Black Friday Berkey Light Giveaway

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Black Friday Berkey Light Giveaway-Nov.28th-Dec.5th, 2014 by
Berkey Light Water Purifier Giveaway

We are excited to share this Berkey Light Water Purifier Giveaway that sponsored by our friends at LPC Survival. The Berkey Light Water Purifier is an deal water filtration system for everyday use at home, travel, outdoors or during emergencies. Includes one set of Black Berkey Elements. Includes:

  • 2 Black Berkey Elements
  • Serves 1 – 5 People
  • Holds aprox 2.75 Gallons

The Berkey Light is easy to set up and install. It measures: Height x Diameter (inches) 26.5 x 9.25 (base included); The system can also be used without the base and stands 21″; Empty Weight 5(lbs); Holding capacity: Aprox. 2.75 Gallon
Configured with two Black Berkey® purification elements the system can purify over 4 Gallons per hour. The containers consist of shatter-resistant, non BPA, copolyester material.

If you have always wanted to own one, now’s your chance! Submit your entries below.

This Berkey Light System is a sponsored giveaway and open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Friday, Nov. 28th at 5:00 am (MST) and ends on Friday, Dec.5th, 2014 at 5:00 pm (MST). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone!

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It’s a Wrap!

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It's a WrapWith the holiday season fast approaching, if you plan to make your gifts now is the time to start. It is also a good time to start thinking about how to package those gifts. Have you thought about handmade wrapping for handmade gifts? Or any gifts, for that matter?

Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year? The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week! And it is not just the paper wrapping either. Cards, ribbon, and fancy embellishments all get thrown away.

Why Wrap Gifts?

There is a psychological component to wrapping a gift. The anticipation of unwrapping it, the guessing what is in it, and the visual delight suggesting “something of value within” all build excitement.  They add to the experience of both the giver and the person receiving the gift.

But who has money to throw away these days? You can easily spend over $15 just to present a gift with a card. It can be lifestyle-driven too. If you are in a hurry, you rush into the store to buy the gift bag, a bow or ribbon enhancement, the tissue paper to hide the gift inside, and a nice card. When we are in a hurry we are tempted to trade our money for our time. Unless we plan ahead, this often happens. That is, if we have the money to spend.

Admit It

Sometimes you want the wrapping to convey something about you. To convey that you give lavishly. That you have good taste. All too often society and the media shape our expectations and that leads to habits that become “normal” in our culture. But sometimes “normal” is just not good. Not good for our environment. Not good for our pocketbooks. Not good for our stress levels.

While I love a beautifully wrapped gift, I am trying to discover new ways to present a visual delight when wrapping a gift – ways that don’t include throwing the wrapping away. Here are some ideas that you might want to use this year. These wrapping alternatives can be quite elegant or as plain as can be (think rustic), but they can be reused! And valued! Just use your imagination to make your wrapping uniquely you!

Alternatives to buying and using wrapping paper:

Cloth wrappings

  • Leather or cloth used as furoshiki bag.  Japanese furoshiki is a traditional japanese wrapping cloth, used to wrap everything. Furoshiki can be used for gift wrapping, grocey shopping or even as clothing. Just click here for a delightful visual display, then watch the DIY tutorial video below.

  • Use an infinity scarf or a regular scarf, either as the wrapping or as the “tissue” lining for the present.
  • Make your own food wrap (like they did in pioneer days) using cotton cloth and beeswax, and use these as both a gift and the wrapping for small items, especially kitchen related gifts, or food gifts. Perhaps consider securing them with a food clip. This is an excellent DIY article on making these simple cloths using your oven. Here is another method of making this wrap, using an iron.
  • Use warm woolen socks (perhaps you too have some unmatched socks!) to “wrap” bottles, and secure them with ribbon or twine. Perfect for that holiday hostess gift! Or use a pair as an extra gift when wrapping a wine or oil bottle, as shown in the video below.

Papercraft – make your own reusable boxes to enclose a gift (this is also an excellent project for children.


Use the pattern to cut out your cardstock, then score along the dotted lines. If you don’t have a scoring tool, or if you’re like me and have misplaced yours, you can use a closed ballpoint pen instead. I like score the cardstock on the ironing board. Use tacky glue or double sided tape to secure the main seam. Fold the end pieces in along the score lines, folding the piece with the cutout in first. Embellish as desired. You can tie these with ribbons or string as well.

Plain cardboard box as wrappingSimple-Box – purchase very inexpensively at a craft store. Use twine or string.

  • Give a child a gift in a plain box with supplies to decorate it to make a special box for their treasures. Or let a child decorate one of these boxes to enclose a gift to someone.
  • Use this to wrap an exquisite gift, and let the contrast make a statement.

Practical boxes to wrap a giftPractical boxes to wrap a giftBuy a nice gift box or file box to “wrap” your present. They are relatively inexpensive. Or if you are creative you can make your own by using a plain box you buy at a craft store. Add a meaninful photo to the boxes that feature photos, and then use twine or ribbon to finish it off.

Make or buy drawstring bags to BurlapBagspresent your gifts – ones that can and will be reused. These can be as elegant (silk) or simple and plain (burlap) as you wish. With just rudimentary sewing skills you can sew a rectangle and fold over the edges to create a space for inserting a ribbon or cord for the drawstring.

You can also buy pre-made organza or satin gift bags very inexpensively that look fabulous and are sure to be re-used. Try putting some pot-pouri or fragrance beads in the little organza bags to freshen up drawers. Or give jewelry in a fancy bag like the one shown. You may be able to get these locally, but if not you can order them from Creative Castle at (805) 499-1377 (just ask for Carole) or by emailing (I get no compensation by recommending them, I just want you to be able to find them somewhere if you want them and cannot find them locally.)



Also interesting is a little “purse” that you can use to enclose jewelry or a small gift. These are perfect for little girls. They would make a nice “surprise present” hidden as a Christmas tree ornament. The ones I purchased were $0.99 each. Again, if you can’t find these locally you can contact Creative Castle and they will be happy to ship them to you.



No wrapping – find a Bucketsbucket, basket or clay pot at your craft or 99 cent store to use as the container, and use burlap or other fabric to cushion the gift. Believe me, this type of “wrapping” can be much cheaper than just one fancy gift card. Around the holidays choose a festive Christmas or Hanukkah tea towel to line a basket.

As shown in the photos above, you can buy cotton cloth squares at your local fabric stores for $2.00 or less. You will find these in the quilting section. After ironing and cutting edges with pinking shears, you can create a no-sew liner for a basket you find in the dollar store or craft store. Total cost – $5-7 for a “wrapping’ that can be used over and over! I would rather give an additional gift (the lined basket) than purchase wrapping and a card that will just be thrown away.

Take it a step further and wrap another gift with a contrasting color cloth and insert into the basket. These cotton squares are perfect for making cling wrap that can be used and washed and reused. Just tuck a plastic bag with grated beeswax and directions to make re-usable cling wrap into the basket. Or you might want to line your baskets with cling wrap that you have already made from these fabric squares.

Another idea is to buy or make a gift to wrap a gift – placemats, dishcloths, scarf, length of cloth or soft leather to reuse as furoshiki bag for groceries or for a nice tote/carry-all. Of course if you choose the cloth for furoshiki, type out the directions or include the URL for an online tutorial.

Alternatives to buying fancy ribbon, tissue, and specialty tags:

Use twine, string, paracord, cloth ribbon (especially a beautiful grosgrain ribbon), raffia, a belt, an elastic bracelet, a necklace, hair scrungies. You could even use a narrow scarf to tie up a cloth-wrapped gift, and add a pin to finish it off. Use your imagination.

Use a piece of cloth, a handkerchief, or a scarf as the “liner” in a box instead of tissue to present a nice gift.


Buy “chalkboard” tags, or buy the wooden tags and use chalkboard paint to make your own. Then suggest using these to label the mason jars in the pantry after the present is opened. Include a set of chalks. These would be perfect to give to kids beforehand so they can use these on the gifts they give. These can also be reused as a family tradition each year.

Make your own tags. These will probably get thrown away, but it will save money and they are fun to design. While this is not a reusable suggestion, you can save money by printing out your tags on the back of a 8×11 scrapbook paper of your choice. Cut them out, and you will have a beautiful design of your choosing on one side and a place to write on the other. If you prefer them to be a little stiffer, choose scrapbook cardstock.

Downloads:     Red Tags    Blue Tags

GiftSo here is a recent gift I presented to a friend. It incorporates some of these ideas listed above. She liked the box just as well as the gifts inside. I bought the scarf and the box, and the rest was handmade, including the pin for the scarf. I had fun making the tags and label too. I would have rather used red ribbon or cord, but  raffia is what I had on hand.

Use your imagination – the combinations are infinite! And you can’t loose by giving an extra gift (as the wrapping). See how creative you can get.


If you enjoy these articles and find them helpful, I would appreciate your using the Amazon links on the right to do your Amazon shopping. You cost stays the same, but I get a small commission, and this helps me to fund this blog. Thank you for considering this!


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Urban Emergency Survival Plan – A Book Review

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Book-CoverI consider myself fairly well prepared for emergencies. I know I need to do more, but at least I’ve had some experience and training. As a ham radio operator, in the late 80’s I worked as a volunteer with local firemen and other agencies in response to large fires in San Jose and Santa Cruz, California. Our ARES group (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) also helped with search and rescue.

I moved to southern California in the early 90’s, where I headed up my work department’s emergency response team. Because it was a very large company, they provided some excellent training for us. This was good, it turned out, as we were subsequently affected by the 1994 Northridge quake.  I’ve also attended Red Cross and CERT training to serve as a local first-responder until the professionals can arrive.

From the personal side of things, I’ve had to evacuate due to fire, and have dealt with both earthquake and flood damage at home.

So it was with great interest that I recently read Jim Cobb’s new book, Urban Emergency Survival Plan,* wondering both what it might offer me in the way of new things to consider, and also what it might offer a person who is new to this whole “prepping”, or preparedness, business.

It is often said that preppers and survivalists are all about the ‘doom and gloom,’ but the reality is that they are planning for the future, a future they are convinced will unfold after a disaster strikes. That, my friend, is optimistic thinking, not being a doomsayer.” — J. Cobb

To begin with, I was pleased to see that Cobb did not approach preparedness from a fear-based point of view. He simply listed examples we are all familiar with of past emergency situations around the globe. In a very matter-of-fact way he showed the types of things one might need to be prepared for in today’s world. He also wrote about some specific things that people faced during some very well-publicized emergencies, things I hadn’t heard about. It made me wonder if I might need to be prepared for similar situations.

The disaster examples he shared all have been reported in the news, but something about reading about them all in one sitting helped me to see the bigger picture and get a handle on the types of things I need to be prepared for in my corner of the world.

Putting together helpful items for emergency situations – being prepared for the unexpected – is a really good idea. Most people keep an emergency bag at home, in case they have to evacuate on a moment’s notice. Do you have a separate bag for work emergencies, in case you are forced to stay there for a night or two? Have you considered that you might need a vehicle emergency kit (a get-home bag)? Government disaster plans often involve restriction of travel. Should you need to get home, you might need to do so on foot. What is different about the contents of these 3 separate types of bags? Cobb not only covers various situations you might need to be prepared for in detail, but has put together some great checklists for you in the Appendix. He also lists helpful resources.

In any emergency situation there are many things to consider: food, water, communications, sanitation, first aid, shelter, security, whether to stay at home or leave. Cobb’s book lays out the issues and the options, and provides a thorough foundation for developing an emergency plan that suits your particular situation. He pulls together different ways to approach the same problem, and offers tips for people with differing needs. As a result of reading this book I am re-evaluating my own preparations.

If you are looking for a comprehensive, practical resource to guide in your plans to prepare for the unexpected, or if you simply want to reassess your existing plans, I highly recommend this book.  

Jim-CobbJim Cobb is a freelance writer and owner of Disaster Prep Consultants. You can follow his blog on Facebook at Survival Weekly.

* I asked to review this book and Jim’s publisher sent me a complementary copy. That has in no way influenced my opinions or this review.



Just one more day left to enter to win the Maxpedition Vulture-II Backpack!

Maxpedition Vulture II Backpack Giveaway!

Whether you use this backpack for camping, hiking, cross-country skiing, or as an emergency pack, you are sure to love it. On the off-chance that you already have too many quality backpacks, this would make a fabulous Christmas or Hanukkah present for someone special!

Enter to Win

This giveaway is open to residents of the United States only. Entrants must be age 18 or older to enter. Giveaway runs from 12:00 am MST October 25th to 12:00 am MST November 2nd. Winner will be drawn November 2nd and emailed. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email before another entrant is chosen, so check your spam folders too!

Good luck!

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Affiliate Disclosure: I am happy to be of service and to bring you content free of charge.  Please note that when you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. The price that you are charged will not change at all. If you plan to purchase any of these items I appreciate you purchasing them through the links on this page. Thank you for supporting this blog! 



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Sun Oven for Cooking and Dehydrating

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Win An All American Sun Oven!

The folks at the All American Sun Oven company have teamed up with a large group of bloggers and we are giving away a deluxe Sun Oven! The retail price of this set is $399! But that is only the start of the reasons why you should enter to try and win this oven.

Sun Oven Giveaway

Using a sun oven can help you be more frugal by cutting your utility bills. Wouldn’t it be great to have that bill lowered. Cooking in a sun oven is just as easy as using a conventional oven and really only takes a few minutes longer in the cooking cycle. Prepare your recipe using a little less liquid in casseroles, soups and stews. For baked goods use the same amounts of liquids as the recipe calls for. Find the optimal direction of the sun and get cooking. Of course, using a sun oven does require the sun to be available. However, it is possible to obtain good results even on a partly cloudy day.

The All American Sun Oven is manufactured right here in the USA. The company stands behind their product. Globally, Sun Oven has worked to bring this off grid cooking solution suitcaseto many undeveloped parts of the world, allowing people to eat healthier, cooked foods. I am happy to work with a company that has a giving mission.

With all the benefits of lower utility bills, being prepared to cook without fuel or electricity, and supporting a wonderful company, who wouldn’t want to own a Sun Oven! So lets get to the giveaway.

The Terms

(otherwise known as the small print)

The All American Sun Oven Giveaway is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Monday, Oct. 20th at 5:00 am (MDT) and ends on Sunday, Oct. 26th at 5:00 pm (MDT). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone! Let’s be prepared for the unexpected!

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Natural Cures Summit – Free Registration

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30 secret cures to naturally heal your body! Natural remedies and treatment protocols for specific conditions like hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Join The Natural Cures Movement led by Dr. Josh Axe, October 6-13. Free and online! 

Hypothyroidism? Autoimmune disease? Arthritis? Inflammatory bowel disease? Join Dr. Josh Axe at The Natural Cures Movement to learn natural remedies for these conditions, and many others! Online for free from October 6-13!

Learn how to naturally heal your body at The Natural Cures Movement, free and online October 6-13! Register today and watch the first 2 talks of the summit today! 



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CERT2What is CERT?

Recently I spent three Saturdays learning how to provide assistance in emergency situations until trained professionals can respond. This was a local program called CERT, Community Emergency Response Team training, put on by our county Fire Departments.

Being prepared in an emergency situation is critical. In the past many of us have dealt with wildfires, floods, mudslides, and earthquakes. Others have confronted tornadoes, hurricanes and man-made disasters. 

Following major disasters, first responders who provide fire and medical services will not be able to meet the demand for services typically rendered. The local population will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life saving and life sustaining needs. The Community Emergency Response Team is a group of people who are trained in light search and rescue, triage and first-aid, and more. 

CERT teams within each community are prepared, self-activated, independently organized, and neighborhood oriented with support from cities and public safety agencies. 

Where is CERT Training Held and When?

This is a nationwide program, sponsored by FEMA, and the training is FREE. Use your browser to find CERT training near you. The dates and times will vary by city or county. Some sessions are held on week-nights, while others are on weekends.

Why Do This?

Do you know how to shut off your CERT3gas, electricity and water in an emergency? What type of fire-extinguisher to use on different types of fires? How to rescue someone who is pinned under a heavy object? Provide basic aid and comfort in a disaster situation? Recognize the signs of shock? Size up a situation to protect the safety of the rescuers? Carry an injured person to safety? This program prepares you to handle the above circumstances and more.

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed help but could not expect the fire department or EMTs to arrive for an extended period? Those of us who experienced the Northridge Quake of 1994 know what that is like. In some cases help did not come for days. Perhaps you have gone through something similar. If not, it is always better to be prepared and not need it than to need it and not be prepared.

Think that because you are a woman, or disabled, that you can’t possibly do some of what might be required to help? Think again. Our trainers selected the smallest women in the group to use leverage and cribbing to lift a very heavy object off a dummy during one of our exercises. It was good to see it work for them.

Here are some photos of the training:


Besides a very detailed manual, each trainee in our sessions received a CERT backpack, filled with a helmet, vest, work gloves, whistle, goggles, N-95 mask, a headlamp for hands-free flashligh, and blue non-latex gloves. CERT5sThis is the beginning of an emergency backpack that should be assembled for use in emergencies.

Consider enrolling in your local CERT training and discover how you can be part of the solution in local emergency situations. I highly recommend it.

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Cooking During Power Outages

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WonderOvenAs winter approaches, given the forecasts for much of the nation, it may be a good thing to prepare for extended power outages. Because sun ovens may not be an option, you may be forced to cook over an open fire or with a propane stove or charcoal grill. Because there is no way to know how long the outage will last, you will likely be looking for ways to conserve your fuel.

What would you say if you could have a crockpot that uses no electricity? None. Nada. Just heat the food for 5-15 minutes, then finish it off in your non-electric, no fuel required, “slow cooker”. It cooks for hours! Like 12-18 hours if needed! It also preserves frozen or cold items as well. Added benefit – it is portable. Take it to potlucks or on a picnic.

I’m speaking about the Wonder Oven, which is really a set of (bean-bag) pillows. Pioneers used to call it a hay oven. And it is truly amazing. Once you bring food to a boil, you can take it off the heat and it will continue to cook in this “oven” at near boiling temperatures for hours. In fact, forget power outages. This is a good way to save money on electricity and/or natural gas any day of the week.

You can, of course, buy these on Amazon for about $55, but you could also make your own if you have rudimentary sewing skills. The cost? About 3 yards of cotton fabric and some bean-bag fill. Just follow this DIY tutorial. The pattern and instructions are here.

credit: 2leelou
Warning: There is no plan for washing the “oven” if your pot boils over a little while cooking, so to prevent accidents you may want to use a large towel to line the interior before you insert your pot. Or, if your pot doesn’t have a swing handle, set it on the towel first and then wrap the towel up and over, doubling it over the pot handles and use it in place of potholders to set the pot in the oven .

Disclosure: Some of the links on this site may be affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link to a company or product and then end up buying something, I get a small percentage of the sale for referring you. Your price is unchanged. Thanks for your support of this blog.

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Beyond the Basics: Thriving with Less

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BasicNeedsMankind needs certain things for survival. These basic needs include air, shelter, water and food. You can’t do without them for very long. You may have heard of the Rule of 3’s: 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. These are the lengths of time you can do without in a crisis situation before things start to go really bad for you. But is having access to the basics enough to say you are thriving? Not really. It takes more. It is the intangible things that move us from surviving to thriving. Here are some of them:


Everyone has some level of faith, even atheists. What is yours? Do you have faith that the sun will rise every morning? Celebrate it by making a cup of tea (even if it is from pine needles you foraged) and watching the sunrise, enjoying nature and cultivating peace at the beginning of each day.

Have faith in yourself? Then take a leap of faith. Learn something new. You could take a ceramics class at your local community college. You never know what treasures you might create. Clay is cheap, and so are the basic tools you'll need.
Have faith in yourself? Then take a leap of faith. Learn something new. For example, take a ceramics class at your local community college. You never know what treasures you might create. Clay is cheap, and so are the basic tools you’ll need.

Do you have faith in yourself and your abilities? Keep learning and growing. For example, enroll in a community college course. They have waivers for those who cannot afford tuition, and bus routes almost always stop there if you don’t have a car. Do you have faith in your family and friends? Spend time with them and cherish each moment. Do you have faith in a loving God? Spend part of each day thanking Him for your blessings and communing with Him. All these things add to the richness of life.


To have no hope is to despair. This can eventually be deadly. On the other hand, to hope is to have vision. What does that mean? Well, if you can envision a future that is even a little bit better than what you are enduring today, you can experience hope. I have found that for hope to thrive you must also practice appreciation. Be thankful for something. Are you chronically ill and in pain? Assess what you do have and build on those things.

“We are limited not by our abilities, but by our vision”–Unknown

For example, be thankful that your eyesight is good. Then find ways to use it. Photography? Art? Doing research on the internet? These things can lead you to new and exciting places, something to look forward to.


We all want to be loved. It is essential for our self esteem. Don’t feel the love lately? Are you giving love? It is hard to do this if we don’t first love ourselves. I’m not talking about a narcissistic love for self, either. So here are some questions to consider:

  • Do I love myself, or do I treat myself worse than I treat others?
  • Who are the people in this world who really love me? Make a list.
  • Who do I truly love? Make a list.
  • Is there a God? Does He love me? If I’m not sure, how do I find out?


As you answer the questions above, you will find that you cannot help but appreciate and be thankful for those who have shown you love. Consciously practice appreciation for the good things in your life, like health, family,friends, a home, enough dirt in the backyard for a small garden, and so forth. Focus on these things, not the chaos that may be going on around you. I don’t think you can actually thrive in this world without practicing thankfulness on a regular basis.

Determination to Succeed and Thrive

No matter what your personality or circumstances, your talents or limitations, you can thrive in this world. You may have to alter your definition of success. Set new goals. Find a way to live with less stress. Thriving can be hard work, but it can also be easy. It all depends on your attitude and your determination.

Do you love fine china, but can’t afford to buy a set. Instead of being unhappy about this, buy just one cup and saucer you truly like, and have your morning coffee or tea in it. Be satisfied with that one cup, and thankful for the fact that you have it. Can’t afford all the herbal teas you want? Grow your own. Seeds are not that expensive, and dirt is pretty much free. Drying herbs is free too. Don’t have the money for the extra water for your garden? Come on now – get creative. Save your rinse water when you wash dishes or when you shower. Extra work? Extra time? Yes, a bit. But it will help you to value what you produce just that much more.

This is how to do it. Get creative. Find ways to make it work. You can come up with ways to thrive that have meaning for you. Start with just one thing. Make it a habit. Appreciate it. Enjoy it. You will find that learning to thrive can be addictive. And fun!

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Preparing for the Flu Season Now with Elderberry Tincture

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Prepare4FluI was getting desperate. The flu bug I had contracted had held on for 2 1/2 months. It didn’t help knowing that my grandfather’s mother died at the age of 36 in the 1919 flu pandemic. She nursed her 7 children through the flu, then succumbed to it herself.

Because of my own past experiences with the flu, I kept thinking it would be over any day. But finally I found myself in the doctor’s office, begging for a prescription of anti-viral medication. Because I didn’t have insurance at this time, cost was going to be an issue. But it couldn’t be helped. Or so I thought.

My doctor’s answer to my request was “No, but I will prescribe something better than an anti-viral drug. I’m going to prescribe elderberry tea. This is far better than any pharmaceutical I could give you, and the best anti-viral medicine there is.”

How had I not heard of this before? And how likely was it that a traditional M.D. would give this advice? I am so grateful that he did.

I bought elderberry tea that afternoon and started drinking it like crazy. All I could find was an echinacea-elderberry blend. It seemed to have more echinacea than elderberry, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I decided to get some dried elderberries to add to the tea. The cost? Less than $10. Within two days I was feeling right as rain. Herbs are amazing! I knew that. Honestly, I did. I just didn’t know enough about them.

Although I had used natural remedies in the past, this experience caused me to realize how little I knew about dealing with health challenges by using herbal remedies and food, and just how high the stakes were. I wanted to know more, and to be prepared for the following year, just in case. This was the first time the flu had hit me so hard and for so long.

EB3At first it was all about elderberries. They are so amazing. They don’t prevent the flu, but they do greatly reduce the time you are ill.¹  I learned to make an elderberry tincture for use the following winter (they take time – 6-8 weeks – so you need to think ahead). Dried elderberries became a pantry staple. I didn’t know that I could get powdered elderberry too. Boosting my immune system² with an addition to my morning smoothie sounded wonderful. Then I learned more about making syrups and oxymels (preparations using acid and honey), and lozenges. I discovered that the home remedy for sore throats that I had been using for ages was actually an oxymel. Who knew?

The Experience Continues

Next came a small herbGardenPlants garden. I’m not growing elderberry or nettles yet, but plan to do so in containers next year. In the meantime, I do grow some vegetables, kitchen herbs, and chamomile for tea. I started small, because it had been a long time since I had a garden. Can’t wait to expand. OK, I am chuckling here, because what really happened is that I started small, then couldn’t help myself, and kept adding and adding different plants within the first month.

MoringaTreeMoringa came next. I bought a little seedling from Blue Yonder Urban Farms. Boy has it grown, but until it is big enough to harvest the leaves I am ordering their Moringa powder for my smoothies. Another whole-food, packed with vitamins, protein, calcium and phyto-nutrients. And one package seems to last forever.

Watching plants grow can be an exciting experience. At least it is to me. And walking out my kitchen door to clip basil or rosemary, or to gather tomatoes or strawberries, is such a wonderful thing. I don’t have a big garden now, but it provides me with quite a feeling of abundance. There is such a richness in working in the earth. And I feel “rich” too, knowing that I am eating what I have grown myself without pesticides.

Organic food costs very little when you grow it yourself, so I’m on my way to being more self-reliant. I grow very little of what I eat now, but it is a step in the right direction. I began by taking baby steps, as we all do. The more I learn and the more I do, the more I want to learn and do.

Who knew that a bad case of the flu would turn out to be such a blessing in disguise?


(to download for printing simply click on the title)

This is so very easy to prepare. You will need the following:

  • A clean mason jar
  • Fresh or dried elderberries (I get my herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs or Bulk Herbs)
  • Vodka*, at least 80% proof  (If you are glutten free, use Smirnoff Vodka, as it is not made with wheat)
  • Amber or cobalt blue tincture bottle(s) with dropper
  • Mesh strainer
  • Funnel


Place the elderberries in the jar so that it is approximately 1/2 full. Then fill the jar with vodka. Leave about an inch of headspace at the top. Now close the jar and give it a shake. Label the bottle with the contents and date, and if you want, include the date it will be ready.

It is as simple as that! Now comes “the waiting game”. Place the jar in a dark cupboard, or simply cover it with a paper bag to keep out the light. Try to shake it each day if you remember. The tincture will be ready in about 6 weeks’ time, so you will need to be patient.

When the time is right, strain the liquid into another clean jar or even a Pyrex measuring cup, using the mesh strainer. If you lay cheesecloth over the strainer before you dump the elderberries and liquid in, once the liquid has passed through you can wrap it around the elderberries and squeeze out all of the remaining goodness. You can now discard the berries. Using a funnel (or not) the tincture is now ready to be poured into the tincture bottles. Use amber or other colored bottles to protect the tincture from light. Be sure to label the bottle(s), including the date prepared, and store either in the cupboard or in the refrigerator.


If you are feeling ill, take tsp. three times a day. You can take it straight, or in a glass of water, fruit juice or tea.

*Why use vodka for the tincture? It will last a long, long time. At least a year. Also, a tincture made with vodka, as opposed to vegetable glycerin for example, is much

¹ – “In a double blind clinical trial on patients infected with the influenza virus, 90% of the group taking Elderberry extract recovered completely from the fever, chills, body aches, and cough twice as fast as the group receiving the placebo (within 3 days rather than 7).”


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Toledo Water Crisis

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ow! They say about 400,000 are affected. What if it was the entire state? or region? You might have to wait a good while to be provided with drinkable water. Makes sense to store several days worth of drinking water for your family – more if you want to use water for hygiene or washing dishes.

And don’t let anyone label you as a “crazy prepper.” Being more self-sufficient just makes sense. In large emergencies the government and other relief agencies simply can’t get to everyone right away.

USA Today Toledo
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