How Clean is your Water, Carry your Own Gun, Protection from bears, and doing it yourself

We are now proud owners of over 40 acres of wilderness. You can read all about our plans and adventures here. Needless to say, there is a lot of work ahead and a lot of danger.

We will be digging two sand point wells next spring. That water will be used at our hunting shack and in our orchard. Eventually, it may even be used to water our animals. So I want to be sure that it's clean! Of course, it will be filtered by the Earth, but that doesn't mean it's safe to drink.

Lucky for us, we received this packet of water testers:

We have two wells to test and I'd like to test the water quality of both of our lakes (the big and the little!) Who knows what's in there. If the water is clean, then it's safe to eat the wild rice, fish, and waterfowl that live there. If not....then we have more work ahead. I will be bringing them to check the water quality over the next few weeks and will update this article when I get a chance to use them.

These water test strips test for lead, bacteria, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, pH and hardness. 

Water is a big deal - but so is wildlife. I'm not used to being snuck up on by black bears, coyotes, and deer. I plan to carry a weapon, but I also plan to work!

Nothing is more frustrating than being physically limited and traditional holsters prevent me from running, sitting, and bending. So I am super excited about this belly gun holster.

Access is a little more annoying than having the gun in your waist, but it's easier than having it in your bra or under your armpit. I plan to wear this while I'm planting trees, digging wells, and riding around on my property.

I also plan to wear this when I get my conceal and carry permit in the city/suburbs. I think the print is worse than with a waist carry but in sweater/coat weather, it shouldn't matter.

I received complimentary items for review purposes. No compensation was received. All articles on this blog may contain affiliate links/ads.

Halloween is a great time to express your individuality. Every year, I dress up as something gothic and scary. It's super fun. But the fall season can also inspire you to be more creative in your every day look.

I had the opportunity to sample this set of 3 jewelry pieces and it was a lot of fun. All of the pieces were well made, but not "precious metals." This allowed me to wear them without worry. If I got tired of the style or lost the piece, it wasn't going to be a bank breaker. I could even borrow them to my daughter without issue.

It's a fun way to mix and match your style at an affordable price. I was impressed. All of the pieces were unique and fun to wear.

I received complimentary products for review purposes. No compensation was received. All articles in this blog may contain affiliate links/ads at no additional cost to the readers.

Keep your car clean, Make your own juice, and get rock hard abs!!

Today's women are like superman. They balance kids, work, the house, marriage, shopping, cooking, and cleaning yet some how manage to look great! I'm no superman, but I do have a lot going on right now! Maybe you do too. Time to look at a few time saving products to make your life easier.

Do you lug dirty stuff in your vehicle? I do. I will not pass up free black dirt, woodchips, plants, or manure. Yes, manure! I have put it all in my car and with somewhat disasterous results. Containers spill. Even if you aren't putting that type of stuff in your vehicle, you may be transporting pets, camping gear, or sports equipment.

If you are, then it's time to consider protecting your car! I have this black waterproof cargo liner for the back of my van. It fits most SUVs and does a fantastic job of covering the carpeting. Why not just use a tarp? Because tarps move and don't always fit correctly. Ideally, you would use both for really dirty jobs.

But this cargo liner does a pretty good job and it looks good. Tarps look like crap. You could forget to take this out and not be embarrassed by a ratty mess. It looks good with or without cargo.

While you are busy keeping your car clean, time to think about cleaning up your life. Let's start with your eating habits. According to recent figures, the sales of juice are way down. Wahoo! Finally, people are starting to realize that store bought juice is severely lacking in nutrition. There's just no substitute for fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. If you want juice, make it yourself. It's much healthier, tastier, and fun.

I've owned many juicers over the years and this little juicer is pretty convenient. The best part about it is the glass container to catch the juice. My favorite juicer is a vintage glass juicer, but it is lacking because it doesn't have a container. This does it all. And it's about the right serving size so you don't make more juice than necessary. I am a big fan of glass so the fact that the container was glass was a plus in my book.

Why should you limit the amount of juice you drink? Because juice on it's own misses the fiber and other parts of the fruit necessary for adequate health. Juicing it yourself does keep all the vitamins and enzymes intact, but you will want to make juice a treat and not an "everyday food."

That will certainly help your abs! But you'll get double the results if you work them! Ab exercises can be some of the most boring!! So try out some new gear to make it more fun.

I am a big fan of these ab gliders. They take almost no space to store, they are portable, and they are effective. Painfully effective. I love to use these for army crawls and body drags. They take a little resistance (friction!) away and make the workouts much more fun!

I recommend adding them to your routine (especially if you run a bodyweight routine.)

I received complimentary products for review purposes. No compensation was received. All opinions expressed are my own. All articles on this blog may contain affiliate links/ads at no added expense to the reader.

Following your Dreams, Living off Grid, and Building a Sustainable Homestead

If money and time were not concerns, what would you do with your life? This is an important question. Of course money and time will always be problems - but acting as if they weren't will help you identify what you really want in life.

Think about it. Why are you here? What do you want? What's holding you back. The truth is - nothing that happens here ultimately matters. Well, it matters, but not in the way we imagine. On your death bed, are you going to stew about the money you've lost or the "things" you'll leave behind? No! Go out and live your life. Here's a quote I think says it best:

I've asked myself what I want out of this life. Health and food quality has always been super important to me. After some introspection,  I realized I want to try and grow all my own food, and I want to live sustainably. So just a few days ago, we bought a farm. Can I afford it? Hell no. Am I doing it anyway? You bet I am.

This is the land I bought:
It's raw land. 40 acres of trees, scrub grass, tilled dirt, swamp, and a lake. We own all the way back past the lake to the north - the lake is all ours. It's loaded with wild rice, fish, and waterfowl.

These guys live in the trees:

Those are actual shots from the property. Of course, that's not all. There are also deer, coyotes, ground hogs, and bears. We will eventually hunt the deer (and maybe the bears) but those animals are going to make it interesting to grow fruit trees and a garden. Some of them will be scary for my chickens and children!

Thank God for the 2nd Amendment!

How is it going to work? We are going to continue living in the suburbs and head out to the land each weekend. We are going to plant trees, move dirt, layout trails and plan for the future. This way, our kids get to stay in their schools (parents - it's brutal to move your kids during middle/high school. They have enough stress!,) my husband still has a reasonable commute to work, and we have something to look forward to when we become empty-nesters.

How many of you are "planning for retirement" but with no plans on what you'll do with all the free time? Because I've been a stay-at-home parent for almost 13 years, I've had time to think about it. I've basically been retired for the last few years. I've come up with all sorts of hobbies, volunteer, and come up with ways to keep myself busy, but I knew that when my kids moved out, I would have too much time and not enough interest. So this is part of the plan. This way, my husband and I will have goals beyond our children and our children will have a fun place to come home to (and eventually bring their kids!)

In the future, we will have so many fruit/nut trees. We will have chickens and maybe cows/pigs. We will have lots of work and lots of fun to do at our homestead.

The fun has already begun. Check out how beautiful this lake is:

Next fall, we'll be processing wild rice for the first time! And maybe I'll cook my first duck!

I've already started buying and planting shrubs (so many berries!!!) and have already lined up fruit trees for next spring. I'm on the hunt for a good deal on bee boxes - so I can start my hives.
End of the season plant clearance sales are the bomb!

And who wants to trek across all that land without some power....

My children have always been "city kids" and have never had the freedom to ride and explore the world. Well, we explore the suburban trails and park systems (and they rock!) but it's just not the same. Plus this bad boy is going to help me plant a lot of trees!

Starting a homestead is a scary and expensive process. But it's also super exciting.

Over the next decade - we will be building a hunting lodge, siting out a house, digging wells, planning for solar, sustainable septic (perhaps a methane producing digester?) planting berries and trees, restoring part of our land to natural wildlife prairie, and learning to tend beehives and process honey and wild rice. We have a lot of big maples to plant so we can continue tapping for maple syrup. We have a lot of equipment to buy too - four wheelers/atvs, bobcats, generators, nail guns, jacks, trailers, hitches....that list goes on and on!

It's going to be an adventure - and that's one of the big purposes in life! Have that adventure! And do a little good along the way.

How To Fix BAD Posture - rounded shoulders from too much screen time

What does your back look like? Never thought about it? Go take a look! If you are like most Americans and spend a great deal of time with your device (or computer) then there is a good chance your shoulders are rounded forward.

This postural position sets up a cascade of physical changes - from a forward jutting neck, to twists in your spine - that can all lead to disaster. Headaches, neck pain, back pain, weakness, and deformity are all on the list.

So how do you fix it. First of all, take a break from the screens. Learn to use them with better posture in mind. Then start working on exercise. Most people work to improve their front of their body (because that's what they see in the mirror) and neglect their posterior side. Don't! Do back work - like rows, pull ups, and good mornings. Don't forget important exercises like dead lifts too!

There are tools that help too. Like this back posture corrector. I wore this around the house for 3 hours. It felt like wearing a backpack but did wonders to hold my shoulders in place. It was amazing how many times I tried to round my shoulders in daily life but couldn't because of the brace. I had no idea how often I tried to round them.

But I only wore it once - because I have pretty good posture and posterior muscle strength - and I'm new to the whole "device life."

My children are a different story. My son is in desperate need of posture intervention. I have tried for years to get him to pay attention to his posture, to work on exercise, and limiting screens. To no avail.

So the back corrector went on. He complained and complained, but when my husband complimented how much stronger he looked walking around with his shoulders in the right place, he wanted to wear it all the time. It is now his and I am hopeful that it will correct his posture for good.

Part of the shoulder rounding cascade is  puffing out your ab muscles - if you have this problem (as my son does) be sure to use the "pulling" sensation of the brace as reminder to pull your ab muscles in. Train your brain to associate that pull with the reminder. You will be glad you did!

I received a complimentary brace for review purposes. No compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. This blog does contain affiliate links/ads at no cost to the reader.

Preparing for Fall, Camping, Leather Conditioning, and Starting Fires!

It's officially fall!!! Time to watch the leaves change, gather in your harvest, put the garden to bed, and prepare for winter! Winter sneaks up and it's a difficult season. So make the most of fall while it's still here.

That means, make your final camping plans. Yes, you can camp out in the winter, but it's tough and you need extreme gear. Camping in the fall is still fun - provided you are prepared. One thing you desperately need no matter what the season, is a sleeping pad. I have always packed my yoga mats to provide cushion from the Earth, but they aren't perfect. My really fat yoga mat is pretty good, but the thinner ones are almost worthless. They do provide a buffer though, and this is important. The Earth will suck the heat right out of your body and even in the middle of summer you will freeze.

It's better to get an actual mat. This one from Survival Hax is self-inflating. It rolls up nice and small (yes!!) and provides not only a cushion (better than a yoga mat) and protection from the heat loss. I highly recommend it.

This company makes  a lot of stellar outdoor/prepping gear. You can check out more of their products here. I am pretty interested in their sweet mummy bag (those babies can keep you warm even in our frigid weather!)

If you are heading out, be prepared! And that includes starting fires. Campfires are awesome, and fires for cooking/keeping warm are great too! But you have to be able to start it! Use dry kindling and remember not to suffocate the fire. If you live in wind tunnel like I do, then also be aware of how the wind will affect your flames. For us, it's sometimes difficult to even get a fire going.

That's why we gave this butane torch a go. It's so cute - almost looks like a gun - and it's really functional. I LOVE that you can see how much butane is left. We've had lighters that stopped functioning but you couldn't tell if it was out of gas or what was wrong with it. This one is easy to tell.

It can easily fit in your pocket, your purse, or in your jacket. Very nice addition to your camping supplies.

It's also time to rake up leaves. Please do not throw your leaves in the garbage or even have them hauled away by a composter. Your trees need those leaves. If you can, give them back to the trees! Or...compost them yourself. It's easy. Just leave them in a pile or put them inside plastic bags. Within a year they will break down into almost nothing, but that nothing is extremely valuable for plant and microbe life. You'll be doing your lawn a huge favor by saving them.

Once you've gathered up your harvest, take an inventory of all that went well. Write yourself a note for next spring. I always dig my notes out in the middle of winter (when I'm dreaming of spring) and start working on the next year's garden plans. You'll be glad you took notes.

Then be sure to empty out your rain barrels, close off your outdoor water pipes, bring all your tools and supplies in for winter storage. And it's time to take care of some often overlooked items.

Leather. Do you have leather boots, couches, jackets, seats in your car? Leather is skin and winter is hard on skin. Condition your own skin well as we head into fall/winter, but also your leather items.

Use a quality conditioner, once before winter kicks in, during winter as needed, and then again once winter is over. Your leather will look nicer and last a lot longer. It doesn't have to get ripped up and torn.

And last but not least - grab an easy recipe for homemade hot cocoa and fill up a few jars of mix. Then reward your kids with a hot steamy cup of cocoa (with whipped cream - the best!) when they come in from playing in the snow or shoveling.

Have a great fall/winter!

*I received items for review purposes. No compensation was received. This blog may contain affiliate links/ads. These ads/links do not cost the reader anything but do help support this blog. Thank you.

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