Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hope In Hard Times

Hi everyone! I hope you're all having a great summer so far. I have found it necessary to take some sort of a little hiatus to deal with a few crisis and a trauma or two. But as I thought about my blogging friends today, I wanted to share a very beautiful message of inspiration and hope that I heard recently, that lifted my spirits. These are hard times and only seem to be getting harder. I hope this short message lifts you as much as it did me.

(Let it load ahead a few seconds if it keeps stopping.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dishwasher Magic

Hey everyone! I'm gone away on a trip to Vancouver to see my sister's family and watch my niece and nephew in a big dance festival! I left on very short notice and didn't get to post a great tip and success I had last week that I wanted to share with you before I left. So I'm doing it from her house.

We have a well at our house, so we have nice, clean, mineral rich water. Which means - calcium build-up! We got a new top-of-the-line dishwasher a couple of years ago. The dishes have to be well rinsed before they go in, or they come out dirty. A "professional" told me that's because we don't have a water softener. A few months ago, it just pretty much quit working. The water wasn't even spraying out of the top arm. Upon examination, I discovered that the whole machine was pretty caked with "scale" or mineral deposits. We've been washing the dishes by hand for the past few months - which is a good experience for my boys! But enough good experience. We have a nice machine there and it seems a shame to not be able to use it. So I started looking for solutions.

Mine did NOT look as bad as the one in the picture, but since I'm not at home, I found this nice crusty picture on Google Images. It makes the point. I tried spraying it down inside with various cleaners, baking soda, or vinegar. I didn't want to put toxic cleaners in there, or into our septic system. It looked like the vinegar was the ticket but would be a back-breaking undertaking and I didn't know how I would get it to clean the inside of the pipes and tubes that feed the sprayer arms. I turned it on the "soak and scour" cycle. On my dishwasher, that means the water runs into the bottom of the machine, then it runs (sprays) for 1 1/2 minutes, sits for 16, and repeats that for 4 hours, with one exchange of water in the middle. When it's finished, it then runs whatever wash cycle is selected.

I let the water run into the dishwasher. Then I opened it, dumped in a few cups of white vinegar, shut it and let it continue. I let it do it's "soak and scour" magic for 2 hours and then stopped it. The dishwasher looked sparkling clean inside and the water was spraying out of the arms just fine! The heating element is still pretty corroded but not as badly. I think the trick is to run a vinegar rinse every few weeks or so. Periodically anyway - depends on how quickly your minerals build up.

I was pretty amazed at how well it worked, and it hardly cost a thing! I hope that helps any of you who have hard water and a poorly functioning dishwasher!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Making Money In Hard Times

When times are tough, it's time to think out of the box. I've had a lot of experience with financial creativity over the years, so I thought I'd share a few good ideas from my experience in case any of you might be tired of filling out applications, or just need an additional boost to your income. If traditional job hunting isn't working, a little creativity might.

National unemployment for May, was 9.7%. On the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics site, you can see what the current unemployment rate is in your state. Last month, Nevada was the highest at 14% and North Dakota had only 3.6% unemployed.  Even though Montana is at 7.2% statewide, the county I live in has ranged from 12% to 13.8% in the last few months. Yikes! My husband is employed - sort of. He's self-employed, which means that income is unreliable and we're often struggling to make ends meet. We're getting creative. Here are a few ideas:

If you are a fast, efficient and thorough cleaner, cleaning jobs usually pay well. Between myself, my mother, sisters, and nieces, we've had various jobs over the years cleaning for private homes, vacation rental homes, new construction, and business offices. The pay in our valley ranges from about $12 to $25 an hour. I currently have two homes that I clean every few weeks, and am paid $20/hour. It's not a lot of hours each month, but gives me enough spending cash to help out with a little gas or groceries or buy one of the boys a package of socks now and then. I swear, boys seem to go through socks like babies go through diapers!

To find a cleaning job, put an ad in the local paper, put the word out among friends, stop into offices and ask if they have someone to clean for them - and if not, would they like to? If you have a Temporary job service, those kinds of jobs are often listed there. Office cleaning jobs are very often paid at a flat rate, rather than hourly. You need to look at the size of the office, what kinds of cleaning is needed and estimate how long it will take you. If you really aren't sure, see if they would be willing to let you clean once to see how much time you need, before you give them a price. You should be able to make between $20 and $25 an hour, but must be fast a do a thorough job. To be reasonable, prices might be higher or lower in your area. I'd ask at some job services or the Chamber of Commerce to be sure you are getting what your efforts are worth, but not over-charging.

My sister told me of a woman in her area who made $60,000 last year (2009) just by selling used golf clubs that she bought at pawn shops and thrift stores. There are a lot of things you can re-sell. This is something you have to have an eye for. You'll need to get a feel for the value of items, how easily they'll sell and what a good price is to pay for them. Many people watch the classifieds and when they spot a great deal, they buy it up, fix it up, and resell it. Whether it's a rocking chair or a car, there are lots of good deals to be had, because people often just want to get rid of something they don't need. Other places to watch are Craig's List, E-bay auctions, and other personal selling sources. Yard sales are also full of treasures. You just have to know what to look for. Check to see if your area has a "Freecycle" group. It's an on-line listing of things that people are willing to give away rather than have to haul it to the local landfill. You can also list things there that you are looking for. Then if someone has the item sitting in their garage or attic, they call you up and it's yours.

Do you have a pickup? A couple of summers ago, my nephew's friend put an ad in the paper that he had a pickup and would pick up and haul whatever people needed moved. He was busier that summer than a jar of red ants! He hauled construction scraps, furniture, dirt, appliances, plants, garbage - you name it. In a smaller area like I live in (and every other person owns a pickup - this IS Montana!) this wouldn't work so well. But this boy lived in a larger area, where population spreads for miles and miles. Most people in large towns and cities don't have pickup trucks. When people needed things hauled to the dump, he charged enough to pay for his gas, labor and time, and they'd include the landfill fee.  If someone has a landscaping or remodeling project at their home, they often don't have any way to haul the materials. I was told he had more work available than he could do.

Construction has slowed down, but it hasn't stopped. If you stop by a construction site when it's first started, your chances of getting work are better. Smaller projects, like homes, often don't have any clean-up planned for yet. It's a different kind of cleaning than what you would do in a home or office that is already in use. Since the walls are painted, light fixtures are hung, and the flooring - except carpet - is completed before the finish carpentry is done, everything is dusted with a  fine sawdust and needs to be wiped down. New carpet needs to be vacuumed. Cupboards and drawers need to be wiped out, mirrors cleaned off, tubs and showers wiped out, etc. It's just a lot of dust and scraps from Sheetrock, wood and putty. If you let them know you are interested, you may get some hours cleaning up construction scraps during the building process also.

Do you have a skill or hobby? Why not make money with it! My brother has a friend here in Montana that makes birdhouses. He makes them all shapes and sizes and his wife paints some little flowers on the side. He sold them in the summer at two different Farmer's Markets and made over $90,000 in one summer. During the winter months, he makes more birdhouses. Unique things sell at Farmer's Markets, Flea Markets, and craft fairs. Wind chimes, creative wood craft items, metal work, pottery, etc.

Almost all offices have plants - some silk, some real. Plants get dusty and need a little trimming now and then. If you like working with plants, this is a great job. The investment is minimal. All you need is a couple of different kinds of plant sprays and polishers. There are products for cleaning silk plants, and products for cleaning real plants. You can probably get a little education at a plant nursery of what products to use on what plants. If you know how, you can include trimming and pruning in your service.

One summer, when I was about 14, my sister and I put an ad in our local paper. We sat down and made a list of all our skills, and then wrote an ad that went something like this:

Two ambitious, talented, hard-working, teenage girls looking for work. We will milk your cow, paint your fence, cut your hair, bake your bread, tend your animals, watch your house, mow your grass, weed your flowers, wash your car, sew or mend your clothes, tend your kids, water your lawn or just about anything else you need done. Please call Karen or Susan at...

The phone started ringing and the jobs poured in. There was a movie crew in town at the time and they ordered home made bread and hair cuts. My sister was older than me and she could cut hair and can sew like nobody's business. I was the bread baker. We both pretty much did the rest together. We milked cows and goats and took care of farms and houses while people went on vacation.  She got mending and sewing jobs and I babysat. We stayed very busy and made a lot of money that summer.

These are only a few ideas. Take inventory of your skills, interests, and resources, and capitalize on them. With a little creativity, you could bring in some nice extra cash, or maybe even a healthy income. Just think out of the box!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Be Still

"Be still, and know that I am God"

Psalm 46:10

I've always read this verse as two commands, given to us from God.
1. To be still
2. To know that He is God

But while studying the scriptures recently, I had the understanding that perhaps it is actually more a statement of "cause and effect".

We live in a frantic-paced world -- unique to any time in history. Media of all kinds competes for our constant attention. We have fast food, instant messaging, rapid trasit, and on-demand information and entertainment. With the touch of a button we can communicate instantly with the other side of the globe. We're offered every magic solution to lose weight now, get rich quick, and swallow this pill for an instant fix. Many of us hit the floor running in the morning and drop into bed exhausted at night. How can we come to know God?  It's difficult to feel peace at such a pace.

Yet God speaks to us in "a still small voice". (1 King's 19:12)  How can we hear a still, small voice through the commotion and attention demand of cell phones, TV's, computers, MP3 players, ear buds, texting, and twittering? Those things are not necessarily bad, if they are used wisely. Any one of them could be used destructively - or as a tool to do good. It can be a challenge to know when even "good" is no longer good because it takes the place of "better". With all that distraction, we can lose sight of the real purpose of our lives.

This life is a time to prepare to meet God. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to show us the way. He taught His gospel and set the perfect example, so we could know how He wanted us to live. But how can we focus on Him, and becoming like Him, when all these things of the world are consuming our time and attention?

We have to plan some time for "listening" to His voice. I hear myself say that my highest priority is to serve and obey God, and yet sometimes realize that I have planned and scheduled everything except time for Him. We "listen" to His voice when we study His words written by Holy prophets. We "listen" for His voice when we allow some quite time to ponder. I learn the most from the scriptures when I ponder, or sit and think about what I just read. The "whisperings" of the Spirit come to me when I am driving with the radio off, or walking through the woods, or stay on my knees for a little while after talking to Him - just "listening".

It seems so easy to fill our time with appointments, to-do-lists, meetings, and schedules. I have learned to schedule a set time to read, study, pray and ponder. And amazingly enough, when I do, the day seems less stressful and I feel more productive. The demands of daily life feel lighter, and I enjoy all that I accomplish, more than feel like a slave to it. A wise man named Neal A. Maxwell said, when we "plan some time for contemplation and renewal, we will feel drawn to our work instead of driven to it." Having had this experience, you would think that I would live this way every day! I don't. It's an on-going effort to discipline myself and not always give the "squeaky wheels" all the grease!

In all our talk about getting prepared for the events that may come in our lives, there is no greater perspective to keep focused on, or event to prepare for, than the return of our Savior and our reunion with God.

(Painting by Simon Dewey)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chocolate - A Necessary Storage Item!

Every preparedness pantry needs some "comfort food". Mine has chocolate. But not just any ole' cheap chocolate. Assuming I'm not the only one around here who enjoys chocolate, I thought some of you may appreciate a little-known chocolate fact that I learned, and why I believe it's actually a benefit to have some good chocolate in your storage! I'd like to say it's essential - but I won't go that far. :)

I have a cookbook called The Healthy Kitchen by Dr. Andrew Weil (M.D.) and Rosie Daley.  I have several of Dr. Weil's books. He is the author of 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, Spontaneous Healing, and many others. He's been a real pioneer in getting the Western Medicine world to merge somewhat with natural healing. In the cookbook, he shares some information about chocolate that I haven't heard or read anywhere else. I've followed his work for many years and trust what he says. He added this little note in on page 301:


Most people love chocolate; many are passionate about it. Some say dessert is either chocolate or something other than chocolate. But this food of the gods, enjoyed as a sacred drink by natives of ancient Mexico and Meso-America, has gotten a bad reputation in our times. Considered a "guilty pleasure," it has been demonized because of its fat content and is said to have no place in a good diet. Some health-food producers have even come up with a wretched imitation of it--carob--that they use to make "nutritious" fake chocolate candies, cakes, and cookies. In fact, chocolate not only beats carob hands down in both the taste and health categories, it has many attributes that recommend it for inclusion in an optimum diet.

Cocoa butter, the fat in chocolate, turns out not to be so bad. Although it is a saturated fat, the body turns it into monounsaturated fat, processing it like olive oil. Chocolate appears to be neutral, at worst, in regard to cardiovascular health and may actually lower serum cholesterol. In addition, chocolate has strong antioxidant activity, equivalent to that of red wine and green tea. It is a stimulant because it contains theobromine, a relative of caffeine, but for unknown reasons, it is also, for many people, a rapid-acting antidepressant.

The best form of chocolate from a health standpoint is high-quality, plain, dark chocolate. I say "high-quality" because cheaper brands contain less actual chocolate, often replacing expensive cocoa butter with unhealthful hydrogenated vegetable oils. The first ingredient on a bar of high-quality chocolate should be chocolate--usually indicated as "chocolate liquor," "cacao," or "cocoa." It should not be sugar. The brands I like best contain 70 percent cocoa. (Bitter baking chocolate is 100 percent cocoa; more than 80 percent is too bitter for most people to enjoy.)

I say "plain" because chocolate candies often contain butter and cream, sources of highly saturated animal fats, as well as other ingredients much less good for us than the natural constituents of cocoa beans. And I say "dark" because milk chocolate contains much less cocoa and more butterfat and sugar.

When I want a sweet, I usually go for a piece (or chunk) of high-quality dark chocolate, which I regard as a pleasure, but not one I need to feel guilty about. I often serve dark chocolate with fruit as a dessert (the recipe follows) and keep dark chocolate sorbet in the feezer. In moderation, these treats are not fattening, provide important nutrients, are perfectly fine for people following low-carbohydrate diets--and they certainly add to the pleasure of eating.

A recipe for Dark Chocolate With Fruit follows.  There you have it: theobromine - not caffeine. (Maybe it has both, he doesn't specifically say.) But that makes sense to me as to why chocolate often helps to calm - which caffeine doesn't do.

For my storage, I buy the large bars of dark chocolate, usually 70-something percent. And then to keep them fresh, about once a year I find it necessary to take them out of the storage room, eat them - slowly - and buy fresh chocolate for the storage! There are SO many great benefits to being prepared!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Survival Bread

Many years ago, at a Preparedness Fair, I picked up this recipe for Survival Bread. The recipe says that after it's made, it "will keep indefinitely". Hmmm... Made me think of Lembas bread - something the elves would make (for you Lord of the Rings fans). "One small bite will fill the belly of a grown man." Since I can't stand to waste, it didn't sound like anything I wanted to HAVE to consume on an otherwise perfectly good day, with soft yeast bread and an abundance of other good foods in the fridge. But this recipe keeps popping up in front of me, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and bake up a brick of Survival Bread today.

Here's the original recipe, just as I received it:

Survival Bread

2 cups oats
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 cup sugar 
3 Tbl honey
3 Tbl water
1 pkg. lemon or orange Jell-O (3oz)

Combine oats, powdered milk and sugar. In a medium pan, mix water, Jell-O and honey. Bring to a boil. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. (If the dough is too dry, add a small amount of water a teaspoon at a time.) Shape dough into a loaf. (About the size of a brick.) Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool. Wrap in aluminum foil to store. This bread will keep indefinitely and each loaf is the daily nutrients for one adult. 

 Well, the ingredients don't sound too bad, but that last line bothers me for some reason. Healthy food should deteriorate, shouldn't it? I have teenage boys and not much goes to waste around here, so I figured it was worth trying out. Even though the recipe doesn't specify, I used quick oats. As for the liquid, that little bit didn't even begin to cover it. It was so dry, I was still stirring mostly powder, so I ended up adding another 1/3 cup water plus more - almost 1/2 cup! It was very stiff, and very sticky. I wonder if I should have added less and got my hands in there and just packed it all together when it was still a lot drier. I don't know, but here's  the results:

It doesn't look so bad! AND - it actually tasted pretty good! It has a heavy powdered milk taste, which I'm not a big fan of, but with a little butter, or honey, or butter AND honey(!) I hardly noticed. I'm sure the recipe can be altered. Maybe less powdered milk and more oats? Unless it's formulated to an exact scientifically nutritional specification! :)  But I doubt it.

Has anyone else had any experience with survival bread? Or maybe if you have a different recipe you'd like to share, email it to me and I'll post it with your name. My email is naugafarm@gmail.com. I'm always looking for good recipes that are made from truly storage-type ingredients - things easy to store, and nothing out of the ordinary.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

After Rain

I just couldn't resist. It's so many shades of fluorescent green here in June. We've had a lot of rain lately and when it stopped yesterday evening there was an eerie glow about everything. I snapped a few shots in and around the yard. I hope you don't mind this little side trip!

This is a wild Sarvis Berry bush - sometimes called June Berries. They are scattered throughout our woods and I've got a couple at the edge of my yard. The berries are good to eat right off the tree, and make good jam, also. There will be lots of berries this year.  :)

Some garlic chives growing with the flowers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First 100 Items to Disappear During An Emergency

When the power went out surrounding the DC area, residents reported that store shelves were emptied within hours. Every time we have a big snow storm here, all the stores run out of shovels the first day. I always wonder how so many people could live in Northern Montana and not have a snow shovel, until after a blizzard has buried them. It happens every time. Wouldn't it be a good idea to buy a shovel in the spring when they are all on sale? Then it will be in the garage next winter, just waiting for the snow. This picture is of me and my friend from Brazil. She is experiencing, and shoveling, snow for the first time in her life!

What if any kind of emergency hits your city, town or neighborhood and you have to get out - maybe go to a relative's house. Do you have enough gas? Remember how many people sat in mile-long lines on the side of the road waiting to get some gas from the pumps, until they were empty? Those who kept a few 5-gallon
gas cans full in their garage were able to hit the road and make it to safety. It's pretty easy. Every few months you dump that gas in your car and refill the cans. The gas is always good and ready to get you where you need to go.

If you have candles, oil lamps or other emergency lighting, you won't be left in the dark if your power goes out. It's happened here many times. 9:00 at night and all of a sudden the house goes black. No panic - no problem. I feel my way to the closest matches (and I know right where they are), light one, go to the nearest candle or oil lamp and light it. We calmly carry on with whatever we're doing until the power returns. Picture the alternative: the baby is upstairs, you trip over unseen obstacles on the floor, you were in the middle of writing or cooking or bathing. It's frightening to children and very inconvenient, at the least. It's so easy to buy a few candles or lamps when they are in abundance and even on sale. We just HAVE to plan ahead!

So take a minute and ponder your possible scenarios - however unlikely. What will you be in need of if:
- your power goes out?
- your heat source is off?
- you have no phone?
- the city water is off, or your well pump can't operate?
- you can't get to a doctor?
- you can't get to a pharmacy to refill your prescription?
- you have to get out of town and need gas for the car?
- you need supplies for the baby?
- the store shelves are empty?
- you have pets to feed?
- a pandemic hits the area and the only safety is to stay in your home?
- looters are looking for unprotected food and provisions?
- you don't have a stove to cook on?
- you have to flee your home and camp out?
- the only food you will have is what you can grow?
- the water supply is contaminated?
- you need some wood to burn but have no way to cut up a tree, fence, boards, etc?
- you have a bicycle to ride for help, but the tire is flat?

Following is a list that was first assembled over 10 years ago by Joseph Almond (before Y2K). I don't know the criteria he used in deciding these items, but I'm sure it's a great resource for considering things that you may want to make sure you have. Since someone started circulating it on the Internet, some of you might have seen it there. Of course, the specifics will vary a little depending on the area, but it's a good list to go over as you plan how you will take care of yourself, your family, or others when an emergency hits. 

Top 100 Items to Disappear First During a National Emergency
1. Generators (Drawbacks: Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy...target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood can take 6 months to 2 years to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white & brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.)
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes...buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. ("Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans, Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. "Survival-in-a-Can"
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress's
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Livestock

Monday, May 31, 2010

In Honor of Veterans and Patriots

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
--- Joseph Campbell ---

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
--- John F. Kennedy ---

"...we remember today that all our gentle heroes of Vietnam have given us a lesson in something more: a lesson in living love. Yes, for all of them, those who came back and those who did not, their love for their families lives. Their love for their buddies on the battlefields and friends back home lives. Their love of their country lives."
--- Ronald Regan ---

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
--- Thomas Payne ---

"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.
--- John Quincy Adams ---

"A patriot without religion in my estimation is as great a paradox as an honest Man without the fear of God. Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will towards Men? Can he be a patriot who, by an openly vicious conduct, is undermining the very bonds of Society?....The Scriptures tell us "righteousness exalteth a Nation."
--- Abigail Adams ---

"Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world."
--- Daniel Webster ---

"The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them.
--- George Washington ---

"The said constitution shall never be construed to authorize congress to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."
--- Samuel Adams ---

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
--- Patrick Henry ---

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cooking - Tips and Substitutions

Have you ever gotten half-way through making a recipe, only to open the fridge to get an egg and discover that there are none? Ever needed some buttermilk and didn't have any? Or over-salted a pot of soup and are afraid you'll have to dump it out? Believe it or not, there are solutions to those problems! I love solutions. :-)  They can help you save time and money, save you in a crisis, and maybe relive a little stress. Here's a few tips and resources I keep on hand...

Egg Substitute - (for use in baking) Combine 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin with 3 Tbl of cold water and then another 2 Tbl plus 1 tsp of boiling water. This will take the place of one egg in recipes for cookies, cakes, etc.

Meat Substitutes and Extenders - You can use cooked wheat, cracked or whole, in spaghetti sauces, pizza, Sloppy Joes, soups, etc. You can also add it to your ground beef for meat loaf, taco filling or hamburger patties when you don't have quite enough. Whole grain wheat berries are about 15% protein, on the average. Wheat germ can also be added to recipes, and contains about 23% protein. Millet is another grain that is high in protein, like wheat, and can be used as a substitute or extender with meat recipes.We like cooked millet with milk and honey for a hot breakfast cereal.

Boiled Eggs - To keep the shells from cracking while boiling, add a dash of salt to the water before you start.

Tupperware Stains - Spray your Tupperware or other plastic containers with cooking oil before you put tomato sauces in them and they won't stain.

Over-Salted Soup - If you give your pot of soup the taste-test and find it's way over-salted, peel a potato and drop it in the soup raw. It will absorb salt into itself. Leave it in until you're left with just the right amount of flavor.

Stained Fingers - Speaking of potatoes - I'm told that rubbing a slice of raw potato on your fingers will usually take stains off them.

Sprouting Potatoes - When you have a large amount of potatoes in the cupboard that you know might start to sprout before you get them all eaten, put an apple in the bag with them. It will keep them from sprouting.

Buttermilk - Buttermilk isn't something I use very often, so every now and then when I get a hankerin' to make buttermilk pancakes or something, I don't usually have any. Well, I discovered you can make your own. 1 Tbl of vinegar or lemon juice added to enough milk to make 1 cup, let it stand for 5 minutes, and whalaa! You have buttermilk.

Powdered Sugar/Confectioners Sugar - Put 1 cup of sugar in the blender and blend it up. Commercial products usually have corn starch added. If you want to more closely imitate that taste and consistency, add 1 Tbl of corn starch to the sugar when blending.

"Dusting" the Cake Pan - I never liked that look of gooey white flour on the sides of my cake or brownies. That's easily remedied by dusting the cake pan with a little bit of the dry cake mix instead. Or, if you're making a chocolate cake or brownies, you can dust the pan with some cocoa powder.

Measuring Sticky Stuff - Run your measuring spoons or cups under hot water before measuring molasses, honey or syrups, and the sticky stuff will all come off clean. Or, coat them with oil first.

Separating Eggs - If you have trouble separating eggs, use a small funnel. Crack the egg into it - the white will run through and the yolk will stay in the funnel.

Maple Syrup - I don't buy imitation maple syrup because it's basically High Fructose Corn Syrup with flavoring. HFCS is REALLY not good for you. Real maple syrup is extremely expensive. When I can't spare the money to buy it, I buy Mapleine at the grocery store. It's a natural maple extract mixed with some of the usual not-so-natural things. The little 2 oz. bottle will make 24 pints of syrup and costs about $4. You make the syrup with boiling water, sugar, and the Mapleine. I wouldn't call it a healthy "food" but this is one of those times when I'm happy to use good ole' regular sugar, because it's much preferable to the alternative. It has a real good maple flavor, is very inexpensive to buy, and is a great storage item.(Hint - make small batches that will get used right away. It tends to "sugar" on the bottom of the jar as it sits in the fridge.)

Some of these tips I've used, and some I haven't yet. They're all taken from various sources of information I keep on hand for food storage, cooking and other things. One of my favorite sources is a book my mother gave me a couple years ago, called Jumbo Jack's Helpful Hints Almanac. It's only $4.99 on Amazon, and worth every penny! I hope some of these ideas can make your life a little easier.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Self-Reliant Health - Comfrey

Comfrey is one of the first herbs I ever used, and another one that I would highly recommend everyone keeping on hand. It is an amazing herb for healing wounds and injuries. It is known as a "cell proliferant". In other words, it promotes cell growth in the repair process. The Blackfoot Indians from this area refer to comfrey as "bone knit." It can be used topically as a poultice or in a healing salve - or "green" salve. Most "green" healing salves you buy will have comfrey as the main ingredient.

Comfrey Healing Salve
I've made my own healing salves over the years and always keep some "green salve" on hand. It is also easy to find in health stores and not very expensive. Comfrey is easy to grow and will spread if not kept under control. A couple of plants were added to my parent's garden area and left to grow freely, and now they have about 1/4 acre of fresh, organic comfrey!

In our home we use a comfrey salve on any cuts or open wounds. With 3 boys, we've had plenty of injuries over the years. If comfrey is kept on the wound until healing is complete, there is usually no scar left behind.

A friend of ours used a homemade comfrey salve on her son's finger when he accidentally cut the tip off. He had severed the entire pad on the end of one finger, leaving only the skin attached on one side. They laid the pad back on and covered the entire end of the finger with the salve and wrapped it up. It healed with no visible scar and complete feeling.

Comfrey Poultice
We've also had a lot of experience in our family using comfrey poultices. To make a poultice, you either blend the fresh comfrey plant in the blender, or use a dried comfrey powder. Both the plant and the roots are used for healing. You can mix other healing herbs with it, or use just the comfrey. Make a paste out of it by mixing it with Wheat Germ Oil or some other oil. Honey also has healing properties and can be added to the mixture.

On one occasion, a friend of ours who is a fiddle player dislocated his elbow in a biking accident. The elbow was moved completely out of it's socket and the ligaments pulled. Since it was the "bowing" (right) arm that was injured, the one that gets the most movement, the doctor told him he would not be able to play the fiddle for several months. We made a poultice with comfrey powder and Wheat Germ oil and covered his entire elbow with it. Plastic was laid over the comfrey mixture and then wrapped in flannel. Within 2 weeks he was playing again just fine.

My brother has used comfrey poultices with great success. When his daughter broke her wrist, they had it x-rayed and found she had a buckle fracture. He put a comfrey poultice over the fractured area, covered it with gauze and then loosely wrapped it with Saran Wrap so she could sleep without getting it on the bedding. The aching stopped and she had no more pain. The fracture had been completely healed when it was checked again at 5 weeks.

My aunt had a horse who was badly injured when a barn collapsed. A large hole was gouged in it's rump area. My brother made a poultice from comfrey, lobelia, plantain, dandelion root, carrot juice, honey and Wheat Germ oil. He harvested all the herbs fresh except for the lobelia, which he had some dried plant on hand that he had bought. He blended it all together in the blender, and they packed the hole, which was big enough to put your fist into, with the mixture. Puss oozed out when they packed it in. They covered it with gauze and taped it in place. After a few weeks it was completely healed. Even the hair grew back completely and in it's natural color. Often, with horses, if the hair regrows over a wound, it will grow back white, without the normal pigment.

When my aunt took her horse to the veterinarian initially, she was told that it should be put down (killed) because it would not be able to heal well enough to ever function normally. Well, since her horses are like her kids, she took him home and called my brother. A few weeks later, she took the horse back to the vet who was shocked. He had never seen anything heal like that and wanted to know what she had done. She just told him that her nephew had "filled it with some weeds"!

Another horse was badly injured on his front shoulder. We think he'd been chased by a mountain lion since another horse with him had claw marks down his rump. The horse ran into a fence or the end of a log or something that tore a large hole, almost the size of a dinner plate, and a couple inches deep. Like the first horse, the wound was packed full of a very similar mixture. Within a few weeks, new flesh had grown in to fill the hole, natural brown colored hair grew back over the area, and there was almost no scar. She also fed the horse 2 to 5 lbs of carrots a day to help in the healing process.

You can also take comfrey internally, but like all substances, it's wise to only use what your body needs. If you don't have an injury for your body to use it on, I would not recommend consuming it. If comfrey is growing around livestock, they will only eat it when they are wounded. We can learn a lot about how to heal ourselves, by observing what animals do naturally.

So put on your list to make a quick stop at a health food store and pick up some comfrey powder. Then you'll have it, and the next time you or someone else is injured, mix a little comfrey with some honey or oil and try it out. If you really want to be self-sufficient, get a few comfrey starts and grow your own. You can have enough to help a lot of people in a crisis. And without spending hardly anything!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Photos of the Flathead

This amazing view is in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. This 1,000 foot high outcropping is known as "The Chinese Wall". It's virtually unbroken for about 20 miles. Only a lucky few get to see it, and even less ever stand on top of it, because it's a few days hike in from any roads. My husband and sons took this picture while on a week-long 50 mile hike (turned out to be 64!) with their Boy Scout troop. Those little green dots at the bottom are huge trees.

Since you all liked the photos so well, I thought I'd just give a few quick links to some more. Our valley is unique. Other than the old-timers who were already here, it has attracted several specific groups of people: celebrities, retired seniors, families wanting to get their kids out of the cities to a place where there is very little crime, and "survivalists" or preparedness minded folks. My family has been here for about 75 years, so I guess I fall into the "old-timers" category. Oh, and don't forget around 2,000,000 visitors each year - but they aren't permanent. There are still only around 80,000 residents in the entire valley, which encompasses 5 small towns, Kalispell being the main one. Like so many other names around here, "Flathead" and "Kalispell" are both named after native Indian tribes.

This Bighorn came to get a closer look. My sister took this picture in Glacier Park.

Here are a few links with more info and pictures:

Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort - If you look at the archive photos, there are many of the surrounding mountains and valley, from a bird's eye view! Click on "Shot of the Day" and then "View More". Or click on the "Photography" link at the top of the home page for more photos.

Flathead Beacon - A small local publication. Click on the link to "Montana Photo Gallery" on the right.

Google images for Glacier National Park - or change the search to "Flathead Lake" or "Flathead valley". The park is only 30 miles away. I used to work there when I was younger.


In Repair

Hi! I haven't skipped the country! I have just been unable to upload photos to my post. Hmmm... Working on it with blogger. It sounds like I'm not the only one having this problem. Hopefully, we'll be back up and running soon! And I hope you are all having a great week!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Beautiful Montana Weather!

After showing you all what winter can be like here, it seems only fair to give you a little glimpse of some other weather! This valley is a resort destination. For being so far north (about 60 miles from Canada), and inland, it has exceptionally mild weather. The elevation is low, the mountains around it are high, and Flathead Lake is so large that it creates a thermal effect. Huge cherry crops are shipped out of this valley every summer.

The rainbows in the picture above are in front of a "wall" of weather rolling in. That "wall" is hiding a tall mountain range behind it. This evening photo was taken from Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort (Used to be Big Mountain).

Flathead Lake is one of the crowning jewels of the area. It's the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi at 26 miles long. The next 3 are all of Flathead Lake. I only have a point-and-shoot, so if you want to see endless professional quality photos of this area, google the Flathead Valley, Glacier National Park, Montana, or Kalispell, Whitefish or Bigfork Photo studios. It really is a photographer's dream destination (Did you hear that Nikon Sniper Steve? :)).

I love this little barn. I just snapped this shot a few weeks ago and the grass wasn't green yet. The lake is long, and this picture is looking across it from side to side with one of it's many islands in the background. With over 2000 bodies of water - lakes, rivers and streams - we live in a sportsman's paradise, and a vacationer's dream!

My little Cub Scout.

Crazy boys at the lake.

A late summer hay cutting.

After a forest fire. This is an 8 year-old burn. Most of the black has been washed off the trees by weather.

This is the same view from my deck that was in the Crazy Weather post with my husband and son shoveling snow.

My summertime yard, with fire pit.

The yard again, and woodshed when it's empty.

Me, on a bike ride with my son to Cliff Lake.


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