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The road so far..

As I sit here and watch the bonfire die, I can't help but wonder what I have gotten myself into.
My life has flipped 90 degrees in the last few months.
For the last decade or so the only thing I have wanted more than anything was to own a piece of property. My very own little corner of the world that I could call mine. Every step I have taken since the beggining of the year has led me a step closer to this reality.
I have taken up residence in a poorly kept house on top of a mountain, in the middle of the woods. I live here, working in exchange for rent while being allowed time to save my money for a down payment. Every day I look out my second story bedroom window at trees as far as I can see. Trees, that with the current warm weather will be covered with green leaves in a week's time.
And I wonder, am I capable of this adventure I am about to undergo? You see, at the end of May, my down payment will be paid, my owner financed land contract in place, and then.. well.. then the test of my own personal strength and endurance will come into question. For I am building my own home, on my own piece of land.
A cob home.
Now, if you aren't familiar with cob. Let me give you a little information so you can better understand where I am coming from.
Cob homes can be found all over the world. They are prominent in places like Africa and can be found all over Europe. Some as old as 800 years still being lived in to this day.
Cob is a natural, earthern way of building. It requires clay dirt, sand and straw. When mixed together with a little water it can be formed into bricks of sort and molded together to make walls, thus making a home. When cob dries it is hard as stone and mass thermal, meaning it holds in heat and releases it slowly, and holds in cool air.
Now, my goal is to have four walls and a roof by winter. Complete with a mass rocket heater for heating, a mass rocket stove for cooking and a cob oven. All inside my kitchen.
I am taking on this project mostly by myself as the man I am marrying may the first works with two days off. So, it falls to me. Clearing the land, digging the foundation trench, laying the foundation stones in place, cobbling the home.. everything.
I can't tell you I am in the best shape. But I am determined and well.. we just can't live in a tent all winter can we?
No electric running to the land, so we will be off grid. Both with electric and indoor plumbing.
A compost toilet is the option I have chosen to go with. A little bit of work,  But the right option for us.
As I take this journey, I want to share it. I want to share it with friends, family and strangers alike. I want people to understand that it wasn't easy, but that the end results will be both wonderful and worth it.
I want you to see that anything is possible and that even you yourself can make the switch from living a life full of bills, to not having any bills at all if you should so choose that. From renting, to owning a home that you built with your own two hands. From being dependant on the grid, to not needing the grid at all. From spending all your money just to eat and get by, to being dependant solely on what you raise.
It's a lifestyle.
It's homesteading.
It's being off grid.
It's a journey worth taking.
There will be many more posts to come.
Stick with me if you wanna see how all this plays out.

For now, I'm off to see about my fire.


Making soap with homemade woodash lye

Soap is made with three things- water, lard and lye. Lard can be anything plant or animal fat. Soaking ashes in water makes lye, which you can mix with lard then boil to produce homemade soap.  Salt makes your soap harden. 
Woodash lye produces a softer soap than commercial lye does. It is also more "organic" than regular commercial lye and can be found in abundance, considering you enjoy a nice cozy fire, or heat your home with wood. 
The best fat to use for homemade wood ash soap is tallow, which is beef or pig fat. Any other products will make your soap much softer. You should always use gloves and eyewear when handling any type of lye!

There are two methods to making wood ash lye soap.
cold process
 cooked process.

The cold process-
When the right amount of ingredients are put together and mixed for long periods of time (Time depends on fat used) poured into a mold and dried.

The cooked process-
Cooking the ingredients together, pouring into a mold and drying. The cooked process also works great for melting old soap pieces back together to create new bars of soap.

You can add things into your soaps such as oatmeal, essential oils, honey or even herbs. Using oils such as olive or coconut oil can produce softer soaps as well. If using oils, tallow will allow your soaps to take on a harder consistency.

To make soap-
 18.2 ounces of wood ash lye
2 1/2 pints of water (rainwater is best!)
6 pounds of tallow

I am unsure of how many molds this will make, I guess it depends on the size mold you are using, but the recipie says ten bars. 

To make this-
Slowly pour the water over into the lye. Melt the tallow, allow it cool for about ten minutes and pour over into the lye water. At this time you can add your essential oils or olive or coconut oil. Stir until it becomes thick. If you are using an oil such as coconut you will need to stir this a longer period of time for it to thicken up. If you want your soap to float in water, you can add a teaspoon of baking soda. 
It should be about the consistency of melted chocolate. You will want to let this rest awhile, so set it aside  while you prep your molds. Use plastic wrap to line your molds with before you pour your soap over into them. I have not made soap thus yet, but I assume the plastic wrap helps the soap to smoothly come out of the molds once dried. Once y our soap is poured, cover with a towel and allow it to dry for 24 hours. Some people like to cut their soap when it has not reached being fully dried, as it makes it easier to cut. Some like to wait for the drying process to finish, This seems to be all about preference.
If you want to cure your soap, then let it dry 4 to 6 weeks uncovered in an airy spot. Uncured soap can give skin burns,so you can never let it cure for to long. 

For a single bar of soap-
3 heaping tablespoons of lye
1/2 cup water


Turmeric-A most powerful herb

                                                       Turmeric in Wooden Bowl


Turmeric is native to Indonesia and southern India. It has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. It plays an important role in many traditional cultures throughout the East. Arab traders first introduced into Europe in the 13th century. Since then it has become very popular in the western cultures. Many studies have been done as to it's therapeutic and medicinal uses.

Turmeric is an excellent source of Iron and magnesium and a good source of vitamin b6, fiber and potassium.

Turmeric is one of the most powerful herbs that plays a part in fighting off foreign invaders in your body. It also plays an important role in repairing the damage done by these invaders. It is good for both body and brain function and health.
Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a medicinal herb.
The medicinal compounds in Turmeric is curcuminoids, the most beneficial being curcumin. This is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
The best way to consume turmeric for medicinal purposes is to take the extract. If you take turmeric as a stand alone, meaning if you use the spice itself, it is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. You will need to take black pepper with it as pepper enhances the absorption process.

Turmeric can help fight chronic inflammation, and matches most prescription and over the counter anti inflammatory drugs. In most studies it's potency has worked better than most of these drugs, and the best part is that you do not have to worry about side effects!

Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and neutralizes free radicals thus stimulating the body's own antioxidant enzymes which will help to boost the immune system and fight of bugs.

When it comes to brain function turmeric has been link to improved brain function and helps to lower the risk of brain diseases. It will help neurons in the brain to not only form new connections, but to multiply and increase in number. (This is good) Turmeric is vital for brain health and can help with things such as depression, cognitive function and age related brain diseases such as alzheimer's. It may even be effective at delaying or even reversing these things.

Turmeric can help lower your chances of heart disease. The main benefit of turmeric even more so than what we have already covered is that it can improve the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. It is a well known fact that endothelial dysfunction is a major driver in heart disease. Turmeric can decrease chances of having a heart attack.

When it comes to cancer, turmeric can play an important role in treatment, and perhaps even help to prevent it!  Turmeric can affect the growth of cancer cells by reducing them, and blocking the growth of new cells and can help to kill them. There is evidence that turmeric can help to prevent cancer to begin with, especially cancers of the digestive system, like colon cancer.

Arthritis is a very common problem for many people. Turmeric works extremely well in people with arthritis, especially chronic rheumatoid arthritis. Since turmeric is anti inflammatory, it will help to prevent inflammation of the joints, which is what most people with arthritis experience.

Turmeric can be used to treat many other minor problems including-
water retention
eye infections
sore inside the mouth
menstrual difficulties
blood in the urine
Indigestion and heartburn
Inflammatory bowel disease or colitis such as crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Cystic fibrosis
Prostate cancer
It can help improve liver function, protect the cardiovascular system (as described above)

Turmeric doesn't just help with inflammation inside the body, but on the outside as well. This makes it beneficial to use in homemade creams for sore backs, bruises and swelling of the joints.

How to make turmeric paste

Turmeric tea

Find organic turmeric