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A friend asked me to share what economic, practical thoughts I have on how we make it as a single-income family. First off, I have to acknowledge: we’re well-blessed, and I “get it” that not everyone has all the tools in their basket that we do. That said, other people do have tools in their baskets that we don’t. In a nutshell, we have to find thankfulness for what already exists, rather expending time, energy, money, and frustration on pining after what isn’t. In a world where instant gratification and marketing and sales and “shoulds” and “obligations” are often hailed as gods above real needs, real relationships, and multi-generational investments, finding thankfulness for what already exists is not always the easiest path. We don’t walk it perfectly, but we do walk it, learning along the way.

In no particular order, some things that make our world function on one income:

1. Home Hair Cuts: I do all of them, including my own, and I get compliments on them! If you’re not brave enough to try it right off, practice on a doll, and barter with someone who’s done it before ’till you’re feelin’ ‘yer oats ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. Drying Line: Cuts down on the power bill. Wood heat in the winter helps w/ this, as it serves dual purpose: re-humidifies the air a bit, and you’re not paying for the heat twice.

3. Bicycles: We have an update post here on the “family car.” Between insurance and gas and overall health improvements, it’s been an awesome gift in our world. Not an easy one to initially imagine, considering I was pretty arthritic when we first gave up the car, but no regrets ๐Ÿ™‚

4. Giving: Ancient Hebrew Pictograph of the word give here. What goes around comes around. Find someone in worse shape than you are (it’s usually not as difficult as it sounds), and do something about it that you *can do.

5. Become Debt-Free: Ancient Proverb says, “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Find a way out of your slavery.

6. Family Relationships: It’s a team effort. We all have to understand that we’re working toward something bigger and more important than money. We have to find the place where we want to build each other and our home into a healthy, peaceful place more than we want the next trinket.

7. Grow Something To Eat: The closer we get to dirt, the more “grounded” we can be, not only emotionally and physically, but also financially. Our health is one of the most expensive things to lose, and one of the fastest ways to improve it is through organic gardening. Chickens are good, too. Check with local restrictions, though. Some cities will allow hens but not roosters, and there may be a restriction per square foot of land area.

8. Tiny House: More land; Less House; Less Stuff. Find the minimum quantity of “stuff” you need to be happy, and do the house size that just barely fits. Land gives food. House & stuff just drain the budget. Shelving, bunk beds, and Straw-stuffed (make sure it’s clean & dry) mattresses have been a great help for us in making a small house work.

9. Natural / Alternative Medicine: There’s a learning curve to it, and the first few years, we did use modern medicine for a bit. It didn’t work for us, so I studied on my own, and listened to the health-nutty guru’s that had conquered this, that, and the other thing. At this point, our world doesn’t revolve around gas money to get to the doctor’s office. The doctor can’t research as quickly or as effectively or as intimately as I can, here, from home, on my computer. Outside of dismemberment, I haven’t found any use for modern medicine: I can do better for my own family. They’re just people with fancy papers who have been through a system that’s run by money. I’m not. I’m just as smart as they are, but less brainwashed, and better-motivated. All of that said, check out the disclaimer below ๐Ÿ˜‰

10. Growing Herbs: Seasonings and Medicines and a lot of herbs that double as both. A gold mine!

11. Convection Oven: In the absence of a very efficient wood stove (will post on Hubby’s invention / modification later) that runs on twigs, rather than logs, a convection oven uses a lot less energy (money) than the regular sort. Our counter-top version was a second-hand purchase, and has been great!

12. Craigslist: That second-hand thing. The world gets a lot less trashed with re-using what someone else figured out they didn’t need. Meanwhile, I pay less than half what everyone else did for theirs, originally.

13. Build Something: Hubby’s built a business that will, hopefully, sell for enough to pay for the materials for us to build a place where we won’t have to pay rent anymore! Meanwhile, he’s built a sauna for me (LOVING MY MAN!!!), and a shed to sell or maybe trade for the vehicle to move us to our new place to build ๐Ÿ˜€

14. DIY: Look up whatever it is you find you need, and build it, make it, cook it, brew it, medicate it, repair it. Whatever it is, chances are, it’s just not that complicated… unless it’s a computer… and you’re like me about computers. Still working on conquering that “giant” in my world. LOL!

15. Writing? I’m writing a book… hoping it sells a billion or two copies, and we can retire, fat-and-happy! LOL!

Love to all of you, who are working to do the single-income thing! It’s been well-worth-it for us: our babies know who we are, and we know them. We’re building our home together, one life lesson at a time.

Standard Disclaimer:

Iโ€™mย  no doc, and donโ€™t pretend to be one. I am therefore not legally licensed to diagnose, cure, treat, prevent, or otherwise mitigate any disease, and neither is the stuff I generally choose for healingโ€ฆ but then, Iโ€™ve not been educated / indoctrinated by boards with big pharma reps on them, either ;-)ย  so do your own research and find what works for you :-)

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So the babies LOVED the home-made vitamins, and have been begging to learn how to make them. Today, their world is right… and so is mine. ‘Cause really, what makes a mama happier than babies who want to learn how to be self-sufficient, using healthy, natural tools… other than maybe having them volunteer to clean up the mess afterward LOL!ย  …or maybe no fighting over who gets to use the coffee grinder to grind the herbs to a fine powder… (Hey, a gal can dream, can’t she?)

At any rate, we modified our recipe to fit what we had on-hand this time, and we wound up with this:

1/4 cup Nettles Powder

1/4 cup Mullein Powder (couldn’t find a link for this one, but beautiful herb ๐Ÿ™‚

2/3 cup Cinnamon Powder

2/3 cup Rosehips Powder

1/3 cup Ginger Powder

2/3 cup Oat Straw Powder

1/2 tsp. Real Salt

2 Tbsp Hydrilla Verticillata (Fresh-Water Seaweed “Noxious Weed”, but GREAT supplement!)

1 1/3 cup Honey

1/2 tsp Orange Extract

Maybe 2/3 cup? Cocoa Powder (for rolling the vitamins in after they’re formed)

Roll dough into small balls, and roll the balls in cocoa powder.

This time, we put babies to work doing this part (with clean hands, of course), and it went much faster. I’m thinking that tiny fingers are just much better at this than mine are. I gave each kiddo a miniature ice cube tray, and had them put one vitamin in each hole when they were done. Works great, and, stored in the freezer, they should last forever. Once they’re frozen individually, I can put them all in one baggie & back in the freezer for space-saving storage.

Two little vitamins, and 2 Tbsp Lemon Flavored Cod Liver Oil, and 1/2 tsp kelp daily (I don’t put the kelp in the vitamins b/c the kids get the “treat vitamins” as a reward for downing the CLO & Kelp. Not sure it would work as well if the “treat vitamins” were more kelp-flavored. They line up & open their mouths like little birds for all of the above as it stands, so I’m not messin’ with it LOL!

Standard Disclaimer:

Iโ€™mย  no doc, and donโ€™t pretend to be one. I am therefore not legally licensed to diagnose, cure, treat, prevent, or otherwise mitigate any disease, and neither is the stuff I generally choose for healingโ€ฆ but then, Iโ€™ve not been educated indoctrinated by boards with big pharma reps on them, either ;-)ย  so do your own research and find what works for you :-)

I ran out of vitamins, and really didn’t want to spend the money on raw-food-based, quality, organic vitamins at the store. Dangedย  expensive to get the good stuff! …so I’ve been tossing around the idea of making my own. Becoming independent of the money gods and declaring my freedom. If “my people are gone into captivity for lack of knowledge…” (Isaiah 5:13), then maybe the converse is also true? Maybe there is freedom to be had… maybe, in part, to be earned through knowledge and through work in implementing it? Not talking in absolutes, necessarily, here– just the general thought that we can build freedom into our lives through a working understanding of Natural Laws.

With that as a frame-of-reference, I decided to experiment a bit ๐Ÿ™‚ First I made some throat lozenges– stirred up some herbs & honey & a little Real Salt, and that went over really well– kiddos liked them, Hubby & I liked them, and they’re just really healthy, food-based medicine.

Here’s what I wound up doing with that:

1/2 cup Rosehips Powder

1/8 cup Comfrey Leaf Powder

1/8 cup Ginger Root Powder

1/3 cup Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Real Salt

3 heaping Tbsp Honey

1/4 tsp Real Salt

1/4 tsp Lemon Extract

1/4 tsp Orange Extract

1/4 cup Xylitol

Just enough hot water to make a dough. Drop by small spoonfuls onto an oiled cookie sheet & air-dry, or dehydrate in a dehydrator.

If I had it on-hand, I might include some licorice powder and / or some slippery elm powder, but this is what I had at the time. Worked nicely ๐Ÿ™‚

They disappeared pretty fast, and enter point of confidence to try a bit more:-)ย  Here’s what I came up with for a first-shot at vitamins. Now, I do give everyone kelp, alfalfa, and Cod Liver Oil daily along with the regular multi, so I’m counting on those things to provide some of the nutrients that aren’t in the following recipe, but I’m thinkin’ I really like the idea of being more hands-on about our supplements and nutrition ๐Ÿ™‚

Herbal Vitamins:

1/8 cup Chickweed Powder

1/8 cup Horsetail Powder

1 Tbsp Purple Dead Nettle Powder

1/4 cup Mullein Leaf Powder

2 Tbsp Comfrey Leaf Powder

1/3 cup Ginger Powder

1/3 cup Rosehips Powder

1/4 tsp Real Salt

2/3 cup Honey

1/4 tsp Lemon Extract

1/4 tsp Orange Extract

maybe 1/2 cup cocoa powder for rolling the dough in afterward?

Stir all dry ingredients together first, then make a well in the center, and pour in wet ingredients, and stir it all up ’till it makes a dough. Pinch off little balls and roll in cocoa powder, then set on a cookie sheet to dry, or in a dehydrator. Dehydrate at 115 or lower to preserve live enzymes.

Not the fanciest things in the world, and a bit spicy, so if you’re not into spicy, maybe trade out some ginger for something you like better. Definitely go with less ginger if you’re pregnant: a little is good for digestion and anti-nausea, but too much can stimulate uterine contractions. Works for us, though ๐Ÿ™‚ Hubby & Twiddle-be-buttons say it’s a winner– they’re disappearing nicely ๐Ÿ˜€

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I’ll probably play with the recipe some & see what exact amounts of which nutrients are “probably” in each ball– they’re not uniformly sized, but then, they’re all food-based, so no danger of toxicity, either ๐Ÿ™‚

A word on comfrey– some folks are uncomfortable using it. I’m good with it. The older books have only good things to say about its use for all kinds of wonderful things. It’s only the modern books that suggest it has any potential for toxicity. “Just happens” that certain big businesses started experimenting with what certain extracts of it could do if injected into lab rats. I’m thinkin’ I’ll not inject it into my bloodstream, and maybe be fine LOL! I’m also very ok with other folks choosing a different nutrient-dense herb in place of it, because it does get a lot of bad press.ย  Which takes us to our Standard Disclaimer:

Iโ€™mย  no doc, and donโ€™t pretend to be one. I am therefore not legally licensed to diagnose, cure, treat, prevent, or otherwise mitigate any disease, and neither is the stuff I generally choose for healingโ€ฆ but then, Iโ€™ve not been educated indoctrinated by boards with big pharma reps on them, either ;-)ย  so do your own research and find what works for you :-)

Mattresses are expensive, and oh-so-toxic with all of their chemicals, and just unclean– dust mites and their feces and dead skin cells and all… and no real, good way to wash it– EEEEW!!!

When we moved out of the toxic house, we had to get rid of about 3/4 of everything we owned, and that included all of our mattresses, except for the camping air mattress, which we hosed off and used. That fall, we bought air mattresses for all the kids, which lasted about 6 months. Nana bought replacements for those, which lasted another 6 months…ย  In between there, somewhere, our mattress died, too… and when I say that these things died, I mean they lost a chamber in the middle, where you can’t get to it to patch it– this is AFTER we’d been patching the holes we could get to on the OUTSIDE for a while… airbeds just were not designed to keep up with daily life in our world. So by this time, between Nana and ourselves, we’ve spent a few hundred dollars (that’s HUGE in our world!!!) on mattresses, and we’re pretty miffed at having knelt to the petroleum gods.

We started out thinking we’d build a bed frame from some salvaged cedar Hubby had picked up… which worked fine ๐Ÿ™‚

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We didn’t quite have enough to build it with solid walls all the way around, so we did kind of an open-random type thing. 1 AM, and nothing super-fancy, but it’s a bed frame, built in one night, out of lumber that didn’t cost us anything, and it works. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Looks real purdy, don’t it? Notnin’ cuter than ‘yer very own Hubby buildin’ ‘yer very own bed… especially when it’s been a while since you had one LOL!

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We thought we’d fill it with some clean cardboard we got– leftover from an organic manufacturer in the next town.ย  UM… yeah, that didn’t work so fine. Cardboard is AWESOME insulation– very warm and toasty, that bed was… but harder than the floor itself!!! So we tried padding it with various fabricky things… and still woke up sore and miserable ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

So we came up with an idea. While we were in that toxic house, we read the entire Little House series– you know, Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, The Long Hard Winter, etc, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Seems folks have been sleeping on mattresses since before toxic chemicals and petroleum / oil gods existed ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m thinkin’ that maybe sleep deprivation had caused us a slight memory lapse on what Laura would have done LOL! So we woke up one morning, and remembered what those Independent And Ingenious Folks On The Prairie did ๐Ÿ™‚ (no, Hubby didn’t shoot a swan, and no, we didn’t stuff it with feathers)

We were given a duvet cover by one of Hubby’s clients… in my least-favorite color, but it’s going to be a mattress, covered up by other bedding– voila! No more offensive color, and it’s useful ๐Ÿ™‚ Hubby comes home that night with a bale of straw*, and we stuffed said duvet cover, pulled about 8 inches of cardboard out of that bed frame, and replaced it with our official, Prairie-Style Straw Tick Mattress, and we’re sleepin’ OH-SO-GOOD!!!

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So good, in fact, that we thought we’d share the wealth, and use some cotton canvas we had to build mattress covers for the kids!

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Three giant canvas bags, and a LOT of dust later, and we have straw tick mattresses for all but one of us! One kiddo is allergic to hay, not straw, but we figure we’ll play it safe, and stuff his with pine wood chips in stead– just to be sure ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL– “Comes in our new-and-improved, hypo-allergenic model!” ๐Ÿ˜€

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There’s a peek at “my least-favorite color” mattress– the one we have on our bed. The great thing about these mattresses is that the stuffing becomes bedding for the chickens when we change the straw every 6 months. The bags are entirely machine-washable and dry-able. When the chickens are done with the straw, it goes into the compost to feed & bed the worms, which makes worm-castings for the garden, and food for the chickens ๐Ÿ™‚ Zero waste; positive environmental impact!

…now to get land enough to grow the straw on LOL!

*should you decide to try this at home, make sure that your straw is VERY dry– wet straw bad. DRY straw good ๐Ÿ™‚ We had one bale that came to us wet, and we had to take it back. The other 3 bales have all been fine and good and dry ๐Ÿ™‚