Thursday, February 25, 2010

Assembling a First Aid Kit

We probably all have at least a box of bandaids, maybe a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide or a tube of Neosporin and a few other basics in the house somewhere, but if you don't have a really good First Aid kit, I would encourage you to buy or assemble one for your home and one to carry in each vehicle.

The contents of your first aid kit should reflect the needs of your family, personal needs or the possible needs of the situation it would be used in. I would have some different items in a kit I carry into the back country than I would have in a kit I keep in a boat. In our family, we have a home kit, a smaller kit in each vehicle, and since my boys and husband spend a lot of time in the mountains with the scouting program, they all have small kits tailored to backpacking needs.

In our car, we have a pre-assembled kit we purchased in a plastic first aid box. The other I assembled myself and put in an over-sized fanny pack. I keep it under the seat of the pickup since that is the vehicle we would most likely be in when we're off the beaten path - camping, cutting wood, driving to trail heads, etc. I can grab the pack and put it on to carry with me if I need to.

Our home kit is kept in a big, plastic tool box I purchased inexpensively at Walmart, similar to the one in the picture. We also have plenty of extra supplies in the storage room. Remember to think of all possible needs, and the ability to help others outside of your family when selecting your kit or items.

Suggested First Aid Checklist

  • Soap
  • Germ killing cleanser
  • Antiseptic prep pads
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Calamine lotion
  • Anti-fungal cream
  • Minor burn preparation
  • Skin care items
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Colloidal Silver
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Laxative
  • Antacid
  • Anti-diarrhea agent
  • Anti-vomiting agent
  • Adhesive bandages, assorted sizes
  • Rolled gauze
  • Sterile gauze pads (4"x4" and other sizes)
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tapes
  • Elastic bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • Cold/hot compress
  • Butterfly bandages
  • "Steri-strips"
  • Sutures
  • Antihistamine
  • Decongestant
  • Mentholatum drops, oil or rub
  • Emetic - syrup of ipecac
  • Activated charcoal
  • Baking Soda (has drawing action)
  • Buffered Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Gargle and/or throat lozenges
  • Toothache remedies (Eugenol, Anbesol)
  • Ear drops
  • Eye drops
  • Eye wash
  • First aid reference booklet
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Pocket knife
  • Razor blades
  • Cotton or alcohol wipes
  • Thermometer
  • Needle and thread
  • Safety pins
  • Matches
  • Medicine dropper
  • Ziplock bags
  • Latex gloves
  • Dust masks
  • Prescription medication (stay one prescription ahead and rotate)
  • Eyeglasses
  • Contact lens supplies
  • Insulin and diabetic supplies
  • Children's medications
  • Rectal Thermometer or Forehead strip for infants
  • Inhaler
  • Allergy medications
This is a list of "traditional" medical supplies. If you are like me, and use things like herbs, essential oils, homeopathics, etc., you will want to tailor your kit to the things you trust and know how to use.

Ideally, we'll know how to proficiently use every item in our kit! But that isn't always the case. It's important that we continually learn all we can about how to deal with health and first aid issues, but in the meantime, it's far better to have the supplies than not. In an emergency, we'll at least have something to work with, or very often someone else may know what to do, even if we don't.

Remember: It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stock Up Without Paying More!

Snow at the Whitehouse! When the power went out in freezing temperatures and store shelves emptied in a few hours, many more people than before realized the need to stock up for emergencies. Freezing temperatures, ice and snow is ruining much of our country's commercial crop. While it's blizzarding in the north, it's freezing in the south, and flooding in between!

We're hearing a lot of warnings to stock up on food, and most people I know are doing it! So, what if you're feeling that sense of urgency but just can't scrape up an extra dollar to do it with? Don't despair! By shopping a little bit differently, you can spend the same amount you usually do, and still fill your pantry at the same time!

Let's use canned peaches for an example: A regular can of peaches will cost between about $.79 and $1.50 - maybe less, maybe more - depending on exact size, brand, the store you purchase it from, etc. A #10 can of peaches at Costco costs about 3 1/2 dollars. It's a 106 oz. can. That's the equivalent of just over 7 of the regular 15 oz. cans, which comes out to about $.50 per 15 ounces. It's pretty darn hard to find a 15 oz. can of peaches for 50 cents! Unless your local grocer is having a whopping case lot sale.

So here's how you do it: The next time you go shopping, you by-pass the 2 cans of green beans for dinner, and put that cost towards one #10 can of peaches. The next time, you cut back on something else, and instead buy a #10 or two of green beans. Each time you shop, for-go a few non-essentials and instead, get a 20 lb. bag of rice (no more little boxes!), or a 10 lb. bag of beans or dry soup mix. Even if all you can do is one or two items each time you shop, it really will add up fast! Buying in bulk gets you a whole lot more for your money. You can apply this principle to just about any food item.

Hopefully you have access to a warehouse style store. If not, even grocery stores sometimes carry a few bulk items. And if all else fails, there is always the internet. Because of shipping costs, it's a better value to shop on line when you have larger orders. Get some neighbors, friends or relatives to add to an order and you can all benefit together, and help each other out at the same time.

You can find most all the wet-pack items in #10 cans - peaches, pears, pineapple, apple sauce, peas, beans, carrots, beets, corn - and a whole lot more. Warehouse or wholesale stores sell all the major cooking items in bulk for restaurants. You can get #10 cans of tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, pickles, olives, mayo, other spreads and condiments, kidney and other legume beans, cheese sauce, chili, soups, etc. Dry-pack items also come in #10 cans, as well as other packaging.

Instead of buying one small bottle of cooking oil at a time, cut enough items out of your regular list one day to buy a 5 quart jug of oil instead. Then use that to keep refilling a small bottle that you keep in the kitchen.

I buy almost all my staple ingredients in bulk. Things like powdered milk, popcorn (50 lb. bags), honey, oats, rice, wheat, millet, black beans, kidney and other beans, lentils, split peas, pasta, sugar, flour, cracked cereals, corn meal, and dry soup mixes. I usually grind fresh flour for cooking and baking, but I also keep some flour for times when the power is out or I specifically need some white flour for a recipe. (I also have a small hand-crank grinder.)

This really is easy to do! I can make a meal for a fraction of what it would cost to buy all the same ingredients in smaller, one-meal sized portions. Buy the largest sized bag of frozen vegetables you can find. Then, while you are using that a little at a time for your meals, use the saved cost towards another item on the next trip to the store. Think BIG! Stocking up really is do-able!

If you live alone or have a small family, buying #10 canned items of wet-pack may be a little less convenient for you. I buy both, and maybe you'll want to do the same. If you are single, or a couple, maybe the #10 cans can come in handy when the kids come to visit with all the grandkids. Also, you can open a big can, use what you need, and put the rest in the freezer in single-serving containers. My mom will often buy a large bag or bucket of something and then split it with my sisters and I, and we've all done the same. It won't save you any money if the food ends up going to waste, so plan ahead so it fits into meals, freeze it, or do whatever else works for your situation. Just be sure and put a little peace of mind in your pantry!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Bridge Builder

Self-Reliance is Responsibility. When we are able to take care of ourselves, we don't add a burden to others. We are also able to help others when they are in need. I think this poem says it well:

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

We really do have a responsibility to our fellow-man, neighbors and strangers. My mother taught us that we should leave every place we've been, better than we found it, and every person we've encountered, better than before we encountered them. Think what our world would be like if that were everyone's desire.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Candy Bars

I've had a sweet tooth since the holidays! I just can't seem to get rid of it, so I'm trying to at least satisfy it with something healthy. Being healthy, strong and fit is an important aspect to being self-reliant.

Last night my brother was telling me how he makes "candy bars". They are a great energy bar to take along when you are going somewhere - hiking, to work, or just an afternoon in town when you know you'll need a snack. So I thought I'd make some today.

The way I cook, recipes are more like "guidelines"! In other words, I seldom follow them exactly. The Cream of Potato Soup recipe I posted usually ends up having carrots in it one time, maybe some Curry in it another, almost always onions, and a variety of seasonings. The candy bars are no exception. There are so many really good things you could put in them, and I think half the fun is being experimental with whatever you like, and have on hand at the time. Here's a very basic idea of what to start with:

Candy Bars

2 cups Peanut Butter, Creamy or Chunky
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup honey and/or light corn syrup

Now the fun part! Add in whatever suits your fancy: Coconut, granola, chocolate chips, Rice Krispies or other cereal, Wheat Germ, protein powder, dry instant or quick oats, nuts, raisins, pretzel pieces, dried fruits, cocoa powder, M&M's...

Adjust the powdered milk and the sweetener to make the mix wet enough to stick together but as firm as possible. I mixed the initial part with a spoon and then dug in with my hands. It was much easier because it was so stiff.

I pressed the mix into a shallow pan, melted chocolate chips and then spread them on top. Then I set it in the freezer for about 15 minutes, until the chocolate was hardened, and cut it into bars. Or, you can shape bars individually and then dip them in chocolate, or leave them plain. I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and am keeping them in the fridge. Because of the Peanut Butter, they are oily, so if you pack them to take along somewhere, remember to include a napkin or paper towel. My boys really liked them!

A Fun Cooking Blog

If you like home recipes, kitchen tips and cooking ideas, I just discovered a great blog today that I'd like to pass along to the rest of you. It's called Made With Love. I've already tried one of her recipes and used her tip on keeping Cilantro fresh in the fridge. I just happen to have a "bunch" on hand and it often goes bad before you can use it all. She has a lot of great stuff on there. It's well worth a peek, and I like to support other great blogs I come across. So many of you have been so supportive of me. Thanks! And Happy Blogging!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Recycle Clothes - Big to Little!

Here's a really fun project for those of you who like to sew, and you don't even have to be very good! I don't consider myself a great seamstress. I just make things up as I go. But I figured out how to make professional quality clothing for children, and it cost me little or nothing. Kids clothes are pretty inexpensive these days at Walmart, but what will we do when there is no Walmart in operation, or any other store? We'll recycle, of course! Besides, this is more fun.

This picture is of Nathan, and he's adorable! He's a teenager now, but he's still adorable! He's wearing a recycled adult's shirt that used to be a women's medium. I don't own a serger and have never attempted to add ribbed cuffs and collars to anything. If you don't know already - a serger is a sewing machine that does a special v-shaped stitch that overcasts the raw edges of material so it won't fray or unravel. They are especially used on stretch knit fabrics because it allows the fabric to still expand. If you look at the hems on your store-bought clothes, you will see serger stitches. My machine just sews a straight stitch.

When you remodel big clothes, the fancy stitching, collars, ribbing, buttons and cuffs are already done for you. You just cut everything down in size, reattach the smaller sleeves, and hem it up. I'll show you how I made both shirts and pants, all from discarded adult shirts. It's fast, easy, very inexpensive, and still has that store-bought factory look.

Nathan's pajamas, in this picture, are entirely recycled. I used a blue thermal top and a pair of white thermal bottoms. His top was made from cutting the original blue top down, and then attaching the legs of the white bottoms, for sleeves. The bottoms are made from the long sleeves of the original top. So in reality, he has legs on his arms, and sleeves on his legs! Then I added some of the white bottoms to the knees to tie the outfit together, and to extend the life of the knees.

Here's how I made the shirts: First of all, if it's a collared top with buttons, the neck has to be small enough. Some polo style shirts have large necks and some are surprisingly small. Children's heads are not a lot smaller than adult's, so the smaller ones work well. In the picture of the pink shirt below, I put the part I cut off the bottom of the shirt, under it so you can see how big the original shirt was. It was originally a men's medium.

You basically just cut out a rectangle around the neck, and then attach sleeves to it. On the red shirt, I marked the sleeve with chalk to show you about how I would cut the sleeve down. Then you just sew it shut under the arm, and attach it to the body. The size will vary, of course, depending on what size shirt you are making. This pink shirt would fit a 2 year old, approximately.

This little IZOD began as a men's large. If the shirt has an insignia on it, it may end up too low or too close to the side. In the pink shirt above, you can see how low the insignia is, but I never bothered to move them. I thought they looked OK.

Next is a pair of pants I made from shirt sleeves with cuffs. The button went on the back of the legs. (One button fell off and I didn't have a matching one at the time to replace it.) When I was uptown with one of my boys and they were wearing these, people would stop me to ask where I got the darling pants! If you aren't sure how to cut them to fit, just take another pair of little pants and lay them out over the sleeve to cut around as a pattern. That way, you'll be sure and have the right shape to allow for extra room in the crotch and the extra depth in the back of the seat. Allow enough additional material for the seams and to fold over the elastic you are going to use in the waist.


Here's the very big shirt I took the sleeves from. It has an exceptionally small neck for such a large shirt, but I didn't use it because of that big pocket on the front. If the material isn't faded, you can remove pockets like that, or just cut right over them as if they weren't there and have a pocket on the bottom of the little shirt. Be creative. They don't have to be cookie-cutter clothing and can really turn out cute. The other one is another shirt I made from a men's medium.

Here's another shot of the shirt in the first picture, and my little model with his farmer bibs on.

And a white one... This was originally a men's small, yet the neck is bigger than most of the others. It was a little bigger than I like, but worked OK.

This next one is a complete outfit I made from one shirt. It's a little bigger than some of the others - like for a 3 to 5 year old. The only thing I added was the navy blue on the top of the pants. The sleeves on this shirt were 3/4 length and they weren't quite long enough, so when I cut out the pant legs, I used the entire sleeve and part of the body of the shirt, attached to each other just the way they were. I just cut right over the seam between the sleeve and body as if it wasn't there. I used all of the material, right up to where I had cut out the square for the top. There still wasn't quite enough material to make the seat deep enough, so I added the navy blue for the waist band in the front, and a little extra in the back. I think it actually added to the look. (Click to see the detail.)

The sleeves on the shirt above were taken from extra material along the bottom of the original shirt, so they have the nice serged stitching on them. The one below is from a men's flannel shirt. Again, the buttons are on the back of the pant legs.

This blue outfit came from one shirt. I did the sleeves differently. I just cut the whole shirt and sleeves out in one piece. The shirt sleeves were wider than I needed for the pant legs, so I cut a strip off going down the arm and narrowed them. The original shirt was quite large.

On this white outfit on the left, I also cut the sleeves and body as all one piece, and of course, used the shirt sleeves for the pant legs. The green patch on the leg was originally on the front of the shirt, just below where I cut it off. I handkerchief hemmed around it and put it on the pant leg to make a matching design.

The soft, baggy sweatshirt on the right made a nice comfy pair of play pants. I took the insignia patch off the shirt and put it on the pant leg. They were just old shirts we had and didn't need and made nice play clothes.

Here's another outfit made from one shirt. The shirt had a design down one arm that matched the design on the body of the shirt, so it made a nice matching pair to have the same design on both the pant leg and the top. After going through 3 little boys, some of them are quite worn!

And finally, here are a couple of warm pants I made. The white ones were from the sleeves of a very thick, heavy sweatshirt. The navy ones are from a pair of knit leg warmers. I just cut them open part way down one side and joined them together. They stretch well enough to fit and made very warm leggings for cold winter days.

These clothes are so simple and quick to make. Most of them were from shirts of ours that we didn't wear or that I got from other people. I went to a thrift store once to look for shirts that might make nice little-people clothes. I got some of the polo shirts there - I picked out the ones with smaller necks - and paid a dollar or two for most of them. Times are tough enough for most of us, that dressing your children for next-to-nothing is a big plus. If you have multiple children that can all take turns wearing the same things, you've really saved big! I know from experience, kids can go through clothes pretty quickly, with knees that wear out, stains that don't come out, and children that grow out!

If you have time, and want to have fun with a little creativity, now is a good time to experiment with things like this. Waiting until we HAVE to rely on our resourcefulness to learn new skills, will just add to the stress of whatever the situation is already. So, happy sewing!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Morning Inspiration

I want to live in such a way that when I get up in the morning, Satan will cry, "OH NO! SHE'S AWAKE!"

This inspiring thought is taped to our bathroom mirror! It's our reminder and motivation for the day.
(Photo from Google Images)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cream of Potato Soup

Potato Soup
I love homemade soups! Especially in the winter time. When the snow has blanketed everything outside, a nice pot of soup is the perfect thing for inside. Most of them are simple and quick to create. Start with a pot of hot water, and add vegetables and seasonings. It's pretty hard to go wrong. Most of the time, I just combine whatever sounds good to me that day. I might add some beans and spice it up a little, or make a broth with noodles, chicken and peas.

Although I most often concoct my own creation, I do have some recipes that are favorites. Cream of Potato has always been on the top of that list. This is a recipe a friend gave me many years ago and I have been making it ever since:

Cream of Potato Soup

5-8 medium sized potatoes
1 onion
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 cube butter


Ham or Bacon
Green onions or Chives

Peel the potatoes and cut them into small cubes. Chop the onion. Boil those two until tender and then pour out the water until they are only half covered. Add the evaporated milk, butter, and the seasonings you like. I like seasoned salt and sometimes a little garlic powder. I always add some parsley, too. I think any good soup should have little green things in it!

If I have ham or bacon available, I fry them up first and then add them in while it's all cooking together. The same with the green onions or chives.

Let it simmer another 15 minutes or so on low, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick on the bottom and scorch. It will thicken.

It's really good with some grated cheese sprinkled on top of your bowl.

Making homemade soup is a very inexpensive and healthy alternative to ready-made meals. Convenience foods usually have an abundance of harmful food additives. You get to pay extra for those! And for the packaging. I love fresh garden veggies in soup, and I like to freeze some of them for soup through the winter.

When I make Cream of Potato soup, I always make enough to fill the biggest pot I have. This soup is actually better the second day, so make lots and enjoy it at least twice!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Following the Ants

We have 2 of the biggest ant hills I have seen around here, on the hillside behind our house. They are each about 2 feet tall and getting bigger every year. This picture is of one of them. (Click on it to see the detail.) They fascinate me, and I sometimes go out in the summer and sit for a while watching what goes on there. One little black ant will struggle for hours just to carry one tiny twig to the top of the hill. They are completely focused on their work and are deterred by nothing. I protect their little masterpieces. When my boys' friends come to visit, I tell them "Don't you dare touch my ant hills!"

I remember my mother reading to me the story of the ants and the grasshopper. As badly as I always felt for the grasshopper, I completely understood how he had chosen his plight. It made an impression on me. Here is a thought taken from The Book of Virtues:

The ant, like the bee, has long been held up as a paradigm of industriousness. As Proverbs 6:6-8 in the Bible says, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest."

They have no taskmaster, no President, no laws and police force. They just simply do what needs to be done, and they are prepared. Nature is a beautiful teacher. I hope we can all be just like the ants when we grow up!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Food For Health - Garlic

Garlic is known as nature's antibiotic. Called "King of the Vegetable Kingdom" by Paavo Airola, a leading authority on biological medicine, it is one of the most versatile foods known to man. It is a nourishing food, a pungent seasoning and a natural medicine.

Garlic contains Allicin, which is a natural antibiotic. 1 milligram of Allicin has a potency equal to 15 standard units of Penicillin. The healing properties of Allicin are released when the garlic is "bruised" - crushed, chopped, mashed or chewed. Allicin is also responsible for the strong odor, which is why a garlic clove has little detectible odor until it is cut into.

I think it would be difficult to make an exhaustive list of all the healing benefits of garlic. But here are some of the ways garlic can be used as a beneficial, effective and healthy healer:
  • Effictive against toxic bacteria, viruses and fungus.
  • A known protectant against cancer and has been used to rid bodies of tumors and other types of cancers as early as 500 A.D. Contains more germanium, an anti-cancer agent, than any other herb.
  • Effective in treating arthritis
  • Improves circulation and stimulates the immune system
  • Inhibits the parasitic fungus associated with AIDS
  • Used to treat respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis and lung problems
  • Fights Candida, Influenza, Common Colds, Heart Disease, Breast Cancer, Liver Diseases, and Infections
  • Used in enemas and colonics to strengthen the colon and expell worms and other intestinal parasites
  • Helps to control blood disorders
  • Expels Phlegm from the respiratory tract, bowels and other parts of the body
  • Stimulates the Lymphatic system to throw off waste
  • Helps to control fevers
  • Strengthens blood vessels
  • Powerful detoxifier against pollutants and heavy metal toxicity
  • Used as a cough remedy for centuries
  • Externally used as a drawing poultice
  • Used to wash wounds and ulcers
  • Has a positive nourishing effect on stomach, spleen, lungs, heart
  • Has a rejuvenating effect on all cells of the body
  • Builds endurance and energy
  • Provides defense against allergens
  • Equalizes blood pressure - high or low
  • Repels mosquitoes
There's not many ailments that garlic has not been found to have a positive effect on! We have used it a lot over the years to kill the infection that causes a sore throat, stop fevers, fight off a cold or flu, kill external infections and to ward off sicknesses that everyone around us was getting. In my post on fevers, I told how I used it to immediately break a fever in my kids when they were infants or toddlers.

The biggest deterrent for many people to using garlic, is the odor. Mainly the "garlic breath". You will only get garlic breath if the garlic mixes with your saliva. Since the wonderful healing properties of Allicin, along with it's smell, is only released when the garlic is "bruised", I take part of a garlic clove and chop it into tiny pieces on a spoon with the tip of a knife. Then swallow that down with a mouthful of water without chewing it or letting it mix with your saliva. That way you get all the healing benefits of the garlic without the garlic breath!

Fortunately, I like garlic. When I was younger I would often be found with a clove of it in my cheek. There are several fresh springs that bubble up out of the ground near my parents' house where I grew up. This created some very wet marsh-like areas where the mosquitoes often bred prolifically during certain times of the year. When I went to the barn to milk the goats in the evening, the warmth of the bodies and the milk would attract them. If the goat sensed a mosquito buzzing around her bag, she'd kick at it with her hoof. Sometimes, if I wasn't fast enough, she'd catch the edge of the milk bucket and the milk would end up on the barn floor. Grampa told me to hang garlic in the barn to keep the mosquitoes away, but it didn't seem to have any effect just hanging there, odorless, in it's papery skin. So one night I stuck a clove in my mouth and just bit it lightly enough to release some of the juice inside. When the mosquitoes started buzzing over the warm milk bucket, I'd give them a good puff of garlic breath. To my delight, they buzzed around like little crippled helicopters and fell to the barn floor! At first I thought I killed them, but after several minutes they'd start to buzz in the dust and revive. If they came back, I'd give them another puff!

I never tried my "killer breath" on anything - or anyone - else, and really wasn't interested in boys yet, but I had a good time knocking out mosquitoes while I milked and never lost any more milk on the barn floor. To keep mosquitoes from biting you, just rub a little garlic oil on your skin. You won't be bothered - probably by anyone!

Garlic is easy to grow and is a smart addition to your garden. It deters insects from invading the plants around it. You can grow it in a window box or planter in your house or apartment. Let an occasional plant go to seed so you can continue to grow more. You'll have not only fresh garlic to add to delicious recipes, but also some of nature's best medicine right at your fingertips. What a great way to add to your self-reliance!


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