Friday, June 25, 2010
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.
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
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:
IDEA #1 - CLEANING
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.
IDEA #2 - RESELLING
IDEA #3 - HAULING
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.
IDEA #4 - CONSTRUCTION CLEAN-UP
IDEA #5 - SELL A HANDMADE ITEM
IDEA #6 - OFFICE PLANT CARE
IDEA #7 - BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR SKILLS
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, and know that I am God"
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
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
Here's the original recipe, just as I received it:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
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)
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. , 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 in every room)
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. (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
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. , (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 & (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)
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
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