Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Natural Ear Cleaning

For the last few weeks, my ears have been feeling really clogged up and I've been having some difficulty hearing. I stopped using Ear Buds (Q Tips) about two years ago. Any Google search will tell you about how bad they are for causing impacted wax in your ears.
However, I still feel like my ears don't get rid of the wax adequately and I was feeling like I had a build up. So I went on the hunt for a natural alternative to cleaning out your ears, using things I had on hand, in my kitchen. The following method worked great for me. 

Natural Ear Cleaning Technique

Cold Pressed Olive Oil
Warm Water

Tip your head to the side, with one ear facing the straight up. 
Suck up some Olive Oil in an eye dropper (I used a pipette, which was left over from kids panadol). Alternatively just pour the oil on in. 
I used about 10 drops, until I felt like my ear was full. 
Keep head tilted for 20 mins to soften the wax. I recommend lying down and reading. Its quite relaxing. 
After 20 minutes, walk awkwardly to the bathroom sink with your head tilted.
Tip your head and allow the oil to pour out into the sink. 
Mix the salt in the warm water until no more will dissolve. You want the water to be saturated with salt.
Syringe the salt water into your ear to flush out the remaining oil. This is where any chunks of ear wax will make their appearance. As suspected, I did have a slight build up of wax. 
Repeat the procedure with the other side. 

Important: The water must be warm to adequately flush the oil out of your ear. If you don't get all the oil out, it feels weird, and its probably not good for you. 

My ears felt better immediately and my hearing was much better. I'm going to repeat this procedure again in two days and then probably every month. It was easy and pretty relaxing. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Lip Balm

The second item I am in desperate need of is Lip Balm. August is when the Westerly Winds hit and being the middle of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, its also very dry.

This recipe is a combination of a few floating around the internet. I had to modify it to use what I had on hand.

Natural Lip Balm

3 tablespoons of GRATED Natural Beeswax
3 tablespoons of Cocoa Butter
2 teaspoons of  Vitamin E oil
2 teaspoons of RAW Honey
2 teaspoons of Coconut Oil 
5 drops of essential oils

Add all ingredients (except essential oils) to a small saucepan. Heat on low over the stove. Once all ingredients are melted, add the essential oils. Pour into your containers. 

As I was making lip balm for a few different people, I added the lip balm mixture to the containers, THEN added the Essential Oils. My mum wanted lemon-scented, I wanted rosemary and my friend just wanted plain, because she loves the smell of beeswax. The amounts above have made about a years worth of lip balm for each of us.

Home Made Beauty Products

Part of my life-goals is to be more self-sufficient, reduce the amount of stuff I buy and to reduce chemicals in my home. A few years ago, I made a pledge to buy only 'natural' beauty products, and switched over to Sukin Organics

Let me tell you, they are pretty good. I had the face wash, moisturiser, shampoo and conditioner, Rose Hip Oil, Face Mist, Spray on deodorant. I loved everything that I tried. However, its not exactly frugal and it still contained a few ingredients with long un-pronounceable names. So a few months ago, I decided that once I was out of a product, I would not buy more, I'd just replace it with a homemade, natural product.

Therefore, my goal for the weekend just gone was to set about making myself some home-made, chemical free, all natural Beauty Products. I visited Handmade Naturals by Corinne in West End, Brisbane to stock up on ingredients. Its a bit of a distance to travel from my Small Town, but WOW is it worth it. I spent $90 and I have 6 months to 1 years worth of ingredients.

The first thing I needed was Shampoo and Conditioner. I've been experimenting with Bicarb Shampoo and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Conditioner. However my hair is very curly and prone to frizz. So it often ended up pretty dry and 'static-y'. Also, I've read several articles floating around on the internet about how important it is to maintain the natural pH of your hair and not force it up and down with shampoo and then conditioner. I found this recipe over at Thank Your Body  and I love it!

I've changed the recipe a little for MY hair (curly/ dry/ shoulder length)

pH Balanced Shampoo Recipe

3/4 Cup of Coconut Milk
1 Cup Pure Aloe Vera Gel
1 teaspoon of Vitamin E Oil
essential oils (optional- I used lavender because I wash my hair before bed and I only used 3 drops)

Add everything to a bowl and whisk together to combine. Pour mixture into ice-cube trays and allow to set in freezer. Once frozen transfer ice-cube shampoos into a container and store in freezer. 

The reason it needs to be kept in the freezer is because the shelf life is only about 1 week. This batch makes between 3-6 months worth, depending on how often you wash your hair and how much you use. I use about half a ice-cube and wash my hair 1-2 times a week. I've only used it once, but my hair is MUCH nicer than the bicarb/ACV mix. it already feels softer and more moisturised. I didn't

even need to bother with conditioner!

My Verdict: I LOVE THIS SHAMPOO!!!!!!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Our Goats- A story of Life, Death and Birth.

At about 11, I asked my parents if I could have some pet goats. Sure enough, Fluffy and Blackie arrived a few months later. A few weeks after they had arrived, we were surprised to discover they'd given birth during the night- Bobby and Buddy. Sadly, Blackie was mauled by our one of our dogs and a few months later Fluffy was mauled by the other one.

Gigi watching over the goats prior to the arrival of kids

In a short space of time, I went from two goats, to four goats and back to two goats. Sadly the dogs had to be put down. It was a hard lesson for me about life and death that comes with the responsibility of pets.
After the dog/goat episode my parents bought another 4 or 5 goats. When Bobby and Buddy were old enough, they started to breed.

Over the years a few more goats have been added to the herd- some bought, some born; and we've lost some in the herd- some have died from sickness, others from old age, others sold on.

Fast forward 15 years and as of last Friday, the goat herd numbered 19, some descended from the original two goats purchased back in 1999. Over the weekend we have had a baby goat explosion. 13 kids have been born and there is still one nanny yet to kid.

The first arrivals- Twins!

It hasn't been smooth sailing though. One of the nannies gave birth to a stillborn, which wasn't fully formed. I had the unpleasant job of having to bury the poor thing. One of the first time mums gave birth and just walked away, she obviously had no idea what to do. Her kid was found lying in the shelter almost dead. After a day of being wrapped up in blankets and being fed via a pipette the kid miraculously bounced back to life.  Another nanny had triplets and abandoned the runt. So now Gigi and I are bottle-feeding two little female kids.

The bottle fed babies- Dora and Josie

Gigi loves the goats. She loves going out into the paddock to visit them, she loves feeding them and she loves walking around the paddock looking for the baby goats. She especially loves the 'rejected' baby goats. Gigi always wants to help bottle feeding them and loves it when they follow her around.


Helping Nana to bottle feed Dora

Having goats during my childhood and into adulthood has been wonderful learning curve for me, one full of hard lessons and happy times. Over the years I have learned to love the funny little personalities each goat has. I'm grateful that my parents gave me the opportunity to have pets of my own and I'm proud to be able to offer the same opportunity to Gigi.

Saying hello to Black Betty

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Making a Worm Farm

To compliment our little veggie patch, I've been wanting to build a Worm Farm for some time. Worm Farms are great for eating your garden scraps and they produce amazing liquid fertiliser for the garden. Also what toddler doesn't like looking at and picking up worms?
GiGi and I made a 'Do-it-yourself' type worm farm out of a few polystyrene boxes from our local fruit man. I know polystyrene is terrible for the environment, but at least we've given it a second life.

Step 1: Gather materials
- Two polystyrene boxes
- shredded newspaper
- mulch/ straw
- hessian sack/ flyscreen/ shade cloth
- enthusiastic toddler
- hungry cat (optional)

Step 2:
Using a stick, punch holes along the top of one polystyrene box for ventilation and along the bottom of the box so the juicy worm juice can drain out.

Step 3:
Line the bottom of the box is hessian or fly screen so the the worm juice can get out but the worms stay in.

Step 4: put about 5cm of shredded newspaper over the top of the hessian. shredding the newspaper was GiGis favourite part of the whole process. 

Step 5: Add about 10cm of mulch. I used Straw bale mulch left over from mulching the veggie patch.

Step 6: Find a flat, shady spot and make a base for your worm farm. Apparently its important for the worms to be in the shade. I made a base out of a few old bricks I got from my brother (he's a builder and often has left-over materials). You could also make a base out of some rocks and a few planks of wood.

Step 7: Lightly water the mulch so that it is a little damp.

Step 8: Fill the box with soil. Luckily my parents have goats and horses so this is a lovely mix of horse and goat poo and dirt. Yum, Yum for the worms.

 Step 9: Cover the dirt with a few pieces of newspaper to maintain a constant temperature, put on the lid and put it on top of the other box on your stand. I put rocks on the top to stop the lid from blowing off or being removed by curious toddlers.

The worm wee should fall through the holes in the bottom of the top box and collect in the bottom box. More advanced worm-farm builders buy a tap from the hardware to put in the bottom box to easily access the worm-wee. However i considered it to be an unnecessary cost for us at the moment. I plan to just lift the top box off and tip the worm-wee from the bottom box into a bucket to be diluted and used in the garden. Perhaps over time this method will irritate me and I'll end up buying a tap but for now, this will do fine.
I'm yet to purchase some worms, I'm hoping to source them through my local Community Exchange, rather than buy them.

Practical Garden Art

A few weeks ago, Gigi and I spent the weekend beautifying our veggie patch and building a worm farm. We have bit of variety in our garden now and I've been thinking a lot about garden markers. I've seen some very lovely ones on 'etsy' and 'made-it' but have wanted to make some myself in the spirit of living simply and being frugal.
I saw an inspiring picture on the Internet and thought it would be a great activity for Gigi and I to do together. We collected a variety of smooth rocks of varying size from a nearby river and spent the morning painting them. 
Gigi decided she wanted to use her hands rather than a paint brush. Rather than rocks decorated to look like veggies, as per the inspirational picture, our rocks are decorated with Gigi's hand-prints and foot prints. Not only are they a cute garden decoration, but they are also a nice bit of memorabilia. 
We started off by washing the rocks in vinegar and water with a scrubbing brush. After they had dried off, we painted them with some old art paint I had. I think the paint was water based acrylic, so after it dried I sprayed it with a can of paint sealer specifically for toys/crafts/outdoor ornaments. Hopefully it waterproofs Gigi's lovely works of art. The cost of the project was $10, which was for the can of sealer. There plenty left, which we can use anther day. We now have some lovely and unique garden markers, had a great day in the garden and only spent a small amount of money.

Keeping a Blog Attempt #2

After attempting to start (and Failing to keep up with) a blog over at BlogHer, I've decided to start again here in the hopes i'll be able to navigate this website a little easier. I admit to being quite technology-challenged and i'm ok with that. 

I'll start by introducing myself and what I hope to acheive with my blog. 
I grew up in the Sunshine Coast hinterland on my parents 20-acre hobby farm. My dad is a hippy/anarchist from the 70/80s, my mum is a very out-doorsy/do-it-yourself/hard-working person. Their attitudes, combined with taking my brother and I to the Woodford Folk Festival every year since 1994, have given me an interest in the environment and a passion for wanting to create a better world. 
In the years since high school ended, I've finished a university degree, made the most beautiful friends, and travelled extensively through Europe and Asia.
These days, I'm a Mumma to my amazing 2-year old daughter, who calls herself "GiGi". I've recently become a single mum and am still trying to find my feet, whilst creating a new life for myself and my daughter. 
I have recently moved back to my hometown and into the sanctuary of my parents home, the home that I grew up in.
The main aim of my blog is a record of my progress as I pick up the pieces of my broken life and figure out where to from here. I also want to connect via the online-world with others and form friendships, as I'm geographically isolated from my 'real-world' friends.
From here, my main 'life-plan' is to journey into the world of Community Exchange, Permiculture, Sustainable Living and Living Simply, not to mention trying to continue with my green/relaxed parenting methods. 
So let the blogging begin.....