Monday, March 21, 2011

"Crystal Bowl Meditation" Review

This weekend I was looking at a display in my local supplement store that carried relaxing music.  I was able to listen to "Crystal Bowl Meditation" (see link at the bottom of the post) that had Tibetan Singing Bowl music.  If you've never heard a Tibetan Singing Bowl, it's really unusual.  If done well, it has a very relaxing effect.

The singing bowls are like a musical instrument.  They are played by striking or rubbing the bowls with a striker.  They are used for meditation, clearing, chakra alignment, feng shui, spiritual workshops, and healing.

It is said that the tones of the bowls can be both heard and felt.  When you listen to a good recording with good headphones, it seems to be true.  Some tones make me feel uncomfortable, and others are very pleasant.  It seems like the bowls can really "speak" to you on a physical level, and a lot of research has been done on soundwaves and healing, so it wouldn't surprise me if the singing bowls actually can somehow help in healing.

The bowls can be made of metal or other materials, but a lot of New Agers really like the crystal bowls because they like the energy of the crystals.  I just think the crystal bowl tones sound nicer.  ;-)

On soundtracks, the sounds of the bowls are usually accompanied by other instruments to create music, especially with woodwind instruments.

Normally I don't care for most singing bowl CD's, because often the musician feels the need to put in distracting or startling sounds.  For me, I'm mostly using this music to relax, so annoying percussion music or other distracting noises only serve to irritate me. But this wasn't the case with this CD.  The Crystal Bowl Meditation music was much more enjoyable and relaxing.  There were two tracks that I didn't care as much for, because it featured someone blowing into a woodwind instrument without making a sounded like someone blowing into a bottle as the bottle was being filled with water.  I found that irritating.  But other than that, the music was really nice.

There was something about the tones that I found really relaxing and yet...somehow...I don't know...interesting?  Hard to explain, but I can see how someone would find this music perfect for meditation.

Here are a couple of links: one to a beautiful (and pricey--eek!) set of bowls, and another link for the Crystal Bowl Meditation CD. I'll have to settle for the CD, myself!  :-p

Make a Your Own Mini Greenhouse--Cheap and Easy!

This post was written in July 2010, but never made it onto the blog due to the craziness of moving.  And of life, LOL.  Oh well, better late than never!

When you are dealing with a short growing season, a cooler climate, or an unseasonably cool or short summer, a greenhouse can be a real lifesaver.  But what if you are temporarily cashless, or living in a condo, or are a renter with a landlord who won't allow you to build a regular greenhouse?  Enter the mini greenhouse!

This is a picture of a makeshift greenhouse that I have set up outside my front door.  It is about 3 feet wide, 6 feet tall, and 2 feet deep.  It was extremely easy to assemble.  I bought it at Home Depot for around $60.  It breaks down easily for moving, and although it is fairly lightweight when the shelves are empty, I've found it to be very sturdy for a plastic shelf.

If you wanted to make it more moveable, you could buy the heavy-duty metal shelving units on wheels that I've seen at Sam's Club.  That way, if you're using it for seedlings in early spring, and there's a forecast for a hard frost, you can wheel it into your garage.

Make sure the wheels can be locked, and that the shelves can hold a LOT of weight, in case you end up doing heavier potted plants in the future.

The plastic cover is a thin mattress protector bag meant to protect your mattresses when you are moving.  I'm not sure what size it is, but it has to be either a king size or a twin...I'm thinking it's the twin.  It just barely fits over the shelves.  Ideally, if you could get ahold of greenhouse sheeting, that would be the longest lasting and most efficient...and also the priciest.  I had planned on using 6 or 8 mil plastic sheeting from Home Depot's paint department, until I came across the mattress cover.

If you use a roll of plastic sheeting, you'll need some way to attach it to the "greenhouse".  You could use some kind of clamps, or duct tape.  The way I have it configured, the top shelf can't be used, but if you could come up with some way to  raise the plastic off the top shelf, it could be used.  The total cost for this greenhouse was about $60, the cost of the shelves.  If you buy the plastic sheeting, it will cost about $10-20 extra, depending on how small a roll your store sells, and what their prices run.  If you have the plastic already and can scrounge up some cheap used shelves, it could be as little as $5-10.  Or free, if you use free wooden pallets and build your own shelves!

Eventually I'm going to build a greenhouse in a panelized fashion, so it can be easily disassembled and moved.  In the meantime, this seems to be working very well.  Check out the video for more details, and how my seedlings are doing in the greenhouse.

If you enjoyed the video, please leave a comment, and feel free to let me know what subjects you'd like to see covered in any future videos!

 This unit is similar to mine:

 Remember, you want heavy duty shelves that hold a lot of weight, even if you're not using it to capacity. 

Here are some choices for plastic covering:

Here is a complete mini-greenhouse, but it's not sturdy, so I wouldn't recommend it except maybe for a sheltered porch or balcony, out of the wind:

Here are some clips to keep the plastic wrapped around the shelves:

But it's better if you can scrounge these components for free, from what you already have.  Good luck!

Spring is So Close...

Yep.  It's that time of year.  The horrendous ice-packed country driveway has now given way to a six-inch deep mud pit.  It's spring!

Well, almost.  Where I live, we're still at risk for having snow dumped on us at any second.  Our frost date isn't until at least the end of May.  (Fortunately for us, we should be moved out of here by then, and have an earlier last frost date of mid-May...tee hee!)

Speaking of which, please pray for us, send positive thoughts, etc. that we find a good place to live.  We've applied for a FABULOUS place that we found, that is perfect for us.  Not on acreage, but other than that it's great (nothing good on acreage is available right now that isn't in the boonies).  I hope we get it, because it will be a great place to shoot all my garden videos.  And we'll actually be able to get into our own driveway without getting covered in mud, stuck in the snow, etc.  What a concept!

I really hope we get it, because I can't wait to show you how cool it is.  Plus, I've started my seedlings, so I need a place to plant them!

Attack of the Giant Pumpkin!

Eat the Yard has a post about his plan to grow an 800 pound pumpkin for his daughter this year.

He states:  "This Halloween she’ll be 17 months old, so logically she should have a pumpkin 200 times her weight that can only be moved by a forklift she can’t drive and that can only be carved with an ax she won’t be allowed to handle."
Click image for credit

Of course!  LOL 

But since he only owns a 1/5th of an acre residential home, I doubt he has a forklift to transport his freakish pumpkin gift.  And why leave such a glorious pumpkin in the backyard garden?  I commented that he should grow it where he wants it to be displayed, and as it gets a little big, he should build a level, solid wood platform that he thinks (hopes) will hold an 800+ pound pumpkin.  Then he should set it in the center.  That way it will grow a nice flat bottom and be ready to carve and display at Halloween, right where it sits.

Click for image credit
He could surround it with hay bales with normal size pumpkins and stuffed scarecrows, all with painted-on faces gazing up at the monstrous pumpkins with horror!  LOL that would be a sight.  That sends a message to grass-worshipping nosy neighbors:  "Screw your lawns--I grew my kid an 800 pound pumpkin!  YEAH!!!"

Try to out-do that!

But I'm left with just one question...

What do you do with an 800+ pound pumpkin once Halloween is over? 


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why Your Food Costs Will Double in 2011 and What You Can Do About It

I just finished watching an excellent You Tube video of Marjory Wildcraft giving a talk about the expected rise of food costs in 2011.  It is a four part series, and it is a must-see.  Here is the first part:


She gives examples of how our food reserves are depleted, how we as a country are importing more food than we are exporting, and how we are consuming more than we are producing.
She talks about how we are 12 meals away from anarchy, and that most US stores have only about 4 days worth of food reserves.  And of course we all know how fast those shelves clear off in an emergency, such as an expected severe storm.

Over 30 countries now have bans on exporting food, because of their own food crises.  Global food prices have risen 26% in the last six months, and extreme weather  around the world has dramatically impacted food supply.  Oil prices are projected to go as high as $5 a gallon, which will greatly affect food prices. You may have noticed that the prices at the pumps are already outrageous.

But Wildcraft doesn't just preach the perils of our precarious food supply situation--she gives solutions, with basic information on how to get started.  Naturally, the first solution is to grow your own food.

There are so many reasons to grow your own food.  Saving money, eating healthier, and knowing where your food comes from and what's in it are just the tip of the iceberg.  It also provides for much security.  If you know how to grow food, and you have the supplies needed and the seeds saved, you will be better off in precarious socio-economic situations than 99% of the country. 

I will be covering more and more topics in the near future as the growing season gets going, both in blog posts here and YouTube videos.  If you tune in to my Real Health Revolution podcast, I'll be covering it there as well.  Because one of the best things you can do for your health is to eat more organically grown fruits and vegetables, especially if they are raw.  And nothing tastes like homegrown.

(BTW, I've included some links for seeds below. Always get heirloom, non-GMO, untreated seeds and avoid big seed companies that usually get seeds from Monsanto or one of Monsanto's subsidiaries.  If you can afford it, get organic.  The can rotators below are nice for organization, but not necessary for storing food.  Better to spend more on food, than on buying gadgets.  The germination station is handy, and it's a good deal--my set-up cost a lot more.  That Gardman greenhouse is a cheap greenhouse solution, but isn't heavy duty, so use in a sheltered spot, out of the wind, and don't try to use it year-round.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Living the Small Life

Nothing about our life is small.

We do everything big, it seems.  I'm big.  My husband is big.  Our family is big (six children).  Our car is big--it has to be, to fit a family of eight!  So naturally, people expect our house to be big.  And it usually has been.  Until, perhaps, now.

We are looking for a new place to live.  (Yes, again.  Long story.  Short version:  awful landlord.) Unfortunately, finding a home to rent for a family of eight isn't easy.  We want to keep our expenses down, so that we can achieve a truly debt-free life, and be able to afford healthy foods and products for our family.  To do that, we need to minimize expenses.  One of our biggest expenses is rent.

To rent a home with four or more bedrooms can be very expensive.  Now that our children are old enough to share a room without the younger ones waking everyone up, we can put the three girls in one room and the three boys in another.  Unfortunately, the landlords of the world don't see it that way.

When I tell a landlord on the phone we have six children, there are usually two reactions:  silence, or an instantaneous "oh-this-house-wouldn't-work-for-you."  I've even had jerks tell say "Six? Oh, that's too many."

I've tried explaining how I am strict with my children, that they are better behaved than 95% of the children I see today, that they aren't allowed to run wild with crayons and color the walls, or run the neighborhood unattended, etc.  I ask them to please meet my children and see how nice they are.  I tell them that people nowadays think every child needs their own bedroom...but bedrooms are for sleeping, so what does it matter if there are three sleeping bodies in one room?  So shouldn't it be more important to have a larger living room?  But alas, to no avail.

How did this happen?  Fifty years ago, most families lived in two or three bedroom houses, no matter the family size.  And families were definitely bigger then!  I read that back then, in America, we lived in an average of 300 square feet per person.  Today, it is 1000 square feet per person.  Keep in mind, that the average family has LESS than two children now, and there are more people choosing to stay single and elderly widows living alone out there, than 50 years ago.  When you think about that, the fact that we are still averaging 1000 square feet per person is staggering.  Because that means there are a lot of people out there living with multiple thousands of square feet per person in their home.

Now I'm not going to say that's a bad thing.  If you can afford it and choose to live that way, that's your choice, and I support your freedom to choose it.  But why do I have to modify MY choices to fit the narrow-minded viewpoints of others?

How did we go from a society where the American dream was a nice little tract house and a car in every driveway, to a society where each person in the household has their own bedroom AND their own car AND their own tv, so that mealtimes take place in separate rooms in front of separate televisions or computers, and communication between family members is limited to "when will you be home?"

Does it make sense that families have gotten significantly smaller while, at the same time, homes have gotten exponentially bigger?  Does a four year old need a 14x16 room with a double bed and a walk in closet, all to themselves?  Bedrooms are for sleeping and playing, not running laps!

My children don't want to sleep in separate rooms.  It's no fun for them to be all alone at night, or to wake up and have no one in their room to play with.  Heck, I don't even want to sleep alone! Nighttime noises sound pretty creepy when you're alone.

My children don't even play in their rooms, except in early morning.  They prefer to play together in the living room most of the time.

So then, why should I have to pay $300 more a month for a bigger home that will take more work to keep clean, when a small one will do? We have a four bedroom home now, and one room is kept for storage.  (Which of course means that I, like most Americans, have too much stuff.)

And guess what?  My children put less wear on a home than the average family with two children, because I watch my children.  I've even had a landlord remark once that we had less wear and tear than he'd ever seen in any of his family rentals.

Since no landlord will rent a smaller house to us, we have considered buying a mobile home.  But even that is problematic.  Some parks obviously don't want larger families, and they quote a federal law (which I've had repeated to me by several park managers and landlords, but haven't seen myself) that says that you can't have more than two people per bedroom.

Excuse me?  What the heck is the government doing telling families how many bedrooms they have to have?  So even if a bedroom is 20'x20', I still can't have three children in it?  That's insane!  And what about families that have lost their jobs and their homes, and can't afford a four bedroom home no matter how bad the neighborhood?  There are plenty of families like that around today.  I guess they should live in a cardboard box?  Or turn their children over to the state?  Please, Uncle Sam, get out of our bedrooms!

If we did find a small home to live in, would our neighbors try to find a way to cause us trouble, simply because they disagreed with the way we choose to live?

Families shouldn't have to face this kind of discrimination.  You should be judged on the kind of person you are, not on the lifestyle choices you make, even if those choices are different than the mainstream.  Especially at a time when so many good families are in trouble.

Right now we are looking at an older home with four bedrooms and one bath.  I'm not crazy about the one bathroom part.  It's easier to live with three bedrooms than it is to deal with sharing one bathroom.  Because while three people can easily share a bedroom, you can't share the toilet seat!  (Okay, I may have one child goofy enough to try, but I certainly don't want to see the aftermath!)

This home, while having four bedrooms, is still small.  So you may have the opportunity to see posts in the future about downsizing and living a more simple life.  Which is what we've been wanting to do, anyway!  After all, if a family of eight can modify the way they spend and the way they live, that takes away most excuses that a typical family might use!  Right?  ;-)

I think this topic is one I should cover in a future podcast.  Click on the Real Health Revolution banner in the sidebar to check out my podcast and subscribe!

In the meantime, here are a few links to some websites that extol the virtues of small home living:

Small House Living
Small Living Journal
Living Large in Our Little House
Tiny House Blog
Life in a Shoe: Big Family in a Small House
Quintuple Bunk Beds: crazy design for five nested bunk beds and a home with NO bedrooms designed around their use (intended for African shelters).