Use This All Natural Trick From Grandma To Clean Fireplace Glass In 5 Minutes

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Use This All Natural Trick From Grandma To Clean Fireplace Glass In 5 Minutes

I’m sure you’ve all run into this before. You got a great deal on a glass faced wood stove, but the glass has an inch of creosote built up on it. Or you put in a brand new stove just last week and already you can’t see the fire through the thick layer of black. Fireplace glass is notorious for getting dirty fast and needing to be cleaned often.

So what to do?

Do you give up on ever seeing the warm glow from the fireplace ever again? Do you spent hours scraping or give in and use harsh chemicals to soak it clean? Think those are your only options?

Well have I got the trick for you!

Its all natural, and I’m sure you already have everything you need at home. Best of all, its fast!

This is the difference in my stove glass before and after cleaning it:

I probably wouldn’t of even needed 5 minutes to finish except I was taking pictures for y’all! This process is seriously as simple as it gets.

1. Next time your cleaning out the stove, pull out a nice piece of charcoal and set it aside until you have a minute to clean the glass. Who am I kidding? Of course your doing it now!

2. Grab a clean rag or paper towel, and a small dish of water. Open your stove to see what kind of mess you are working with.

3. Wet your charcoal and rub it over the inside of the glass.

4. Continue wetting the charcoal and using it to scrub the glass until you can see through the glass. It will be covered in streaks still, so don’t worry if it’s not clean yet!

5. Wet your rag and wipe it over the glass. Most of the grime and charcoal should come off at this point. Take wet charcoal to any places you may have missed on the first scrub, then wipe again with the wet rag.

Ta-da! Your fireplace glass is now sparkly clean! So thank your grandma and enjoy the peaceful glow of a good fire ūüôā

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Homestead Goals For 2018

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Homestead Goals For 2018

Wow, rereading our goals for this year sooooo much has changed in what we wanted to do for 2017, vs our goals for 2018. We accomplished a few of our goals, but have also figured out a few that don’t actually work for us. The longer we spend living this way the more we learn. Need vs want, idealism vs reality. Living this far out is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

Our goals last year were:

Getting Kyle a crew fishing license so he can salmon fish with our friends

Kyle did fish with our friends, although they decided not to fish the whole season. We did get enough fish put away for winter, and he made a little money. Our fishing goals for 2018 include getting our own permit and boat. That way we can fish as often as we want.

Installing a water system

Done! This is our first winter with this system and we’ve already had to make some adjustments. So far we’re managing, fingers crossed there are no catastrophic failures!

Spending more time hunting/fishing

We just got too busy with other things to do much besides Kyle salmon fishing. Next year we’ll hopefully be approved for subsistence hunting and fishing.

Preserving more foods (and shopping less) 

Between a cold summer being bad for gardening and not spending much time hunting/fishing, we still depend a lot on the grocery store.

Getting equipment out here and clearing more land 

We didn’t manage this as it didn’t fit our budget this year.

Finding our property markers (or having our land surveyed) 

As it turns out, finding property markers under 40+ years of growth is not easy. We’ll need to pay someone to survey our property in the future.

Fencing animal pastures 

Without knowing the borders of our land this wasn’t something we could do. We did create a pig pen though.

Getting 2 goats for milking

We did get two goats, and then we gave them to friends. Without fencing they got in to everything.

Building a bigger chicken coop and getting more birds 

We did build a bigger coop and get more birds. However, we have figured that chickens aren’t the direction we want to go here.

Planting a large garden

We did this, but then… The chickens got in and scratched about. They thoroughly mixed everything up. Then once things sprouted the goats broke into our greenhouse and ate everything they could. Hence us giving them away. After all that, this was a very cold summer. Last year I wasn’t prepared for all the rain, this year I wasn’t prepared for a cold ‘warm’ season. Between all that we didn’t manage to harvest much.

Planting pasture 

This wasn’t possible without clearing land first.

Building a garage

We didn’t manage this, but we did build a wood shed. Our friends did drag an abandoned trailer here that we plan on turning into a garage. So I suppose if we get that finished in the next month or so we can count it as done this year.

Building a root cellar/pantry for food storage

We didn’t build anything specifically for storing food. We did however, cover our porch and added a door. That allowed us to store food where it was cooler. The porch is our fridge/freezer this winter.

Expanding our solar set up (we have this one)

We did add 2 more batteries to our solar set up. It doesn’t sound like much, but we can store twice as much power now!

Building a shower/sauna 

We did build a shower. It works fantastic, and I enjoy it so much better than last years camp shower. We use this instant hot water heater for our showers now.

Purchasing a sawmill

Done! We’ve used our sawmill to mill shelves and steps. We also milled wood for our cabin, wood shed and pig pen.

Purchasing a second 4 wheeler

We did buy a second wheeler, but we also sold it. The one we got was more comfortable for riding, but was not really designed for the work we needed it to do. Back to one wheeler now (though we do have 2 cars again!)

After the many things we’ve learned this year, some goals have changed and some will be expanded. Our homesteading goals for 2018 are:

Purchasing a fishing permit

This is our #1 goal for next year, and will allow us a source of income and food.

Spending more time hunting/fishing

Next year we might be approved for subsistence hunting and fishing. That will extend some seasons, as well as areas we can hunt in. Getting a moose will be high on our list.

Preserving more food

More hunting and fishing means more putting food away for the winter.

Getting equipment out here and clearing land

With rental prices and the time it takes to get equipment out here, we’re seriously considering buying a rig for this. Then we could potentially barter it’s use to our neighbors as well.

Finding our property markers

Since we can’t seem to find them, we’ll need to find a remote surveyor and pay them to do it for us. It’s something we need done before we can expand much.

Getting a high tunnel

This will allow us more control over the temperature in the garden. Next year’s garden will be ah-mazing. Third times the charm, right?

Purchasing a beach truck

We need something that we can drive on the beach that’s cheap so we won’t cry if the tide takes it. The dream is to get something lifted, with big tires and a winch. Then we might even be able to drive all the way to our place in the summer.

Cut and mill lumber in preparation for building our cabin

We expect to work on this for a few years. After all, how fast can two people build their dream house? Especially with a toddler under foot! We’ll be living in our 250 sq ft cabin until the dream cabin is complete.

As you may have noticed, there are fewer goals for next year.

We have 8 goals for 2018, vs the 17 we had for 2017. Part of that is a large scale back on certain projects. As it stands right now, we don’t have plans for animals next year. We discovered this year that getting animals and figuring ‘we’ll make it work’ later isn’t a sustainable plan. Pens, pasture and fencing all need to go in before we try adding animals again. We do have to roll with the punches out here, but that doesn’t mean we can just toss the rule book!

We’ll also be dedicating a lot more time to building infrastructure out here. Having tools is great, except when you don’t have anywhere to store them. And working on vehicles is not fun if you don’t have a place to do it. There are a lot of little projects, like wood carving, that our current cabin is just to small for. The mess from carving a spoon doesn’t seem that big until it takes up your entire house!

One of the biggest things we learned this year is that winter comes fast.

Compared to Washington seasons, there is almost no time to get the big projects done here. And some things are multi season projects. There is a lot of finagling when building has to be done in the summer, but materials can only get here in winter. Putting less on our plates to start with will relieve some of the stress we’d felt this year. It also means that any extra projects we get done are just a happy surprise! We completed 9 of our goals this year, even if some didn’t work out the way we’d hoped. I think 8 is a good number of starter goals for 2018.

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Building On A Budget – The Alaskan Way

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Building On A Budget, The Alaskan Way

As anyone who has read my previous post about our finances knows, we are on a serious budget out here. But just because we don’t have money doesn’t mean work on the homestead stops! With winter fast approaching we knew we couldn’t let our water reservoir freeze. Last year we hauled all our water in 5 gallon buckets from a nearby creek, but this year we have running water in the cabin and we pull from our reservoir for that. So how to keep it from freezing? We thought about burying it, but it’d need to be 8 feet down and that is a lot of digging by hand.

We decided we would build our reservoir its own cabin.

There are 3 natural materials we have an abundance of out here: trees, moss, and clay. We started by felling trees, limbed and cut them to length, then moved them to our building site. We ended up using about 60 logs for the entire process. We cut some of our work by joining the water shed to our existing cabin.

Kyle notched the logs and stacked them just as he did when we built our cabin addition, with the exception that we left space for a door rather than cutting one out later. It may have made things a bit trickier, but we needed to be able to work from both sides of the logs. We used timberloks to attach the logs together and make sure the walls are sturdy.

We also timberloked the water shed to our cabin for stability.

After the walls were up, Kyle continued falling trees for the roof. The baby and I picked moss and packed it in all the gaps in the walls. B was a big help picking out pieces to hand to me. Then she went up on the roof with Kyle and helped him add a layer of moss there. After letting the moss dry, I added a layer of clay to fill any other gaps.

Due to the strict budget, we couldn’t afford to purchase much for the shed.

Instead of buying new roofing we bartered with our neighbors for some extra tin roofing they had. Kyle milled them stairs for their cabin in exchange. He also put together the most adorable door from lumber we have milled as well. Our sawmill has more than paid for itself in milled lumber! We also found a free wood stove and installed that into the water shed.

The end result is an “old school” cabin as our water shed.

We’ve already had our first snow here, and have spent several days in the low teens. I’m happy to report that our water shed has not dipped below 35¬į. We usually only light one fire before bed, but on especially chilly days we’ll light another in the morning. Every time we go outside we check the temperature in the water shed. If it’s below 40¬į¬†we light a fire. We only have about 200 gallons in our 1100 gallon reservoir, so once we fill it the water shed should be even warmer.

I’m so glad we didn’t need to go back to our bucket system and gravity filters¬†this winter!

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Wood Stove Cooking – Recipes, Tips & Tricks

Hey y’all! I wrote a guide and cook book for wood stove cooking!

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Wood Stove Cooking - Recipes, Tips

An impromptu guide for a conventional way of cooking in an unconventional way of life, Wood Stove Cooking covers everything needed to cook on a wood stove. From building the perfect fire to baking the perfect loaf of bread, this book will help the reader step back in time to create delicious meals right on their wood stove.

Check out our Facebook contest for a chance to win a free copy!

Wood Stove Cooking eBook Contest



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Going From 6 Figures To No Figures

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Going From 6 Figures To No Figures

For how influential money is in our lives, people don’t like to talk about it. At least, they don’t like to talk about it unless they are talking about how to make more of it. Which is probably why so many people don’t understand the switch that Kyle and I made. We gave up good jobs, with a 6 figures income to homestead. Why? Because the old axiom held true for us that money can’t buy happiness.

When we moved to Alaska to homestead, we left a lot of our expensive modern lives behind. We traded a 6 figure income and life in a big house for always being worn out and feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

Of course we get lots of questions about our choice to leave our cushy lives to homestead. How could we just turn our backs on the American dream? The thing is, the house with a white picket fence, a dog, and 2.5 kids just wasn’t for us. When we lived that life, all we felt was worn out with it. I was often working 16 hours a day, up to 80 hours a week. Kyle was in a constant state of anxiety about work. Push the wrong button and poof! You just cost a company millions. We didn’t have time¬†for each other, much less time for living.

Are there things we miss?

Of course there are. I really miss Mexican take out for one! But seriously, there are pro’s and con’s to the way we lived 2 years ago and the way we are living now. I miss having friends over, being able to run to the store for that last ingredient, and having people around to ask for help when I don’t know how to do something. On the flip side, the trade offs are so worth it. We have almost no bills, our schedule is to do what we want, when we want, and we get to enjoy each other and our daughter.

But what about money?

Honestly, we’re broke. I don’t mean living paycheck to paycheck broke. I mean borrowing money from family to hold us over broke. We have property in another state that we are in the process of selling, and that should let us pay back our families and purchase some things we need, as well as set some aside for savings. But, being broke out here is a whole different ball game than being broke living in town. We don’t have electricity bills (thanks to our solar system) or water bills. We have enough food storage to last us months, so if we don’t want to go to town we don’t. Realistically, we wouldn’t have needed to borrow money at all except that the beach is hard on vehicles, so we had both 4 wheeler’s need work at the same time. We can fix them ourselves but the parts are expensive.

Do we stress about money?

We stress about the same as we did in town. In town we had vehicle payments, high car insurance rates, electricity bills for a big house, and no irrigation on the lawn, just city water. Not to mention we ate out more than we ate in. Money doesn’t last long when you don’t spend it wisely. We are a lot more conscientious of our spending choices out here because we have to be. We buy a lot of stuff second hand, and we always try to find the best deals.

What income do we have right now?

Right now, this blog is 99% of our income. We make a little off of advertisements, and a little off of affiliate links. I am an affiliate for Infolinks, the ad company I use. Amazon is another company I am an affiliate of, which means I make a small commission off of purchases people make when they reach Amazon through my site. I am also a BlueHost affiliate, because they are my website host and they have a one click WordPress installation and 24/7 WordPress support. This makes it a snap to run my blog, and I can’t recommend them enough. I will suggest to anyone starting a website that they make sure to sign up for domain privacy though, no matter what hosting service used.

We also make a little money when supporters of Sled Dog Slow buy our t-shirts found here. And now that our sawmill is up and running, we are offering wood cutting to our neighboring cabin owners. I’m also in the process of putting together a cook book for all my wood stove recipes. Diversifying our income is a must out here.

Why don’t we just get normal jobs in town?

We have, and it doesn’t work out. Due to the access issues for us, having a job in town means having an apartment in town. Kyle had a temporary job for a few months to see how it would work out, and we ended up with $200 take home each month after town bills. It just wasn’t worth the vehicle wear and tear, or him missing out on our daughter and all the new things she was learning. We decided to live this life in part because we didn’t want money to control our lives, so having a 9-5 isn’t an option out here.

How much money do we need, really?

Setting up a homestead from raw land is expensive. We’ve probably spend $50,000 getting to this point. We had to buy vehicles and 4 wheeler’s, animals and feed, building materials and our sawmill. Raw land may be cheap, but turning it into a homestead is not. Now that we are a little more set up though, we’ve estimated that $12,000 a year is all we will need to live comfortably on. That’s not much in the scheme of things.

How are we going to get that $12,000 if we can’t work in town?

I plan on continuing this blog for as long as we live out here, so we’ll make some money from it. We also have pigs that we plan on breeding to sell the piglets next year. And once our property sells, we’ll take that money and buy a set net fishing permit and commercial fish next summer. Then there is also the Alaskan Permanent Fund Dividend, which should provide us with roughly $3,000 a year for our family of three. We’ll get paid a quarter of our needs just for living in Alaska.

Do we ever regret trading our 6 figure incomes for no figures while we learn how to live our new lives?

Never.¬†While things are tight now, we have learned a lot about being fiscally responsible out here, more so than we ever were in town. We’ll know how to stretch our money better next year, and be able to stress a little less about it.

You couldn’t pay me enough to give up living out here. This is home.

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