Four Easy DIY Natural Holiday Decoration Ideas

During the holiday season one of my most favorite things to do is to go outside and gather natural decorations such as pine boughs, pinecones, magnolia leaves, and different types of berries. I love the smells of these decorations. To me, these smells are synonymous with the holiday season. Even if one doesn’t live in the country, it’s easy to gather natural decorations for the home. As a child, I grew up in the suburbs and I remember my mother stopping on the side of the road to gather pinecones or boughs. Magnolia leaves can retrieved on any type of university or park grounds. Berries are often found along country roads and ditches.

Following are four natural and sustainable ideas I have learned from my mother during our suburban galavants that helped to make our home festive without a trip to the supermarket.
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A Recipe for Aluminum-Free Deodorant

Natural deodorants are becoming more popular as people have become increasingly concerned about aluminum-compound ingredients in antiperspirant deodorants. There is a lot of debate about the effects of antiperspirant deodorants. Supposedly the aluminum-based compounds plug the sweat ducts and inhibit the ability for the armpits to sweat up to twenty-percent. This unnatural phenomena has been said to link this to breast cancer and to Alzheimers. The National Cancer Institute discredits this research stating that this information is a common myth and misconception.  However, those who believe in all-natural, holistic remedies can beg to differ. Continue reading “A Recipe for Aluminum-Free Deodorant”

Moving Goats

Have you ever attempted moving ten goats in a two-stall horse trailer? Following is a small video of the Ranchette’s experience of moving ten goats in a horse trailer from one location to another. Just before this video was taken, we were required to pull Janie off of a fellow Ranchette, as she attempted to plow her over. It took all our strength to keep these goats in the trailer as they were loaded, one-by-one. There’s never a dull moment in a goat’s life!!!

Check out Michelle Lynn Decor at and Michelle Lynn Decor on Facebook to learn more about the Ranchette’s farm and to peruse the hand crafted, eco-friendly products made on location.

How to Make Wild Grape Jelly

On a crisp cool day in autumn, one of our favorite things to do is to collect the wild grapes that grow alongside our road.  These grapes are difficult to pick-as they are found high up in branches of trees. With lots of climbing and pulling, we are able to gather a bushel of this fruit from their vines each year.

We use these grapes to make wild grape jelly! There is nothing like the taste of wild grape jelly. It’s flavor is twice as robust as regular grape jelly; leaving a lingering taste of flavor in the mouth long after it’s consumed. It is one of the Ranchette’s favorite breakfast spreads. Wild grapes also provide great health benefits. Research shows that grapes contain powerful antioxidants known aspolyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon. The seeds from these wild grapes also have great health benefits. Supposedly, the seeds from grapes are rich in antioxidents andoligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs). OPCs help to destroy free radicals in the body, which in turn may help you avoid premature aging and certain chronic diseases. We usually bake the grape seeds and use them as supplemental ingredients for granola or for bread.

Following is the process of making wild grape jelly. We have used a variety of recipes but this year we adapted the recipe from Genius Kitchen.  Continue reading “How to Make Wild Grape Jelly”

The Unique Personality of Yoohoo, Our Australian Shepherd Dog

Following is a post written by the Ranchette’s niece, Annie, on the family blog Freedom Farm. Annie wrote a wonderful article describing the unique personality of their family Australian Shepherd dog, Yoohoo. Our entire family is very fond of Australian Shepherd dogs and we have many funny stories to tell. Following is a humorous description of Yoohoo.

Yoohoo, our six year old comical pooch, was born on November 6, 2011.  She is considered a blue merle Australian Shepherd dog because of her mottled patchwork of fur. We traveled to the breeder a few days before Christmas with the goal of getting a puppy for our five aunts.  As you can guess, we not only got our aunts’ dog, Bronte; but we also got her bouncy, laughable sister, Yoohoo.
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Five Interesting Things You May Not Know About the John Adams Family

On a summer trip to Boston, I was able to visit the John and Abigail Adams homestead and second home, known as the old house, Peacefield. I was struck with the simplicity and smallness of their homes and the practicality of the Adams upbringing. The Adams lifestyle was one of self-sufficiency, hard work, and melioration. I left with five main impressions.

1). The Adams never had slaves, but employed servants who worked alongside the Adams. During a time when slavery was common-place in early colonial America, the Adams never had slaves. They had paid servants; local white people who they employed and provided fair wages. Of all the presidents, the Adams actually lived what they preached when it came to the issue of freedom and equality. The Adams were hard working people and worked alongside their servants. Abigal Adams was known to keep a very clean house and participated in daily tasks of cooking, sewing, knitting alongside her servants.

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Gluten Free Eggplant Lasagna

This year, our garden has supplied us with basil, tomatoes, and eggplant. With these three items, we were inspired to be creative with our culinary skills, making our own gluten free lasagna. Instead of adding noodles, we used eggplant to substitute. The eggplant and sun dried tomatoes add a meaty texture to the lasagna. The fresh basil makes the lasagna spicy. There’s nothing better than gluten-free lasagna made from fresh herbs and vegetables gathered from summer’s garden. In the picture above, we feature the items that we used to make this delicious lasagna. Below is the recipe that your whole family will enjoy, regardless of their dietary restrictions!
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How To Rid Your Garden of the Japanese Beetle

If you are a gardener, you should be familiar with the Japanese Beetle. Following are ideas on how to rid your garden of these pesky beetles by using eco-friendly, chemical free strategies.

These beetles originate from the island of Japan, which bears their name. They found their way to the United States early in this century by latching themselves onto plant roots from Japan. Now that they are settled in the United States, Japanese Beetles create havoc in gardens as they remain unchecked from natural predators. They do not discriminate with the types of plants they will destroy. In our garden, Japanese Beetles favor our roses and okra blossoms. They devour the entire leaf or blossom, leaving little behind.

Insecticide or Neem Oil is known to work in ridding garden from these beetles. However, both solutions can cause harm to the environment. Chemical dusts and sprays are highly toxic to honey bees. Neem Oil is harmful to fish and should only be applied to plants after a rain.

Following are three environmentally-friendly ways to eliminate Japanese Beetles and keep them from devouring your garden.
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Sustainable, Ethical, and Environmentally-Friendly Gifts

Following are four ideas for sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly gift or tourist-finds from Wilmington, North Carolina.

We recently vacationed to Wilmington, North Carolina and visited the Cotton Exchange and shops along the Chandler’s Wharf, famous for it’s artisans and entrepreneurs. As many people do when they vacation, we visited gift shops filled with knick-knacks and touristy gift items. Also as many people do, we have collected cheap tourist items, filling our home with tacky-looking items.

Recently, we have become a tad bit more savvy when it comes to purchasing tourist relics. We make it a rule to only purchase practical, usable, and sustainable items. Practically speaking, it makes more sense to spend a few more dollars to purchase items that we can use, rather than throwing money into a plastic cheap items that collect dust and serve no purpose.
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How to Make Savory Cucumber and Tomato Soup

When it comes to living sustainably on a farm, the Ranchette’s refuse to allow produce to rot in the garden. What do you when you have bucket-loads of fresh cucumbers?  Naomi decided to make Craig Claiborne’s Cucumber, Tomato and Avocado soup, which she then placed in the freezer for future use. For fewer calories, Naomi tweaked the recipe. She added fresh basil and eliminated the required avocados and cream. The soup is delicious!!! It’s perfect for the hot summer months as it can be served either hot or chilled.
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