Monday, June 30, 2014

Westward Ho! {2014}

We went on a family vacation in early June out West.  I just wanted to share what we did, where we stayed and what we liked/disliked.
We were gone for 10 days total.  I think that I'm going to highlight each day in a separate post.  We will see how this whole thing evolves...not sure yet.
Anywho, lets start with planning, packing, leaving and where we traveled on Day 1:

Why out West?  Christian and I studied Yellowstone as part of our Social Studies unit this past year.  Sometime in February Chris approached Dave with his textbook and said "I think we should go here."  Man, I wish every vacation decision could be that easy.  
I got the green light from Dave a few weeks later to book it, cheap.  My budget was $1,000 total for lodging and we counted on $1,000 for gas.  
We had a time constraint on our hands while planning this vacation.  It needed to be done in early June and we needed to be back by Sunday, June 15th.  Cody started summer school on Monday, June 16th.  
I went on line and requested a vacation guide and any other literature I could get from every state we would be traveling through or staying in.  I figured whatever additional information I needed I could get when we stopped at the visitor centers in each state.  
I made up a spreadsheet that had the number of miles we would be traveling (trying not to exceed 8 hours of driving each day), what we would be doing each day, where we would be staying (and the approximate cost), and if there was an admission fee associated with where we were going that day (like a National Park), how much and for how long the permit was good for.  I even checked the Weather Channel as we got closer to our departure date and got the high and low temperatures for each day so that we could pack and dress accordingly. 
I printed up every motel/hotel reservation as back up and made a binder by calendar date and filled each section with the information needed for that day.  
This was the end result

Five people - FIVE, for a cross country road trip in a minivan.  With a 15 month old!  That's a lot of stuff.  Especially when you have a child who packs stuff "just in case" ah-hem, might I add, stuff that never, EVER got pulled out of the bag it was packed in. 
I knew that we would need to designate one day for doing laundry.  It saved space in the van.  I used clear plastic totes to pack snack foods and lunch stuff in as well as our biking gear (helmets, packs, water bottles).  I also got a shoebox sized clear plastic container to put extra sunglasses and rain ponchos in and shoved that under a seat.  
First I cleaned out the entire van and removed the rear passenger seat.  This allowed me to execute my tetris skills and cram as much stuff in what little space we had.  One thing to note, though, we brought our bikes with...if I had known what a pain in the ass it was going to be to take the bikes off and put them back on I would have reconfigured my packing so that we didn't need to access the van through the hatch to get what we needed each night at the motel/hotel.  Note for next time.  
To minimize fighting I put Chris (9) and Will (15 months) in the middle row and stuck Cody (14) in the back by himself.  This, I feel, worked out great.  
I used plastic coat hangers to put plastic grocery bags on and hung one by Cody and the other by Chris to use for garbage disposal.  We threw out the bags every day and I packed extra bags in a storage compartment.         

We were scheduled to leave at 12pm on the first Thursday of June.  It was Cody's last day of school and a reduced schedule due to finals.  That plan didn't happen.  We ended up leaving an hour later.  
We traveled through Northern Illinois into Wisconsin to Minnesota.  We stopped about every 3 hours to stretch our legs, change Will and run him around, to eat and/or use the restroom.  Because we left an hour later we arrived at our motel later than I had planned on.  

Day 1
We traveled along I90 into Minnesota.  The bluffs as you cross from Wisconsin into Minnesota along the Mississippi River are really, really cool.  
We stayed in Jackson, Minnesota at the Earth Inn Motel.  Again, my budget was $1,000 for lodging for 9 days total.  Knowing that we were only staying at each location essentially to shower and sleep, additional amenities were not even a consideration.  One thing I did try to do was book motels/hotels that offered a continental breakfast.  This reduced our food budget.  Some places had a better offering than others, I kind of knew that would happen.  I was just appreciative of the fact that there would be something to eat prior to hitting the road in the morning. 

Jackson, Minnesota was just a stopping point along our journey.  There really isn't much to do there.  There was a restaurant in front of our motel and a gas station across the parking lot.  Everything seemed to shut down around 11pm.  This was something we were not expecting, but seemed to keep it's course along the whole vacation.  

One thing that was weird to see were the road barriers that looked like rail road crossing arms along I90.  It took us a while to figure out that the roads shut down during inclimate weather and they divert drivers off the expressway.       

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Indian Boundary Line Homestead

Our garden is in!

I started the starters the day after Memorial Day.  We prepped the garden area by tilling, throwing our compost pile into the area and re-tilling it and then adding the ash pile from our mega burn into on top of that and re-tilling, again. We are taking over a part of the utility property that runs the length of the south end of our property.

While we were on vacation for 10 days my grandfather-in-law babied them for me.  I picked these up, thanks to him.

I tried something different this year and decided to start my plants in toilet paper rolls cut in half.  They have worked great thus far.  The cardboard should decompose in the soil at this point.  It saved us money by reusing something we would have recycled anyways.  

We have green and yellow beans (top left), pie pumpkins, winter squash, zucchini, ornamental gourds (bottom left), tomatoes & peppers (top right), peas (middle right) and radishes (bottom right).

We also have wild grapes, I'll use the leaves for pickling (top left), mulberry trees, for alcohol, jams and baking (bottom left), sweet corn (top right), cucumbers and pickling cucumbers (middle right), chive (bottom right) and carrots (bottom middle).

Dave worked really hard on building the trellis system for our tomatoes and peppers.  A row of green beans will climb up a portion of it as well.  I'm excited to use it this year, it will alleviate the need to bend down to pick the fruits and veggies.  I'll be able to see them better and access them easier. 

We have been kicking around a name for our garden/homestead for a while.  I've been kind of hesitant to call it a homestead.  I mean, it's a suburban yard.  But, what we do here is more than just garden.  We attempt to sustain, by either growing our own, trading/bartering or buying local.  We are more than a garden.

The Indian Boundary line runs through the back end of our yard.  The town we live in has a vivid and amazing history, rich with pioneers and homesteading.  One that teetered on existence with the Indian tribes that inhabited the area. It's actually really, really cool.  And, I wanted to honor that.  So, there is the sign that will hang in our garden.  

 Maybe I should add Gorilla Gardener to that sign?  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Diaper Rash - How do you treat it? *Pedi-Derm Bum Paste Review*

So, I'm pretty "crunchy" - actually, I'm more stubborn than anything else.  When it comes to substances that I use on myself and my children, the question I typically ask is "why"?  What is in it, why is it in it, what is it used for and so on.  I do a lot of research before I use something on my children.  This should really come as no surprise to most of you. 
An opportunity came about to review a sample of Pedi-Derm Bum Paste and I figured I'd give it a whirl. 
The thing that attracted me to this paste was that it could be used on rashes other than diaper rash and that it claimed to be "natural".   

My History With Diaper Rash Cream

My oldest son (who is 14) was in disposable diapers and was sent to day care with A&D Ointment and diaper wipes.  He got diaper rash and was treated with A&D.  
My middle son (who is 9) was in cloth diapers and rarely got diaper rash.  We did not use diaper wipes on him (wash cloths with warm water) and when he did have diaper rash we treated him with corn starch and air drying.
My youngest son (who is 15 months old) is in cloth diapers, has had diaper rash once (which we used coconut oil to treat) and we use diaper wipes with him.  

...just laying out the facts, nothing else.  

What's With The Ingredient?

I'm a coconut oil person.  I love the stuff and use it for treating rashes, burns, chapped lips, cleaning and cooking/baking.  It's awesome, in my opinion.  I know what it is and there is no funny stuff in it.  
Pedi-Derm Bum Paste contains Cornstarch NF, Zinc Oxide, Bismuth Subgallate, Lanolin Anhydrous and Cottonseed Oil.  Why?  

Zinc Oxide Powder: Insoluble in water. An excellent barrier and promotes healing by eliminating urine and watery stool contact.
Bismuth Subgallate Powder: Inhibits bacterial and fungus growth.
Corn Starch: Thickening agent, draws moisture to itself and helps keep area dry.
Lanolin: Helps form a superior water barrier as well as hydrates skin.
Cottonseed Oil: Conditions skin and helps aid in healing process.

All natural ingredients...
As in, I could find absolutely nothing negative about any of these ingredients.

So, I used it on myself first.  I have a self diagnosed patch of eczema on my right hand, between my middle and pointer fingers.  When it flairs up it hurts like hell and itches like crazy.  I had been using a mixture of coconut oil and raw honey comb with honey residue that I melted together.  It had been working great, a little sticky, but did the job.

Before I would try the Bum Paste on my youngest son, I wanted to try it on myself first.
So far, it's working great to relieve the itching and to help with the redness.

I decided to try it on my youngest son to treat some heat rash that was not clearing up (broken AC coupled with Illinois humidity = heat rash).  The rash was just at the top of the diaper cover rim, I dabbed the cream on the spots and then repeated twice and the rash cleared up.  Though, do be aware that caution should be used when using this product with a cloth diapered baby.  Because it contains lanolin any residue on the cloth diaper may prevent it from being washed adequately.  

All in all I think that it's a good item to have on hand especially if you little one is prone to diaper rashes.  I'm excited to use it come fall when athlete's foot flairs up around here.  I think if for nothing else the before and after photos of what this product can do is pretty amazing.
I'm quite fortunate to not have experienced diaper rashes such that an intense treatment was necessary.  I'm glad to know that there is something out there that I can use and that I would recommend to others.

You can find out more about Pedi-Derm Bum Paste by clicking here

You can also follow them on Facebook

As well as on Twitter

*the opinions are mine alone and I was compensated for this post with a 2 oz. sample size container of Letourneau's Pharmacy Pedi-Derm Bum Paste*.    

Crunchy Hair - 4 Weeks No Poo HOLY SHIT! I have DANDRUFF!

Dandruff - what am I suppose to do now?

I had residue wash off for a short bit in the beginning of this trial.  Now, now I have dandruff.  I'm going to blame Illinois humidity on this one, and sweating in the Illinois humidity.  Or, at least that sounds kind of legit.

Here is a quick recap so far:

  • I stopped using commercial shampoo and conditioners on Monday, May 26th
  • I am currently using baking soda to wash my hair
  • I am using raw ACV as a conditioner
  • My hair is *still* ... fine scalp on the other hand - DANDRUFF

You can read about Week One of No Poo here in addition to the recipes I'm using here.  Week Two of No Poo is recapped here and Week Three No Poo TRAVEL EDITION can be found here and my thoughts on baking soda and high altitudes.

So, now, dandruff.  I may have had dandruff prior to this, I mean it's possible.  I can't really recall as I've been using a crazy conditioning treatment regiment in order to straighten my hair, for YEARS.

What to do, what to do?

I did some research and I'm going to try using coconut oil as a treatment.  I'll get back with you on how this all works out next week.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Crunchy Hair - 3 Weeks No Poo TRAVELING POST

So, it's been three weeks of not using commercial shampoo or conditioner.  We road tripped out west for nine days and I packed a spay bottle with my baking soda water mixture in it, ready to go.  The problem - I think that the change in altitude clumped the mixture.  I'm not totally sure though and I'm still trying to find an answer via the interwebs.  I noticed it when we arrived in Keystone, SD.  Not necessarily the highest of altitudes, but kind of getting there.  My spray bottle was not spraying.  Now, I have a really crappy track record of breaking spray bottles.  I just chocked it up to that.  Until I screwed off the top and noticed clumps of baking soda in the water.  This never happened at home and just kind of figured that the mixture doesn't travel well....or something like that.
So, while on vacation I had to pour the mixture on my scalp instead of spraying a stream at it.  It worked out okay.  I like the stream spray better, but whatever. I did not pack my ACV for conditioner - BIG MISTAKE.  Talk about unruly hair!  
My hair was mostly either under a cap, bandanna or bike helmet the entire trip.  Whatever condition it was in due to lack of consistent baking soda and water cleansing really was of no concern to me.

Here's a quick recap, though

  • I stopped using commercial shampoo and conditioners on Monday, May 26th 
  • I am currently using baking soda to wash my hair
  • I am using raw ACV as a conditioner
  • My hair is *still* ... fine
You can read about 1 Week of No Poo here and the recipes that I'm using here.  Here is the recap from Week 2 of No Poo.

For future consideration while traveling, I will pack additional packets of baking soda to make a fresh mixture every time I go to wash my hair.  Since I make a mixture to last me 5 days (with no issues so far) I didn't think to bring additional supplies while traveling.  I didn't expecting clumping.  Lesson learned for next time, though.

Would love to hear if you have done No Poo or are currently doing No Poo.  Have you noticed any changes in your hair or scalp?  Do you consider your use of No Poo a success.

Since I keep my hair either in a bun or braided I really haven't seen any significant changes other than my curls coming back.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Do One Thing Different

I love this meme

And so, I'd like to hear about what you are doing different this week to improve yourself.  I know that this particular meme is related to food, but, the concept on changing one little thing a week is powerful and goes beyond just food.  

What are you doing to better yourself mentally?
What are you doing to better yourself physically?
What are you doing to better yourself emotionally?
What are you doing to better yourself spiritually?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

Crunchy Hair - 2 Weeks No Poo

So, here is a quick recap

  • I stopped using commercial shampoo and conditioner on Monday, May 26th
  • I am using baking soda to wash it
  • I am using raw ACV as a conditioner
  • My hair is...fine
You can read about 1 Week No Poo by clicking on the link to see the recipes and techniques I'm using as well.

On to week 2!

It's still the same, nothing new to report.  It isn't greasy looking or smelly.  I will mention this, though, I have less hair coming out when I wash it in the shower and when I brush it out.  

A quick note,though.  I posted 1 Week No Poo on the Educational Anarchy Facebook Page and reader Amy noted that it's important to dump your water and baking soda mix after one week because it looses it's ability to clean.  Apparently there is a reason why baking soda does not come in liquid form.  So all of those negative responses and reports that I read prior to attempting this would make sense if those people did not use a fresh mixture of baking soda and water each and every week.  Good to know!

Week 3's recap will be about traveling while doing no poo.

Friday, June 6, 2014


It's weird.  Because I didn't see it coming.  Now, I know that she had major surgery (triple bypass while on dialysis), but...she was doing so well in recovery.

And then, she passed.

On June 2nd my Aunt Vera passed away while on dialysis recovering from triple bypass surgery.  From what I understand one minute she was talking and then the next, she wasn't.  She didn't complain, she never did.

My Aunt was an awesome lady.  There was absolutely nothing negative about her.  She was a glass full type of person, none of that half full or half empty nonsense - it was full!

I remember 4th of July picnics at her house with the most amazing deviled eggs

I remember watching the Muppet's movie on a CED

I remember the Christmas parties at my Uncle's work

I remember her hosting Cody's baby shower

I remember spending the night at her house and reading her Tarot Cards

I remember her shinning...she was just good

I remember breakfast dates

I remember smiley faces, and I don't know why...did she have them in her kitchen maybe as magnets?  I have no clue.

I remember fishing at her trailer and the corn fields we passed while driving there

I remember being given all of the photos to keep, because I am that in my family.  I am the keeper of photos

My Aunt Vera was an awesome lady.  Life was full, even when things weren't going well, life was full and she always had a positive outlook on it.

She will be missed

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Vacation Planning - This Is How I Roll

We are planning an epic vacation.  Well, pretty epic for us as we have NEVER, EVER been on vacation for

1) this long of a time span
2) traveled this far
3) been this "fly by our pants" about it

Here is my guide

I know what you're thinking "fly by your pants, eh?  Look at that binder?  How is that fly by your pants?"

The binder makes me not want to twitch, that's its purpose.

We have our lodging booked, I have the confirmations printed and in the binder in addition to road maps and travel guides from each state we will be going through.

The whole "fly by our pants" thing comes from me not micromanaging each day, by the hour, with what we will be doing, when and where.

A binder full of information and confirmations, that's how I plan a vacation.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Crunchy Hair - 1 Week No Poo


I decided to phase out my normal hair care routine.
- twice monthly hot oil conditioning
- daily shampoo and conditioning
- daily leave in conditioner

I have think and naturally curly hair.  You wouldn't know that my hair was curly because I have worked really, REALLY hard to straighten it with all that conditioning.  It's also been pretty much every color under the rainbow, quite literally.

But, once I became pregnant with Will in 2012 I stopped dying my hair.  I stopped my hot oil treatments and I stopped my daily use of leave in conditioner.  I switched to washing my hair every other day using both shampoo and conditioner.

So, now it's two years later and I have used up the last of my shampoo (I still have some conditioner left, which I put away in know, just in case).

On May 26th I started my no poo routine.

I had done my research, found the recipes that I wanted to use and then set out to find spray bottles that actually worked.  Does anyone else have a hard time finding spray bottles that actually work?

Why am I doing this?  Well, I just want to get away from chemicals and unnecessary stuff.  This was my 'what can I do today' thing towards changing and improving.  I figured I'd give it a month and then reassess.

It's been one week - here's what I've noticed so far
- though there were many warnings of yucky looking hair the first two weeks, I did not experience that.
- it was really hard to pick our my hair and then brush it after I washed it
- it took forever for my hair to dry
- some flaking, not dandruff though, I think just residual build up of stuff coming off
- though there were suggestions to not use the "conditioner" spray until after a two week break in period, I ended up using it on the third wash
              - it dried faster
              - it was easier to pick out and brush
- my hair does not stink
- it's really smooth and manageable

What I'm using
To wash I'm using 1 T. of baking soda with 1 C. of water in a spray bottle with the nozzle on direct stream setting.  I spray it directly on my scalp and then go over it with my finger tips to scrub my scalp.  Rinse with warm water.
To condition I'm using 2 T. of raw apple cider vinegar with 2 C. water in a spray bottle with the nozzle on mist setting.  I spray it to the ends of my hair only and then rinse out with warm water.
I do this three times per week.

And...that's it.'s fine.

As we are entering summer here I'd be interested in seeing how it stands up with a more active lifestyle of outdoor adventures.  Also, how it travels when we go on vacation.  

What else am I doing?
- cleaning my face with oil
- charcoal to whiten my teeth

Those updates will be forthcoming.