cool completely (depending on the size of the container and how deep the wax is, this could take overnight).
  • Once it’s completely cool, you can cut away the container and store your beeswax until you’re ready to use it!
  •  UPDATE 3/1/2013: If the beeswax you have is black, do not use this wax. It is really old wax and will not render anything useful. I tried and it does not work. Try to use wax that is very pale yellow to a medium brown. This gives really beautiful clean wax when finished properly. Trust me. Do not use the old black wax. It will crumble and disintegrate into complete nastiness. Just thought I’d give you a heads up! Happy beeswax cleaning! One further update – we are now selling Bubba’s Beez non-petroleum jelly and lip balm in various flavors – all completely natural. Email me if you’re interested in purchasing any. You can find us on etsy under Bubba’s Beez. Thanks!

    from → Homesteading

    Emma Danielle – a Mother’s Love

    March 28, 2011

    Life is precious.  Treasure it.  Hold on to it.  Capture what you can out of it. 

    Me & Emma

    Our sweet Emma Danielle, was born and passed away on Friday, March 11, 2011.  Life has been on hold for the past two weeks for my physical healing, emotional healing (still ongoing), and just getting through Emma’s memorial service, burial and a family “renewing” trip following the funeral.  Life has been a whirlwind of activity, but through it all I miss my baby.  She was absolutely beautiful.

    However, God had a plan for Emma and He has a plan for you.  We are doing quite well despite our loss, but that’s because we know where Emma is.  She’s resting in the arms of Jesus.  He sings to my sweet Emma every day.  While most of us take a lifetime to fulfill God’s plan for us, Emma completed her plan before she was even born.  She was our miracle baby – only the miracle was in her death, not her life.  Had she lived, others would not know God’s love.  He brought her into this world for the purpose of bringing others to Him.  That was evident from the moment we were told she did not have a heartbeat.  It was the worst moment of my life – knowing that I would birth a baby who would never breathe her first breath.  But that “peace that surpasses all understanding” was upon my husband and me as we worked through the delivery. 

    It’s been difficult, but we know that God is in control.  He has a plan.  He knows what is best.  Our trust and faith lie in Him.  For more details on our faith, please read Emma’s eulogy that my husband and I wrote.  It explains so much of what we feel.

    Emma’s Eulogy

    Dad & Emma

    March 11th is a day that most will remember as the day Japan was hit with an earthquake, a tsunami and nuclear reactor problems.  But back here in Austin, Texas, our own little world was literally shaken to its foundations.  Our little Emma came into this world in a way so unexpected and so heartbreaking that no one was prepared for the heart-crushing words, “I’m sorry, but she has no heartbeat.”  There’s no way to explain the feeling of despair and sorrow that those words had on us.  Our hopes and dreams of a bigger family were dissolved in a matter of mere seconds – no midnight feedings or dances around the house to calm baby Emma.  The diapers would never be used, the car seat would never hold little Emma and we would leave the hospital with no baby in our arms.  We wondered, “How do we plan a funeral for a baby who hasn’t even been born yet?” 

    However, in the midst of the fire, a sudden and unexplained peace came into our lives – a peace that surpasses all understanding.  From the moment those words were uttered, our lives were forever changed and so were those around us.  Hearts opened that had been closed and unreachable.  God’s grace filled the room almost instantly – a grace so strong only an angel could have prompted our Father in heaven to fill the room with his spirit.  Emma was that angel – pleading for her parents and everyone else involved.

    I can tell all of you here, and a lot of you were in the room with us at one point or another, that something God-inspired happened that day.  A force from our Almighty God moved around the room, setting a tone of love, peace, and understanding that can only come from Heaven.  Men of the strongest steel were left as weak as a newborn babe.  Women hardened by life became supple and malleable again.  Questions about life, eternity and heaven were raised again and again.  How could this happen?  Why did it have to be Emma?  People not sure of their faith suddenly had clarity and vision.   We often said this baby was our miracle baby – but the miracle of Emma was not in her life, but in her passing on to heaven.  Had she lived, we would not have seen God’s mercy, love, grace, forgiveness and peace enter so many lives.  Emma’s passing made people face the world and the reality of life and death.  She made people dare to be strong, to walk the line, to profess their faith.  We were able to laugh and cry over our sweet Emma.  Complete strangers were made Brothers and Sisters in Christ our Lord. 

    Emma came with a message from God.  She wanted to let everyone know that everything is going to be ok.  God has us cradled in His everlasting arms.  She wanted everyone to know that laughter is the best medicine for the soul.  We’re joyful that Emma is in heaven with Jesus – where He wants us all to be.  She wanted everyone to be the best they can be for all things should done for the glory of God.  Parents – hug your children, young or old.  They are blessings from God and should be treated as treasures.  Worldly possessions don’t really matter.  Lay your treasures up in heaven for earthly possessions will rust or decay.  And most of all she wanted to remind people that they should turn on their lights.   She’s probably giggling as she sees the looks on your faces right about now, but she said, make sure they turn the light up all the way.  Let your light shine everywhere you go.  Be a light to the world so that others may know Christ.  Through her passing, Emma had an ability to bring people together.  She had the amazing grace only angels have.   Emma Danielle wants you to know she loves all of you and she wants you to know that Jesus loves you, too.  

    And we wanted to tell Emma – we love you so much and we look forward to the day that we can meet you face to face in heaven, where we can laugh with you, pick flowers in the clouds, slide down rainbows and give you all the hugs and kisses we’ll have stored up for you while here on earth.  Jesus holds you now and we know that there’s no better place for you to be.  We’ll see your smile in every sunbeam and know that you’re smiling back at us.  Shine on, sweet Emma, shine on.

    from → General

    A New Start … A New Journey

    January 11, 2011

    Over the past few years we have simplified our lifestyle. 

    We live in a small house (it’s now almost 1000 square feet) that my husband and his brother & father helped build.  My husband just finished the addition to the house (which brought us closer to 1000 square feet).  It still needs some finishing touches, but that’ll come with money and time. 

    We garden and preserve our foods and that which we don’t grow or raise we try to buy from our local dairy or other local farmers.  We still have a long way to go with this, but we’re well on our way. 

    We drive old vehicles that need some maintenance but get us from point A to point B pretty reliably.

    We don’t really watch TV although we rent movies and such. 

    We enjoy a good meal out on the town, but are just as happy at home with a bowl of soup or fried backstrap.

    Our children are homeschooled and for the new baby, we’re even using a birthing center this time – no hospitals or epidural.  I’ll actually be able to come home within a few hours after giving birth (that’ll be cool).

    We try not to fall for the trappings of the world – a huge house, lots of debt (we’re debt free, even with the baby expenses at this point), new cars, kids in daycare, etc. 

    We actually enjoy our simple life and want to simplify even more – our own land with a cow we raise for beef and chickens of our own, etc.  The problem we find is that land prices around here are still through the roof – not to mention the heavy restrictions. Even the foreclosures are ridiculously high.

    So, thus begins our new journey.  Our goal over the next few years is to finish putting money away for our emergency fund and then saving cash for land.  Of course, this may happen faster than we think when my husband’s real estate business picks up again.  My guess is we won’t be stay around where we currently live, but may end up farther out – more rural and less expensive.

    Join us on our journey as we look for land and weigh the benefits and pitfalls of each piece (when compared to what we want to do with it)… as well as we continue towards our self-sustainable lifestyle.

    And as with all things, all of it is according to God’s plan for us (for without Him none of what we are about to do will be possible).

    from → General
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