Friday, June 26, 2009

Staying Cool without Electricity

Greetings! I pray that everyone is doing well.

Summer heat has settled in now. We are having temps reaching the low 100*s on a daily basis and often with very little breeze. The focus is becoming the issue of how to deal with summer's heat without fans or air conditioning.

One of the way we combat the heat is to drink lots of fluids! Water and lemonade are always available & kept cold in the refrigerator.

I have started the habit of having a cool bubble bath available for the kids all afternoon. In the late morning, I run about 2-3 inches of water in the tub with a bit of baby wash. At any time in the afternoon when the children are getting too hot, they play in the tub. This works out better than having a small pool outdoors. The wasps love the outdoor kiddie pool as much (if not more than) the little ones! This has been working out very well. The little ones are able to cool off and also we can wash off the sweat & dirt from their playing all at once.

The most strenuous work is done in the mornings only. This will help to prevent becoming overheated & sick from the high temps. The past few days, the radio has announced heat advisories and by early afternoon you can certainly feel it! I now understand the reasons behind the idea of taking a siesta in the hot afternoons.

A recent change that helps greatly with keeping cooler is to not cook in the warm part of day. We now are eating foods cooked on the grill, sandwiches, salads, and a variety of roll-ups instead of cooking a hot meal each day. Things like a layered bean dip (refried beans, taco meat, and assorted toppings common on burritos or tacos) can be made early in the morning then refrigerated until ready to serve. Homemade potato or macaroni salads also can be made in the evening and refrigerated overnight.

We bought expandable screens to put in the windows that did now have any form of screens. This goes far in helping to take advantage of any breeze that happens to be present.

One common tip that we have tried in the past is to put foil in the upper windows. The idea is to reflect the sunlight away from the windows. We take a large piece of cardboard that is large enough to fit the upper half of the window. The cardboard is covered in foil with the shiny side facing outward. The cardboard is then placed in the window. It is important to note that you do not want to fully cover your windows with foil. This will darken the room and turn it into a nice cool, dark enviroment that spiders love! For this reason, we only do the top half of the windows. The bottom half has the window screens which allow both light and air flow.

What are your favorite tips for staying cool in the summer?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Adventures

Greetings! We are starting to get the hot summer weather already. It is an interesting experience to be going through our first summer without a fan or air conditioner. We are finding the heat is not too bad, but the humidity is a challenge. We are managing during the day. It is hard to sleep at night though when there is little to no breeze.

I am finally getting my energy levels back up and starting to be able to do more each day than I have in recent weeks. All the rains in April & May affected my fibromyalgia and had me slowing down. Even though the humidity is still high some days, I am doing much better! Praise the Lord!!!

We are beginning a new phase to our homestead life. We are taking steps to start teaching classes to others on topics related to self-sufficient & low-cost living. I am preparing the classes and flyers. The flyers will be distributed to the churches & organizations in our area to get the word out about the classes available. We are looking forward to this. There has been much interest in these classes so we are hoping that we will be able to get them going soon.

I got a large amount of fleece last week after a neighbor sheared his sheep. I have 2 1/2 very large bags of it! I am working on cleaning them to prepare for selling as well as to begin working with them myself. In all, there is fleece from approximately 35 sheep.

I am going to make myself some drop spindles to use to spin the wool. Drop spindles are very easy and affordable to make. They take a bit of practice to use, but are not hard to learn. I will post more about working with raw fleece in a future post.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Baby Slings

Recently, I received an email about a blog post that I made in the past. I had posted about a website where I found the directions for making your own baby sling. The lady who had the website no longer has the site available so I wanted to share a different site that may be of help to those wanting to make their own baby slings.

Jan Andrea has a wonderful free resource for making not only baby slings but other items that would be of interest. Her site has links for both the pouch and ring-sling styles. The ring-sling that I made is most similar to the Sling-A-Ma-Bob sling. I made mine from a single layer of linen fabric which is very sturdy, yet comfortable. Micah now weighs 22 lbs. and is still very easy to carry in this sling.

I hope that this helps those who have been looking for a free sling pattern resource.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Homestead Update

Greetings from the homestead! I pray that all are doing well.

Beloved began his vacation today. It is such a blessing. We are going to spend the time not only having fun with the kids, but will also be taking care of our garden & other tasks.

Our outdoor cat finally brought out her 4 kittens to greet the family. She had 3 black males and 1 gray female. They are adorable. We only have her and her mate now, so these kittens are a blessing.

The non-electric lifestyle is very interesting. We are enjoying it and learn more each day. Now that summer is bringing the longer daylight hours, we are able to go without using the kerosene lamps as often. It is a blessing also that the days are so warm that laundry is drying much faster on the line. By July, I will be able to fill the lines twice in a day if need be and still have everything dry by nightfall.

One project that Beloved is working on over his vacation is setting up an outdoor kitchen. Basically it is a BBQ area but with enough area on the fire pit to allow us to also cook with cast iron. The addition of this kitchen will cut back on propane usage during the months when the temps are too hot for my using the wood cookstove.

Today, we have signed up Miss Abigail for the library summer reading program. We read to her and Micah each day, so this will be a fun activity for her. Both she and Micah enjoy the times we read to them. The library we go to allows us to check out 60 books at a time. We have yet to reach that limit in one trip, but once we begin homeschooling in a couple of years, I am sure we will do our best to reach that limit. LOL

Last month, I canned a month's supply of meat for the first time. What a blessing that became! I am so thrilled with the results. We were able to store the meat very well and the flavor was good. I am looking forward to when Beloved is able to go hunting for deer in the fall. I will be able to can the meat and not have to worry about how to store it. I was very happy with how easily it was canned and the flavor of it afterwords.

I wanted to post a quick tip for anyone who uses a lot of dried herbs in their cooking, but does not grow their own. If you have access to a health food store that provides bulk bins that you can buy your foods from, see if they also have bulk containers of the dried herbs and seasonings. The store we go to has this and we are able to buy about a 1/2 cup quantity of dried herbs & seasonings for about 20 cents. This is far less than the small containers that you buy in the grocery stores! Last month, I bought a 1/2 cup quantity of dried Sweet Basil for 17 cents - that amount would have cost over $2.00 in the bottles sold in the grocery stores.