Sustainable Sundays #12

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It’s Sunday again! Welcome to Sustainable Sundays – the best link party focused entirely on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   

Hey, we’ve been doing Sustainable Sundays for three months now. This is great. This weekend, Danielle is away at the Haven blog conference. When she was at the airport, she texted me and asked “Do you think I’d get a response if I asked How many here are going to Haven?”

I told her “Sure you would – a lot of people would hear HEAVEN instead of HAVEN!” Take a moment and picture that if you want a giggle.

Don’t forget to comment on other posts from this link party with #SustainableSundays – Danielle hunts you all down to find the Most Social Feature. EVEN if you don’t get a lot of clicks, you can still get the Most Social.

Enjoy the features!

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Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 

Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book, “A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth.


Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube / Twitter


Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.

Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food.

Follow her by email to get her ebook, “Homesteading Without A Homestead” for free.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / Instagram / Flipboard

Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

Simple Party Rules 

  • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
  • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
  • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
  • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
  • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
  • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily find you. 
  • Please grab the party button below and place it anywhere you desire on your site. This is a great way to show others your features and lead them to other sustainable blogs and materials. The code below is no follow code to comply with FTC guidelines.

           


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Link Up Below!

An Eco Friendly Link Party!

Sustainable Sundays #11

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It’s Sunday again! Welcome to Sustainable Sundays – the best link party focused entirely on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   

Are you cooling off where you live? On my Facebook page, people check in daily with the weather in their area and wow, is it a hot summer this year! I hope you’re staying safe and hydrated, no matter where you live!

Don’t forget to comment on other posts from this link party with #SustainableSundays – Danielle hunts you all down to find the Most Social Feature. EVEN if you don’t get a lot of clicks, you can still get the Most Social.

Usually we pick different bloggers for each feature, but the amazing Katy from Skip the Bag goes above and beyond in visiting and commenting on others. You’re awesome, Katy! It is really no surprise that she had the most visited post AND was the most social.

Come on, everyone – give her some competition!

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Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 

Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book, “A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth.


Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube / Twitter


Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.

Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food.

Follow her by email to get her ebook, “Homesteading Without A Homestead” for free.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / Instagram / Flipboard

Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

Simple Party Rules 

  • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
  • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
  • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
  • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
  • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
  • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily find you. 
  • Please grab the party button below and place it anywhere you desire on your site. This is a great way to show others your features and lead them to other sustainable blogs and materials. The code below is no follow code to comply with FTC guidelines.

           


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Link Up Below!

An Eco Friendly Link Party!

Unplug and Save

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Have you ever heard that you can save a whole lot on your energy bill just by unplugging your unused appliances? But really, how much could you possibly save by unplugging everything when you’re done using it? 
Just how much money can you save by unplugging appliances? More than you might think.
If it’s not in use can it really be using that much energy? Well, you’d be surprised at just how much energy you can save simply by unplugging those unused appliances.

What Draws the Most Energy

Your TV and coffee maker which are powered down individually might not draw that much energy, but all of these electrical appliances together are still drawing power and can add up to 10% to your electric bill each month. And in general the biggest drains on your power even when they are powered down is any device with a remote control.
Also anything with an external power supply, a charger (for your phone or gaming device), anything with a continuous display (an alarm clock, microwave, or oven with a digital clock), laptop computers, and cable boxes (especially with an integrated DVR) are all huge offenders. They use an average of 9 watts to 44 watts of electricity even when powered down.

Older appliances will use less power when not in use because they aren’t doing anything.

A washing machine without a digital display has nothing to power when not in use. But of course the older appliances then have the unfortunate fate of not being energy efficient when they are in use.

The drawing of power when appliances are not in use is something that is beginning to become a thing of the past.

Many newer TVs and electronics are drawing less energy when turned off because of energy star guidelines.

How to Know Which Appliances to Unplug

Obviously you can’t unplug everything when it’s not in use. Your alarm clock is probably something you need to keep plugged in at all times unless you switch to a manual alarm clock. Your cable box with the DVR in it is set to record things at certain times, so unplugging it might cause you to miss your scheduled recordings.
Your refrigerator and programmable coffeemaker are obviously appliances that are completely useless should you unplug when they aren’t in use – in particular your refrigerator. For these appliances the best way to save on your energy cost is to make sure you check the energy star ratings. You will need to check for the standby ratings on the item before you purchase it.
Of course there is one other option – get rid of your refrigerator. Yes, it’s possible.
But the TV and DVD player and your computer are all items which can be unplugged when not in use. Probably the easiest way to accomplish unplugging these items is to have them attached to a power strip which has an on/off switch. Flip the switch when you’re done using the items. And with a quick flip of the switch you can power everything back up.

We are off-grid and count every watt of power. Because of this, we turn off everything at night. Yes, quite literally, we turn off all the power for the house! Obviously, we don’t have any appliances that need to draw energy continuously.

One thing we have learned, if you are turning off your entire computer system, is to turn them back on in a certain order. First, turn your modem back on. Then, once it has booted up completely, turn your router back on. Finally, turn on your computer.

You likely aren’t going to see huge savings, but you should see a 5-10% decrease in your electric bill if you begin turning off all appliances and devices when they are not in active use. And just think about what would happen if all of your neighbors cut back and unplugged from the wall. The effect it would have on the environment as a whole would truly be impressive. 
And with something so simple, who wouldn’t want to save even $5 a month on their electric bill?

Budgeting – and following a budget – seems like it should be easy. Unfortunately, too many of us struggle with it. Like the tiny bits of electricity that add up on our monthly bills, the money seems to trickle away, untracked and unaccounted for.

The skills can be easily mastered, but most people have not been taught the basics of personal finance. Make no mistake – frugality and personal finance is something that can and should be taught!

Enroll in Common Cents and join me for a 16 week course that will take you from budgeting through mortgages and identity theft. Each week includes videos, slides, printable affirmations and of course a detailed lesson. A private Facebook group provides ongoing support and training for all students.

Enroll today in Common Cents!

Could you handle economic collapse?

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Welcome! You’re concerned about the economy and I have to say – I don’t blame you. No matter where you live in the world, the news is unsettling. Countries are going bankrupt, currencies are collapsing and there is no sign that anything is going to be improving soon.
We don't like thinking about the possibility of economic collapse, but it is increasingly likely as the world economic system destabilizes. Be prepared and survive.
When the economy begins taking a turn for the worst, knowing what to do to survive is absolutely essential, and this can change depending on the conditions you find yourself in.
In any scenario, though, saving up enough money and resources for basic sustenance is the first step. This preparation will reduce your dependency on your job and grocery stores.
Ideally, with zero income, your existing savings should be enough to sustain you for at least six months, and even then, it would be better to be able to rely upon alternative income sources to generate additional earnings.
Economic collapse - could you handle it? As currencies collapse and countries face bankruptcy, this is a reality many of us should prepare for.

When the Government Takes a Nose-Dive, Don’t Follow!

These preparations will enable you to stay afloat and even prosper in the worst financial conditions:

Consider your current lifestyle in terms of your future

Do you and your family spend money like there’s no tomorrow? If you do, when tomorrow does come, you’re likely to find it particularly difficult. Making a few changes now can vastly strengthen your situation.
Start thinking about what’s really essential for you and your family and budget for these things. Once you have these necessities taken care of, then you can include non-essential luxuries in your budget.
Look for ways to supplement your income and save even more. If there’s anything that you can be certain about, it’s that you surely can’t have too much money for the difficult times that may be looming ahead.

Accumulating gold and silver is particularly smart since the current currency may yield little to no value in a failed economy.
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Stockpile essentials

Having the basics, like food, water, and tools, will enable you to survive. Having extra to sell or trade will help you prosper.

Ensure you’re sufficiently stocked up on food supplies, water, hygiene items, and other basic necessities.
If you can purchase a piece of land outside the city, especially one with a fresh water supply, you’ll have access to, and the means to produce more, fresh food and water.


Strengthen your survival skills

Survival skills are things like living off the land and natural medicine. Your community may offer inexpensive classes to increase your knowledge and skills.
In an economic collapse, these skills will not only help you survive, but others will gladly pay for your services as well.
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Don’t be a lone wolf!

While the urge for you to “go it alone” may be really strong, the truth is that surviving all by yourself will indeed be a difficult and cumbersome task. This is something that I have repeated over and over again.
Historically, humans have always flourished the best when they worked together.

Being able to work together with others will be among the most important survival skills that you can have at your disposal.
Strengthen your bonds with your friends or neighbors and make plans together. For example, you could stockpile complementary items to share. Take note of the different skillsets among those you know and trust.
As cold as the world may become prior to an economic collapse, your kindness and compassion towards others will certainly pay you dividends you would’ve never expected otherwise!
Yes, you can survive – and even prosper – if the country suffers a financial collapse. Starting on these preparations now will give you greater confidence in your ability to provide for your family in the years to come.

Sustainable Sunday #10

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It’s Sunday again! Welcome to Sustainable Sundays – the best link party focused entirely on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   
Share your green and sustainable blog posts at Sustainable Sundays

It seems we’re all sweltering in the heat lately. Keep cool and keep safe, please, especially if you live in a place where the temperature gets extremely hot. The human body can only handle so much. And hydrate!

The biggest excitement around here is that my second book – Common Cents – will soon be available for purchase, and you can get a sneak peek at the course that goes with it here.

Don’t forget to comment on other posts from this link party with #SustainableSundays – Danielle hunts you all down to find the Most Social Feature. EVEN if you don’t get a lot of clicks, you can still get the Most Social.

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Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 

Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book, “A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube / Twitter

Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.

Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food.

Follow her by email to get her ebook, “Homesteading Without A Homestead” for free.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / Instagram / Flipboard

Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

Simple Party Rules 

  • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
  • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
  • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
  • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
  • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
  • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily find you. 
  • Please grab the party button below and place it anywhere you desire on your site. This is a great way to show others your features and lead them to other sustainable blogs and materials. The code below is no follow code to comply with FTC guidelines.


Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

Link Up Below!

An Eco Friendly Link Party!

Should You Be Weeding Your Garden?

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It’s the time of year when weeds really get into full swing. There’s no fool-proof way to stop all the weeds from getting into your garden — but do you really want to? Too many weeds are friends to no one, but some weeds actually do some good. They can help in a lot of different ways, so let’s look at some reasons you might want to leave a few weeds in your garden.

Is it really necessary to weed your garden? What can you do instead? A guest post.

 
Bobbi Peterson loves writing and regularly posts on her blog Living Life Green. She’s also a freelance writer, green living advocate and environmentalist. You can find more from Bobbi on Twitter.
 

They Can Help Aerate the Soil

There are a lot of weeds that are considered “taproots,” which means their roots go far down into the soil. Dandelions are probably the most well-known of this variety, but any taproot will be hard to pull.

The depths of these roots are good for two reasons. First, they don’t compete with nutrients for plants that have shallow roots. Second, the deep taproot can help to draw up nutrients from deeper in the soil for other plants to use, which is the whole point of aerating your garden. Why pull up plants that are doing the hard work for you?

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You’ll Attract Pollinators

Bees, butterflies, moths, certain kinds of wasps and beetles are all great pollinators. The one thing they all need in order to be pollinators is, of course, a variety of flowers.

Vegetable gardens are not great at offering a wide variety. They’ll have some, of course — tomatoes, melons and maybe eggplant will all flower. But that’s not a wide variety, and it’s not much for wild competition. A garden that attracts pollinators needs a lot of color, and if you can’t get it from your plants, you can certainly get it from your weeds. Clover, nettles, dandelion and wild violet are all beautiful and will bring the bugs in.

They’re Great for Snacking

Some of the traditional weeds people tend to trash are actually edible plants. Dandelion flowers are delicious right out of the ground, and the leaves can be used in salad. Wild violets can also be eaten plain, but they’re delicious when coated in sugar and used as decoration on cakes and pastries. You can also collect a large number of them to make absolutely stunning violet syrup.

You can also eat the leaves of chickweed in salad, and wild fennel can replace anise in your cooking for a cheaper alternative. Blackberries and wine raspberries are both easy to find, and a lot of fun to pick.

Nettles, on the other hand, are very edible but not as much fun to pick. Make sure to wear gloves if you’re going after them, because they will sting. However, dunk the plant in boiling water for 30-45 seconds, and all the sting will go out of them. You can use them in teas and soups for a great, hearty affect.

Both dandelions and violets are easily recognizable. However, if you’re ever unsure of what a plant is, play it safe and don’t try to eat it. Some plants are poisonous, and you don’t want to make yourself sick.

Is weeding really necessary in your garden?

Some Weeds Are OK

It’s understandable you don’t want weeds everywhere. They have a tendency to look messy, and messy is not relaxing. Plus, if you’re working in a community garden, there are probably some rules that you have to keep your weeds under control so they don’t spread.

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The key is to keep your weed population within reason, not to spend hours pulling every tiny weed that pops up. If you’re looking for an easier way to get rid of them, think outside the box. Air compressors can be used to remove weeds while simultaneously fertilizing the soil, by basically beating the weeds into nothing with something nutritious for the soil.

If you’ve been spending your summer worried about weeds, worry no more. Welcome a few travelers into your yard, and start enjoying some of the benefits they have to offer.

Why You Need to Know Your “Why”?

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There are quite a few reasons to find your “why”, your reason for getting up in the morning and doing what you do. Finding your purpose or calling can be a powerful thing and it goes well beyond the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing something worthwhile. Let’s take a look at five different good reasons to spend the time to find your “why”.

Do you know your WHY - your reason for getting up in the morning? Here are some reasons why you should take the time to figure it out.

You’ll Feel Less Stressed

How much mental energy and worry do you spend trying to figure out what you should or could be doing each day? When your “why” is clear in your mind, you don’t have to worry about that any longer and feel less stressed.

But there’s more to it than that. When we aren’t following our passion and purpose, we aren’t happy with what we’re doing and with that comes added stress. It’s no wonder that you’ll feel calmer and more relaxed about what you do and life in general when you know where you’re going.

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You’ll Get More Done

Time flies when you’re having fun and it slows down to a crawl when you aren’t. Along the same lines you get a lot more productive and get through your workload in a lot less time when you have a purpose and are passionate about what you’re doing.

I’m sure you’ve noticed this in your daily life. When you’re working on something you enjoy or something that’s important to you, the work almost seems to do itself. You don’t even notice how long or how hard you’ve been at it.

Have you take the time to figure out your WHY - your calling, your reason to get up in the morning? Here are five great reasons why you should take the time to figure it out.

You Do A Better Job

Not only do you get things done faster, you do everything you can to learn more and get better at what you love to do. As a result you do a much better job. Now there’s a great reason to find your why and follow your purpose.

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You’ll Feel Better About Yourself

There’s nothing better to lift your mood and boost your self-esteem than doing some good. Don’t be surprised to notice quite a bit of this once you figure out what your purpose in life is and then do what you’re meant to be doing, helping those in need.

You’ll Be Happier

All of this leads to one all-important end result. You’ll be happier. You’ll be more fulfilled with what you do and live a more content life. And isn’t that something we’re all striving towards. Who knew the secret to lifelong happiness was to find your “why”.

You Are Not Too Poor to Prep!

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If you ask people if they would like to survive in a disaster situation, every one of them would tell you yes, obviously. But if you ask them how many of them are actually prepared, you’d see maybe only a third of them (and that’s being generous) would say they were.
Stop using finances as an excuse to avoid prepping. You are NOT too poor to get prepared. In fact, if your income is low, you need to prepare even more!

While everyone wants to survive a natural disaster or economic collapse, not everyone will actually work a plan to make sure that happens. There are always a variety of reasons that people give for not preparing.
Topping the list is always the excuse that putting a survival plan in action costs too much money. And at the back of this excuse is the belief that the government will always pick up the slack during an emergency. After all, isn’t that what the government is there for?
What they fail to realize is that most governments aren’t in the position to help people during a catastrophic event. Sure, the government can step in and help if an area or two is hard hit – but we saw how well that went in the United States during Hurricane Katrina and other disasters.
But imagine a disaster of such proportions that it astounds the entire world. If something like an Ebola crisis began to hit hundreds of thousands of people in every city and in every state, for example.
The government wouldn’t be able to keep up. If you weren’t infected and had to stay quarantined in place, you would become one of millions. How well do you think your needs would be met?

You can’t afford to rely on anyone else and you can’t afford not to prepare. The problem that most people have when they use the excuse that they can’t afford to gear up for survival is that their outlook is far too broad.

They’re looking at a list of supplies as a whole rather than breaking them down and concentrating on building up in small increments. You can set aside the supplies you need for survival even if you don’t have all of the money you need at once because you can do it on a budget.
Even if you live paycheck to paycheck, you can afford to prepare. What you have to do is buy just a few survival supplies each month. As each month passes, your store of supplies will grow.
Concentrate on reaching small goals first.

Get a good cookbook

Yes, this is a shameless plug for my cookbook, but if you read the reviews on Amazon, you’ll understand why. A Cabin Full of Food is designed to keep your pantry full of home-grown food and your table full of delicious meals made from that food. The recipes will work in any modern home but shine in a grid-down situation.

Even if you have no idea how to cook, the simple recipes in conversational format, will help you put food on the table. So your first step is to get A Cabin Full of Food – and then start using it. None of the ingredients are “exotic”, expensive or difficult to find, and the cookbook is in use from South Africa to France and all through North America.

Double Up

Let’s say you are planning to make a recipe using canned corn (and you haven’t yet canned your own) because you noticed that canned corn is on sale. Instead of buying the three cans that you planned to use this week, pick up six.  Later, as you have more ready cash and are more comfortable with stockpiling, you might buy a case or three during the sale (which is what I would do), but even if you buy three extra cans, you have painlessly added to your pantry.

Focus on Small Goals

You do not need to run out and buy a year’s worth of food for every member of your family. Start working on building your deep pantry. When we started prepping, we were poor enough that we qualified for food bank assistance and other help. Building a deep pantry was one tool we used to pull ourselves out of that deep poverty.

The same thinking applies to other supplies. Watch for sales. Have a list and slowly pick away at it. Focus on small goals and celebrate your successes. 

How Eco-Friendly Are You?

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Do you believe you are earth conscious? You are out there doing your part to save the planet and live a sustainable life. You are the expert of all of your friends when it comes to being eco friendly. Are you sure you’re doing all you can? Take this self-evaluation to determine just how eco friendly you are.
How eco-friendly are you? How do you stack up with this checklist?
This post contains affiliate links.
* Use fluorescent or LED light bulbs in your home.
* Turn off electronics at night (TV, computers, radios, etc.).
* Turn off lights when you leave a room.
* Don’t rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.
* Only run full loads for the washing machine or dishwasher.
* Wash laundry in cold water.
* Hang clothes to dry.
* Skip the oven preheat except for baking.
* Recycle newspaper.
* Recycle glass.
* Recycle aluminum.
* Recycle paper.
* Recycle cell phones.
* Recycle ink cartridges.
* Recycle hangers.
* Use an eco-friendly dry cleaner or just don’t dry clean at all.
* Use both sides of a piece of paper and use white boards or digital whenever possible.
* Reuse gift wrap like bows and gift bags.
* Use reusable bags at the grocery store.
* Use reusable water bottles like this wonderful LifeFactory bottle (I love mine).
* Use reusable coffee mugs – I use a Thermos mug because they’re the best.
* Use a water filtration system instead of buying bottled water.
* Use reusable lunch bags.
* Don’t use coffee stirrers.
* Stop paper bills/statements.
* Pay bills online.
* No baths, showers only.
* Shared showers among family members.
* No running water while brushing teeth.
* Take short five-minute showers.
* Adjust your thermostat, keep your house cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer.
* Open windows and turn off air conditioning whenever possible.
* Walk or ride a bike whenever possible.
* Use public transportation or carpool to work.
* Do all your errands at once.
* Go to a car wash.
* Work from home whenever you can.
* Use your cruise control.
* Keep your car tuned up and well maintained.
* Plant a tree.

Keep reading for more. (Don’t forget to pin this post first!)
Are you as earth-friendly as you think you are? Compare yourself against this checklist and see how you stack up!

* Clean your home with eco-friendly cleaning products.

* Do yard care with eco-friendly products.
* Keep your fireplace damper closed.
* Use matches instead of lighters.
* Cut down on the junk mail.
* Give away clothes and other items you don’t use anymore.
* Buy second hand.
* Use cloth diapers on your baby.
* Use wash clothes instead of wipes.
* Don’t use paper towels.
* Download software instead of purchasing the disc.
* Use e-tickets wherever you can.
* No answering machine, use voicemail instead.
* Use rechargeable batteries.
* Buy local.
* See and be seen at the Sustainable Sundays link party – where the best green bloggers hang out!
How did you do with this list? Are there areas you could improve in? Are you truly the eco-conscientious person you always believed yourself to be?

Being eco conscious is not only something you’ll find is good for our planet, but you’ll also notice some huge money savings. Your energy costs will go down as will your grocery bill. So work on reducing your carbon footprint on this planet, one thing at a time. And before you know it, you too will be living an eco-friendly life.

5 Things You Need to Know About Debt

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Welcome! It’s so wonderful to see you. 

These days everyone is looking for ways to reduce debt and save money, and you are likely just like the rest of us – wondering how you can make that happen in your life. It is certainly possible to wipe out your existing debt and learn how to live your life within your means.

If you want to get out of debt, you need to know your enemy. Here are five things that you need to know about dealing with debt.

Here are five tips that will help you on your way to debt free living

Stop using credit cards

One of the leading factors in the current economic crisis is people buying things on credit they cannot afford. The next thing they know, they find themselves unable to do anything more than make minimum monthly payments.

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 Minimum payments will keep you in debt because every month interest continues to accrue on your original balance. A $1,000 balance on a typical credit card can take 22 years to pay off if you make only the minimum monthly payments!
·Don’t fall into the trap of credit card debt. Instead, avoid the hassle and expense by paying cash for the things you buy. If you want a big-ticket item, save the cash before you make the purchase. Only buy when you can afford to pay for the item in full before you bring it home.

Credit cards have their uses and I use one. It is extremely difficult to run an online business without one. But if you cannot pay your credit card off in full each month, set it aside and use cash at least until you have your finances under control.

Need to learn more about Saving, Making and Managing Money? You need Common Cents!

It's possible to get rid of debt and live within your means, but first you must know what you're dealing with. Here are five things that you need to know about debt.

Buy luxury items with cash

We all have extras and luxuries we want, but using credit to get them is a dangerous path to take. You’ll get much greater enjoyment from the extras in your life when you pay cash, rather than ongoing monthly payments.
Nothing takes the excitement out of a new toy or nice vacation more than the large payments that strain your budget month after month.

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Create a realistic budget that includes debt repayment

The first step in gaining control over your debt is creating a workable budget. Rather than stifling you, a budget can bring you freedom! You’ll know where your money goes and you’ll set a spending plan so you can continue buying the most important things in your life.
Your budget should take into consideration all facets of your lifestyle, including housing, food and household items, utilities, savings, recreation and debt repayment.
If your budget doesn’t include room for debt repayment, there will never be enough money to pay off your debt. Take control of your financial reality by working with a realistic budget every month. Before long, you’ll see your debt diminishing while your savings grow.

Need to learn more about Saving, Making and Managing Money? You need Common Cents!

Seek the help of a professional credit counselor, accountant or financial planner

The best way to be sure you’re making sound financial decisions is to seek out the help of a financial professional.
Credit counselors, financial planners and accountants are experts in the areas of savings, debt repayment, investments and tax deductions.
Implement each of these areas into your finances to eliminate financial strain and secure a stable financial future.

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Negotiate better rates with the banks or credit card companies

Many people assume they have no choice but to accept the interest and finance rates offered by their banks and credit card companies, but that isn’t always the case!
Talk to the people at your financial institutions. You may be surprised at how willing they are to budge.
If your credit is in good shape or you’ve made steady, progressive strides to improve it, you may be able to get lower interest rates on your debts.
You might also receive higher interest rates on your savings, giving you a double shot at eliminating your debt entirely and moving forward with your finances in a positive direction.
You can repair your debt problems and learn to avoid creating them in the future. These five steps will point you in the right direction and get you started on a new path to financial freedom and prosperity!

Sustainable Sundays #9

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Welcome to Sustainable Sundays! I’m so glad you’re here. This is a link party focused on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   
Share your green and sustainable blog posts at Sustainable Sundays

Oh my goodness, there were so many posts last week that it was hard to choose. This is fabulous, watching the word get out about the very best Sustainable and Eco-friendly link party on the internet. YOUR great posts are what will make this party grow. So share your eco-friendly posts and then be sure to tweet the party or share it on social media. The more views, the more shares, the more we all grow!

And don’t forget to comment on other posts from this link party with #SustainableSundays – Danielle hunts you all down to find the Most Social Feature. EVEN if you don’t get a lot of clicks, you can still get the Most Social.

Marie’s Pick: Faux Enamel Wear Compost Bin

Were you featured? Feel free the add the “Featured” button below to your blog!

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Your Hosts

Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 

Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book, “A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube / Twitter

Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.

Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food.

Follow her by email to get her ebook, “Homesteading Without A Homestead” for free.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / Instagram / Flipboard

Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

Simple Party Rules 

  • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
  • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
  • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
  • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
  • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
  • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily find you. 
  • Please grab the party button below and place it anywhere you desire on your site. This is a great way to show others your features and lead them to other sustainable blogs and materials. The code below is no follow code to comply with FTC guidelines.
Join me on Sustainable Sundays! #sustainablesundays

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Link Up Below!

An Eco Friendly Link Party!

Understanding Microgreens

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One of the big benefits when it comes to growing your own greens is that you can pick and eat them right away. No matter when you harvest them, they’ll be full of nutrients because there is such a short time between harvest and eating! However, this is particularly beneficial when it comes to microgreens. You’ve probably heard about these power houses of the vegetable family and may even grab them on occasion at your local health food store or grocer.

Microgreens - what are they and why should you care about these nutritional powerhouses?


When you get into growing your own greens in salad bowls, harvesting microgreens is another option. They make a great addition to all your salads. But what exactly are microgreens?


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What Are Microgreens

Green leafy plants are considered microgreens in the stage between sprout and seedling. They are usually harvested after they’ve had their first few regular leaves. If you’ve watched a plant grow from seed you notice that a sprout appears first, then the plant develops its first two leaves. Those first leaves look different from the regular leaves of the plan. After that the next three to five leaves pop out that look like those of the grown plant. It is during this stage when the first few leaves appear that microgreens are harvested.
 
You can use a variety of different plants to grow micro greens including lettuce, kale, arugula, chard, watercress, beet and radish greens, parsley, chives, basil, and cilantro.

Microgreens - what in the world are they, and why should you care about these vitamin powerhouses? (Okay, that's actually a reason!)

Why You Want Microgreens

Microgreens are nutritional powerhouses that are full of vitamins.

The exact nutrition will depend on the types of greens you consume. To get the most out of your microgreens, mix and match the plants you use. Nutrients include beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and lutein.

Since microgreens are grown in soil as opposed to sprouts which are usually grown in water, they are able to absorb a lot more minerals and nutrients from the soil they are grown in. A good, rich potting soil will result in the healthiest greens.
 
Not ready to grow your own microgreens? Try sprouting. A kit makes it easy!

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How To Grow Microgreens

Growing your very own microgreens is surprisingly simple. Since the plants are small, they don’t require a lot of light, making it the perfect superfood to grow on your kitchen counter. You’re also harvesting the plants when they are still small and don’t have long roots, so it doesn’t take a lot of soil to grow them either.
 
Get a shallow container and fill it with quality organic potting soil. Sprinkle in the seeds for your favorite greens and herbs and lightly cover them with soil. Carefully mist or lightly water them, so the seeds don’t get washed away.
 
Keep them well watered and in a fairly warm place, and after a few days you will start to see little sprouts appear. Keep growing them until they are large enough to harvest. Reseed and repeat.

So You’re Thinking about Going Off Grid

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We like to think that we live independent lives – that we’re the masters of our own fate. But the truth is that when we live on the grid, we’re dependent on the state or province we live in and the government to keep things running smoothly.
So you're thinking about going off-grid? Here are a few things to think about and plan for
When things run smoothly, we enjoy a comfortable and convenient life. But if something happens to disrupt that grid, then what we depended on will come crashing down.
When you depend on anything else but your own resources, you can’t count on it always being there for you. That’s why you always need to find a way to live off the grid as much as possible, increasing your self-reliance constantly.

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What Does Off the Grid Mean?

When you live on the grid, it means that everything in your home is usually connected. You get the electricity to power your home from an electric company or a co-op.
It means that you get the heat for your home from a utility company if you use natural gas, or perhaps your heat is also electric. If you have city water connected to your house, you’re living on the grid.
When you go off the grid, it means that you decide that you’re going to forego services that are supplied to you – and instead, you’re going to make your own energy to power your needs.
Going off the grid requires patience and planning. When you decide that you’re through relying on someone else to make sure that you stay connected, you must have a plan in place that will meet your needs.
Although some people are able to put down hundreds of thousands of dollars and become instant grid-independent, most of us need to go at it more slowly. As you can afford to, gradually increase your independence. It doesn’t have to be done right away, and you don’t need to have a system that provides 30 kwh per day.
Once you’ve found a way to create the renewable resources that you need to use and you’re completely creating your own support, your home will be self-reliant and you will be effectively off the grid. And that is a fabulous feeling.
Even with all of the stuff going on in the world and knowing that the grid isn’t always reliable or safe from terrorist attack, some people just don’t see the need to live off the grid. Or they live in a place where it is impossible to go completely off grid. After all, no city is going to let you dig a well in the backyard. But there are several reasons you might not want to rely on it, if at all possible.

Have you been thinking about going #off-grid? Here are some things to get your planning started

Why You Never Want to Rely on the Grid

There are new terrorist attacks weekly and sometimes, it seems that these attacks are happening almost daily. In many of these attacks, what gets hit is whatever will cripple the economy, whatever will obstruct communication and whatever will hit the people where it hurts most.
The grid is what’s most vulnerable to attacks. When most people think of the grid going down, they think about how it will affect them within their home. They know if the power plants are hit, they’re going to be without power.
But when a grid is attacked, it’s never based on how it will affect individuals in their homes. It’s planned based on how the fallout will affect entire cities and even regions.
For example, if a power plant is disabled, it doesn’t just inconvenience you by shutting off your power. It also shuts down gas stations and banks. 
Traffic lights go out.
Grocery stores can’t run. 
People can’t get the supplies that they need. 
Government buildings can’t operate. 
The infrastructure of cities relies on the grid. So when someone wants to cripple an area, they’ll target what will cause the biggest disruption.
Plus, when you rely solely on the grid, you’re forced to stay put. This means that you can’t bug out if you need to. When you’re dependent on the grid, it won’t be easy for you to leave if you don’t have a place that it’s self-reliant.
If it’s in the middle of winter, you can’t bug out with small children and go somewhere that has no heat. You’ll be forced to stay in place for the health and safety of those you love, even if there’s danger in the area.
Your choice won’t really be a choice when you’re dependent on the grid. Instead of being able to leave in the face of a SHTF situation, you’ll be forced to take your chances, hoping that everything will turn out all right.
Instead of living that way, you need to take control and figure out how your life is run.

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Living Without Public Electricity

Though it might sound kind of scary and like it’s a huge undertaking, living without public electricity can be done – and not only can it be done, but you’ll gain a sense of freedom from being disconnected.
You’ll also gain relief from the stress of having to constantly pay those high electric bills every summer and winter. Living without public electricity should be first on your to-do list when you’re devising a way to get off the grid.
Creating your own power will be the biggest step that you’ll take. What a lot of people do when they’re coming off the grid is to search for a natural power supply.
You can easily power the needs of your home by harnessing the power of the wind or the sun. In fact, a lot of people already do this because they know that relying on natural resources cuts the high cost of electricity.
You can install solar panels in your home that can gather the energy from the sun. These panels will range in size as well as price. They’re powered directly by the sun’s rays.
When the rays shine on the solar panels, energy is gathered and then is able to be used through a conversion method. It’s simply protons turning into electrons. Using solar panels isn’t the only means of naturally getting off the grid to power the needs of your family, though.
You can also use the wind. People have been using wind energy dating back many centuries. When you use wind power, you’re also harnessing the power of the sun.
It’s the sun that powers the wind through the method of hot air pressure. If you’ve ever seen a windmill you’ve seen an example of wind energy. The more of a breeze that you have in your area, the better your home is suited for using wind energy.
You use wind turbine generators to be able to naturally power your home. Even the smallest of winds can still generate electricity. The amount of wattage the wind turbine is capable of producing depends on the size of the turbine that you purchase.
Some of them can also be used to charge batteries. They can generate enough power to support the same kind of electricity usage that a home draws from being on the grid.
You can run electronics, ceiling or electric fans, charge cell phones and use lights in your home the same way that you could if you were paying a bill to the electric company. The larger your turbine is, the more power that it’s capable of powering.
What many people choose to do is use a combination of both solar and wind power to bring electricity to their home. Solar and wind energy is a clean and inexpensive way to provide the electrical needs for your family.

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Surviving in the Absence of Public Water and Sewer Service

Just as you need to take yourself off the grid with electricity, you also need to take yourself off the grid with water and sewer service. Fortunately, finding the water that you need to supply your home with isn’t hard.
Nature provides plenty of this for you – all you have to do is harvest it and bring it into your home. What some people choose to do is have a well dug. Digging a well is something that many people choose to do on their own.
You can certainly do this if you’re experienced. But if you’re not, you’ll want to get an expert to do it because there are issues that can backfire on you if you don’t. For example, if you don’t make sure you have a clean source of water in the well, then you’ll spend even more money to have it cleaned up and made usable.
The ground has contaminants that can make your well water unfit for drinking or using. This is why you want to pay to have a well dug if you can afford it. This will be one of your biggest expenses with going off the grid unless you can find someone that will dig a well for you in exchange for some service that you can offer in return.
Because well water can have a stronger taste than city water, you’ll want to have a good filtering system in place.

If you don’t like the idea of having a well dug or if you can’t get one dug because you can’t afford it, then you can provide water to your home by using a cistern. Newer Mennonite homes in southern Ontario, Canada, are made with this built into the basement.

These are containers that are specifically manufactured to hold water. These containers use rainwater that collects around your house through your gutters and is, of course, filtered before being stored.
Depending on the type of cistern that you use, you may also have to install a pump. A cistern is not a good idea for you if live in a dry region, and in fact may not even be legal in those areas. It’s also not a good idea if contamination from outlying buildings is going to be an issue.
For example, if you live in the vicinity of a paper mill, you wouldn’t want to get a cistern because the particles expelled from the paper mill’s smoke stacks will be in the air.
These particles could be carried via the rain into your gutters and down into your cisterns and then the water wouldn’t be healthy for you to use. 

When it comes to sewer needs, you’ll want to go with a septic tank. Despite some myths that go around, a private septic tank is actually an extremely earth-friendly and sustainable option.

It’s a big concrete container that’s below the ground. When toilets are flushed or water is run down the sink drains, it all goes into the septic container. When you use a septic container, you should have the waste carried away from the home so that you don’t have to deal with the smell.
One way to do this is by using a network of pipes. A properly installed septic container does not require maintenance that often. Ours has a filter that needs cleaning once a year but is otherwise maintenance-free for at least a decade.
Regular checks will help keep the system in good working order. While you may, depending on local bylaws, be able to put in the septic container yourself and fix the pipes so that the sewage is away from your house, you will still want to have a plumbing company check over your handiwork to be sure.
Whatever you do, though, don’t buy an expensive composting toilet. If you are unable or unwilling to install a septic tank, build a humanure toilet and a safe place to compost your waste outdoors.

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The Best Supplies for Off the Grid Living

When you go off the grid, you’re going to need supplies. If you decide to go with solar power, you’ll need a solar kit. Many of these are fairly self explanatory and you can install them yourself.
You can buy a kit that includes a varied number of solar panels. You can also purchase additional panels separately. Pay attention to the wattage of the panels.
A good choice would be a kit that offers at least 1600 watts unless you know that you will be using very little electricity. We run our cabin on 750 watts, but we have few needs (and no refrigerator!). You’ll also need to make sure that the kit you choose has the connectors as well as the solar cable and battery cable.
Once you install your solar kit, you’ll be able to withdraw from public electricity. You’ll also want to get a water purifier. When you’re on city water, the city takes care of making sure that the contaminants in the water are at a safe level for human consumption.
Once you’re off the grid, you won’t get the same purification process, so you’ll have to do it yourself. You can get ones that attach right to your faucet. Look for ones that will let you know when you need to replace the filter and ones that only have to be replaced every three months or so.
Investing in a solar powered or a tankless water heating is also a good idea. Once you’re off the grid, you’ll still need a way to produce hot water. These kinds of tanks aren’t as big as traditional water heaters so if you have to bug out to a smaller cabin, they’re a great fit.
Plus, they only heat water that’s needed. They don’t continually heat like a regular hot water heater does. So they won’t be a drain on your energy source. You also might want to invest in a wood burning cook stove. 
Though these can be expensive, they are multipurpose. They can provide a way for you to stay warm in cold weather and a way for you to be able to cook. They also dry mittens and boots, keep plates warm when someone’s late, proof bread dough, burn paper trash, heat your water and much, much more – all at the same time and with the same fuel. A solar cooker is a great companion for a wood cook stove, since each works best in a different season
You might want to invest in a portable turbine charger that can keep your electronic devices powered. These devices can charge phones or music devices through the use of wind or solar power.
Going off the grid has both short term and long term options available for you. Solar ovens are an example of short term solutions you can afford quickly. Digging a well might take more planning, so map it out wisely and start acting on it as soon as possible!

16 Empowering Beliefs To Live By

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Your experiences are shaped by your thinking. Even obstacles have a value when you can see it. You can develop convictions that will help you to feel happier and achieve more, regardless of the situation. The truth is that our situations are not always wonderful. Challenges happen (as homesteaders and preppers we know that better than most), but the right mindset and the right beliefs about yourself can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Empower yourself with these 16 beliefs. Read them and see how many you can say boldly and with confidence.
Consider these empowering beliefs that you can start using today to transform your life through the power of positive thinking. Self-reliance is more than skills and gear.

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Empowering Beliefs to Make You Smile

I understand my potential


You can achieve amazing results when you put your mind to it. Don’t sell yourself short.

Feel excited about reaching your true potential. Recently, I read that Colonel Sanders didn’t even start selling fried chicken until he was 65 and retired, so there age is no excuse.

I count my blessings


List each thing that you have to be grateful for. Remember to include the smaller items, like warm socks or tart cranberries. Expressing your appreciation reminds you of how rich you are. When I was a child, I used to sing a song in church that said, “Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings. See what God has done. Count your many blessings. Name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” So go ahead – count your blessings.

I learn from mistakes


You can make setbacks work for you by focusing on the lessons that they contain. Flubbing one job interview can teach you how to ace the next one. Last week, I assured my husband that “If it were possible to actually die of embarrassment, there would be no people left!” So pat down your red cheeks, take a deep breath and turn mistakes into lessons.

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I find meaning in adversity


Tough times can be the most rewarding phase of your life – if you know that you can emerge from any challenge with greater wisdom and courage. Look back at the obstacles you’ve already overcome, and reassure yourself that you can handle what’s ahead. When I do that, I reassure myself “I’ve got through worse!” It’s easier to get through difficulties when I recognize that I’ve done it before.

I embrace change


Accept that life is a series of changes. That’s probably one of the most universal lessons that comes with age – the realization that change keeps happening. Focus on the present moment, and prepare yourself to adapt to whatever circumstances come your way.

I dream big


Expand your wish list. Set your Big, Hairy Audacious Goals. Setting demanding but attainable goals gives you adventures to look forward to each day.

You don’t think you have the potential for big goals? My friend, if your goals involve livestock, food preservation or sustainable gardens, or if your goals involve words like self-reliance and sustainable, then you’re well on your way to having big goals.

I practice forgiveness


Lighten your load by clearing away any resentment you’re holding onto from the past. Holding a grudge is like carrying around a live coal in your hand – the person you resent doesn’t notice, but you are hurting yourself constantly. Set reasonable boundaries while you respond with compassion when others disappoint you. Pardon yourself too, because we are often our own harshest critics.

I give generously


Sharing your blessings makes you more powerful and joyful.

Volunteer in your community and speak kindly to each person you meet today. Buy coffee for your co-workers or give your receptionist a flower. There is no end to the ways in which you give out of your abundance in order to help others.

Empowering Beliefs to Make You Strive

I take responsibility


You are in charge of your life. Hold yourself accountable for the outcomes you create. Celebrate the fact that you have the power to determine your own future. When you look to others and think that if only this person had done this to help you, or that person had treated you more fairly, then you are only inhibiting your own success.

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I apply effort


Figure out your definition of success so you know what is worth working for. Your success might not look like someone else’s because your life purpose and goals are different. Give yourself credit when you’re making progress rather than comparing yourself to others.

I leverage my strengths


You have your own individual strengths that you can draw on. Figure out what you’re good at and what you want to do. Let that knowledge guide your choices.
Looking for a PDF version of this article? Tell me where to send it!

I listen to feedback


Ask for feedback so you can enhance your performance and show others that you respect their point of view. You grow faster when you gather solid input that you can translate into action.

I ask for help


Expand your capabilities by building a sturdy support network. Carpool with other parents. Divide up household chores with your spouse and children.

Here’s a farming example that many of us can understand. When you drive through farming country, in an area where people still use horses and relatively simple equipment, you may see one field filled with dozens of men and boys. Yet the neighbouring fields are empty of people.

What’s happening is that, while the sun shines, all of the able-bodied men of the community will descend upon one farm and work together to get the hay in. One many, even with many sons, could not do it quickly enough. But with dozens of men, they get the hay in quickly and safely before any moisture can destroy it.

And then, so long as the sun shines, they move on to the next farm. In this way they can do far, far more than if each man minded his own farm.

There’s no shame in giving and getting help.

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I connect with others


Moral support counts too. Surround yourself with loving and encouraging family and friends. Participate actively in your faith community. Join a club with members who share your interest in solar power or badminton.

I recognize opportunities


Stay alert for promising openings. You may meet a new friend while you’re standing in line to buy your morning coffee. Those who know me will laugh about the fact that I can make friends anywhere. It helps that I absolutely love people and can often hone in on the one thing that will make a new friend smile.

I try new things


Be open to experimentation. Go kayaking one weekend instead of playing tennis. Bake your own bread or knit a scarf. You may discover hidden talents.
An upbeat attitude increases your happiness and productivity. Question your old assumptions so you can replace them with a new sense of certainty about yourself and your future. Adopt empowering beliefs that build up your confidence and prepare you for greater success. Start today. You’ll be glad you did!

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13 Ways to See Your Doctor Less Often

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Do you enjoy visiting the doctor? If you’re American, it costs you money coming and going. No matter where you are, it involves appointments and waiting, and sitting in rooms full of sick people. The last time I visited my gynecologist, I waited three and half hours before she could see me. It’s the nature of doctors, of course, that emergencies take precedence over appointments but it still means that you can lose an entire day to a doctor’s appointment.

Taking control of your health with some simple lifestyle changes can drastically cut down on the time you spend in your doctor's waiting room.

Seeing a doctor at all is becoming more difficult these days. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of about 30,000 primary-care physicians in the United States by 2025. I’d love to say it’s better here in Canada, but we have a doctor shortage, too. That gynecologist that I mentioned? She’s taking maternity leave this month with no plans to return – leaving our region with two male gynecologists and not a single female.

The same situation happens with general practitioners. Every time I hear about a doctor retiring, my heart sinks. Throughout North America, we have too few doctors (and nurses, but that’s another issue.)

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And of course there is another reason to stay away from the doctor. A heavy reliance on the medical system to keep you healthy and alive is simply poor preparedness.  There are very legitimate reasons to see medical professionals (and I will forever be grateful to my brain surgeon!), but we are being lazy and ill-prepared when we rely on them to fix problems that we have ourselves created.

It may take more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away, but a healthy diet and other simple lifestyle changes can keep you out of the waiting room. Learn how to develop habits that will keep you fit and strong.

Dietary Changes

Many experts blame the Standard American Diet (SAD) for high rates of obesity, diabetes, depression, and other serious conditions. Good nutrition can strengthen your immune system and lower your risk for many illnesses.

Eat more produce

Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense and light in calories. They’ll boost your immune system and help you stay hydrated. Plus, all that fiber can lower your risk of diabetes. One trick that I learned when I spent time with Old Order Mennonites was to serve fruit at every meal. It is not considered dessert – it’s just a part of your meal that everyone is expected to eat.

Focus on whole foods

Processed foods are usually loaded with excessive fat, sugar, and salt. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these, but an imbalance is unhealthy. Plus these foods generally contain preservatives and highly modified ingredients. Try eating foods in their natural state.

My grandfather’s advice has always seemed the best to me – eat food that remembers where it came from.

Who wants fewer doctor appointments? I do! Here are some simply lifestyle changes that can improve your health and keep you out of the waiting room.

Limit alcohol

Too many cocktails can damage your liver and other organs. Most experts recommend up to one drink a day for women and two for men, if you drink at all. There is not a thing wrong with refusing alcohol. It is empty calories and not good for your body.

Manage your weight

Carrying around too many pounds increases your risk of heart conditions, arthritis, and certain cancers. Stay slim by watching calories and leading an active life. When I stepped on the scales and sighed recently, the nurse said, “Oh, you’re far slimmer than many who consider their weight just fine.” 

There should be no argument that maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of a healthy life.

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Other Lifestyle Changes

Here are a few more changes to go along with your balanced diet. They’ll have a major impact on your body and mind.

Move around

Physical activity strengthens your heart and muscles. Aim to exercise at least 3 days a week. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.


Sit less

Research suggests that the longer you sit, the poorer your health may be even if you exercise. If you have a desk job, try taking walking breaks every half hour. Cut back on your TV time.


Do yoga

While any form of exercise and relaxation can be beneficial, yoga seems especially powerful. There is no need to study the spiritual forms of yoga in order to get the benefits. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital recorded a whopping 43 percent reduction in healthcare use among patients who studied yoga for a year.

Deal with stress

If yoga is not your cup of tea, there are other ways to keep tension from piling up. Book a massage or listen to gentle music.



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Be happy

The more you’re satisfied with your life, the less you’ll need your doctor. On a scale of 1 to 6, a patient could expect an 11 percent decrease in doctor visits for each level of higher life satisfaction, according to one University of Michigan study.

Adopt a pet

Holding your cat is good for mental and physical wellbeing. The CDC says pets help people lower their blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. They also provide an antidote to loneliness.

Connect with others

Speaking of loneliness, support from humans helps too. Close social ties can help you catch fewer colds, and may even extend your life.

Sleep well

Adequate rest and sleep is vital to healing. Turn off the computer and TV in the evening and go to bed on time.


Quit smoking

Giving up tobacco may be the most important thing you can do for your health. It takes an average of 5 to 10 attempts to quit for good, so hang in there. Of course giving up tobacco will also save you a lot of money, too.
It’s important to have a good relationship with your health care team and follow their recommendations when you’re sick or injured. However, you and your doctor can enjoy spending more time apart as long as you’re making decisions that increase your well-being.

Sustainable Sundays #8

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Welcome to Sustainable Sundays! I’m so glad you’re here. This is a link party focused on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   
Share your green and sustainable blog posts at Sustainable Sundays

We are now entering my favourite – and most busiest – time of the year. Canning season is upon us. Here in Nova Scotia, the two week strawberry season is half over and I am (as I write this), boiling water bath canning 3 cases of strawberries. I’ll end up with about 20 pint jars of summer sweetness for our winter enjoyment. It would be more but strawberries keep mysteriously disappearing out of out my baskets!

I’d love to know what you’re preserving this year. Let me know in the comments.

Last weekend, with both Canada Day up here and the Fourth of July in the United States, everyone was busy and we had very few links. So we’ve decided to feature just the one post we both loved.

(Want more features? Share more posts with us! And if you don’t have a blog of your own, share this post on social media so your blogging friends can join in.)

Immune-Boosting Elderberry Recipes from Healthy Green Savvy


Were you featured? Feel free the add the “Featured” button below to your blog!

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Your Hosts

Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 

Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book, “A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube / Twitter

Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.

Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food.

Follow her by email to get her ebook, “Homesteading Without A Homestead” for free.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / Instagram / Flipboard

Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

Simple Party Rules 

  • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
  • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
  • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
  • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
  • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
  • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily find you. 
  • Please grab the party button below and place it anywhere you desire on your site. This is a great way to show others your features and lead them to other sustainable blogs and materials. The code below is no follow code to comply with FTC guidelines.
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Link Up Below!

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3 Reasons to Grow Your Own Salad Vegetables

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Salads make great summer meals and are a tasty addition to your lunchbox or dinner table any time of the year. They make the perfect light meal and you know you should be getting more leafy greens in your diet. (Or maybe that’s just me?)

You know you should be eating more leafy greens, right? Here are three great reasons to grow your own vegetables - even if it's just on a sunny windowsill
Instead of heading to the store to buy greens that are of dubious age and quality, why not plant your own lettuce? There are several reasons why you really should be growing something, no matter how little it is.
 

It Tastes Better

Let’s start with the obvious one first. Homegrown salad just plain tastes better. It is fresh, it has been grown in good soil, and it hasn’t been washed, sprayed, and processed days before it makes it on your plate.
 

You know you should be eating more leafy greens, but who wants to chance e.coli or other nasty bacteria from those bags of lettuce at the store. Grow your own!

If you haven’t had fresh, homegrown lettuce before, you’re in for a treat. If you need a little more convincing get your hands on some fresh lettuce from a gardening friend or your local farmers market. You’ll be ready to grow your own after the first bite. Imagine how much better it tastes when it only needs to travel from your garden (or countertop!) to your table.
 

You Control The Quality And Variety

One of the best parts of growing your own produce is that you control what goes in the soil and the plants. And you get to pick what varieties you want to grow. That means you have a lot more options than what your local grocer offers.
 
Grocery store produce varieties are grown for easy and uniform growth and longer shelf-life. Flavor and nutrition aren’t the main concerns.

The opposite is true when you grow your own.

You can pick varieties that taste amazing, but may not last more than a few hours in the fridge after you harvest them. Search online for heirloom seed companies in your area. Although you can often order seeds from the other side of the country, the best heirloom seeds for you will be adapted to your particular region.

It seems, too, that every time we turn around, there’s another notice about packaged produce, even from “organic” companies, being recalled for dangerous bacteria. We should not have to worry about dying from our salad greens.

 

It’s Healthier

Last but not least, your home-grown salad will be a lot healthier. 
Nutrients quickly start to deteriorate after produce is harvested. When you grow your own, you can go from soil to table in less than an hour. It doesn’t get any fresher than that, which means you get more of the vitamins in your food.
Plus since you control the soil, the additives, and anything that happens to the plans while they grow, you can limit your exposure to pesticides, insecticides and the likes. When you grow organic, you know it actually is organic.
 

Automatic Negative Thoughts and Stopping Them

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Your thoughts have tremendous power. They can inspire fear and prevent you from taking action
Automatic negative thoughts - learn what they are and to stop them in their tracks!
They can ruin your day
They can even harm relationships
Thoughts can make you self destructive
They can also help you achieve your goals, make new friends and enjoy a rewarding day. Yes, your thoughts have this much power – if you give it to them.

Keep reading for more!
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One of the most pervasive types of thoughts is called ANTS. It’s a lovely acronym for Automatic Negative Thoughts. They’re those negative thoughts that seem to pop up and ruin a perfectly good day. Here are some examples of ANTS.
You display your lovingly grown vegetables at the market. The feedback is 99% positive and most people are happy to see you there. However, instead of focusing on the positive comments you dwell on the one negative comment.
Your friend/spouse/co-worker is in a bad mood. You personalize it and feel as if you must have done something to cause that bad mood. Of course you focus on that and fret and worry about it.
Automatic Negative Thoughts - they sneak up on us, but we can learn to stop them!

You leave the house and wonder if you remembered to latch the pasture gate. All day long you can’t help but feel like when you get home all of your animals are going to be roaming the streets, killed by vehicles or goat-napped.
Your pants feel tight when you get dressed in the morning. You immediately think thoughts like, “I’m so fat,” or “I’ll never lose weight. I’m a failure.”
These are all examples of ANTS, and of course there are variations on them. You didn’t intentionally invite them into your mind and yet there they are. They’re also examples of types of ANTS: personalizing, catastrophe, emotional reasoning and so on.
So how do you stop these unwanted and unhelpful thoughts?

Recognize Them

The first step is to recognize them. Becoming aware of your thoughts is tricky. Practice and patience are required. Consider setting your watch alarm to notify you every hour or two throughout your day, if nothing else works. When the alarm beeps, stop and pay attention to your thoughts. Practice this for a day or two. Learn to become aware of your thoughts.
Another way to recognize your thoughts is to journal. These words are for you alone, so freely write down your thoughts during the day.

Take Control

With awareness comes power. Once you learn to become aware of your thoughts you can then change them. There are many ways to accomplish this.
Replace a negative thought with a positive one or an affirmation.
For example, you think you’ve left the back door open and your stuff is going to be stolen. Replace that thought with, “I take good care of my home. I trust that I remembered to lock the door. Everything will be just fine.”
Analyze the reason why you’re having a negative thought. Ask yourself if the thought is true. If so, why do you believe it to be true?

Keep reading for more!
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Accept It

Accept the thought and let it go. 
Accept that negative thoughts come into our minds. Take mental note of the thought and then let it go. 
You might create a visualization to let go of the ANT. An easy visualization is to imagine the thought actually is an ant and stomp on it. Then you can walk away and leave the dead ant behind. A more peaceful visualization, if you would rather not be so violent, might be to place the negative thought in a balloon. Now imagine releasing the balloon up into the sky.
Above all else, don’t judge yourself for having negative thoughts. Don’t feel guilty or fret about them. They are there and we all have them. Please know that God is not angry at you for negative thoughts of any kind. Simply learn to become aware of them, realize their falsehood and let them go.

First Aid Kit for Pets

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So you have pets and you need a first aid kit for them, right? After all, you have a first aid kit for the people in your life. Animals become injured and ill, too, and deserve care.
Once you have your Disaster Planning Kit ready for your pets, you need to figure out what goes in the "first aid kit" part - it's important!
 
This post contains affiliate links.
 
A good first aid kit for pets doesn’t have to be huge and overwhelming. In fact, most of the items are probably in your regular first aid kit. (Even so, a separate one for each pet is going to save a lot of headache. Take some time and look over this list to see what you should be including in your kit.

This post is a continuation of Bug Out Bag for Pets, and the content was provided by a reader who wants all of you to keep you pets safe. So if you haven’t read that yet, you probably should. (I’ll wait.)

 

Now that you have a Disaster Planning Kit ready for your pets, you need to figure out what goes in the "first aid kit" part - it's important!
A good, easy to understand first aid book like The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats. Ideally, attend a pet first aid course. Some pet stores have them, but your local Red Cross may also have them. 
 
Adhesive tape to secure bandages and splints

Alcohol swabs to sterilize instruments or small areas of skin

Enteric-coated Aspirin to relieve pain. This is for dogs only. Do not give to any other animal except dogs. Find out from your veterinarian the correct dosage and how often to administrate for each size dog you have.  Put this on the species card. Do not give any animal Ibuprofen, acetaminophen or Naprocin.

Bandages – large and small non-stick and medical tape

Scissors with blunt ends

There are also vet bandages like these, which don’t stick to fur or hair,  but be careful to not put them on too tight.  Check your pet’s paws often for warmth.  If the paw gets cooler the bandage should be loosened as the circulation may be affected. 

Benadryl for insect bites or stings. Get instructions on dosage and how often to administrate from your veterinarian FOR EACH PET. Be sure to add this to the species card(s).

Betadine antiseptic solution to clean wounds. This is an antiseptic used in hospitals and is available in large containers as well as smaller, more convenient ones.

Blood-clotting gel or powder or styptic powder to stop bleeding

Cold pack — the type that becomes cold when you fold the pack in half. This is to prevent or reduce swelling with a sprain or strain and to cool off pet if over heated)

Bottles of clean water to treat burns

Sheet, blanket or towel to warm a pet in shock or to use as emergency stretcher

Thermometer – non-mercury rectal digital. Keep extra batteries in your kit.  CALL YOUR VET for normal temperature ranges for each type of pet.

Triple antibiotic ointment WITHOUT benzocaine or lidocaine

Tweezers — flat ended (to remove foreign objects) 

Sterile saline solution (eye rinse or clean wounds)

Large Syringe without a needle to flush eyes using sterile saline solution or induce vomiting with Hydrogen Peroxide. Do not induce vomiting without consulting your veterinarian or poison control!!
 
Also include the following information:

Veterinarian’s phone number and hours of operation

Emergency Clinic phone number and how to get there. Mark this information on a map like you do for the shelters.  If more than one is available, mark each clinic and have each phone number readily available.

– ASPCA National Animal Poison Control charges $65 per incident and requires a credit card 888-426-4435  (follow up calls are free) 
– National Animal Poison Control Center of the University of Illinois charges $20 for the first 5 minutes and $2.95 per minute thereafter 900-680-0000. The fee is charged to your phone
– Pet Poison Helpline, available in Canada, the US and the Caribbean, charges $39 per incident 1-800-213-6680
– Americans can call the Kansas State University Veterinary Hospital for free 1-785-532-5679
Go to: Napcc.aspca.org for more info
There you have it – a comprehensive list of the items you need for a Pet First Aid Kit.

More Than Lettuce (Salad Ingredients to Grow Indoors)

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Growing your lettuce in shallow bowls or similar planting containers is a lot of fun and a great way to get more healthy greens into your diet if you can’t have a full garden. While many of us are perfectly happy with a side of salad greens with dinner most nights, it’s nice to have a little variety in our salads. Of course adding other home-grown plants to your salads adds to the overall nutritional value as well.
Expand your 'salad bowl' garden beyond just lettuce!
With that in mind, let’s take a look at various other “salad fixings” that you can grow indoors or on your patio. They make great additions to your salads, but also come in handy in the kitchen in lots of other recipes. Wondering what I’m talking about? Go check out Discovering Salad Bowls and then come back and read the rest.
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Herbs

You can spent a small fortune on fresh herbs at the grocery store. Why not grow your own instead?
You can keep them in small pots or even old tea or coffee pots. Actual little planters are preferable since they have drainage holes, but use what you’ve got and just think of how pretty these little pots of herbs will look all lined up in your kitchen window. If you have a little more space, people have made some really great planters with everything from stacked clay pots to upcycled pallets (just make sure your pallets use untreated wood).
Popular herbs to grow and use in your salads include:
● Basil
● Mint
● Parsley
● Cilantro
● Chives
● Rosemary
● Oregano
● Thyme
… and more. Like lettuce you can either grow them from seed, or pick up small plant seedling at your local garden center.

Plant a salad bowl garden, but don't limit yourself to lettuce. Even if your garden is on a sunny windowsill, there are some great things to add.

Sprouts

Sprouts also make a great addition to your salad. They provide a little crunch and a lot of extra nutrients. But like herbs, they can be pricey if you pick them up at the store each week. Instead, order some seeds online, then sprout your own in a shallow container lined with moist paper towel.

Sprouting is surprisingly quick and easy. The biggest trick is that you have to keep the seeds moist and warm. There are kits that make it even easier, if you are inclined to let your sprouts dry out or get too cool. However, I’ve grown them in a mason jar placed in a dark closet.

Common things to sprout include alfalfa, lentil, mung, rye, soy, and wheat. Start with the sprouts you like to eat, then expand your growing horizon from there.

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Tomatoes And Peppers

Tomatoes and peppers may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about growing plants indoors, but there are small varieties that do surprisingly well in a sunny window. Of course growing them outside on a patio or balcony in larger containers is also an option.
In either case look for varieties that don’t grow very large and provide a nice little harvest. You should be able to find varieties of tomatoes (mostly cherry tomatoes) and various peppers from hot to sweet that you can grow in a small space and add to your salad.
Not only do they add a nice burst of flavor and visual appeal to your salad, they also make surprisingly beautiful houseplants. And isn’t it more satisfying to grow a plant that also provides you with food?

Onion and Garlic

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try growing your own onion and garlic alongside your lettuce bowl. While regular onions don’t lend themselves to indoor growing you can plant green onion and garlic bulbs and grow both of those in fairly small containers on your counter. 
Use the green onion, and you can even use the green stalks of the garlic plants in a similar way. It has a mellow bit of garlic flavor that’s not quite as strong as the garlic bulbs that will be growing all along in the soil.
Ready to give it a try? Head to your local garden center and see what you can find.

Discovering Salad Bowls (they’re maybe not what you think)

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Have you discovered salad bowls yet? They are the most amazing idea – a bit of square foot gardening, a bit of microgreens … Have I confused you? I’m not talking about the glass or wooden bowl sitting in your kitchen cabinet that you serve lettuce in. I’m talking about bowls or pots that you can grow your own lettuce in anywhere. Indoor, outdoor, small or big – it’s a great idea that more of us need to look into.
Discover salad bowls - a great way to grow a garden anywhere
The last time I was at our plant nursery, I learned about salad bowls, and I think it’s a fabulous idea. Of course I bought one of my own to see how it all worked.
 
You can repurpose an old traditional salad bowl to grow your lettuce in. Glass bowls don’t work as well since it’s impossible to add drainage holes in the bottom. Your wooden bowls should work well though as do ceramic planter bowls or even large pots you’re no longer using for potted plants.
 
The basic idea is simple. You get a bowl or pot, fill it with potting soil, and plant your salad and salad fixings. A salad or lettuce bowl can include several different varieties of lettuce and a few of your favorite herbs. Or you can add a small tomato plant and a few green onions as well. Mix and match as you see fit, depending on what you like to eat.
 
That’s the fun of growing your own food. You can try different varieties and combinations until you come up with the one that works best for you. Along the way, you get to sample and try different varieties of lettuce your local market doesn’t offer. There’s so much more than iceberg lettuce and spinach out there. If you have never spent time browsing through a seed catalog, especially an heirloom seed catalog, you likely haven’t realized the incredible variety of vegetables that are available to you!
  Pinterest grow salad bowl garden
Salad bowls are small and compact way to give gardening a try. They are also an excellent tool to help teach your children about where our food comes from and how it is grown. Get the little ones involved in planting and caring for the lettuce plants. Not only is it a great learning experience, it’s also a wonderful way to get them to eat more greens. After all, they’ve grown this lettuce. I have found that my children are far more willing to eat vegetables that they’ve helped grow.
 
Lettuce plants don’t have very deep roots, which is why shallow bowls work perfectly for planting them indoors. And since it won’t get super-hot – even in a sunny window- you don’t need a large amount of soil to retain moisture. In other words, shallow bowls are a great way to grow a large amount of lettuce in little space or soil. (If you are going to add other plants, shallow bowls may not work as well)
 
To get started, get a nice shallow planting bowl and a bag of well-aged compost. If you can’t get compost, you need a bag of good quality potting soil that contains a slow release fertilizer. I definitely recommend compost, though. Get them started, watch them grow and harvest once they grow to maturity.

But what kinds of lettuce to grow?

You can grow just about any type of lettuce in your salad bowl. That being said, there are some varieties that lend themselves to ongoing growing and harvesting.

But let’s not put the cart before the horse. The size of your bowl and how many bowls you want to have sitting around determine what type and how much lettuce you can grow.

Or flip that around and figure out how much lettuce you want per week and then figure out how many bowls it will take to keep you from heading to the grocery store.

You can keep it simple and start with one planting bowl. See how you like growing your own lettuce on your kitchen counter or your patio. If you find you’re eating the green leaves as fast as they can grow, consider adding another bowl or two.
Let’s go back to what you can grow in fairly small containers indoors. Loose leaf lettuce is often your best bet when you want to be able to continually harvest greens for your salads. 
You can pick up seedlings at your local garden center and plant a few different varieties in your bowl. Or pick up a few different pack of seeds, divide the bowl into sections and sprinkle seeds from each variety in a different area of the bowl. Not only will using different varieties make it look pretty, each plant grows at slightly different rates and has different nutrients, helping you make the most out of your salad bowl.
Of course you’re not limited to just loose leaf lettuce. You can also grow spinach, green onions and various herbs in containers inside. Mix and match them in your bowls, or set up separate little containers to grow your favorite salad herbs in. If you have enough room, you can even grow some radishes to cut up and add to your salad.
Start with a few different varieties of loose leaf lettuce like oak leaf, butter oak, red sails, or the aptly named red salad bowl. Romaine lettuces also work well and will regrow after you cut the leaves. If you like a slightly peppery taste, don’t forget about arugula.
Mix and match varieties until you find a combination that grows well for you and you like to eat. 
Water your plants, fertilize occasionally with an organic fertilizer and refresh the soil every few month. If you harvest and replant on an ongoing basis, you may never run out of fresh lettuce for your kitchen table.

Sustainable Sundays #7

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Welcome to Sustainable Sundays! I’m so glad you’re here. This is a link party focused on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   
Share your green and sustainable blog posts at Sustainable Sundays

This weekend, my mother-in-law is giving us a wonderful gift – she is watching all four children while the two of us run away to a nice Bed and Breakfast to relax and have some quiet grown up time. They call this a “stay-cation” – we’re only going to be an hour away from home, so we won’t be spending a lot on travel. So when you’re reading this – I’ll be enjoying my very luxurious stay-cation. Aren’t I lucky to have a mother-in-law like that? (Yes … four children. In an off-grid cabin in the woods.)

If you’re in Canada or the United States, it’s a holiday weekend (Canada Day up here and the aptly named Fourth of July in the States!) so I hope you’re all having a great time! Stay safe.

Most Visited Post: Our most visited post was Sustainability and the 30 x 30 Capsule Wardrobe Challenge from Passport Couture.  As someone who has a very, very minimalist wardrobe, I can attest to the freedom that this can provide.

Most Social: For the most social feature, we chose this great post by Skip The Bag about her DIY Door Headboard. What an easy upcycle!

Marie’s Choice: It is always very hard to pick a favourite! This week I’m going to pick Power Your Life with Clean Energy. Since we’re off-grid, completely on solar, this is a near-and-dear issue for me. I love anything that helps educate people about the awesomeness that is clean energy.


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Your Hosts

Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 

Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book, “A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube / Twitter

Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.

Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food.

Follow her by email to get her ebook, “Homesteading Without A Homestead” for free.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / Instagram / Flipboard

Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

Simple Party Rules 

  • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
  • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
  • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
  • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
  • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
  • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily find you. 
  • Please grab the party button below and place it anywhere you desire on your site. This is a great way to show others your features and lead them to other sustainable blogs and materials. The code below is no follow code to comply with FTC guidelines.
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Sustainable Sundays #6

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Welcome to Sustainable Sundays! I’m so glad you’re here. This is a link party focused on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   
Share your green and sustainable blog posts at Sustainable Sundays

It has finally warmed up here in Nova Scotia. And by warm I mean it might hit 80F – downright chilly for some of my readers!

When I planted my potatoes, I did something rather silly – my father tilled up the patch very nicely and I immediately put down the potatoes and covered them with hay. My mistake? I didn’t let the chickens hunt out the bugs and worms first. My poor potatoes were a casualty of war. Luckily, they’re coming up now, but they were pecked and broken up and moved all over the place so that I no longer have nice rows with a walking path. This should be interesting!

Most Visited Post: This recipe for Sofritas from Morsels of Life was one of the two most visited posts from the week. This looks amazing! Have you made sofritas before?

Most Social: For the most social feature, we chose this Sauerkraut recipe from Skip The Bag– this post was also tied for most visited post!

Marie’s Choice: Oh, I can’t help but pick How to Repurpose Cans. The one thing I hate about buying anything in cans is … well, the cans! Even though they can be recycled, I wish there were more ways to use them. Check out this very pretty upcycle.

Were you featured? Feel free the add the “Featured” button below to your blog!

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Your Hosts

Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 

Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book, “A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube / Twitter

Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.

Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food.

Follow her by email to get her ebook, “Homesteading Without A Homestead” for free.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / Instagram / Flipboard

Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

Simple Party Rules 

  • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
  • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
  • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
  • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
  • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
  • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily find you. 
  • Please grab the party button below and place it anywhere you desire on your site. This is a great way to show others your features and lead them to other sustainable blogs and materials. The code below is no follow code to comply with FTC guidelines.
Join me on Sustainable Sundays! #sustainablesundays
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Link Up Below!

An Eco Friendly Link Party!

Pet Disaster Plan and Bug Out Bag

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Hello and welcome! I bet you’re here because you want to know what to do with your pets in the case of an emergency. Disaster planning for pets is often hard to find, but many cats and dogs are just as important in the family as the two-legged members, especially service animals.
Disaster planning is necessary for pets, too! Take steps to make sure your pets are safe in an emergency.

It is with pleasure that I share this incredibly comprehensive Pet Disaster Plan with you. This guest post was written by a former dog trainer who wants to make sure that all of my readers keep their precious animals safe no matter what happens.

Keep your pets safe in an emergency. #Prepping is for animals, too! Free printable supply list.

Pets are such a very important part of our lives for so many people. Just like preparing to keep the people safe during a disaster, we need to assemble supplies, gather information ahead of time and know what to expect.

Although you certainly can download the printable Pet Disaster Plan, I urge you to keep reading in order to find out more detail about all of the items, as well as the very important Species card printable.

Gardening for Your Mental Health

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You already know that gardening provides several benefits, right? Have you ever thought about all of them? If you think that the only reason to garden is for food, you’re missing out!

Facebook garden keeps you healthy
It’s a way to grow and harvest your own food. I suspect that many of my readers have started with vegetable gardens. For the longest time I mistakenly thought that anything else was impractical and a waste of time. I was wrong, of course!

Gardening can create a nice landscape for your yard. And if that’s something that interests you, or if a pretty garden is required by your Home Owner’s Association, you want my friend Angela’s book Ninja Gardening. (Yes, it’s an awesome title, but it’s also a great book about “hiding” a garden in your nice landscaping!) Unfortunately I’m not the one to ask about pretty landscaping.

It’s also a pleasant and low stress way to spend some time outside. Unfortunately, many of us spend far too little time outside.

You might be surprised to know that gardening can also improve your emotional health, too. And for many of us, that’s one of the most important – and most overlooked – reasons to garden.

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Gardening Requires Focus

Gardening is a task, like many creative tasks, that requires focus. Digging, planting, and caring for the flowers, fruits and vegetables in your garden help you turn off an overactive mind. You’re able to instead focus on one thing – gardening. It helps you tune out the rest of the world for a while.
Gardening can actually help you find a meditative state. When you’re in this state your body and mind both relax. You’re able to find calm and awareness. It quiets the mind so those thoughts that have been plaguing you are sent away for a while.
It’s so effective at calming the mind and body that gardening programs are often used as therapy. People who are in mental health facilities and even prisons have been shown to receive tremendous benefit from gardening.
Pinterest garden mental health

Gardening Stimulates the Mind

Gardening also provides you with a creative outlet. It stimulates your mind and requires you to solve problems too. It’s not as simple as just tossing some seeds into the ground! Oh, no, gardening takes planning and organizing.
You want to make sure your garden has all the nutrients it needs. Pest control, insect control, disease management and nutrition are all required for healthy plants. And all of these are going to rely on your particular location. I might be great at keeping the free-range chickens out of my lettuce, but my advice won’t help you keep the deer out of your green beans.

Additionally, you probably want to grow an aesthetically pleasing garden. That means spending time planning not only the location of various plants but how plants work together and fit to create a visually appealing garden.

Gardening also appeals to your senses – which stimulates your mind. Your hands are digging in the dirt. You’re surrounded by life and you’re playing an active role in creating it. You can smell the flowers, touch the soft leaves of your plant and see the vibrant colors.
When your mind is stimulated creatively and is involved in problem solving, it can help you learn to manage other things. If you’re dealing with fears, depression, anxiety and stress, gardening can help you learn to manage those emotions.

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Gardening provides a purpose

There are many reasons to have a garden.

The most basic is for beauty. A Zen garden for example can provide a tranquil escape.

A wildflower garden can provide unfettered beauty.

A vegetable garden can provide sustenance. And yes, you might have noticed that I’m listing that last. A vegetable (or fruit) garden is useful and important, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that flower gardens, herb gardens and even relaxation gardens are unimportant.

When you have a purpose and can follow through on that purpose, it helps build self esteem and confidence. It gives you a reason to get up in the morning. You can watch your efforts pay off by creating the garden you desire.

Good for the Body is Good for the Mind

Finally, of course, gardening is good for you physically.

You’re moving your muscles and spending time outside. Time in the sun produces vitamin D which has been shown to be essential for mental health.

Fresh air and sunshine is always good to help you relax and alleviate stress. And when your body is moving and active it produces endorphins. They are the feel good hormones produced by exercise and they help provide emotional well being. Gardening can be a very strenuous work out or, if you plan it and have help, gardening can be the gentle exercise needed for those who are less physically able. With my last child, I was in the garden, digging in the dirt and enjoying the sunshine, the day before she was born.
Gardening provides an abundance of benefits for emotional well being. If you need to relax, ease depression or find a little joy consider gardening.

Take great care of yourself, both body and mind.

Are you THAT Friend?

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Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on from time to time. When things go wrong, who will listen to you? We all need that friend who will listen and be supportive after you’ve had a horrible fight with your spouse, or will still love you after that terrible mistake you made. And hey, if you’re reading this and thinking “That’s me. I’m Marie’s shoulder”, then yes, yes, you are. I’m blessed to have more than one.

Often it’s not who will listen but who is worthy of the privilege of witnessing your vulnerability. No one is perfect, right? We’ve already established that we can be imperfectly perfect. The problem is that not everyone can handle seeing imperfection in others.

Far, far too often we demand that others accept our imperfections while we quietly – or openly – deride them for being flawed. No one wants to be that person. Let’s look at those intolerant friends and see if we recognize ourselves in them.

Accepting Imperfection in Others


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There are all types of people in the world and you may know many of them. When it comes to sharing your imperfection with others, you need to choose carefully. Sharing with the wrong person can be detrimental for everyone involved. It is hard to be vulnerable. Choosing unwisely can make you shy about sharing again and it can lead to a broken relationship.

The truth is that everyone is not ready to handle all situations. A person who has not yet embraced their imperfect side won’t rise to the occasion to celebrate yours. We have all been that friend who has been less than tolerant. Recognize when you are acting in this way. Let your friend know that maybe you aren’t the one to confide in at this time. 

Then, grow beyond where you are and learn to be more tolerant.



Keep reading to find out the six types of friends.

It's hard to accept that we are imperfectly perfect, but sometimes it's harder to accept it in our friends. What kind of friend are you?


6 Types of Friends that could be you (but hopefully are not)

If you recognize yourself here, don’t fret. You can change.

Gasping friend

This friend feels that you just aren’t sorry enough for whatever mistake you made. 

She has a duty, she feels, to act mortified on your behalf (since you obviously aren’t mortified enough). Her shock and upset tosses all sympathy for you out the window.

Sympathetic friend

This friend definitely feels sorry for you. She pats you on the back and shakes her head. The message that she is giving, though, is that that she’s very glad that she isn’t in your position. 

It’s a very patronizing position that you don’t need when you’re upset and vulnerable.

Worshiping friend

This is the friend who puts you on a pedestal and thinks you can do no wrong. The sun and the moon rise and fall on your command. 

When you profess vulnerability by sharing a mistake, of course this friend feels let down, and you feel worse because you have burdened and upset him. People who are put on pedestals inevitably fall off, and everyone involved gets hurt.

Uncomfortable friend

This friend doesn’t like to admit that he could be vulnerable too. 

In an effort not to face his own faults, he doesn’t know how to deal with listening to yours. He needs someone to blame, and he will blame you – or anyone else – in order to feel more comfortable about your mistake.



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Rosy friend

This friend wears rosy glasses and pretends that the situation was not as bad as you are making it out to be. The goal – conscious or not – is to make you feel bad no matter what. It’s really important to realize that we can do this while sincerely trying to make our friend feel better. “Chin up. Everything will be fine” is rarely the right attitude to take.

Competitive friend

This friend never wants to hear your problems except as an opportunity to show that she can share a better story of vulnerability than you can. She won’t be outdone. Many of us fall into this because we try to show how we can relate to them. To the person who is hurt and vulnerable, though, it often feels like “Oh, you think you messed up? I can do better than that.” 

Being imperfect requires friends who are willing to go the extra mile. Is that you?

Sustainable Sundays #5

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Welcome to another Sustainable Sundays link party! I am so excited to have you hear and I know you’ll find some fabulous posts to read.
Join us at Sustainable Sundays Link Party!

A link up party focused on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   

It’s Father’s Day! The link party stays open until Tuesday at noon EST, so come back and link up with us after you’ve shown Dad how important he is. Shhhh, don’t tell the mister, but the children and I are getting him a cell phone upgrade for Father’s Day. We’re secretly replacing his old flip phone with Folger’s Crystals ….. (did I just show off how old I am? Anyone remember those commercials?)

On a personal note – my birthday is Tuesday.  Every few years, I share my birthday with Father’s Day, but not this year. We are finally starting to warm up here in Nova Scotia, so I suspect I’ll be celebrating my birthday outside in the garden. It’s not completely unheard of for Nova Scotia to get “a year without summer”, so it’s nice to finally start seeing the sun.

Don’t forget – you can get your post featured by going out of your way to comment on others and promote the link up. Just make sure to use the hashtag #sustainablesundays so that we can keep track.

Most Visited Post: The most visited post was from The Boondocks Blog and her lovely solution for the glass block windows. Doesn’t it look pretty? Head on over and check it out.

Most Social: For the most social feature, we chose Skip the Bag and her awesome post about building her chicken coop. For those of you wondering how to keep chickens comfortable in a hot, humid area, this is a great coop.

Marie’s Choice: Garlic Buttered Shrimp. Oh, my goodness. This is one of my favourite decadent foods, and doesn’t the picture look delicious. This is my pick of the week!

Were you featured? Feel free the add the “Featured” button below to your blog!

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Your Hosts

Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger.

Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book, “A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube / Twitter

Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.

Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food.

Follow her by email to get her ebook, “Homesteading Without A Homestead” for free.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / Instagram / Flipboard

Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

Simple Party Rules 

  • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
  • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
  • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
  • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
  • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
  • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily find you. 
  • Please grab the party button below and place it anywhere you desire on your site. This is a great way to show others your features and lead them to other sustainable blogs and materials. The code below is no follow code to comply with FTC guidelines.
Join me on Sustainable Sundays! #sustainablesundays
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Controlling Weeds in an Organic Garden

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Weeds are the bane of any gardener, but they can be especially bothersome to organic gardeners. Many gardeners choose to use weed killer to get rid of weeds, but you certainly aren’t going to do that in an organic garden. So what can you do?
Weeds might take a bit more work in an organic garden, but it is still very possible to deal with them! (For one thing, you can eat some of them!)

Well, you’ll need to identify your most troublesome weed, and then deal with it in the way that best gets rid of that particular type of weed. We’re going to look at a few of the most common weeds, and how to get rid of those weeds.

Dandelion is a really common one that grows everywhere. While they are a fabulous food plant, most gardeners just want to get rid of them. To get rid of dandelions, you need to dig out the entire taproot – and they’re deep.

You should always pull them up with a hoe before they flower. And you can spread corn gluten over the areas you wish to remain free from dandelions in the early spring. This will help keep a lot of the seedlings from growing.

Crabgrass is a major pest in many yards and gardens. It is very tough to pull up, and it is especially hard to get rid of. You must pull up the entire plant, including all of its roots. You can suppress further growth by spreading down corn gluten in the early spring. You can also mulch to prevent the seeds from germinating.

Poison ivy is a horrible plant. It can cause terrible rashes even with very mild exposure. You should always wear gloves when handling this plant, and don’t ever let it touch any part of your skin.
You must cut the plant at the base, then let it dry out completely. Bury the vines, or throw them away in the trash. Never, ever burn poison ivy, because the smoke can be fatal! Do not compost poison ivy.

Lamb’s quarters is an edible wild green. Last week I was showing some to my father and said, “Do you know what this is?” He nodded “Wild spinach!” Even though they are a very tasty and useful green, most people think of them as common weeds. They can be difficult to get rid of. You can hoe or pull up the plants when you see them. Then you should mulch heavily to suppress the seedlings.

Ragweed is a plant that many people want to get rid of, and I am afraid I can’t think of a single good thing to say about it. It’s a very common allergen, and its pollen is a major cause of hayfever. You can hoe up seedlings, and use a mower to mow down full-sized plants. You can use mulch to cover the areas where it grows. You can compost ragweed if it hasn’t yet gone to seed.

Purslane is another edible plant that you should consider eating instead of destroying. Or at least eat some of them. You can remove individual plants by hoeing. If you pull the plants, they can reroot themselves if you leave them lying on top of the soil. The seeds of this plant can mature after the plant has been pulled, so don’t compost them unless you want a compost bed full of purslane. You can mulch to prevent these from growing.

Prickly lettuce is an annoying little plant that is related to dandelion and sow thistle. In fact, when young, it can be easily mistaken for dandelion. It can cause itching and burning if it comes in contact with skin, so always wear gloves when you handle it. You can pull or hoe plants, or cut the taproot below the soil. In much of the United States, prickly lettuce has become pesticide-resistant, providing us with more incentive to deal with these plant pests organically.

You might wish to leave it alone, as it can attract beneficial insects, but it can carry lettuce diseases. Be sure to keep it away from your lettuce patches because it can cross with domestic lettuce. It is also poisonous to livestock, so you should be sure to keep it away from your animals. You can hoe or pull plants beneath the soil line. You can compost it if it hasn’t yet gone to seed.

Weed control in the garden does not require chemicals. Mulching, digging and hoeing are all ways to deal with weeds in your garden.

Simple Hacks to Build New Habits

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If you have tried to create new good habits, you know it isn’t easy!

Most of us need all the help we can get. Sadly, those bad habits seem to sneak up on us and establish themselves with barely any effort.

If you have been following along, you’ve already learned 3 steps to creating new habits and how it takes to form a new habit.

But creating new habits is a difficult process – let’s make it a little easier!

6 simple hacks to build new habits

Get help with building your new habits. Six simple hacks to make it easier.

I am going to show you six simple hacks that will make it a little easier to ditch the bad habits and establish the good ones.

Use them until you’ve internalized the new habit and don’t need them anymore.

Are you ready? Of course you are. Click next page for the six hacks.

Raising Earth Friendly Children

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We need a generation that grows up taking their role as guardians of the earth very seriously. We need earth-friendly, ecologically-aware children who grow into responsible adults. The good news is that teaching them this can be a lot of fun!

We need to raise the upcoming generation of children to be ecologically aware. Luckily, it's not too hard to do.

Seven Tips to teach your kids to be eco-conscious

#1 Be a good role model. 

This is perhaps the easiest way to teach your children to be eco-conscious. 
Children pay attention to what you do. If you recycle, reuse and pay attention to how you consume, your children will grow up with that example. When you show them that caring for the earth is important to you, through your every day actions, they will pick up on it. 
As an adult, I have an absolute horror and hatred for large scale clear cutting of forests. But it makes perfect sense – my father and grandfather told me many times about how the forest was a precious resource, that landowners had a responsibility to care for it and keep it producing indefinitely. When we would drive along the highway, my father would point out acres of clear cut land and nearly spit with rage. How could I not soak in a love for the woods and forests?

#2 Discuss your earth-friendly choices with your children

Look for learning moments to discuss why you are eco-conscious. For example, when you’re shopping you might choose to purchase an item at a flea market. Explain to your child why you’re buying used instead of new. Our children understand that “everything brought up on the mountain must be carried back down” and so they look for ways to diminish the garbage that we bring home.
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#3 Help them explore nature. 

Nature is what you’re trying to preserve and protect. If your child doesn’t get out and enjoy nature, they won’t have an appreciation for the earth. Take nature hikes. Enjoy the beach. Head to the mountains or take bike rides. Just get some fresh air and sunshine.

#4 Field trips. 

Some recycling centers, landfills and water treatment plants offer tours. Check out your local facilities. What educational experiences are available? If they don’t commonly offer tours, consider visiting them on Earth day. Show your children what happens to our trash and waste water. Help them learn the cycle of consumption. It’ll help them appreciate what they use.

Teach your children to live lightly on the planet today. They're the ones inheriting it.

#5 Garden. 

Gardening is a wonderful way to appreciate and experience the earth. If you don’t have space outside you can create a windowsill herb garden. Use recycled, reused and organic material to create your garden. For example, tin cans to plant your herb seeds in. Compost to fertilize the soil. Rainwater to water the plants.

#6 Make it a game. 

Show your children how much water or electricity you use each month. Make it a game to lower your consumption. Turn off the lights when they’re not in use. Use water sparingly. Turn off all appliances. See how much you can reduce your electric, gas or water bill during the month. Then reward children for their efforts.
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#7 Volunteer. 

Become active in outdoor clean ups. If your community has a “clean up the park” day, sign the family up. Volunteer at your recycling center. Or assist the recycling program at community events.
For example, many running events have recycling volunteers to make sure all those paper cups from the aid stations end up in the recycling bin rather than the street or the garbage. Show your children that the Earth is important and enlist their help in keeping it clean.
Most importantly, follow through on your words. If you tell your children that being environmentally conscious is important to you then follow it up with rules. Limit television viewing time. Ask them to turn off the lights. Make sure they don’t take twenty minute showers. Create a recycling center in your home. When it comes to teaching children, follow through is important.

Turn Off The TV

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Could you get rid of the television? That includes, of course, Netflix and all of the other television alternatives. I don’t mean cut down. I mean turn it off completely.
Ditching the tv could make you healthier, happier, and improve your relationships.
A little television hurts no one, but did you know that the average American spends more than 34 hours a week watching television? That’s almost five hours a day, every day.  (In Canada, it’s about 3 hours a day). Television shows, Youtube videos, movies – they all add up. Since those numbers include people, like the Amish and Mennonites, who never watch it at all, the true average is certainly much higher.

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For those Mennonite groups that refuse to watch television, the answer is simple. Almost everything shown on television goes against their core beliefs. It really is as simple as that. Plain Mennonites assess technology (and we’ll deal with that in a later past) to see if it fits with their values. Television does not.
Get rid of the TV and be happier and healthier!

Time Suck

When we ditched the television years ago, the first thing I noticed was time. Suddenly I had time to read books, write more and just … do things.  With the average person in North America watching 3-5 hours of television a day, that’s a lot of extra time.

Face Time

No, not Facebook (honestly, that can be just as bad). When you’re vegging out in front of the screen, you are not spending time with the people who mean the most in your life. Sometimes we convince ourselves that watching a movie or show together is ‘quality time’ but it rarely is.
“TV will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it.” – Author Unknown, from New York Times, 1939

Negativity

When you watch television – almost any show out there, including the news – you are programming your brain with negativity. This certainly has an effect. Even after we stopped watching television, the mister enjoyed watching celebrity roasts on Youtube. Eventually, though, we realized that his humour was becoming darker and snarkier as he picked up the attitudes he was watching.

It Makes You Callous

With the celebrity roasts in mind, think about the comedies that you watch. We laugh at mistakes, giggle at those who are different and don’t fit in, feel superior to the stereotypes. Arguing, tension and drama are all a vital part of fiction and non-fiction online. After all, it would be boring, as an adult, to watch conflict-free Timothy Goes to School.

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Expectations Soar

You know that the images you see online, and on the magazine covers, are fake, right? With makeup, lighting and of course Photoshop, they can be made to look … well, better than you. Better than your husband or wife, too. Not only look better, but they behave better, too. At the end of every episode, love and friendship returns and all is well. When our lives don’t work quite the same, depression and other problems can occur.
And these expectations extend outside the home, too. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that Perry Mason was an inaccurate portrayal of lawyers and police detectives are never quite as awesome as Columbo.

“Poor people have big TVs and small libraries; rich people have small TVs and big libraries.” – Brian Tracy

Relationships Suffer

Couples who watch television together are more likely to fight. Considering what it does to you psychologically, is that a surprise? In general, couples who watch a lot of television together are more unhappy all around than couples who do not. A steady diet of television is very bad for your intimate relationships.

Subliminal Messaging

Do you know why television exists? If you thought it was to entertain you, then think again. 
Television exists to sell products. Every bit of it is designed to keep you watching and get you buying.  If you feel inferior to the gorgeous people, you will buy the products that promise to make you beautiful. Or thin. Or active (I mean, McDonalds advertises directly to people who want to see themselves as happy and active). By watching the shows, you are volunteering to be brainwashed. Companies spend trillions of dollars every year to reach you through shows – because they know it works.

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Lower Self-Control

Have you ever tried to turn off one of your favourite shows in the middle? It’s hard. They use so many psychological hooks that it is very difficult to walk away. Our society doesn’t help, since it is assumed that everyone is eagerly watching the latest popular shows. 
Think about this – I know who Jon Snow and Sheldon are and I haven’t watched a television show, of any type, in over six years. People talk about these characters as though they are real people. Based on all the known effects of television, and with what I’ve heard about Game of Thrones, by the way, I would never willingly watch it.
We ditched the television about six years ago, and I honestly can not say that I regret it. What about you? Could you turn off the television – and leave it off? You’ll be healthier, happier and have better relationships, which seems like a wonderful exchange.

Sustainable Sundays Link Party #4

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Sustainable Sundays Link Up

A link up party focused on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   

After two weeks of rain, rain, rain, we actually had a warm and sunny day today! I might have a tiny bit of sunstroke, but we got lots done in the garden. Of course those of you in warmer places can laugh because “warm and sunny” was about 70F. Hey, it’s all relative, right?

One of the best things you can do for the environment is to bring your diet closer to your front door, and a garden is a great way to do that. I hope to see plenty of posts about your gardens this week, even if it’s a work in progress.

The question of “May I add my post about ….” is easily answered. If your post is about recycling, upcycling, gardening indoors or out, scratch cooking, farmer’s markets, composting, waste reduction, DIY, herbal remedies, natural living …. can you see the possibilities here … then we want to see it.

Most Visited Post: “My Husband Does Better with Zero Bathroom Waste” by Skip the Bag was our most visited post for the week. Katy discusses some of the ways you can cut down on bathroom waste and how her husband is currently doing better than her. Check it out!

Most Social: For the most social feature, Cookied-Oh won with her Heavenly Honey Wheat Bread recipe. It’s fabulous to see how other people make their homemade bread – and honey goes so well with whole wheat.

Marie’s Pick: How to Make Your Own Bug Spray and Bite Stick

We live far out in the country, and bugs are a major issue. While I know that Muskoil isn’t the best, we’ve used it sometimes and always on clothing. But recently I accidentally sprayed some on my hand – ow, ow, ow! My hand swelled up until I had no knuckles, it was red and raw, and it hurt a lot. So no more Muskoil will be used. I really needed this very useful tutorial. Thank you so much!

(I apologize – for some very odd reason, I can’t upload the graphic! I’ll keep trying)

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Your Hosts


Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.

Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food.

Follow her by email to get her ebook, “Homesteading Without A Homestead” for free.

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / Instagram / Flipboard


Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth.

Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book, “

Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube / Twitter

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Dealing with Pests in an Organic Garden

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The biggest problem organic gardeners face is dealing with pests. An infestation of aphids or cutworms can absolutely devastate a garden! You can have an entire row of plants wiped out in days, or even hours.
Organic gardeners are not at the mercy of insect pests. The methods are not quite as easy as grabbing a chemical pesticide, but the benefits are much higher!

It’s important to try to prevent infestations, rather than just treating them once they occur. You can do this by spraying your plants with solutions that deter many of the most common garden pests.
There are many organic solutions available, but you can make your own by using recipes that can be found in most organic gardening books. Most of them will be sort of like a tea, made with things like hot pepper sauce and garlic.
When you can, you should try to plant species that are native to the area in which you live. This is why we planted Jerusalem artichokes this year and maintain a rhubarb patch. These plants have natural immunity to many common diseases in the area. There are also plants that are pest-resistant, and won’t have as many problems with pests as other varieties.
If you plant early enough, you may be able to avoid the worst part of the bug season. Insects have just a short period of each year in which they will be active and eating your plants. If you plant early, you may be able to harvest before those insects terrorize your plants. Alternately, if you have the growing season in which to do it, plant later than usual.
While you cannot simply grab a spray and kill them instantly, there are ways to deal with pest insects in your organic garden

You should do everything you can to encourage natural insect predators like ladybugs, praying mantis, ground beetles, and birds. Some types of plants like mint and rosemary can attract many beneficial bugs that can help you keep other insects under control. When I grow potatoes, I pile on lots and lots of hay, which provides a safe environment for the insects that prey on potato bugs.
You should keep a close eye on your plants to spot potential problems before they get out of control. If you see a hornworm on your tomato plants, pluck it off quickly and drown it in soapy water. By watching your plants daily, you have a chance to stop these problems before they become too difficult to handle. Being in your garden daily is good for the plants, but it’s good for you, too.
If you’re having trouble with a particular pest, you can take pictures and then try to identify the pest. Go online and try to search for it. If you can’t identify it, you can take your pictures to your local county extension office or library and ask for help identifying it. There are also sure to be gardening clubs in your area. In our community, the gardening club is filled with people of all ages, including seniors in their 80s and 90s who have many decades of experience growing with our climate, pests and weeds.
Once you’ve identified the pest, you can ask for advice with regards to controlling it. Just be sure to tell them you’re an organic gardener, and ask them if they have any ideas for you.

Don’t forget old-fashioned methods like beer traps for slugs and toad houses to encourage those pest-eating

You may be able to prevent some pests by installing netting over your plants. Although this is probably a last resort, you may be able to save your plants from utter devastation if you have a particularly bad season of beetles or other such bugs.
Just remember, netting will also prevent beneficial insects from reaching your plants, so if some pests make it through, it may be harder to detect them and for predator insects to control them.
If you lose a crop to insects, you may be tempted to abandon organic gardening and rush out to buy a chemical spray. A lot of organic gardeners experience this! Don’t feel bad. It can certainly be very frustrating to deal with pests, especially when you’ve worked very hard to take care of your plants all season. Here is one bit of advice that I found invaluable, though. Beneficial insects (and birds, toads and more) will show up only when there is food for them to eat. Let nature correct the balance, without introducing poisonous chemicals, Ladybugs and lacewings will show up to deal with those aphids. Actually, most of the beneficial insects eat aphids. Ground beetles will definitely appear to eat delicious slugs, caterpillars and cutworms.
Only a tiny percentage – 1% – of insects are detrimental to your garden. The other 99% are your friends and, if allowed, will happily eat the pests!
But just remember, organic gardening has so many benefits that it’s really worth it to go through all of the extra work. Your family will be rewarded with healthy food that is safe to eat!

Why You NEED to Calm Down

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Stress! You have it – even if you don’t realize that you do. For many of us, a low-grade amount of stress is a part of everyday life. 

You might not even recognize that it has a negative impact on your overall health!

Have you read my recent post about staying calm in the middle of the cuh-razy of daily life? Yes, Marie is on a bit of a “deep breath … calm down” kick lately. My friends can tell you that I’ve been saying it a lot!
A calm mind is an important part of all around good health.


Studies have shown that feeling stress or anxiety on a long-term basis doesn’t just affect your peace of mind. In fact, you’re more likely to suffer from things like digestive issues and a weak immune system if your mind is persistently stressed.



During my early twenties, I worked in the kitchen of a small theological school. Each year, the fourth-year students, buried under a heavy load of pastoral work and intense studies, were immediately recognizable. Other than the bags under their eyes and the zombie-like shuffle in their walk, that is. 

In one hand they had their coffee cups and in the other – a tissue. They were always ill! Graduates told me more than once that the constant stress of that final year took a toll on their health that required years of recovery. Do not underestimate the physical impact of stress.


Cortisol is the hormone your body produces when you’re feeling stressed. It can take a heavy toll on your physical and mental health. Because of this, giving your mind time to relax and recover is one of the most important self-care routines that you can practice. 

Your state of mind has the potential to greatly benefit your health, or degrade it, over time.

Digestion

Your liver produces glucose to give you an energy boost when your body is feeling the effects of stress. Whatever your body doesn’t use is then reabsorbed. 

However, if you’re suffering from chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with the extra blood sugar your liver is producing. You may be at an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes if your body is producing too much glucose. You’re more likely to have heartburn or acid reflux if you suffer from stress. 

Stress doesn’t cause ulcers, but it may cause pre-existing ulcers to act up.

Sexuality and Reproductive System

Stress affects the menstrual cycles of some women. 

You may have irregular or even non-existent periods or more painful or heavier cycles. Too much stress may magnify the physical symptoms of menopause for women. 

Tweet: A calm mind is a healthy mind. A stressed-out mind affects the body.A calm mind is a healthy mind. A stressed-out mind affects the body.


For men, prolonged periods of stress can result in a drop of testosterone levels, erectile dysfunction and even impotency. For many, the loss of interest in intimate relationships is a common occurrence as a result of too much stress.




Immune System

Stress is known to stimulate the immune system, which is good if it’s short-term because it helps your body stave off infection and heals wounds. 

But if you’re stressed for prolonged periods of time, cortisol compromises your immune system. Remember those students that were always ill? Too much cortisol for too long of a period.

Cortisol inhibits histamine secretion and your body’s inflammatory response to foreign dangers. What does that mean? It means that people who are affected by chronic stress are more likely to catch viral illnesses like the common cold. It also takes more time for the body to recover from injuries or illness, if you’re chronically stressed.


Wait – what does this have to do with homesteading and simple living? Everything!


If you are not calm and centered, if you can’t accept your imperfections and your inability to do everything, you are not going to make it through the tough times. And don’t fool yourself into thinking you won’t get hit by them. Today I found out that a friend of mine, a person I thought was wholly committed to a self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle, is leaving his homestead and moving to town. What I want for you is that you have the calm serenity to handle the problems, the firm assurance that you are prepared for all events, and the loving acceptance of the failings of you and those around you.

A tall order, right? That’s what I’m here for. Make sure you’re on the mailing list (click to find out all the reasons why!)

Relaxation Techniques to Calm Your Mind

You need to calm down.

For some, exercise is an excellent outlet to give their mind time to recharge. Meditation is a well-known method for clearing your mind. Meditation is not something for Christians to avoid – consider meditative prayer to keep yourself spiritually healthy and watch the effects spill over to the rest of your life. Do not overlook the benefits of getting out of the city and into green spaces. Being around nature is calming.


Remember to focus on the positives rather than focusing on everything that’s going wrong around you. Practice self-love and compassion and acknowledge your reality rather than criticizing yourself. You are loved and you are worthy of love and well-being. Set daily routines that will provide a day-to-day sense of peace and comfort that you can use to escape the stresses of everyday life, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.


Keep your mind healthy and calm – this plays a very significant role in your health, physically and mentally. Maintaining a peaceful state of mind is one of the best ways to protect your body from the negative effects of stress. Remember that stress and anxiety are inevitable hurdles everyone deals with. 

It’s how you manage the stresses of your everyday life that’s important. 

It’s also the key to overcoming them.

Natural Indigestion Aids

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Indigestion can ruin a good day. It often pops up unexpectedly and usually at the worst times. Over the counter remedies don’t always help. Worse, they often put harmful chemicals into your body. If you suffer from occasional or chronic indigestion you can use natural herbs to cure it.

Before you head to the pharmacy to cure your indigestion, head to your kitchen cupboard

Peppermint

Peppermint has long been used to cure stomach illness, and I love it so much that I have a huge patch of it in my perennial garden area. It quells nausea. It can also help soothe indigestion. You can use peppermint in a number of ways. Often simply inhaling peppermint oil can help calm an upset stomach.

You can also drink peppermint tea. If you have peppermint oil on hand you can place a drop of oil in a glass of water. Drink the water to help with indigestion.

Make your own indigestion tea by combining 1/3 tsp. dried peppermint leaves, 1/3 tsp. chamomile and 1/3 tsp. peeled and grated ginger into a tea ball. Boil water and steep tea for ten to twelve minutes.

Ginger

Second to peppermint, ginger is another common indigestion cure. Simply chewing on a small piece of candied, pickled or raw ginger can help soothe an upset stomach. You can also add ginger juice to boiling water. Add a little honey and drink it as an indigestion tea.

Before you head to the pharmacy to cure your indigestion, head to your kitchen cupboard

Anise

Anise, which tastes a lot like black licorice, helps cure indigestion. The most basic preparation requires you to crush one to two teaspoons of seeds and steep for ten minutes in boiling water. Use a tea ball or bag to avoid having to strain the seeds from the water.

 Just remember, though, if you hate black licorice as much as I do, this is probably not the best choice for you!

Parsley

Parsley is often eaten after a meal to help squelch bad breath. You can also use it to ease indigestion. You can chew on few leaves after a meal. Or you can juice a bunch of parsley and drink the juice.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been commonly used to aid digestion. It aids in liver function and helps boost metabolism. It also helps indigestion. Instead of taking a teaspoon of dried cinnamon orally, consider taking capsules. A teaspoon of dried cinnamon can be very difficult to consume. It doesn’t taste too good in such large quantities. However, even small amounts can be helpful. I have been getting hit with some terrible indigestion over the past couple of days. Bread and butter with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, and a large glass of homemade ginger beer were the perfect cure!

Finally, consider drinking a warm glass of water with lemon when you’re suffering from indigestion.

Green apples, fennel, dandelion, and chamomile can all be used to cure indigestion too.

Indigestion is a common ailment. It’s often the result of eating foods that aren’t good for you. However, healthy foods can cause it too. Instead of running to the pharmacy, consider opening up your refrigerator or spice cabinet.

You probably have a great natural cure already in your home.

Are You Ready to Start Prepping

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You want to lower your stress levels, simplify your life and be healthier? You enjoy the weekends at the cabin but want more of that? It is true that people who are prepared and self-reliant are calmer than those who fret and worry daily about what might happen.
Are you ready?
Many people get tired of the rat race and long for something more calming. They see the difference between the relaxing weekend at the cabin and the snarl of traffic on Monday mornings.
Over and over again, people tell me that they wish they could leave the city and move out to the hills where we live.
And some do it – they sell their suburban homes and head for remote locations with the determination that they will be “lone wolves” and lead a completely self-sufficient life.
Those who know that we have, in many ways, done that might be surprised to hear me say that preparedness is not about pulling yourself away from society and living like a hermit. For me, moving to a mountain homestead is the culmination of a thirty-year-old dream. It just happened that preparedness and my personal dream meshed perfectly. (And even then, I would be much happier with a supportive community around me.)
Preparedness is living a life that doesn’t rely on the others to see you through a short term or long term disaster.
And the next hard truth is that not everyone is ready right now – as much as I would love you to be.

Are you honestly ready to start prepping? Or are there some attitudes and problems that you need to address first?

So how can you tell who’s a good fit and who will absolutely hate it?

First, becoming truly prepared for disasters and emergencies takes a lot of commitment.  It’s very hard to be “prepped” on the weekends only! You must be able to switch your mind to thinking constantly about ways to increase your self-reliance and improve your chances of successfully managing disasters, 

You’re either into it, or you’re not. If you’re ready to give up the way you’ve been living until now, and you’re ready to break free of the capitalistic mentality taught by society, then the lifestyle is for you.

Now, let’s take a moment and realize that you can still get prepared over time. In fact, I strongly recommend that those new to food storage start with a three month food supply for one person.

If you know that you’re ready to walk away from being totally dependent on others for your needs, then this is for you. You have to believe that what you’re gaining is a better life for yourself and your family.
If you know that you’re ready to get organized and are committed to building your short term and long term inventory of goods and supplies, then the prepper lifestyle is something you’d find to be a good fit.
Being ready to become totally self-sufficient is a good clue that you’re ready for a life change. If you’re ready to learn about self protection and first aid and how to take care of yourself and your family through anything, then you’re ready.
Preparedness is not about living to the extreme the way the wacky survivalists you see portrayed on television live. Really and truly, no tinfoil hat is required! It means you accept that there are things outside your control that could impact your life greatly, such as injury and illness, disasters, government collapse, etc. – and you want to be ready for whatever comes.
That’s when you know you’re ready to start prepping.
But not everyone who thinks they are actually is ready. If you’re in a relationship and your partner is dead-set against it, hates it, wants no part of it, you’re not ready if you don’t want to risk ruining the relationship. This is not something that one person in the household can do without the help and support of the entire household. Focus on getting your partner on board.
You’re not ready if there are certain luxuries in your life that you feel you absolutely can’t give up – such as a daily trip to the local delicatessen or that expensive cup of coffee. You’re not ready and the lifestyle is not for you if you set aside money for supplies but then spend it on going out to eat or shopping for a new pair of shoes or the latest video game.

You’re not ready if you are quick to ask others for a bail out or if you have a deep expectation that other people “should help you. Expecting constant help is a path to discouragement (because the help will run out) and failure.

You’re not ready if you have a deep attachment to the conveniences of life and rely too heavily on technology. You can’t imagine your life without modern technology is a sign you’re not ready. Modern technology is wonderful, but make it your servant and not your master. Always know how to manage well without technology. And that includes those “must have” items like a refrigerator. Are you willing to learn how to manage without those “vital” appliances?

And again, if you’re of the Lone Wolf mentality and think that you can manage without others, I would say that you’re not ready. Failure to prepare for the children and seniors in your life means that you lose out on a lot of valuable skills and knowledge.

If you have an unwillingness to learn how to prepare for the future or aren’t interested in sustainable living, then you’re not ready for the prepper lifestyle. 
But most people can envision a day when the worst case scenario happens, and if it happens to you, you’ll have to deal with it – ready or not.

Keeping Calm In the Crazy

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Your life gets cuh-razy, doesn’t it? I mean, it can’t just be me.
Married or single, paid work or stay at home, in town or in the country, and no matter how many children you have or the ages that they are, life can get nuts.
How do you keep calm when everything around you is going crazy?
This isn’t “Husband got fired the day wife broke her leg” nuts (for that, see Managing Survival Mode).
This is “Cooking three meals a day, homeschooling the children, why does the dog smell like putrid meat, the baby threw up where, and oh, no, please don’t tell me the chickens are in the garden again?”
Every day, normal, craziness.
In the interest of keeping it real, our free range chickens dug up – and ate – fifty pounds of planted potatoes, one of our dogs has started chasing chickens, a bear completely decimated our “fresh” compost pile, my brand new Android tablet was stolen, and the neighbour is mad because we’re doing yardwork on our own property.
The crazy happens.

Embrace Your Humanity

When I told my son I was writing this, that someone asked me how I stay calm in the midst of the craziness, he said, “You don’t. Tell them you don’t.”
Thanks for the vote of confidence, kid. Please remember that this is the same child who complains he hasn’t eaten for hours … while I’m washing up the dishes.
However, all jokes aside, you do need to cut yourself some slack every once in a while. Beating yourself up when everything is crazy around you? It’s not helping the situation and it sure isn’t helping you.
Of course that doesn’t mean giving up. It means recognizing that you’ll be overwhelmed sometimes and that’s okay. You’re not a bad person if you need to go whimper in the corner and play with your hair occasionally. God still loves you when you lose your temper.

Stay In The Moment

Today I spent some time with a sweet young lady and her toddler son. He is two years old, rambunctious as you would expect for his age, and an absolute little darling. His mother, though, worries because he plays rough, runs around and generally behaves … well, like a two year old.
It will seem like a blink of an eye when she’ll suddenly wonder how her little baby could possibly be packing for college.
One moment that I will never forget is when my father and I brought my first son to see my grandmother. At 88, she had had a full life – six children, eighteen grandchildren and quite a few great-grandchildren.
She held my six week old child, looked up at her 48 year old son, then looked at me and then down at the baby. With tears spilling out of her eyes, she whispered “Where did the years go?”
Treasure each moment, even the ones that feel crazy, because you cannot get them back.

Is This Helping?

There are times and places when freaking out might actually be a good and useful response. But one of the things I tell my children frequently is “Will this reaction of yours make the situation better?” Or, depending on the age, “Is this helping?”
Recently, our younger son had his first nosebleed. He tends to be a drama llama and the waterworks were on full force. Crying really doesn’t help a nosebleed at all, and I had to repeat that a lot – Crying is making this worse – before he calmed down.
Yes, I’ll ask myself the same question. Is this helping?
The bag of diatomaceous earth is spilled all over the kitchen table and on the floor, too. (Hey, this is a very real scenario.) A horrified child is also covered in the white powder. “But I knew you were going out to the barn and thought you needed it and I wanted to help.”
The immediate reaction is to yell. At the very least, throw up your hands and cry “What were you THINKING?” That stuff isn’t cheap and what a mess to clean up here on the homestead without a vacuum cleaner.
Will yelling make the situation better?
Honestly, it will just make a bad situation worse, and I know it. Bite my tongue, grab face masks from the med kit and we’ll get this cleaned up.

Pray

The more you keep your focus on Christ, the less it is all going to bother you. Often we feel like we need to be doing something – and our inability to do something, to change the situation, is what gets us frustrated. 
Pray for the situation, for the people involved and for your own peace and patience.

It Gets Easier

The people who look at me wide-eyed and comment on my patience with the children are usually young parents of one child. Parents of large families are more likely to share a knowing smile with me. They know.
I think there is probably nothing more difficult than making the adjustment from not-a-parent to parent. Certainly, I’ve never found any transition as difficult so far. Parenting your first child is very difficult since you’re learning along with them at every single step. By the time you have your fourth, fifth or sixth child, tantrums and diaper blowouts feel far less earth-shattering.
This isn’t just for parenting. The first six months of pressure canning – I never thought I’d master it. Now I can put up a batch of meat without much thought. Gardening – it seems that there is so much to learn and then eventually it all clicks. Remember when you learned to drive a stick shift? (Okay, if you never did, how about riding a bicycle, learning to crochet/knit or even learning how to write cursive?) At first it seems insane and you wonder if you will ever figure it out.
Last summer when our son got his first bicycle, we heard a lot of yelling and “I’ll NEVER learn this!” Now he’s slipping out the door before anyone is awake so that he can zoom around the property.
It really does get easier.

Keeping Calm In the Crazy

Your life gets cuh-razy, doesn’t it? I mean, it can’t just be me.
Married or single, paid work or stay at home, in town or in the country, and no matter how many children you have or the ages that they are, life can get nuts.
How do you keep calm when everything around you is going crazy?
This isn’t “Husband got fired the day wife broke her leg” nuts (for that, see Managing Survival Mode).
This is “Cooking three meals a day, homeschooling the children, why does the dog smell like putrid meat, the baby threw up where, and oh, no, please don’t tell me the chickens are in the garden again?”
Every day, normal, craziness.
In the interest of keeping it real, our free range chickens dug up – and ate – fifty pounds of planted potatoes, one of our dogs has started chasing chickens, a bear completely decimated our “fresh” compost pile, my brand new Android tablet was stolen, and the neighbour is mad because we’re doing yardwork on our own property.
The crazy happens.

Embrace Your Humanity

When I told my son I was writing this, that someone asked me how I stay calm in the midst of the craziness, he said, “You don’t. Tell them you don’t.”
Thanks for the vote of confidence, kid. Please remember that this is the same child who complains he hasn’t eaten for hours … while I’m washing up the dishes.
However, all jokes aside, you do need to cut yourself some slack every once in a while. Beating yourself up when everything is crazy around you? It’s not helping the situation and it sure isn’t helping you.
Of course that doesn’t mean giving up. It means recognizing that you’ll be overwhelmed sometimes and that’s okay. You’re not a bad person if you need to go whimper in the corner and play with your hair occasionally. God still loves you when you lose your temper.

Stay In The Moment

Today I spent some time with a sweet young lady and her toddler son. He is two years old, rambunctious as you would expect for his age, and an absolute little darling. His mother, though, worries because he plays rough, runs around and generally behaves … well, like a two year old.
It will seem like a blink of an eye when she’ll suddenly wonder how her little baby could possibly be packing for college.
One moment that I will never forget is when my father and I brought my first son to see my grandmother. At 88, she had had a full life – six children, eighteen grandchildren and quite a few great-grandchildren.
She held my six week old child, looked up at her 48 year old son, then looked at me and then down at the baby. With tears spilling out of her eyes, she whispered “Where did the years go?”
Treasure each moment, even the ones that feel crazy, because you cannot get them back.

Is This Helping?

There are times and places when freaking out might actually be a good and useful response. But one of the things I tell my children frequently is “Will this reaction of yours make the situation better?” Or, depending on the age, “Is this helping?”
Recently, our younger son had his first nosebleed. He tends to be a drama llama and the waterworks were on full force. Crying really doesn’t help a nosebleed at all, and I had to repeat that a lot – Crying is making this worse – before he calmed down.
Yes, I’ll ask myself the same question. Is this helping?
The bag of diatomaceous earth is spilled all over the kitchen table and on the floor, too. (Hey, this is a very real scenario.) A horrified child is also covered in the white powder. “But I knew you were going out to the barn and thought you needed it and I wanted to help.”
The immediate reaction is to yell. At the very least, throw up your hands and cry “What were you THINKING?” That stuff isn’t cheap and what a mess to clean up here on the homestead without a vacuum cleaner.
Will yelling make the situation better?
Honestly, it will just make a bad situation worse, and I know it. Bite my tongue, grab face masks from the med kit and we’ll get this cleaned up.

Pray

The more you keep your focus on Christ, the less it is all going to bother you. Often we feel like we need to be doing something – and our inability to do something, to change the situation, is what gets us frustrated. 
Pray for the situation, for the people involved and for your own peace and patience.

It Gets Easier

The people who look at me wide-eyed and comment on my patience with the children are usually young parents of one child. Parents of large families are more likely to share a knowing smile with me. They know.
I think there is probably nothing more difficult than making the adjustment from not-a-parent to parent. Certainly, I’ve never found any transition as difficult so far. Parenting your first child is very difficult since you’re learning along with them at every single step. By the time you have your fourth, fifth or sixth child, tantrums and diaper blowouts feel far less earth-shattering.
This isn’t just for parenting. The first six months of pressure canning – I never thought I’d master it. Now I can put up a batch of meat without much thought. Gardening – it seems that there is so much to learn and then eventually it all clicks. Remember when you learned to drive a stick shift? (Okay, if you never did, how about riding a bicycle, learning to crochet/knit or even learning how to write cursive?) At first it seems insane and you wonder if you will ever figure it out.
Last summer when our son got his first bicycle, we heard a lot of yelling and “I’ll NEVER learn this!” Now he’s slipping out the door before anyone is awake so that he can zoom around the property.
It really does get easier.

Sustainable Sundays Link Party #3

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A link up party focused on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   

It’s Sunday again! For those who were wondering about our little girl – there were no pneumonia spots on her follow up x-rays and she’s feeling much better!

In other news, we’ve been working hard at putting together a chicken run that will be exclusively for mama hens and baby chicks. Since we’re deep in the woods and have bears and coyotes (and, let’s be honest, our own dogs and cats!), the run needs to be incredibly secure.

So we’re using …. “broken” gravel sifters from my husband’s work. I’ll be sharing more when it’s complete, but do you think a bear could get through this? It feels great to divert this huge sifters from the landfill.

And now it’s time to party! That’s what you’re here for, right?

Enjoy these posts from last week’s edition of Sustainable Sundays! Don’t forget to add your links for this week.

Most Visited Post: This post, 31 Clever New Uses for Ordinary Household Items, by Intelligent Domestications was the most visited post from this week. There are some really fun ideas on here for repurposing items that you just can’t let go of. I really love the tin cans and the jean pockets! What’s your favorite?
Upcycling and Repurposing ideas
Most Social: For the most social feature, we chose Ever Change Productions and “So You Think You Can’t Compost? Think Again!” This is a great post about COMPOSTING- which happens to be a favorite topic of mine. Composting is the easiest thing you can do to help the environment, your garden, and your pockets. 

Ideas for Composting

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can search quickly to find all of your great comments on each others’ posts.

Marie’s Choice: It is very hard to choose among such great posts, but I have to admit that I’m a solar light fan, so my choice was DIY Solar Chandelier. Not only does it use solar lamps, but it is a thrift store recovery – and it’s gorgeous!

Were you featured? Feel free the add the “Featured” button below to your blog!

http://www.diydanielle.com/search/label/Sustainable%20Sundays%20Link%20Party
Copy and Paste the Code Below: 

<a href=”http://www.diydanielle.com/search/label/Sustainable%20Sundays%20Link%20Party” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”><img alt=”http://www.diydanielle.com/search/label/Sustainable%20Sundays%20Link%20Party” border=”0″ src=”http://prepperssurvivalhomestead.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/1.bp_.blogspot.com-wbsl95qSUMEV0BRhBElLTIAAAAAAAAcewsRHbHlfRFMA1THSHqk8ARVbdqqNNhjwgwCLcBs1600featured-sustainable-sundays-150-8607a0752c48181133168e9f4e1c7a4c6e53ba50.png” title=”I was Featured on &quot;Sustainable Sundays&quot;” /></a>

    Join me on Sustainable Sundays! #sustainablesundays
    Copy and Paste the Code Below: 

    <a href=”http://www.diydanielle.com/search/label/Sustainable%20Sundays%20Link%20Party” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”><img alt=”Join me on Sustainable Sundays! #sustainablesundays” border=”0″ src=”http://prepperssurvivalhomestead.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/1.bp_.blogspot.com-I7FSZhuTvwcV0BRdbxMb7IAAAAAAAAcesvEIeqprqx-YLsZXRCQn2TQMNJNlwar6DQCLcBs1600sustainable-sundays-linking-up-150-0cf24e3f4acb9b88b2a52e11633aa7576d725b0f.png” title=”I participate in the Sustainable Sundays Link Party!” /></a>

    Your Hosts

    Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.  Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food“, Follow on email to get her ebook Homesteading Without A Homestead for free.
    Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Flipboard / Twitter


    Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 

    Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book. A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth
    Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube



    Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

    Simple Party Rules 

    • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
    • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
    • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
    • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
    • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
    • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily see your hard work. 

    Link Up Below!

    We look forward to seeing you next week! Before you go – take a moment and pin the graphic below to help raise awareness of the party.

    Link up your green and sustainable blog posts.


    Benefits of Organic Gardening

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    If you are concerned about the quality of the food you are feeding your family, and tired of reading reports about food poisoning from fruits and vegetables, it is time to look into organic gardening. Grow your own food, in your own back yard, and eliminate the worry about what you are eating.
    If you have not switched your garden to organic, non-chemical methods, here are some solid reasons to do so.
    When we moved to our property, friend gave me a lot of old gardening books. One of them detailed how to get rid of pests in the garden. I was pretty excited to find out how our grandfathers dealt with weeds and pests.
    Arsenic. 
    Sevin. 
    Paraquat. 
    Lead. 
    Mostly, though, arsenic.

    Keep reading for more.
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    For every insect or weed, there was a poison. One entry acknowledged that pigs were traditionally used to root up and eliminate a certain type of weed – but arsenic worked faster and was therefore the better choice.
    My faith in the wisdom of our grandparents took a real hit that day.
    We now know just how dangerous all of those chemicals that we spray plants on can be. Many chemicals have been banned because they were shown to cause cancer! But some of these dangerous chemicals have not yet been banned (depending on where you live), and there may be plenty of hidden dangers that haven’t yet been discovered.

    Check out 9 Ways Conventional Farming Is Killing Us.

    When you garden organically, you can feel safer about the food you eat – and for good reason. You’ll know that the food you’re feeding your family is safer and healthier than the questionable stuff you find in the grocery store. 
    Unfortunately, unless you have seen the food grown and picked, you can not guarantee that the seller is telling the truth about it. The mister worked for a while at a “family fruit farm” that heavily promoted itself as providing local, organic food. His job was to take apples out of the shipping crates (because Michigan isn’t ‘local’ when you live in Canada) and put them through the machines that coated them with fruit wax.
    You and your family deserve to eat safe and healthy food!
    There are some solid reasons why you should be switching your garden to organic, non-chemical methods.

    Organic gardening is also extremely beneficial to the environment for several reasons. For one thing, every time you spray your plants with chemicals, those chemicals wash off of your plants and onto the ground. From there, those chemicals wash down into the ground, and eventually make it into the groundwater!

    Insects that have been poisoned do not simply disappear. Often they eaten by birds or other animals. These animals can then become sick and die. If the toxicity was high enough, any animals that eat those animals might also perish. Unfortunately, as I have often said, there is no such thing as a “pesti”-cide – all of the ‘cides are poison, plain and simple.
    By killing too many of a certain species of insect, you can also cause an imbalance in the local wildlife. If you and your neighbors kill off a large portion of the population of one insect, then anything that depends on that insect for food might also start to die off.
    Unfortunately this creates a situation in which the predator insects and animals, which naturally keep pest levels under control, can not be found. It is very important to realize that only 1% of insects are actual pests. The other 99% play vital roles in our ecosystem and often directly benefit our gardens.
    Organic produce is also known for its superior flavor – even if proponents of garden chemicals poo-poo the very idea.

    Keep reading for more.

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    For example, organic carrots are widely known for being much sweeter than traditionally-grown carrots. They don’t have the same bitterness that other carrots can have. This is a very good reason to grow your produce organically, even if you aren’t worried about the chemical effects to your body and the environment.
    There are obviously a few drawbacks to gardening organically, too. You have to deal with pests differently, and it can be a longer and more complex process to rid your plants of certain pests. Instead of picking up some chemicals, you have to pick off insects by hand and drop them into soapy water.
    You have to spray your plants with solutions made of things like hot peppers and garlic to prevent some bugs from eating them. It can be difficult. You also have to stick to organic fertilizers like manure, rather than using easy chemical fertilizers.
    But organic fertilizers can actually be cheaper, because you can make them yourself. Fish emulsion is a common organic fertilizer. It’s a sort of tea made from dead fish. Seaweed fertilizer is another tea-like fertilizer that many organic gardeners swear by. We buy composted manure by the dump truck load for about $32 per ton – that’s a lot of value for the dollar – to supplement what our goats and chickens provide.
    And of course there’s natural compost that can help you make use of your kitchen waste! The benefits of organic gardening far outweigh the few drawbacks.

    Embrace Your Imperfection

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    It seems like every day I apologize to someone because I’m not perfect, not superwoman, and can’t do it all, all the time, perfectly. No high heels and pearls, either!

    Are you like me?

    Maybe it was silently, where no one heard but you, but you were still doing it – apologizing for your imperfection. You felt ashamed of your weight or your housekeeping, the size of your garden or the amount of livestock you have,  the car you drive or the job you do. You might feel embarrassed by your education, your social skills, the behaviour of your children, or the number of your children – whether you have none or six!

    You're not perfect. And really, it's okay. Relax and enjoy your imperfection.

    Wanting to be perfect, you forget to embrace, accept and even enjoy your imperfection.

    Imperfection is not the opposite of perfection, as if imperfection were a state to be avoided.

    Instead, imperfection is the state of acceptance of self through love. Without seeing who you truly are, you won’t know what to change and what to keep. Perfectionism just throws everything out the window to insist that you are not and never will be enough. That is when your inner critic shows up, letting you know just how unworthy and unlovable you are.

    Recently, in a Facebook post, I thanked my readers for being there and asked everyone to write “I am awesome and I know it!” to show that they had read the post. Although some did just that, many of my readers (who are talented, beautiful, skilled and quite amazing people, every one of you!) had a shocking level of difficulty writing those words.

    We want to change our lives and change the world. We want to improve things for ourselves and others. But before we can do that, we need to accept – and embrace – our perfect imperfection.

    “I am Me”

    “Accept me as I am” is a battle cry. 
    It doesn’t mean that you won’t change detrimental habits because you are embracing who you are. It also doesn’t mean that you are promoting laziness or lack of ambition. Most of my readers are actively homesteading, increasing their preparedness and self-sufficiency and more – you are not lazy!

    What it does mean is that you have taken a look inside of yourself and seen who the person inside truly is. There are things that you like about yourself and also things that you don’t, but it all works together to become the person that you are today.

    True change in your life is an act of love.

    You can lose weight when you love who you are right now at your current weight. It means that your life, self-esteem and happiness are not tied to a number. Anything done out of self-hate doesn’t usually last because you are always criticizing your efforts, and that is NOT how to get started with new, healthy habits. Nothing is ever good enough because you start off not liking anything about yourself from the beginning. You’d leave your own body if you could.

    There is nothing healthy about that. Imperfection says that the only way through is with love on board. Accepting and embracing you by celebrating why you are unique. It is getting reacquainted with yourself through a few steps that show the value that was there all along.

    You're not a perfect piggy like this handsome guy. You have problems, flaws and baggage. But it's okay. Embrace your imperfection and learn to love yourself - and others.

    5 Ways to Imperfect Freedom

    #1 Take some serious time for introspection – Don’t be afraid to look at yourself honestly. Write down what is positive and what is negative in your eyes. Find ways to change the wording of those negatives so they are now positives that you can embrace. If you think that your ankles are big, find shoes to wear that minimize their appearance as such.
    #2 Discover what you like to do and don’t like to do – Don’t be afraid to say “no” to events or activities that don’t foster your interests just because it’s a “cool” or “acceptable” thing to do.
    #3 Try something new – Try bold colors for clothing or change your hairstyle. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting with new looks to accentuate your positives and give yourself a confidence boost.
    #4 Laugh more – Laughter promotes feel-good endorphin release. Take time out to have fun and take a rest. It is restorative and also promotes health.
    #5 Explore your creative side –Are you a “right-brained” person? Find out if you have any creative tendencies. Stimulate that side of your brain to bring out attributes you didn’t know you had.
    Allow yourself to be human, flawed and free by embracing your imperfect life.
    Right now, know that you really are wonderful, lovable and loved in your glorious imperfection.

    Are You Ready to Bug Out?

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    Explosions. Fires. Thousands of vehicles fleeing a burning city. Are you ready to evacuate your home quickly and effectively if – or when – the need arises?
    You have five minutes to evacuate your home. Can you do it?

    When I first began writing and talking about preparedness, it was considered a joke by most people. Eyes glazed over when I mentioned long term survival situations, the possibility of economic collapse, resource scarcity and emergency evacuation of homes. After all, everyone argued, these things do not happen to regular people.
    It is a sign of the times that most people now understand that not only do these things happen to regular people, but they have been happening.
    Are you ready to evacuate your home quickly in a disaster? Do you know the signs of when to leave, and how to increase your chances of getting to a place of safety?

    There is a term among the preparedness community – “bugging out”. It means getting out of a dangerous situation quickly and finding safety until the situation is resolved. Frequently, when this is brought up, a large number of people will insist that they will always “shelter in place”.
    The problem with that thinking, though, becomes apparent in situations like the horrific wildfire in Fort McMurray, Canada (May 2016). It also becomes clear when we look at devastated, uninhabitable cities like the ones in Syria. 
    Sheltering in place is not always an option when the entire city is on fire or under overwhelming attack. 

    Wildfire, tsunamai, terrorist attacks, flooding and more can make your home a death trap very quickly, no matter how safe it seemed moments before.
    Even if you plan to “shelter in place” for storms, food shortages or other events like that – and certainly, that’s what we do – you still need an evacuation plan.
    Imagine for a moment that you have five minutes to grab everything you need before leaving your home – with the knowledge that you may not be able to return to your own, perhaps not your city, and maybe not even your country. 
    There are so many reasons why this could happen, and there is no excuse for people to remain ostrich-like, head-in-the-sand, and insist that these things only happen to other people.

    What Are The Risks?

    This is going to be different for everyone. Here in Nova Scotia, we really don’t have to worry about earthquakes or tornadoes. They just don’t happen here. Floods, forest fires, severe storms and even tsunamis on the coast, though, are all very real threats.

    Are you ready to find out the danger signs that indicate you need to bug out, and what you need to increase your chances of getting to a safe place? Keep reading and find out!

    Green Alternatives to Dry Cleaning

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    The chemicals and waste in dry cleaning – you want better for your clothes, your family and your planet. Am I right? There are definitely green options when it comes to clothing!

    Welcome! It’s great to have you here. While there are many terms for the sustainable, frugal, self-sufficient lifestyle, I call it JUST PLAIN LIVING, and I hope you’ll join me on the wild and wonderful journey.

    There are green alternatives to the chemicals and waste of dry cleaning!
    Dry cleaning uses a harmful chemical called Perchloroethylene or PERC for short. This chemical is petroleum-based and has shown to cause severe health problems. It’s been labeled a “probable carcinogen” by the International Association for Research on Cancer. While some dry cleaners are switching to more green alternatives, they are hard to find, especially if you live outside of a major city. 
    This post contains affiliate links.

    One such green alternative is using a pressurized CO2 process. It can be more expensive than using PERC however, the cost to your health and the environment are significantly reduced. You can also take significant steps to clean your sensitive fabrics at home. 
    This eliminates the need for plastic or wire hangers which often end up in the landfill. It also eliminates the need for plastic covers to keep your clothing clean. Again these plastic covers usually end up in the garbage because very few recycling centers have the ability to deal with them. Even if they did, recycling will reduce, but not eliminate, the waste.

    Home cleaning is much more environmentally friendly.

    Keep reading for more!

    [post_ads]

    Skip buying clothes that need dry cleaning

    Yes, it’s a simple solution however it’s also an effective one. 
    I stopped buying anything that required dry cleaning a long time ago. Dry cleaning is expensive, time consuming and the clothes tend to cost more money too. Natural fibers can be cleaned at home, even silk and wool, and they feel better on your skin.

    Hand wash

    Wool, cashmere, angora, and even silk and rayon can be gently hand washed. Use a mild soap designed for hand washing. Woolite or Castile are both still effective and there are earth friendly detergents too. Make sure the water is warm, not hot. You should be able to comfortably place your hands in the water.
    Fill a sink with warm water, approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the mild detergent. Allow the garment to soak. Gently agitate with your hands. Then rinse the garment. Experts recommend adding a bit of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water. Reshape and dry flat on a towel placed on a flat surface. 
    If you’re washing silk the water can be a touch warmer – 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Earth-friendly alternatives to the chemicals and waste of dry cleaning

    Garment steamer and other accessories

    With silk and other items that will wrinkle when they are dry, use a garment steamer to remove the wrinkles. Additionally, the heat from the steam will kill bacteria. A linen brush or a soft bristled brush can be used for some items to brush away any debris or caked on mess. If there’s no stain left behind or no sign of dirt a steamer can finish the job. There’s not always a need to wash something with soap and water.

    Keep reading for more!
    [post_ads]
    Also remember that clothing doesn’t need to be washed every time you wear it.

    Unless there’s a stain or visible dirt most items can be worn several times before they need a cleaning. It helps the clothing last longer.

    Cleaning at home saves you time, money and the environment. You eliminate harmful chemicals from being put into our soil and water supply. You also eliminate the risk of exposure to toxins like PERC. It’s good for you and good for the planet.

    Sustainable Sundays #2

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    Welcome to the Sustainable Sundays link up party #2! Check out last week’s features!

    Join us at Sustainable Sundays - a link party with an eco-friendly, sustainable theme. Share your gardening, upcycling, homesteading and related posts. And it's a party, so discover new blogs and make some friends! #sustainablesundays


    A link up party focused on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   

    Ever have one of those weeks? Besides the (relatively) insignificant matter that my brand new Android Tab was stolen, our littlest landed at the emergency room on her second birthday. She had a fever of 105.3F, and after quite a stressful afternoon and evening, with bloodwork, throat swabs and X-rays, the results came back – two spots of pneumonia on her lungs. There is nothing that can bring you to your knees faster than an extremely ill baby and pneumonia is an extremely serious illness that has a long recovery.

    While she’s healing, the rattle in her chest tells me we’re not out of the woods yet. It looks like it’s time for this mama to learn a bit about pneumonia (or as my children keep saying gnome-ee-oh) and natural lung care!

    On to the party!

    And if you have anything to share regarding natural antibiotics and lung care, I’ll share it to my email list in the next Saturday Round Up next week!
    Want a reminder when the party starts? I can do that! 🙂

    Most Visited Post: There’s a good reason why this tute on deboning old shirts to use for quilting fabric was our most visited post. It’s from The Quilting Room with Mel, and it is excellent! My mother always did this when we were children, and we had plenty of quilts made from outgrown shirts. Keep that good fabric out of the landfill!



    Most Social: Hey, it pays to promote the link up. Susie from Oui Crochet checked and commented on so many other posts – and we noticed! She submitted a great little project for a crocheted soap sack. I think this might make a good project to teach my 8 year old how to crochet – and we’ll get useful gifts in the process. 


    Marie’s Choice: No, no, no, don’t make me choose. Okay, this is going to be the hardest part of running this party, you know. I have to choose my favourite? Here it is. Eeva, who writes at Motoristin Mutsi, has an absolutely delightful blog and I adored her post about turning an old stained tablecloth into a sweet “pinny dress”. While I have no idea what a pinny dress is, I read the post aloud, enjoying the “accent”. It didn’t get nearly enough love during the party, so my vote is for Pinny Dress From Old Tablecloth.

    Were you featured? Feel free the add the “Featured” button below to your blog!

    http://www.diydanielle.com/search/label/Sustainable%20Sundays%20Link%20Party

    Copy and Paste the Code Below: 
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    Your Hosts

    Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.  Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food“, Follow on email to get her ebook Homesteading Without A Homestead for free.
    Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Flipboard / Twitter


    Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 

    Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book. A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth
    Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube



    Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

    Simple Party Rules 

    • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
    • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
    • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
    • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
    • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
    • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily see your hard work. 

    Link Up Below!

    We look forward to seeing you next week! Before you go – take a moment and pin the graphic below to help raise awareness of the party.

    Link up your green and sustainable blog posts.


    A Calm Mind is a Happy Mind

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    For many people, a low-grade amount of stress is a part of everyday life. So, you may not recognize that it has a negative impact on your overall health. 

    Studies have shown that feeling stress or anxiety on a long-term basis doesn’t just affect your peace of mind. In fact, you’re more likely to suffer from things like digestive issues and a weak immune system if your mind is persistently stressed.


    Cortisol, the hormone your body produces when you’re feeling stressed, can take a heavy toll on your physical and mental health. Because of this, giving your mind time to relax and recover is one of the most important self-care routines that you can practice. 

    Your state of mind has the potential to greatly benefit your health, or degrade it, over time.

    Digestion

    Your liver produces glucose to give you an energy boost when your body is feeling the effects of stress. Whatever your body doesn’t use is then reabsorbed. 

    However, if you’re suffering from chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with the extra blood sugar your liver is producing. You may be at an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes if your body is producing too much glucose. You’re more likely to have heartburn or acid reflux if you suffer from stress. 

    Stress doesn’t cause ulcers, but it may cause pre-existing ulcers to act up.

    Sexuality and Reproductive System

    Stress affects the menstrual cycles of some women. 

    You may have irregular or even non-existent periods or more painful or heavier cycles. Too much stress may magnify the physical symptoms of menopause for women. 

    Tweet this: Yes, a calm mind is a healthy mind. A stressed-out mind affects the body.

    For men, prolonged periods of stress can result in a drop of testosterone levels, erectile dysfunction and even impotency. For many, the loss of interest in intimate relationships is a common occurrence as a result of too much stress.

    Immune System

    Stress is known to stimulate the immune system, which is good if it’s short-term because it helps your body stave off infection and heals wounds. 

    But if you’re stressed for prolonged periods of time, cortisol compromises your immune system

    This inhibits histamine secretion and your body’s inflammatory response to foreign dangers. People who are affected by chronic stress are more likely to catch viral illnesses like the common cold. It also takes more time for the body to recover from injuries or illness, if you’re chronically stressed.

    Relaxation Techniques to Calm Your Mind

    There are numerous techniques for calming your mind. For some, exercise is an excellent outlet to give their mind time to recharge. Meditation is a well-known method for clearing your mind. There are many different styles of meditation, including meditative prayer, tailored to suit your needs and lifestyle.


    Remember to focus on the positives rather than focusing on everything that’s going wrong around you. Practice self-love and compassion and acknowledge your realityrather than criticizing yourself. Set daily routines that will provide a day-to-day sense of peace and comfort that you can use to escape the stresses of everyday life, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.


    The well-being of your mind plays a very significant role in your health, physically and mentally. Maintaining a peaceful state of mind is one of the best ways to protect your body from the negative effects of stress. Remember that stress and anxiety are inevitable hurdles everyone deals with. It’s how you manage the stresses of your everyday life that’s important. It’s also the key to overcoming them.

    A Quick Guide to Chemical-Free Gardening

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    Every year, thousand of chemicals are poured into the environment and millions of gallons of water are needlessly wasted.  How? By growing vegetables.

    You can certainly grow a garden without chemicals and wasteful amounts of water!

    Sure, most of this is done by large agricultural producers, but some of it is still done in personal gardens. And that means that you can make a difference by changing your gardening practices. There are many agricultural producers who have done it, and you can use the same tricks to help your own garden, and the planet.

    [post_ads]

    Pick appropriate plants

    Not all plants are appropriate for the area you live in.

    While you might be able to control the temperature, humidity, and rain conditions inside your house, you can’t do it out in the garden. If you pick appropriate plants for your area, you may be able to avoid using fertilizers and save on water too. Take the time to discover what plants grow naturally and well in your growing conditions, and try planting them in your own garden.

    Wildflowers are just that – they can pretty much be left alone and will thrive in most areas.

    Find out some quick ways to maintain your garden without chemicals that harm the planet.

    Pick pest repellant plants

    You don’t need to rely on poisons to keep away pests that ruin your garden.

    Many plants produce chemicals that repel these animals naturally. By putting them in or around you garden, you can keep your garden safe with little effort and no chemicals. Plus, you can pick parts of these plants and use them to make products to keep them away from you too.

    If you don’t want to plant natural repellents in your garden, you can use them to spray your plants without harming them or adding artificial chemicals to your garden. Many herbs like hot pepper, vanilla, and lavender can help repel insects from your garden.

    Here’s another tip – provide a safe habitat for beneficial insects, birds and amphibians. I have been asked “What do you do about potato bugs?” and offered a container of pesticide powder. Potato bugs have not been a problem for me, though, since I grow my potatoes in plenty of hay. The hay provides a safe shelter for insects that eat potato bugs. Encourage toads with toad houses between your plants.

    [post_ads]

    Pull weeds

    We’re all looking for a quick and easy way to safely get rid of weeds without chemicals, but the good old fashioned way is still very effective.

    If you take time every day to pull the weeds you can find, you’ll only take a few minutes so it doesn’t seem like a lot of work.  You can even get the children involved, just be sure to do it properly so you don’t spread the seeds around.

    Some of those weeds are edible, too, and are powerhouses of nutrition!

    Crop rotation

    Farmers all over the world use crop rotation to naturally fertilize plants. The concept is to change what crop you’re putting in a certain field each year. Plants use different nutrients and put other nutrients back into the soil. If you rotate crops that replace the nutrients the other plants use, you will have to fertilize the soil less.

    You can use this same concept in your garden by planting different plants every year, or just rotating where you put specific plants in the garden.

    So, you’ve made all these changes and are using a low-water, chemical free garden?  Well, you still haven’t done the most important thing:

    Pass it on!

    One garden can make a dent, but more can make a bigger difference.

    Tell your friends. Teach your children. You can even visit their school and teach your childrens’ friends!

    Every little bit helps make a better world.

    Sustainable Sundays Link Up #1 May 22, 2016

    Click here to view the original post.

    Welcome to the very first Sustainable Sundays link up party!

    Join us at Sustainable Sundays - a link party with an eco-friendly, sustainable theme. Share your gardening, upcycling, homesteading and related posts. And it's a party, so discover new blogs and make some friends! #sustainablesundays


    A link up party focused on eco friendly, sustainable practices. We’d love to have you link up posts about gardening, upcycling, homesteading, natural foods and recipes (nothing from a box!), reducing, reusing, and recycling.   

    They say that you should write the book you want to read. Well, my friend Danielle and I were looking for the best place to share our sustainable and green posts and we decided that creating our own link party was the best way to do it.

    Sustainable Sundays Link Up has an earth-friendly and sustainable living theme – if you are reducing, reusing, recycling, upcycling, or writing about ways to ‘refuse‘ or if you are gardening, raising your own livestock, or making your own household goods – there are so many great ways that you can help show others how to live a more sustainable and green life.

    If you are new to the idea of sustainable living, check out 3 Easy Ways To Be More Eco-Friendly. And if you’re already doing all of these, awesome!

    (Please be patient with me this week – just as we were getting this set up, my two year old came down with pneumonia and my tablet was stolen while I was shopping.)

    On to the party!

    Your Hosts

    Marie @ JustPlainMarie.ca lives in a literal “cabin in the woods” five miles up a rough dirt road where everything brought IN must be carted right back OUT – that’s a great incentive to produce much less garbage.  Their homestead is 100% solar powered and wood-heated. Marie is the author of “A Cabin Full of Food“, Follow on email to get her ebook Homesteading Without A Homestead for free.

    Love her posts? Follow her on: Email / Facebook / Pinterest / Flipboard / Twitter

    Danielle @ DIYDanielle.com is a stay-at-home mom turned DIY and ecofriendly focused blogger. 
    Between sewing, upcycling, and woodworking projects, Danielle loves to read, play with her dogs, try to keep her garden alive, and investigate new exciting ways to go green. Danielle also wrote the book. A Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth
    Love her posts? Follow her on: Email Facebook Pinterest / Flipboard / YouTube



    Following us on social media isn’t required. If you love our content, please follow us. If not, that’s cool too!

    Simple Party Rules 

    • Link up to three posts that you’ve created that you’d consider relevant to the topic of sustainability. We reserve the right to delete any link that does not appear to fit the theme of this link party.
    • Links are shuffled so regardless of when you add your link, the link will show up in various different locations.
    • No Etsy shops or affiliate links please. Giveaways are fine if they are part of a relevant and informational post (ie. you write a post about how to compost and giveaway a tumbling bin). 
    • Don’t link and run! Visit some of the other posts, leave a comment, pin, stumble, etc. the posts you love. We’re here to support our fellow sustainable living bloggers!
    • By linking, you agree that the photos are your own or that you have specific permission to use them and that posts may be shared on social media with attribution to you. 
    • We are hoping to feature one person each week who was the “most social.” I know a lot of people link and run. It happens, it’s not cool, but it’s hard to truly track. But for the people who spend time checking out other people’s links and sharing them, this feature is for you. Leave comments on other people’s blogs, share their posts on social media, and add the hashtag #SustainableSundays so we can easily see your hard work. 
    • Please grab the party button below and place it anywhere you desire on your site. This is a great way to show others your features and lead them to other sustainable blogs and materials. The code below is no follow code to comply with FTC guidelines.
    Join me on Sustainable Sundays! #sustainablesundays
    Copy and Paste the Code Below: 

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    Last Week’s Featured Posts

    It’s our first week, but we look forward to sharing four posts here next week! Keep an eye out. 

    Link Up Below!

    We look forward to seeing you next week!

    6 Ways To Silence Your Inner Critic

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    Have you heard the adage, “Everyone is a critic?” It’s true. And, the biggest critic of all is staring right back at you through the mirror. No one has to come down hard on you because you are already putting yourself into a vicious head lock as it is. Keep reading to find out six ways that you can send that cynical noisemaker packing.

    Your worst critic is often yourself! Learn how to silence your inner critic.

    I have heard it said that you can talk to yourself as long as you don’t answer back. 

    If you don’t answer back, however, the potentially negative thoughts will continue unchallenged. This is more detrimental than being considered crazy!  

    We often follow the patterns created in our minds by our thoughts. Allowing negative self-talk to dominate your mind can lead to low self-esteem, bad habits, depression and other unhealthy results.


    So if you need it – you have my permission to answer yourself back when that inner critic shows up!

    It's time to silence your inner critic so that you can be the person you want to be!


    Do it right away

    Don’t let the pressure get to you. Be proactive. Attack those thoughts as soon as they start to speak. Get creative.

    Box up your negativity

    This can be literal or figurative. In the grand scheme of our life, each problem holds a small place overall. Seeing it as small minimizes its power over you. Try this. Create a small box or purchase one. Whenever you are plagued by a negative thought about yourself for the way you handled a problem or because you made a mistake, write it down on a piece of paper. Put it away in that small box. See your issue diminishing in size. Those thoughts do not define who you are.

    Replace negativity with positive self-talk

    When a negative thought is removed something needs to fill its place in your mind. Exchange a negative (“I am worthless because I am not married.”) for a positive thought (“I am a unique and worthwhile person that any man would be lucky to have for a wife.”). If the negative thoughts can keep you down, then surely the positive ones can lift you up.

    Talk to a trusted friend

    Explain the situation that made you feel so bad. Allow your friend to console you, counsel you and challenge that negative thought pattern that is condemning you.

    Get realistic

    Was the situation as bad as you imagined it was? Maybe you are embellishing the story because of the negatives swirling in your mind? Take a realistic look at you and put things into perspective.

    Accept your imperfections

    Don’t “agree to disagree” with certain attributes but embrace them as old friends. They are a part of you – the good, the bad, the ugly and the peculiar. Love who you are and then move on to making changes in your life.

    Count your positives

    It’s similar to counting your blessings, which is another healthy and wonderful thing that you should do regularly. What is good about you? What have you done that is positive? Before you know it, you don’t feel bad anymore.

    Don’t let that voice in your head overshadow your actual voice. Speak the truth and change your circumstances. You really are wonderful and special and loved.

    Easy Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly

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    We all want to do our part to protect the environment, but without a large paycheck, that can be seem difficult, if not impossible. But doing your part doesn’t have to be hard, and it is possible to be green, sustainable and frugal. Small steps add up to a big difference, you just have to know which ones to take.

    Forget "all or nothing" - here are three simple changes you can make in your life to make your home a bit more earth-friendly

    Here are three SIMPLE steps that you can take to make your home just a bit more earth-friendly.

    Use less water

    Saving water is all about small steps, here are a few that will help save big.

    • Shut off the water while you brush your teeth
    • Take showers that are a minute or two shorter
    • Install a low flow shower head.
    • Better yet, install one with a quick shut off. Get wet, turn off the water, wash and then turn the water back on to rinse.
    • Only flush the toilet when you need to.
    • Only run full loads of laundry and dishes
    • Buy from sustainable producers. These are farmers, ranchers, and other producers that use techniques that pollute less and use less water. You can do some research online or ask at your local organic market to find these products.
    Here are three simple earth-friendly practices that you can implement today to start making your home a bit more green!

    Use less energy

    If you don’t have the money to buy a hybrid car or convert your house to 100% solar power, you can make a big difference with small changes.

    • Buy energy efficient appliances.  They may be more expensive, but make up for the increased cost in lower energy bills.
    • Unplug chargers when you’re not using them.  Cell phone and other chargers use up powers even if there’s nothing attached to them.
    • Put devices with remotes, like T.V.s, VCRs, and stereos, on a power strip and turn it off when you’re not using them.  These devices use a lot of power to run the remote receiver even when the device is off.
    • Walk or ride your bike for short trips. 
    • Buy local products. It takes energy to transport food and other products across the country. Buying local not only supports your local economy, it helps them use less energy.

    When it comes to saving energy and water, it’s a great idea to get the children involved. You can even make it a game. Have them track how much water and electricity everyone is using. You can compete to see who uses the least water.

    You can often count on children to help keep you on track when given the task.

    [post_ads]

    Reuse

    Most of us know the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, but when we work on conserving, we often leave reuse out of the picture.

    While you can often find tips on how to reuse common products from other people, what you need most is creativity. With a little thought there are many items around your home that can be reused – toilet paper holders can be used to sow seeds for the vegetable patch. And old yogurt containers can be cut into strip to make plant labels. Old food jars can be refilled with homemade dry mixes or can make great impromptu vases. (Please do NOT reuse old food jars to preserve food.)

    Use environmentally friendly products. And no, I’m not advocating that you rush out and buy a bunch of “green” cleaners and products. Here’s why.

    When you go to the grocery store, you probably see more and more “natural” or “eco friendly” products every time.  There are generally two big problems with these products:

    1. Just because they’re more natural than regular products, doesn’t mean they’re entirely natural.

    2, They’re often expensive.

    If you want inexpensive, natural, safe products, the best ones are homemade. Vinegar is a great way to clean and disinfect glass and other surfaces. Need to remove stubborn stains? Just add some baking soda to your vinegar cleaner.

    We all knowing that going green is better for the environment, but it’s also better for you.  Conserving resources also helps save you money, which is something most of us are happy to live with.

    How Long To Create A New Habit

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    They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit (and I’ve been known to say it myself). That’s kind of a weird idea, though, isn’t it? It doesn’t take that long to form a bad habit. And sometimes no matter how hard we try it takes us a lot longer than three weeks to form a new good habit.

    Does it really take 21 days to form a new habit?

    So how long does it really take to create a new habit? The answer is that it depends.

    It depends on your mindset and it depends on how big of a change it is from what you are doing now. If it is your habit to eat a bowl of ice cream at night and you switch from regular ice cream to a low sugar frozen yogurt version, it’s probably not going to take you very long to make that new habit. Giving up ice cream altogether though or cutting out all sugar on the other hand might take a lot longer.

    When we ask that question, what we really want to know is how long do we have to tough it out before it gets easier. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel where we don’t have to try so hard anymore? In other words, when will this new behavior become automatic?

    While it will be different from one person to the next and even from one habit to the next, there are a few things to keep in mind.

    It’s easier to make a new habit than get rid of an old one.

    Does it really take 21 days to build a new habit? Find out how long it really takes, and what you can do to keep the time short.

    Be prepared to work a lot harder to give up checking your email every 2 minutes or snacking late at night. Whenever possible, try to replace an old habit with a new one. For example if you’re wanting to give up coffee, brew a cup of herbal tea in the morning and throughout the day when you would usually reach for your cup of Joe.

    Habits will form faster if you stick to the same time and environment each day. Instead of going for a walk whenever the mood strikes you, keep your sneakers next to the door and schedule your walk every day at 6pm, right after dinner for example.

    A constant reminder of why you’re trying to change your behavior is also helpful.

    Remind yourself every day that you’re exercising so your body stays strong and you can go play with the children or grandchildren in the yard.

    Or put up a picture to remind you that you’re making frugal habits so you can one day purchase your dream home.

    Keep your reason why you’re changing front and center and then be prepared to stick it out. Yes it will take some time to make new habits and replace old ones. But it will be well worth it in the end.

    3 Steps to Creating New Habits

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    Have you ever tried to create a new habit?
    3 steps to creating a new habit
    Just like all those people setting lofty New Year’s Resolutions, we often fail before we can get that good and healthy habit established.
    We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. Or it could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk. Or it could be work related, or spiritual, or financial or … the list goes on.

    There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.

    [post_ads]

    Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. We seem to acquire bad habits without any effort, but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging.
    Let’s break it down into a three step process that makes it easy to follow until we’ve internalized the new behavior and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth.

    There are three simple steps to forming a new habit

    Step 1 Decide What You Want To Do

    The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be
    Be as specific as possible. 
    Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more.  “More” is such a vague word that it does not settle into our minds and change anything. We can easily justify anything as “more”. Instead say something like “I will go for a 30 minute walk every single day”. 
    Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.

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    Step 2 Remind Yourself To Get It Done

    The next few days should be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
    Maybe it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk. Or maybe your day just gets away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.

    Personally, I rely heavily on Google calendar to keep me on track. It syncs seamlessly to all devices and changes are easy.

    Step 3 Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit

    This brings us to the last step. 
    It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Generally, it takes 21 days of repeatedly doing something until it becomes a habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.
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    Make that daily walk part of your after dinner routine, or change from grabbing a snack at the vending machine at work at 10:00 in the morning to packing a healthy snack. If the new habit requires multiple steps, list them in a handy place so that you always remember what to do. The easier you make it on yourself, the more likely you are to carry through.
    Congratulations! 
    Decide to create the new habit, set reminders to keep it at the top of your mind, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.

    15 Edibles You Do Not Need To Plant

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    Spring is one of my favourite times of the year.

    15 weeds that you can eat - and they taste good!

    Even before anything is growing in the garden, it is possible to fill my plate with delicious and nutritious greens. Food is growing everywhere. These fifteen plants – all nutritious, delicious, traditional foods — are commonly found in most areas of North America (and some in South America), Europe and Australia. Don’t be too quick to kill all the weeds. Eat them instead.

    Dandelion

    Dandelion

    This is one of the first edibles that bloom in the spring. There is so much to love about dandelion. The leaves taste much like spinach, the flowers are sweet and the root (harvested in the fall) can be roasted and ground to make a hot drink or mixed with other root vegetables and roasted as a side dish.

    The entire plant is edible. My favourite are the tender young leaves in early spring, which are delicious to pick and eat raw, but dandelion has a long reputation as a cooked green later in the season. The flowers are not only edible raw, but they can be breaded and deep-fried or used to make wine.

    Curly or yellow dock

    By Henry Brisse (upload by user:Abalg) (from the aforementioned site) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Although most greens can be compared to spinach, dock tastes like spinach and lemon. It grows throughout Europe, North and South America, and Australia.

    It can be recognized by its bright red stalk that can reach up to three feet high. Peel the stems before eating raw or cooked. Harvest the mature seeds and boil them, or roast them to make a hot drink. Because of their high oxalic acid content, change the water several times when cooking and do not rely too heavily on it as a green.

    Before you kill all the weeds - many of them are even more nutritious than the vegetables in your garden. And just as tasty!

    Mallow

    This is related to okra and has the same slimey properties.

    Like dandelion, the whole plant is edible, but the leaves are what are most often cooked and eaten. In fact, all varieties of mallow are edible and useful. The root can be blended with honey and vanilla and strained to make a “milk”. Cook mallow leaves like most other greens.

    Mallow is commonly used in herbal tea to soothe sore throats.

    It grows all over the world, on every continent, and it has no poisonous look-alikes.

    Thistle

    Canada Thistle

    Most of us do not think of thistle as edible. Last year an enormous thistle decided to take over an unused garden bed. This is an impressive and scary looking plant. If you are willing to brave the thorns, thistle can be eaten.

    Juice the greens and strain out the thorns. The flowers are edible. The roots of this can be roasted like dandelion.

    Plantain

    White Man’s Foot (not the tropical plantain that looks like a banana) appeared wherever European settlers did. Native North Americans named it because it literally appeared *everywhere* – and it still does. This rugged plant will grow if given the most meager and unforgiving opportunity. However, plantain that is growing between the cracks of pavement and trampled underfoot, or exposed to exhaust fumes and pollution, is not recommended foot for any but the most desperate.

    Plantain leaves, chewed up and placed on an insect sting, will reduce pain and swelling. Cover the chewed up leaves with another leaf and then a bandage. The amazing thing about plantain leaves is that they do not stick to wounds.

    Like everything on this list, plantain is edible. Eat the young leaves raw or cooked. The seeds, which slide off the stem (it’s fun!) can be cooked like a grain or ground into flour. Plantain is related to psyllium, a common fiber supplement and natural laxative.

    Amaranth

    By Ton Rulkens from Mozambique (Amaranthus) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Known to farmers as “that blankety-blank pigweed”, wild amaranth is actually a very important, and under appreciated, food plant. Historically, the Mayan and Incan diets revolved around this grain.

    While a bit laborious to winnow, the protein-rich seeds can be use to make “flax” seed crackers and ground to make amaranth bread.

    Amaranth seeds can even be popped for a snack.

    The leaves are edible, although you may need to watch for some spines, and used like all other cooked green. Boil the leaves and discard the cooking water to remove the oxalic acid and nitrates.

    Burdock

    If you have ever picked up “hitchhikers” while walking in the woods or tall grasses, you know burdock. This can grow to be quite a large plant with leaves that look a lot like rhubarb. The flowers are purple and look like thistles.

    In Japan, this is a very popular food. Boil the leaves in two changes of water before eating to remove the bitterness.

    The root can be peeled, boiled and eaten like any other tuber, and so can the stalks.

    Purslane

    Purslane (Creative Commons: Jeff S Kleinman)
    This low-lying plant is easy to overlook, but it is packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids. This is a succulent plant with a peppery taste. Eat the leaves and stems raw or cooked.

    Wild mustard

    Wild Mustard and flowers
    The flowers of wild mustard have four petals in the shape of a cross and often have little pods of different shapes. 
    This wild plant is related to radishes, mustard, broccoli and cabbage, and the leaves taste, predictably, like mustard.

    Cattail/bullrush

    This is found around the edges of freshwater wetlands. The North American natives relied on cattail for many things. Most of it is edible. If you are willing to brave the wetlands and pull up the rhizomes, they can be boiled or eaten raw. The lower part of the stem, where it is mostly white, is edible, and can be boiled or eaten raw. The leaves can be boiled and eaten like most other greens. If broken off in the early summer, the female flower spike (yes the “cat” tail) can actually be eaten as though it were a piece of corn!

    Clover

    Although I can’t remember who taught me to suck on the sweet little clover blossoms, I had a great deal of fun showing my children that the pretty red and white flowers are a delicious wild food for more than bees. The flowers can be eaten raw or dried for tea in the winter and the leaves are edible as a boiled green.

    Chicory

    Lavender chicory
    The pretty blue, lavender and white flowers of chicory are recognizable, and they grow all over Europe, North America and Australia. The young leaves are edible raw or boiled. The root can be roasted and ground for a hot drink (or add the ground root to coffee grounds), or boiled and eaten as a tuber. The flowers are edible just as they are – toss them in a salad of fresh summer greens.

    Knotweed

    Although called wild buckwheat, this is not a wheat. Another name for this is Black bindweed. It grows close to the ground and most people never notice it. Knotweed grows where nothing else will. The chances are very likely that you have seen this plant!

    Like many wild vegetables, the entire plant is edible. Make a tasty low carb snack by marinading the leaves in a spicy sauce and dehydrating them.

    Lambsquarters

    Lambsquarters
    This is one of my favourite wild vegetables.

    Once you learn to recognize it, you will see lambsquarters everywhere. This is a pioneer plant that seeds anywhere the ground is disturbed, which means that I can often make a salad after “weeding” my garden.

    It is related to quinoa and the seeds can be harvested and used in the same way if you have the patience. Choose plants that are no more than a foot high for the tenderest, tastiest leaves. This is rarely a problem because new lambsquarters plants sprout and grow from spring until fall. The underside of the leaves has a light powder on them, so definitely wash before eating.

    Chickweed

    By Leslie Seaton from Seattle, WA, USA (Chickweed) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    This tiny, delicate plant likes moisture and cool, and it grows in temperate and arctic zones. The name, as with many wild plants, reflects a trait – chickens love it. Small white flowers appear from May until July. Dry the leaves and add oil to make a healing salve for minor cuts, burns and rashes, as well as for eczema and dry, irritated skin. More delicate than spinach, the leaves, stems and flowers can all be eaten raw or cooked.

    And there you have it – 15 quite delicious, incredibly versatile plants that grow almost everywhere. Even if you don’t have all of them in your area, you are sure to have many.

    I highly recommend the Peterson Field Guides if you live in North America. We have a shelf full of them and the ones we use most are Edible Wild Plants and Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. If you are on the west coast, Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs covers your area. Look for field guides written specifically for where you live.

    Making Vanilla Extract

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    Have you ever eyed those tiny little bottles of extracts at the grocery store and thought there must be a way to make them at home? You can make your own vanilla extract without the strange chemicals and high price tag. Best of all it’s very easy to do. I’ll let my friend Danielle take over from here.

    When you find out how easy it is to DIY vanilla extract, you'll wonder when you ever bought it!

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Hi! I’m Danielle and I met Marie through our blogs.

    I write a do-it-yourself and going green blog (www.diydanielle.com) so Marie’s writing on Just Plain Living really spoke to me with its focus on being self sufficient and green. I’m not a homesteader, but more of a wannabe homesteader. I’m only two goats and a chicken coop away from it, but my husband – and probably some local laws – won’t let me start a farm on our small suburban property so alas, I only have a compost bin, a small garden, two dogs, and two kids under 5 to care for. For now, that’s enough. 

    But someday, I’m getting goats and chickens darnit!

    Making your own vanilla extract is so very easy!

    In the meantime, my big plan this year is to learn how to get better gains from our garden and to can some of the food for use throughout the year.

    I love to save money on food.

    Of course, I had to get Marie’s book, A Cabin Full of Food, to help me with canning and eating seasonally.

    And there are So. Many. Recipes.

    Because I am a DIY’er, I loved that there were so many recipes that would make great gifts.

    Today I’m going to share how to make vanilla extract with a nifty little video. I’m new to time lapse, but ooooooh this was so much fun to make.

    Keep an eye out on diydanielle.com for the lemon extract recipe that I will be sharing!

    Supplies

    Vanilla Beans
    Vodka
    Funnel
    Glass containers
    Label maker
    A Cabin Full of Food

    This is a really simple project. I purchased some nice glass containers off Amazon, but you could also upcycle some glass containers as well to use.

    Wash your container thoroughly and dry.

    My glass bottles were 4 ounces each.

    I took each vanilla “bean” (the bean is the whole entire pod) and split it lengthwise. I used one and a half beans per container. In the video below, you can see I cut each bean in half and just used three halves. I hope that isn’t too confusing, but they fit better that way.

    Once I finished putting them in, I used my funnel to pour vodka into the glass container. I put the lid on, added a label, and made sure to shake the container.

    I stored it on a shelf in the kitchen and will continue to shake it here and there for good measure until it’s ready.

    As you use your vanilla extract, you can keep adding more vodka to top it off. Just give it a little shake each time you do that.

    Thanks so much Marie for giving me the opportunity to share this project!

    I hope you all liked it! If you haven’t purchased Marie’s book yet, go get it! It’s fantastic and has lots of very practical but fun recipes “for real life.”

    Create Your UNgrocery list

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    You are wasting SO much money at the grocery store, buying convenience foods that are actually JUST as easy to make at home, almost almost far less expensive and always healthier.

    There are so many things that you can make at home instead of buying! Start creating your ungrocery list!

    This is not an exhaustive list by any measure, but this should get you started on creating your own ungrocery list. Many of these recipes (well, the food-related ones) can be found in my cookbook A Cabin Full of Food, and if you are interested in increasing your food self-sufficiency, I urge you to get a copy. However, in the meantime, I would like to share some great ideas from friends of mine.

    Homemade White Bread

    There is such a difference between store bought bread and homemade bread that they almost shouldn’t be called the same thing.

    Find out how to make a basic white bread from my friend Kim.

    Croutons and bread or cracker crumbs

    All of these things are very easily made at home. Elaina has directions for making delicious homemade croutons

    Muffins

    Do not buy muffins. Once you have a basic muffin recipe like my Banana Muffins and understand how to modify it, a batch of muffins can be mixed and in the oven in five minutes.

    Jam, jelly and preserves of all kinds

    My friend Cari has a recipe for Grape Jelly. You can home-canned or purchased grape juice. (And yes, you CAN make your own grape juice, too!)

    Canned stew and soup

    With home-canned meat and vegetables in the pantry, making soup and stew literally takes minutes. Get the canned stew off your grocery list and onto your ungrocery liste. Fnd out how to make homemade beef stew in fifteen minutes.

    Chip and Vegetable Dip

    But, but, but doesn’t it come in a little package that … well, it can, but it shouldn’t. This classic dip was made long before those dried mixes. Learn to make your own Onion Dip.

    Biscuit Mix

    Take a few minutes to mix up some biscuit mix and you will walk right by those boxes at the grocery store!

    Extracts

    Find out how easy it is to make your own Vanilla Extract from my friend Cari.

    Holly also has instructions for making Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Syrup.

    Cream soups

    You certainly do NOT need to buy canned cream soups. Annette tells you how to make your own Cream of Chicken Soup

    Canned meat

    You do need a pressure canner for this, but it is possible to make the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth canned meat at home.

    Canned Baked Beans

    You really can make your own canned baked beans, and they are just as convenient as the commercial version – only far, far less expensive. 

    Pancake syrup

    For the record, I’m not talking about maple syup. If you do not have your own maple trees, then please purchase maple syrup – from a small producer, of course, and not a huge company. Pancake syrup is nothing more than a flavoured sugar syrup!

    Chocolate syrup

    Chocolate Syrup should definitely be on your Ungrocery list!
    Cheese – cream cheese, cheddar/Colby, mozzarella, Parmesan

    Hot cocoa mix

    Have you ever made your own hot cocoa mix? It’s delicious!

    Soap Concentrate

    You’ll kick yourself when you find out how easy it is to make your own Castile Soap Concentrate – at far less cost than buying it!

    Laundry Soap

    Not everyone has the same results from homemade laundry soap, but if you’re interested in trying it, my friend Kim tells you how to make it

    Have you ever thought about all the things you can make at home instead of buying. Keep your money in your pocket.

    Applesauce

    Not only will my friend Kim tell you how to make your own homemade chunky applesauce, but she has directions on both canning and freezing it.

    Cranberry sauce

    Don’t limit yourself by only having cranberry sauce at Christmas. Homemade Cranberry and Fruit Sauce is delicious all year round!

    Salad Dressing

    Don’t buy that Ranch Mix from the store. Really – you can make your own quite easily with ingredients that you recognize.

    Pancake mix

    Don’t do it. Just don’t do it. The purchased mix doesn’t actually save you any time and it certainly won’t save you money. Learn how to make your own Pancake Mix.

    Pie shells

    Don’t buy these! Annette tells you how to make your own Pie Shells and even a No-Roll Pie Crust!

    Paper towels, paper plates, paper napkins, etc

    I cover this in Time To Dispose of the Disposables. From diapers to family cloth, there are reusable versions of all the disposables. Check it out.

    Cheeseburger Macaroni

    Are you always buying those “helper” boxes at the store? Besides the fact that they are full of salt, and don’t really save you any money, they are EASY to recreate at home. Check out this recipe for homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni.

    Wine

    Really? WINE? If you like drinking wine with your dinner, you need to realize just how easy and affordable it is to make at home. My friend Danielle has instructions for making your own wine.

    Tomato products

    There are so many wonderful ways to make your own tomato products, and the flavour is usually much better than anything you can buy.

    First step is learning how to can your own tomato sauce – save that taste of summer to enjoy all winter. Roasted Tomato Sauce is absolutely delicious.

    Deodorant

    My friend Cari has a great tutorial for making Tea Tree Deodorant. She even has a short video to show you how easy this is to make!

    Chicken or beef or vegetable broth

    Homemade broth is nothing like the stuff you buy from the store. Learn how to make a rich, nutritious beef broth from my friend Elaina and here are directions to make Homemade Vegetable Stock.

    Lip Balm

    Everyone loves soft lips (or rather, no one likes having dry, cracked lips!), but why buy tubes of what-is-in-this lip balm when you can make your own Peppermint Lip Balm with ingredients you can actually pronounce?

    Here’s a home security tip I wrote down in my “Frugal Notebook” years ago:
    “Put a pair of worn, dirty, size 14 work boots outside the front door. Wet often so they always look freshly used. Hey – would *you* break in?”

    If you like the idea of cooking from scratch and eating food that “remembers where it came from”, you really need to check out A Cabin Full of Food. Almost a thousand recipes will keep you busy for a long time!

    36 Ways To Lower Your Energy Use This Summer

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    Summer is coming! (Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, in which case it’s time to get ready for winter) For many of us, summer is when power bills go through the roof.
    Of course you can lower your power bill even in the hot summer. Check out these 36 ideas that will help keep you cool and comfortable while saving you some money.

    You do not need to go off-grid in order to lower your electricity use. Here are 36 tips for lowering your electricity use this summer.
     
    This post contains affiliate links.
     
    Don’t use an air conditioner. Electric floor and ceiling fans use half the energy.
     
    It is definitely possible to use less power even when it's hot outside. Check out these 36 ideas for lowering your power bill in the summer.

    Fans do not cool the room, though – they blow away the layer of hot air around your body. Therefore, when you leave the room, turn off the fan. If you leave a fan on when it is not actually moving the hot air away from a person, you are simply wasting electricity.

     
    Make sure your ceiling fan is blowing down, not up. If it’s blowing up, then the warm air from the ceiling is being pushed back down, and that’s not good. When the fan is at full speed, stand directly under it – you should feel a solid wind.
     
    If you must use an air conditioner, especially for those with health conditions, increasing the temperature by 2C (for example, from 26C to 28C) will reduce your energy consumption by about 10%. 10% is a lot.
     
    Plant summer greenery like Morning Glory flowers outside of your house’s windows. These create a natural shade and keep the heat from entering, while evaporation from water inside the plants and their soil will also cool your walls.
     
    Even potted plants and gardens, if close to the house, will prevent excessive temperature increases.
     
    Trees are even better. But if you’re planting trees near your house, pay close attention to the mature root size and shape, choosing ones that go straight down. Sprawling roots can destroy your foundation, paths and driveway.
     
    Use blinds inside your windows to block sunlight and heat. Better yet, install functional outdoor shutters outdoors to prevent the heat from reaching the windows. It’s an old idea that deserves a revisit.
     
    In the morning and early evening, sprinkle water on gardens, balconies, concrete and asphalt. As the day warms, the water will evaporate and have a cooling effect.
     
    Straw or rattan mats are cooler than carpets or wooden floors.
     
    Solar control films are available to apply to windows. Just like the insulating film many people use in the winter, these insulate the window glass directly, reflecting away 78% of the sun’s heat and blocking up to 98% of UV rays.
     
    Wear a hat. Your mom was right.
     
    Bring back parasols. It has happened in Japan, so why not bring them back to North America?
     
    Linen bedding, although definitely much more expensive, is the most comfortable, quick-drying and sweat-absorbent. An added benefit is that linen lasts a lifetime and “old linen” becomes increasingly soft and comfortable. If linen bedding is out of the price range, lightweight cotton is the next best option, allowing you to sleep more comfortably in the heat.
     
    Sleep with ice packs under your pillow.
     
    Turn down the coolness in your refrigerator. Put it at a medium setting. Second to air conditioners, refrigerators are the single biggest use of energy in the home.
     
    Do not overload the refrigerator as that prevents food from cooling properly. They work best if air can circulate freely, so toss out those long-forgotten leftovers.
     
    Organize your food so that the refrigerator is opened as infrequently as possible. I know, I’m starting to sound like your mom, aren’t I? Keep the refrigerator door closed!
     
    Is it too obvious to point out that we should be turning off lights whenever possible? Unless you live in a dark basement apartment, there is little need for artificial lights in the daytime, and we generally manage quite well without them. Turning off lights unless absolutely needed will save about 5% of your energy consumption.
     
    Turn off anything that isn’t being used and be aware of phantom loads. If you use a microwave or television, make sure it is properly turned off.
     
    If you replace incandescent lights (are you still using those?) with fluorescent bulbs, maintaining the same luminance, you decrease consumption to about 1/5th of what you were using. LED lights will reduce consumption to about 1/7th of the original usage! We use only LED lights in our off-grid cabin and the energy use is minimal.
     
    Use kitchen and bathroom fans with caution as they vent to the outdoors and may be drawing welcome cool air outside.
     
    Crockpots, electric skillets, roaster ovens, toaster ovens, grills, griddles, outdoor barbecues and sandwich makers – there are many ways to cook without heating up the kitchen. Quick cooking methods like stir frying and boiling are also ideal – leave the simmered dishes for cooler months.
     
    Cook in the morning or late in the evening whenever possible.
     
    Eat cool food. Salads, fresh vegetables and dip, cold cuts and bread are all delicious ways to eat while beating the heat, as are cold noodles like soba. Cook them in the morning, rinse well in several changes of cold water, drain well and cover, then store in the refrigerator. Serve with a delicious dipping sauce and chopped additions like cold meat and cheese.
     
    Don’t forget seasonal favourites that have always been considered cooling – cucumber, tomato, watermelon, potato salad. Prepare the potatoes when the temperature is lower, or use canned potatoes.
    When you do use the oven, don’t pre-heat unless you’re baking. In addition, cook multiple things at a time and check on your food by looking through the window.
     
    Drink plenty of cool beverages. Try using that sun’s heat to brew up a batch of sun tea in your window. Or make barley tea by roasting whole barley in the oven and then boil it in water for a few minutes. Sweeten, cool and enjoy. Want more options than that? My friend Carissa has written a fabulous little book called Infused that contains 120 infused water recipes. (Yes, I have a copy!)
     
    Hang dry your clothes. Even if you don’t have a backyard clothesline, a temporary rack in the bathroom or living room means no dryer heat.
     
    The water heater is close to the air conditioner in energy consumption. Turn the heat down on it, and consider turning it off during hours when hot water on demand is not required.
     
    Take quick showers instead of baths and consider lowering the temperature of your showers. If your home is warm, a cool shower can be very refreshing.
     
    Even better – install low-flow shower heads for those short, cooler showers.
     
    Clean around the home with cold water instead of hot wherever possible.
     
    The Japanese believe that creating a soothing, relaxing environment helps you feel cooler. Install Japanese wind chimes or set up a small fish tank in your home.
     
    A tenugui, originally simply a facecloth used by 18th century actors, is a thin linen or cotton hand towel which is used as a headband, to wipe away sweat, or as a sunshade. Carrying a thin towel or handkerchief is a practical tradition for dealing with heat, as are small hand fans.
     
    And, finally, the easiest, healthiest and all around best way to save energy with your television is to unplug it and all of its accessories and remove them from your home.

    The Beam In My Eye

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    Have you ever found yourself furious at people for their self-righteous, holier-than-thou, judging attitudes? I know I have, and most likely so have you. It’s not a very pleasant thing to be around, in my experience. Too many people are looking down their noses at others, secure in their own superiority.

    We are often quick to condemn the sins and failings of another when these often reflect our own!

    I have said that I prefer an honest sinner over a fake saint. It sounds witty and clever, and I know a lot of people who would (and do) cheer and high-five such a statement.
    After all, none of us truly appreciates a judgmental hypocrite, right?
    It took a brother in Christ to gently and lovingly point out that I might be more comfortable without that beam in my eye. While I smiled and thanked him, I’ll admit that I was inwardly seething.
    Of course he was wrong.
    Of course he was.
    Of course.
    Can you see to remove the speck of dust in another's eye? Should you remove the beam in your own first? Far to often, the failings we see in others reflects our own sins.

    Everyone knows that I don’t judge people for their sins and failings. How often have I stated – and I believe it with all my heart – that all sins are equal in God’s eyes, that Jesus made it very clear that anger is murder, lust is adultery, coveting is theft.

    We’re all sinners.

    Any righteousness that I have on my own is but filthy rags before a Holy God. I am a sinner saved by Grace through faith, not of my own works lest I boast.
    When I see the hurting and lost, my heart breaks. I can feel compassion for those facing broken marriages, struggling to heal and forgive after abuse, grieving for lost ones. The tears I have cried over my keyboard, as my readers share their stories!
    The drug-addicted prostitute on the streets is no less worthy of love and respect than I am. The foul-mouthed, tattooed gang member is as loved by God as I am.
    All Sunday afternoon, it ate at me while I sang worship songs and socialized.
    I’m not judgmental! I can’t be. Perhaps I get angry at those who look down their holy noses at … well, but at least I’m not like … oh, dear …
    That night I spent a long time on my knees, and plenty of time soaking my pillow. It was a long night with not much rest.
    It didn’t help when I looked up the word judgmental.
    “tending to judge people too quickly and critically; judging people harshly or with condemnation”
    In the letter to the Roman church, Paul wrote that we have no excuse, when we judge another, because we are guilty of the same things.

    You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 

    It is so easy to cross our arms and declare that we most certainly are not! After all, that’s pretty harsh.

    I suspect that those in Rome who read that letter did exactly that. Paul had just finished talking about some pretty terrible sins from backbiting and being unloving to murder and sexual immorality. I can imagine the new believers in Rome reading this and looking around in confusion.

    “Me? He can’t be talking about me. Maybe he means Barnabas.”

    How well are you seeing with that beam in your eye?

    Now, judging right from wrong is not a bad thing, and lovingly rebuking a brother or sister in the body of Christ is good and useful. We need to do that, and we need to feel free to do that. If that loving word had been replaced with the thought “Well, I shouldn’t judge Marie” then I would have continued, contently blinded by that beam in my eye.

    No, we must both rebuke and edify each other to strengthen the body of Christ. That is a good thing, and it is easy to see that the early church did plenty of that. The key, of course, is that it must be done lovingly and with the right spirit.

    The danger lies when we are judging the person and favourably comparing ourselves to them or when we are using that judgment to condemn them.

    Not a single one of us has the right to cast the first stone.

    One way to recognize condemning, destructive judgment is that it often contains with some version, stated or implied, of “Well, at least I don’t …” or “People like that …”

    The hard truth is that, as Paul states, we condemn ourselves when we point out the speck of sawdust in another’s eye.

    The sins and failings that we most readily see in others, the actions and beliefs that we find most abhorrent in others – according to both Jesus and Paul – are those of which we ourselves are most often guilty.

    And that’s a hard thing to grasp.

    How Living Off-Grid Taught Me 3

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    How Living Off-Grid Taught Me To Keep House

    Getting Stuck In Town … On-Grid For A Week

    Have you read part 1 and part 2 yet? If not, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about! Scoot back over and read it! Go on. I’ll still be here.

    As I said, it started when I was in town visiting my sweet young friend who has the washing machine. 

    While we were there, a snowstorm hit … and then another … and I was rather trapped in town since the plow didn’t get near our place until Wednesday. In the meantime, my friend was given sulpha drugs for a bad infection – and took an even worse reaction to the medication.
    Have you ever had a bad reaction to medication? It can be really bad, and my sweet-tempered, wonderful friend turned cranky, fidgety and irritable. This was so not her that I felt bad and wanted to help out.
    And so while she napped, I did the housework and caught up on some things for her. I remember what it’s like to be a young mom with a toddler, after all.

    An important side note: If you ever step in and help a young, overwhelmed parent catch up on their housework, then please do it with love and kindness and understanding. Even if you were never overwhelmed by housework, you have your own failings, things that you have found difficult at some point. Act and speak with grace and love – or don’t bother. Helping someone without grace and love is going to make them feel angry, not loved.

    Remember that, for almost three years, I have lived in a backwoods cabin that has minimal electricityfairly dim LED lights in the main rooms (none in the bedrooms and bathroom), cold running water (and none at all in the winter), a composting toilet and no refrigerator.
    This wasn’t work. This was a vacation. And that really surprised me because my house is often a complete mess!

    Let me make this clear – none of this is an attack on anyone. I promise. Perhaps, if anything, it is a letter to myself twenty years ago. If you have multiple little ones, or do not have a dishwasher, or if you have disabilities or work outside the home …. in other words, all sorts of exceptions … you are going to have more difficulties and things will take longer.

    How do you tackle an overwhelming pile of dishes and laundry while still getting the family fed?

    Let me share my game plan with you. Five pages of detailed, step-by-step instructions to get control of that mountain of laundry and dishes while keeping the family fed. An emergency catch-up plan. I’ve been there and I know exactly what you’re going through.

    How Living Off-Grid Taught Me 2

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    How Living Off-Grid Taught Me To Keep House

    Even Meals Take Work!

    Have you read part 1 yet? If not, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about! Scoot back over and read it! Go on. I’ll still be here when you come back.

    Since we do not have a refrigerator or freezer, meals are also an exercise in planning aheadmaking do and doing without.

    I can’t reach into the fridge and pull out leftovers, or take out some frozen fries that I bought a few weeks ago. Our meat is generally pressure canned, unless one of us is in town and brings something fresh home, and meals have to be made from scratch by necessity.

    Everything here requires planning, usually hauling something heavy and awkward, and careful timing.

    Last night, we were both sick with a head cold and feeling miserable, so we forgot to turn off the water main. Our pipes freeze if the temperature drops below –10C and guess how cold it got last night?
    If we don’t plan ahead, bad things happen.
    • Pipes freeze and can burst. (They didn’t burst but I had NO running water at all for three days.)
    • The fire goes out and the wood is fifty feet away in the woodshed. At 5 a.m.
    • Firewood gets buried in snow.
    • Animal feed runs out (hasn’t happened).
    • Children pee in their last clean pyjamas (but that has)
    • People get hungry because scratch cooking takes some time.
    • Propane runs out when the roads are unplowed and the trucks won’t come.
    • Dishes are undone because of a lack of hot water.
    • Batteries are depleted, so no electricity.
    No, these aren’t regular occurrences, but they are things that we need to worry about. May I point out again that, with all of this, my house is never what you would call clean.
    In fact, right now, I can see sawdust around the indoor woodpile, some dirty dishes on the counter, and a pile of clothes that need to get put away.  Walk into my kitchen (we don’t have a proper entry) and you’ll see all of the craziness involved in having six people and multiple animals out here in the boonies.
    What, you mean you don’t haul buckets of ice inside to thaw for the animals? 
    You don’t have bins of sawdust drying above the stove for the composting toilet? 

    Giant chore boots beside the stove? 
    Large pots of water heating up for dishes? 
    Yes, I have all of that and more, and it all contributes to the mess.
    So why in the world would I say I’ve become a better homemaker? Even my mother agrees, so you know it’s true.

    It’s Time To Dispose Of The Disposables

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    Have you ever wondered how to make reusable versions of the disposables that normal, hygienic people usually use? Have you found yourself searching the stores for reusable paper towel only to stomp home in frustration? Here, my friends, is the ultimate list of how to find these amazing new products – reusable versions of every day disposable items. Who knew that so much was made that didn’t need to be tossed after each use?
    Get rid of disposables - the ultimate list of reusable options

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    How To Survive The Stock Market Crash Part 2

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    Don’t miss the first part of this post! Part ONE

    Lose The Debt

    Debt is a terrifying thing when there is no job security. 
    Please put debt repayment at the top of your priority list. Not too long ago, people were telling me that it was wiser to have money in investments and slowly pay off debt, since the investments were paying far better than the interest charged on the debt.

    Good luck with that these days.

    This site uses carefully screened affiliate links and other advertising. If you visit links or purchase through them, I MAY receive a commission - at no extra cost to you. Your support keeps this blog running and is greatly appreciated. Click for full disclosure.JP Morgan is advising stockholders to sell on any bounce. Experts are predicting a very bad year for the stock market.

    Have an Emergency Fund

    With a month’s notice, could you come up with $2000 for an emergency? The majority of people in North America can not, which means that the majority is financially insecure.
    An emergency fund – either cash or assets that can be easily and quickly converted to cash – protects from debt and hardships. The oft-repeated sentence that we are all just a paycheque away from homelessness is unfortunately true for most people. It does not have to be, though.
    Please do not make the mistake of thinking that an emergency fund is only for people who have large incomes. It may come as a shock, but the lower your income is, the more vital it is for you to have an emergency fund. Higher income people are more likely to have hard assets and the ability to quickly lay their hands upon necessary funds.
    If you live in a place where employment insurance is available and you’ve been paying into it, take into account the wait time for your first cheque. Here in Nova Scotia, as 2016 begins, the wait can be as long as eight weeks. That is a long time to go without paying your bills.

    Invest In Hard Assets

    Generally, people keep excess money in investments – stocks, bonds, and other interest-earning assets. And while, in normal circumstances, that is a safe and wise idea, it becomes less safe and definitely less wise in times of economic uncertainty.
    Instead, if you have actual cash in hand, you are going to want to tie up your money in hard assets.
    • Land (preferably rural)
    • Livestock (this is wide open, from quail to horses)
    • Woodlots (or, to a lesser degree, cut timber)
    • Metal and precious metals (gold, silver, platinum)
    • Barterable skills (medical training, firearm ability, carpentry, food preservation)
    • Dry goods (grains, seeds, salt, sugar, tobacco)
    • Non-electric tools (kitchen, sewing, carpentry, woodcutting, gardening)
    • People/community
    Do you get the picture of what hard assets – tangible assets – are?  

    These are all things which retain an intrinsic value no matter what foolishness is happening with the economy. And yes, you will notice that I list skills and people as hard assets. Every dollar you spend in building up a community full of skilled people who can rely on each means a dollar that is not subject to inflation.
    Some of you are living in apartments or in very urban areas. It is still possible to build up your food stores, your skills, your tool supply and your community. Take the time now to study second hand markets for tools, non-electric appliances and other resources – they are sometimes available very inexpensively. 
    It can even be possible to raise livestock if you live in an urban area. Not cows, of course, but rabbits and pigeons are perfect for the city. And if you look around and think that your home is not somewhere you could weather truly tough times, have you made arrangements to relocate elsewhere?

    Keep Cash On Hand

    If the market crashes completely, banks may put stringent restrictions on cash withdrawals. As much as possible, bill payments should be set up automatically or electronically to reduce the cash withdrawals, but more importantly, keep cash on hand. 
    A restriction on cash withdrawals could mean days or weeks without the ability to remove money from your bank.

    Gas Up

    One thing we learned from the gas shortages here in Nova Scotia – keep the tanks of your vehicles, and your jerry cans, full at all times. I almost never pass a gas station without topping up, and I never let the tank get below half.

    Never let yourself get in a position when an empty gas tank prevents you from getting home.
    The economy IS crashing, but it is possible to survive this.

    Hard Assets: Food

    My friends, I have been preaching this for six years. Build up your stockpile. 
    Get on my mailing list if you want help with planning your food storage. I do not, have never, and will not ever promote or sell freeze-dried food packages. As I have been saying for years, food storage should be made of primarily of foods that can be grown and preserved locally and they should be stored in reasonable amounts.
    A few years ago, I met a woman who, when she found out what I wrote about, told me that she had carted twelve hundred pounds of whole wheat from South America to Canada. Why would anyone do that, I wondered. We have wheat here. And to make it worse, after storing it (improperly) for over a decade, she was trying to figure out how to dispose of it because she knew she’d never use it.
    What an awful waste!
    Store what you eat and eat what you store. Aim for food storage amounts sufficient to feed your family for two years – and then rotate it, replacing as it is used.

    Again, let me make this clear, I am recommending that you have a TWO YEAR FOOD SUPPLY.

    Hard Assets: Supplies

    Take a moment and think about all of the other things that you use on a regular basis. From dish soap  to socks to Tylenol, you need at least a six month supply of the items you use regularly. This gives you some protection against inflation and lets you watch for sales. Ideally, we should have a two year supply of necessary supplies, and if you have the space available, I strongly encourage this.

    When you are buying an item that is on sale – dish soap, for example, buy multiples. Take your storage space and finances in account, of course. I buy 4 litre jugs of dish soap and buy six at a time. 

    At all times, I want the ability to a) get home or b) get to town for supplies and then get home.

    Skills

    A friend of ours is planning to return to school, but was debating between computer programming and paramedics. Of one mind, the Mister and I urged him to choose paramedics, especially since his wife has been making plans for doula training. Perhaps it is selfishness on our part but I am pleased that more members of our group of close friends will have emergency medical training.
    What practical, useful skills that you have which can be bartered?
    • Cooking and food preservation
    • Sewing, weaving, needlework
    • Metal working
    • Carpentry
    • Gardening
    • Animal husbandry
    • Child care (don’t discount it – not everyone is good with children!)
    • Medical training
    • Self-defense
    • Organization
    • Entertainment (it may not sound practical, but storytellers and musicians are important)
    With just a little thought, I am sure you can add to that list!

    Most of us are good at something, or have a natural interest in something that we would like to learn more about. If you are contemplating doing something to improve your life in the near future, I would strongly urge courses or training to expand on that.

    Remember, no one needs to be good at everything.

    All of these skills will make you valuable to a supportive community and will give you the ability to trade or sells goods and services.

    Community

    Forget anything you have heard about the lone prepper hunkering down in his armed fortress and outlasting the hordes.

    First, he’ll be eating spam, white rice and Tang (or expensive freeze-dried foods) and second, he’ll go completely crazy within five years.

    Not everyone has had the dubious pleasure of meeting someone who “has lived alone on that mountain for too long” but most of us can understand what happens to a person who has no one but his hunting dog to talk to for long periods of time.

    In case you’re wondering, I’m not joking. Solitude can make people crazy.
    Humans are social creatures and we need other people. Although many of us use the term self-sufficiency, it is impossible for any person to be completely self-sufficient. Instead, we need to be forming up in groups of people that span a variety of ages and skills. This means having people who specialize in food production, carpentry, metal working, some who are talented at making and repairing clothing, some who have medical training, or understand defense and protection, etc. Of course, do not overlook the value of the elderly.

    Stop for a moment and think about the assets, skills and knowledge available among the people you know. Those with land that could be farmed may not have the strength or time available to farm it. Those with the energy and youth to do work may not have the assets to get things started. We need community. We need to begin working together.

    If you belong to a faith group, have a meeting in which you discuss working together to meet the needs of the people in your congregation.

    The Great Depression changed the mindset and habits of an entire generation and those of us who had grandparents or parents who lived through it can attest to this. A elderly neighbour of mine, about twenty years ago, once yelled out the window to me to please go catch her cabbage. It had fallen out the open kitchen window and rolled down the driveway. A half cabbage, worth all of fifty cents at the grocery store, but there was no way she would allow it to go to waste.
    The Depression changed them, strengthened them and often hardened them. But one thing to remember is that, when it began, people were still primarily rural, accustomed to working hard and living relatively simply. Gardens and backyard chickens were normal and most people had skills that allowed them to build and repair. These are skills that most of us no longer have.
    We can get back to that. And yes, we can get through an economic crash.

    Why I Love Homesteading (And You Should Too)

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    Modern-day homesteading is a conscious decision to live in the most self-sufficient way possible with the resources we have available. Unlike our ancestors who didn’t have access to the ease of modern conveniences, many homesteaders are choosing to live the lifestyle for its numerous benefits to body, mind, soul, and the earth itself.
    Why homesteading is wonderful!
    This is a guest post written by James Smith, an avid prepper and a homesteader. He loves to write about prepping and natural living. Currently he is working for Teotwawki Supplies, a store offering survival kits and emergency survival kits. Follow @JamesSmith1609 for more updates.

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    Blogger’s Pit Stop #8

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    So how did you get treated by that storm? Quite a few of my readers emailed to let me know the incredible snowfall that they received. If you were in the path of it, I hope you’re safe and all cleared out now. You might notice that I’m back to a more traditional format for the blog, with a sidebar. Check out that “featured post” if you haven’t read it yet. As always, add your latest family friendly BLOG POST and take some time to visit new blogs and make some new friends. And share, of course! The more you share this link up, the more people come to visit all of our posts.

    Blogger's Pit Stop

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    Blogger’s Pit Stop #6

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    It is time to link up again at the Blogger’s Pit Stop. This week has been crazy for me, since I’m busy getting ready for the launch of the Back To Basics Bundle, and yet another brain MRI is coming up on Monday. Plus, winter has arrived with a vengeance here in the Maritimes! Take a moment to visit the blogs that post links this week, find some new favourites, and if you’re a blogger, share your family friendly posts.

    Blogger's Pit Stop

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    How To Survive The Stock Market Crash

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    Have you been following the stock market woes? No? Perhaps you have noticed rising food prices and the cost of goods? You are most likely aware of the incredible drop in gas prices. While we have sometimes spoken about it in a far-off future disaster scenario, the facts point to one thing – the stock market, and our global economy, is crashing. Let us discuss ways for you to get through it and perhaps even thrive.
    The economy IS crashing. This is not a doomer fantasy. Find out how to survive this economic crash.

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    Blogger’s Pit Stop #5

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    It’s time again for the Blogger’s Pit Stop, a new and ongoing feature here! Leave up to three links if you’re a blogger or simply find new, fabulous blogs to read. Leave a note in the comments and let me know your favourites. Many of us are making this a year of collaboration (read more in the post) and my commitment to you is – I’ll pin and share every post you link. And now – on to the party.

    Blogger's Pit Stop

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    Quick And Dirty Guide To Natural Family Planning

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    Have you heard the one about the folks using natural family planning? They’re called parents. No, I hadn’t heard that a million times.  The truth is that there is a family planning method – let’s not call it birth control or contraceptive, which it’s not – which is natural, safe, easy to use, approved by all (most?) faith groups and shockingly effective. (Parental advisory – this is likely not appropriate for any pre-pubescent children.)

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    Blogger’s Pit Stop #4

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    Just Plain Marie has joined Blogger’s Pit Stop, which will post on Thursdays at 9pm. This is a great place to link up your own family friendly blog posts, ask blogging questions or find new and interesting blogs to read. The Thursday posts will be packed with information (although it may be image heavy for those of you on older computers) and I know you will find it interesting and useful.

    Blogger's Pit Stop

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    How To Deal With Power Outages

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    The possibility of power outages, both short and long-term, is very real.  Not only are they caused by weather and ordinary problems, but the threat of long-term power outages caused by terrorist action are increasingly likely. Are you ready? How do we prepare to deal with short and long-term power outages?

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    Can Small Organic Farms Feed The World?

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    The most common criticism against organic farming (or, as I like to call it, farming) is that it will not feed the world. Only conventional farming, the common wisdom has it, can feed the population of nine billion expected by 2050. But is that true?

    Not only can small organic farming feed the world, but I believe strongly that it is the only thing that can save and heal our world.

    organic farming vs conventional feed the world

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    What Is The Definition of Local?

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    What is local? Is there one definitive definition? The Canadian government defines it as anything within the province or within 50km of the province’s border.

    Did you know the the food on the average North American plate has traveled an incredible 1500 miles? That’s average, which means that much of it has come from much farther away. Let us take a moment and look at the different categories.

    What is local eating? Locavores eat food that is local, but what is it?

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