Berkey Water Filter

We’ve been using our Berkey Water Filter system now since December so I thought I would give a review on it for my readers. First off–we are glad we have it in light of recent news of contamination in the bottled water we have resorted to in the past because our city water reeks of chlorine. The news article here states that even Evian, which is the only bottled water that I’ve purchased in 20 years, is contaminated with plastic particles. I breathed a sigh of relief to know we have found an alternative to all of them. Here is a snippet of the review I left on Amazon for the Berkey Water Filter (I have not been compensated in any way).

I won’t be drinking water from anything else for the rest of my whole life except water filtered in our Berkey. The clean chemical free taste-free water from our Berkey hands down even tastes better than Evian (which I LOVE). It arrived safely packaged, I followed the directions, and it was up and running within 20 minutes. We bought the travel Berkey and it works great for our family of two. We live in a city that’s city water has too much of something?chlorine. And probably a lot of other things we didn’t want to keep consuming. We’ve used Pur filters for almost 10 years and our water still tasted weird not to mention Pur filters lasted us approx. 25 days a piece. My husband didn’t entirely sign on with me spending a bit over $228 for our Berkey, but once he tasted the water he told me he’ll never be without one again. He is sold on it and uses it for anything and everything we use water in, plus he himself is now drinking approx. 50 oz. of water a day. Win-win! We ordered the stainless steel spigot right away because we were worried we would break the plastic one with our constant use. We love the sturdiness of the stainless steel spigot. Our Berkey is easy to clean, easy to use, and we’re never without it. We love our Berkey Travel and highly recommend it to everyone.

Cleaning the Berkey takes about 10 minutes. I clean ours every two weeks. The manufacturer does not list how often to clean your Berkey system but does suggest cleaning it when water filtration slows down. The system is made from high-quality food-grade steel that keeps your filtered water clean and safe. However, you do need to clean the filters with water, basically helping to remove sediment or chemical build-up to keep your system going. The instructions are here.

The holding capacity of ours is 1.5 gallons and we use 2.25 gallons a day. So we must fill our Berkey twice a day from our tap. That isn’t a problem for us. We have a 2-gallon pitcher and add a gallon of cold water at a time.  The only thing we would consider a negative would be that unless you lift the lid you do not know how much water is in your Berkey. I wish it had a window on the side of the filter that let you know how much water you had used.

My next blog post will be about spring planning and spring planting! Until then–Enjoy!


Homesteader Goal #5 & 6

Buy a cast iron skillet- check

I bought a Lodge at Walmart for $15.00. Right away I went to YouTube to watch videos on seasoning cast irons. There are a million videos out there. The first time it worked fine, but the video I watched suggested to season it a second time before use. This time it came out sticky even though I used a very very tiny bit of oil. I scrubbed it good with a brush and fried bacon in it and it seems to be doing just fine. No more stickiness.  I’ve hesitated for years buying another one after a disastrous seasoning experience in 2000.

For my birthday this past weekend, my husband bought us a Berkey Travel Water Filtration System. I’ve researched this system for over a year and we finally reached the point, tired of buying water, to purchase one. The taste of the water is incredible–absolutely incredible. We’ve been drinking Evian for years and both love it. However, the water we are getting from our Berkey is even better than that. Cleanest, clearest tasting water in the world. No more city water straight from the tap for us. The reason we didn’t buy the Big Berkey is this travel size is recommended for two people and it works just fine for us. It holds 1.5 gallons of water at a time, filters fairly quickly, and my husband has gone completely crazy over it. I’ve never ever seen him drink so much water.

Twenty-four years ago I couldn’t pay him to drink water. Then five years into our marriage he would drink flavored water. Fifteen years in still at flavored water until he started drinking Evian. Then he would drink a bottle here and there and he the last five or so years he’s up to a couple of big bottles a day. But drinking Evian is expensive, very expensive.

My goal for over a year has been to buy a water filtration system so–now we own one!

Goals 1-4 of this Urban Homesteader:

  1. learning to grow garden plants from seed
  2. learning to grow vegetables and fruits from both seed starters and plants
  3. producing food
  4. preserving food

I’m feeling pretty good. Hope you all are too! Until next time, be well.

Soulful Baker by Julie Jones–a review

Soulful Baker by Julie Jones is a loving tribute to baking made beautiful by Julie Jones. I’ve followed Julie Jones and her soulful excursions making pies, tarts, cakes, and bakes for some time. Beautifully decorated desserts made with natural ingredients, and pastry recipes perfectly extraordinaire.

There is simply nothing more beautiful than the story behind both her Instagram account and this beautiful cookery book. Both feature fabulous creations by Julie and her mum captured in beautiful photography and loving stories shared throughout.  From the apple roses to the salted caramel, and the chocolate tart– this book is filled with inspiration. This is your chance to learn how to bake like a pro. All you need is your imagination and Soulful Baker by Julie Jones.

I requested Soulful Baker from NetGalley to review because of its loving tribute to the author’s mum. I simply fell in love with the recipes, photos, and stories included with each recipe. I highly recommend this cookery book to everyone!

Professional Reader

Cook Yourself Happy by Caroline Fleming– a review

Cook Yourself Happy by Caroline Fleming is a big helping of Danish culture all wrapped up in a beautifully laid out cookbook filled with photographs, and recipes of simply delicious food. I especially liked the first few pages that described Danish culture and their favorite foods. Having grown up in a Scandinavian household I found the food choices/recipes to be spot on. The second thing I liked about this cookbook was how detailed, but not too detailed, the recipes were and how healthy every dish that is featured is. Deliciously laid out, gorgeous photos, interesting and inspiring chapters. I highly recommend this book to both beginner and more seasoned cooks! I would also recommend this cookbook to those wanting to learn more about the Danish concept Hygge.

I requested this book to review because I am both interested and in love with all things Scandinavian. I really enjoyed this cookbook equal parts–author, subject matter, and ease of recipes.

Professional Reader

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls



Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for cabbage rolls is here 

Years and years ago I used to unwind by watching two hours of Food Network every day. Even though I had been cooking since I was twelve, and I had worked in several restaurants with positions from prep cook, to line cook and sous chef in training, I really truly didn’t know much about food. I worked these type of jobs, not for my interest in cooking or food, but rather to survive at the time because these types of jobs were aplenty. When I got married I learned quickly that my husband, although not interested where the food comes from, is interested and lets his feelings be known, that he wants home-cooked meals and he wants a variety of good home-cooked made from scratch. It’s how he grew up and never having been on his own before we married, it’s all he knew. So while I was unwinding, I was learning, and mentally preparing to learn to become a good cook. Which more than anything relies on really liking food, getting acquainted with how it grows, where it grows and how to prepare it. The chefs on the Food Network in the 90’s really saved my bacon (pardon the pun). In 2004 I started our family on our journey towards a more sustainable life by changing our diet to a more organic diet. I looked to advocates like Alice Waters for inspiration and information. From Alice Waters, I found an abundance of information both at the library, local extension offices and of course the internet. I’ve probably watched 50 documentary’s on food, and learned something different from each one.  Food has a history, food is a part of people’s culture, tradition, and history. Food is a living, growing product needed for each and every one of our survivals. The closest you can get a food to pure is to pluck it from the soil it grows in and eat it. As time has gone on I’ve found several homesteaders who have shown me great products, sustainable living practices, farming & gardening methods, food preservation and so much more.


Sometime last fall I sat down to catch an episode of A Chef’s Life on PBS and ended up buying all the seasons of the show. Whenever I could find the time I would sit down and promise myself two shows just two shows. I always watched at least three and given the time I would have watched all three seasons right there in my easy chair. Chef Vivian Howard of A Chef’s Life lives in North Carolina with her husband, twins, and parents.  Chef Howard and her husband own two restaurants in North Carolina. The show is about her and her husband running the restaurant and her sourcing the food, from local North Carolina farmers, and cooking up all these unique food dishes with it. Each show is like a super creative history of something locally grown- peas, sweet potatoes, okra, apples, peaches and so much more. I mean three, soon four, seasons full of food information, foodie topics, watching the chef make interesting, and delicious looking food in her restaurant, the inner workings of a restaurant and of course her home life, children, husband, and neighbors are featured. I love love love A Chef’s Life. My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year and without hesitation I said- Chef Howard’s new cookbook- Deep Run Roots. I received it last week- early birthday presents rock. It’s a good-sized cookbook weighing in at 4# so I’ve got a lot of reading and recipe trying to get into.

We are supposed to be getting frost tonight, which mid-October I would kind of expect. A lot of the trees in the surrounding areas haven’t changed color yet. A couple frosts and fall colors will be here. Seems like just yesterday I was sharing recipes for rhubarb a food that signals spring. Last week and this pumpkins and cabbages- foods signaling fall.  Later this week- biodynamic vs. organic.


My husband has always been very supportive of our movement toward an all organic diet. I think he may at times have felt I was a bit too gung- ho about nutrition, but eventually he has come to agree eating more whole foods is going to be better for us both short and long-term. I’ve spent years working with special diets, I even created meal plans for the clients I worked for in the group homes that I managed. I’m not a nutritionist, but I have taken classes in nutrition and food safety.

Quite a few years ago I visited a commune.  While at this commune I observed their way of living and the food they were growing. Their produce was bigger than any produce I had ever seen.  They grew vegetables and certain varieties that I had never known. Those living in the commune were healthy-almost a super healthy look; long shiny flowing hair, glowing faces, bright eyes and lots of energy. That memory will stay with me all the rest of my life. I want my husband and I to not only feel healthy, but to also look healthy and living an all around healthy lifestyle.

In the last few years I have discovered a whole realm of people like me who are tired of eating food filled with preservatives, chemicals, and additives. People just like me who are devoted to eating local and living healthy.

This weekend we watched Food Inc. We truly believe that the things we have done have been significant- changing our diet and eating organic. During the movie we looked at each other and knew that there are many more things we need to do. And just maybe, judging by my husbands eyes and shocked expressions, he is all right with my being so enthusiastic.

People know they need to make a change. Often they just won’t because it involves too much work. Watch Food Inc. you will clearly see that any change you need to make will involve much less work than you’ve ever imagined.  The road to better health is well traveled. More and more people everyday begin walking on it to save themselves, help save others, and save our Earth.

Make a difference. Thank you Robert Kenner, Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan.