Skin and Spring

Let’s talk about skin. Here’s some history to put things in perspective.

I’ve had eczema my whole life. It kept getting worse, and I was seeing more and more specialists who didn’t know how to help me, so in 2019 I took matters into my own hands. I stopped using my prescription ointments and creams, and I began researching ferociously and took a holistic approach to healing my skin. (I wouldn’t recommend stopping prescriptions cold turkey. I went through steroid withdrawal pretty bad. My face swelled so badly the skin on my cheeks cracked and I refused to leave the house for a week.)

Here are pictures of me. The “before” picture is definitely not me at my worst. I was looking ok enough to allow a photo to be taken of me. During the worst, I definitely didn’t allow pictures to be taken.

May 2019 – sorry for the weird face, this is a screenshot from a video
Just a random photo from today – April 5, 2020

Even though “the worst” was during the end of March 2019, you can still tell how much I healed from these photos. You can’t see it, but I had eczema down both of my arms and spots going down my chest. I didn’t even wear a shirt for half of 2019 because the eczema patches on my chest would hurt and stick to it. It took me from March 2019 to October 2019 of water fasting, supplements, clean eating, and going to bed early.

Nevertheless, I eventually did it. How? I watched a lot of videos and got a lot of advice from YouTubers like Michelle Mills and Susan Valkai. I cut out most oils, gluten, and eggs at first. That helped immensely, but after a while I discovered that I also have a problem with histamines (aka, anything not fresh). I was eating a lot of sauer kraut and apple cider vinegar, and I didn’t fully clear up until I cut them out of my diet. (as well as peanut butter later on)

Jump forward to now. It’s allergy season in East Texas. The pine pollen is settling onto things and turning them a hazy green. No one’s said it, but it seems to me that there’s more pollen than usual this year. The problem with eczema is that there is so many toxins for your body’s system to deal with that it can’t do it all correctly, and the excess waste gets pushed out through your skin. That’s why water fasting is so effective, because you’re taking a break and giving your body time to focus on healing itself. My skin’s been clear for five months now (which is amazing because I had eczema problems almost daily for twenty years), but with all the pollen in the air, my body is being overtaxed and I’ve sprouted some eczema patches on my hand.

See, right there between my fingers.

For most people, eczema just seems like dry skin that could be fixed not scratching and putting on some lotion, but let me tell you, eczema is painful and gross. These little spots looks like nothing, but the skin is cracked open and it stings like alcohol every time I wash my hands. No amount of olive oil will fix this (my clean alternative to lotion, because most lotions contain harmful ingredients that actually make eczema worse – even those for “sensitive skin”)

I’ve begun taking milk thistle supplements for the time being (because they help flush the system), and I think I’m going to do a water fast for the rest of the day.


A Day in the Life 4-3-20

There’ll be many of these, so I guess I should throw the date up there to tell them apart.

First thing’s first, I actually didn’t sleep last night. I was too busy thinking, so I finally got up and started to sew a dress. I’ve never made a full-on dress before, but my husband had several old shirts I could cut up and use, so I went ahead and started. I’ll share pictures when I’m finished, don’t worry. (Update: the dress is turning into a top because the dress looked like it was dying, and I’m not skilled enough to save it)

Remember how I cooked all those bean yesterday? Well, I saved all the juice and the odd leftover bits in a jar. Today, I threw the juice and some rice together in a pan so that I can put some on top of the dogs’ food. They love being cooked for. For a long time I cooked all the dog food, but after a while, I was done with it, and it wasn’t saving as much money as I thought it was.

Then I went out and made hay (ok, it was just grass clippings – I plan to dry it in the warmer months) for the rabbits. I have a whole blog post about it. You should check it out.

Finally, I sat down to eat breakfast, which was actually my homemade cream of rice. I grind my own rice into rice flour and add some sugar and cinnamon, and voila! cream of rice.

I sat up for a while doing little things on my computer, and I ended up taking a nap until about 5 pm.

Then I got up and did several “normal” housekeeping tasks. I dusted, put the dishes in the dishwasher, swept, wiped down the kitchen, cooked for the hubby, and after all that, I sat down to sew some more.

Most of this day wasn’t too exciting, but I did do a few crazy things and managed to save at least $11. That’s not too bad for sleeping most of the day.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Usually this is a figurative adage, but today, for me, it became literal.

I own rabbits. They don’t eat much, and the food comes in a huge bag, but I like to take every chance I can get to stretch that food.

It’s supposed to rain later today… and every day for the next 5 days. Generally, I put the rabbits in their moveable outside pen in the mornings to get fresh air and chew down the grass where the pen is. However, with it raining, that’s not going to happen.

So this morning, before the rain came, and before I’d even had breakfast, I got out with the reel mower (I actually forgot that this is a frugal alternative, I’m so used to it.) and mowed part of the backyard. Then I raked up the clippings to give to the bunnies.

This actually worked better than I thought. The mower didn’t destroy the grass like a gas mower does. I got 5x the clippings from an area half the size as one mowed with a gas mower. (I know because yesterday I tried to scavenge some clippings after a lawn was mowed and the clippings weren’t cleaned up.)

Just a side note, I did the rabbit math, and after butchering rabbits, the meat comes out to $1.25-$1.50/lb. Now, I’ve never seen a rabbit in the supermarket, but the antibiotic-free chicken is about $1/lb and the cheap, antibiotic-ridden beef is about $2/lb. This is smack-dab in the middle, and it’ll be organic and humanely-raised on a small family “farm.” Honestly, we’re not big enough to be considered a farm. We’re a try-hard homestead. But, back to the topic.

I don’t know whether I’m proud or a little abashed that the old “make hay while the sun shines” has become literal for me. I’d probably be more proud if I weren’t a petite woman living in town. I need a farm… maybe someday… maybe goats… but I digress.

Anyway, I’m here to say, go forth and make hay while the sun shines, whether that be figurative or literal.

April Garden Update

Hi there!

Today I worked heavily on my garden. I’m utilizing the majority of the front yard. It’s going pretty well so far.

My potatoes are doing great!

I also have some beets and carrots that are growing… although not as ferociously as I would like.

I like it when things I plant grow like weeds. I don’t like having to baby anything.

One thing that is growing like weeds are the broccoli plants that were in the shade.

There were some broccolis that are in sunnier spots, and they’re not doing so well. There is a lesson here. I hope I’ve learned it.

I’ve not been able to grow garlic bulbs, but the garlic chives on top do fantastically. I can harvest a large bowlful every week.

It only grows in the very early Spring. Soon it’ll have to be ripped out, but the chives have such a nice garlic-y flavor that seasons food so well, and I planted enough so we have as many fresh sprigs during the week and every weekend I can harvest everything and put away an entire ice tray full of oil and garlic. (Did you know that’s a thing? You can freeze fresh herbs in oil.) To get these fun chives, I just buy a bag of whole garlic in the Spring and plant each clove separately. Each clove grows a chive.

The big change to the garden was in planting tomatoes, which meant that I first got to put in the bamboo poles. (Remember, I made these yesterday.)

I’m very proud of this. I chopped those poles down and cut the twigs off and got them into the ground with my own two hands,

With the help of my husband, all the poles got in the ground. They replaced some old, ratty tomato cages that I was going to use, but since the garden is in the front yard this year, it was suggested that I do something different.

By each pole I planted some tomato seed. They should be poking out of the ground in a week or two. (My dad has a green house and can do plant starts. His tomato plants are already a foot tall! I definitely didn’t appreciate the awesomeness of that as a kid.)

In a few days, I plan to plant some more things, and in a few weeks, it should be time (fingers crossed) to harvest most things and plant the second crop of the year.

A Day in the Life

Today’s been super productive.

I recently made myself a weekly to-do list that helps me make sure I get everything done, and I apparently did today’s and tomorrow’s chores without even realizing it. Not that that’s a bad thing – it frees up tomorrow to work on the garden. I need to begin planting tomatoes.

But we’re here to talk about today, not tomorrow.

Let’s see, what all happened today.

Well, first off, I ended up pressing snooze on my alarm a few times. Then, when I did get up I trudged to my iced coffee (past me is so nice because she got it all ready to go).

In the meantime, I pulled out the beans I wanted to cook tomorrow, because I didn’t want to forget about soaking them. By the way, if you put 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar in the soaking water per pound of beans, it takes all the farts out. I eat a lot of beans to get the vitamins I need, and farts were a problem until I learned about the ACV trick.

Top: chickpeas Left: lentils Bottom: pintos

2 of the 3 containers in the picture are repurposed in case you’re wondering where the heck I bought those… because I didn’t.

After I was awake, I fed the dogs and went to spot clean the bunny pen. We recently added rabbits to our homestead. While they’re mowing for us, providing us with fertilizer, and will someday provide us with food, I still have to clean out their pen and take care of them.

It’s a lot like cleaning a big litter box. Yes, it kind of smells like a zoo inside their house, but I deal with it because I like how much of an asset the rabbits are.

Side note – I’m not really a fan of eating lots of meat. It’s not healthy for one, and the meat my family can afford is imbued with sadness and fear. I don’t believe for a second that the animals or the workers are treated as well as I would want. If it were just me, I probably would only eat meat at holiday get-togethers. However, it’s not just me. My husband wants to continue eating meat and, even though I tried for two solid years, I’ve been unsuccessful in getting him to change. So, I did some research, and raising rabbits super humanely is cheaper than the cheapest, inhumane cuts of meat at the store. So, rabbits. What cemented eating meat in my mind was what one YouTuber said, “Livestock will convert weeds, worms, bugs, and other waste into a useable source of food.”

Ok, I’m off my soapbox.

After cleaning the bunny pen, I went inside to rest and watch some Netflix (my alternative to cable).

Then, I went down the street to get some bamboo from a neighbor to make bamboo poles to support my tomatoes.

bamboo pre-pole form

I finished cutting off all the offshoots from the bamboo just as it was turning into evening. (I’ll update after putting the poles in the ground. There will probably be a big garden post tomorrow.) Yes, one could argue that making the poles like this is too much work, but I am time-poor, and these poles are free!

After making the poles and cooking dinner for me, I watched Netflix some more. Usually I would crochet while watching TV, but working on those garden poles took more out of me than I thought.

Next, I made some food for my husband to eat when he gets home from work. It’s mostly a deterrent. He won’t cook for himself even though he can, and he still doesn’t understand why he can’t get 2 (because he’s 6’3″) burgers every night on the way home.

My hands didn’t feel great after working with the bamboo, so instead of hand-washing like I usually do, I rinsed the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. Rather than use one of those dishwasher pods (the very cheapest still being 25 cents each), I put a Tbsp of baking soda in the bottom of the washer and a tiny squirt of dish soap in the soap dispenser.

And, finally, I made up my coffee for tomorrow so I can have iced coffee. In stores it’s $2.50 or more for cold coffee, but I just make coffee the night before (or a big batch every few days) and stick it in the fridge.

All totaled, I saved about $35 today – likely more, but I’d rather round down than up. Granted, a penny saved is not necessarily a penny earned, but that’s still an ok amount for a day for a stay-at-home spouse.