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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter Weather Advisory



527 PM EST SAT DEC 5 2009








PLEASE www.emergencyemail.org.YOUR LOCAL MEDIA.OR

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Power Outage Priorities & Tips

Power Outage Priorities & Tips

Power outages can happen at any time to anyone in any place. Extended power outages can be scary and dangerous if you are not prepared, especially in times of extreme cold or heat, but if you are prepared before hand and know what your priorities are, the danger can be eliminated and the time even enjoyed. After all, if the power is out, you can stay home with your family and spend some quality time together. Below are the top three priorities and some tips to help you and your family be safe, secure, and comfortable when the power goes out.

#1: Protect Yourself & Family
The first thing you need to worry about in a power outage is the safety and health of yourself, your family, and any other individuals in your home or neighborhood. Here are some tips for keeping you and your family safe:

If there are damaged power lines in your vicinity, DO NOT go near them, call your utility company or 9-1-1 immediately.

Check on any friends or neighbors that may require electrically powered medical devices and make sure they are OK.

If you have to drive somewhere, be careful. Remember that traffic lights could be inoperable and cause accidents or delays.

If it is dark, be careful. Minimize movement in the dark. Most injuries during power outages occur when people are rummaging around in the dark for something. Hold still and wait for your eyes to adjust, and then get what you need. Keep a dynamo flashlight in an easy to access place, so you don't have to search around for flashlights and batteries.

Warmth & shelter is your number one priority in any emergency. If it is cold outside, put some warm clothes on. Close all doors and windows to maintain a safe temperature inside. Take a hot shower to increase your body temperature if you get too cold, but use hot water sparingly. Most water heaters are insulated and can keep water warm up to three days. If it is hot outside, keep your windows and doors closed until it gets hotter inside than it is outside, then open the windows to increase air circulation.

Generate your own power. Gasoline, solar, or wind generators can be extremely useful during power outages. These devices can be used to power safe electrical heaters or coolers, used to power your refrigerator or freezer, and even for communication devices. There are many options that don't require a significant investment. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are especially useful because fuel supply for gasoline generators can be scarce in times of emergency and it is not feasible or sometimes not even legal to store large amounts of fuel to run generators for extended periods of time.

Don't poison yourself with carbon monoxide. Don't use combustion fume producing devices inside your home without proper ventilation. Things like small gasoline engines, generators, lanterns, gas ranges or ovens, burning charcoal and wood, charcoal grills, hibachis, lanterns, or portable camping stoves can produce potentially deadly carbon monoxide gases. Prepare yourself before hand with carbon monoxide detectors in your home and a safe way to heat or cool your home in the event of a power outage.

Make sure your water is safe. Power outages can also disable local water treatment and could cause your drinking water to be unsafe. Prepare yourself before hand with bottled water, a water filter or purifier, or a way to chemically treat your own water. Our MIOX water purifier makes the same technology many municipal water treatment centers use available to you and your family in cases of emergency.

Make a plan to communicate with or locate your family members that might not be home. Have a standard corded phone available to use. Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Cell phones will usually work, but local towers may be without power or necessary communication lines may have been damaged as well. Your cell phone battery might be dead or low, so prepare yourself with a dynamo cell phone charger.

If the power outage was caused by an electrical storm, don't use corded phones unless you absolutely need to. Lightning has been known to strike and travel along phone lines injuring persons using corded phones.

Know where your switch box, fuse box, or breaker box is located. Know how to reset the circuit breaker or safely change a fuse, and keep proper spares on hand.

#2: Protect Your Food Supply
After you and your loved ones are safe, the next thing you need to worry about is your food. If the power outage lasts for an extended period of time, you will need to keep any perishable food from going bad, and know when food is not safe to eat. Here are some tips to keep your food edible and know when not to eat it:

Prepare yourself with an emergency stove to heat water and cook your food without electricity.

Keep a supply of shelf-stable food such as freeze-dried food or dehydrated food to use if your perishable food runs out before the power returns. These foods, especially freeze-dried food, will require little or no preparation or cooking to eat and will stay safe without refrigeration.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. If the power is out for 2 hours or less, the food in your refrigerator is fine. If it is out for more than two hours, then remember that food in a half-full freezer will be safe for 24 hours, and food in a full freezer will be safe for 48 hours. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of food before you eat or cook it. If it is more than 40 degrees, then it is possibly not safe to eat.

Use the ice from your freezer and a cooler or thermos to pack any milk, dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable food. This will keep it safe longer than in your refrigerator. If you don't have enough space in your freezer or ice-packed thermos, eat the food that will spoil first.

#3: Protect Your Belongings
Power outages are most often caused by electrical storms or other storms causing damage to the power transmission lines. Continuing electrical storm activity or surges in the grid when power is restored can cause damage to electrical devices. Here are some tips to prevent damage and the need for costly repairs.

Make sure all of your electrical devices including kitchen appliances, computers, stereos, clocks, televisions and dvd players, modems, wireless routers, and phones are plugged into a surge protector before a power outage occurs. This includes communication lines such as phone lines and internet cables as well. Power surges can travel through these lines and irreparably damage devices. Power surges will most likely occur when the power goes out, so these surge protectors should protect you from damage.

Power surges can occur when the power comes back on as well, so it is wise to unplug all electrical and communication cables from devices until the power comes back on, especially those not connected to a surge protector.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Liberal, Libertarian Economists to Debate Merits of Stimulus Package

I thought some of you might find this interesting.

** Start: 10/05/2009 - 4:00pm

** Description:

Was the $787 billion federal stimulus package an enlightened act of
government intervention that averted economic catastrophe or a colossal
waste of taxpayer money that has done more harm than good?

That provocative question will be the subject of the latest installment in
UVM's Janus Forum, a popular debate series now in its second year that
matches prominent thinkers with opposing views on important social issues.

The debate, titled "$787 Billion: Stimulus or Sedative," will take place
Monday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. in the Davis Center's Grand Maple Ballroom. The
approximately 60-minute debate, which is free and open to the public, will
be followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer period.

Arguing for the benefits of the stimulus will be Justin Wolfers, associate
professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School at the
University of Pennsylvania and a senior fellow at the Brookings
Institution. Arguing against will be Jeffrey Miron, senior lecturer and
director of undergraduate studies at Harvard University and a senior fellow
at the Cato Institute.

** More information:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Frost warning

Central Vermont has a frost warning tonight. Temps expected to get down in the 20s or low 30s. If you still have tender plants outside or in your garden, make sure you get out the sheets & cover them.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Look Up!

See those white lines up there in that crisp blue sky? Think there are just a few extra airplanes out today carrying passengers to their destinations? Well you might be wrong.

Contrails are normal airplane exhaust. Contrail is short for condensation trail. A contrail forms when the hot jet exhaust mixes with the low pressure, low temperature air. It’s very similar to when you breathe out on a cold day & can see your breath. A normal contrail will dissipate after one to ten minutes.

Have you ever heard of chemtrails?

The word chemtrails is short for chemical trails. A chemtrail is similar to a contrail except that instead of harmless water vapor, the chemtrail is made up of more harmful chemicals. It doesn’t dissipate quickly and spreads out over the sky turning hazy.

There are many theories for what’s in the chemtrail exhaust. Theories range anywhere from weather modification to population control. The spraying is typically done in large x’s or in grid patterns. Often spraying is done right before storms.

Testing has been done right after chemtrail spraying and results have included samples of rain water testing positive for pathogens, aluminum, barium, and even dried human red blood cells(!) after a spraying.

There have also been studies showing increases in hospitalizations after chemtrail spraying for things like respiratory illnesses. People have noticed a metallic taste in their mouths as well.

I’m still learning about chemtrails and there’s lots of information out there. It concerns me that “someone” is playing around with the weather or people’s health this way. If the topic is new to you, I urge you to search “chemtrails” on the search engine of your choice and learn more.

If what you read concerns you, let others know about chemtrails so they can be aware too. While supplies last, I will mail a free chemtrail bumper sticker to anyone who wants one. Just email me your address to scentednights2002 @ yahoo.com (remove spaces).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Ham Radio Site

If you are a Ham Radio operator, please take a look at this site:


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gotta have that cup of coffee?

Just suppose coffee was no longer available? I know it's a horrible thought for many people. How about a cup of chickory? Those with parents or grandparents who lived through the Great Depression may already know this trick.

Dig the roots in midsummer to fall. Scrub them clean and slice. Dry them off and roast the dry roots at 225 degrees until they are the color of coffee. Grind them in a coffee grinder & use as you would coffee. Make sure it's a manual coffee grinder just in case you don't have power.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pick your own places

If your gardens or orchards are not producing that well but you still want to can and preserve food for your stockpiles, check out some of the places in Vermont you can pick your own at:


Many choices for both veggies & fruits.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Police Scanner Frequencies

For those that use a police scanner, this page lists all the frequencies in the state of Vermont.


It's often helpful to know what's going on in your corner of the state.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Snake species found in Vermont

As the weather warms up and more people are outside, please be aware of snakes sunning on rocks (or under) or amidst the tall grasses. We have a number of species of snake in Vermont including:

North American Racer - black body with satin sheet - 4'-6' long

*Timber Rattlesnake - black W-shaped cross bands on a tan background - 2' - 4' long

*Ring-necked snake - blue-gray color with a yellow (or orange) underside and a yellow (or orange) ring around its neck - 1' - 2' long

*Eastern ratsnake - black and white checkerboard on the front half, and then turns to a solid dark tone towards the tail - 5' - 6' long

*Milksnake - reddish-brown blotches outlined in black - 2' - 3' long

*Northern watersnake - reddish-brown blotches on a cream background when young. They darken with age to almost solid black with dark brown blotches - 3' - 4' long

*Smooth Greensnake - solid green - 2' long

*DeKay's Brownsnake - brown or grayish-brown - 1' long

*Red-bellied snake - brown or dark gray with red underside - 1' long

*Eastern ribbonsnake - three yellow, length-wise stripes on a black background - 2' to 3' long

*Common gartersnake - three length-wise yellowish stripes, one on the center of the back and one on each side - 2' to 3' long

The timber rattlesnake is Vermont's only poisonous snake. The ones I have *'d are the ones that have been sited in my town (Castleton).

For more information on snakes in this region, click on the link below. There are pictures and lots of great information.


Be careful out there!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Soapwort - laundry care

Do you every wonder how you'll clean your clothes if laundry detergent and traditional cleansers become unavailable? Well even if you don't here's a hint for you.

Soapwort (saponaria officianilis) is a very pretty pink flowering plant. Its root can be boiled & the liquid can be used as soap for laundry.

Soapwort is a perennial (it comes back each year) from Europe. The plant is poisonous so please do not eat it.

You can read more about soapwort here:


Start some now and by the time you need it, it should be well established.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Vermont Emergency Radio Network


The Vermont Emergency Radio Network (VTERN) is an alternate means of communication for people throughout the State of Vermont area during an emergency. In the event of a neighborhood or area-wide power, telephone or Internet failure, VTERN can keep you in touch. VTERN uses Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios on channel 1, no subchannel. FRS and GMRS radios are those little handheld walkie-talkie radios that family and friends use to keep in touch at
parks, on ski slopes and in malls. If there's an emergency, tune your radio to channel 1. VTERN may be your pipeline to emergency help and information. VTERN is self-activating and doesn't require any special training or equipment, other than an inexpensive FRS or GMRS radio. When other communication networks go down, or if you need to communicate outside and your cell phone's not working, just tune your FRS or GMRS radio to channel 1 and talk. VTERN works a little like a relay, with people passing information down the line. VTERN works on the keep-it-simple principle. To join the VTERN Listserv, follow the instructions on this page. VTERN is part of the Emergency Radio Network and National SOS Radio Network.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Frost warning tonight

There is a frost warning for tonight and tomorrow early morning. Please cover any tender plants you have outside.

Making a list

There are so many ways that you can prepare that I find it handy to make a list of things we need to do. Now if you're like me, your desk is covered with lists so I find it easier to make my prepping list online.

If you are a blogger, you have a very convenient way to do that. If you go into the customize section of your blog, you will see a way to "add gadget" and from there to add a list.

You can see ours here:

You have to scroll down and it's on the right. It's titled "Our list of things to buy/build for the future". As we think of something we feel we need to buy or build or acquire, I list it there. As we buy/build/acquire the item, I add an asterisk and move it to the bottom of the list. That way I have a running tally of what we have accomplished and what we still need to do. There's no way the list is going to get lost, torn, scribbled on, etc.

This way you have a goal that you can save for or work toward and it's easier to keep on track. Hope that helps!

Monday, May 18, 2009

How to make your own fire starters

This is a very easy way to start a fire. Take a cotton ball and cover it in petroleum jelly. Put a number of these into an old film canister. To start a fire, place two or three of these under the kindling in your fire pit and light.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Natural insect repellent

Make sure you use real essential oils not fragrance oils.

20 drops Eucalyptus oil
20 drops Cedarwood oil
10 drops Tea Tree oil
10 drops Geranium oil
2 oz. carrier oil ( such as Jojoba )

Mix together in a 4 oz. container. Apply to skin as needed avoiding the eye area. Keep out of reach of children. Test on a small area of skin for sensitivities . Experiment with different percentages of essential oil. This works well in a small spray bottle.

I have also been told that marigolds are insect repellents so you may want to try planting some throughout the garden. They also help ward off bunnies & deer.

Homemade salve recipe

It's always a good idea to know how to make your own healing concoctions from plants that grow around you. This is one of my favorites:

Plantain Salve

Fresh plantain leaves and flower stalks
Olive oil
Small jars, pots or tins

Pick five handfuls of fresh plantain leaves and flower spikes (around five full grown plants). Slice the plantain and place it in a stainless steel pot and barely cover with water (approximately 1.5 cups of water). Simmer gently for a half hour, then cover and let steep for an hour and strain out the medicinal "tea."
Over a very low flame, heat a cup of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of beeswax until the wax melts. Slowly pour in the tea and stir with a whisk. Pour into small jars; it will solidify as it cools.

Note: It is helpful to try a test first by pouring out a tablespoonful onto a cool dish to test the consistency as it cools. If the salve is too hard, heat it again and add more olive oil. If it is too soft, add more beeswax.

I found this recipe here:


It's a great salve for minor cuts and bruises.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jerusalem artichokes

Growing our own food is one way we can help keep our food bill down and still stockpile for future needs. While having a traditional garden is certainly a great idea, there are lots of edible wild plants growing in your backyard right now. One of these plants is the Jerusalem artichoke which is otherwise known as the sunchoke.

Jerusalem artichokes grow from tubers underground and spread each year. Not only are they a pretty flower, they can be eaten raw, cooked, pickled or made into a flour. They can be dehydrated and stored for a long period of time.

Tubers sprout about 14 days after they are planted provided the soil temperature is about 44 degrees. They are very vigorous and compete well with weeds. They over winter well. I don't recommend planting these in your traditional vegetable garden for these reasons however tossing a few of them at the edge of your property or allowing them to be a centerpiece in your flower garden is a great idea.

The tubers are harvested in the fall. Make sure that you do not dig them all up or you will have no crop for next year. Dig up the tubers you want to eat and scrub them well with a vegetable brush like you would potatoes or carrots you just dug up.

Here is a recipe to get you started but I am sure you can find many more by searching online. They can be used much like potatoes can although they taste more similar to a turnip.

Mashed potatoes with Jerusalem artichoke & chives

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Fill large pot half full with cold water; add lemon juice. Peel artichokes, cut into 1-inch pieces and add to pot. Bring to boil. Cover and boil until artichokes are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Return artichokes to pot. Add potatoes, salt, and enough water to cover vegetables; bring to boil. Cover and boil until potatoes and artichokes are very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain. Return vegetables to pot; set over low heat. Add sour cream and butter. Mash until mixture is almost smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.) Stir in chives. Transfer to bowl and serve.

This is a great addition to your yard because your average person isn't going to recognize a Jerusalem artichoke as "dinner" so even if you have someone raiding your vegetable garden, chances are your chokes will be safe.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fishing in Vermont

Looking to find out what you can catch where in Vermont?


Fishing season is now officially open in Vermont. Get your license and start fishing. Great way to get some free food to stockpile and learn a valuable skill to add to your survival skills.

Dandelion Green recipe

1 pound dandelion greens
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup cooking oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Discard dandelion green roots; wash greens well in salted water. Cut leaves into 2-inch pieces. Cook greens uncovered in small amount of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Sauté onion and garlic, in oil. Drain greens; add to onion garlic mixture. Taste dandelion greens and season with salt and pepper. Serve dandelion greens with grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe for dandelion greens serves 4.

Dandelion greens are up here in zone 4 Vermont so look for them in your area. Make sure you pick them when they are YOUNG - long before they flower or they will be bitter.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Please tune in today at 5pm EST

On Pioneering Your Way To Freedom with John Milandred at 5pm ET

This show is dedicated to educating as many people as possible the Lost/Forgotten Art of Basic Human Survival and Getting Back To Basics

Special Guests: Tom Martin head of the Preppers Network


Friday, April 17, 2009

Did you know?

That only pre-1965 dime, quarter and half dollar coins contain any silver? Now they are mostly nickel with some copper. You can see the composition here:


Pennies today are made mostly of zinc not copper. If your penny is dated before 1982, it is made of 95% copper except for 1943 pennies which are made of zinc plated steel.

The Sacagawea and presidential dollars although gold in color contain no real gold. The Susan B Anthony "silver" dollars are not silver but nickel and copper. The same holds true for the Eisenhower dollar.

So... if a person wanted to collect coins that might have some value in the future if our currency took a nose dive, your best bet would be to snag any of the dimes, quarters and half dollars that were minted prior to 1965 as these would contain real silver.

Of course there are some people that argue that the value of nickel is increasing and we shoud be stockpiling nickels instead.

So, what do you think? What's the best coinage to stockpile?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea parties in Vermont

The following is a list of CONFIRMED Tea Party Tax Revolts planned within the state of VERMONT. Please note that we ONLY list events happening on April 15th.

City: Montpelier
When: April 15, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Where: State House Lawn
Contact: capitolteaparty@gmail.com
Phone: 802.279.1261
Other Info:

City: Rutland
When: April 15, 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Where: Downtown Rutland, Main Street Park
Contact: teapartyvt@hotmail.com
Other Info: Sign Waving Starting at 4:00 pm!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Poultry Swap

For those in the Rutland, Vermont area, there will be a poultry swap and sale at the Rutland Tractor Supply on Sunday, April 19 from 10:00AM - 2:00PM.

I have never been to this but have been told that you can buy/sell or swap and that there is generally a variety of types of birds available. This could include ducks, chickens, geese, guineas, peacocks, turkeys, etc.

Great way to get started on that new flock!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oathkeepers in Lexington Massachusetts

Oathkeepers in Lexington Massachusetts, I hope that any preppers within a few hours drive will take the time to attend this historic event on April 19th. For details visit Oathkeepers.net

I had the opportunity to speak with Stuart Rhodes founder of Oathkeepers at great length on the phone today. He is a very sincere man with a vision every bit as important if not more important than our own vision. We must stand behind all of our troops, veterans, and peace officers who pledge to keep their oaths. They must know that when they refuse to obey an unlawful order that we will be there supporting them.

Fiddlehead Ferns

In another few weeks, fiddlehead ferns will be popping up in woodland areas. These are the first wild edible that I'm aware of.

You need to pick fiddlehead ferns when they are very young (like the picture) and before they have unfurled into true ferns.

As with any wild edible, only pick a few in each area so that you don't destroy the whole supply for future wild edible hunters. Take a few from each area and leave some for the next person. Don't pull up the fern, just snip it off below the curl so that it comes back next year.

Once you get your fiddleheads home, rinse them well and peel off the brown part of the plant. You can use them in a variety of ways but my favorite is to make a fiddlehead fern quiche.

Fiddlehead Fern Quiche
serves 6-8
For crust use any non-sweet pie crust or a homemade crust
6 slices bacon, crisped
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. minced scallion or onion
salt, pepper
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 pint fiddlehead ferns

Cook crust according to directions. Combine eggs, milk and cream in a bowl. Add scallion and seasonings. Sprinkle half the cheese in the bottom of the shell, lay bacon and pour egg mixture over. Sprinkle rest of Swiss cheese, arrange Ferns on top and grate nutmeg over top. Bake at 375º for 30-40 minutes until set. Cool slightly and serve.

Here are some other recipes:


As with any wild edible, make sure you know what you're hunting for. If you have any doubt whatsoever don't eat it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How to make bean sprouts

Since there's nothing green growing outside in Vermont right now, it's a great time to have your own bean sprouts growing inside. I found mine for $2.00 at a thrift store but I'm sure you can find one new somewhere if you don't want to wait. Check your local health food store or I know Amazon carries them.

My sprouter is a three tier so I can grow three different types of sprouts if I want to. The only one I have experience with are mung beans which are your standard bean sprouts but I have heard that radish sprouts are yummy too. I get the seeds at my local health food store.

1. Sort through the bean seeds and remove any that are damaged.
2. Place the bean seeds in a try and rinse them well.
3. Soak the bean seeds in warm water for eight to ten hours. Then drain well.
4. Rinse the seeds under warm water and let stand to drain for twelve hours.
5. Rinse & drain two times a day for two days.

Then you should have sprouts. You can add them to salads or put them in bread or have them on sandwiches.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Make your own baby powder

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
essential oil - optional - I like lavendar

Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Let stand a few days and then sift through a flour sifter. Pour into a powder shaker/container.


GMC hosts lecture on local food benefits


Green Mountain College will host a talk on Monday addressing how eating locally benefits the brain.

Nathan Hagans, a doctoral candidate at the University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics and author of energy blog "The Oil Drum," will deliver a talk titled "At the Intersection of Neuroscience & Agriculture: The Health & Behavioral Benefits of Relocalization."

The talk at 7 p.m. in Withey Hall is free and open to the public.

Hagans will draw a connection between industrial agriculture and serotonin deficiency, organizers said, then look at how those issues indirectly affect civilization's ability to adapt to oil depletion and climate change.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Do you have an older woodstove?

The State of Vermont has a program that allows people to apply for a voucher toward replacing an older woodstove with a new energy efficient woodstove. You have to buy it through certain dealers and the older woodstove has to be destroyed.

You need to get an application and fill it out & send it in with a picture of your current older woodstove. The State will determine whether or not you qualify & if you do, they will send you a voucher that will save you $450 off the purchase of a new woodstove.

There are other conditions but it's well worth the time if you have an older stove that you need to replace. Go here for more information. Act quickly since it is a first come first serve and it expires in June 2009.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Homemade Mouthwash Recipe

2 ounces of water
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda or sea salt
1 drop of pure peppermint essential oil
1 drop of pure tea tree essential oil

Mix ingredients together well. It leaves a refreshing minty taste in your mouth and prevents bad breath.

Essential oils can be purchased at your health food store.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Make your own lip balm for cold sores

1 oz. Emu Oil
1 oz. Almond Oil
1 oz. Avocado Oil
1/2 oz. Shaved Beeswax or Beeswax Pellets
1/4 oz. Aloe Vera Gel
6 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
2 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
3 Drops Lime Essential Oil

Mix the almond, avocado, emu oil and beeswax together in a microwave-safe bowl.

Microwave for a couple of minutes or until the mixture is completely melted.
(Bowl may also be heated in a pan of water on a stovetop).

Stir the mixture often until the wax is melted.

Add the aloe vera gel.

Remove from heat and stir in the essential oils.

Stir again and set aside to cool completely.

When cool, transfer into small portable plastic containers or tins.

I generally find my ingredients at our local health food store but if you cannot find them near you, I'm sure you can find them on eBay.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Make your own shaving cream

Now is the perfect time to learn to make some of your own personal care products.

1/2 teaspoon of sunflower oil
1/4 cup of unscented glycerin soap
Double boiler
A cup or mug for the cream

In your double boiler, melt chunks of the glycerin soap.
Stir in the sunflower oil.
Move the mixture into a mug as soon as all of the glycerin chunks are melted.

This formula will set quickly. When you need to shave, simply work water against the soap until a lather builds and use it the same way you would regular shaving cream.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Necessary Equipment & Supplies

We all know food and water are important, but what about the larger things? The non-consumable resources? What should we make sure we have in case of emergency?

1. A woodstove - In a cold environment like Vermont, you need some type of heat source that isn't tied to electricity, oil or propane. A fireplace is pretty but it doesn't heat a house worth beans.

2. A way to cook - solar oven, woodstove, gas stove without a glow bar, outside grill or fire pit. Either of these is good or maybe even several of them depending on the weather and the situation you're prepping for.

3. Light source - solar lamps, wind up lantern, flashlight, candles, oil lamps, etc. Make sure you have enough supplies to go along with them.

4. Tools - Non-electric, non-power tools just in case. Do you have the tools needed to make basic repairs in case of a power outage? Hand saw, hand drill, shovels, rakes, etc?

5. Cleaning supplies - vinegar, baking soda, felsnaptha, washing soda, borax, bleach, etc. Whatever it is that you clean with or use to make your clean supplies.

6. Personal care items - razors, feminine needs, soap, shampoo, deoderant, chapstick, lotion, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, gauze pads, first aid supplies, etc. How about non disposable alternatives for long term use? Do you have supplies to make the non disposable alternatives?

7. Pet food & supplies - How about food for the pets? Cat litter? Extra food for the farm animals? Extra hay? Bedding?

8. Extra seeds for long term use. Who knows how long the emergency will last? Do you have at least an extra year's worth of seeds just in case?

9. Reading material for your favorite topics? What happens if the internet goes out long term? All those bookmarked sites are great until you have no internet. Pick up a few good reference books just in case.

10. Entertainment - What happens with no tv, no internet, no electricity? What do you do on a long, cold, rainy day inside? Can you or the kids occupy yourself all day with no electricity? How about cards, games, art supplies, puzzles, craft items, marbles, jacks, etc.?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Attracting bees to your backyard

If you garden, it's very important that you attract bees and other polinators to your garden. If your plants do not get polinated, you will have flowers but no fruits or vegetables. While it's very pretty, it doesn't stock the shelves.

One way to attract bees to your backyard is to plant the types of plants they like. Here are a few examples of plants that bees really like and are good sources of pollen and nectar.

1. Basil
2. Rosemary
3. Marjoram
4. Globe thistle
5. English lavendar
6. Zinnias
7. Wallflowers
8. Lupine
9. Black eyed susan
10. Asters
11. Sunflowers
12. Blueberry
13. Lilac
14. Bee balm

Bees particularly seem to like purple, blue or yellow flowers. Bees also need to have a source of water. You can use a shallow birdbath for this if you like. They also need a place to live so if you have a fallen tree or large branch, consider leaving it there. A compost pile can also serve this purpose but I'm not sure you'd want a bee hive in your compost pile.

Don't use pesticides in your gardens if you hope to attract bees. You'll kill off the good bugs as well as the bad bugs. Plant a variety of different flowers in clumps instead of single flowers here and there. Bees like sunny spots with some protection from wind. Try to have some plants flowering in each season.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Make your own powdered laundry detergent

With prices increasing daily, it's good to know how to make some of your own household cleansers. This powdered laundry detergent works quite well for us:

Powdered Detergent

2 cups finely grated Fels Naptha soap
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1 cup Borax

1. Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.

2. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

You may not see as many suds as you're used to but it will clean just as well. If you want to, you can add a drop of essential oil to the water as your washing machine is filling up. I like lavender the best.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Greens - time to get ready for spring

As the snow slowly begins to melt here in Vermont, we start seeing a few tiny patches of green grass. Now is the time to get your coldframes out and start getting the soil ready for spring planting of greens.

Clear away as much snow as possible from your planting site and lay your cold frame down where you want your greens to grow. As the sun shines through the cold frame, the remaining snow will melt and the soil will warm up. Depending on how much sun we have and the temps, you may have the ground warm enough to work up a bit in a week or two. Till the soil and remove any clumps of grass/weeds. Put down some potting soil on top of the tilled earth. Plant your seeds according to directions on the package.

Watch the temperature carefully. You don't want it to get too hot inside. That won't be a problem early on unless we get an unseasonably high warm spell but be careful any way. Make sure on very warm days that you vent the cold frame a bit. For more information on growing in a cold frame, go here:


Now that you have the basics, what can you grow? I like to start with various greens because they aren't as upset if it gets a little cold. Plus, everyone here loves salads so they are used up quickly. If we ever have excess, the ducks and chickens like salads too.

Here are a few options for different types of greens:

Lettuce - probably the most popular and the one we are most familiar with
Mustard - leafy green in the cabbage family
Endive - leafy green in the chicory family
Arugula - otherwise known as rocket or roquette
Radicchio - a variety of chicory with red or red spotted leaves
Cress - peppery green in the mustard family
Orach - colorful red or purple leaves - cook like spinach or eat raw in salads
Mache - otherwise known as corn salad
Sorrel - otherwise known as spinach dock or narrow leaved dock
Tatsoi - Also known as pak choy. Asian vegetable used in salads or stir fries. (picture)
Spinach - Can be eaten raw or cooked.
Mizuna - Japanese mustard green

Most of these greens can be eaten raw or cooked. Greens are generally most tender and least bitter when picked very young.

Friday, March 6, 2009

You are a slave to the government

Great video clip. Highly recommend you watch it.


Keeping cash on hand

Well the FDIC has said that it may go belly up in 2010. For those that don't know, the FDIC guarantees our money in the bank should the bank go belly up.

Picture this.... XYZ Bank goes bankrupt or whatever the appropriate term for a bank is. People start to worry and go to XYZ Bank to take out all their money. The bank of course runs out of money because banks don't keep our money physically there. They use it for investments and loans. So now we have a bunch of people with money in their accounts that want it back and cannot get it back. Normally the FDIC would guarantee these amounts so that people would get their money back up to a certain dollar value. But, if the FDIC goes belly up, how do we get our money back? We don't.

How much actual cash do you have on hand right now? How many of us use our credit cards month to month and then pay them at the end of the month? How many of us use our debit cards or checks instead of keeping cash on hand? So, now you can't pay your credit card bill when it arrives and your debit card or checks are worthless. Where's the cash? You should keep at least a month's worth of cash on hand in case you need it. Two months would be better if you can handle it.

Even worse, what happens if the company you work for has an account at that bank? Where does your paycheck come from? Does the company have any cash on hand to meet its obligations? Does the company go bankrupt now? Do you loose your job? In this economy can you find another one quickly? How do you live while you're looking?

If you can, try to have an alternate income source. Can you mow lawns? Babysit? Weld? Take a job 2 nights a week flipping burgers? Deliver newspapers in the morning? At least that way, you'd have some type of income coming in if you needed it. Right now I work several part time jobs. Even if one disappears, I have several more to fall back on if I need to.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Please watch this video

I have no idea how to put this video on my site or I would. If you can explain it, please let me know. In either case, go here:


Watch it. Listen to it. Think about it.

What are we prepping for?

So just what are we all prepping for? I've been doing a lot of reading online about what's going on in the world around us. It seems a lot of interesting things are happening that aren't making it to our local newspaper.

How do we know just what we should be stocking up on or preparing for? Will what we chose to have be different depending on what we think the threat is? I think the basics of food, water and first aid will stay the same regardless.

Economic colapse? Seems like with the way the world's economy is going, this is certainly a possibility. If this happens we should probably have a stash of money that is not in the banking system in case our bank goes belly up like the one in Kansas did. I know technically the FDIC insures our deposits, but how long would it take to get that money back if it did fail? Maybe we should also stockpile some things to barter just in case. Extra lamp oil, extra food, etc. Whatever you think the hot commodity will be if people cannot get things easily.

Pandemic? Bird flu is still out there and there are still cases of it being reported in other countries. It may only be a matter of time before it reaches the United States. What do we need in case of a pandemic? Masks, extra first aid supplies, water purifier? We'll certainly want to make sure we don't have to leave the house for anything if this hits the US. Do you have enough supplies at home to stay there for an extended period of time?

Foreign Invasion/Takeover? Now that the US has given China eminent domain in exchange for China continuing to purchase our US Treasury notes and currency reserves, who knows how long it will be before they exercise that choice? What will we need in this case? Of course, there is always the threat of invasion from Middle Eastern countries like what happened on 9/11.

EMP Pulse? Iran now has nuclear capabilities and has the capability of setting of an EMP pulse above the US which will basically wipe out our electronic capabilities. Think of it... no tv, radio, internet, electricity, propane, gasoline, communications, satellites. We'd basically be plunged back into the 1800s. Can you survive without our modern day conveniences? Heat your house, cook your food, wash your clothes, locate food & water, travel, etc.?

Nuclear war? I don't feel anywhere near informed enough to comment on this possiblity. Depending on your location, it may simply be a matter of staying inside for a long period of time but what would happen to the rest of the world? Our food supply, the soil conditions, animals, water supply, civil unrest, health issues?

Whatever you believe may or may not happen in our future, don't put off preparing any longer. Even if all you do is grab an extra can of tuna fish & a bag of beans each week, start now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Emergencies on the road

It's a very good idea to keep an emergency bag or box in your car. Here are some things I'd recommend you have on hand just in case.

1. A gallon jug of water. Good for drinking if you need it or in case the car overheats. Be careful during the winter that the jug does not freeze & then crack.

2. Food. Keep some energy bars in the car just in case. I'd keep at least two bars for each person in your family. Try not to choose chocolate which will melt in the hotter months.

3. Blankets. I would keep a solar emergency blanket for each person along with several heavy wool blankets.

4. Clothes. Keep extra hat, gloves, scarf and dry socks for each person. You can also keep a spare change of jogging pants and shirt or a nylon poncho in case of rain.

5. First aid kit. Keep at least a basic first aid kit in the car along with first aid manual depending on your level of knowledge.

6. Road flares and flashlight with extra batteries. In case of a break down, it's a good idea to have these on hand.

7. Extra windshield washer fluid, oil and anti-freeze in case they are needed.

8. A tire gauge, tire jack and a spare tire in case of a flat.

You don't have to go out and buy all this at once. Each week pick one item and in a few months, you'll have a fully stocked car emergency kit.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wind Advisory for Vermont & free email alerts of emergencies

The National Weather Service In Burlington Has Issued A Wind Advisory For Wind Gusts To 50 Mph…For Northern New York…The Champlain Valley…And Western Slopes In The Green Mountains…Which Is In Effect From 4 AM To 7 PM EST Friday.

To have this type of information sent directly to your email, you can sign up for free here:


Get out of debt

Getting out of debt is more important now than ever. Our money buys less and less each day. We need to eliminate our debt and not accumulate any new debt. This frees up our money so that we can use it in more useful ways (like prepping).

Start with your credit card or loan with the highest interest rate and put any extra money you have each month into paying that off. Do not charge anything new or take out any new loans. Continue through until each credit card, mortgage, student loan, etc is paid off.

So where do you get the extra money to pay these off?

1. Get free movies or books from the library instead of paying for them.
2. Cut out that morning latte or fast food lunch.
3. Carpool instead of driving solo.
4. Reduce your grocery bill by eliminating pre-made convenience foods.
5. Cancel your newspaper subscription & read it free online.
6. Buy clothes second hand at thrift stores instead of brand new.
7. Sell your excess on eBay.
8. Have a tag sale.
9. Reduce your long distance. Write a letter instead.
10. Eat at home instead of out at a restaurant.
11. Take your lunch to work instead of buying it.
12. Switch to cloth diapers instead of disposables.
13. Turn the thermostat down to 65 degrees.
14. Start using coupons or switch to generics at the grocery store.
15. Eliminate premium channels on your cable or satellite bill.

Once you're getting the most for your money, you can start funelling your extra into stocking up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Can you do it yourself?

As the economy becomes more unstable, the power of our dollar will continue to decrease. What does that mean? It means the dollars in your pocket will buy less tomorrow than they did today. This will probably mean that some of the things we've been paying others to do or make for us will have to be done without or we'll have to learn to do them ourselves.

Think about some things you are paying others to do for you right now. Can you do them yourself if the need arises? Here are a few things you can learn to do yourself right now.

1. Cut your family's hair - Invest in a pair of clippers and it's really not hard at all to cut a simple hair style.

2. Bake your own bread - You don't need a bread machine to do this. There are a number of sites with simple bread recipes but I like the simple artisan bread recipe found in Mother Earth News. They have it available on their site.

3. Simple car repair - Can you change a tire, change the oil, put new wiper blades on, add water, anti-freeze, windshield washer fluid? I admit this is one area I'm sadly lacking.

4. Care for your own lawn and garden - Are you paying someone to come in and care for this for you? Invest in a simple gardening book for the type of garden you have and learn to take care of it yourself.

5. Clothing repair - Do you toss out a sock as soon as it has a hole? Even those of us who are not gifted in sewing can do simple clothing repairs as well as make simple cloth napkins or similar items.

6. Basic home repair / remodelling - Can you paint? Change a fuse? Change the filter in your furnace? Fix a leaky faucet? Re-caulk the bathtub? You'd be surprised what you can learn when you need to.

The first thing I do when I want to try something new is look for information. Right now, the internet is my main source of information but your library may have books as well. Keep your eyes open for second hand books on topics you think you may need to learn about and collect them as you find them.

Start learning new skills now because you never know when you may need them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cooking options

What options do you have for cooking should your normal kitchen stove not work? If you loose electric power, how will you cook? Will your gas stove/oven still work without electricity?

1. Electric oven/stove - Without electricity, provided you have no generator, your electric oven/stove will not work.

2. Gas oven/stove - If you loose electricity, the stove (top) part of your range will still work if you turn it on & light it with a match. If your gas oven uses a glow bar to heat with (most do), it will not work if the electricity goes out. Peerless Premier makes gas ranges that do not use glow bars for heat and will therefore work without electricy if you light the pilot light.

3. Woodstove - This is a great option for winter use. You can cook many meals on top of the woodstove. If you have an old fashioned wood cookstove, you can also bake in it. This requires practice so it's best to learn how to do it before the power goes out. Make sure you have an adequate supply of wood, kindling and matches. A good set of cast iron pans works well too.

4. Solar oven - A solar oven works well on sunny days. I highly recommend the Global Sun Oven. I have successfully made spaghetti, pork roast, pork chops, beef stew and a variety of other meals. You do need to pay attention to the orientation of the sun as it moves so that your sun oven is getting the full amount of sun possible.

5. Outside grill - propane, charcoal and wood - There are a variety of grill options available. There are some that are fancy enough to make bread, desserts, boil water, etc. If you are using propane or charcoal, make sure you have an adequate supply on hand. Wood is easy enough for most people to find. We've built a fire in a fire pit by collecting wood from the back yard.

There are a variety of other options you can make including a tin can stove but I haven't explored those. If you have experience with any of them, please feel free to share. And like anything else, learn how to use your options before you need them.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Let there be light!

OK so it happened. The electricity is out and there you sit at 6:00PM in February in the dark. Or do you? Have you planned ahead? Do you have a light source? What are your options?

Here are a few things to think about.

1. Candles - Candles will provide enough light for you to get from room to room without tripping over the kid's toys. They are easy to find and I store a bunch of votive candles in a box in the kitchen. You can buy pillars, jars, votives, tealights or standard emergency candles. You can get them scented or unscented. I have a candle in just about every room because I like them.

2. Flashlights - Again, a flashlight will get you from room to room safely but it's hard to actually accomplish much when holding a flashlight. You can get your standard battery powered flashlight or a wind up flashlight. If you choose a battery powered flashlight, make sure you have plenty of extra batteries. If you use rechargeable batteries, make sure your battery charger has a solar option in case you need to use it long term. We have a wind up flashlight by Innovage that works really well.

3. Oil lamps - These are new to me. I just started collecting them a few months ago from Freecycle. There's a huge variety of types and styles. There are very basic clear glass lamps and fancy antique lamps and everything in between. Whichever type you'll use, make sure you have lamp oil and extra wick. Make sure you have at least one of them that's ready to use so that when the power goes out, you are not trying to find the oil & wick & figure out how to put it together. Right now I have a total of four oil lamps. I'd like to get a few that will mount on the wall in the livingroom at some point as well.

4. Emergency lighting - I love these. It's a prefilled portable ready to use indoor emergency candle that will burn for 100 hours. I paid about $10 for two of them. The flame is totally enclosed in the unit so it's safer if you have kids or pets. The one I have is by Lamplight Farms.

5. Wind up lanterns - I have two wind up lanterns that I got from LL Bean. They put out enough light to read by if you put the book next to the lantern. We have a small hook over the bed so that we can read in bed if we loose power. They each have a handle on top so they are portable if you need to move from room to room. They are easy to find as I have seen them in our local Walmart. Just look in the camping section.

6. Solar lights - along the same lines as a candle is a rechargeable sun jar. This is on my list of things to buy. It's solar rechargeable so after the initial investment, it's free. There's no flame so it's safer around kids and animals. You don't have to worry about having batteries, oil, wick, etc. or trying to find a source for them in case supplies are limited.

Click here for information

I understand that you can also make your own oil lamp although I haven't tried it yet. You can go here for directions:


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Herbal Wisdom

I'm one of those people who would rather try a natural cure than pop a pill but I understand that there are some times you need to take medication. Make sure that you have extras of your prescriptions when it's possible and start researching some all natural herbal remedies now. Here are a few of my favorites and ones that can be grown here in Vermont.

**Standard disclaimer - I am not a doctor or a nurse or a professional herbalist. Do not try these at home without consulting appropriate medical professionals.**

These herbs can be grown, dried & made into a tea.

Bergamot - monarda fistulosa - Good for nerves and soothes stomachs

Red clover - trifolium pratense - There is some research that indicates this has a beneficial influence on cancer. Also soothes nerves.

Fennel - foeniculum officinale - Helps indigestion, obesity and was held to help rheumatic and arthritic conditions.

Hollyhock - althea rosea - Helps a weak heart, digestion and is soothing.

Horehound - marrubium vulgare or marrubium nigrum - Excellent for coughs, colds and sore throats.

Lavender - lavandula vera or lavendula spica - Use in cases of nervousness and hysteria

Marigold - calendula officinalis - Makes a great skin tonic.

Peppermint - menthe peperita - Great for stomach ailments.

Mullein - verbascum thapsus - Great for chest congestion, said to have antibacterial properties, helps hay vever. Warning this stuff tastes HORRID but it works. (pictured)

Pansy - viola tricolor - Used for heart palpitations.

Parsley - petroselinum sativum - Is a diuretic and recommended for swollen glands.

Raspberry leaf - rubus idaeus - Known for easing labor and women's complaints.

Rosemary - rosmarinus officinalis - Helpful for headaches.

Sage - salvia officinalis or salvia agrestis - Used for constipation.

Thyme - thymus vulgaris or thyms serpyllum - Helpful for coughs and asthma

There are lots more herbal cures out there but these are the ones I am most familiar with that can be grown here in Vermont. Also WTSHTF, your average Joe may very well raid your first aid kit or medicine cabinet but chances are he isn't going to know mullein from poison ivy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gardening in Vermont

Gardening in Vermont can be challenging at times given our short growing season. Our last frost date is generally May 25 and our first frost date is generally around September 20. That leaves a very short four months to get most of your food produced.

Some veggies like cooler weather so starting them a bit before the last frost date is not generally a problem. I've had good luck with lettuce and other salad greens, peas, spinach, and root crops like beets and turnips.

Other veggies that like warm weather like tomatoes, peppers and corn won't do well in colder temps. Make sure you wait to plant them until after the last frost date.

Some people choose to buy plants instead of seeds when planting their gardens. Personally, I like to start my own plants from seeds to save money. It's not that hard and it gives you more freedom to pick and choose what varieties you want to plant.

I bought a few flourescent tube lights from Walmart last year. I added a few cup hooks to the top of my entertainment center and strung some light weight chains from the cook to the light so that I could adjust the height of the light above the seed flats.

I got a bunch of seed flats from a friend a few years ago and I re-use them each year to save money. I prefer this type:

Seed Flat

I've seen these at KMart and Home Depot fairly cheaply but you can always try asking on Freecycle.

Just add a bit of potting soil to each cell and follow the directions for planting on your seed packet. Water. Place underneath the grow light. Keep the light at about 3 inches above the soil or the plant once it starts growing. Keep it watered. Keep adjusting the light and plant outside after danger of frost.

I generally grow a wide variety of peppers and tomatoes as well as brussel sprouts, eggplant and flowers from seeds under grow lights. I start my seeds inside anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. Just look at the dates on the back of the seed package and it will tell you when to start them inside. The rest of my garden will be planted directly outside in a few months. I'll move the plants outside slowly into the greenhouse once the weather warms up a bit and then plant outside in the garden after the danger of frost has passed.

So.. what are you planting this year?

Monday, February 9, 2009

The water supply

One of the most important things to ensure in an emergency situation is water supply. Here in Vermont, most of us are on wells for our water supply. As long as the source doesn’t get contaminated and we have power to run the water pump, we’re all set for water provided the well doesn’t go dry.

Let’s just say we want to be double safe and have an alternate. What options do we have? This is something my husband and I have been talking about a lot lately. We don’t have a source of water on our property like a lake, river or stream. If you do and it’s within walking, cycling distance you’ll be all set. Although hauling water isn’t fun, it’s doable if you have to.

Do you have gutters on your home? If you do, it’s easy enough to divert the run off into a barrel. You can put a screen over the top of the barrel to keep out leaves. At the very least, you can use this water to irrigate the garden or to water the animals. You can also get a cistern and have the water diverted there and connected to your pump for indoor use. The water should be treated if you plan on using it for drinking, washing, etc. I’m sure you can find specifics by searching rainwater harvesting. This is a good place to start:



Maybe you want to start a little easier? You don’t have to resort to buying gallons of overpriced water at the grocery store. You can store your own water that you get straight from the tap.

This is a great site from the VT Emergency Management office that tells all about how to safely store and gather water from a variety of sources.


Make sure you print out the Red Cross brochure so you have it in case of an emergency.

I’d also recommend having a water purifier of some sort. There are several types that I’ve come across. The first is simply a tablet that you drop in your existing water to purify it. Water purification tablets should be available at most camping supply stores. The second is a water purifier with a filter. You generally pour the water into the filter/unit & the filter removes bacteria and or chemicals. These come in a variety of sizes from tiny personal sizes to larger sizes that will work for your whole home. The third option is a small, handheld device that uses ultraviolet light to purify water:

I like this option because after the initial investment, there is nothing I need to purchase like a filter or more tablets. It comes with a solar charger and rechargeable batteries for future use. This is the one we chose for our family while we work on adding gutters.


Whichever option you go with, make sure that you have backup batteries, filters, screens, barrels, etc in case you need them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't forget to mail your teabags today!

Copied from another site:

I have a stack of envelopes with tea bags ready to go out in today's mail. They are being mailed to the president, our governor, senators and representatives. I copied a couple of news articles and enclosed them in some. They all are getting the following letter. I wanted to write more but I figured their attention span isn't too long as they never seem to listen to us!

February 1, 2009

Enclosed is a tea bag in protest of our out of control government spending. If our representatives allow this to go on, my great grandchildren are going to be paying for the government I helped elect pay for the mistakes. Is progress the nationalization of the banking system, the education system or the manufacturing sector? I and many other Americans see this as either goals or partial goals of the current administration. Why can’t all of our representatives see this stimulus bill as all pork with very few beneficiaries for the American people? What is wrong with cutting government and tightening your belts to see the United States through this crisis. We the people did not create this mess. The government did. Our fault lies where we the people did not stand together and tell you as one voice NO MORE!

We the people require our government to act in the long term interest of our country and to fulfill your oath to uphold the Constitution. Many of you in our government do not want to UPHOLD the Constitution, you want to REVISE it to fit your own personal agenda.

I ask you to do the right thing and keep we the people in mind as you stand for us in government.

Send yours out in the mail today!

Cast iron cooking

Cast iron pots and pans are very versatile and I highly recommend having a variety of shapes and sizes in your kitchen cupboard. Cast iron can be used over an open fire, on your woodstove or on your regular kitchen gas or electric stove or oven. You can hang a Dutch oven on a tripod over an open fire or place a frying pan on a grate over your campfire. You can use it over a fire in a fireplace as well. It can be used just about anywhere you need to cook so it’s a great item to have in your prepared kitchen.

If you are planning on using these a lot, I highly recommend Griswold. I don’t believe these are sold retail any longer so you’ll really need to search flea markets, tag sales, thrift stores or antique shops to find these. They are very high quality and have a nice smooth interior finish.

If you can’t find Griswold, you’re probably going to end up buying Lodge. You can find these readily at Walmart or directly from their site: http://www.lodgemfg.com/. These are the two brands that I am most familiar with.

This is what I feel you should have as a minimum.

10” Skillet – This is your basic frying pan. Some are deeper than others. I like to have mine with high sides so that I can make spaghetti sauce, chili or beef stew with it. Some come with covers and some do not. If it comes with a cover, you can flip it over and use it as an extra frying pan.

12” Skillet – Depending on your family size, you may choose a 12” skillet over a 10” skillet. I have one of each depending on what I want to cook. My 12” skillet is deep and the cover can be used for an extra frying pan just like my 10” skillet.

Dutch Oven – There are a variety of Dutch ovens depending on how you want to cook with them. Dutch ovens can generally be found as small as 2 quart and as large as 8 quart. Dutch ovens can be used for soups, stews, small roasts, etc. If you are using it on a woodstove or kitchen stove, a standard Dutch oven with a cover will work fine for you. If you plan on using it over an open fire, you may want a camp Dutch oven with a handle on top to suspend it over the fire on a tripod. If you’re planning on using it in front of a fireplace or on the ground next to an open fire, consider a three-legged Dutch oven.

Griddle – This is a large, flat, rectangular pan that can be used for pancakes, hamburgers or anything else you want to fry in larger quantities.

Oval Roaster – If you want to bake a chicken or a larger roast, consider investing in an oval roaster pan with a lid. These are generally 12 quart and at times the lid doubles as a griddle.

Trivets – If you are cooking on your woodstove, I highly recommend a set of trivets. Once your meal is cooked, you cannot turn off the woodstove and let the pan just sit there to keep warm. It will continue to cook & probably burn. The solution is to set the pan on top of a small decorative cast iron plate with legs called a trivet. They have many different sizes to accommodate the size of the pan you’re using. My favorite brand is Wilton but really any will do. Some are more decorative than others. You can see my favorite Wilton Heart & Pinwheel trivet in the picture above.

Cornbread pan – These mold pans are used to bake sticks of cornbread. They’re optional depending on whether or not you like cornbread. They can be very decorative. Many are in the shape of an ear of corn.

Before you can cook in cast iron, it has to be seasoned or prepared. Some cast iron is sold already seasoned so check the box if you’re buying it new. If you buy it second hand, chances are it’s already been seasoned but you can certainly do it again.

1. Scrub the cast iron skillet with a stainless steel scrub brush. If it’s new, use hot, soapy water to clean it. If it second hand, you can skip the soap and just use hot water.
2. Use a paper towel to cover the pan with oil inside and out.
3. Heat uncovered for two hours at 250F degrees.
4. Let cool & it’s ready to use.

Cast iron should not be washed with soap. Just use simple hot water and scrub gently with a plastic scrub pad. You don’t want to scrub off the seasoned coating.

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to add some cast iron to your prepared kitchen and get cooking!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Guaranteeing the food supply

One of the most important parts of prepping for me is guaranteeing the food supply for the future just in case. Part of that is having a full pantry of things you get from the grocery store. But, part of it for us is having a good garden/harvest each year, collecting seeds and canning our extra produce for the future.

Planting a garden is addictive for me and I tend to get a bit carried away. I could sit for hours flipping through seed catalogs dreaming about exotic varieties of vegetables to start in the spring. Really, the best thing to do is to plant what you know your family is going to eat. No sense putting in three rows of lima beans if no one is going to eat them.

So you’ve got your seed catalogs with you and you’re trying to decide what to plant. If you’re new to gardening (or not), there may be some terms that you aren’t familiar with. I don’t have a degree in agriculture. These are my unofficial layman definitions.

Organic – Organic seeds means that the parent plant was grown under organic conditions. This means that any fertilizer, mulch, spray, etc that was used on the parent plant, was organic. No dangerous pesticides, fungicides or chemical treated mulches or sprays were used.

Heirloom – Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been grown during an earlier period in our history and aren’t grown in mass quantities today. They are usually open pollinated and non-hybrid.

Hybrid – Hybrids are seeds whose parents have been artificially crossed in order to “improve” them somehow. Maybe the company took two different types of tomatoes and crossed them to get a new “improved” tomato. The “improved” seed is a hybrid. The way a hybrid works is that you plant the hybrid seed, the "improved" tomato grows, you collect seed from the hybrid tomato, you plant the seed and what you get is not what you had last year. A hybrid seed won’t grow true the second time. It will revert to one of its parent plants. So, yes, you’d probably get a tomato, but you won’t get the type you thought you would.

GMO – Genetically modified organism. Someone has gone into the seeds cell structure and genetically modified it to “improve” it somehow. Generally the seed has been combined with something that makes it tolerant to drought, herbicides, pests, etc. These GMO seeds are mostly supplied by Monsanto owned companies or companies that buy seeds from Seminis which is owned by Monsanto. For those that don’t know, Monsanto is the maker of Agent Orange and more recently, Round Up. If that doesn’t freak you out enough, a gene from a cold water fish could be spliced into a tomato gene to make it more resistant to frost.

So why is this bad? Well if you’re not concerned about the health risks, be aware that GMO seeds are patented. You cannot legally use the seed unless you purchase it from one of their companies. So…. You cannot take that tomato you grew & collect the seed and plant it next year. Let’s say your neighbor grows with GMO seeds and a wind blows some of the seed over to your yard and it lands in your wheat field and grows beside your regular wheat seed. Technically Monsanto owns your wheat crop because you have their patent seed without buying it from them. I’m sure you can search on Monsanto and GMO if you’d like to learn more.

Terminator Seeds – If you’ve heard about GMO seeds, you may have heard about Terminator Seeds. A Terminator Seed is a seed that has been genetically modified (GMO) NOT to grow the following year without a yearly application of a certain chemical. So again, you cannot collect the seed to grow next year. These seeds are patented as well.

You can read more about them here:

and here:


Here’s a list of Monsanto/Seminis owned or provided seed companies:


GMO or Terminator seeds may not be labelled that way. But, it's a safe bet that if it's organic or heirloom, you won't have to worry about it.

So, now that you have some idea of what the terms are, I’ll let you know my favorites.

I never buy hybrids because I like to collect seed from year to year. It’s a lot cheaper than buying new seeds every year and if “someone” should decide to not offer the seed I want in the future, I’ll have a stock of my own to fall back on.

I like heirloom seeds. These seeds have been around for a long time. They are not grown in huge amounts and it’s important to maintain genetic diversity. Do you remember the potato famine? One disease wiped out almost the entire potato crop in Ireland because everyone grew the same type of potato. If we all buy the same type of tomato seed to plant and another disease comes along, we risk loosing our entire crop. If there are several varieties planted, it’s likely that at least one will be resistant to the disease.

I like organic. Yes, organic is generally more expensive than non-organic but it is a guarantee of healthy, safe seeds. I don’t always buy organic but I do when I can find it and afford it. You can minimize the expense by collecting seed the following year. If you don’t use pesticides, etc. on your plants, you should still have healthy seeds the next year to plant. Be aware! You can have an organic hybrid seed. Read the seed package and make sure you know what you’re getting.

Here are a few of the companies I buy from:



This is the list of companies I avoid because they are owned by Monsanto or affiliated with Monsanto:


So… now you have some information to get you started on guaranteeing your food supply in uncertain times. Get planting!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

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