Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Learning to Broaden My Crochet Horizons with the Crochet Crowd September 20, 2014

Filed under: Crafting,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 6:10 am
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Thank heavens for YouTube. I have been having so much fun learning new crochet stitches. I absolutely love the videos by The Crochet Crowd. I had been on a crochet group on Facebook and kept hearing about a new trendy crochet stitch called Corner 2 Corner. Red Heart yarn put out a pattern for a blanket using this stitch but I had trouble understanding the instructions. Unfortunately, I am a visual learner. If it is a new stitch style, I learn best from watching someone else do it. I did a search on YouTube since that is always a great place to find just about anything you need. I stumbled upon the Crochet Crowd’s video and loved the amount of time and explanation they gave to teaching this new stitch. My first project using the stitch was a dishcloth. I was shocked that I could have a 8” square dishcloth made, complete with border edging, in about a half hour. Yes, I know there are those who crochet faster than me rolling their eyes at it taking me that long. For me though, that is a fast project.

Currently, I am working on a blanket for an adult son at his request. This will be the first time I have crocheted a project this large. My blankets are usually not bigger than a crib size. This blanket will be about 90” square once finished. I am surprised at how quickly this project is going. I am less than halfway done, but once you reach the halfway point, the number of stitches per row begin to decrease. That is one thing I am enjoying about the corner to corner style. As I have been working on it, I keep thinking that this will make a great stitch pattern for making a warm winter shawl. Once the shawl is the size I want, I can add an edging along the top and fringe the sides and bottom. I am seriously considering making myself one for this winter after my other projects are finished.

Back to the blanket I am making. One of the gems in the video was learning an easier method for changing colors within the project. The method shown was so easy that I decided to make a striped pattern in the blanket. I have always had great luck in finding tutorials for various off-grid and homesteading projects and topics. Finding the Crochet Crowd tutorials is just an added bonus. They are making learning new stitches and designs so much easier.

Crocheting along with the videos gives me a feeling of accomplishment as I learn new techniques.  Michael “Mikey” Sellick, who does the tutorial demonstrations takes the process slow enough and the video is filmed in such a way that there is no guesswork on my part.  I can see clearly the way the stitches a formed and projects are completed.    I have watched many crochet tutorials and often they are too fast or the camera angle is off just enough that you miss seeing part of the steps used in making the items.  Not so with the Crochet Crowd’s videos.  They have great close-up instructions they are show every detail in making the stitches.  I also love the tips and hints given by Mr. Sellick as the process is explained.  I haven’t found one if these videos yet that leaves me feeling uncertain or frustrated in how the projects are done.  The Crochet Crowd is definitely teaching this ol’ woman some new tricks to use in making holiday gifts and much more!

I am also working on another Crochet Crowd inspired project, the Stitch-cation afghan.  I will share more on my version of this great project in an upcoming post after the project is completed.

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Ready for the Cold Season? September 6, 2014

Filed under: home remedy,homesteading — ourprairiehome @ 10:46 pm
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With summer break over, it is time to start thinking about the upcoming cold season. Not just the temperatures, but the illnesses as well. Have you started preparing? If your family is like ours, there are certain remedies that you like to have on hand during the cold weather. Simple items like soothing cough drops, teas, and even basic over the counter cold remedies.

In looking ahead, I have been taking stock of what we have in our supply shelves. In the pantry room, I have one set of shelving that is strictly for non-food items. I am reorganizing it this next week, so this is the perfect time to check the inventory. Are there any cold remedies still left from last year? If they are opened, I toss them out. If they are unopened, I check the expiration date. It is so easy to overlook this. The reason that I toss the opened bottles is due to the fact that some medications can begin to lose their potency after they have been opened. Just to be safe, I never keep an opened bottle from one cold season to use the following year. I write an inventory list of what we have so that I know what is still needed.

This year, I am doing things a little differently from previous years. We have been wanting to go the more natural route for quite some time. Over the years, I have used home remedies if the store bought over the counter types had run out. We had good results with the home remedies. With that fact in mind, we will be going the natural route more fully this season. There are certain herbal teas which we find more effective than over the counter products. One of the things that I like about home remedies is that they have been around for generation. Unfortunately, our society has become so accustomed to the pharmaceutical options that the old ways seem odd to many. Yet, these remedies are often better for you. Let me give you a simple example. It is very common to try and use a cough suppressant when you get a cold. That cough, in most cases, is actually benefiting you. It clears mucus and such from your throat and lungs. The problem is that coughing irritates the throat, which is why people grab up the cough suppressants. Instead of grabbing up the cough suppressant, why not simply treat the throat irritation? Another classic example is the sheer lack of options for cough only. Most over the counter cough meds contain ingredients to treat symptoms that you may not have, such as fever or congestion. We don’t like taking meds that have the extra ingredients. We want only what is actually needed. By using home remedies, we can take only what is needed.

Now, before I go further, let me state the obvious. We DO go to a doctor when the situation warrants it. Having home remedies is simply a way to treat the things that do not require a doctor, such as a common cold. We watch for fevers or other indicators that may suggest a necessity for a doctor, especially with the kids. We have been looking for a local homeopath or doctor who believes in the use of herbal remedies before writing a prescription whenever possible. Thankfully, we may ave found one within a half hour drive from the homestead.

As like most families, there are specific things that we keep on hand. The following list is very basic, but effective for us.

1. an herbal rub (similar to the menthol vapor rubs)
2. lemon juice & honey for a throat soothing remedy (hubby & kids favorite)
3. peppermint tea for stomach ailments
4. chamomile tea (to aid in sleeping)
5. homemade cold remedy (recipe for the Amish Cough Remedy at The Milkman’s Wife blog)
6. cayenne pepper (a pinch added to a favorite herb tea is a natural pain reliever)

There are other simple things that I am adding as the season progresses. One of the main things is that I will make sure to have on hand the ingredients to make any remedies that we may need. Essential oils, herbs for the teas, and tinctures.

In planning out the remedies, I am taking note of the most used herbs and essential oils so that I can plan to add them to my herb garden in the spring. Making my own essential oils has been on my list of tings to do for quite some time now. I keep researching and have been collecting old recipes to add to my notebook.

As you find and try home remedies, keep track in a journal how they work out for you. Buy a blank book or journal just for recording the recipes that your family finds to be the most beneficial. You never know when you will be needing that recipe again. My home remedies journal is becoming one of my most treasured books. I wish that I had my great-grandmother’s recipes. She was a very knowledgeable woman in that area. My father talked to me often about having to go out and find various plants for her. Some plants required that he dig up the roots, while others required the leaves or flowers. I still remember as a kid digging up what he called a blood root plant from the woods, cutting open the bulb on the root to wipe the cut end onto a scrape. It worked really well to prevent infection. There were so many remedies that he knew his grandma made, but unfortunately he didn’t know how she made all of them. This is why my book is so important to me. The remedies that we find effective are recipes that I can hand down to my children. If you are new to home remedies, play it safe and try ones that are well known to someone you know. Another option is to use the herbal remedies found at health food stores or online stores. Best option, if you have no experience with herbal remedies is to go through a homeopath or other doctor who prefers taking a natural treatment method over sending you to a pharmacy for prescription meds.

Whatever you choice, now is the time to start preparing your supplies for the upcoming season. You don’t want to have to make a special trip to the store when you are sick. Nor do you want to go to several stores to get a single medication because other stores ran out. For some reason, THAT is a popular scenario with children’s medications. Been there, done that way too many times over the years especially with children’s cold medicine.