Arizona Green Tea Bedroom

My daughter wanted her room painted differently. We moved in about 5 years ago and I painstakingly painted each kids room exactly how they wanted. They are really cool rooms! But she was in the third grade then, and now she’s 13 in the eighth. Even I have to admit the room was too young and princessy for her. Jazz's Old Room

But, for the past three years, I had a crappier paying job than I had when we moved in and I couldn’t afford our bills, let alone to re-do her room. But now I have the best job ever, and I have more time and money to do things, so I asked her how she wanted her room done. All I could say to her response was:

Not ImpressedReally?

 

Arizona Green Tea. That. Was her answer.

And so it began.

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And the finale!!! At least for the mural part…

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As if that wasn’t enough, we decided that the carpet in her room needs to go! So we did this!

 

This is some serious girl power! Tomorrow we lay down the laminate and we will feel like the baddest bitches in town! Please hit me up if you want to commission a mural of your own! Maybe a giant Sun Rise Sushi Logo or your favorite sports team logo in the living room! Er, uhhh, I mean the man cave?  Go to my Murals page for pricing. Updates on the floor soon to come!

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The Story of How I Wish it Was…(WIP)

I’m wrapped up snug and warm under the heavy patchwork quilt I made out of all our old jeans with only my face sticking out. Every muscle in my body aches delightfully with the memory of yesterday’s work, and my nose is chilly. I breathe deep, taking in the cool fresh pine air and gaze up out of the skylight at the morning sun shining through the boughs of towering pines. We put skylights in every bedroom and keep the windows in the lofts open day and night, save for the winter months, so that our bodies are apt to rise and set with the sun. The little house sways ever so slightly with the trees it’s built in as the breeze moves through them. It is JOY to wake up! I roll over and gather my robe from the wood plank floor and slip into my house shoes, breathing deeply again. I run my hand over the bark of the thick strong pine that runs up through the center of our little house as I descend the spiral stairs we built around it.

“Good Morning Gia. I love you.” I whisper to her. Yes, I name my trees, and I do love them!
Santini has already started the fire in the woodstove and set the French press on it to warm. I pour myself a cup with a little goats milk and honey, pack a tiny little bowl of fresh herb from the cute little glazed clay pot we picked up at the festival last year. It’s a stoner frog. I open the French doors onto the deck and breathe again. The Stellar Jays are shrieking at each other, the Cheeseburger birds calling to one another, the rooster crows, the hens cluck, the goats bay, the ducks quack, the stream gurgles, the house sways and I am happy. Happier than I have ever been in my life! I know the animals are hungry, but I take my time in the morning. I sit at the little table on the deck 30 feet off the forest floor, looking out at the clearing we’ve made. The hen house and run, the goat barn, the high fenced garden with the hoop houses still covering ten raised beds, the wild native plants with edible, defensive and medicinal uses we purposely encourage to grow around our property, at the two workshops and the storage shed, the cute little outhouse (we also have a composting toilet in the treehouse,) but mostly, I gaze up at the trees and the sky and the little creek. I greet them as I sip my coffee and smoke my bowl.
When I am done, feeling awake, aware and irie, I drop my mat and do a few quick yoga poses and stretches, telling God how much I love Him/Her for allowing me to be here. I go inside, open the trap door to the storage area under the floor, scoop out a bucket full of chicken feed and the smaller bucket of last night’s table scraps off the counter, and slip on my mud boots. Sant already lowered the upper stairs, by the pully we’ve rigged, down onto the landing of the lower stairs. We didn’t want bears climbing into our windows stealing food, or raccoons, or even unwelcome animals of the two legged variety, so every night after chores, we pull up the stairs, Lock the doors, and close the lower level shutters, keeping the loft windows open to the air.
The short walk down to the coop and goathouse is pleasant, no, it’s utterly joyous! The brown of the dirt path, the grey of the rocks sticking up through it, the lighter grey brown of the gnarly roots crossing the path. I love the crunch under my feet, the irregularity of it, the beauty of it, seeing the progress of the green things surrounding it, hearing the trees whisper to each other, to me.
“Good morning Ladies!” I sing! “Who’s ready for BREAKFAST???” they all come to the gate, clucking excitedly. I greet them all by name as I fill their feeders. Give them water, decide if their house needs a cleaning and check the boxes for eggs, which I put carefully in the empty feed bucket. On to the goats! We have four. Two mommas and two babies! Up the ladder to the hay loft and push down a few flakes. Their house doesn’t need cleaning till tomorrow either. Fill the water and watch to see how the babies are getting along. All is well on the little treehouse farmstead! Santini is in the workshop changing oil and checking levels in all the vehicles. I hear him tinkering and I hear his radio. Zave is up, always the morning person!
“Mom! Mom! MOM! Can I milk the momma goat?”
“Yes Boy, but do you remember what you were told about washing your hands and all the things you need to check for and do before and while you’re milking?” He lists them off and I remind him of one he forgot. We went to a friend’s farm a few months ago to learn how to take care of our momma milk goats. The boy pays attention and takes this life seriously, but has incredible amounts of fun doing it. Jazz is coming down the stairs all bleary eyed and asks how the babies are and if I got eggs.
“They seem good, you are better at knowing than me. Why don’t you go visit? Zave is milking Ganja, why don’t you milk Mary while I go get some green stuff from the garden to make omelets out of these eggs? I’ll call you when breakfast is ready. DON’T SPILL THE MILK!”
She is ridiculously happy out here. I am SO happy. I think as I duck into the first hoop house. She thought she’d hate it, that she’d be afraid, and she is from time to time, but not about bears and scary things at night in our house. She knows she’s safe there, but she fears for our critters. She’s definitely an animal whisperer. She adores them. We are going to have to kill some chickens soon. We can’t afford to keep buying our meat. I’m scared she’ll hate me then. I’ve warned her, and I told her we won’t name those ones. I hope she can handle that. I hope I can handle that!!!
Back upstairs, I kick off my boots by our tiny halltree, set the eggs, a zucchini, a couple tomatoes, an onion and a generous handful of spinach down on the counter, wash my hands, pour myself another cup of coffee, take another hit and get to work on two big ol’ omelets! I’m learning how to make cheese from our goat milk, and we don’t have pigs yet. Dreaming of the days when we can have homemade cheese in our omelets and serve them with bacon! Pre-packaged cheese for now and we can do without bacon for a while. We are really doing this! We are learning and working HARD and having more fun doing it than anyone knew we would. Well, I knew we would. No, I knew I would, I HOPED everyone else would.
I hear the whirr of the stationary bike upstairs.
“If you are on that bike you better have a load of laundry in the tub, or milk in the butter churn!!!” I yell up to Jahmila, who is still the last to rise even out here. Still, 7am is WAY better than 2 in the afternoon!
“Uuugh. It takes so LONG to fill it up!”
“I’m gonna take that phone away!”
“Fine.”
The stationary bike is the best thing we’ve rigged out here. It can do a small load of laundry, or churn a vat of butter depending on which one you hook the gear to, and it powers electronic devices, which is why Jahmila is always trying to ride it empty. I’m proud of myself for being on her butt pretty consistent though. She’s been doing a LOT of laundry, and we are never without butter! LOL!
I hear her patter around up in the lofts gathering a load, and then turning on the hose we’ve rigged upstairs to fill the washtub. It’s harder to pedal the bike when the tub is full of water. We’ve all gotten so incredibly STRONG since we got here! It feels good, and the girls are looking like a couple of brick houses! I hear Michael Jackson after a few minutes of her pedaling. Cool to have music out here in the middle of nowhere off grid!
“Breakfast is close Padjums, you should drain and rinse now!” I yell up to her.
“OK.” And I hear her stop and connect the other hose we have rigged to empty out into the garden drip system, then hook up the water one to fill the tub with fresh water, a couple more minutes ride and she drains again, fills, rides and drains one more time. We make our own laundry, dish and body soap out of stuff that won’t hurt our vegies. All our grey water goes to the garden.
“I’ll help you ring after we eat. Go get everyone for breakfast K?”
“K Euma! I love you!! She runs downstairs, also touching Gia’s bark all the way down. She hugs me super tight, uuugh she’s so stinky! LOL! She eats fresh onions and garlic raw from the garden and it makes her ripe! But I love her to pieces! I’ll send them all down to the creek with soap later. She stands on the deck and yells.
“Breeeeeakfaaast!!!!” and I hear Jazz and Zave tell her to help them pull up their buckets of milk. I can see them in my mind struggling up the path with their buckets. They hook them to one of the pully hooks and Jahj pulls them up one at a time. I can hear the littles (who aren’t so little anymore) tromping up the stairs in their mud boots.
“Is Daddy coming?” I ask, and add, “BOOTS OFF!”
“He’s in the shop still.”
“Well did he hear that breakfast is ready?”
“I don’t know, his radio is on.”
“Well GO down there and GET him.” I tell them.
Jahj rolls her eyes, “Ugh, Jazz you go get him.” Jazz glares at her.
“I WILL!” Zave offers and runs out and down the stairs, down the path and into the shop. I make the girls help me set the table.
Yea, we are actually setting our table together! We aren’t all yelling at each other irritated and rushed to get out the door to go places we don’t want to go and do things we don’t want to do. OK, so I don’t really WANT to ring out the clothes, but I gotta tell ya, I DO love seeing them all hung up on the metal railings of the loft. It feels like freedom to me. It’ll take like five minutes and then I’ll do a load and charge MY phone. Then I’ll have Zave and Jazz do some butter and another load. We keep the clothing to a minimum, but dang, laundry never ends! I still have to take some of the milk and start yogurt, make bread for the week, take down the hoop houses, clean out the leaves and crap from between the garden beds and put it all in the newest compost heap, set up the moveable chicken run between the rows, clean the pantry and take stock of what we have left, check the beehives, decide what’s for lunch and dinner, make sure the kids are doing their school work… It really never ends, but we are together at home, sustaining ourselves as much as possible and getting better at it with each passing day.
Sant and Zave are coming up the stairs as I dish out the omelets, toast, tall mugs of fresh milk, yogurt, and applesauce from the pantry. Zave is excitedly telling him about how he milked the goat and got a HUGE bucket full and how cute the little goats are.
“Good job Dude. Keep it up! WOW! Look at Mommy killin’ it!” he says looking at the table.
“How are things?” I say, “Cars good? Thanks for starting the fire and coffee.”
“Yup. Their ok. Truck’s gonna need an air filter and we should change the timing belt in the Subaru soon. Quad’s good.”
“Oh good, cuz I gotta take the hoop houses down today. We need to make sure the fence around the property is still good. I don’t want those damn deer and elk in my garden!”
“They can’t get past the fence around the garden can they?”
“I want multiple defenses! Plus it’s time to make sure the brush is cleared by the road. Defensible space time.”
We ride around the property about once a month from early spring to late fall to make sure the fences are good and the dry brush is cleared. Fire is a real danger here, as are bears. That’s why we chose the tallest barbed wire fences we could build all the way around the property and corrugated aluminum for all our siding and roofs. I had ulterior motives for that though. Have you ever seen the perfect spacing of ice cycles formed from corrugated roofs? They are perfect and beautiful! Plus, we all love the sound of the rain on the metal roof. Anyway, we ride around with a little trailer full of fencing tools and materials, fix whatever needs to be fixed, and fill it up with dead brush and junk that we either burn or throw in the compost heap.
“K. I gotta finish up changing the tranny fluid in the truck and then I’ll take Zave around with me. Did you see the fish I caught this morning? One’s huge and the other one is ok.”
“No! Dang! You were up early!!!”
“5:30ish. I saw you smoking my weed when I got back before I started on the cars.”
“Phishaw! YOUR weed!”
“MOM!” Jazz and Zave are mad at me.
“Whatever,” Jahj says, “You guys know she smokes and it’s better than being drunk all the time. I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
“Your brain has to be developed before you guys ever try it.” I say. “It makes me calm and motivated and happy. I feel comfortable smoking out here. I never could feel right about it when I had to go to work, even on the weekends. I just feel so much better here.”
“I’m NEVER doing that!” Jazz sneers.
“I don’t think I will either. It’s REALLY illegal in South Korea.” Jahmila says for the like hundred millionth time.
“Yes Jahj, we know.” Says Daddy.
“I was gonna go ask Dillan if he could come fishing with me! I don’t wanna go fix the stupid fence!” Zave complains.
“Dude! The fish don’t bite during the day! You gotta wait till it’s almost dark, That’s when you catch ‘em..” I tell him.
“I’ll take you guys out this evening, but you gotta help me with that fence and get your school work done first.” His Dad tells him.
“Maaan! That’s stupid.”
“You talkin’ back to me kid?” Sant asks, “Fine. I won’t take you fishing tonight, or tomorrow, and that phone is mine tonight.”
“Fine. I go with you to fix the stupid fence.” Sulks the kid.
I look at Zave hard. “Check the attitude, or the phone is mine for a week. Jahj, It’s your day for dishes.” She rolls her eyes. I ignore it. We have one bowl, plate, knife, fork, spoon and cup for each of us, and we all wash our own after every meal, but we take turns washing the pots and pans and such. Jahmila loathes dishes more than any of us, but not so much as she did before we came out here and minimalized.

Planning an Off-Grid Life

You haven’t, but, if you want to, you can read a few blogs down about how my heart’s desire is to eventually go off grid. WAY easier said than done. Way easier to dream than to actually jump. The absolute first step is to get out of debt. That is a whole other plan. This here is a list I hope some of you who are planning on going off the grid will find helpful, and I hope that those of you who are already there will leave comments about what I’m planning wrong, with advice about things I’m forgetting, and encouragement where I’m thinking right. I promised myself I’d keep working on this even if the possibility of it becoming a reality is very low. So here are my plans so far:

Homesteading Tips n Tricks

A List of Tips, Tricks, Advice, Ideas and Resources

 

EQUIPMENT:

ATV – $500-$800

ATV Trailer – $150

ATV plow attachment – $400

Underground water catchment tanks ??? Maybe $600??

2 inch stainless steel pipes – 4 ft long, up to 40 ft of them with threads. $60 each?

Well pump – $150

2 shotguns, 2 rifles, 2 handguns – $1000

Bullets – tons of ‘em – $1500

Wood stove for cooking and main room heat $3000

Possibly 3 more small wood stove heaters $600 each

Go pro $300

Google glass $1200

Video editing software – $60

5 longbows of varying draw and accessories – $200/each

Heavy-duty wood chipper – $500

Chainsaw – $100

Good ax, wedge and sledge hammer – $100

Gas generator $150

MIG wirefeed welder, gloves and mask – $100

Brushcutter – $200

Come-along – $50

2 ton pullys – $30/each

Steel Cable – $50

Router – $200

Table saw – $200

Drill driver – $100

Mill saw – $3000

Miter saw – $200

Composting toilet – $1000

Tankless water heater – $200

Solar panel system – $3000

Wind turbine – $300 ???

Hydro power system – ???

Hole saw drill attachments – $60

Build our own beehives – plans on internet

Beekeeping equipment like hoods, smokers, brushes and scrapers – $100

Portable Manual Washers. Two of them with modified cranks so they can be placed on either side of a stationary bike like pedals. $55 each.

 

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Upstairs loft with railing all the way around. I picture our wet laundry hanging all over that! Lol! Three sleeping chambers for kids and one master loft for adults.

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Main floor of my dream treehouse. The problem with that is that I have no idea what trees will be where on my future property. I just hope that it might be able to have a layout somewhat like this.

 

 

 

REGULAR MONETARY COSTS THAT CAN’T BE AVOIDED:

Insurance – auto, property, medical, life

Savings – should have $5000 to start and put $50-$200 away/month

Groceries – for the first two or three years actually MOST of our food and the animals food.

Once we start producing we’ll need:

flour, sugar, rice, pasta, peroxide, rubbing alcohol, alcohol for consumption and tinctures/extracts and cooking, spices that can’t be grown, natural ingredients for personal care products, feminine products, supplemental animal feed and small things to supplement our diet.

Gas

Propane

Hay

WIFI

Phones

Cloth or clothing

Vehicle and equipment maintenance

 

IDEAS ABOUT HOW THE HOMESTEAD WOULD BE RUN:

Two to four acres of land, with a spring or stream and water rights. Hopefully on higher ground. $150,000 WITH TREES!!!! Preferably in mountains.

Try to purchase and close in late winter- early spring

1st order of business is water and shelter. Maybe have a trailer or two or a yurt or two that are fit to winter over in and can be lived in for two to three years.

dig well, or install water filtration system or both, figure out transport, pumps, pipes etc

2nd food storage for first two years and plan for getting and storing perishables. Safe from animals and elements.

3rd storage of critical equipment

 4th plan out the land – where will permanent dwelling be? What will it be and how will it be designed for the most self sustaining and efficient use of resources? What are our biggest advantages/disadvantages? How much can we do to be as comfortable as possible before next winter hits? Where will garden be? Chickens? Goats? What needs to be done to protect all those from elements and predators?

Clear spaces for each aspect.

Build temporary shelter if that’s needed.

Build permanent animal enclosures.

Clear land for garden

Start composting right away.

Clear a road (defensible space) all the way around property. Plant hedges and berry bushes around perimeter inside the road. Regular barbed wire fencing around perimeter and once a week/month (as we determine it’s needed), drive around whole property with trailer full of fencing supplies to inspect and repair fencing and irrigation system supplies to repair irrigation to shrubbery.

Clear defensible space around dwelling, garden and animals, leaving as many trees as we can and still feel safe from fire and have enough sun for the garden while keeping the forest feel.

Yurt or travel trailers for first three years while working on real house.

About ¾- 1 acre for garden and animals, let the rest be wild but taken care of.

Plan for power. Solar, wind, and hydro are preferable, to be supplemented with propane and gas as little as possible. City power, maybe for the first two or three years.

Composting toilets only.

Goats and chickens only for the first three years. Maybe ducks and quail. Consider rabbits, a dwarf cow, and maybe a pig or two later on.

Spring is for planting and building, summer is for maintaining/cultivating, building, and selling arts, crafts and homestead products off property, fall is for harvesting and winter prep, winter is for maintaining animals and household, resting, planning, schooling and creating arts n crafts.

Early mornings are for animals, late mornings and early afternoons are for building and maintaining, late afternoons and early evenings are for cleaning and food prep, evenings are for family time. Not sure how to fit school in there yet, or if the kids would go to public schools. I want them involved on the homestead, but not at the expense of their education.

Beginning of each year is a family planning session where we try to map out our yearly goals in a realistic timeline. At the start of each season we go over the goals that must be reached in the next three months to help us stay on track. Break those down into weekly goals, and break those into daily goals.

Trip to urban area every other weekend for shopping and for kid’s sanity. Visit family once every season. Those can be combined if needed.

School would be reading, comprehension, history, science and writing (which could all be combined), computers, archery/shooting, physical fitness, Homesteading/sustainable living practices/home economics.

Kids get two hours of screen time/day if chores/schooling is done.

We each will have minimal necessities:

One fork, spoon, cup, bowl, plate each and everyone washes their own. And we take turns on the pots, pans and serving dishes.

Two pairs of jeans, shorts, sweatshirts, long sleeves, short sleeves each. Two to three bras, five pairs of undies and socks. One heavy jacket and one light jacket each. One set of nice clothes and we will maybe buy nice outfits to go to events, but donate them after. This will cut down drastically on laundry.

I want to rely on fossil fuels as little as possible, but I have reservations about wood heat as well. I want our permanent dwelling to be a treehouse, so a wood burning cook stove would be ideal, but I don’t want to use too much wood either. It is too much work, and it pollutes as well. A rocket Mass Heater seems ideal, but I fear it may be too heavy for a treehouse and too difficult to construct up in a tree.

 

RECOURSES:

My First Step Toward Homesteading. Help? Please?

I have all these passions inside me. Things that grew from … probably my childhood living in Oregon and Tahoe, I don’t know, but as I have become an adult, the passions grew but so did all these circumstances that have prevented me from actually perusing them. So now I find myself, almost 40 with this weird “American Dream” (More like nightmare!) type of lifestyle with a pretty ok job and a husband with two pretty ok jobs, barely making our bills, living out in suburbia (A.K.A. hell, ok maybe it’s not SO bad…) with our 2.5 kids (Three. We have three kids. I guess we are the rare family that made that stupid point five, like you can have half a kid…whatever.). Our cars are on the brink, and the boy has a nice medical bill from THINKING he MIGHT have broken his arm,that we can’t pay thanks to medicaid cutting the kids off every other month and having to re-apply which is a torturous process (I loath paperwork!) and I’m about to take the family dog to the vet next week because he’s limping, has stinky ears and seasonal allergies that cause him to scratch himself bald.  So I know you’re kinda sorta supposed to start these things with some kind of “budget” (Watever that is), but yea, our budget right now is negative nothing. So all I’m left with are these passions, and my head is gonna explode one of these days and I’m gonna go postal if I don’t do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to start moving toward them. So I’m making lists. Things to research, to learn about to do in order to get us closer to the actual DOING of the things. I’d love any insight any of you homesteaders have regarding this list (I need SPECIFICS people!!!) and I’m going to work on each thing at least three times a week (God and Family willing). So here’s my list, my first tiny baby step, me, throwing it out into the universe (A.K.A the internet) in the hopes that if I keep stepping and keep throwing, it’ll all come back to me somehow.

 

Homestead check list.

 

 

How much wood will we need for approximately 2000 sq ft of structure (Not nessesarily one big house, but maybe a network of tree-structures for the family, a small barn, a shed and a wood shed?

What kinds of wood will we need?

Will we need steel beams or other components, what kind and how much will they be?

What types of widows will we have?

What type of insulation will be best?

Composting toilets. How do they work, how much do they cost?

What kind of bathing system will be best for us?

What other supplies for building will we need?

cattle panel

What kinds of tools and equipment will we need?

come-a-long

hand tools -screwdrivers, hammers, hand drills, saws, crowbar, ropes, chains, pullys

power tools? cordless or non? how much power would we need for the running of such things?

Wood burning stoves. What are the best kinds, how much are they?

Rainwater cachment systems?

How much does it cost to dig a well?

What should we look for when purchasing land as far as growing food and having enough water and wood?

Can we use water from nearby lakes/rivers/streams? How?

Plumbing to and from a treehouse?

Water filtration?

Water heater?

What kind of power and how much will we need?

How much storage will we need?

How will we make money?

What will we live in while building and implementing our plan?

How much $$ will we need initially?

What is our plan for getting that $$?

Internet/WIFI? We know we need it, how will we get it and how much will it cost?

How much food will we need to grow to sustain our family = How much land will we need?

Best growing/harvesting practices?

Food preservation practices?

Wood storage shed.

Hoop house for growing during winter months.

10-12 chickens.

One milk cow.

Four or five goats.

link to article I read on arched cattle panel animal shelter DIY:

http://www.valhalla-project.com/2013/09/valhallas-quick-and-easy-arched-cattle.html

 

A dog.

Several outdoor cats.

Maybe a llama for wool.

Best composting practices?

Keeping critters out of the garden.

Bees! Types of hives and best beekeeping practices.

Treehouse building practices and techniques?

How are we going to gain that knowledge?

Fruit trees, how to prune and take care of them.

How much money will we need each month for things we can’t grow or make from the nature around us? Like castile soap, borax, hydrogen peroxide, essential oils, flour beans and rice, gas, clothing etc. as well as bills like property taxes and insurance etc…

What exactly WILL all those extra expenses be?

A small barn/coop for the few animals.

Clothes washing? In winter?

What will our daily schedules look like?

Weekly Schedules?

Monthly Schedules?

Yearly Schedules?

What laws/regulations/codes make life harder/easier for homesteaders?

recipes:

Cinnamon Bourbon Cherries

useful hacks for homestead living:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/51702/10-lifehacks-100-years-ago

http://www.homesteadingfreedom.com/the-worlds-simplest-and-oldest-chair-design/2/

 

So that’s it. My baby step.