February 2009 - Posts - Surviving on Shoestrings by Donna Miller
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Surviving on Shoestrings by Donna Miller

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February 2009 - Posts

  • Herbs and Ideas for Headaches

    I don’t get headaches, ever. Yet, I've had a rare headache that has now lasted for one full week. Usually being one to avoid over the counter medications, I've not thought too clearly (because of having the headache) to remember what herbs I actually have on hand to help manage this! A good friend reminded me of some ideas, so I thought I'd pass them on in case while in the grips of one of these, you too forget what can be done.

    Peppermint – Either in tea form or as a cool compress on the head.

    Lavender – Either in essential oil form (now in the humidifier as I type) or herb as a compress. It relaxes the muscles in the neck and shoulders.

    Valerian Root extract - a few drops 10-15 in 4oz of water at bed time. Also a natural muscle

    Ice/Rice pack - we make these out of old 'loner' socks. Fill with rice and put in the freezer. They wrap around a neck nicely and work wonders. It can also be heated in the microwave for soothing warm therapy.

    A Foot Soak - As hot as I can stand it, soaking my feet and then plunging them into much cooler water. This focuses the inflammation to another area. Not detrimentally, but reroutes the inflammation receptors to my feet (also, it is cold outside, this feels really nice before going to bed).

    Deep tissue back rubs - Okay, time to 'man up' - this can't be the soft touch tickle rub, but has to get deep into the muscles in the back where tension lies. My youngest daughter is like a 'knot finder' and has strong hands that work wonders on the headaches.

    Hydrotherapy – Alternating hot and cold in the shower reduces whole body inflammation.

    I just wanted to share these ideas as I sip my peppermint herb tea, with the lavender oil in the humidifier by my desk and the rice/ice pack on my neck and shoulders. I now, for the first time in a week (too many Advil later) have NOT got the headache!

    Tonight, to be sure it’s gone, I’ll be soaking my feet, getting a back rub (hopefully) and taking a dose of the valerian root herb. I plan on doing away with this week long headache the natural way!

  • Sharing my journey and why the homesteading mindset works.

    I've not had much of a chance to share my journey with everyone, so I'll do a brief synopsis.

    We were a struggling young family like most in the eighties. My husband worked his way up for a nice and stable position. Through all those years (about 18 of them) we pinched, saved and learned the frugal mindset of a homesteader, no matter where we lived. Then he was offered a prestigious position at quadruple the salary. We took the bait. After almost 2 years, the company (and salary along with lifestyle it provided) went POOF! We learned a lot.

    For the last few years our income has been well below the poverty line for a family of five. God has blessed and we've lived a 'loaves and fishes' life for about six years now. What a journey! What a joy!

    The fact is, had we not developed a mindset of a homesteader, we would have just crumbled at the loss of the lifestyle and income we thought we had achieved. Many people may now be facing a drastic change in their family income, if they have not already.

    I just want to encourage you that it is not as bad as it may seem. Make a journey and a love of learning experience out of this trial in your life. Faith and fortitude can take you further than any paycheck!

  • Overwhelmed by learning about long term food storage? Relax, here's a plan.

    I know how you feel. Just take a deep breathe and compartmentalize.....it can be very overwhelming at first.  That's one reason I found the easy open buckets for my home were because people were telling me that for a year's supply I had to vacuum pack and re-vacuum pack etc...It drove me nuts! It was like I invaded Fort Knox each time I wanted to cook!


    My opinion for anyone overwhelmed by all this long term storage panic is to first focus on the minimum of a 1 year useful pantry.


    It's the one you will get into on a regular basis right now and learn to build meals from....so that ‘in case' of an emergency you are also skilled in cooking from storage goods. I mean, even if you drag your feet on the survival storage, you're still good for a year! And you are not waisting time by having it just sit and wait in storage - you're learning to use it.


    The fact is most people go day to day with food - stopping at the grocery store daily on their way home from work. Many go week to week. Several people go month to month. A very FEW store for a year (to me the best jumping off point) and very few store for survival.  Some survivalists don't have a year's working pantry, they just stock up and store until it may be needed. I call that the "store-n--ignore" or "stash-n-dash" plan.  It is a risk, in my opinion, because you're just going along day to day and ‘hoping' you sealed stuff up okay for use at some undetermined time in the future.


    To me the best thing to do is to do a combonation of the last two. We are still building the survival inventory every few months, but the year-long pantry is up and running. And I can create some really good meals (three times a day) using almost all items from the dry pantry.


    Now, we are not Mormon...but if you google: "Food Storage Calculator" you will find that this tool is nice.


    Some items on that tool/list we just don't use at all. There are also items we ‘figure' differently. For example:

    A year's supply of organic sugar for our family is 50lbs. Stored right in the bucket in the pantry. As that gets low we restock to be prepared for a year.


    The survival amount would be the same for that for us (because it is a luxury, not necessity) stored in the buckets but also in mylar bags with absorbers (not nitrates!) tucked away and ignored until the emergency. Even then, there is no guarantee it's in perfect shape.


    Note: Never use mylar bags without putting them into a serious, food grade plastic container for survival storage. Bags (and even flimsy plastic containers) can be chewed through by mice.


    We keep 5lbs of every type of dried bean in storage (not bags but smaller food grade buckets with spin lids) in the pantry and about 25lbs each in ‘back up' - which we still get into once in a while to replenish the 5lbers - so we really don't keep too much that is completely ignored yet. Same goes for rice (only it's about 15lbs in the pantry for each 3 types of rice). We're not big rice eaters. Grains, yep we have about 400lbs of wheat at easy access in those spin lid buckets. I see and smell and use them several times a week. We are working on the survival amount stored of about the same amount.


    So you can start with the one year pantry (or even a 6 month pantry) and ease into survival storage. It is harder to do it the other way around because the very need to pack for survival does not allow you to get INTO it often and learn how to use it.


    That's our philosophy on the whole thing.


    Secondly and running alongside this is having enough to share with those who did NO preparing at all....To me, that's a ministry. So my one year pantry may only last 8 months depending upon who needs help....but it's okay. That's where the survival part comes in later....but right off the bat, I know we can last a good while with what I'm already familiar with and can get to quickly/easily.



    Hope this is making more sense than causing more anxiety....Sharing 'Peace' really WAS my intention.




    Anyway - don't let learning to store longer term cause you too much stress...it can... believe me....just start with the one year workable pantry (or smaller 6 mo) and any extra can go to: first replenishing it occasionally (or growing it to a year's size) and then to survival storage (serious hide-out, store-n-ignore, stash-n-dash).

  • Video of a free, pesticide free fruit fly trap


     Re-use, recycle and rethink...the three R's of homesteading and stretching dollars!

    This video is the re-use of the flimsy plastic produce bags to make a fruit fly catcher. No chemicals and no pecticides.

    The items used are free or would be trash.


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