Hugelkultur For Your Garden

In the late spring of 2011 John and I broke ground on our first raised garden bed.  After researching various methods we decided to utilize the hugelkultur method where you bury rotting wood underneath your soil.  This serves several purposes.  First, it provides nutrients to your garden. Second, it provides water to your garden during times of drought (the soil loses moisture faster than the wood). Third, it provides natural aeration (brings oxygen to your soil). Fourth, it provides beneficial bugs with a reason to dig around in your soil. Fifth, the decomposition of the wood provides warmth to your plants’ roots at during the late fall and early spring, extending your gardening season.

I literally watered our first and best made hugelkultur bed three times this summer.  And it wasn’t just any summer.  Months of 100+ degree heat and little rain for weeks at a time left many gardens suffering.  Not ours.  It flourished with very little maintenance!  Our tomatoes were planted in flower beds that already existed on our property before we arrived (no hugelkultur beds) and I had to water them two to three times a week.  That’s a huge difference in hose-water consumption!

Here our photos from our hugelkulture experiment (more at


Below you see the empty bed.  Two cinder blocks high, with one layer of cinder blocks buried below ground level.


Next you see our cinder block-high layer of wood inside the raised bed.

We then alternated horse manure and soil that originated from the hole where we made the bed.

This has been our most productive bed in the garden!  I believe the fact we cemented the cinder blocks together makes all the difference (our other beds are simply stacked…

Again, for more pics from our home garden please visit!

Here is a photo thread on the Survival Podcast that shows pics of other people building massive hugelkultur beds!

Nutritional Solution to Acne Problems.

My acne problems began in high school and became worse into my adulthood. Over the course of a decade I tried every method of solving this problem I could think of.  I took birth control, antibiotics, put on creams that made my face peel off, and makeup that made my skin look way gross.  I tried facial scrubs and washes and toners and creams and essential oils and masks.  Nothing made a difference, I was perpetually broken out and perpetually ashamed of my skin.  Then, I met Dr. Buckley.

Dr. Buckley taught me about my body chemistry and suggested I cut out gluten (wheat, barley and rye) and casein (hormone found in cows milk). It took a year and a half for me to finally stop craving cheese, but the struggle to change my diet was worth the effort.  For the first time in my adult life I have clear skin more often than not.  When I breakout its because of what I eat, plain and simple.

After thousands of dollars on products and a decade of feeling insecure about my skin, I never would have expected the answer to be so simple.  If acne is plaguing your life, try cutting out gluten and/or casein!  You’ll find gluten free cookies are waaaay better than the bad-for-you ones.  I can still eat goat cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese without breaking out – one bite of pizza and everyone I see for a week will know by the welts on my face.

Stop pumping your body with pharmaceuticals and bad food!  Instead, cut out/decrease those food items that negatively effect your body  (casein, gluten, sugar) and pump yourself full of delicious fruits and veggies for lifelong vibrancy and health!  And, of course, don’t forget your vitamins!  Today’s food supply doesn’t provide us with enough nutrients!

(If you try this method and it works, please send before and after photos – if you try and fail, please leave a testimonial in the comments!)

Here are some photos of what my skin looks like when I eat cheese:


Baby-Rooster love

This is our daughter petting one of our multiple roosters.  I wanted to show how friendly these sometimes “bully birds” can be when given the space and freedom to roam. Consider free-ranging your birds for a happier and healthier flock!

Our family places a high value on early and frequent exposure to animals for our children.   This allows them to learn empathy, compassion, responsibility and how to be assertive. Aliana is now walking and can help us feed the chickens and collect their eggs – what an exciting way for her to learn about nature and numbers!

If you don’t have chickens of your own, consider bringing your children to visit a local farm or backyard chicken coop!

For more photos of our birds and baby, visit

Going no-poo.

After hearing the buzz amongst my peers about a shampoo-less method of washing and conditioning your hair, I decided to see if the no-poo method could heal my damaged hair. Today is day thirty and I can honestly say I have never been happier when I look in the mirror or run my fingers through my hair!

I customized a hair treatment plan for myself based on this no-poo method.  Baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil are the only ingredients I have used to care for my hair over the course of one month.  I dilute the baking soda with filtered water, this serves as my shampoo.  I also dilute apple cider vinegar in filtered water, this serves as my conditioner.  Finally, and most rarely,  coconut oil serves as my deep moisturizing treatment.

Here is my testimonial and first blog update.  I will try to let you all know how it goes as time passes along!

The problem: growing up my hair was fine, flat and sometimes greasy. I stopped using conditioner, which helped some, but never solved the problem.  To make matters worse, as an adult I failed to take measures to protect my hair from the Texas sun.  I spent hours unknowingly destroying my hair while i gardened, never considering a hat. This resulted in hair that was not only  fine and  flat, but split and breaking. No matter how frequently it was trimmed, I could not win the battle against split ends.
Attempted Solutions: For a long while I used Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Hemp Oil soap to wash my hair.  Even though it is oil based, I found my hair increasingly dry (mostly due to sun exposure). I eventually switched to a coconut oil based shampoo by Cal Ben Soap company that worked great, but could not quench the thirst of my brittle hair.  I used expensive conditioners despite how unstyleable it made my hair.  I stopped using hair ties that caused weak points that later resulted in breakages.  I even stopped using the blow dryer and straightener, but my hair could not find health.

The Solution:  Baking Soda, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Coconut Oil. The first day I tried the no-poo method I trimmed off all the split ends I could find and put coconut oil on the damaged tips of my hair.  I let that soak while I prepared my baking soda/water (replacement shampoo) and my apple cider vinegar/water (replacement conditioner).  I washed my hair with the solutions then blew my hair dry.  I was astonished by how soft my hair suddenly felt.  It also appeared and felt more full.  I still had visible damage so I decided to do an overnight treatment of coconut oil.

The next day my hair was, of course, quite greasy.  Even after another wash and blow dry it remained stringy, but the tips looked much healthier.  I didn’t fret because I was prepared to deal with transitional bad hair days.  In fact, many testimonials I read before trying this method indicated a very greasy hair period as their scalp acclimated to not having the oils stripped daily by commercial shampoos. In my case, I created this by loading it up with oil!

By day three my hair was really starting to look good.  I was already receiving comments from friends and family, asking if I had it cut, or simply telling me it looked nice. The transition has progressed quit smoothly and I truly feel my hair looks better after every wash.  Its day thirty and I have not trimmed my hair since day one, but my ends do not look damaged as they did thirty one days ago. I also find my hair easier to style and manage.  I’m excited to see how it is working out six months from now!

I do plan to do the coconut oil treatment every month, so I will be sleeping with it in my hair tonight.  Hopefully this method of shampooing / conditioning combined with outdoor hat use and plenty of vitamins / minerals will allow me to experience healthy hair for the first time in my adult life!

Here is the photo proof!  The first picture is a dramatization in that I had it zombie-ed out for Halloween.  This style would not have been possible without five months of daily garden work.  Notice how dull it is and how scraggly the ends are (they are literally breaking off).  The second photo is on day three of the no-poo method.  Wait until I take one after all this time!
“Ron Paul Zombies” for Halloween. Dry breaking hair makes great zombie locks!
Day Three of no-poo. Already shiny and healthy looking!

Why use cloth diapers?

There are many reasons to consider cloth diapering instead of the modern plastic throw away diapers.

1. Cloth diapers only have to be purchased once.
The cost of plastic diapers can add up very quickly.  Some newborns are changed as frequently as a dozen times a day and even when they are older infants and toddlers with better bladder control, you will be throwing away many diapers a day.  Essentially, you are throwing your well earned money away by using plastic diapers!!

2. Cloth diapers are better for the environment.
Some plastic diapers are created to be biodegradable these days, but unless you compost them they will still take years to decompose in a landfill setting.  With cloth diapers your baby’s waste is sent down the drain just like yours and your impact on the environment is greatly reduced.  Not only do plastic diapers fill our landfills, but they require energy to be manufactured, gasoline to be delivered, and constantly take resources from the earth as more are created.  Sure, it take energy to create and deliver cloth diapers, but its a one time energy exertion, not a repeated cycle of violence against the earth.  Take it a step further and line-dry your diapers for a greater environmental impact!!!!

3. Cloth diapers build community.
This might sound strange, but its true.  Cloth diapers are handed down from friends and family, techniques are shared and taught, and new mothers tend to reach out to their experience mother peers for guidance with diapers that evolves into mentorship on all sorts of motherhood issues.  I know this from first hand experience.  All the diapers we have were hand me downs or baby shower purchases and I have developed many friends and confidants through my curiosity about cloth diapering.  I see other relationships being built in this manor as more friends become pregnant.  I have found myself introducing my to-be-mom friends with my experienced mom friends and I see circles of friendship growing all around me!

4. Cloth diapers are better for babies.
Our midwife will not even put a plastic diaper on a newly born baby.  She’d rather wrap a t-shirt around its waist than put irritating plastic on new sensitive skin.  Cloth diapers are more gentle on their skin which spent nine months growing accustomed to amniotic fluid as its only point of contact.  Cloth diapers are also more breathable than plastic and are overall more comfortable.  Think about it – if you had a choice, would you wrap yourself in plastic or cotton?

If you’re looking for what cloth diapers to start with a have a few suggestions.

1. Ask for LOTS of prefolds at your baby shower.  These diapers are a flat piece of fabric that you wrap and pin around the baby’s waist then cover with a diaper cover.  They are super handy for cleaning up messes such spit up, spilled food, or other household messes, so once your baby grows out of them, you will still find them useful in your home!  These are inexpensive and easy to stock up on.  (link)

2. Seek second hand fancy cloth diapers.  These are super expensive when purchased new and just as reliable when handed own or purchased second hand.  You can find listings all over craigslist or other public forums for used diapers. I personally do not like brands like “G diapers” because they have inserts that attach to the cover.  This seems to result in major leaks and dirty one-time use covers.  My favorite “fancy” brand is Mother Ease out of Canada.  We were handed down a set of these and they have several perks including multiple size options based on multiple buttons at the waist and legs.  They DO NOT leak.  They are not attached to the cover and leave the diaper covers relatively unsoiled.  Here is a link to their website, I plan to do a product review in the near future.

3. Read reviews online, watch youtube “how tos”, and talk to your parenting “elders”.

Our logo

What an awesome logo.  I’m still trying to figure out who the artist is so we can make a banner image, etc….