Sunday, 29 January 2012

Exposed To Over 300 Chemicals Before Breakfast?

I am still on a bit of a rant after yesterday's post.  I read, talk and write a lot but I also remember a lot. 
I remember reading an unbelievable fact many years ago and have never forgotten it.

Picture this:
The alarm clock goes off in the morning.  A woman gets out of bed, has a shower, brushes her teeth and gets dressed for her workday.  Nothing unusual right?

Let me paint a different picture using the same scenario:
The same alarm clock goes off in the morning.  A woman gets out of bed and has a shower using soap, shampoo, conditioner and shaving gel.  She then brushes her teeth with toothpaste and rinses with mouthwash.  She gets dressed for her workday (clothes washed in regular detergent and  fabric softener).  She applies her deodorant, make up, hair products and perfume.  A daily routine like this one is laced with an abundance of toxic chemicals.

"Before a woman even gets a chance to eat her breakfast, she has already exposed herself to a minimum of over 300 chemicals just getting ready in the morning."

***Many women are hooked on the fact that if something smells great and works well, then they aren't necessarily interested in reading the "ingredient list". 

There are so many "creepy" chemicals out there that many of us don't even think about it anymore.  We have become desensitized as the consumer market is flooded with new products; each one claiming to be better than the others. 

We try and make our own toothpaste, deodorant and soap.  I have yet to find a homemade toothpaste that is kind to my tastebuds - I am determined to keep experimenting!
If we can't make it, we have to buy it.  We look for those products containing natural ingredients only as we are exposed to plenty of invisible chemicals in our outdoor environment.

After reading this post, I am certain that many of you just may find yourself thinking in the shower tomorrow morning...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Food Under Fire - The Dangers of the Foods We Consume

Oh my word!  I could not wait to dive into this post!

Our local newspaper,  ran an article yesterday about a recall of Neilson Trutaste 2% Milk (4L bags) because they may contain "cleaning fluid".  The article stated that the milk would not smell or taste spoiled, but whoever consumed this tainted milk may feel nausea, upset stomach or vomiting. we all know that our foods are tested by each Company's Quality Assurance Department, but why were test results not back before this batch of product was put into distribution for the safety of the general public?

If that wasn't enough of a scare, I found a new article this evening about the infamous Hamburger-Making Giant, McDonald's who is discontinuing the use of their "Pink Slime", aka ammonium hydroxide.  This "crazy" chemical was being used to convert fatty cutoffs into beef fillers for their hamburgers..Nice... cow parts that are not fit for human consumption were being altered in order to fit into our hamburgers..How appetizing.  Doesn't it make you want to go and stand in line for a juicy burger this evening? 

Oh yes, and need I mention that Johnson & Johnson is going to phase out cancer causing chemicals in their baby lotions and shampoos over the coming months?  Let's give our heads a shake!!!!  Phasing out?  How did that ever get approved in the first place?

I had mentioned in a previous post that the Media and our Society have instilled a fear that prevents us from wanting to talk to strangers because they may be "dangerous". 
Well, why are we so trusting of products from Major Corporations?  Oh I know, I know (waving my hand wildy), because "our Government" is looking out for us!  Right!  What about our Children?  The future of our Generation?  My neighbour down the street would have an absolute "hay day" with this one!

I don't mean to sound cynical, however I am amazed at the consumers who will buy just about any type of food on the shelf because it is for sale - so it must be good for them.  I only ever see a minimum of 1 in about 100 people ever stopping to read the ingredients on a shelf label.

I can understand why so many of us are heading towards a Self-Sustaining, Home Grown Life-Style. It has taken a lot of us too many years to wake up and realize what is actually happening within our own food system. 

Hey, I've got a good one for you.  If our Canadian Government asked you to jump off McDonald's Golden Arches because it was safe, would you do it?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Cocka-Doodle-Doo! Will Just Any Egg Do?

Here's a Homeschool lesson for you...
What's the Difference Between Brown Eggs and White Eggs?

Some people are stuck on the idea that Brown Eggs are better for you than White Eggs. 
Our family is more concerned about how the living conditions of the Hens and the food that they eat.
Remember the old saying "Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover"?  Well this saying certainly applies to the colour of an egg shell.

Here are some facts:

Brown Hens lay Brown Eggs

White Hens lay White Eggs

We buy Farm Fresh Eggs - (and they just happen to have white shells) where the Hens are free range and eat a variety of grains.  I simply cannot even think of eating an egg from a Hen that was fed a product called "Egg Maker", or was confined to a teeny tiny amount of space.

Our eggs cost us $4.00 a flat which hold 30 eggs and works out to be $1.60/dozen.  Go to the grocery store and a dozen eggs will cost you at least $2.55 - and that's a cheap dozen!

I have got to tell you that the yolks on those Farm eggs are darker in colour, fluff up better when cooked and have a sweeter taste to them.  Once you get hooked on those eggs, you will not be able to bring yourself to pull a carton off the grocery store shelf again! 

***Ideally, we would love to have our own hens, however a new city by-law was passed a couple of years ago and prevents us from doing this. 
Since I am not into upsetting the applecart and don't want to end up in Jail eating grocery store eggs, Farm Fresh eggs suit our family just perfectly!

Flour Power! What's the Difference Anyway?

As a daily Bread Baker, I buy a lot of Flour. Our family goes through about 10 kg/22 pounds of flour every 3 weeks.  I don't just bake bread, I make fruit loaves, muffins, tortillas, pie shells and cakes.  I also have to feed my sourdough starter on a frequent basis - every 5 hours!

We don't have any Gluten Allergies in our family and therefore choose to go with good old regular flour as opposed to using the more expensive Spelt/Rice/Potato flours.

When I first started making bread, I found myself at the grocery store wondering what the difference was between "Bleached" and "Unbleached" Flour.  I looked around and found a mature customer who appeared to be of retirement age and expected an Expert Opinion on the subject.  The lady did not know the difference between the two types of Flour!  I was somewhat surprised at this and decided to buy the "Unbleached Flour because it sounded safer.

I immediately went home and after unpacking my groceries, searched the Internet to find out more information. 

***It turns out that "Bleached" flour is just the way it sounds.  Chlorine based chemicals are used to bleach the flour to make whiter bread, cookies, pastries, etc. Why?  Because some people prefer the whitest of whites...Imagine!  Bleach with my Bread???  No Thank You!!!

"Unbleached" Flour has not been subjected to Chlorine and is the best and safest choice for those of us who would like to limit our exposure to chemicals.

I have heard from many people who prefer to use whole wheat flour and pasta because they find that there is a higher nutritional value - this is correct.  However, whole wheat flour and pasta are more expensive so prepare to keep your wallet open at the cash register.  Whole wheat flour contains the Bran and the Germ and will spoil much faster than good old white flour.

Good old white flour has been through a process in which the Bran and Wheat Germ have been removed. 
We have found an easy and inexpensive way to add nutrition to our flour.  We buy bags of Natural Bran and Wheat Germ for just over $1.00 a bag.  We just add about 1 tablespoon of each/per cup of white flour and there you go, instant nutrition at a fraction of the cost.

***It is important to note that Wheat Germ and Natural Bran should be kept in airtight containers in the refrigerator in order to preserve freshness.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Stocking Up on Grocery Items - Sales Are Based Upon Rotations!

I once read somewhere that Grocery Store Sales have a 6-week rotation - in other words, if something is on sale now, you can pretty much bet your bottom dollar that it will be on sale again within the next six weeks.

I can honestly admit that I have not actually sat down and graphed out items to see whether or not this is actually the case, but it is something that indeed interests me and is on my "to do list", for interests sake really...we find that if a particular item is not on sale at a certain Grocery Chain, you should be able to find something similar at another one at any time.
Having said that, if you trust that sales occur on a rotational basis, You will be less apt to go into "Panic Mode" and buy more than you absolutely need for your home.  Many people spend way too much money on sale items.  They forget about all of those canned goods collecting dust at the back of the pantry that are edging their way past the expiry date; resulting in waste.

***If you are planning for the Holidays or a special party, chances are that you are going to have some advance notice, at least a 4-6 week period.  Start watching those Grocery Flyers.  You can stock up on canned or dry goods, freezer items and certain dairy products like cheese in those weeks leading up to your special event.  The savings will be amazing if you do it this way.

I am planning a Valentine's Tea Party for my daughter and we are watching for sale items which will help determine our menu.  Simple and Super Smart!

Now, since many people go overboard whenever something goes on sale. Find comfort knowing that there is a rotation to those flyers.  There is a smart way to shop for grocery sale items that I will outline and help you to save your sanity and your money!

First things first:  Interior Designers love to decorate in 1s, 3s, 5s and 7s.  It's definitely an oddity that keeps things interesting without looking too paired or staged.
***It is important to use this same principle when buying grocery sale items without going over the deep end.
As we are a small family, we are more apt to buy these items in 1s and 3s.  For larger families, you would want to buy on a 5s and 7s basis.  Don't buy any more than that because there will be a sale again at just the time you need to replenish your stock.

We tend to buy 3 of each sale item that is $0.99 or cheaper and will buy 1 item that is $5.00 or more in cost.

Here is a simple outline of the sale items and the numbers that our family will buy:
Flour - 1 (we consider this to be a high ticket item)
Cooking Oil  - 1 (another high ticket item)
Rice - 1
Toilet Paper - 1 (we use cloth wipes and save toilet paper for our guests)
Fresh Fruit & Vegetables - 1 individual or 1 pound of each (other varieties will be on sale next week)
Canned tomatoes - 3
Peanut Butter - 3 (we love peanut butter)
Pasta - 3
Canned Fruit - 3
Apple Juice - 3
Tuna - 5 (this is one of the exceptions because we eat a lot of it)
Salmon - 3 (more expensive than Tuna)
Frozen Vegetables - 1 (we prefer fresh)
Margarine - 3
Butter - 3 (buy it when the price is low, low low.  You can freeze butter!)
Sugar - 3 (does not go on sale often)

Since we make our own bread, rolls and tortillas, I don't even bother checking the prices.  We buy our eggs from a local farm, make our own yogurt and drink powdered milk.  Powdered milk hardly ever goes on sale from what I've seen.

If you find that you've stocked up on an item and you see it on sale again in a couple of weeks, don't fret because if you don't need it, you can use the extra money towards a different sale item.  After a period of time, you will find that you start spending less and less on your grocery bill because you won't need as much.  Super Savings!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Always Eat Carefully

I published a blog months ago outlining a "3 Month Food Supply".  Everyone should have a "Reservoir" of Food set aside for 90 rainy days or so...

We have taken stock of our Food Inventory (spending $5.00 a week - for many weeks to achieve this goal).  Our current approximate Food Storage would now equal 2-3 months of sustainable food, should the unfortunate need arise).

Our Grandmother always baked Fresh Bread for us daily.  She had so many vegetables and preserves to offer that my Grandfather would often attempt to intervene by saying "Amelia, you are going to make them sick!" 

What he meant was that when she stuffed us so full of her fantastic good home cooking, he couldn't believe our tummies could handle another bite!  He was the Principal of the School and she was the Homemaker.  By goodness, she stepped up to the plate!

One time, while in my late teens, I asked my Grandmother how she was able to save money yet go on many luxurious vacations.  She told me to "always eat carefully".   She didn't elaborate, however those words resonate in my ears today.

In our Home, we praise all food. 

Every day is a surprise for my beloved Daughter Ava because the first thing she asks is "What are we having for Breakfast", then snack, then lunch, then afternoon snack, then dinner etc...Our mealtimes are our main source of entertainment.

I am pleased, because when I was a child, I was more concerned about what was happening inside our home as opposed to what actually took place beyond the front door!  Sheltered?  Yes I was, and this has shaped me as a person!

Do I Want It, or Do I Need It?

I am amazed at all of the household items that we have been gifted from our wonderful Neighbours and Friends

Our family has been gifted so many things over the past year; here is a list of some of the numerous items:

Bread Maker
Mountain Bike
Compost Container
Antique Sewing Machine (circa 1959)
Picture Frames
Patio Storage Box
Plant Pots
Grain Mill (yahoo!  I have been waiting for one of these!)
Mason Jars
Food from Neighbours who are moving,
32-inch televison for our Rec Room
Portable DVD Player
Rice Cooker
Used Denim for Sewing
Holiday Tins
***And none of the above items cost us a cent!

We have a terrific circle of Friends and Family who are always on the "lookout" for things that people are giving away. 

I have always known that older Appliances have the strongest goes back to the saying "They Don't Make Things Like They Used To"...

I have always been in "awe" regarding the items that people throw to the curb because they bought it on a whim, maybe used it once or twice and then were anxious to get rid of it. 

I am going back to my recent post about "Love Thy Neighbour".  Your neighbourhood is chock-full of unwanted items and treasures that others have long been awaiting for. 

It seems senseless to buy anything other than your regular groceries these days because anything else you need for your home can be found just by asking your Neighbours, Friends and Family.  Many people are happy to rid their homes of unused items as opposed to taking the time to sell on free websites or holding garage sales. 

I can safely state that 100% of people have at least one thing that they don't need or want that can benefit someone else.  Hey, even a pair of socks can go a long way - make a scarf, hat or bedwarmer! 
Oh yes, even sewing scraps make great stuffing for projects!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Love Thy Neighbour

One of the Ten Commandments...

In decades past, neighbours were viewed as extended family members.  Through hard times, families bonded together and shared what they could in order to survive those times.  Strength in numbers...

Unfortunately, there are many people who have lived in their own neighbourhood for years yet barely know their neighbours except to say "Hello" or chat briefly about the weather. 

Society has created such an unhealthy level of "Fear" that people are afraid to go beyond anything else other than their daily business.  Yes, we need to be mindful that dangers exist, however, who would you go to if you had an emergency or needed help while you were at home?  There are far more Guardian Angels out there than Dangerous Strangers.  Does one "bad egg" ruin the entire dozen?  Does one bad apple ruin the entire bushel?  I should think not.

We all need our neighbours. 

In order to survive and thrive, we feel that it is important to get to know them and be available to help out whenever we can regardless of the circumstances.  This is the foundation for our bartering, sharing and trading system that helps us to survive.  We support them and they support us.  It is our valuable network of resources should our current times change. 

We are none too familiar with the Blackout that occurred in North America on August 14, 2003.  Many things came to a standstill.  There were so many people who simply did not know what to do.  Many were unprepared and were without access to fuel, money, groceries, internet, cable or hydro.  Those who didn't know their neighbours sat quietly in the dark waiting for the lights to come on. 

On the flip side, families and neighbours who knew each other threw BBQ parties and had a lot of fun. 

I wish I had known my neighbours better on August 14, 2003, because at the time, I was one of those who sat in the dark...

Soup's On! Use Up Those Leftovers!

A New Year brings to us many Inspirations, Thoughts and Ideas...

Through my many readings, I have found that soup was an absolute Staple during the "Great Depression".  A huge kettle or pot was hung over the fire and provided whatever nutrition could be acquired during those dark and uncertain times.  It provided some relief to continuous rumbling bellies.

Soup was easy because it was made with whatever little food was on hand and could be stretched with water.  I have read that the actual recipe for true "Depression Soup" consisted of one part Ketchup to two parts water.  This is true, but so hard to believe how people actually survived.

Many people could not afford meat and therefore foraged for weeds such as dandelions, milkweed and cattails.  My grandmother who was born in 1916 will not eat anything containing Apples to this day, claiming that she ate too many during those hard times. 

My latest Idea has been inspired through the empathy that I feel for those suffering hard times.  We do a tremendous amount of cooking and baking in our household and leftovers are a given.  We also boil meat bones and freeze the broth for later use.

***We now have a plan that is being implemented for the cold winter months that will keep us nourished while using up those leftovers once and for all:
  • On Sunday evenings, I soak either beans, peas or lentils in water.  I also take a container of broth out of our deep freeze for thawing.
  • I get up early on Monday mornings (because we have a smart meter and the price gets scary at 7:00 a.m.), I simmer the beans, peas or lentils for 1 hour.
  • I get out the crock pot and pour in the broth along with the simmered beans, peas or lentils.
  • I then throw in a chopped onion, fresh garlic, carrots and celery while including dried herbs and seasoning that were preserved from our summer garden.
  • Let this simmer on low heat throughout the day.
  • As the week progresses, add your daily leftovers to the "soup". 
  • We eat the soup for Dinner each day with fresh baked bread or rolls.

Each day changes the flavour of the soup.  If I boil vegetables (broccoli is a good one), I save the water and add it to the soup for more broth.  Dump in those leftover potatoes, rice, pasta, tomatoes and anything else you can think of.  You may prefer to add salt and pepper to taste.

I bake bread or buns nearly every day, so we always have a wonderful accompaniment to our meals!
The result is a Hearty, Healthy and Happy Meal...dinner is always ready and is so much better for you than those Take-Out chains!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Woman Lives Without Money

I found this article on my Internet Homepage this morning and couldn't believe how someone lives without money in today's day and age.  I was fascinated to read how this particular 69 year old Grandmother has lived without money for 16 years. 

Heidemarie Schwermer is highly intelligent; having been a former teacher and Psychotherapist and initially tried living without money for one year as an experiment to see if it could be done.  She swaps and trades things in order to obtain the neccessities of daily life.  Incredible! 

You might ask yourself, how is this possible?  Well, it certainly inspires our Family to take a closer look at some of the changes we can make within our own lives in order to bring us closer to our goal of a Self-Sustaining Lifestyle...

Read about Heidemarie Schwermer:

Monday, 9 January 2012

Beat Bacteria With Half an Onion!

Once again, my lovely sister, Aunty Jenny is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to fighting illness naturally!  We really appreciate it!
She spoke to a Pharmacist last week who recommended a great little trick to help fight Bacterial Infections stemming from viruses.

My wonderful neighbour has also shared the same idea and it appears to be very effective...Thanks C!

I have read that Onions are terrific Antioxidants and have been used for centuries as natural healing agents.  Simple and cheap to buy, these round guys pack a lot of "bang for the buck".  The smellier the onion, the stronger it is.  As far as I am concerned, the stronger onion will do a better job when put to work.
So I have dug into my arsenal (which happens to be my refrigerator) of food weapons and have been bringing out the "big guns"; onions and garlic.

***Simply cut a raw onion in half, then set it (cut side up) into a ceramic or glass dish on your bedside table at night.  The onion will get to work and absorb the bacteria that is floating around in the air while you exhale.

You will need to dispose of the onion the next morning, do not use it for cooking as it will be laden with pesky bacteria.  Each night, use a fresh onion half until you are well on your way to recovery!  Voila!

Daily "Keep Healthy" Remedy

I can't believe it was 3 months ago today since I wrote my last entry! 

Our household has been very busy during the months and weeks leading up to the Holidays.  Between baking Caramel Popcorn, Sewing Gifts and the many Baked Goodies, I have had my hands full!

I have been prompted to write this specific blog entry because there has been quite the "cold and flu" virus circulating.  It seems to last for weeks, sometimes resulting in complications such as ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia.  As we live close to nature, we have been using many homemade remedies to try and stave off further complications of this virus.

Our family has been "Garlic Loading" by using copious amounts of garlic in our foods.  Garlic is the most powerful of all herbs because it contains many properties such as being antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antiparasitic - you name it!  It has even been proven to prevent cancer cells from occurring and reproducing.

We are about to start an amazing and highly recommended daily remedy that costs only pennies a day.  This remedy helps by boosting the Immune System and is especially important during times of illness.

Here is a fantastic recipe for Daily "Keep Healthy" Remedy that you can make in the comfort of your own home:

1 Cup of Unpasteurized Organic Honey
1 Cup of Raw Unpasteurized Organic Apple Cider Vineger with the Mother (we use the Bragg Brand)
8 Cloves of Garlic (organic is preferred)

  • Blend all of the above ingredients in a blender until smooth. 
  • Pour into a glass Mason Jar and keep refrigerated.
  • Take 2 teaspoons of this mixture each morning for overall wellness and good health
***In the future, we do hope to make our own Apple Cider Vinegar, however it takes time to ferment and we needed it right away and were gifted a bottle from my lovely sister, Aunty Jenny.

It is important to note that if your symptoms do not improve or seem to worsen, it may neccessitate a trip to a physician for further evaluation.