Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Off Subject Post...but with value!

So...thinking about NATURE...obviously it's what I's probably WHY you're reading this's probably WHY a lot of us are passionate about sustainability. Now mind you...I'm not an "off grider"...YET, for me (us) it's a process, and a desire...but remember, this is a blog about my JOURNEY, not my "finished Product"! With that being said...I begin this post!

Very soon, we'll be ready to move into our new homestead...(can you say GLORIOUS!) And I think about how my "everyday tasks" of being a Mom, wife, etc.. will change the way I have to do some things. It won't be "imaging HOW" I'll do'll be a forced matter of DOING IT! So, I felt no better time than the present to start experimenting with different products/tools/etc....and reporting my reviews as I go! You'll find a LOT of different things I'll try...some useful, some...well..maybe not so much!

One thing I think a lot about it HOW I look. I don't need anyone to tell me that "it doesn't matter how you look!" or "You're suppose to be a homesteader...throw on your overalls, put your hair in a ponytail, and get to work growing your greens and shoveling poo!" I'm sorry...I'm a GIRL, (Mature lady!) and I FEEL better when I look good! Sure..I don't mind lounging around in my pj's or oversized T-shirts, or even wearing my crocks to town!! But for ME...I LIKE TO LOOK NICE! So fooey on those of you that think those things don't matter! I like to look good because it makes me happy! So...there! Trust me...I can get just as diry/sweaty/nasty as any guy could...and love it! But there's still something to be said about cleaning myself up real fine! So...with that being said, I'm going to start my review of my first product!

Why I wanted to try it:
1. Because I want more natural products, and less GUNK in my hair!
2. Going from city water/city sewer to a well and septic...I'm concerned about all the SOAP products going into the ground.
3. If it's healthier for my hair, and will help me grow it back out (so I CAN do a nice ponytail) I'm all for it!

So here it is: HAIR ONE
Check out the link, and get the details so as to save time putting the information of it on here. For those that don't want to click on the link...basically, it's cleansing conditioner made with all natural products, contains NO sulfates, and no detergents. IT WILL NOT SUDS! It's just like WEN, but at a fraction of the cost! You can buy it at Sally's Beauty Supply for $10.99. They claim that the longer/more you use it...the better condition your hair will be! So...I'll begin on Day ONE, and as not to appear redundant, will only post updates to the review on a monthly basis!

I bought the Jojoba for color treated hair...(oh COME ON!!! REALLY???) I may be a natural blonde...but me a blonde that doesn't improve on her color??? Anyways...I tried it for the first time today! I followed the directions to a T! It wasn't long before the natural elixirs started tingling my head!!!! Kinda like when you put VICKS up your nose! hehehe BUT without the "nasty" smell! Very Sweet smelling! Left it on for the suggested time and longer, rinsed REAL well, towel dried, then blew it out with a large round brush!

Results? Wow...I am amazed! Hair has more shine, more body, and even the color looks BETTER! Very soft too! I'm loving this! I always say...the proof is in the ongoing testing will need to be done! So...with that being said. My first "product review" is complete! Short...sweet...and to the point! I'll put up some videos of products I'm trying...or want to try. I go!!! (as I exit the room swishing my "FULL OF BODY" hair from side to side and whip it to the side for a little "exit wink"! ;)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hello Hello!

Winter is in the air...unfortunately! For those that don't know me...I HATE WINTER! hehehe But on the positive side, the cold weather does slow me down to the point that I have a little more time to devote to my blog! I'm promising that I'll do a better job at keeping up!

The past two months have been pretty uneventful for the most far as "homesteading" goes. Due to all the country restrictions, (see earlier posts) we did have the well drilled and now have WATER! I don't feel too bad about it though, as it isn't city water/ I don't have water bills! YEA!

Late October, we also fired up the in floor radiant heating... which led us to having to hurry up and insulate the building since we were losing a lot of heat. Within a week or two, we were able to drywall the ceilings in the living quarters, insulate the outside walls, and blow in insulation up in the attic space. (and yes...I used eco friendly GREEN insulation) This was a huge expense we hadn't budgeted things were slim for a few weeks. You can imagine how many bags of insulation it took to blow a 40x60 building! So now that it's nice a cozy in's heated up real nice.

NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS: My DH underestimated the load the water heater was going to take to heat up the water for the in floor radiant heating. It's working...for now... but at a huge expense of LP, something I'm not proud and learn. Soooooo...I have plans to add a solor hot water collector and tank to preheat the water before entering the water heater. It's not something I'll get to soon though, so look for that spring project in posts to come!
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS: My carefully designed floorplan for the living quarters is REALLY paying off! I researched and studied "passive solar heating" and utilized what I'd learned when designing the living quarters...and boy OH BOY has it worked! Knowledge is POWER...and pun is intended! The living quarters boasts a remarkable temperature over the rest of the building! I'm soooooooo thankful that I paid attention!

Another good thing about winter, (I'm trying to be positive here...) is that I really start getting the "homesteading and sustainable" bug... I have more time to research out ideas...etc... (and catch up on Wretha's Blog!) Start planning my gardens etc...When talking with a friend last night, I decided that I could incorporate my "soon to have" livestock into my photography marketing. So for my "spring set" and Easter pics, I'm going to have LIVE chicks and bunnies! The chickens will then be moved out to the coop. My daughter wants bunnies, I want that works too! Killing 2 birds with one to speak! (no pun intended there!) hehe

Another thing I want to mention here...that I haven't touched on yet, is TRASH! One of my concerns when we set out to build was "construction trash". Typically, you see a construction dumpster next to every construction site. This was disconcerting to me, and I had real issues with adding MY trash to the landfill. This set about my thoughts that I would be a frugal as possible in WHAT I was throwing away during the construction phase. I'm proud to say that I did not get a dumpster, and only have a very small garden trailer full of trash....real trash...nothing I could find purpose for! I salvaged every piece of scrap lumber that I thought I could use for another project...every piece of metal siding/roofing over a sq. ft. was saved! (I figure I could piece enough together to cover the roof of a shed or something!)

So what's the GAME PLAN?? So glad you asked!!!
1. This next week, I'm starting on drywalling the walls in the living quarters. My goal in the next two months, is to be moved in...or at least VERY close to moving into the living quarters. Then begins the arduous task of preparing and getting this home ready for the market!

2. I'll also be planning my garden for this next spring. This year I'm going to try something different (for me). I am going to do "square foot gardening", and leave the huge plot to just CORN! I love love love to watch The Garden Girl! She has so many great and wonderful tips and tricks and knowledge..I urge you all to check out her website!
As time allows...I'll start building some raised beds to get ready for spring!

3. well...I can't think of number 3 right now! LOL Actually, I can't generalize ALL the things that still need done down to just one I'll just have to post as I come up with things!

Well, that's it for now! Till next time!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

 I know it's been awhile since I updated last...but as you can imagine I've been crazy busy! So here are some updated shots...we're into the drywalling right now, and will get some shots posted of that shortly! We're getting there!

Monday, June 8, 2009

My New Studio Front Door!

I negotiated a deal with the Manager of Menards on this wonderful door! $850 door for $250~ YEA! The other 2- Six panel ext. doors I got for $100 combined! All Brand new!

Under Roof!


Post being set!

Building being delivered!

Whew! Crazy whirlwind!

Hey everyone! Sorry it's been awhile since my last posting! The construction of the new building/living quarters, has REALLY eaten up most of my time these past three weeks! I'm sore/tired/exhausted/bruised and battered..BUT I LOVE IT! It's so awesome to see this dream come to fruition! I have tons of pictures to I'll keep this short!

All in all...the building is coming along really well! Slower and more expensive than I had expected, but isn't it always? HA! Most pictures are self explainatory, so enjoy! We're actually quite a bit further along than these pics show...but these will get this blog back up and going!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Forgot to mention my "Good Find!"

I totally scored big time yesterday~! But before I get tons of questions like: "Those aren't sustainable!" "Why do you need a dishwasher?" "HOW are those "Green"?". For starters..REMEMBER...I said we were a traditionally SUPER busy family of five, and it's my desire to show the normal family of five ways to be sustainable and more environmentally friendly, while still living la vida loca! hehe The appliances are Energy Star, (which was a bonus!) and studies have shown that LESS water is used in a dishwasher than in hand washing your dishes. And with the amount of dishes my family produces..(AND trying to stay away from plastic/styrofoam etc... disposables) a dishwasher makes perfect sense! And for the price...for those most interested in budgets, I got a great deal! Yes...I could have found even MORE used ones, for pennies...BUT they would have been energy suckers, and low life left. I'm getting QUALITY appliances for a great price!
Here we go! was able to find ALL of my appliances for the new living quarters! I found an ad on Craigslist for a full set of matching appliances...a side by side w/water and ice in the door (Elite version), matching range, microwave, and dishwasher! They're coming out of an upper crust housing addition about an hour away! The wife want's all stainless steel, so they're replacing them! Anyways...I got them ALL for only $700! I went there yesterday to look and pay for them! The timeframe works out great too! They don't have their new one's yet, and we don't have a place to put them yet...he asked if they could have two weeks! SURE...WHY OF COURSE YOU CAN! Considering I don't have a place to store them yet~! Appliances....CHECK! Thank God for his Blessings!

The excavation begins!

Monday, we started the excavation on the building site! Brought in several loads of beautiful fill, and got everything leveled out and ready to receive the building and the slab! YEA~! So exciting!
And I'm even MORE EXCITED to announce that TODAY is the BIG DAY!!! Our building is scheduled to arrive between 12 and 1:00! YIPPEE~ Tobey took the day off work to be here too! BUT we got a LOT of rain last night, and he said the land is really I'm not sure how the "offloading" of the building is going to go?

As of right now...we are scheduled to start erecting the building on Monday. So be ready for a lot of pics~! Things are moving pretty fast now! Exciting but stressful at the same time! But I just can't wait! wooohooooo

Mother's Day (a little late...I know!)

Hello everyone, and Happy Belated Mother's Day! I would have posted sooner, but couldn't find my usb cord for my phone! I also apologize for the images...seems my camera on my phone isn't producing as good as it I guess I'll have to switch to one of my son's point and shoots!

We spent a wonderful Mother's Day out on the land with our close friends, Bruce and Tammy and their kids. (And both Mother in Laws) The kids played on the dune buggy, sharing rides, and also got in on splitting wood! Who'd ever had thunk it that kids would argue about WHO get's to split wood? HA! Even the littlest of kids were splitting!

We had to dodge some rain...but what's a good camp out without rain? Good food, Good friends...Good times! And we were blessed with a gorgeous rainbow!! MY cup runeth over!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's been a BUSY and long 2 weeks!

Sorry it's been a little while since posting...but since I'm working as our General Contractor, I've had tons of things to take care of! I'll highlight some of the more exciting things!

We got our building permit! YEA! We're legal! $35.00 and we're good to go! Easy process, and nothing to worry about! (That's the GOOD news!)

Next I hit the Health Department. uhhhh...not so much fun! I spent 3 hours at the Health Dept. with all the architect's drawings of the graywater disposal system, the codes for New Mexico and Arizona, research and studies to back it up etc... (I had called ahead several days prior to my actual visit)

And for the sake of the readers...I will not go into all the details...just the "meat" of it! Long Story Short (ha) Not only will they NOT allow the composting toilets...Ohio has actually made them ILLEGAL! Same with Graywater systems. They took pity on me and WERE very nice of them literally sat there and told me that it's all political, and all about money..and that what I was proposing was better for the environment, but that the state wouldn't make any money off of it. Which means we will have to have a septic system. THEN...(get this) it's also illegal to have a cistern without having a fully working well drilled! DOH! WHAT'S THE POINT? There again...he said it was political, and that when people were "bootlegging" water...the state wasn't making see...the reason they were bootlegging water, was because the state made a rule that you had to be a "Certified Water Handler" and Licensed to transport water in the state of Ohio, (which costs money) so people were bootlegging the water! HA! So we're back at square one...and we certainly didn't allot money in our loan for a septic ($15,000 - $20,000) and a well ($4500) I said...they were REALLY helpful, (and sounded to me like they were tired of the political crap themselves) There's this new system called the "Presby Environmental" septic system that's about half the cost...BUT they are only manufactured by ONE company, and you have to be a certified Presby installer in order to purchase one. (Figures!)

Sooooooooooooo they proposed that I file a variance ($100 to apply) to allow us to only place the actual septic TANK in the ground, and have it pumped as needed, for up to ONE YEAR. During that year, we would attend a Presby certification class, and be able to do it ourselves for about half of the half of the other system...(so around $4000) We go to the variance meeting on the it all hinders on that. Then we have a friend who will drill a well at a fairly decent price. So we're still spending out of pocket...but just not as much!

We also had the test holes dug for the perc test ($75) for the dig ($140 for them to come out) BUT the guy said that he was really surprised, and that we have some of the best dirt he's seen in our county! YEA!!!! Some GOOD NEWS!

I also spent all the week getting my garden in. (will post pics) It's pretty big, and contains,
8 rows of sweetcorn
4 rows of bush beans
4 rows of peas
2 rows of lettuce
2 rows of romaine
2 rows of radishes
2 rows of carrots
2 rows of jalapeno, and banana peppers
36 tomato plants
2 rows of broccoli
2 row of cauliflower
2 rows of spinach
4 rows of onions

I still have to plant my green peppers, but the Amish family that runs the greenhouse were out of them, so I'll have to go into the larger Amish community about 30 min. away for green peppers. Mind you...I got all the above for $55.00 YIPEE!

My buddy Dan loaded our truck with a skid steer bucket of turkey poo compost and cow poo compost..I was on my own that I shoveled it out one shovel at a time, then used the bobcat to spread it around.

NOW HERE'S THE FUNNY STORY! So I get done with the compost, and decide that I'd better take the truck to the car wash or my Hubby will be ticked if his truck smells like poo! I wasn't even thinking when I put that high pressure washer in the bed of the pull of the trigger, and I created a shower of sweet smelling poo~ HA! I covered myself with POO~ Oh how I stunk! But I persevered and kept cleaning, only to accidentally do it a couple more times! It's amazing how those little crevices in a truck bed can shoot poo! Needless to say, I came home and took a REAL shower! (smelled LOTS better!)

So early next week, the excavator is coming to start the bed of the slab and grade everything, we have to take a trip to Menards to get all the plumbing stuff for the plumbing...(and a normal toilet) (Bummer!) THEN, there's potentially a chance the building will be here late this week or early next! So check back often, as I'll post pics of the whole thing going up! I've hired Dan as my construction manager, and three other guys and myself will put this thing up three days! (and yes...I'm BELIEVING THAT IT WILL BE DONE!) :) Well...that's all for now! Toodles!

Monday, April 27, 2009

We're on a roll!

Well, Jacob got his first lesson in driving the bobcat after his double header (baseball game)! As figured, he was a quick learner and handled it like a pro! After Jacob learned how to run everything (and hubby DID give him a long lesson, saftety instructions and practice session!) we just sat back and watched, as Jacob made quick work of the two big piles of earth that were created from digging the driveway! He was quite content to go back and forth all day long! I think he enjoyed himself a little too much, cause as the piles of earth got smaller...his loads were barely filling the buckets! HA! Here he is doing his thing!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Hey all! Sorry it's been a couple weeks since my last post, but after several birthdays, musicals, and a lot of other "busy"....I will try to cram a couple weeks into a few short paragraphs. I'm sooooooooooooooo excited to say that we've closed on our commercial loan for the studio and living quarters yesterday, (FINALLY... after an appraiser that took an enormous amount of time)! WOOOHOOO! I'm soooo excited! And the crazy thing is....our payment for the land and the building is LESS than I was paying in rent for my storefront studio location. Crazy huh? AND...our project appraised for $7000 MORE than what we're borrowing! And with that being said, our plan...and once we unload our current home... we'll have this paid off in 2 years, with completely no mortgage, and be in a great position to start the straw bale home. I'm just feeling soooooooooooo blessed right now...(my cup runeth over)

My hubby and his buddy also drove down to Tennessee to my Dad's, to bring back the bobcat, free sliding glass doors, the cement mixer, and several other things. (Thank You Dad!)'s the low down on how the next couple weeks are going to work. Mike over at DIY Polebarns has been sooooooo great through this whole process, and extremely patient with our long process. I gotta tell ya...if you need a pole barn at a great price, you HAVE to check out DIY Polebarns. DIY is HANDS DOWN the company who gave us the most with top quality. And...get this...when the prices for steel and wood went down, Mike offered to requote the SAME DAY we were closing at a new reduced price. He was HAPPY to do it... and our lead time is about 2-3 weeks. Where else could I deal with the president of the company on a one to one basis? (and NO....I'm not getting any *specials* to plug his business, I just believe in passing on information for good people who believe and practice the way I try to practice in my business.)

So we have 2-3 weeks to prep the site, and get everything ready! Whew... I'm meeting the electric co-op out on the land on Wed. to get electric to the site. "WHAT? I thought you were going green Tara?" Hold up! Let me explain! hehehe We started this project with the intention of showing people that a normal family of five CAN live sustainably in a REASONABLE fashion over a resonable amount of time. Remember's not about the "I want it now" mentality. We need electric for the building process, and since we're doing this for very little money, we will add solar and wind power AS WE GO, AS WE EARN, (remember...we don't like debt) and eventually ween ourselves off the grid, or at least lessen our dependancy. Practicality people! LOL

Then we'll have to get the site prepped, and if I remember right, the county is still requiring us to have a perk test/soil sample for a septic system BEFORE any construction is done on the site...even though we're NOT going to have a septic system and will be using composting toilets. So I'm going to have to get that just please the "powers that be" at the county level. (remember...everyone want's their piece of the pie!) And we also need to have another load of gravel delivered for the driveway, so we can get our final permit for the driveway, since we need THAT in order to apply for our building permit at the township level. (remember...the pie!) And we'll also need to schedule the cement delivery to coincide with the framing of the pole barn.

These next couple weeks are going to be very busy! It's ball season for the boys too, so when I'm not at the site, I'll be at the ball diamond! I think I better just pitch a tent! hehe! OH YEA...the first project I want to get done is a solar shower stall! That's something that I REALLY want on site during the building process. What better way to cool off and be refreshed after getting all sweaty, grimy, dirty, and covered in drywall dust that a soothing solar shower on site! I noticed some used privacy panels behind our local Napa store, and they've been there awhile...there's only about 3-4, and I know the owner, so I think I'll see if they want to get rid of them. I can easily convert those panels into a shower stall. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh

Oh...and I'm also happy to report that the one gutter on the chicken coop filled up the first rain barrel! I'm sure we would have filled another had I had time to convert the second garbage pail into a rainbarrel. So it works! YEA!

Well...that's all for now! I could keep going, but this is getting pretty long! Get ready for some construction pictures! Peace and blessings everyone!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Driveway YEA!

What a productive day! I can't believe that we have a DRIVEWAY!!!! ....well...sort of! It's a start! We still have some grading to do, and another load of rock next week! I was a little dissapointed in the SIZE of the rock though. I thought we were getting the big stuff! Even Dan questioned what they actually brought us...but it'll work! I'm just thrilled to have a way onto the land instead of taking the truck through the ditch! Here a few pics from the day, and I'll post the rest in the gallery. (link on right!) Whew...we're getting there!

Driveway Time!

Monday, March 23, 2009


 it's MONDAY! YEA! (jk) BUT, in my's the first day of spring break! I was so excited to post last night, because we had such a great day building our first rain barrel! We had gone to Menards real early, (limping as I may have been) and bought some gutters for the chicken coop, and stuff to transform a large garbage can into a rainbarrel! I even took pictures of each step! Cutting the holes for the spigot, Zach winding it in...the component for the downspout...everything. And low and behold, SOMEHOW...the usb cord for my phone was NOWHERE to be found! I searched high and low, and just don't understand HOW it could have dissapeared? SOOOOO, I don't have any pictures to post! :( But I will keep looking and post them as soon as I find it! I also bought THREE NEW SHOVELS, a cultivating hoe, and a small hoe (for Jenna) to make the rows. I got my onion sets, spinache, and radishes.
But anyways...we did get the gutter up on the Chicken coop! The reason? Well, we have no source of water on the land as of now, and since I want to get my garden in real soon, we'll need some H20 for watering! Since the coop is the only structure on the land...well...that had to be it! But what we thought was going to be easy, didn't end up being easy at all! hehehe The roof of the chicken coop is metal, but they built it with the ribs of the metal going horizontal to the slant of the roof...which meant that the rain would not flow down, but to the sides, and the overhangs were WAY too far out to drop any rain into the gutters. SOOOO, we hammered the metal down to drop into the gutters. So now...all we need is a little rain to see if it'll work!
We also flagged where the building is going to sit, and how far the driveway will go! Then we sat around the fire relaxing as I tended to my bum leg which was really swollen and very sore!
After we got home, I once again began my search for a rototiller! I did find one in a town about an hour and 1/2 away. It's rear tined, looks pretty new and fairly large...and a good deal at $160. We've exchanged emails, but I'm second in line to a guy who's going today at 1:00, so if THAT guy doesn't want it, and if it all works out...we'll be heading to go get it HOPEFULLY tonight! I also found some Hosta plants on Craigslist for free...just "you dig up" in the town over. So I'll be heading over there in about an hour or so to get those. I really didn't need too many, as I still have more to divide at home, but Missy needs some, and unfortunately...I don't have many to spare this year for her. So since they're free, and only about 15 minutes away, I'll go dig them up! Well...I'll attempt to anyhow...with my foot...who knows! I'm wondering if I didn't hurt it worse than I thought! It was really swollen and turning black and blue? Oh well, I'm still that's not going to stop me! :) Have a blessed day!