Category Archives: Live simple

Cold frames


Dean has remade bits of the greenhouse into a cold frame, so we can extend our growing season for a couple of months a year.  The greenhouse was really just a big cold frame anyway, as it didn’t have any heating.

This works very well, but we had a battle with the mice who ate all the peas that were just sprouting.  So Dean made a seedling box with a mesh bottom and a lid from another pane of the greenhouse that fits in the cold frame.  So far so good.

I think we’ll make another couple of these for the herb garden.

Can You Handle the Truth?

How often do you wonder what is true?  We are bombarded with information, disinformation, opinion pretending to be news and entertainment feigning real life, 24/7.  This plays on our feelings of insecurity and keeps us confused.

A brief search on three issues that came to mind, delivered completely different information:

Is a mini ice age on the way? Scientists warn the Sun has ‘gone to sleep’ and say it could cause temperatures to plunge 18 January 2014

Global warming continues and won’t be stopped by wishful thinking 30 January 2014


LA Times Sounds Alarm: West Coast Update – Stop Eating Pacific Ocean Seafood Now! Major Fukushima Radiation Warning!!!  January 6, 2014

DEC says Alaska fish are safe to eat  January 23, 2014


Dentists: Fluoride in water supply is safe February 10, 2014,

Harvard Professor: Fluoride Toxic to Children, Linked to Autism February 20, 2014


You could argue that the information you find is biased according to the political leanings of the source, but that just highlights the problem; in Mephisto’s hall of smoke and mirrors, how do you know what is true?  Where do you go to find the Truth?  What is Truth anyway?

Truth is different to fact.  Facts are self-evident, perceivable by the senses impersonal and tend to be more permanent.  For example, snow is cold.  In contrast, truth is dynamic, subjective and tends to describe a relationship between the truth-holder and an aspect of the natural world.  For example, it is true that I am sitting here in my cabin in Galicia and it’s raining.  I might not be here tomorrow and the weather might change, but that does not diminish the truth of this moment.

Truth is experienced and it is participatory.   It is a state of sublime coherence between the individual and reality, totally ‘in the moment’ and without doubt or mental chatter. All humans have the innate ability to experience Truth.  So why do we find it so difficult?

First off, you cannot experience Truth by thinking about it.  Truth is felt, not thought.  Thought is the initiator; what Truth are you seeking?  But Truth is a full mind/body/spirit experience.  There are three steps to discovering the Truth:

1. The first step is preparation.  It is difficult to experience Truth if your body is toxic.  Truth is experienced in the body, before it is recognised by the brain, but many of us have forgotten what Truth feels like and we often ignore the signal.  If you are viewing reality through a dirty window, no matter how much Truth or Beauty there might be out there, you are only going to catch a glimpse of it through the grime. 

Confusion and difficulty in experiencing Truth are symptoms of stress, ill health and         toxicity.  However, as soon as you begin to clean up your internal environment, eat more healthily, exercise, drink enough water etc., your cognitive ability improves and your awareness grows.

Connection with Nature is also part of preparation.  Truth is an aspect of reality and you don’t find reality on TV, the internet or even in a book.  Walking barefoot has enormous health benefits and reconnects us to the Schumann Resonance, which recharges our cellular batteries and protects us from harmful EMFs while we are in contact.  Part of our difficulty in recognizing Truth is because our brains are too fogged up with unnatural electronic static to be able to decode the information being received.  Get outside and see the beauty of the real sunrise, sunset, new moon and full moon and your body will automatically begin to get back in sync with reality.

The body’s ability to recognise Truth, even Truth of which the subject is not consciously aware, has been validated by many studies using muscle testing.  The principle behind it is that the body tests strong when it aligns with Truth and weak for falsehood, enabling the process to be readily used for yes/no questions.  A pendulum is also a useful tool and easily mastered with practise, as is muscle testing.

2. Next, identify the issue and state your intent to know the Truth of that issue.  The syntax here is important.  It is not the Truth ‘about’ something.  We know the Truth of something, or even with something, but to want to know “about” something is inviting in the Trickster .

Intent is the mechanism for focusing attention, but merely thinking about intention is not sufficient.


Intent is not a thought, or an object, or a wish. Intent is what can make a man succeed when his thoughts tell him that he is defeated…… Intent is what sends a shaman through a wall, through space, to infinity.

Carlos Castaneda

In The Power of Silence Don Juan explains how “intent is beckoned with the eyes” by moving to the “place of no pity” which is characterised by a specific shine to the eyes.  The “place of no pity” is Don Juan’s way of describing the point where you get over your self-importance and are fully present, without mental chatter.  The power is in the silence.

The ‘shiny eyes’ is like being  ‘moved to tears’ in the presence of great love or beauty, humbled, fully present and self-less.  To bring yourself to that state and then focus the attention is to act with intent.

You need to be sufficiently connected to the issue in order to invoke this level of intent and to be clear and specific as to how you direct your intent.  For example, asking for the Truth about whether it is safe to eat Pacific fish is too abstract for the body to understand.  However, if you are standing at the fish counter with fish from the Pacific right there in front of you, you will be able to connect with intent and discover the Truth about the fish.  The Truth that it is safe would feel strong and certain, without any doubt. In this context, what is true for you might not be true for some one else.  If your body truly finds the fish safe, it will be for you – if you have any doubt, there is no Truth.

3.     Finally, having declared your intent, you forget about it and wait. The Truth of the issue will make itself known to you.  There is no asking, hoping, or praying involved.  The Truth will emerge as a realization that is absolutely clear and without any doubt, usually within a day or so.

This part of the process cannot be rushed.  It is analogous to trying to remember the name of a person or song and you just can’t remember it no matter how hard you try, but as soon as you forget about it and get on with something else, the name just pops into your head.

As you wait, you enforce the process by living the Truth in any moment; by keeping focus on what is real, being in Nature, recognising personal drama and all the attributes of the world of lies for what the are and keeping away from them as much as possible.  You communicate Truthfully, especially when it’s difficult. With practice, this process becomes seamless and you become unconsciously competent in recognising the Truth in any situation.

Clarity on the difference between Truth and fact is essential to see through Mephisto’s game.  Mephisto is the Trickster within.  It is an aspect of our minds that is involved in the development of our personal narrative, or individual myth-making.  We love to validate our story with facts.  If we pay too much attention to the story we tell ourselves about our lives, we become disconnected from reality and then we are trapped in Mephisto’s game.  This game has no objective, no outcome, no purpose other than the playing of the game itself in more and more fantastic ways.  However, our potential to get trapped in the game prevents us from living our lives according to our highest desires and makes us vulnerable to anyone who understands its rules and wants to use it against us.

The ‘vibration’ of Truth is getting stronger.  We are beginning to hunger for it as what passes for normal is no longer satisfying (if ever it was). Ultimately, the practice of seeking the Truth is empowering.  To focus on the Truth with intent and commitment, lifts us out of the drama and polarity of our daily lives. It is a transcendent energy that guides us out of confusion and victimhood and enables us to take full responsibility for our lives and make better choices.  This leads to change and transformation. 

In the words of Schoepenhouer:

All truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally it is accepted as self-evident.

So, can you handle the Truth?


Homemade Natural Toothpaste

I probably wouldn’t have bothered with homemade toothpaste if organic, fluoride-free natural toothpaste was easy to get here, but it isn’t and I just couldn’t bring myself to buy the commercial stuff.  So, I started to look for natural, easy options for which I could find all the ingredients.

We used plain baking soda for a while.  It’s certainly easy, reasonably effective and not unpleasant, but I thought we could do better.  I found a recipe for baking soda with coconut oil and it is fantastic.  Easily the best toothpaste we’ve ever used!  Within just a few weeks, virtually all my plaque has gone.  My teeth feel smooth and clean for much longer and I actually enjoy brushing my teeth now.  It makes you wonder what they put in that stuff doesn’t it?

The recipe:

  • find a small screw-top jar
  • half fill it with coconut oil
  • fill it with baking soda mixed in to a fairly stiff paste


  • add a few drops of peppermint oil
  • I didn’t have peppermint oil, so I used mint leaves steeped in olive oil for a couple of days – about a teaspoon and it turned the paste a light green and gave it a slight minty tang and a good creamy texture

Coconut oil is antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial.  Baking soda removes stains and odours, helps neutralize acid and has a slightly abrasive texture that helps remove plaque.

No fluoride, no other chemicals, cleaner teeth, fresher breath and it’s cheaper.  Beat that!



Natural coconut milk shampoo

I’ve been working to get as many chemicals out of our lives as possible.  Every other day a report comes out about cancer-causing chemicals in shampoo, toxic ingredients in the laundry detergent or asthma and allergies triggered by common household cleaners. We’ve been programmed to think that these synthetic products do a better, more thorough job than their natural equivalents.  Is this true?  No, it isn’t, but there are so many ‘natural’ options that it helps to know what actually works.

Shampoo is an issue if you’ve been used to the sleek, glossy, full-volume, untangled hype of the chemical stuff, especially if you have long hair.  But it’s not worth dying for!  Most commercial, non-organic shampoos contain SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) & SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES) and they are probably the most dangerous of all personal care products.  Just because there is no immediate noticeable effect doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful in the long-term.  Why take the risk?  In animal tests ( and why have that on your conscience for a shampoo?) they have been found to cause eye damage, depression, breathing difficulties, diarrhoea, severe skin irritation, immune system damage, corrosion and death. According to the American College of Toxicology states both SLS and SLES can cause malformation in children’s eyes.

DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (momoethanolamine) TEA (triethanolamine) are also in most main brand shampoos, often appearing as Cocamide DEA or MEA, Lauramide DEA, etc. These are hormone disrupting chemicals and research has shown that they are implicated in the increase in liver and kidney cancers.

I’ve been mostly underwhelmed with the organic shampoo options.  They are comparatively expensive and tend to leave my hair feeling life-less and just not that clean.  And it’s even harder to find organic shampoo here, so I decided to try my own!

This is simple and works brilliantly.  My hair has suffered severe sun-damage over the summer, it hasn’t been conditioned and was tangled, life-less, dull and straw-like.  (I know, it’s only hair, not important, but allow me this vanity.)  In just one shampoo, it was bouncing back and has become stronger and shinier by the day.  And here’s the big bonus: at least half of my grey hair has reverted back to brown.  It is so obvious that my husband thought I’d coloured it!  I don’t know whether this is because I’m no longer poisoning my scalp with commercial shampoo or the nourishing effect of the coconut oil, but it has happened within a few weeks.

Here’s the recipe:

  • one can of organic coconut milk
  • 500ml liquid castille soap
  • 50ml organic aloe vera
  • a few drops of essential oils of your choice ( I used chamomile and lavender)

Mix the ingredients and pour into a used shampoo bottle.  This makes quite a bit, so I’ve put the rest in the freezer.  You only need to use a small amount and don’t be put off by the fact that it’s quite runny.  It lathers really well and smells gorgeous.  You might want to vary the amounts, or add something like almond or jojoba oil for dry hair.  I didn’t use aloe vera in the first version I made, but it improves the texture of the shampoo and neutralises the pH somewhat.

I use an apple cider vinegar rinse after the shampoo, as hair is acid and the alkaline soap leaves a build-up unless its neutralised.  I also found that I had a ‘detox’ period of a couple of weeks, for my hair to adjust to the loss of fake-feelgood chemicals.  It’s worth it though.  We’re only at the beginning of discovering the real harm caused by chemicals we take for granted and use everyday.  Do you really want these absorbed through your scalp if there is an easy, cheap and healthy option available?

Castille soap is made from olive oil and caustic soda.  Dr Bronner’s is the most well-known brand, but there are others.  You can make your own, and I’ve tried this, but it makes it a lot more work and the result has been inconsistent for me so far.

Free Finca Philosophy

Life isn’t to be studied, it is to be lived!

The other night I dreamt I was at a wedding and some one said to me, very clearly, “It’s just like Plato’s cave.”  I can’t remember much about the rest of the dream, but that remark stuck with me.  So much of our experience is performance that we can’t even recognise what is real anymore and, just like the people chained up in Plato’s cave, we resist it when it’s forced on us.

When I lived in London it felt a bit like the allegorical cave.  The shadows on the wall seemed real, and the majority of people around me ‘knew’ they were real, but I always felt something lacking.  I thought it was me; I changed career, made new friends and worked on myself.  As my awareness grew I realised that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a cave watching shadows on the wall, or talking about shadows, admiring them and even wanting to be them! Ditching the TV was never going to be enough.

It’s hard to escape the illusion in a place like London when you have a mortgage and bills to pay.  We had to work to pay for these things and as soon as you enter the world of paid work and employment, you participate in the illusion.  How many unnecessary and meaningless meetings have you sat through?  How many hours have you spent form-filling for worthless bureaucracy?  How much of your life do you spend doing something that is utterly meaningless and unsatisfying?  We decided that we had to leave London to create the lives we want to live.

We are experimenting with creating our experience and making our lives joyous and meaningful by being conscious and aware as much as possible.  We are exploring reality through awareness of our feelings, our doing and being and what shows up in our lives – philosophy-in-action, perhaps.  It’s very difficult to have joy and meaning in your life if you spend most of your time doing and thinking about things that are ultimately meaningless and do not offer any satisfaction and therefore can’t make you happy.

Are you here?

You are here

For this?

To do this


So ,what is real?  What reality are we creating?  What do we want to create?  What do we want to be experiencing more of in our lives?Taking care of our physical needs is real; building a cabin, making a vegetable garden, putting in a new water supply and dealing with our own shit (literally) is very real.  If I had known that this is what we would be doing before we left London, I might have had second thoughts.  It seems like a step backwards if your aim in life is to have more leisure time, but why do you need leisure time?  How much leisure time do you need and what do you do with it?  How does it make you feel?

We have significantly less so-called leisure time here.  We haven’t got a TV, we don’t go to the movies, the theatre or shopping for anything but food. We don’t make any distinction between week days and week-end. There’s always the dogs to be taken care of, wood to be cut, gardening or housework to be done and we haven’t even begun the renovation work yet.  However, it feels very different to be doing these things as the mainstay of our lives, rather than as activities that need to be squeezed in around a job.  We are not financially wealthy.  We have just enough to cover the basics, but we have much more freedom.

We use this freedom to make conscious choices regarding the situations life offers.  It is one great experiment and we are always facing unknowns and challenges.  Every time we need to do something new, we ask around and we can ask six different people and get 10 different answers!   For example, we bought this property with two wells.  One is contaminated with bacteria and the other clean, but with not enough water.  We started with the clean well and ran a pipe to the cabin and the water is lovely, but it is running out.  If we had more storage we would be OK with the clean well, but we need more water now before the summer is out.  We could clean out the other well, which one of the neighbours says has always been good (but that was 40 years ago) and we don’t want to use chlorine to clean it.  Another said we should connect to the mains, but we prefer to have our own water supply. No one here uses an ozone generator and the plumber said that we would be better off digging a new well with guaranteed clean water.  So where do we put the new well?  The neighbour said one place and the well-digger another…..and so it goes on.  We don’t know what is the best course of action; we have no previous knowledge of these issues, but does anyone really?

All we can do is set our intention to trust that it will all work out in the end and make the best choices we can in the spirit of playfulness and experimentation.  This is our philosophy-in-action.


Chamomile/manzanilla grows wild around here and I’ve been picking and drying it.  It smells beautiful and fresh and tastes much nicer than any of the commercial versions.  Only a few heads are needed for a cup, which I sweeten slightly with local honey.  I also use it when it’s cooled down as a compress for tired or irritated eyes – especially for the dogs.



Low impact laundry

We’ve got a bit of a water shortage at the moment until we put in a new well, so we have to be careful about how much water we use.  I’ve been experimenting with the laundry and found that the quick wash at a low temperature, 25 minutes on 30 degrees, gets our white sheets clean if I put white vinegar in the rinse.  Our sheets get dirty as the dogs sleep on the bed and outside is all clay and dirt and this means I can wash then without worrying that we will run out of water.

Washing line

Around the finca

A stormy sunset with a rainbow in June 2013:

IMG_0618 IMG_0627 IMG_0629 IMG_0635 IMG_0634 IMG_0631

Lots of rain in January and February 2014.  This is the area at the bottom of what will be our garden that we call the Tick Pit, because when we first went to see what was down there before we even bought the place Dean came back with about 25 ticks on him!  We had to stop at the side of the road and strip him down, before we got back to the house we were living in at the time.

The second two photos are of the access road to the house after rain.  And this is after we put about 10 truck loads of hardcore on it!

Brook Izzy&riley in tick pit road after rain road by barn