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Faithful Homesteader

How My Garden Helps Me Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Faithful Homesteader 

Since I have become more committed to living a healthy lifestyle, I have a greater appreciation for our garden. One of my biggest goals with my eating is to consume more vegetables. Our garden provides plenty of those.

I started out on a strict Paleo diet, but have since added back some foods. The Paleo is the basic blueprint for me, but I have some flexibility. Protein is an important component, but it is more important for me to eat more vegetables.

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I recently learned that I have high cholesterol. It came as a big shock, but it certainly motivates me even more to live a healthy lifestyle. Even though my LDL cholesterol is quite high, I also have high HDL. I credit eating well and exercising for that. The high HDL lets my body deal with things in a better way, but I am still working to lower my LDL.

Over the summer and even now, marinara sauce with spiralized zucchini or squash has been almost a weekly staple. There has been no shortage of tomatoes, peppers and onions to make a healthy marinara sauce. Earlier in the season, we had plenty of squash and zucchini. We don’t miss regular pasta at all. I feel good with this healthy homemade meal.

Another major meal for us has been vegetable stew. Even in the summer, I just found it so easy to make in the Crock-Pot. It is a yummy way for me to get my vegetables. It has been a healthier way to consume our okra and a good use of our Asian beans. We have so many peppers growing and they make a nice addition to the stew as well.

As our fall garden is getting started, I look forward to adding radish, cauliflower and Jerusalem artichoke to my stews. Since I have been more committed to a healthy lifestyle, I am more open to adding a variety of vegetables to my diet. In the past, I ate very few vegetables.

Growing Hibiscus

Faithful Homesteader 

When we attended the Mother Earth News fair this past year, we picked up some seeds from one of the many vendors. One of the things that I was most looking forward to was the hibiscus seeds. I wanted them for the beautiful flowers. I also liked the idea of making our own tea.

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We planted them in the spring with our other crops and waited the whole summer for something to happen. The plant had grown quite tall, but no signs of the flowers that I was anxious to see. Finally, we saw the plant filled with what would soon become beautiful flowers. I was ready.

One morning when I was trying to catch some extra sleep, my husband came and woke me up. He wanted to make sure that I could see the flowers while they were blooming. I didn’t know that I would only see them for a portion of the day before they would close up and fall to the ground. I immediately grabbed my camera so I could mark the occasion. The flowers were not quite as bright or pink as we anticipated, but they were still beautiful.

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Now every morning more flowers bloom. It is something to look forward to each day. We have been gathering them up daily. Our plan has been to use them to brew our very own tea. However, someone reached out to us with the information that we should be using the dark red seedpods because that is what has the flavor. I am kind of excited about the idea of making our own tea because it is a new experience.

My husband says that on its own, hibiscus does not have much flavor. Perhaps we just haven’t had the good stuff yet. We may end up coming up with our own blend of something to enhance the flavor of the tea. I wonder how it might be with some peppermint mixed with it.

Planning Our Fall Garden

Faithful HomesteaderAfter having a successful summer garden, we are shifting gears and preparing for our fall garden here in north Texas. I am looking forward to some different garden vegetables. At the peak of our summer garden, we were making yummy vegetable stews and squash/zucchini noodles with marinara sauce. I will be glad to mix it up with some other veggies.

My husband goes back and forth between wanting a fall garden and just letting it go. I want the garden because I love being able to have so many homegrown vegetables. Since I have been living a Paleo-ish lifestyle, I strive to get many veggies into my diet. I have been trying to expand my horizons when it comes to what veggies I eat.

Our fall garden will not be as extensive as our summer one, but I hope that it will be a successful one. I never really ate radishes much my whole life, but now I am getting into them so I definitely wanted them in the garden. We are growing ‘Icicle’ and ‘Sparkler’ radish. I don’t know about either type, but I am hoping they are both good.

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We are also growing kohlrabi. We have successfully grown it in the past and we liked it. Our chickens were also fans of it. If all goes well, we will have some Jerusalem artichoke come back. Last year we had a lot of it, but if it comes up this year, it will be on a much smaller scale. We did find it to be a good addition to stews in place of potatoes.

The last two things that we are growing are carrots and cauliflower. We have tried carrots before, but never have had them in abundance. Carrots are definitely a favorite vegetable of mine. We have not grown cauliflower before, but I love the diversity of that vegetable. I like doing cauliflower rice and it actually does make a good pizza crust, too.

I want a successful fall garden so that it can help me with my healthy lifestyle. I am thankful that my husband has a green thumb. If you are doing a fall garden, I hope yours will be successful as well.

Impact of Hurricane Harvey in North Texas

Faithful HomesteaderHere in North Texas we were not directly affected by Hurricane Harvey, but it still dominated the news. It has certainly been heartbreaking to see all the devastation, but it seems like most everyone wants to help in one way or another.

The Dallas/Ft. Worth area has been taking in many evacuees and there is no shortage of groups in the area collecting supplies. Some of the supplies are staying here in the area because of the evacuees, but plenty of other groups have made their way down south and others still plan to do so.

Considering how divisive our country is these days, it has certainly been something to see all that put aside to help the people affected by the storms. Unfortunately, it seems to take such things for people to remember that we are all part of the human race. Now is a time for compassion and positive action.

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One impact on North Texas that I wasn’t expecting from the storm was a shortage of gas up in our area. I anticipated that gas prices would go up and I topped up my car before they did. Then as I was driving home one evening, I noticed that there was a run on the gas stations in our area.

I had not watched the news, but figured it must be related to the storms. What was most frustrating was that we were not in danger of running out of gas, but there was a big panic. The shortage was caused by everyone getting gas at the same time. Even though there was less gas, we would not have run out had it not been for the panic. After a few days, things have started to get back to normal.

I am glad to see all the good will in North Texas. There are plenty of opportunities to do good here and I hope we all continue to pull together to do our part. Now I am keeping an eye on Hurricane Irma. I am praying we don’t end up with another major hurricane this season.

Our Laid-Back Chicken

Faithful Homesteader 

We just have a small flock of chickens and they are all precious and cute in their own way. I wanted to share about our girl Nailie. Generally, she seems to be the most laid-back of all the chickens, but she is actually the hardest one to catch. Even when she is broody, it is nearly impossible to catch her.

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When we decided to get more chickens after being down to only one, we wanted laying-age chickens that were not too old. We saw Nailie and we were told that she was 2 years old so initially we were not sure we wanted a chicken her age. We then considered that our chicken Buster was at least 5 years old and she was still productive. We decided she would go home with us. All the chickens that we brought home are Seramas.

When we first got everybody home, she was not laying even though the others were. I was really wondering if she was going to give us eggs, but eventually she did. That made me happy; I worry more about the health of our chickens when they are not laying.

I like watching her with her chill nature. There is generally not a lot of drama with her unless she goes broody. When she does go broody and I try to pull her out of the nesting box, she is quick to bolt. It makes it hard to put her in the broody breaker when we can’t catch her.

We named her Nailie because when we brought her home, her nails were so long that she could not really scratch around and do her chicken thing. With two of us working to catch her in the coop, we were able to bring her inside to trim her nails. It made such a difference and we were happy to see her scratching around.

My husband is convinced that she does know her name and he has a definite soft spot for her. He likes to sneak treats to her. I love all my chickens and they all have something special about them. Nailie is at the bottom of the pecking order and maybe that makes me have a soft spot for her. Whenever I put out treats, I am always looking for her and want to make sure that she gets her fair share. She is also a pretty girl and I sure hope she lives a happy and productive life with us.

Our Tiny Home Bus Project

Faithful Homesteader 

We recently rescued an old church bus from being a party bus. It was already partially converted into an RV, but we are working on turning it into a comfy home. The first projects have been framing, insulation, window tinting, and painting.

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The bus already had some insulation, but my husband wanted to add much more. It gets awfully hot here in north Texas and we certainly need all the help we can get with cooling. He started with the framing, using reclaimed lumber from a construction site. The framing allows us to do the insulation and eventually the walls. The insulation will also make the bus quieter. I can sure appreciate that.

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All of the windows behind the walls were blackened with rubber coating and the windows that we plan to use were tinted. From the outside, you cannot tell which windows are tinted and which ones have the rubber coating; the color is the same. The only windows that we plan to use are where the beds will be and in the kitchen area. The rubberized coating will help strengthen the windows and add another layer of quiet. My husband also resealed all of the windows.

We are slowly painting the outside of the bus with a flat white color and will later add a blue trim. The flat white is the best color to reflect the heat, and flat colored paints helps to hide blemishes. Each week we usually buy more paint and do a little bit at a time. We use spray paint. My husband likes to call it a shaker can job.

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My husband has done the majority of the work so far, but I have started helping with paint preparation. I have done some sanding and covering up the windows. We will eventually put in some flooring and do something for the ceiling. There are also plans for solar panels and wind turbines. The project will only go as fast as we have money to put into it, but we will eventually get it all done.

Finding a Bus to Make a Home

Faithful Homesteader 

For many months, my husband had been on the hunt for an RV, but then decided it would be better to convert a bus after seeing pictures of school buses and RVs in collisions. He shifted into bus finding mode. I am not that excited to think about living in an RV or converted bus, but I started to think about having something in case bad things came our way.

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The bus when we first brought it home.

My husband dreams of us having a piece of land and living on the bus while we build a house. I think more about living on the bus if something happened and we couldn’t afford to stay in our home. Our motives are different, but we are still on the same adventure with turning the bus into a place that we can call a home.

My husband looked at multiple RVs and buses, but they all had issues. Finally, he found one he thought would work for us. It is a medium length partially converted bus. That will save us money in the end. The bus we found was originally a church bus, but the new owners had turned it into a party bus. I like to think that we rescued the old church bus.

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The Party Bus

The former church bus came with a stripper pole that we declined to take with us. The place where we picked up the bus was a clothing optional place. My husband neglected to tell me that beforehand. We are simple folk and I have never really been the partying type. Also, I prefer to keep my clothes on in public.

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The bus pre-rescue

Now we are skoolies and the process of turning it into a home has begun. Two big projects have been painting it and adding additional insulation to the bus. It is way hot here in Texas and we could use all the help we can get. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out in the end. I will be sharing more about the process in future blog posts.