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Starting Over

Hello Off The Grid News! This is Bob Whitten, coming to you from beautiful, sunny Thomson, Illinois.

Today I want to tell you about two pioneers, making their way back to self-sufficiency in a most unusual way. They happen to be relatives of mine, so I know their story very well.

Penny and Gary met up in their 40s, both being throw-backs from another time. They both enjoy living in the country and living off the land. They bought an old farm house on a few acres, and in just a few years they had a beautiful home. The wood floors were brought back to life, and each room of the three-story home was painstakingly insulated, dry-walled, and painted. The yard and front porch were redone in the fashion of days gone by, with rockers and swings on the porch and herbs, fruit trees, and flowers in every corner.

So, what did they do when they had the place back in shape? They had an auction, sold everything out of the house, and sold the house, too. It still seems crazy as I write this column, that they would just give up everything after all they had done. Penny said she never felt more free and there was absolutely no remorse.

Penny and Gary then bought five more acres a few miles from town, and went to work again. They lived in an apartment in town through the first winter, clearing land and forging a road through the middle of their new property. In the spring, they borrowed our old motor home and parked it right in the middle of their land. They lived in that old thing for eight months as they built a new home from the ground up. Gary is a carpenter and Penny is a drafting engineer, so most of the work was done by just the two of them. They both held jobs during the day and worked on their new home in the evenings.

By September, when the weather turned cold, Penny and Gary had the house complete enough to move into the basement of their brand new home. To date, it is nearly all finished. Within two years, they sold everything they owned and had a brand new house built.

This may surprise some people, but they don’t know my sister. Penny is driven. She loves the ways of old, and she lives in a different world than most. She makes her own soap, sews, and cans vegetables, living just like our great-grandparents did. Together, Penny and Gary live a very self-sufficient lifestyle. Penny has a home business, selling her soaps and lotions and also making gloves and scarves out of old sweaters. They truly live off the land, and they re-purpose every thing they can.

So what is next for these two? Last month they were pricing fifty-foot boat hulls, and I was afraid to ask, but I did. Penny said “We are going to sell this home and build a pond, then we will put a houseboat in the pond and live in it.” Now, if it were anyone else, I would question this new plan. But with those two, they just might make it work.

Below you will find one of sister Penny’s recipes for bath salt. Give it a try, and tell me what you think.

Penny’s Bath Salt Recipe

From Penny: For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for herbs. They are so versatile. You can grow them, display them, or cook with them. They are aromatherapy for you, your house, your bath, your pillow, and your pets. They are an insecticide, antiseptic, and disinfectant. You can use them in perfumes, recipes, lotions, soaps, sprays, inhalers and yes bath salts. I have always believed God put everything on this earth we need and herbs were one of his greatest ingredients. They are very powerful.

During this time of year when the days are getting shorter and cooler and the flu and cold season is suddenly striking us in the face, I turn to my herbs. Starting about October, I get out my old tried-and-true recipes and head for the kitchen. In my kitchen I have two shelves dedicated just to my aromatherapy supplies and equipment. So what will I start out with– maybe a Dead Sea salt recipe? This recipe is easy, and I am so ready for a nice soak in the tub; it warms me right up!

I call this my Easy Fatigue-Relieving Bath Salt Recipe.

Equipment needed:

  1. A stainless steel, glass or plastic bowl with a lid. (Some oils react badly with other metals.)
  2. Measuring cup
  3. Teaspoon set

Now for the ingredients:

You can get all the ingredients for this recipe at just about any pharmacy or department store. You can get the essential oils of your choice at most pharmacies or online. Let’s start with the base ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups of Epson Salts (These salts are useful in reducing swelling and soothing sore feet and body.)
  • 1 cup of Dead Sea Salts (These salts are very therapeutic with necessary minerals like calcium, iodine, zinc, and magnesium.)
  • ½ cup of cornstarch (This has been used for generations to soothe skin rashes.)

Yes, that’s it for the base. I told you it was easy. Measure the ingredients out and put them in the bowl, then tightly place the lid… make sure it is sealed good and shake, shake, shake! This part is kind of fun! When all the ingredients are mixed evenly, you can stop shaking.

Next is the greatest part of all– the essential oils. I like to use good quality essential oils– no fake or cheap stuff here. My choices for this time of year are eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint. These oils are very different from each other, but as a whole they work wonderfully.

  • 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus (This herb has a very powerful antiseptic scent and can be inhaled as a vapor for relief of congestion from colds.)
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary (This herb is great for battling mental fatigue and stress. It is also used as a disinfectant and insecticide.)
  • ¼ teaspoon of peppermint (Watch this one, as it can be overbearing if you use too much. In reasonable quantities though, it provides a great relief from stress, depression, anxiety, restlessness, and mental exhaustion. Also good for winter dandruff!)

Now add these to your base and shake, shake, shake. I use about a 1/4 of a cup in my bath, but you can experiment with it.

That’s it! Enjoy!

You can experiment with your essential oils if you like, but keep in mind essential oils are very potent. 1 to 2 percent is all you want to use. Any more and your skin may get irritated. You know what they say about too much of a good thing. And please research any herb before using them.

Suggestion: Put your finished salts in a mason jar with a lid, decorate, and tag it. Making a beautiful and unique gift that smells so good is as easy as following the recipe.

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