Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Organic & Heirloom Seeds

We finally received the first set of our seed collection.  I ordered from several sites, however, the best service was with Peaceful Valley.  The prices were reasonable and they have a huge selection of organic seeds as well as some nice heirlooms.   Since we can't really plant any of those seeds over here, they've been added to our temp controlled storage back home.

We also purchased some seeds and sprouts to experiment with while over here.  I'm planning some container gardening in the spring.  Here's the link to Peaceful Valley.Peaceful Valley

Outsourcing Babies

Now this has nothing to with living off-grid but boy, is this  interesting.  So, I watched this HBO documentary called, "Google Baby".   It's about couples who want babies, women who donate (sell) their eggs, donated sperm, the women in India who, with the consent of their husbands, carry the babies , the gifts they receive - One family got a house. There's also coverage on the people (donor agencies, doctors, nurses, etc.) who make it all possible.

If you get a chance, check out this video- Google Baby.  You may be able to find a link to it here:    I ended up watching it in Spanish because I couldn't find a link where I could watch it overseas in English.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Homemade Deodorant

We ran out of deodorant this week and since it's way too difficult to get here, I decided to whip up another batch.  Mine is healthier anyway.  I made two batches- a male and a female batch.  The only difference was the essential oils added.  For the male batch I used bergamot, mint and a drop of lavender; for the female batch, rose, lavendar, peppermint and a drop of honeysuckle.  They were both very nice blends.  Everyone was happy.

 Here are the ingredients:

3/4 cups of baking soda
1.5 oz  sunflower oil (about the size of a shot glass)
1 tsp cornflour
essential oils

Here are the steps:

1.   Mix the baking soda and cornstarch.
 2.  Add 1/2 of the oil.
 3.  Add your essential oils by the drop ( I used approximately 1-3 drops of each).
 3.  Mix with wooden spoon or stick.
 4.  Add the rest of the oil and stir.
 5.  Pour into your container.
 6.  Add an air-tight lid and label.  I'm using one of my amateur photos for now-pictured above.

This particular mixture feels very light and smooth under your arms.  It works pretty well and even though  it is not an antiperspirant, we've stayed pretty dry.  Everything I needed was in my kitchen so, I didn't have to spend megabucks having deodorant shipped from the states.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Off-grid Shelter

Sweet Off-grid Options!
     Thought I'd share two of my favorite temporary off-grid shelter solutions.  They're tiny homes, much tinier than I'd like for long term but they're sooo nice.  You may want to visit the company websites for a closer look.  I absolutely love these!

Here are the links:
Shepherd's Rest Huts (The second set of framed pics)
The Yorkshire Hut Company and  Shepherd's Hut as a Guest House- Arigatou Caron!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Off-grid Lighting Success!

Ok, well, not exactly. You see, even though I'm not off-grid yet, I'm at least trying out things that I'll hopefully use when I am off-grid. So, with that said, I've been trying to make these home made oil candles but I only had canola oil and sunflower oil. I was not successful. I tried different containers and wicks and holders. So, I decided that it must be the oil. On my next trip to the market, I bought some more olive oil. I used these little inexpensive oil bottles that I bought off an ebay-like site for a couple of bucks but you could use a glass or jar as well.

Anywho, it worked! First I soaked the cotton wick in a small amount of olive oil until it was well saturated. Then, I poured some oil in the bottle, pulled the wick through the tick and stuck the other end in the bottle and there was light; a nice light. One thing I noticed though was that my candle was brighter. So, I'll have to figure out what to do to get my light on the oil candle as bright as the wax candle if that is possible. I think I might have to extend the wick a little.

I was thinking that until I have solar and/or wind power, I will need some form of inexpensive lighting. Olive oil isn't exactly cheap though unless you buy it in bulk. Back in Houston, I remember there was this Phoenician market where I could buy olive oil in as much as 5 gallon tins and they weren't that expensive. I'd just worry about it going rancid. I'll be giving this another try with regular vegetable oil to see how it turns out but for now, the olive oil candle burned nice and clean. Just wish it were a tad brighter.

Here are some of the paraffin lamps that could be used as olive oil lamps instead since the olive oil burns cleaner:

I particularly like the one that hangs on the wall but I wonder if it isn't a tad too close to that wall. Hmmm..........

I also found this interesting tea light holder. With the colored glass and all, it probably won't give off much light but it could add ambiance.:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Change of Plans

So, it's been over a year and I've decided to stay overseas yet another year. I'll try to make it back sometime this year but I may opt to visit someplace new while I can. I've been doing quite a bit of research on living off-grid but for now, I think I've done all I can do since I'm not actually on my land right now.

I haven't been living off the grid over here but I have been living rent free which is a start. I do have to pay a bit in utilities once a month. So, I've been saving up as much as possible. I've been making my own body and health care products for some time now but recently, I've been trying to find an affordable distiller. It's been almost impossible over here. The ones back home in the states are quite pricey too. So, at some point, I'm going to attempt to build my own.

While looking for the distiller, I came across this pretty cool press in which one could take, say, a bunch of sunflower seeds (or any other seed or grain) and make sunflower oil. Boy, was I excited to find that! I haven't purchased the machine yet but I think I might- It's a bit pricey. Also, I have to keep in mind the power requirements and conversion issues and how much energy it might suck up from a modest off-grid power system. We'll see. Here's a pic of the press:
The down side is that it costs about $700 bucks U.S. According to the advertisement, it's supposed to be pretty heavy duty though. I'd love to have one of these even before I'm able to harvest my own crops.

I've been walking through my neighborhood and I've noticed that the people here, use every bit of land for some kind of edible crop. One day, you'll see a bit of a junk yard but the very next, there's corn or rice or eggplants growing. This fall, I harvested quite a few jujubees and chestnuts as I walked to work. Once, I had to fight a crow over a chestnut. The crow won. He was a bold little buggar. I've included a few pics from around my neighborhood and my walk to school. One of the old farm houses even has a solar water heater.

So, today, I cooked some of the rice from my friend's rice paddy. It was pretty good. I stir-fried it with some bbq beef and served it with fresh sesame dressing, spicy red paste and sesame leaves. To drink we had fresh pressed organic apple juice and some oolong tea.