Blue Jean Mama

Using Essential Oils on the Homestead

Blue Jean MamaHomesteaders are self-reliant individuals who are willing to work hard to provide a family centered life with natural and wholesome ways of living. Using essential oils on the homestead is an additional way to provide purity and to eliminate chemicals from invading our bodies and environment.

Using Essential Oils on the Homestead

Essential oils can provide a safe and effective way to promote wellness. Often, homesteaders do not live in areas that have medical clinics in the immediate area. It becomes incumbent on the family to use home remedies to treat minor problems that confront the members of the family. One of these options, which has historically been used throughout human history, is the use of plants. Essential oils are produced from various parts of the plant. The essential oils are obtained by various methods such as distillation, pressing, solvent extraction, and CO2 extraction with distillation being the most common. This process takes a great deal of plant matter to produce a very potent essential oil. Thousands of years ago, plants and trees provided the remedies to promote and maintain health. Our ancestors did not have access to the distillation process as we know today, but, they were able to utilize the plants by making plant infusions. These infusions were considered extremely valuable. With the advances in ways to produce even more potent plant essences known as essential oils, the homesteader can add a natural health element.

There is a fair amount of research now being done to show how the plant kingdom can and does promote health. This has always been known but plant based treatments cannot be patented and therefore are not high on the list for mass production by the chemical and pharmaceutical companies. It has become a matter of taking the plant world’s benefits into an individual’s own hands to implement their own homemade remedies. This is similar to what our forefathers did. A major upside to this is we now have much information from holistic type research and personal success to aid in the use of essential oils for our own wellness.

Let’s look at some of the essential oils that shows promise for the homestead.

• "Lavender oil is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which can be used to help heal minor burns and bug bites. Research has revealed that the essential oil of lavender may be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness." - Medical News Today
• Peppermint oil has historically been used for fever, digestion, congestion, and pain. ALWAYS dilute and do not use on children under 5.
• Melaleuca (Tea Tree) oil is historically known for its use to help with infections. It has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties and is great to use in cleaning.<
• Lemon oil is often used to aid in digestion and to deodorize and disinfect the air. It is a great degreaser and may help with nausea especially when combined with peppermint. It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

These are but a VERY few of the many essential oils that are available. They would be a good starting point if you want to begin your journey into the world of essential oils.

As you explore the many companies that offer quality essential oils make sure to look for the companies who offer great detail about each oil. The type of information you will want to see will be the date of distillation, both the common name and the Latin name, essential oils that are either organic, certified organic, wild-crafted (harvested from wild grown plants and trees) and those that are ethically harvested. Companies that offer a chemical analysis of each batch of essential oils known as a GC/MS report. You don’t have to know how to read the report but the fact that the company offers the report shows they have done their due diligence. (If you want to learn to read the report, it would be awesome and informative but not necessary to use the oils.) By seeking companies that have gone the extra mile to give you all this information you can feel confident you are choosing a responsible company.

ALL essential oils should be diluted. It only takes a few drops to achieve your desired goal. Often companies suggest using the oil straight which is known as NEAT. This is not necessary and may cause harm and sensitization on certain individuals. In the world of essential oils, less is best. As a rule of thumb use 5 to 6 drops in one ounce of carrier oil for a one percent dilution. This dilution is usually used on children, the elderly or people with comprised health. A carrier oil is an oil used to dilute essential oils. There are many to choose from but some of the best would be Jojoba oil (also called wax) and Coconut oil because of their long shelf lives.  To make a three percent dilution you would use three times that of a one percent dilution or 15 to 18 drops in one ounce of carrier oil. This would be a common dilution for an adult. By diluting your essential oils, not only will you have better results with their usage you will save money. A definite double score.

If you would like more information on essential oils and self-sufficient living, visit my blog, Blue Jean Mama

I hope you enjoy this article and will experiment with the wonders nature has to offer.

Blue Jean Mama


Center for Health and Healing
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Medical News Today
How to Select Quality Essential Oils

Living Better For Less

Blue Jean MamaA great many people, myself included, have overspent and under saved in their lives. Financial establishments make it very easy to have your wishes granted with the swipe of an easy to secure credit card. Things pop up. The kids have a birthday, your friends want to get together for a dinner out and a show, the family wants a vacation and someone wants the latest fad or new fashion.  The list of money robbers goes on forever. You just keep popping out the credit card and then…the bills arrive. Financial stress sets in and many arguments with the pointing of fingers begins. Many times the stress over money will result in a family parting ways. It is so unfortunate that instant gratification can cause so much grief after a VERY brief high of the, I just had to get it or I deserved it, impulsive purchase.

If you want to live a secure life, it is up to you. By making a few changes in the way you are currently spending your money you can become financially secure. Sure, that is easy to say, but, it really can happen with some planning and soul searching.

Living a self-sufficient life means many things, but one of the most important is to become debt free as fast as you can to make your independent life more fulfilling. You start by committing to change. It is just like a diet, there has to be an “ah-ha” moment when you realize the time is NOW. Once you are ready to make a change, things will start to improve. It will take some time but with each hurdle you cross you’ll be one step closer to independence and a more relaxed life.

Monthly expenses

The Plan

  1. Start by writing down EVERYTHING you spend for a month. Don’t leave any item off your list no matter how trivial.
  2. Make a list of every expense you owe. The VERY first bill on your list should be a debt to yourself. Pay yourself a set amount even if it is only $10 a month. The more you can pay yourself the better. It will add up. This will include your mortgage or rent, all the costs to keep your home (power, cable, insurance, etc.), all credit cards (both the balance, minimum payment and the interest rate), vehicle loans, car insurance, food, clothing, medical payments, student loans, and ALL other bills you pay. There is a great resource,, that can help you keep track of all your financial matters and it is free to sign up.
  3. Make a list of your income for the month and where it comes from. Do you have any money you expect to receive from onetime sources such as cash rebates, a bonus, a tax refund, overtime earning income, a raise, a gift, an inheritance, or money from selling some belongings?
  4. List the items you have that hold value (assets) such as collections, jewelry, vehicles, equipment and any other items you may have.

Once you have your lists made and you have a month’s worth of items you spent money on, sit down together and look over where your money went. I bet you will be shocked at how much you spent on things that had little value. There is a phase heard often when someone spends money, “it’s only a little,” but all those littles add up big time. The other thing that most people don’t think about is the interest they pay when using a credit card. The item you got on sale, if not paid off at the end of the month, will cost you more than it would have with cash and at the regular price. Those interest rates just keep adding up and over time will destroy you financially.

Get your whole family together and include everyone in your plan to financial freedom. Kids think there are no limits. I remember when my children were little and they would ask for something and I would tell them we didn’t have the money for what they wanted. Their response was, “Write a check, Mommy”. These types of situations are very teachable moments. Let them earn an allowance and make sure they save a portion of it each time they receive their pay. Take them to a bank and let them open up a savings account. This will instill a savings mentality.

In your family meeting, explain that you, as a team, will be changing the ways you spend. Let them know you will be working together to save. In time this new way of living will allow for you to have more money to do some nice things together. This could be a good time to let them, if they are old enough, research available activities that everyone can do together that do not cost money. The Sunday newspapers generally post many activities that are being offered. Check out another valuable resource from the newspaper, the coupon flyers.  There is gold in the coupon circulars and sometimes other coupons dispersed throughout the newspaper. Clip the coupons and keep them organized. You can make this a game with the kids. Make your weekly meals around the sales items and matching coupons. If you save the coupons from week to week, you will be able to apply more coupons as the weeks go by. Coupons from this week’s paper may not be on sale this week but may be on sale sometime during the month. Your register tape usually shows the amount of money you saved buying sales items, using rewards cards and coupons. Take the money you saved and put it towards paying down a bill. If you do this once a month you will be able to see your bills decline even faster. Make sure you sign up for every rewards card the stores you shop in offer. The cards can save you a great deal of cash.

Live below your means. You don’t have to keep up or try to surpass your friends and neighbors. Often, your acquaintances are in the same shape you are in and are living on the edge of financial disaster. Realize you don’t have to have the newest gizmo, the hot car, house and jewels to make an impression. If more people would live below their means they would be much less stressed and more likely to have happier spouse and children. People need solid relationships and love more than they need “stuff”.

Ways to Save Money

  • Live below your means
  • Never take a cash advance on a credit card. If you have any balance from purchases the payment you will make will be applied to those charges rather than the higher interest rate cash advance. The rates for cash advances are VERY high, loan shark high.
  • Wait 24 – 48 hours before you make a purchase to see if you really have to have the item or if it would be nice to have the item
  • Ditch every credit card you have. It can be a hard pill to swallow but it is necessary
  • Use a debit card – if you don’t have the funds you won’t be able to pay it later – Cash is king
  • Shop items needed from thrift shops, Craigslist and other such used sources. It seems more people from all walks of life are looking for frugal ways. It almost becomes a game which is fun. See how much you can save. It actually gives you a bit of a high to top your last frugal move. What a great sense of accomplishment to make a great deal on an item you need at a fraction of the cost.
  • Stay away from malls or any places that you find irresistible. If you don’t see it, you can’t buy it.
  • Make a shopping list using the weekly sales flyer and stick to the list. If it isn’t on the list, don’t buy it.
  • Cook once and serve it a second time in a different way. You can also take any leftovers as a lunch for work. Cutting out the cafeteria lunches or dining with co-workers can save A LOT of money.
  • Cut out all non-nutritional drinks from your life. Soda, sugar laden juices, and power drinks are expensive and don’t contribute much if any dietary value.
  • Make your own cleaning products. They are very effective and are super budget friendly. You only need a few ingredients such as: vinegar, baking soda, liquid soap such as Meyer’s, peroxide, washing soda, borax, Zote soap or Fel-Naptha soap and depending on what you want to make a few other common household products. I make all our laundry detergent and you can too for a fraction of the cost.

Laundry detergent (Liquid)

1 cup Borax

1 cup Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)

1 bar Zote (most of the bars I see are really the equivalent of two bars so cut it in half) or Fels Naptha  soap (grated) I cut the bar in chucks and put it in my salad shooter with the shred blade – quick and easy. I usually do several bars at a time. I bag the soap in zip lock bags – 1 bar to each bag. This makes it so easy the next time I want to make detergent.

About 5 gallons of water

5 gallon bucket with lid

You can add essential oils if you want a nice fresh smell but I don’t do this because it saves a bit more and your laundry still smells great.

Place 6 cups of water in a Dutch oven and bring the water to a boil. Add the shredded bar of soap and let it melt.

Add the borax and washing soda

Stir frequently until everything is dissolved

Remove from the stove and add water so the total in the buck is about five gallons.

Cover your bucket with a lid and let it sit overnight. I then use my immersion blender to make it smooth. Pour the detergent into used containers from past purchases of store bought detergent. If you don’t have any, ask your neighbors or just use a measuring cup to take it out of the bucket.

This may not sound like a big savings but the comparisons show it really is a BIG savings.

5 Gallons of Liquid Laundry Detergent

Homemade Zote soap Version  -  $ 3.58
Purex  -  $28.80
Tide  -  $76.80
Wisk  -  $51.20
I used Walmart prices for all items.

Homemade detergent provides a great savings and less trips to the grocery store. The less you visit a grocery store the more money you will save. It seems whenever you run into a store for one item you come out with things you didn’t expect to purchase. All these little purchases add up to major dollars over a year’s time.

There are so many ways to save money and to give yourself a real feeling of making a difference for your family. You can put all the savings towards paying down your bills so your life will become more enjoyable and less stressful.

Once you have accumulated some extra cash from your frugal ways, start paying off your smallest credit card. When that card is paid off, you will get a sense of accomplishment for sticking to the plan. Now, take the money you were paying on the paid off card and add it to the minimum amount you are paying on the next credit card. Keep doing this until they are all paid. There is another school of thought that suggests you pay the card with the highest interest rate first. You can do this as well. I like the feeling of accomplishment by paying the smallest first but either way will work as long as you stick to the plan.

You can make a huge difference in your life by making a commitment and changing bad habits. Once you get rolling with the plan, you will find it gets easier. The feeling of having a debt burden off your shoulders will make life so much better in so many intended and unintended ways. You can do it!  

If you would like other articles on living a more self-sufficient lifestyle visit my blog: Blue Jean Mama. I hope to see you there.

Homesteading Anywhere

Blue Jean MamaOnce a country girl, always a country girl. I bet there are many city folks who have their hearts tied to country roots. You CAN live the country life anywhere you choose. The saying, you can take the country girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl is evidently true. You may wonder, how is it possible with little land and so many regulations to live a country life? It really is a matter of mindset.

My Childhood Home
My childhood home in Vermont.

I am a country girl married to an awesome city guy, and we’ve been married 41 years. I have converted this “city slicker” into a country boy, and we now live in the most populated county in the state of Florida. I guess we just keep going against all odds and you can, too.

My first night of living in the city from my rural life was a bit funny. I heard a fire truck and told my new husband we needed to follow it. After all, that is what we always did in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Everyone knew everybody and wanted to help their neighbors. He informed me that wasn’t what people did in the Bronx.

I always missed my rural life and did things to help me stay connected to it while maintaining a somewhat typical “city/suburban” life. There comes a time when you just want to chill out from it all. We did our changing over time as family and money allowed. It took a while for us to get to a point where we could relax a bit and do more of the self-reliant things we had always wanted to do. In retrospect, I think we could have achieved our goal more quickly. We just didn’t realize the possibilities were readily attainable. Here’s hoping you will be able to begin your homesteading faster than we did. It’s truly worth the effort.

There are many ways you can make a difference in your life and start homesteading.

  1. The first thing is to commit to making the decision to live a more self-sufficient life. The news is constantly bombarding us with information about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), climate change, chemical laden food and health products.

  2. The best way to begin is to make a commitment to yourself. There’s a saying, “You’re never ready for what you have to do. You just do it. That makes you ready.” It’s like anything else in life, sometimes you want something, like starting a family. You know you can do it but you’ve never done it before. Start reading books covering the areas you want to tackle first. Figure out the first thing you want to do. It can be as simple as planting some herbs on your windowsill. You can progress from a tiny step to having a boatload of produce in gardens faster than you think. Take a few “safe” steps and then take the plunge. It starts to get into your blood and you want more.

How We Did It

For us, it began with a garden. I had grown many gardens in the northern climate successfully. In Florida, my first few were NOT great. The seasons are so different. It was almost the opposite of everything I had grown up with. We planted at the wrong time, we couldn’t give the plants enough water, the sun was too brutal and the bugs … they ate everything. Summer gardens don’t work very well in the hot summer months in Zone 9. We failed and we failed miserably but we didn’t give up. We tried various gardening methods until we found those that worked the best for us. Failing is OK as long as you get back on the horse and make it work. I have to say it was so discouraging but persistence paid off. Don’t be afraid to fail because success will be yours. It is like anything in life, you have to give it your best shot. One day you will be able to look back and laugh at your mistakes.

My Urban Garden
My urban garden.

Watering Woes

Watering plants in the Florida heat can be an issue. We have found that overhead watering with a hose spray encourages mold and insects. We lost MANY vegetables doing this. We discovered a drip irrigation system or a drip hose was the answer. The drippers work the best and slowly give the plant’s roots water where they need it most. We used a drip irrigation system and put sprayers on certain plants, do not use them everywhere. We found out about this system at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival a few years ago.

No Land, No Problem

If you live where you don’t have land you can still homestead in other ways.

  1. You can do a vertical garden. These have become very popular. They take very little space and the yield is greater than you would expect.

  2. You can grow herbs and potted plants inside your home.

  3. If none of these ideas seem right for your situation, check out community gardens. Not only will you have space to grow, you’ll have the comradery of other people of like mind. You can learn a great deal by sharing with others and you can even trade vegetables among the growing group.

Food Preservation

Food Dehydrator and Vacuum-Sealer
My food dehydrator and vacuum-sealer.

You can preserve your own food. I had water bath canned fruits and some tomatoes, but I had never pressure canned. I was afraid I would blow up the canner along with my house. My sister gave me a lesson, and I was off and running, canning everything imaginable. You can, too. You can control what you are eating and know you are not getting chemicals or additives in your food. If you do not have bounty from your own garden, visit farmers' markets or join a local co-op.

You can buy vegetables and meat in bulk and share with others. You can also process the extra food using a pressure canner, dehydrator or simply freezing. Learn how to use these methods by enrolling in classes offered by your local Cooperative Extension service or asking someone with experience to teach you. Once you have the steps down, you can safely put up all kinds of food. The storage of your own canned goods will allow you to purchase foods at today’s prices. The current prices will be lower than future prices. You will give yourself a little insurance should you fall on hard times or lose your job.

You can homestead wherever you live. You may have to make some concessions, but isn’t that what life is all about? As a society, we’re very adaptable to change. Why not make the changes that can improve the health and quality of your life?