Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Alaska Earthquake Effects at Remote Cabin

Alaska is VERY seismically active.  At our place, we feel the earth shudder several times a year.  On November 30, South Central Alaska suffered a 7.2 earthquake, followed, in the ensuing month, by more than 6000 aftershocks, some of which were strong enough (above 5.0) to cause additional damage. 
Ceiling earthquake damage

At the time, we were out of state, so we nervously contacted friends in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley – on either side of the epicenter – to see how they fared.  One man said that everything on any shelf, wall, or mantle came crashing down, and his house is now riddled with cracks.  He was particularly devastated that his sons’ clay mementos, like their hospital footprints, had been smashed to smithereens.  A woman lost only one wine glass… and an entire 30 gallon aquarium (on carpet, of course!).  An acquaintance said that her home was fine but that her father’s house was totaled and he barely escaped when his two story stone fireplace buckled, smothering  the couch on which he had just been seated, seconds before.   The closest school to us – some 20 miles by air – is closed for the rest of the year.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Frugal Organic

When people jokingly refer to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck” to indicate the price points, I wonder if they conclude that all organic products and foods HAVE to be expensive.

I have learned that it is indeed more expensive to raise meat on a small homestead than to buy a rotisserie chicken at Costco.  But so many pricey organic foods and products are quickly and cheaply made at home.  A frugally organic minded person can save thousands of dollars per year.  Below are some examples and sample price points.

a)           FACIALS and HAIR TREATMENTS: Pay $100 vs.  < $1. 
Honey and Beeswax
I love feeling really clean, and have paid $90 - 110 for facials in the US (and $15 in India). But you know the ingredients and labor are highly marked up.  Now, I give myself two facial/hair treatments a week, right before bathing:  one with 2 tbs of bentonite clay (bought on-line) for a detoxifying face and hair mask, and another with 2 tbs of honey, diluted, as a moisturizer for face and hair.  A pound of the clay has lasted me about 2 years (about $12) How is that for a substantial savings?

b)          SHAMPOO and HAIR RINSE: $20 vs < $1.
 I make ours with a few drops of castile soap (vegan liquid soap.  A $15 bottle has lasted me 3 years so far) (bought on-line), 1/2 and 1/2 vinegar/ water, and a sprinkling of herbs of choice, like rosemary or sage for brunettes, or essential oils for scent.  My hair feels squeaky clean and my scalp feels tingly.  Very pleasant.  Just don't get it in your eyes.

c)                  CLEANING SUPPLIES:  $60 vs <1
I use vinegar, baking soda, and salt for all cleaning (house and clothes), sometimes boosted with borax.  No more space hogging, smelly cleaning supplies.

WINE:  6 gallons/30 bottles for $450 vs $79 - 129 and
BEER:  6 gallons/66 bottles for $330 vs $39 - 69
We harvest both wild and domesticated raspberries
We make our own wines and beers.  Most of the ingredients are sold at home brew supply stores, including very regionally specific grape selections, such as New Zealand sauvignon blanc.  We also ferment mead and wine from our bees' honey, berries, and birch sap.  Neither libation takes much time to make or age. Beer takes longer to make because the wort (sort of a tea) is heated and the heat maintained for 2 hours, but less time to age (about 3 weeks).  Wine is not heated so it takes about 30 minutes to combine ingredients and then takes 6 weeks to a year to age.  Some special equipment is required, which can often be found, used, on Craig's List, for less than $100 altogether.  Cost savings? We ferment ours in 6 gallon carboys (glass jugs), which compute to 30 bottles of wine or 66 bottles of beer.  A beer drinker can save 70-90% and a wine drinker can save 50 - 75%, presuming a $15 bottle of wine and a $5 bottle of micro-brewed beer. ($15/wine bottle x 30 = $450+. 
$5+/micro-brewed beer bottle x 66 = $330).  
We pay $79 - 129 for kits of varietal grapes (nebbiolo, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc) and $39- $69 for the ingredients to make a Belgian style tripel, which I've seen priced at $13/one large bottle.