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Posts Tagged ‘frugal living’

In the early nineteenth century, Southerners fought federally sponsored “internal improvements” like canals because they didn’t need them; they had a network of navigable rivers to transport crops.  Those same rivers are both life blood and death for some Southern areas today.  This week Clarksville and Nashville, Tennessee, experienced deadly flooding.  (I have family in the area and am grateful to have no fatalities to report but lots of loss of property.)    One of the causes of flooding, we now know, as in Katrina, is poor engineering by the Army Corps of Engineers:  flooding caused by failed flood control.  Other people simply face flood waters this week because of the volume of rain and their proximity to rivers.  As people told story after story of rising water and devastation, a lifetime of memories washed away even when lives weren’t lost, I could not help but think of people  I know in Arkansas who live adjacent to rivers yet who do not experience floods with the same agony.  These people love living along the river and thus have found ways to work with it instead of letting it deluge their lives.

On Big Piney Creek near Highway 7 north of Dover, Arkansas, many families live in peace with the river.  They built their homes to be flooded.  The first level is concrete block with a bare concrete floor.  Should a flood come through, they roll up their carpets, move fragile furniture to the second floor, and wait it out on high ground.  When the water recedes, they return, wash the mud out of the first floor, and move back in.  Your home may not win House Beautiful awards this way, but you will not fear a flood–and you get to live on a beautiful river.

Addendum:  Recently a flash flood swept the Little Missouri River, but one cabin home, anchored securely on stilts well above the flood plain, withstood not only the raging river when it rose 8 feet in ten minutes on June 11, 2010, but also an RV, a pick-up, and a cabin that had not been tethered when all three of them slammed into the well-anchored cabin in the early hours of the morning.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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A few years ago, my husband had to attend a conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Hot Springs is an historic resort area.  As a matter of fact, the whole resort area of Hot Springs is a national park.  Given that my husband’s conference was at the time of my birthday, he invited me to come along and made arrangements for me to get a full spa treatment while he attended his meetings.  The mineral bath was fabulous, and the massage was terrific.  What I really appreciated the most, though, was the foot scrub with the pedicure.

I was all leaned back and drowsy after the bath and massage when the foot treatment started.  I smelled a pepperminty scent and felt a wonderful combination of scrubby stuff and emollient.  I had to look.  Hmmmm.  It was a white substance that looked mighty familiar.  “What’s in the scrub?” I asked.  “Oh, it’s canning salt with olive oil and peppermint oil,” my pedicurist replied.  She then proceeded to tell me how they always had to stock up on canning salt–used instead of other salt because of its purity–during the late summer because otherwise they’d run out when everyone was making pickles.  “Really?” I queried.  “It’s just canning salt, olive oil, and peppermint oil?”  “Oh, yes, but if you get a facial, we’ll use sugar instead of salt because it’s finer and less drying,” she replied proudly, perhaps not realizing she had probably just given away two deep dark secrets of the Hot Springs resorts.

Today I’m sharing that secret with you.  Every year since that birthday, as canning season comes to a close, my husband discovers my cache of canning salt.  I explain to him that I buy it on sale and that it will keep until next year, but my real reason is because I use it for a home spa.  I have no idea what the spa charged my husband, but I can guarantee that this home treatment is a tiny fraction of the cost and exactly the same–except you (or your husband) has to do the scrubbing.

Home Spa Foot Scrub, just like the pros use

Start with a nice oil (no need for olive oil), canning salt, peppermint oil (which you can get at your local pharmacy or in the baking sections of some grocery stores), and a small dish that you don’t mind taking in the bathroom.  A candle is nice too.

Begin by soaking your feet in warm water for several minutes.  Just relax.  Then dry your feet.

Next pour about 1/4-1/2 cup of canning salt into the dish–depending on the size of your feet!  

Add several drops of peppermint oil.

Add a tablespoon of two of regular oil.

Now massage the mixture into your feet, being careful to rub well around all the rough spots.  When you’re finished, wash your feet to remove the salt residue and then dry them well.  If you are up for wearing socks, go ahead and slather your feet with cocoa butter, lanolin, one of Burt’s Bees rescue salves, or something similar.  Repeat the process in a few days, and within no time you’ll have baby-soft feet!

No, I do not have foot photographs!  My husband seemed to think they might attract men with foot fetishes.

Add-in oils

Try adding lavender oil, rosemary oil, or similar fragrances to your spa mixture.  If you have a spot of, um, athletes foot, oil of oregano will cure it (but it is very strong!).

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Happy 2010 to all who stop by our little blog homestead!  In 2010 expect to find more gardening, more recipes, and more simple living.  In the meantime, let me know if you have questions you’d like answered or topics you’d like covered.  Tonight we’ll be celebrating the new year with traditional Southern food:  hog jowl and black-eyed peas.  We’ll be having our greens as a salad, and we’ll revisit Christmas (and Thanksgiving) leftovers by adding in the last of the turkey breast from our beautiful locally, sustainable grown turkey.  I hope you start 2010 with lucky traditions too.  And happy new year to you and yours!

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Broccoli is in season, and we can get it local and organic when we don’t have any in our own garden. I bought some broccoli last week.  We had the florets sauteed, steamed, and in salad.  Then I took on my favorite part:  the stalks.  Broccoli stalks are actually sweeter than the florets, and peeled and sliced they can easily form the basis of a fantastic, rich soup.

Start by dicing one or two red potatoes.  Set aside about two thirds of the diced potatoes.  Toss about a third of the diced potatoes in a medium-sized pot.  Now peel off the outer, woody exterior of a half dozen or so broccoli stalks.  If florets are present, trim them off and set them aside.  We can use some of them.  Slice each stalk in half lengthwise and then slice again across the stalk, in slices each of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch each.  Toss the broccoli stalks in the pot with the potatoes.  Add enough lightly salted water or chicken broth or stock* to cover.  Start cooking.  Add one medium leek (or part of a large one), cut lengthwise and cleaned and then cut across the grain, like you did with the broccoli. Be sure to use the leek tops.  They will help make the soup greener!  Simmer the portion of potatoes, broccoli stems, and leeks for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, put the rest of the diced potatoes on a cast iron baking pan (or any other heavy baking pan), toss with oil and seasoning (I used a Greek seasoning mix), and roast at 400 degrees for about half an hour, turning regularly.

How are the potatoes, stems, and leeks in the pot?  Are they starting to soften?  At half an hour, turn off the heat and take off the lid.  Let the mixture start to cool.  After it has cooled a fair amount, scoop out the solids (potatoes and stems), leaving behind the liquid.  Yes, we’ll use it, just not now.  Put the solids in a blender.  Now add cold milk just to cover; the cold  milk will help you avoid a blender explosion.  Puree until you have a wonderfully smooth mixture.

Pour the pureed mixture back into the pot with the retained liquid.  Add the roasted potatoes.  Add a handful of the florets, cut rather small.  Now heat the soup until the florets are tender.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve. Eat.  Add good grated cheddar cheese to the top if you want.

*Here’s an important frugal tip:  make your own stock or broth by boiling the bones from your roasted birds.  I’ll cover details in a future post.

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DSCN1690Today I took a partial bushel basket of rosemary, sage, oregano, and sweet basil to trade at the market.  I got in exchange a large, ripe cantaloupe and a quart basket each of small yellow squash and medium and small cucumbers.  We’ve got lots of our own fresh tomatoes, chile peppers, and onions, so I’ll be making gazpacho this week.  I’ll post my recipe (or as close to a recipe as I ever come!) after I make the gazpacho. 

The great thing about market bartering is that we go farmer to farm stand with as little between the producer and consumer as possible.  We know we might be able to get a better price for our herbs per ounce if we went big, but that prospect also would most likely not be sustainable.  This way works just fine for us.  And as I understand it, since we have no net gain from the exchange, the transaction should incur no tax liability.  On the other hand, if the farm stand sells the herbs at considerable profit, then the farm stand might incur tax liability.

Please let me know in the comments section if you do market bartering with your produce, eggs, etc. or if you barter services for homegrown produce.

Text and photograph copyright Ozark Homesteader 2009.  All rights reserved.  I welcome your re-printing excerpts of this and other posts, but please make sure that you copy only excerpts, that the source is prominently displayed, and that you include a full URL, not just a link.  Thank you!

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