Flashback: The 1998 Ice Storm That Left People Without Power For WEEKS

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Flashback: The 1998 Ice Storm That Left People Without Power For WEEKS

When you think of natural disasters that could interrupt the power grid, you probably think of hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. However, it was a massive ice storm that left millions of Canadians and some Americans without electricity and heat for a period of days to weeks in 1998.

Known as the Great Ice Storm of 1998 or the North American Ice Storm of 1998, the huge January weather event was really a combination of five smaller ice storms that struck a narrow geographic band that stretched from eastern Ontario to southern Quebec and Nova Scotia and included a section of northern New York and central Maine. Upwards of three inches of ice fell in some places.

The storm’s wrath killed 35, injured 945 and displaced about 600,000 people. Additionally, the resulting widespread power outage affected 1.4 million people in Québec and nearly 240,000 people in eastern Ontario. The total financial cost of the storm is estimated in excess of $5 billion.

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People were without power for anywhere from several days to several weeks, and, in a few instances, several months, as Canadian workers scrambled to reconstruct the power grid in the wake of the damaging ice. More than 1,000 transmission towers collapsed.

The Weather Channel recently named it the worst ice storm in U.S. history – nearly 80 percent of Maine was without power — although its impact was felt mostly in Canada.

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To handle the crisis, which included the closing of several main roads, more than 16,000 members of the Canadian military were deployed, the largest peacetime deployment in Canadian history.

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Ice storms are not unusual during the winter in the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence region, a location where warm low-pressure currents from the Gulf of Mexico encounter cold high-pressure currents from the Arctic. When the two currents collide, warm air tends to rise above the cold air. Then, the resulting precipitation often begins as rain but freezes as it reaches lower altitudes or hits the ground.

Between Jan. 4 and Jan. 10, 1998, however, parts of the St. Lawrence Valley in Quebec received more than twice the amount of icy precipitation they average in an entire year.

Although Kingston and Ottawa received the brunt of the storm, about 2.6 million people — nearly one fifth of all Canadian workers—were either impeded or prevented from getting to their place of employment. Businesses of all sizes in Quebec were severely impacted, and many small communities were completely shut down by the storm.

The storm hit a large location for the Canadian dairy industry. Many dairy cows became ill as the mechanical operations to feed and milk them shut down. To make matters worse, with power out at local milk processing plants, more than 10 million liters (2.6 gallons) of milk had to be thrown away.

Canada’s maple syrup industry also was devastated by the storm, as millions of tree branches were damaged. More than 20 percent of Canada’s syrup-producing tree taps also were disabled or destroyed in the storm, and Québec syrup makers lost most or all of their entire sugar bush. The damage was so severe that it took years for the industry to recover.

As one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history, the Great Ice Storm of 1998 was the cause of $5 to $7 billion in economic losses, with insured losses from the event reaching $1.6 billion.

Have you ever experienced an ice storm? Share your memories in the section below:

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Does Chicken Soup REALLY Heal Colds? (And If So, What’s The Best Recipe?)

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Does Chicken Soup REALLY Heal Colds? (And If So, What’s The Best Recipe?)

Image source: Pixabay.com

When my kids don’t feel well, one of the only things they will eat is chicken soup – my homemade chicken soup.

But do they want the soup because it represents a strong comfort food they have known all of their lives, or is there something more?

The answer is yes, and the old wives’ tale is right. Chicken soup really is good for you.

Dr. Stephen Rennard and his team of researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha conducted a series of tests to study the health benefits of chicken soup.

“Everyone’s heard this from their mother and grandmother in many cultures,” Rennard said. “We found chicken soup might have some anti-inflammatory value.”

After examining blood samples from study volunteers, the researchers found that homemade chicken soup reduced the movement of a type of white blood cells, called neutrophils, which help defend against infection. By inhibiting movement of these cells in the body, chicken soup can help reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms, Rennard theorized.

“Researchers suspect the reduction in movement of neutrophils may reduce activity in the upper respiratory tract that can cause symptoms associated with a cold,” the University of Nebraska said in a press release.

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The study used a soup made by Rennard’s wife, Barbara. (The recipe is below.) But is also compared results of the homemade soup with several commercial brands of chicken soup and found similar results. The brands tested included Progresso chicken noodle, Knorr chicken noodle, Campbell’s Home Cookin’ chicken vegetable, Lipton Cup-a-Soup chicken noodle and Campbell’s Healthy Request chicken noodle.

Although they were not able to pinpoint exactly what ingredients made the soup so effective against cold symptoms, the research suggested that it is the combination of chicken and vegetables that does the trick.

Does Chicken Soup REALLY Heal Colds? (And If So, What’s The Best Recipe?) An earlier study conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai in Miami found that consuming chicken soup helped sick study volunteers to breath better and to have less mucus. The 1978 report, which, like the 2000 Rennard study was published in the medical journal Chest, found that chicken soup boosts the function of cilia — the microscopic hair-like projections that help prevent germs from entering the body.

Given the nickname “Jewish penicillin,” chicken soup has been a mainstay for generations of mothers and grandmothers from many cultures who seek to comfort their families.

Some scientists theorize that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties and that the soup provides the fluids needed to flush out viral infections in the upper respiratory tract.

Staying well-hydrated is a key part of recovering from a cold or the flu. Research suggests then chicken soup may provide better hydration than either water or commercial electrolyte drinks. Here are other reasons chicken soup heals:

  • Chicken soup usually contains salt, which in a broth can help soothe your throat much in the same way that gargling with warm salt water can.
  • The soup’s warm liquid can help clear the sinuses with its steam.
  • Chicken provides lean protein to give your body strength when you are sick.
  • The vegetables in chicken soup can help heal the body. Carrots contain beta-carotene and celery contains vitamin C, both of which help boost the body’s immune system and help fight infection. Onions help reduce inflammation and can act as an anti-histamine.

Convinced? Here is the recipe for the soup used in the study:

Ingredients

  • 1 5- to 6-pound stewing hen or baking chicken
  • 1 package of chicken wings
  • 3 large onions
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3 parsnips
  • 2 turnips
  • 11 to 12 large carrots
  • 5 to 6 celery stems
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Clean the chicken, put it in a large pot and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to boil.
  2. Add the chicken wings, onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips and carrots. Boil about 1 and a half hours. Remove fat from the surface as it accumulates.
  3. Add the parsley and celery. Cook the mixture about 45 min. longer.
  4. Remove the chicken. The chicken is not used further for the soup. (The meat makes excellent chicken parmesan.)
  5. Put the vegetables in a food processor until they are chopped fine or pass through a strainer. Both were performed in the present study.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(Note: This soup freezes well.)

Matzo balls were prepared according to the recipe on the back of the box of matzo meal (Manischewitz).

What is your favorite chicken soup recipe? Do you eat chicken soup when you are sick? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The Dutch Raise The World’s Happiest Kids – So What Can We Learn?

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The Dutch Raise The World’s Happiest Kids – So What Can We Learn?

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What does it take to raise happy, well-adjusted kids? A UNICEF study broke this question down into five factors: housing and environment, behaviors and risk, education, health and safety and material well-being. They used these categories to determine which industrialized countries were getting it right.

A 2013 UNICEF report found that American kids ranked 26th – just above Lithuania, Latvia and Romania — out of 29 countries, and children in the United Kingdom ranked 16th. Kids in the Netherlands ranked first.

The report is a follow-up to a 2007 study that also showed the Netherlands in first place, with the U.S. and U.K. in the lowest two slots.

Those study results come as no surprise to Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison, the authors of the new book The Happiest Kids in the World. Acosta, who is American, and Hutchison, who is British, have first-hand experience in how differently the Dutch raise their children as compared with their native countries.

In their book, the two mothers, who are both married to Dutch men and are living in the Netherlands, identify several factors that are responsible for the sunny dispositions of Dutch children. The factors include more sleep for Dutch babies, less emphasis on academic achievement, more focus on family time and more involvement in childrearing by fathers.

More Sleep for Dutch Babies

Dutch parents guard the sleep time of their babies and are more careful not to overstimulate their babies than many American parents.

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This extra sleep may help Dutch babies be well-adjusted. According to a study by Washington State University that was published in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, Dutch babies appear to be more contented than American babies are.

In addition, Dutch parents use toys less frequently to play with their babies than do American parents.

Less Emphasis on Academic Achievement

In the Netherlands, academic education begins after children turn six. Grades are not emphasized, and children in primary school rarely have homework.

The Dutch Raise The World’s Happiest Kids – So What Can We Learn?

Image source: Pixabay.com

Dutch children play outdoors all year round in all weather, and they are usually unsupervised while they play. A popular parent saying is, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Children are given a large amount of freedom as compared with American children, often riding their bikes to and from school and visiting friends on their own.

More Focus on Family Time

“The Netherlands have a reputation for being a liberal country with a tolerance of sex, drugs and alcohol, yet beneath this lies a closely guarded secret: the Dutch are actually fairly conservative people,” according to the authors in an article they wrote for the UK’s Telegraph.

“At the heart of Dutch culture is a society of home-loving people who place the child firmly at the center. Parents have a healthy attitude towards their kids, seeing them as individuals rather than as extensions of themselves. They understand that achievement doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness, but that happiness can cultivate achievement.

“The Dutch have reined in the anxiety, stress and expectations of modern-day parenting, redefining the meaning of success and wellbeing. For them, success starts with happiness – that of their children and themselves.”

The authors stress that Dutch families value togetherness and do not attempt to outdo their neighbors with lavish birthday parties or fancy gifts.

Dads Are Very Involved

Dutch families seem to be ahead of the international curve when it comes to work-life balance.  With the average Dutch worker spending an average of 29 hours a week on the job, Dutch parents have more time to spend with their kids.

The Dutch Raise The World’s Happiest Kids – So What Can We Learn?

Image source: Pixabay.com

The authors also report that competition between mothers – or “Mommy Wars” – occurs far less in the Netherlands than in the U.S.  and the U.K.

Dutch dads take an equal role in raising their children, and Acosta and Hutchison say it is as common to see a father wearing a baby-carrier or pushing a pram as a mother.

Dutch parents strive to give their children clear directions, not options. They say, “I want you to…” rather than something vague.

Two common Dutch expressions that reflect this clear sense of discipline are “parenting is practicing what you preach,” and, “what the old cock crows, the young cock learns.”

If you have seen photos of bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked Dutch kids, you now know a few reasons why those kids look so happy.

And there is one more thing that may contribute to those fresh-faced smiles. It’s “hagelslag.”

Dutch parents and children alike frequently eat chocolate sprinkles on toast for breakfast. Sprinkles have a way of putting anyone in a good mood.

What is your reaction? Share your thoughts in the section below:

The Happiest Kids in the World by Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison was released in January on the UK, and it is set for an April 4 release in the U.S.

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11 Odd-But-Effective Uses For Garlic That Surprised Even Us

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11 Odd-But-Effective Uses For Garlic That Surprised Even Us

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As someone with Italian heritage, I enjoy cooking with garlic. If a recipe says two or three garlic cloves, I tend to use five or six. Not only do I love the taste of garlic, but I appreciate its health benefits for my family.

Garlic, which gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon words “gar” (meaning “spear”) and “lac” (meaning “plant”), is known for its strong odor. Of course, according to legend, the smell of garlic is powerful enough to repel vampires.

However, there are many more practical reasons to have a good supply of garlic in your home. Ancient writers such as Virgil and Pliny the Elder described the benefits of garlic.

Garlic is packed with tons of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese, selenium, carotene beta and Vitamin C.

Research studies have shown that consuming garlic may be helpful for your heart and liver, fighting against bacteria and viruses. A diet rich in garlic also may help you maintain a healthy weight.

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But there are other uses for garlic you may not have realized. Here are 11:

1. Treat colds. Garlic can help alleviate symptoms of the common cold. You can boost your immune system by sipping a tea made with garlic. Simply steep a clove of garlic in hot water for about five minutes.

After straining out the garlic, sip the tea as a natural cough syrup. Add honey or ginger to make the taste more pleasant.

2. Relieve acne. The antibacterial properties in garlic can help treat skin blemishes. Cut a garlic clove in half and then rub it over facial pimples. The antioxidants in the garlic help kill bacteria, which then leads to healing.

3. Help heal cold sores. Apply a cut of garlic clove directly to a cold sore. Although it may sting a little, the garlic’s natural anti-inflammatory properties help reduce pain and swelling and may speed up the healing process.

4. Treat athlete’s foot. To kill the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, crush a couple of garlic cloves and add them to a warm tub of water. Soak your feet in the tub for about 30 minutes.

5. Stop psoriasis outbreaks. Garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties also can relieve outbreaks of psoriasis. Just rub crushed garlic onto the affected area.

11 Odd-But-Effective Uses For Garlic That Surprised Even Us

Image source: Pixabay.com

6. Help hair loss. Garlic contains high levels of allicin, a sulfur compound that may help fight hair loss. Rub sliced cloves of garlic onto your scalp and massage any garlic oil into your scalp.

7. Remove splinters. Try placing a sliced garlic clove over a splinter and then cover it with a bandage for a few hours. The garlic oil will loosen the splinter so that it can be easily removed.

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8. Use as a natural pesticide. You can concoct your own natural pesticide with garlic, mineral oil, water and liquid soap. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and then spray it on your plants to keep insects away. You also can rub garlic directly on your skin to keep mosquitoes and other biting insects away.

9. Catch fish. Many species of fish are attracted to the scent of garlic. Try rubbing a cut garlic clove over your normal bait.

10. Make homemade glue. You also can use garlic as an adhesive for paper craft projects. Crush some garlic cloves and then rub the juice onto the paper, wiping away any excess.

11. Create an all-purpose cleaner. You can make a homemade disinfectant spray with garlic and a few other ingredients. First, chop up three to five cloves of garlic. Add them to a spray bottle full of white vinegar. Then add several drops of lemon oil to the solution. Use it to effectively clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

Now that you know some of the many benefits of garlic, here is one warning: It may be toxic to your pets.

Although some pet owners recommend garlic as a flea and tick preventative for pets, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends that you avoid feeding it to your animals.

What other ways have you used garlic? Share your tips in the section below:

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11 International Foods That Are Banned In The U.S.

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11 International Foods That Are Banned In The U.S.

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Did you know that there are some foods that are popular in other countries that are banned in the United States? In an effort to keep citizens safe from harm, the government has banned the following food items. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? You decide.

1. Kinder Surprise Chocolate Eggs. Popular in Europe, these eggs contain a non-edible toy hidden inside a plastic capsule.

Since a 1938 federal law prohibits non-edible objects within food products, Kinder Eggs are banned in this country. Each year, U.S. customs officials seize thousands of Kinder Eggs at the border, as travelers attempt to bring these potential choking hazards home.

2. Fugu. If it is not prepared properly, this Japanese puffer fish can kill you. Fugu contains potentially deadly amounts of tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin that can cause paralysis or asphyxiation.

In the U.S. it is illegal to catch, to harvest, to serve or to eat fugu.

3. Casu Marzu. It may look like a creamy cheese, but Casu Marzu, a delicacy in Sardinia, Italy, is made by placing fly larvae into Pecorino cheese. When the larvae hatch, they speed up the fermentation process and help give the cheese its creamy texture.

That unusual – and unhealthy — means of production has caused it to be banned in the U.S.

4. Haggis. Haggis, a food produced in Scotland, contains sheep lung.

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The USDA has prohibited foods containing lungs since 1971, and haggis is no exception.

11 International Foods That Are Banned In The U.S.

Image source: Wikimedia

5. Ackee. In Jamaica, this fruit is often boiled and cooked with salted cod. However, when it has not ripened properly, ackee can contain dangerously high levels of hypoglycin A and B, which can lead to coma or death upon consumption.

6. Shark fin. Long a delicacy in China, shark fin has been banned in eight states, largely to support conservation efforts of certain shark species.

Shark finning, which has affected global shark populations, includes finning the shark and then throwing it back into the ocean.

7. Horsemeat. Although there is no official ban of horsemeat, federal law prohibits tax dollars being spent on the inspection of horsemeat and of horse slaughterhouses. Since USDA inspections are required for food that is sold here, this law effectively prevents horsemeat from being sold in U.S. restaurants or supermarkets.

8. Beluga caviar. The U.S. government has banned the importing of beluga caviar as a protective measure against overfishing of beluga sturgeon, primarily in the Caspian Sea.

9. Pig’s blood cake. A popular dish in Taiwan, pig’s blood cake includes pork blood and sticky rice. The USDA has banned it here due to sanitary concerns.

10. Sassafras oil. Sassafras has been banned because it has been linked with certain cancers and with liver and kidney damage. Artificial sassafras flavoring is used for making root beer in the U.S.

11. Queen conch. With overfishing threatening its population, the queen conch has been protected since 2003 by a U.S. law making importation of the large sea snail illegal.

Now that you know some of the foods our government banned, it is interesting to note another piece of food banning information. Since 2011, the French government has banned tomato ketchup in its elementary schools. Apparently, the government was concerned that the condiment, which is so omnipresent in the U.S., would overshadow the taste of French food.

Do you think some foods should be banned in the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

Sources:

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/foods-illegal-in-the-united-states-of-america-thrillist-nation

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryankincaid/banned-international-foods?utm_term=.vamn4AXwa#.ohwdQ9w2m

http://www.delish.com/food/g2012/banned-food/

http://www.oola.com/dishes/13793/17-international-foods-that-are-totally-banned-in-the-us-have-you-tried-any-of-these-before/

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1 In 8 Chance Of A Grid-Crippling Solar Storm In The Next Decade?

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1 In 8 Chance Of A Grid-Crippling Solar Storm In The Next Decade?

Image source: NASA

Jan. 5, 2017

January offers us a time for reflection and prediction. For centuries, people looked to the stars for signs of what is to come, and winter offers many opportunities for stargazing.

As we begin a new year, perhaps it is wise to consider not only the beauty of the sky but also the destructive power it holds.

Astronomers pay particularly close attention to solar flares, which are sudden, intense and rapid variations in the sun’s brightness. These fairly common occurrences happen when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere suddenly releases.

A solar flare contains high-energy photons and particles that are equivalent to millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs exploding at once. While regular solar flares are not a danger to Earth, extreme events, or solar storms, could be catastrophic to our way of life.

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In fact, according to a study published in the journal Space Weather in 2012, there is a 12 percent chance (or, one in eight chance) that Earth will experience a catastrophic solar event within the next decade. This “megaflare” could disrupt or destroy modern technology, causing trillions of dollars’ worth of damage from which it could take many years to recover.

Space physicist Pete Riley made the prediction in the study by examining historical data and then making comparisons between the sizes and occurrences of solar flares.

Scientists have discovered that the sun goes through 11-year cycles of activity. During the solar maximum phase, the sun is covered with sunspots, and huge magnetic whirlwinds frequently erupt from its surface. Although it is rare, sometimes these flares burst away from the sun, sending massive amounts of charged particles into space.

1 In 8 Chance Of A Grid-Crippling Solar Storm In The Next Decade?

Image source: Wikipedia

The last recorded megaflare occurred in September 1859. Known as the Carrington Event, this enormous solar flare is named for astronomer Richard Carrington, who recorded his observations of the huge solar storm.

Carrington observed an enormous flare erupt from the sun’s surface that sent a particle stream toward Earth at a rate that exceeded 4 million miles per hour. These highly charged particles created breathtaking lights, or auroras, that were visible as far south as the Caribbean.

The New York Times in 1859 reported that New Yorkers gathered to watch “the heavens … arrayed in a drapery more gorgeous than they have been for years.”

Although the lights were indeed beautiful, the Carrington Event caused all kinds of disruption to 19th century communication systems. Telegraph stations caught on fire, and communication outages occurred on a scale never seen before.

In 1989, a geomagnetic storm – not as powerful as the Carrington Event — caused Canada’s Hydro-Quebec power grid to fail, leaving millions of people without power for up to nine hours. A similar storm today would have much more technology to disrupt, and the results would be catastrophic.

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A megastorm on the scale of the Carrington Event could damage or destroy electrical power grids, disrupt GPS satellites and put a stop to Internet and radio communication.

According to a 2008 report from the National Research Council (NRC), a Carrington-like event could cost up to $2 trillion of damage within a year, and full recovery could take up to a decade.

The NRC report stated that, in addition to communication disruption, the event would adversely affect all aspects of modern life, including transportation, financial systems, government services. In turn, the distribution of water, food and medications would be halted.

In the conclusion of his 2012 report, Riley maintained that it is his hope that his prediction would be useful in building an “infrastructure that can withstand such an event.”

“Since the event occurred only 150 years ago, it is a constant reminder that a similar event could reoccur any day,” Riley wrote.

As we begin a New Year, it would be well if we took his advice.

Do you believe America is prepared for a Carrington-type event? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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It’s An Off-Grid House Hidden In Utah’s Cliffs – And It’s For Sale

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It’s An Off-Grid House Hidden In Utah’s Cliffs – And It’s For Sale

Thousands of years ago, the Anasazi tribe of Native Americans made their homes in the cliffs of southeastern Utah. Their cliff dwellings provided a cool reprieve from the desert sun, warmth from the cool, dry nights and a measure of defense from their enemies.

Now, a modern off-grid home built into the cliffs is on the market.

In designing their home, dubbed “Cliff Haven,” Bill and Barbara Houghton created a contemporary cliff dwelling that offers 21st century conveniences along with the best of off-the-grid living. Located in Utah’s breathtaking Montezuma Canyon, just outside the small town of Monticello, Cliff Haven is a 2,100-square-foot three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. It overlooks 12 acres of property that includes a garden, a vineyard and a mature orchard.

However, the care of the home and the property is getting to be too much work for the elderly couple, who built the home in 1986. Their loss can be your gain. The Houghtons are hoping to find a new owner who will love their home as much as they do, and they are offering the incredible property at auction on Jan. 21.

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A 2,400-volt solar system that provides 120-volt current powers the home. A well provides fresh water, and a 12,000-gallon cistern collects rainwater and runoff. In case of emergency, the home has propane as well as a backup diesel generator. The home also has WiFi and a phone line.

With an elevation of 7,069 feet, Cliff Haven offers sweeping views of the canyon, and hikes around the property frequently reveal artifacts, such as arrowheads or pottery, from the Anasazi. The entire area is rich in history and beauty. Within a 90-minute drive are Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Lake Powell, Monument Valley and Four Corners.

George Matochan, who lives about a mile away from Cliff House, moved to his off-the-grid home several years ago to escape the rat race lifestyle of Chicago. In an interview on the Cliff House website, Matochan comments on the strong sense of community among his off-the-grid neighbors.

“You depend on your neighbors here,” he says, adding that he knows people in Utah who live a mile or more away better than people who lived next door in his former community.

With walls of solid rock, Cliff House is energy efficient. Behind the home, Houghton created a tunnel that provides fresh cool air, the opportunity for water drainage as well as a fire escape. A separate three-car garage is on the property, and there is ample room for expansion.

If you would like to know more about this one-of-a-kind property, you can take a video tour here. Open House tours of the property will be held on Jan. 7 and 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time. For more information on the sealed bidding process, call 385-800-2045 or visit http://utahcliffhouse.com/.

Would you want to live in an off-grid cliff house? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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12 Unusual, Off-Grid Uses For Onions (No. 5 – Removes Splinters!)

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12 Unusual, Off-Grid Uses For Onions (No. 5 – Removes Splinters!)

We add it to soups, hamburgers and salads. When we peel it, it makes us cry, and we run for the mouthwash after eating it. It is the onion.

High in flavor and low in calories, onions are good sources of vitamin C and fiber, and they are rich in antioxidants. Yet, did you know this superfood could provide many other benefits around your household?

Here are 10 surprising uses for onions other than as a food.

1. Natural pesticide. You can rub a peeled onion on your skin as a simple – and smelly – bug repellent. You also can help keep bugs out of your garden with an onion spray.

Puree four onions, two garlic gloves, two tablespoons of cayenne pepper, and one quart of water in your blender. Set mixture aside. Next, dilute two tablespoons of soap flakes in two gallons of water. Add the blender mixture and stir well. Fill a clean sprayer bottle with liquid to keep insects and other pests away from your garden.

2. Soothe bites, stings and minor burns. Simply place a freshly cut onion slice on the affected area of your skin to soothe the pain and swelling.

3. Ease a sore throat. Onion tea doesn’t taste great, but it does the job. Boil one cup of water with the peels of half a medium onion. Remove onion and sip to soothe a painful throat.

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4. Fight dizziness and fainting. You can use onions in place of smelling salts. Place a piece of freshly cut onion under the nose of someone who is feeling faint, and it will decrease the feeling of light headedness.

12 Unusual, Off-Grid Uses For Onions (No. 5 – Removes Splinters!)5. Remove a splinter. Got a nasty splinter that won’t budge? Try taping a piece of raw onion to the area for about an hour. Afterwards, the splinter should be easier to remove.

6. Polish metal. Mix crushed onion with water. Then dab the mixture on the metal surface with a soft cloth. Rub until clean.

7. Remove rust from knives. Simply plunge your rusty blade into an onion several times and then wipe dry for a rust-free surface.

8. Get rid of paint smell. Are you bothered by the smell of new paint in your home or workplace? Try placing a few slices of onion in a dish, along with a small amount of water. The onion will absorb the paint smell within an hour or two.

9. Clean your grill. Cut an onion in half and then rub it across your grill surface to remove food and grime. Then wipe clean.

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10. Deter pets. If your cat or dog keeps visiting a spot on your property to dig, to chew or to use as a bathroom, place a few onion slices in that spot. Animals do not like the smell of onion, and they will stay away. Refresh onion slices as needed to keep making your point.

11. Make burned rice edible. Did you leave the rice on the stovetop too long? No problem. Place an onion half on top of the rice to absorb the burned flavor.

12. Prevent avocado browning. Place a red onion half in a plastic bag or container and then add the avocado. You also can keep guacamole fresh by placing some red onion slices on top of it in a plastic container.

Store your whole bulb onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Whole peeled onions should be refrigerated at 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) or below. Sliced or chopped onions can be stored in a sealed plastic bag or covered container in your refrigerator for seven to 10 days.

Do you know of other uses for onions? Share your tips in the section below:

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15 Surprising & Practical Off-Grid Uses For Olive Oil

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15 Surprising & Practical Off-Grid Uses For Olive Oil

Image source: Pixabay.com

You probably already know about the health benefits of olive oil. Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil is loaded with antioxidants that help our bodies fight inflammation.

However, olive oil also is useful for a wide variety of other purposes beneficial to the homesteader or off-ridder — from skin care to furniture care. Here are 15 amazing uses for olive oil.

1. Skin care

Olive oil works well as a skin moisturizer, and, despite what you may think, it does not leave your skin with an oily, greasy feeling. Apply it to rough, dry areas on your face and body or add several tablespoons of olive oil to your bath water.

Olive oil also soothes itchy, irritated skin, including diaper rash.

2. Eye makeup remover

You also can use olive oil as a gentle eye makeup remover. Simply dab a little oil on a cotton ball and wipe makeup away.

3. Shaving lotion

Treat your skin to a layer of olive oil before your next shave. Not only will your razor glide along smoothly but also you will get a close shave with fewer nicks.

4. Sore throat remedy

Soothe an itchy, scratchy throat by swallowing a tablespoon of olive oil. It coats the back of your mouth, which also may decrease snoring.

5. Hair treatment

Forgo the commercial hot oil treatments and use olive oil instead. Apply several tablespoons of warm olive oil to your damp hair and massage into your scalp and through the ends.

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Leave the oil on for 30 to 45 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Your hair will be soft and conditioned.

6. Ear ache relief

Place a few drops of warm olive oil into the painful ear for soothing relief.

7. Paint/sticky substance remover

You can remove paint, sap, chewing gum and other sticky substances from your hands by scrubbing them with a little olive oil and salt. Pour one teaspoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of salt into your dry palms and rub the mixture vigorously through your palms and fingers. Rinse with water.

8. Furniture polish

Olive oil gently and effectively cleans wood. When you add a teaspoon of olive oil to a quarter cup of lemon juice, you can create a non-toxic polish for your furniture.

15 Surprising & Practical Off-Grid Uses For Olive Oil

Image source: Pixabay.com

9. Leather cleaner

To clean and shine your leather shoes, belts and boots, apply a little olive oil and then buff with a soft cloth.

10. Hinge lubricant

Wipe a little olive oil onto squeaky door hinges. It works just as well as WD-40!

11. Stainless steel and brass cleaner

You can clean stainless steel and brass surfaces with only a soft cloth, some olive oil and a little elbow grease.

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First, wipe off any debris. Next, apply a little olive oil onto a clean, soft cloth. Then, buff the metal well in circular motions with steady pressure.

12. Sticker remover

Remove annoying stickers and sticker residue by dabbing olive oil onto the area and then letting it sit. After a few minutes, you should be able to peel the sticker and its residue right off.

13. Hairball prevention

Is your cat bothered by hairballs? You can help prevent them by adding a quarter teaspoon of olive oil to your cat’s food each day.

14. Lice treatment

Olive oil helps kill lice. Pour a tablespoon or more of olive oil onto dry hair. Using a nit comb, comb out any visible lice and then cover the head with a shower cap for six to eight hours.

Next, comb a tablespoon or more of apple cider vinegar into hair. Cover again with the shower cap and leave the mixture on the hair overnight. In the morning, shampoo hair and comb out any remaining eggs with the nit comb.

15. Lamp fuel

In an emergency, you can use olive oil for lamp fuel. Pour olive oil into a glass jar and poke a hole in the jar’s lid. Insert an oil lamp wick into the jar and light.

Homer called olive oil “liquid gold” and Thomas Jefferson once described it as it “the richest gift of heaven.” Now that you have learned some of the many ways olive oil can benefit your life, you can understand why it has such an illustrious reputation, and you will want to keep a spare bottle or two in your pantry.

What uses would you add to our list? Share your olive oil advice in the section below:

The 5 Best Ways To Get Well Water Without Electricity

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5 Ways To Get Well Water Without Electricity

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Water is the key to survival. At least 60 percent of the adult human body is made of water, and we can live no more than three days without it.

Since most modern water pumps use electricity to obtain well water, you may wonder how you would access well water in the event of a long-term power outage on the homestead. Here are five methods:

1. Manual pump – With a hand-operated pump, you can obtain five to 15 gallons of water per minute, depending on the make and model of the pump.

Manual pumps, which can be used with or without electivity, require quite a bit of effort, but they are an economical and easy way to get water during a blackout. (Read our previous story on manual pumps here.)

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2. Solar pump – Another option is a solar-powered water pump, which can provide as much as 1,200 gallons for water daily, depending on the brand and model – and, of course, the weather.

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Solar pumps are fairly easy to install, and they can last for up to 20 years or so.

3. Wind-powered pump – Once a fixture on American farms, wind-generated pumps are cost-effective and require very little maintenance.

As with solar pumps, wind pumps are weather dependent, though. A back-up system, such as a manual pump, is important to have during calm weather.

4. Homemade pulley system – Think Jack and Jill and you’ll get the idea. With the use of a bucket on a pulley system, you may be able to access well water without a pump at all.

This system requires that you have the strength to lift and pull up anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds at a time. With an efficient pulley system, however, it can be much easier to lift.

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5. Diesel pump — Diesel fuel is a good alternative to electricity when it comes to powering a well. The pumps are relatively inexpensive and are easy to install. However, they do require a lot of fuel, so the cost of running a diesel pump varies with the price of fuel.

Which type of backup pump do you have? Share your well water tips in the section below:

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The Secluded, Self-Sustaining Neighborhood That’s Prepped For Societal Collapse

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The Secluded, Self-Sustaining Neighborhood That’s Prepped For Societal Collapse

Rising out of the high desert landscape of New Mexico are dozens of futuristic-looking homes that are part of an ongoing experiment in off-the-grid living.

Some of the 70-plus home are almost buried in the earth, and some rise a story or two above it. Some are tiny one-room dwellings, and others are designed to shelter and to feed a family of four. All of these so-called “earthships” require no electrical grid, no water lines and no sewer systems.

The Greater World Earthship Community, the brainchild of architect Mike Reynolds, includes nearly 700 acres of rural property. The closest town is Taos, a small artsy and ski community that has a population of less than 6,000.

Reynolds began his experimental community of self-sufficient homes in the 1970s. However, it hit some bumps with permits and regulations before the county government designated the community as an “illegal subdivision” in 1997. Government officials eventually changed their position.

Today, the community is thriving again and even includes a school for training students who want to learn how to build self-sufficient housing. The county also gave the organization two acres for designing and building homes that do not meet its building code requirements.

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It is at that experimental section of “The Earthship Project” that video producer/reporter Kirsten Dirksen begins her interview with Tom Duke, an earthship builder and a long-time resident of the earthship community.

Duke, a former professional volleyball player from Los Angeles, and his wife moved to New Mexico about 18 years ago. Intrigued by the idea of an earthship home, they purchased some land and built and lived in a tiny earthship – a pod, as Duke calls it – for five years while they built their dream home nearby.

Today, that pod is their storage shed, and the Dukes and their two young sons live in a custom two-bedroom self-sufficient home. Like all earthships, it follows the following four principles:

  • Harvests water.
  • Uses and reuses sewage.
  • Uses thermal mass for heating and cooling.
  • Uses recycled and natural materials.
  • Uses solar and wind power
  • Produces food

With rainfall in the high New Mexico desert averaging only about eight inches a year, efficient use of water is a major part of an earthship home.

Reynolds designs the homes to collect and use water four times. Water that is first used for washing or drinking goes to plants in an indoor greenhouse that then filters the greywater and sends it back to the toilet. Then the blackwater is sent outside to four feet below ground where it feeds the roots of plants and trees.

“You don’t smell it. You don’t see it,” says Duke of the blackwater as he gestures to the thriving plants and trees surrounding his desert home. “But you are able to have this beautiful landscaping.”

With both the indoor and outdoor water systems in place, earthship residents only need to water plants to get them established. After that, they are sustained by the home’s water system.

In addition to recycling the water, the plants provide a natural heating and cooling system for the homes and produce food, as well. For example, the master bedroom in Duke’s home boasts a diverse garden, including tomato plants, mint and rosemary. His living room has a tall fig tree.

The newer homes can maintain a consistent year-round temperature of 71 degrees with their use of thermal mass and ventilation.

Duke is already teaching his young sons how to build a home “from trash,” and he points out the mounds of glass bottles, tires and aluminum cans that earthship builders use in home construction.

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Glass bottles are cut and fit together for “bricks.” Cans provide the framework for cement walls and stairs. Tires are used for many purposes, including as seats in an outdoor amphitheater for students, as planters for trees and as structural support.

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Duke estimates that earthship homes cost $225 per square foot to build, with the price decreasing the more work you are able to do yourself. He says he pays only $300 each year in utilities — $100 per year for propane and $200 a year for a supplementary water delivery.

“We really cherish water here,” he says. “What I have found is that living on eight inches (of rainwater a year) is hard, but I think every American could live off 12 inches of rain.”

The Secluded, Self-Sustaining Neighborhood That’s Prepped For Societal CollapseDuke also shows Dirksen an earthship “nest” designed as a simple and inexpensive dwelling for the developing world, and a large custom home designed to feed and shelter a family of four. With more square footage allotted for growing food than for living space, this intriguing home features trees and plants growing in nearly every available spot, a chicken pen outside and a tilapia pond in the greenhouse.

“We are a highly experimental green building operation here,” says Duke. “We are always pushing the envelope, always getting better.”

He is particularly proud of The Earthship Army, the teaching part of the Earthship Project. “We are sending out an army of knowledgeable students who can take this (information) out to the rest of the world.”

He adds that people sometimes ask if the earthship community is a cult. “If it is, it is a tire-pounding, beer-drinking cult, and that’s about it,” he says with a laugh.

Duke, who admits he did not know much about building or living self-sufficiently when he moved to New Mexico and learned “from the ground up,” offers that it is empowering to be able to build your own home.

“I feel I can go anywhere in the world and build a house out of trash – people’s tires and bottles and cans.”

Would you want to live in such an earthship home? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The 1989 Solar Storm That Knocked Out The Grid, Closed Schools & Businesses, & Panicked The Population

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The 1989 Solar Storm That Knocked Out The Grid, Closed Schools & Businesses, & Panicked The Population

Image source: NASA

Mention the words “Quebec Blackout” to an electrical engineer or a solar scientist, and you are likely to be in for a lively conversation. That is because the 1989 event, which lit up the sky across much of North America, was caused by a massive solar storm.

Although solar storms with that kind of power are rare, it as an example of the havoc our volatile sun can wreak on our grid-dependent world.

Let’s look at what we know about the unusual 1989 event. Different sources report different dates on when scientists first observed the mammoth sunspot and resulting enormous solar flare that started the event, but sometime during the first week of March that year, astronomers saw a powerful explosion on the sun.

The severe explosion triggered a cloud of gas that had the energy of thousands of nuclear bombs exploding at the same time, according to a NASA report. As a result of these explosions, an intense geomagnetic storm reached Earth a few days later.

The resulting magnetic disturbance caused short-wave radio interruptions, including interference in radio transmission from Radio Free Europe to Russia. Some listeners thought the Cold War was heating up.

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Subatomic particles from the blast also created vibrant auroras, causing beautiful Northern Light displays that continued for nearly two days. Witnesses in Texas and Florida and as far south as Cuba experienced the incredible light shows – a rarity for southern skies.

TV and radio stations in New Orleans interrupted their broadcasts to tell their audiences about the brilliant colors over the city. In Amarillo, Texas, the fire department went to investigate a possible wildfire after residents reported a large red glowing area north of the city near a river.

The charged particles did more than cause light displays, however. They also induced electrical currents that travelled through the ground throughout much of North America. During the night of March 13, these currents surged into Quebec’s power grid, causing the entire region to lose power for up to 12 hours.

Six million people faced dark, cold homes and workplaces. Officials closed schools and businesses, including the Montreal Metro and Dorval Airport.

Although Quebec faced the brunt of the problems, the U.S. was not untouched by the event. The New York power grid lost 150 megawatts, New England lost 1,410 megawatts, and the service to 96 electrical utilities in New England was interrupted around the same time Quebec’s power grid failed.

In all, more than 200 power grid problems occurred across the U.S. within minutes of the same surge that hit Quebec. None of the U.S. issues caused a blackout, however.

The 1989 Solar Storm That Knocked Out The Grid, Closed Schools & Businesses, & Panicked The Population

Image source: NASA

At the same time, satellites tumbled out of control in space for a few hours, and sensors on the Space Shuttle Discovery also went haywire. The problems corrected themselves after the space storm passed.

Could this type of event happen again? Scientists say yes. Both the 1989 Quebec blackout and the Carrington Event of 1859 – which was stronger and took out telegraph machines — show us the need to develop strategies for coping with a massive solar storm.

Since 1995, scientists have monitored geomagnetic storms and solar flares by means of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite, a project jointly run by NASA and the European Space Agency.

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Even with our modern observations methods, however, we still might only get a 12-hour preparedness window for a massive solar storm, according to the 2015 report, “Space Weather Preparedness Strategy,” prepared by the United Kingdom Cabinet Office.

The report said: “Solar activity can produce x-rays, high-energy particles and coronal mass ejections of plasma. Where such activity is directed towards Earth there is the potential to cause wide-ranging impacts. These include power loss, aviation disruption, communication loss, and disturbance to (or loss of) satellite systems.”

A 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences stated that a widespread power outage from space weather is also possible, and that our current dependence on electrical power to run everything from our financial systems to our water supplies could indeed spark a dire emergency that would cost trillions of dollars and require years of recovery.

In July 2012, an 1859-type solar storm known as a coronal mass ejection nearly hit Earth.

“Analysts believe that a direct hit by an extreme CME such as the one that missed Earth in July 2012 could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket,” a NASA news report read. “Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps.”

Additionally, “the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair.”

Said Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado, “In my view the July 2012 storm was in all respects at least as strong as the 1859 Carrington event. The only difference is, it missed.”

Do you believe the U.S. is prepared for a widespread blackout from a major solar storm? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Sources

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/sun_darkness.html

http://www.space.com/24983-auroras-1989-great-solar-storm.html

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/449593/BIS-15-457-space-weather-preparedness-strategy.pdf

Are You Prepared For Extended Blackouts? Read More Here.

Love Cheese But Have High Cholesterol? We’ve Got GREAT News

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Love Cheese & Have High Cholesterol? We've Got GREAT News

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If you are trying to eat a healthier diet, you probably think you need to cut back on high-fat cheese. Right?

Well, maybe you can have your cheese and it eat. too.

According to a new study by the University of Copenhagen, high-fat cheese consumption may actually be good for you.

After studying the results of a 12-week study of 139 adults, researchers found that high-fat cheese may boost our levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol that helps protects against metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. HDL is critical to a solid cholesterol ratio.

The researchers divided study participants into three groups. One group consumed a total of 80 grams of regular high-fat cheese every day for 12 weeks, and another group consumed a total of 80 grams of lower-fat cheese each day. Instead of eating cheese, the third group of study participants ate 90 grams of bread and jam.

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Researchers, who published their results in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, discovered that the group that ate the high-fat cheese was the only one to see an increase in “good” HDL levels. None of the groups experienced a change in “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Love Cheese But Have High Cholesterol? We've Got GREAT News

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Other factors such as insulin, triglycerides, glucose, blood pressure and waist measurements did not vary significantly between the three study groups.

In addition to the positive cholesterol link, eating high-fat cheese offers other positive benefits. Cheese provides high levels of calcium, protein and vitamin D.

Cheese also offers vitamin A, B12, riboflavin, zinc and phosphorus, and it contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fat that researchers think may have anti-cancer and heart-protective properties.

Eating cheese also may be good for your teeth. A 2008 study from Turkey that was published in the journal Caries found that people who ate a one-third ounce serving of cheese after rinsing their mouths with a sugar solution had a decrease in mouth acidity, which decreases the risk of cavities. Other studies have found similar results.

Can eating cheese offer protection against certain cancers? A Swedish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a connection between the daily consumption of at least two ounces of cheese and a reduced risk of colorectal cancer in women.

On average, cheese has about 100 calories per ounce and itoften contains high sodium levels, so moderation is the key to eating high-fat cheese and maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, the popular Mediterranean diet allows for small to moderate amounts of cheese. Cheese is also part of the heart-heathy DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

So, think in terms of a slice of cheese on a sandwich, not a pile of cheese on a taco, and yes – if researchers are right — you can have your cheese and eat it, too.

What is your reaction? Share it in the section below:

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/news/high-fat-cheese-the-secret-to-a-healthy-life/

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/nutrition/slideshow/cheese-bad-your-health

https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/cheese

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16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

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16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

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If you are looking to keep your foods fresher longer – and who isn’t? – you need look no further than your freezer.

Freezing is an easy and convenient way to preserve food. By freezing leftovers and foods that will spoil before you use them, you can save money and reduce food waste.

As a general rule, you can keep fruits and vegetables in the freezer for up to a year, poultry for six to nine months, fish for three to six months, and ground meat for three to four months. Use resealable freezer bags or freezer-safe plastic containers and label them with the date of storage.

But you can freeze many more food items than you probably realized. Here is our top 16 list of foods you didn’t know you could freeze.

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.

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7. Bread and tortillas – You can easily freeze bread slices or loaves of bread and tortillas. If they are dry after thawing, just wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave for a few seconds.

16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

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8. Chips – Potato and veggie chips can go stale quickly, so if you have extras on hand, try freezing them. They defrost quickly, but you may even like the taste of them straight out of the freezer.

9. Flour – Did you know that many bakers keep their flour in the freezer? It not only stays fresher longer, but it makes tastier baked goods as well.

10. Eggs without shells – Whether they are from your own chickens or whether you just got a good deal at the store, you don’t want to waste eggs. Did you know you could freeze eggs – just not in their shells? Crack them and scramble them. Then pour the liquid into cube trays and freeze. Next, remove the cubes and store them in freezer bags for up to six months.

11. Cooked rice and cooked pasta – You can safely freeze cooked rice and pasta in individual portions for later use in meals. When you are ready to prepare a meal, simply sprinkle the rice or pasta with a little water and then heat it in the microwave.

12. Chicken broth – You can freeze chicken broth for up to six months in the freezer. Be sure to use an airtight, freezer-safe container – not a can.

13. Pasta sauce and tomato paste – Did you only need a tablespoon of tomato paste or part of a jar of tomato sauce for that recipe? You can freeze the rest for later use. Just be sure to store it in a freezer-safe container – not a can.

14. Herbs – You can successfully freeze your fresh herbs in olive oil. Chop your herbs and place them in an ice cube tray. Then cover them with olive oil, allowing a little room at the top for expansion. You can transfer frozen cubes to a resalable bag. Then plop them right into soups and other recipes.

15. Cookie dough – It can save time to make a big batch of cookie dough at once, but you don’t save money if they go stale before anyone eats them. Your freezer can come to the rescue. Freeze homemade cookie dough in individual spoonfuls on a baking sheet. Freeze them and then transfer to a resealable bag for later use.

16. Fresh citrus – How many times have you only needed one slice of a lemon or lime? Did you know you could freeze the rest? Slice or section citrus fruits and place a piece of wax paper between each piece. Remove as many seeds as you can before freezing.

Now that you have some new ideas for freezing food, here are some basic rules to follow:

  • Most meats, dairy, and some vegetables should not be re-frozen after thawing.
  • Cool down cooked foods before freezing.
  • Wrap foods properly to avoid freezer burn.
  • Freezing retards bacterial growth but it does not kill bacterial growth.

Are there other foods you would add to our list? What freezing tips would you have included? Share them in the section below:

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The 16 Fake, Sneaky Names Food Companies Use For MSG

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The 16 Fake Names Big Food Uses For MSG

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At first, I thought the headaches and dizziness I was getting were related to stress. I had recently graduated from college, moved to a new city and started a new job.

After a while, though, I began to notice a pattern. I typically got the symptoms after eating from a salad buffet or after having certain Chinese foods.

I did some research and discovered I was reacting to monosodium glutamate (MSG). Since that time, I have paid close attention to ingredient labels and restaurant menu descriptions that contain MSG.

However, keeping MSG out of my diet – and now my family’s diet – is much trickier than I initially thought. MSG still is in many of the foods found on our supermarket shelves and on our restaurant menus. The dangerous food additive is used in soups, meats, salad dressings, canned goods, frozen entrees and even crackers.

What is MSG?

Monosodium glutamate first hit the American food market in the 1960s as a seasoning and “meat tenderizing” powder called “Accent.”

Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese scientist who identified the natural flavor enhancing substance found in seaweed, learned how to mass produce MSG back in 1908. MSG is the “sodium salt of the common amino acid glutamic acid,” according to the definition by the FDA, which acknowledges it can cause “headaches, numbness, flushing, tingling, palpitations, and drowsiness.”

MSG, which itself has no taste, uses umami, one of the five basic tastes, to make food taste savory. Many people find foods with MSG have a more robust flavor and a fresher taste than foods that do not have it.

The use of MSG became widespread in America after the U.S. military began using it to improve the taste of soldier’s rations.

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In 1959, the USDA gave MSG its “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) label that it still has today. Not more than a decade later, however, cases of what became known as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” began to develop. Symptoms of this disorder, which were linked to the consumption of Chinese food, include headaches, dizziness, tingling, numbness, burning in the face and neck and other areas, nausea, chest pain, rapid heartbeat and weakness.

The 16 Fake Names Food Companies Use For MSG

Image source: Wikimedia

Today, the Mayo Clinic reports that research has not confirmed a direct link between MSG and the reactions that are now known as “MSG symptom complex” and that only a small percentage of the population has a problem with MSG.

Although MSG still has the GRAS rating, it does require manufacturers to list MSG as an ingredient on their products.

Manufacturers have gotten around this requirement, however, by calling MSG something else. Here are some of the names they use to disguise MSG:

  1. glutamic acid
  2. monopotassium glutamate or simply “glutamate”
  3. yeast extract or yeast nutrient
  4. hydrolyzed proteins (hydrolyzed vegetable protein, animal protein or plant protein)
  5. soy protein isolate and soy protein concentrate
  6. whey protein (whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate)
  7. autolyzed plant protein
  8. hydrolyzed oat flour
  9. textured protein
  10. caseinate (sodium caseinate and calcium caseinate)
  11. natural flavorings or simply “flavoring”
  12. ultra-pasteurized
  13. enzyme modified
  14. carrageenan
  15. maltodextrin or malt extract
  16. protein fortified

Some manufacturers even hide MSG under the catch-all “bouillon” term.

With so many different names for one harmful ingredient, a good idea is to make a list of these secret names and then take it with you when you go grocery shopping. If you are like me, you soon will recognize the food products that contain MSG and pass them right on by.

What advice would you add on avoiding MSG? Share your tips in the section below:

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hydrogen peroxide report

10 Common Kitchen Spices That Have REMARKABLE Healing Powers

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10 Common Kitchen Spices That Have REMARKABLE Healing Powers

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Did you know you have a medicine cabinet of sorts right inside your kitchen? Many of the spices and herbs you have in your pantry can do more than just add flavor and color to your cooking. They also can benefit your health.

For centuries, traditional health practitioners have used spices and herbs to help people heal from all sorts of ailments and to help them maintain their wellbeing. Many herbs and spices contain as much or more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as fruits and vegetables.

Here is our list of 10 healing spices that you likely already have in your pantry:

1. Basil. Fragrant basil, which is a great addition to many dishes, has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The volatile oils in basil can help relieve stomach and digestive upsets.

Research by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found that basil contains high amounts of beta-caryophyllene (BCP), which may be useful for treating inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis. A study by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society also found that basil is useful in reducing swelling.

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There are many varieties of basil available, including lemon basil, holy basil and Christmas basil.

2. Cloves. You can use ground or whole cloves to treat inflammation in the body caused by anything from the common cold to a toothache.

Cloves, which have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, also may be useful in controlling insulin levels for diabetics.

3. Cayenne pepper. Made from tropical chili peppers, cayenne pepper contains alkaloid capsaicin, which blocks the chemicals that send pain messages to the brain. Capsaicin also works to rev up the body’s metabolism and may boost calorie and fat burning in certain individuals.

Cayenne can relieve indigestion, gas and nausea. Since it thins phlegm and eases the body’s passageways from the lungs, cayenne also is useful in treating coughs and colds.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people with diabetes who ate a meal with liberal amounts of cayenne required less insulin to reduce their body’s blood sugar.

4. Rosemary. As a super anti-oxidant, rosemary contains 19 chemicals with antibacterial properties that help fight infection. Often used by herbalists to treat asthma and allergies, rosemary contains volatile oils that can reduce the nasal constriction caused by histamine.

Researchers from Kansas State University found that rosemary can help your skin and aid your memory retention.

5. Turmeric. A favorite ingredient in curries, turmeric is the spice that gives many Indian dishes their yellow color. The chemical responsible for turmeric’s color, called curcumin, may protect the body from certain forms of cancer, such as prostrate and colon cancer and melanoma.

10 Common Kitchen Spices That Have REMARKABLE Healing Powers

Image source: Pixabay.com

Research has linked turmeric consumption with reduced inflammation in certain chronic conditions, such as psoriasis, and it is useful in treating colds and respiratory problems.

6. Sage. Sage is a natural mood-enhancer and memory booster. Sage also boosts the action of insulin and reduces blood sugar in the body, so it is helpful for diabetics.

Preliminary research suggests that sage may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease, since it prevents a key enzyme from destroying acetylcholine, which is a brain chemical involved in memory retention and cognitive learning. In another study, college students who took sage extract performed significantly better on memory tests than students who did not consume sage before the test.

7. Ginger. Ginger has been used by natural medical practitioners in many cultures for centuries to reduce stomach upset and to quell nausea.

Beet Powder: The Ancient Secret To Renewed Energy And Stamina

As an anti-inflammatory, ginger also is useful in reducing the pain of arthritis and of osteoarthritis pain of the knee. Ginger root’s healing compounds, including gingerols, also help ease headache pain.

8. Cinnamon. This tasty spice is an antioxidant powerhouse that can help stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics and pre-diabetics.

Just a half teaspoon serving of cinnamon a day can reduce triglycerides and total cholesterol levels by 12 to 30 percent, according to research studies. Cinnamon also can help prevent blood clots.

9. Thyme. Thyme contains thymol, a germ-killing oil that can protect against gum disease, infections, ulcers and certain forms of cancer.

In addition, thyme extracts can soothe the coughing and throat irritation caused by the common cold or bronchitis.

10. Oregano. Often used in Italian recipes, oregano contains four compounds that soothe coughs and colds and 19 different chemicals that contain antibacterial properties.

Oregano consumption can improve the digestive tract, and research shows that it may help lower blood pressure, as well.

You may be wondering how long your spices will stay fresh in your pantry. As a general rule, herbs lose their potency and flavor over time. Whole spices will stay fresh for about four years. Ground spices will stay fresh for two to three years, and dried herbs will be potent for up to three years.

What is your favorite healing spice? Share your tips in the section below:

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10 Common Kitchen Spices That Have REMARKABLE Healing Powers

10 Common Kitchen Spices That Have REMARKABLE Healing Powers

Image source: Pixabay.com

Did you know you have a medicine cabinet of sorts right inside your kitchen? Many of the spices and herbs you have in your pantry can do more than just add flavor and color to your cooking. They also can benefit your health.

For centuries, traditional health practitioners have used spices and herbs to help people heal from all sorts of ailments and to help them maintain their wellbeing. Many herbs and spices contain as much or more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as fruits and vegetables.

Here is our list of 10 healing spices that you likely already have in your pantry:

1. Basil. Fragrant basil, which is a great addition to many dishes, has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The volatile oils in basil can help relieve stomach and digestive upsets.

Research by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found that basil contains high amounts of beta-caryophyllene (BCP), which may be useful for treating inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis. A study by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society also found that basil is useful in reducing swelling.

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There are many varieties of basil available, including lemon basil, holy basil and Christmas basil.

2. Cloves. You can use ground or whole cloves to treat inflammation in the body caused by anything from the common cold to a toothache.

Cloves, which have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, also may be useful in controlling insulin levels for diabetics.

3. Cayenne pepper. Made from tropical chili peppers, cayenne pepper contains alkaloid capsaicin, which blocks the chemicals that send pain messages to the brain. Capsaicin also works to rev up the body’s metabolism and may boost calorie and fat burning in certain individuals.

Cayenne can relieve indigestion, gas and nausea. Since it thins phlegm and eases the body’s passageways from the lungs, cayenne also is useful in treating coughs and colds.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people with diabetes who ate a meal with liberal amounts of cayenne required less insulin to reduce their body’s blood sugar.

4. Rosemary. As a super anti-oxidant, rosemary contains 19 chemicals with antibacterial properties that help fight infection. Often used by herbalists to treat asthma and allergies, rosemary contains volatile oils that can reduce the nasal constriction caused by histamine.

Researchers from Kansas State University found that rosemary can help your skin and aid your memory retention.

5. Turmeric. A favorite ingredient in curries, turmeric is the spice that gives many Indian dishes their yellow color. The chemical responsible for turmeric’s color, called curcumin, may protect the body from certain forms of cancer, such as prostrate and colon cancer and melanoma.

10 Common Kitchen Spices That Have REMARKABLE Healing Powers

Image source: Pixabay.com

Research has linked turmeric consumption with reduced inflammation in certain chronic conditions, such as psoriasis, and it is useful in treating colds and respiratory problems.

6. Sage. Sage is a natural mood-enhancer and memory booster. Sage also boosts the action of insulin and reduces blood sugar in the body, so it is helpful for diabetics.

Preliminary research suggests that sage may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease, since it prevents a key enzyme from destroying acetylcholine, which is a brain chemical involved in memory retention and cognitive learning. In another study, college students who took sage extract performed significantly better on memory tests than students who did not consume sage before the test.

7. Ginger. Ginger has been used by natural medical practitioners in many cultures for centuries to reduce stomach upset and to quell nausea.

Beet Powder: The Ancient Secret To Renewed Energy And Stamina

As an anti-inflammatory, ginger also is useful in reducing the pain of arthritis and of osteoarthritis pain of the knee. Ginger root’s healing compounds, including gingerols, also help ease headache pain.

8. Cinnamon. This tasty spice is an antioxidant powerhouse that can help stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics and pre-diabetics.

Just a half teaspoon serving of cinnamon a day can reduce triglycerides and total cholesterol levels by 12 to 30 percent, according to research studies. Cinnamon also can help prevent blood clots.

9. Thyme. Thyme contains thymol, a germ-killing oil that can protect against gum disease, infections, ulcers and certain forms of cancer.

In addition, thyme extracts can soothe the coughing and throat irritation caused by the common cold or bronchitis.

10. Oregano. Often used in Italian recipes, oregano contains four compounds that soothe coughs and colds and 19 different chemicals that contain antibacterial properties.

Oregano consumption can improve the digestive tract, and research shows that it may help lower blood pressure, as well.

You may be wondering how long your spices will stay fresh in your pantry. As a general rule, herbs lose their potency and flavor over time. Whole spices will stay fresh for about four years. Ground spices will stay fresh for two to three years, and dried herbs will be potent for up to three years.

What is your favorite healing spice? Share your tips in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

How To Freeze Milk — The Right Way

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How To Freeze Milk -- The Right Way

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Now that my kids are getting older, my family’s milk consumption has become quite variable. Gone are the days when everyone sat down for a bowl of cereal and milk in the morning. My older ones – including one of my big milk drinkers — are back in college, and my two teens still at home are not big milk drinkers.

As a result, I have had a difficult time having the right amount of fresh milk on hand. Not wanting to either be caught short or to be faced with pouring out spoiled milk, I decided to look into the freezing process.

It turns out that it is quite easy to freeze milk for later use. Here’s how:

You can freeze milk in its original plastic container or paper carton. However, because milk expands when it freezes, you will need to remove an inch or more milk from a full container to allow for this expansion.

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You can also freeze milk in freezer-proof glass jars. If you are using narrow-mouth jars, leave 1 1/2-inches of head space.

You can store the milk in your freezer for up to three months. It’s a good idea to mark the freeze date on the container with a permanent marker, since the original expiration date will be invalid.

When you are ready to drink it, allow the milk to thaw in the refrigerator. Depending on the size of the container, it can take 24 hours to defrost. If some of the milk is still frozen when you want to drink it, you can speed up the process by placing the jug in a bowl or a sink full of cold water.

Defrosted milk is safe to drink, but you should be aware that it will look and taste differently than before. First, milk will separate it the freezing process and develop a grainy texture.

Shake it thoroughly after it thaws. You also can also beat the defrosted milk with a hand mixer or an immersion blender to restore it to more of its pre-frozen texture. Consume your thawed milk within three to four days after defrosting.

How To Freeze Milk -- The Right Way

Image source: Wikimedia

Freezing milk in small portions, such as ice cube trays, makes the defrosting process easy and quick.

Simply pour milk into clean ice cube trays and freeze them. After they freeze solid, place the cubes in freezer-safe resalable plastic bags or lidded containers. The cubes will keep for up to three months. Thaw what you need in the refrigerator and pop the rest of the cubes back in the freezer for later use.

If the defrosted milk’s appearance and/or taste are unappealing – and they are to some people – then you may prefer to use the thawed milk in recipes rather than drink it.

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Ice cube-sized portions of frozen milk are well-suited for many recipes. Two cubes equal about 1/4 cup milk.  You also could try freezing milk in a muffin pan or a mini-muffin pan.

Here are a few ideas for foods to make with your defrosted milk:

  • oatmeal (use milk instead of water)
  • canned soups (use milk instead of water)
  • pudding
  • pancakes
  • alfredo sauce
  • yogurt
  • cakes
  • French toast

So, now that you know how to freeze milk, you can stock up when your favorite store has a sale or when you just happen to have a surplus supply on hand.

Have you ever frozen milk? What tips would you add? Share your advice in the section below:

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How To Make Flour, Bread And Even Coffee With Acorns

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How To Make Bread, Flour And Even Coffee With Acorns

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Did you know that there is a nutritious food source literally dropping from your trees each fall? In fact, unless you are a squirrel, you may even see this food as a nuisance.

Alas, the lowly acorn was not always seen this way. Historical sources suggest that some of the world’s earliest civilizations ate acorns. In fact, the word for “oak” in Tunisian translates to “meal-bearing tree.”

Although acorns, which contain healthy fats, protein and minerals, found their way into many Native American foods and are the main ingredient of a traditional Korean jelly recipe, most people today shy away from eating them. Why? Anyone who has ever sampled a raw acorn can tell you. They taste bitter.

The secret to eating – and enjoying acorns – lies in removing the tannins. When you complete this process, you can produce a subtly flavored flour that works well in all kinds of baking recipes and even as a coffee-like beverage.

The first step to removing the tannins is to select only ripe, brown acorns. Avoid green, blackened or mildewed acorns. Then remove the caps and boil the acorns for about 10 minutes. You will need to strain out the brown water and boil the acorns again in fresh water. Repeat this process three to four times until the water looks clear and the acorns can be easily shelled.

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Another way to remove the tannins is to remove the caps and then place the acorns inside a mesh or cheese cloth bag. After securing the opening, place the bag under running water (say, a stream) for several hours. Native American used this flushing method by placing bags of acorns in running streams, rivers and even waterfalls.

Now that the tannins are removed, it is time to dry the acorns. Spread the acorns on a baking sheet and place them in a preheated 200-degree Fahrenheit oven. Leave the door slightly ajar so moisture can escape.

How To Make Bread, Flour And Even Coffee With Acorns

Image source: Pixabay.com

Another option is to place the baking sheet outside in direct sunlight for several hours. Be sure to protect the nuts from wildlife while they are drying.

Acorns add a nutty, slightly sweet taste to recipes. You can use them as a substitute for chickpeas, peanuts or macadamia nuts. (Put them in banana nut bread or zucchini bread!) You also can use them to make acorn butter, which you can use instead of peanut butter or almond butter. You also can add them to salads, soups and stews for flavor and nutrition.

To make acorn flour, grind slightly moist leached acorns in a blender or food processor. Dry the resulting meal in a low temperature oven for a few minutes, or let the meal air dry for a few hours. Then grind the dry meal in the blender or food processor again.

You can substitute this acorn flour in any recipe that uses wheat flour, but keep in mind that acorn flour products will have a crumbly texture. If you prefer a spongy texture to your cookies or bread, you will need to mix in some wheat flour with your acorn flour.

Another option is make acorn coffee. Now, this drink will not perk you up in the morning since acorns do not contain caffeine, but it is a pleasant beverage, especially in cold weather.

Place pieces of leached acorns on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. When the pieces are dark brown in color and have a pleasant roasted (not burned) aroma, they are ready.

Add one tablespoon of roasted acorn pieces per eight ounces of boiling water. Let the mixture steep for five to 10 minutes. Reheat if needed. Then you can add your regular coffee condiments or drink the acorn coffee black.

Acorns are a rich source of carbohydrates, proteins, essential amino acids, trace minerals and Vitamins A and C. This nutritional value compares favorably with barley or wheat flour.  Although producing acorn flour does take some time, it is satisfying to put to use a food source that is free and readily available.

Just leave a few acorns for those squirrels.

Have you ever eaten acorns? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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The Underground, Hidden House That Cost Only $100 To Build — ‘It’s Like A Little Fort’

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The Underground, Hidden House That Cost $100 To Build -- ‘It’s Like A Little Fort’

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Part hobo, part hobbit and part trendsetter, Dan Price was living the tiny house lifestyle long before the tiny house movement gained momentum.

A professional news photographer for 10 years, Price says he began his search for a simple lifestyle back in 1990. He found what he was looking for when he discovered a two-acre riverfront property for rent in Joseph, Oregon. For $100 a year, he enjoys a meadow, a spring, river access and the several tiny buildings and dwellings he has created over the years.

“I have wanted to do this since I was 12 years old,” says Price in a YouTube interview with Kirsten Dirksen. Fascinated with books like My Side of the Mountain and The Hobbit, Price says that he built a log cabin when he was 12 and knew that he “never really wanted to be an adult.”

“When you are a kid there is no stress,” he explains. “Security is a myth. You can get hit by a car tomorrow. If you don’t worry about security, then your life becomes way more adventuresome.”

After living three years in a teepee on the picturesque property in western Oregon, Price lived in a tent for several more years before he decided to build a square wood building that he describes as a “beach shack.”

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When thieves broke into the house and stole his photography equipment, however, Price took the structure down and decided to live in a circular underground dwelling he had created behind the building.

Since then, he has stayed put in his self-proclaimed “hobbit hole.” At night, deer walk on his roof.

“It’s like a little fort,” he explains, adding that he likes to build small things. He leaves his shoes on a mat by the doorstep and crawls through a hobbit-like front door. The main room features walls and ceiling built of pine and a large skylight that can open for ventilation.

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Price is quick to point out that his home stays cool in the summer and is easy to heat in the winter.

“When it is 30 degrees [Fahrenheit] outside, it is 50 degrees in here,” he says, explaining that a small ceramic heater is all he needs to bring the inside temperature up to 65 degrees. “In the summer when it is hot outside, it feels like there is air conditioning in here.”

Price reaches his bedroom though a large circular hole in the wall. The cozy-looking room features some of his artwork and photographs, a window that can serve as a door, a bookshelf and a two-inch mattress on the floor.

“I feel like everything in my life is simplified,” says Price. “I don’t really like beds, sofas or chairs. … I really like editing things down.”

Even though he has few belongings, Price admits that he is always looking for ways to have even less. Pointing to his small stack of clothing, he says he has “way too many shirts,” for example.

He cooks very little – maybe a can of soup or some rice now and then – relying on a diet of raw fruits and vegetables and grains. Instead of using a table, he places his meal on a cutting board set across his lap.

Price applied for and received city permits for electricity to his underground home and for the composting outhouse he created on the property. “I was kind of grandfathered in,” he admits, “but I keep things really pristine, so no one is complaining.”

Price gets his water from a spring on the property and from the river. He built a sauna and a shower structure near the river, and he has a separate underground studio, which he built entirely from wood and bricks that were set to be thrown away by builders. He estimates that his studio cost him about $100 to build, with the cost mostly coming from the skylight in the center of the ceiling.

He says he was influenced in his home and studio design by his visits to kivas in the Southwest. “I decided that was how I wanted to live,” he says of the Pueblo Indian architecture.

The studio houses Price’s collection of the 77 issues of Moonlight Chronicles, the magazine he published for about 20 years that offers details on his life, his travels and his philosophy. He no longer publishes the magazine, which was sponsored by a shoe company, saying that his simple lifestyle affords him the opportunity to live his dream.

“I like the idea of not having any furniture and of having a (living) space so small. When you think about the space you live in – you eat, you sleep and you read a book — you don’t really need a big house.”

He says his ideas for a pared-down way of life came from books and from his days of backpacking. He calls himself a “neo-hobo,” explaining with a laugh, “I’m sort of a hobo, but a classy hobo maybe.”

“The secret to life is having few things but having those few things be really special,” he says.

With that philosophy in mind, his home is filled with small treasures, ranging from photos of his family glued to a lampshade, to some hand-made gifts from his children, to his handpan, a steel drum he enjoys playing.

“Everything I do is a joy,” says Price, “and that is the way it ought to be.”

What is your reaction? Would you want to live this way? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

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What Can You Do With All Of Those Buckeyes?

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What Can You Do With All Of Those Buckeyes?

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If you live in the Midwest, then you probably are familiar with the large nuts that are commonly known as buckeyes. Kids love to collect them in the early fall, and some people consider them good luck charms.

While they are on the tree, buckeyes have a light green spiky shell that remains tightly closed until they fall from the tree in September and October. The hard shell then opens, revealing one or two smooth nuts that are brown with white tops.

The buckeye tree got its name from Native Americans who called the tree’s nut “hetuck” because of its resemblance to the eye of a deer. Ohio is the state most closely associated with buckeyes, but it is not just because buckeye trees grow there.

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In the 1840 presidential campaign, the opponents of William Henry Harrison, a Virginia native making his home in Ohio, claimed that the military hero was “better suited to sit in a log cabin and drink hard cider” than to live in the White House. However, Harrison’s supporters turned the intended insult into a campaign slogan, calling Harrison “the log cabin candidate” and using a log cabin made of buckeye wood with buckeyes decorating the walls as a symbol for the campaign.

When Harrison won his bid for the White House over the incumbent President Martin Van Buren, his adopted home state became known as “the buckeye state.” A song referring to Ohio as the “Bonnie Buckeye State” also became popular around the same time.

What Can You Do With All Of Those Buckeyes?

Image source: Pixabay.com

Today, the buckeye is most closely associated with Ohio State University (OSU) and its athletic teams. In 1930, OSU graduate Milton Caniff, who later created the Steve Canyon comic strip, designed a logo for his alma mater containing a buckeye leaf. This image now has a prominent place on the university’s seal.

Although the nuts of the buckeye tree (Aesculus glabra) look like chestnuts, they do not taste like chestnuts due to their high tannic acid content. In fact, they are mildly toxic in their raw state.

So what can you do with all of those buckeyes?

Native Americans were adept at making use of acorns and buckeyes, which both have high amounts of tannin. They peeled and leached them to remove the tannin, and then roasted them before mashing them into a paste or flour. However, most experts warn against eating buckeyes; in their raw state, consuming too many will cause vomiting and diarrhea.

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Some sources claim the nuts are useful for removing mildew stains from linen. Bookbinders once used a paste made from buckeyes that was not only strong but also insect-proof. Prohibition-era moonshiners used the brown nuts to give their whiskey an aged appearance.

Some traditional medicine included the use of very small doses of the powdered nut to treat spasmodic cough, asthma and even intestinal irritations.

Externally, a medicinal ointment or paste can be made from buckeyes to ease the pain of rheumatism, rashes and hemorrhoids. To make the salve, cover the nuts with a cloth and then crush them with a rolling pin or hammer. Place them in a pan filled with enough water to cover the nuts. Boil the water, drain the water and then repeat the process. Then add enough lard to make a paste.

If you take a quick look around the Internet, you will find recipes for “buckeye candies” and “buckeye fudge,” but please keep in mind that these recipes are for treats that resemble buckeyes in appearance. They do not contain the nuts as ingredients.

What are ways you have used buckeyes? Share your tips in the section below:

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7 Free Things You Can Build With Wood Pallets

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7 Free Things You Can Build Using Wood Pallets

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If you are looking for an inexpensive way to make a variety of wood projects on your homestead, look no further than shipping pallets. Many large retailers and distribution centers will let you haul away wood pallets they cannot use for free or for a nominal fee.

Lots of companies re-use their pallets for return shipments. Always call first to see if pallets are available, and never assume that pallets stored outside at a facility are free for the taking.

Not all pallets are alike. Pallets usually are marked with either the letters “MB,” which means they have been chemically treated with methyl bromide, or “HT,” which means they have been heat treated. Other pallets may have been pressure treated with preservatives.

If you are planning a project for your garden or for the interior of your home, avoid chemically treated pallets and pressure-treated pallets. Also, if the pallets smell bad or appear to be infested with bugs, leave them be.

When you choose wisely, however, pallets can become the basis for a wide variety of easy home and garden projects. What’s more is that items made with this form of reclaimed wood tend to last and last.

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Here are seven ideas for pallets in and around your homestead.

1. Vertical planter — The very way pallets are constructed makes them ideal for use as an attractive and practical vertical planter.

Materials

  • one 25 inch x 38 inch pallet
  • roll of landscaping paper
  • sandpaper
  • staple gun and staples
  • hammer and nails
  • potting soil (2.5 cubic feet)
  • succulents, herbs or other small plants

Instructions

  1. Sand the rough spots on your pallet and use some pieces of scrap wood to add some support to the back of your pallet.
  2. Double or triple the landscaping fabric, and then staple it along the back, bottom and sides of the pallet, carefully folding in the fabric at the corners so soil will not spill out.
  3. Place the pallet flat on the ground and pour soil through slats, making sure you allow enough room for your plants. Press the soil down firmly.
  4. Starting at the bottom and ending at the top of the pallet, begin planting your plants. Add more soil as needed to make sure plants are tightly packed.
  5. Water plants thoroughly and let the pallet remain horizontal for about two weeks. After plants begin to take root, you can hang it upright.

Here’s a video demonstrating this:

 

2. Room divider

You can make an attractive, rustic-looking room divider for your home with wood pallets. The number of pallets you need depends on the size of the room and the style of the divider you want to create. Here are a few clever ideas.

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3. Shoe rack

Are shoes taking over your entryway? This idea is such a natural for pallets, you will wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

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4. End table

There are some lovely examples of pallet end tables on the Internet. You can make a sturdy accent piece for your living room or a bedroom by using reclaimed pallet wood.

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5. Chairs

Do you like the traditional styling of Adirondack chairs? You can make one yourself with a pallet.

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6. Garden tool organizer

The slats in pallets make them a good choice for a garage or shed organizer for your rakes, shovels and other long-handled garden equipment.

Here is a standing rack option:

 

7. Pallet headboard

Last but not least, you can use pallets to create a simple-but-creative headboard for your bed. Here are some directions to get you started:

Once you get started working with pallets, you are sure to come up with more ideas of your own. Here is a video that showcases some attractive and useful items – including some of the ideas in this article as well as others — made with pallets.

What have you made with pallets? Do you have any advice? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Hickory Nuts: The Wild-And-Abundant Fall Food You Better Grab Before They’re Gone

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Hickory Nuts: The Wild-And-Abundant Fall Food You Better Grab Before They’re Gone

Image source: suburbanforagers.com

 

If you are looking for a tasty, calorie-dense wild food, you can’t go wrong with hickory nuts. The sweet, fatty raw meat of a hickory nut can be eaten right out of its hard shell or cooked. The nuts will keep in a cool dry spot for several months, or you can freeze them for later use.

Hickory nuts come from deciduous hardwood trees that are found in North America and Asia. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees lists 10 different varieties of hickory trees. A few varieties produce bitter-tasting nuts, but the shagbark and shellbark trees are known for their good taste.

Our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, famously was nicknamed “Old Hickory” due to his tough nature, although the real-life hickory nuts are easily crack-able. He also had quite a few shagbarks surrounding his home, the Hermitage.

The shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), found in the eastern United States, has a shaggy bark that easily peels away in strips. Other varieties include the pecan (the Carya illinoinensis), the shellbark or kingbark (the Carya laciniosa), the mockernut (the Carya tomentosa), the sand hickory (the Carya palida) and the red hickory (the Carya ovalis).

The shell of the hickory nut is encased in a green or greenish-brown husk that you can easily peel off after the fruit has fallen from the tree. The nuts begin to drop from hickory trees in early fall, and since you will face some stiff competition from squirrels, it is a good idea to gather your supply as soon as possible.

Gather hickory nuts in a bucket or sack, removing the husk as you go. Consider saving the husks for use as mulch in your garden.

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At home, sort through your collection, discarding any nuts that have a dry, wrinkled appearance or that have discoloration or holes in their shells. Holes are an indication of insect infestation in the nut.

Shelling the Nuts

There are many ways to crack open the tough hickory shell, ranging from the use of a heavy-duty v-shaped hinged nutcracker to the use of a rock or a hammer. Avoid using a standard lever-type nutcracker, however, because it might crunch the tender nutmeat into fragments. Also, do not use your teeth!

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Before cracking, soak the nuts in warm water for about an hour. This process causes the shell to flex and/or split, making the cracking process easier. The amount of pressure you exert to crack the nut properly will vary, and it may take a while to get your technique down. To prevent shell pieces from flying around, cover the nut with a cloth before hitting it with a hammer or rock.

Use a nut pick to extract the meat from the broken shell. You can save shell fragments for your bird feeder. Birds are good at finding small fragments of meat left on broken shell pieces.

Eating the Nutmeat

You can enjoy hickory nuts fresh from the shell as a satisfying snack. Nine hickory nuts, or about one ounce, provide 186 calories, 3.6g protein, 5.2g carbohydrates, 18.2g fat, 1.8g fiber, as well as traces of magnesium and thiamine.

There are other ways to enjoy the nuts:

Roasting. Spread the nutmeats in a cookie sheet or shallow pan and place them in a 200-degree Fahrenheit oven. Roast the nuts until they are a golden color.

Nut butter. Grind the roasted nutmeats in a blender, along with enough safflower oil and salt to achieve the desired consistency and taste.

Baking. You can substitute hickory nuts for pecans or walnuts in dessert and bread recipes.

Here is a hickory nut pie recipe to try:

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white Karo syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup hickory nuts, chopped
  • 1 unbaked pie shell

Directions

Mix the eggs, vanilla, sugar, syrup and butter together. Fold in the nuts. Pour the batter into the pie shell and bake in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 40 more minutes.

What advice would you add on harvesting and using hickory nuts? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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11 Unusual Uses For Milk That Can Revolutionize Homestead Life

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11 Unusual Uses For Milk That Can Revolutionize Homestead Life

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Got milk? Although there is an ongoing debate about the complete range of health benefits that cow’s milk provides to humans, milk remains a staple beverage in many American households.

A USDA study found that the average American drinks 20.4 gallons of milk each year, and milk ranks fourth behind carbonated soft drinks, bottled water and beer as America’s beverage of choice.

Cow’s milk is about 90 percent water, but the remaining 10 percent of volume contains protein, carbohydrates, fat, Vitamins A, D, and B12, as well as various minerals, organic compounds and antioxidants that are beneficial to the human body.

What you may not realize, however, is that milk can provide other benefits beyond its use as a beverage. Here are 11 unusual uses for milk that make a big difference if you’re a homesteader:

1. Relieve burns.

You can experience quick pain relief and promote the healing of minor burns, including sunburn, by applying milk to the affected area. Soak a washcloth in whole milk and apply to the area for about 15 minutes. Repeat every few hours.

Another option is to create a milk paste with powdered milk, water and two pinches of salt. Apply the paste to areas with minor burns for soothing relief.

2. Take the itch out of insect bites.

Milk also can ease the pain, swelling and itchiness of insect bites. Create a paste with milk, water and salt, and place it on the bites. After a few minutes, redness and itching will be significantly reduced.

3. Repair china.

Did you know you could use milk to fix cracks in your fine china? Fill a cooking pot with enough fresh milk or reconstituted powdered milk to cover a damaged cup or plate.

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Submerge the china in the milk and then bring the milk to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 45 minutes. When you remove the china, the milk proteins will have diminished the appearance of fine cracks and lines.

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4. Skin moisturizer. 

Try applying cold milk to calluses or other hard, dry areas of your skin three times a day.

Another way to moisturize the skin with milk is to take a milk bath. Add 1 1/2 cups of powdered milk to your bathwater as it fills the tub. You also can prepare a moisturizing facial mask by mixing powdered milk with enough water to make a thick paste. Apply the milk paste to your face, let it dry for about 30 minutes, and then rinse with warm water.

5. Polish silver.

You can clean your tarnished silver with the help of sour milk. Mix a cup of milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar. Soak the silver in the sour milk for 30 minutes. After rinsing with warm soapy water, buff the silver with a dry, soft cloth.

6. Revive leather.

To remove scuffs and to give a fresh look to leather shoes, purses and belts, moisten a soft cloth with fresh milk and gently wipe the leather. Let the milk dry before buffing with a clean soft cloth.

11 Unusual Uses For Milk That Can Revolutionize Homestead Life

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7. Remove ink.

We all have had leaky pens stain our clothes at one time or another. The next time it happens, try soaking the stained garment overnight in a dishpan of milk. Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice for extra cleaning power. Then wash it in your machine.

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If ink has stained your carpet, mix milk with enough cornstarch to make a paste. Apply the paste to the stain. Allow it to dry, and then vacuum the residue.

8. Take off makeup.

You also can use milk to remove makeup. Simply dip a cotton ball in whole milk or reconstituted powdered milk and then gently wipe your face with the cotton ball. For added antioxidants and a pleasant aroma, add a few drops of almond oil to the milk.

9. Boost the flavor of corn.

Want to make your sweet corn taste even sweeter? Add some milk to the water before you boil corn on the cob. When the corn is ready, you will notice a richer, sweeter taste.

10. Improve the flavor of fish.

When you defrost your frozen fish in a bowl of milk, the fish will have a smoother texture and a richer flavor.

11. Treat tongue burn.

Feeling the burn of spicy food on your tongue? Milk can dissolve capsaicin, the organic compound that makes foods spicy. Drink a glass of milk after eating spicy foods to alleviate the discomfort.

Now that you know some of the unusual uses for milk, you may be tempted to have more cartons on hand in your refrigerator. By the way, you can freeze milk for longer storage. However, you will need to leave some room in the container because milk expands when it freezes.

You can thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator or in cold water.

What other uses for milk would you add to this story? Share your tips in the section below:

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10 Survival Tips That Kept Your Great-Grandparents Alive

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10 Time-Tested Survival Tips, Straight From Your Great-Grandparents

Unless you are fairly young, chances are your great-grandparents already have passed on. But if they were around in today’s tenuous times, our great-grandparents might have a few words of advice for us.

Survival was something most of our ancestors did well, and a few tips from their success could make a real difference in our lives today.

Our great-grandparents probably survived hard times due to a combination of the right skills and knowledge, the right priorities, and the right attitudes. Here is what they might say to us if they could:

Skills and Knowledge

1. Be able to acquire food by multiple means. Learn to grow vegetables, tend fruit and berry orchards, milk dairy cattle and goats, keep laying hens, raise meat animals, and hunt for wild game.

2. Know how to preserve food for leaner seasons by way of canning, smoking, drying and root-cellaring.

3. Learn to make all of your food from scratch, from bread to butter to noodles to jerky to cheese. Even if you do not do all of it annually, develop and keep up the skills.

4. Be able to repair and maintain what you use. Furniture, buildings, engines, equipment, shoes, toys, kitchen utensils—you name it. It is important to take meticulous care of your belongings and fix whatever needs fixing until it is beyond repair. Buy less, fix more.

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5. Know how to treat minor injuries and illnesses at home. Sometimes seeking professional medical advice is the best course, but in a survival situation it is valuable to be able to assess and treat problems yourself if needed.

10 Time-Tested Survival Tips, Straight From Your Great-Grandparents6. Learn to provide as many of your own basic needs as you can. Hiring a pro might be the most sensible way to go nowadays, but it does not need to be the only option. If tough times come along, knowing how to clothe yourself and your family, heat your home, care for sick animals, provide home defense, and use alternative means for transportation will be useful skills.

Priorities

7. On most days, put work before play. There is one caveat: It works well to combine work and socializing. In days of old, people worked together with their households and communities on projects like construction, food preservation, quilting and livestock management. Putting work first in a way that builds, creates and nurtures camaraderie is still a great idea.

8. Focus on goals that make a tangible difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. Remember that in a survival scenario it will be more useful to be able to feed, shelter and protect your loved ones than it will be to chase imaginary electronic characters.

Attitude

9. Develop mental toughness. Tell yourself you can do what you have to do to get by. Even when you want to curl up in a corner and let the world pass by without you, know that it is not an option.

10. Be independent. Do not rely upon the government or wait for some other entity to take care of you. Do not let others make decisions for you about whether or not a place or activity is safe — but do not assume that there will always be someone to rescue you if you make poor decisions. Be smart, and be in charge of yourself.

Whether or not your great-grandparents are still around to cheer you on, use these words of advice along with your own image of what they were like to live a life that would make your ancestors proud of you every day. And if you ever find yourself in a survival situation that may or may not be similar to what they went through, remember to heed their sage words to help you survive and pass along the wisdom to another generation.

What time-tested survival advice would you add to our list? Share it in the section below:   

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Turmeric: The Colorful Superfood That Fights Arthritis, Cholesterol And Cancer, Too

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Turmeric: The Colorful Superfood That Fights Arthritis, Cholesterol And Cancer, Too

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Did you know that foods with deep colors usually have the most nutritional benefits? Dark berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and cherries, have powerful antioxidants, for example. Another example of a powerful, colorful superfood is turmeric.

Turmeric is a rhizome, similar to ginger, that grows wild in Southeast Asia, and it is what provides curry dishes with their deep golden color. Turmeric contains curcumin, an amazing compound that can protect and repair cells and can promote healing in the human body.

According to the Journal of the American Chemical Society, turmeric has antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.

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The flavorful spice, which is a mainstay in many Asian dishes, also is a good source of protein, dietary fiber, niacin, calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and Vitamins C, E and K.

As you might expect, turmeric has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health problems. Here are eight ways turmeric can heal:

1. Arthritis – A study published in 2012 in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis reported an increase in flexibility and a decrease in pain after taking curcumin. Furthermore, these patients did not suffer the same side-effects as did patients taking other arthritis drugs.

2. Cancer – According to the American Cancer Society, laboratory studies have demonstrated that curcumin blocked the formation of cancer-causing enzymes in rodents.

A study conducted by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2011 found that the curcumin “effectively differentiates between cancer cells and normal cells while activating cancer cell death (apoptosis).”

More studies are needed, but turmeric is being used to treat breast cancer, colon cancer and skin cancer.

3. Diabetes – A diet including turmeric may help in diabetes management.

In 2009, the journal Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications published an Auburn University study that showed that curcumin in turmeric is 400 times more powerful than Metformin (a common drug used to treat diabetes) in improving insulin sensitivity.

turmeric-943629_640 (1)4. Digestive ailments – Many patients with gastrointestinal problems, such as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), experience inflammation of the intestinal lining as a side-effect of their medication.

Studies show that patients who take curcumin, however, do not complain of these side-effects.  Additionally, curcumin works to heal the gut and support the growth of beneficial bacteria.

5. Cholesterol — A study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research showed that curcumin lowered the high LDL cholesterol in mice. The compound also lowered C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation, and triglycerides in the laboratory animals.

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6. Burns – Curcumin has pain-relieving properties and has been shown to be effective in treating and managing the pain of severe burns.

A study by the Army Institute of Surgical Research recommended that curcumin should be used to treat burn patients because of its anti-inflammatory benefits and because it has fewer side-effects than conventional burn treatments.

7. Congestion – Consuming turmeric helps unclog sinus passages and promote better breathing when you have a cold.

Try stirring a half teaspoon into a glass of water and sipping it twice a day when you catch a cold. As an antibacterial and an anti-viral compound, the turmeric solution also will help ease a sore throat.

8. Aches and pain – If you experience shoulder or back pain or the pain from sciatica, turmeric may provide natural relief. Eating foods rich in turmeric may help somewhat, but you may want to check with your doctor about taking a turmeric supplement.

Although side-effects are minimal if you consume turmeric in normal household recipes, it can produce side-effects when consumed in large quantities. These side-effects may include indigestion, nausea and diarrhea. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, large doses of turmeric may cause a worsening of symptoms for people with gallbladder trouble.

If you take regular medication, check with your doctor before adding large amounts of turmeric to your diet. Curcumin may interfere with anti-coagulants such as warfarin and clopidogrel. It also may interfere with certain non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult with a qualified health professional first.

What advice would you add about Turmeric? How have you used it? Share your tips in the section below:

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12 Natural Ways To Rid Your Home Of Spiders (No. 6 Will Do It FAST)

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12 Natural Ways To Rid Your Home Of Spiders (No. 6 Will Do It FAST)

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You probably have heard the statement that you are “always within a few feet of a spider.” Several Internet sources cite a 1995 article by arachnologist Norman Platnick as the origin of that statement, which is a myth.

Spiders simply do not thrive everywhere humans go, so there are plenty of times you are far away from the nearest spider. Additionally, people often mistake other bugs – including dust mites, fleas and lice – for spiders.

However, it is true that most of us frequently find spiders inside our homes. Spiders like to hang out in corners and other dark spots, behind or below furniture, in cabinets, in basements, in garages and in the cracks and crevices of our homes.

Although most spiders are not dangerous, most of us would prefer they not take up residence where we do, especially if babies or small children are in the house. Here is our list of time-tested natural ways to keep your home spider-free.

1. Clean up the clutter inside. One of the main reasons we find spiders in basements, garages and attics is because we tend to have boxes and other stuff there where they can easily hide.

Reduce the clutter and sweep up dust and debris to make these areas less attractive for spiders. Also, remove cobwebs when you see them.

2. Cut back vegetation outside. Keep shrubs and bushes trimmed away from the exterior of your home, especially near doors and windows, as they provide good places for spiders to hide.

In addition, keep woodpiles, leaf pikes and other debris away from your home. Spiders will often live in these areas and then make their way into your home if it is close by.

3. Seal cracks and holes. An effective way to keep spiders out of your home is to lock them out by sealing cracks and holes in doors, windows and siding. (This, of course, is essential for keeping other insects out, too.) Install weather stripping and secure screens.

4. Adopt a cat. Cats enjoy chasing, catching and even eating spiders. Maybe this is your opportunity to adopt a furry friend.

5. Essential oils. You can make a natural “spider spray” with water and a few drops of essential oil. Spiders detest the smell of peppermint, making it an excellent choice. Simply fill a spray bottle with water, add about eight drops of oil, shake to mix and then spray wherever spiders frequent.

Another idea is to add a couple of drops of peppermint oil to a cotton ball and place it in areas where you have seen spiders.

12 Natural Ways To Rid Your Home Of Spiders (No. 6 Will Do It FAST)

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Not into the smell of peppermint? Other essential oils to try are lavender, citronella and eucalyptus.

6. Diatomaceous earth (DE). This is a natural powder-like substance that that comes from the fossilized remains of phytoplankton. Sprinkle it around the perimeter of your home to keep spiders out. It works on other insects, too.

Diatomaceous Earth: The Best Natural Way To Get Rid Of Spiders!

7. Vinegar. You may have read about amazing uses for white vinegar in your home. Here’s another one. Fill a spray bottle with a 50-50 mix of water and white vinegar and spray it in cracks, crevices and corners of your homes. It will do a great job of repelling spiders.

8. Citrus. Save your lemon, orange, grapefruit and lime peels and then place them along baseboards, in corners or along windowsills to repel spiders. You will need to replace the peels every few days for best results. You also can use essential oils in citrus scents to get rid of spiders.

9. Baking soda. Like white vinegar, baking soda is a powerhouse around the home. You can sprinkle it in corners, doorways and windowsills to keep spiders – and other bugs — at bay.

10. Chestnuts. Here is one you may never have heard before. The odor of chestnuts really bothers spiders, so you can deter spiders by placing chestnuts in trouble areas. Poke a few holes in the nut to release the scent more fully.

11. Turmeric. This fragrant spice, which is in curries and other Indian dishes, is repugnant to spiders. Mix two or three tablespoons of pure turmeric powder with water and stir to make a paste. Then apply the paste with a spoon to areas where spiders congregate. (Please note that turmeric can leave a yellow stain, so take care where you place it.)

12. Salt. Common table salt can get rid of spiders. Simply make a saltwater solution and spray it into cracks and crevices to keep the creatures from entering your home.

Most common spiders are not harmful to you, your family or your pets. However, if you are unsure if a certain spider is poisonous or not, check out the Centers for Disease Control website.

What advice would you add? How do you keep spiders and other bugs out of your home? Share it in the section below:

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Cupping: The Ancient Off-Grid Therapy Used By Michael Phelps

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Cupping: The Ancient Off-Grid Therapy Used By Michael Phelps

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Three of my kids swim competitively, and I can trace their interest in the sport back to when they were little kids watching Michael Phelps win gold in the 2008 Olympics. It is no surprise, then, that when we were watching Phelps win his first Rio gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, we wondered about the strange circles on his back and shoulders.

We soon learned about the ancient healing technique of cupping. Cupping, which dates back more than 2,000 years, is a form of massage therapy that has been used mostly in Middle Eastern and Asian countries, particularly China. The Greek doctor Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Modern Medicine,” recommended cupping in his guide to clinical treatment.

Today, the ancient practice has gained new popularity thanks to our Olympic team in Rio, especially Team USA swimmers and gymnasts.

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The therapy involves the placement of warmed round suction cups on sore parts of the body for five to 10 minutes. The glass or plastic cups create a partial vacuum, which works to stimulate muscles and increase blood flow. The cups also may work to reduce pain, as they pull up aching muscles.

The distinctive circular red marks, which fade way in a few days to a week, show that blood flow has increased in the affected area, practitioners say. Many therapists also recommend cupping as a way of releasing toxins from the body and of stimulating the flow of fresh lymph to a painful area. Additionally, cupping has been used to help relieve cold and flu symptoms.

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There are many different cupping techniques, including dry cupping and wet cupping, but most therapists today use sterilized cups that are steamed under pressure and then heated to temperatures of more than 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Athletes aren’t the only ones using cupping. Actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston have tried it, as have singers Chris Martin and Jessica Simpson.

“There is no scientific rationale for expecting any health benefit from cupping,” the American Cancer Society reported in a statement on Aug. 8.

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However, after learning that Phelps, who has won more gold medals than any other athlete, uses the therapy, many Americans don’t seem to care about scientific evidence.

The International Cupping Therapy Association reported a 20 percent increase in purchases of cupping therapy equipment and a 50 percent increase of health practitioners wanting information on how to be certified in cupping certificates in just three days after Phelps’ debut race in Rio.

Many Internet sites sell cupping sets, including Amazon, which offers a few sets beginning at $21, and eBay, which has some sets selling for as low as only a few dollars.

Please note that people who bleed easily or who have skin ulcers or edema should avoid cupping. Pregnant women should talk with their health practitioner before trying cupping.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult with a qualified health professional to determine which treatments are right for you and any individual health condition(s) that you may have.

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9 Reasons You Should Stockpile St. John’s Wort

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9 Off-Grid Reasons You Should Stockpile St. John’s Wort

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St. John’s wort is a flowering plant that has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Some ancient cultures believed the plant — which got its name because it blooms around June 24, the supposed birthday of John the Baptist, and from “wort,” the old English word for “plant” – had mystical healing properties.

Ancient Greek physicians recommended St. John’s wort as an anti-inflammatory medicine and as an antidepressant. Today, the perennial plant is used to treat a variety of conditions, ranging from seasonal affective disorder to hyperactivity.

St. John’s wort is native to Europe, but today it is commonly found in the United States, Canada and Australia growing in meadows, woods and along roadsides. Although Australia once classified St. John’s wort as a weed, today the country grows it as a crop, producing one-fifth of the world’s supply.

The plant has multiple biologically active substances, including hypericin, rutin, hyperforin, quercetin and kaempferol. It is available in a number of formats, including as a dried herb, tea, tablet and as an essential oil. As always, check with your doctor first before taking any alternative medicine.

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Let’s look at nine amazing ways St. John’s wort can heal — nine reasons you should keep it in your first-aid stockpile.

1. Antidepressant. Through the centuries, the most common use for St. John’s wort has been as an agent to combat mild and moderate depression and anxiety. Research studies, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, indicate that St. John’s wort works as well as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that are in Prozac, Zoloft and Celexa.

Scientists have theorized that St. John’s wort works in a similar way as SSRIs because it helps boost the levels of mood-improving serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

St. John’s wort also helps people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition that is linked to lack of sunlight. Studies show that symptoms often are reduced or relieved with a combination of St. John’s wort and phototherapy.

2. Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)

Many women have found that St. John’s wort helps reduce PMS symptoms, such as depression, fatigue and anxiety.

Researchers at the Institute of Psychological Studies found that PMS sufferers ages 18 to 45 who took St. John’s wort experienced physical and behavioral improvement over women who took a placebo.

3. Menopause symptoms

9 Off-Grid Reasons You Should Stockpile St. John’s Wort

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St. John’s wort also eases the symptoms of menopause. A Berlin study published in the journal Advance in Therapy of women found that St. John’s wort reduced the number and severity of hot flashes in perimenopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal women ages 43 to 65.

Another study published in the journal Menopause found that St. John’s wort eased psychological and psychosomatic symptoms of menopause.

4. Wound healing

Ancient healers used St. John’s wort flowers to make an oil to apply to wounds as a way of promoting natural healing of wounds, burns, boils, bruises and insect bites. The oil, which has antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral properties, also works as a natural treatment for eczema and hemorrhoids.

5. Migraines

St. John’s wort may be useful in treating recurring headaches. The journal Phytomedicine reported that St. John’s wort might block pain receptors that cause migraine headaches.

6. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

St. John’s wort may help people who suffer with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a mental condition where people perform certain routines repeatedly.

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Data from a study by the Dean Foundation for Health Research and Education rated patients who had St. John’s wort as “much” or “very much improved” when compared with participants who took a placebo.

7. Cancer

St. John’s wort may be useful in treating non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancer cells. Data from a Spanish study conducted in 2003 showed that hyperforin, a compound found in St. John’s wort, interferes the formation and growth of cancerous skin cells.

8. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

A Swiss study published in the journal Brain Pathology demonstrated that St. John’s wort may protect against beta-amyloid plaques that have been linked with Alzheimer’s disease and with dementia.

9. Insomnia

Since it can affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, St. John’s wort can help promote better sleep. St. John’s wort contains compounds that relax the blood vessels and thereby improve blood flow to the brain. The plant will not necessarily help you sleep for longer periods, but it can help you sleep more deeply.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult with a qualified health professional to determine which treatments are right for you and any individual health condition(s) that you may have.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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7 Secret Off-Grid Ways To Save On Health Care

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Did you know that the United States, per capita, spends more than twice the average of other developed countries on health care?

Research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reveals that this higher spending likely is driven by a greater use of technology and higher health care prices, rather than more frequent hospital admissions or doctor visits.

This higher spending has had a big impact on the average American wallet. Today, many Americans are paying a larger percentage of their medical costs than ever before. Although the Affordable Care Act may have given more people access to health insurance, those insurance plans often come with high deductibles.

In order to save money on health care, American consumers should look at health care just as they look at other services they purchase. They need to shop around and follow the shopper’s maxim of “let the buyer beware.”

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Here are several ways to save on health care costs they you may not have considered.

1. Do some research. You wouldn’t buy a car without doing some research, would you? You can apply that same comparison shopping mindset to buying a surgical operation or other planned medical procedure.

Ask questions such as whether a test or procedure is really necessary. Get prices – including all costs associated with a test or procedure – in advance and in writing. Ask for a signature and title along with the quoted price.

2. Pay cash – and ask about discounts. Many hospitals and clinics offer steep discounts for quick payment. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reported that Torrance Memorial Medical Center billed a patient’s insurer, Blue Shield of California, $408 for routine blood tests. The patient was responsible for $269.42.

Yet when the patients called the hospital to question the tests, which cost $80 each, she was told that if she had paid in cash, the tests would have cost only about $15 each. In other words, she was better off to avoid insurance and just take care of the bill herself.

Get in the habit of asking if there is a cash discount or some other discount for which you might be eligible.

3. Don’t take – and then pay for — tests you don’t need. The American medical community has gone test and imaging crazy. While some of them are necessary, many are not. Be wary of agreeing to expensive scans and x-rays for uncomplicated ailments. Ask your doctor why it is needed.

Visit ConsumerReports.org/choosing-wisely for more information.

4. Examine your bills. It is not uncommon for patients to be billed twice or even three times for the same hospital service.

Health care bills are filled with codes, and they can be confusing. It is well worth your time to find out what the codes stand for and to make sure you actually had that service or procedures indicated by the codes.

5. Become a letter writer. We all like the instant communication of email and phone calls, but an old-fashioned letter is your best bet for communicating about your health care charges.

7 Secret Off-Grid Ways To Save On Health Care

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While emails often are ignored and phone calls provide no record, letters usually are answered. Be sure to make copies of your correspondence.

Another option – particularly if you need to work out a payment plan – is to visit the hospital’s billing department in person. Be polite and courteous.

This final tip will only work as a money-saver in certain situations. When faced with mounting questions and overwhelming medical bills, you can consider hiring a patient advocate to help you.

Patient advocates are expert in spotting incorrect codes as well as incorrect or duplicate charges on your bills. Some claim they can recover 20 to 50 percent of your charges. Advocates either charge a flat fee, or a percentage of what they recover.

6. Buy generic. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about generic alternatives to brand name medicines. Often they are just as effective but are far less expensive. You may even find that you can get certain generic prescriptions for less money by paying cash for them than by paying your co-pay for brand name prescription drugs.

Another way to save money on medications is to ask you doctor to write you a prescription for two or three months of medicine for a chronic ailment instead of just for one month. You can eliminate multiple co-pays this way.

You also may save money by substituting certain over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for higher-priced prescription versions. Examples are substituting OTC loratadine (Claritin) (or a generic) for prescription levocetirizine (Xyzal) or OTC omeprazole (Prilosec) for prescription esomeprazole (Nexium).

7. Stay in your network. Read your health plan carefully to find what doctors and hospitals are part of its coverage. Even if you are allowed to visit non-participating providers, you usually will pay more if you do.

On the other hand, question “out of network” charges that are not your choice. For instance, you should complain if, after surgery, you are billed extra charges for an out-of-network anesthesiologist that your network hospital chose for you. If you did not choose that doctor, you are not responsible for the penalty fee.

What advice would you add on saving on health care? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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10 Brain-Boosting Foods That Just Might Make You Smarter (You’re Gonna Love No. 6)

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10 Brain-Boosting Foods That Just Might Make You Smarter (Our Favorite: No. 6)

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We have all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat,” but did you know you that what you eat can make you smarter?

In addition to helping your body stay healthy and strong, certain foods can help your brain work better and even protect against mental disorders.

“Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain,” said Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science who has researched the effects of food on the brain. “Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging.”

The food we eat can affect everything from our mood to our memory. Nutrient-dense whole foods can do more than just fuel our bodies; they can help us think more clearly.

According to Cynthia Green, PhD, an expert on memory and brain health, key nutrients — along with exercise and daily brain stimulation – help keep brain cells healthy and prevent inflammation. Green writes that a person’s memory, attention span and ability to learn all benefit from the right food choices.

Here are 10 brain-boosting foods to make a part of your diet.

1. Fish — Salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, trout and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which experts believe are essential for healthy brain function.

Nearly 40 percent of the fatty acids found in brain cell membranes are the DHA variety, which are found in fish oil. Scientists have discovered that DHA helps the brain transmit signals between its cells. The body cannot manufacture fatty acids, so they must be gained through diet.

Just 30 Grams Of This Survival Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal!

Tufts University researchers found that people who ate oily fish three times a week and therefore had the highest levels of DHA in their blood reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by almost 40 percent.

10 Brain-Boosting Foods That Just Might Make You Smarter (Our Favorite: No. 6)2. Dark green leafy vegetables – Dark green vegetables, such as kale, collard greens and spinach, are excellent sources of vitamin E and folate. Folate may protect the brain by lowering levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine in the blood. Nitrates in spinach help increase blood flow to the brain and thereby improve mental performance.

Broccoli is a great source of vitamin K, which enhances cognitive function and improves memory. Leafy greens also contain carotenoids, which help protect the brain from damage from free radicals, the waste products the body makes when its cells create energy.

3. Nuts and seeds — As sources of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and vitamin B6 and vitamin E, nuts (especially walnuts) and seeds are good for the brain and the nervous system.

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds contain omega fatty acids, protein and B vitamins, which all can help provide you with an energy boost. These seeds also contain tryptophan, a substance the brain converts into serotonin to elevate your mood.

Eating a handful of seeds also can provide you with the daily recommended amount of zinc, which helps enhance thinking skills and memory.

4. Berries – Dark berries, such as blueberries, cherries and blackberries, are both good to eat and good for your brain. They contain anthocyanins and other flavonoids that improve memory function and cognitive function.

Research indicates that berries help protect the brain from oxidative damage and stress that can contribute to premature aging, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

5. Avocados — Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fats, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, potassium, vitamin K and vitamin E.

Consuming these nutritional powerhouses helps increase blood flow to the brain, lower “bad” cholesterol levels and absorb antioxidants. Avocados are delicious but high in calories, so consider adding just one quarter to one-half of an avocado to your daily diet.

10 Brain-Boosting Foods That Just Might Make You Smarter (Our Favorite: No. 6)

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6. Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate – the kind that contains at least 70 percent cocoa – can be a powerful brain booster. It contains important antioxidants as well as natural stimulants, such as caffeine, which help improve concentration.

The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help blood vessel function, which enhances cognitive function and memory skills.

7. Bone broth — When you sip a homemade stock made from animal bones, you can help nourish your brain.

Bone broth contains collagen, which helps keep cells, bones, ligaments and the brain healthy. Additionally, the glycine in bone broth helps improve sleep and memory.

8. Whole grains – The complex carbohydrates, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids found in whole grains help protect the heart and brain from cholesterol, blood clots and sugar spikes.

Whole grains – such as oatmeal, oat bran and brown rice — also contain B vitamins that enhance blood flow to the brain and improve mood and concentration.

9. Beets — Beets as brain food? You had better believe it. Beets are high in vitamin B9 and in nitrites, which help increase blood flow in the areas of the brain related to cognitive functioning.

They also are rich in carotenoids, which help boost brain functioning and improve mood.

10. Beans and legumes – An excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fiber, beans and legumes also offer a steady supply of glucose for the brain without the risk of potentially harmful sugar spikes.

Beans and legumes also contain omega fatty acids and an abundance of folate, both of which boost brain function.

Finally, don’t underestimate the role hydration plays in good brain health. Be sure to drink plenty of water each day to keep your body and your brain working at optimal levels.

The brain is approximately 85 percent water, and brain function – including thought and memory processes — depends on you staying hydrated. So drink up this summer!

Sources:

www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n7/abs/nrn2421.html

http://www.wfm.noaa.gov/pdfs/GetSmartBrainHealth_Handout1.pdf

http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/11_10/current-articles/New-Dietary-Approach-Against-Alzheimers_1815-1.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-illuminated/201010/why-your-brain-needs-water

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

Terrorists Are Eyeing These Vulnerable, Unprotected Parts Of The Power Grid — And There’s 10,000 Of Them

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Terrorists Are Eyeing These Vulnerable, Unprotected Parts Of The Power Grid -- And There's 10,000 Of Them

How vulnerable is America’s power grid? The Wall Street Journal recently did an in-depth study to find out the answer to that question, and the results are unsettling.

“Despite federal orders to secure the power grid, tens of thousands of substations are still vulnerable to saboteurs,” writes WSJ reporter Rebecca Smith in the July 14, 2016 edition. “The U.S. electric system is in danger of widespread blackouts lasting days, weeks or longer through the destruction of sensitive, hard-to-replace equipment. Yet records are so spotty that no government agency can offer an accurate tally of substation attacks, whether for vandalism, theft or more nefarious purposes.”

Smith reviewed dozens of reports of break-ins at power stations, including one last year at an electrical substation in Bakersfield, Calif. She discovered that despite federal orders to secure them, the nation’s tens of thousands of substations are vulnerable to attack.

Many substations have little to no security – sometimes only a chain-link fence – and if there is an alarm system in place, the alarms are often ignored.

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Abidance Consulting, a security company, inspected nearly 1,000 substations in 14 states over the past year. “At least half had nothing but a padlock on the gate,” Abidance’s James Holler told The Wall Street Journal. “No cameras. No motion sensors or alarms.”

When one utility lost a set of substation keys when a truck was stolen, the staff didn’t even change the substation locks, Holler added.

A big part of the problem with security is that although America’s grid system is federally regulated, in reality it is an interdependent collection of locations owned and operated by utility companies and grid operators.

The fragile electrical system was basically patched together over the decades since the early 20th century. Major power sources, such as gas-fired generators and nuclear-power plants, are linked with substations to carry electricity over a network of long-distance high-voltage power lines.  Using computerized technology, substations then lower the voltage in order to deliver electricity safely to homes and businesses.

Terrorists Are Eyeing These Vulnerable, Unprotected Parts Of The Power Grid -- And There's 10,000 Of ThemWSJ calls the grid “a giant puzzle that can be configured in different ways to deliver power where and when it is needed.” While Smith the writer, points out that the motive of most substation break-ins is theft, the locations also are a potential target for terrorists who may wish to gather information for a future attack or cause immediate damage to a region.

At a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) meeting earlier this year on grid security, Gerry Cauley, head of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., said the thought of “eight or 10 vans going to different sites and blowing things up” is something that keeps him awake at night. He estimated that recovery from a coordinated attack could take months.

Differences in power demand, which can be sparked by extreme weather and time of day, cause so much variability in the use of the grid that Smith writes, “What causes a catastrophe one day might not the next, which makes security issues complex. Small problems can quickly spiral out of control.”

Human error is another factor. For example, equipment problems combined with human error caused a large transmission line to trip out of service in Arizona five years ago. While that grid is designed to withstand the loss of any one line, in this case, the current shifted to nearby lines and overloaded them. Then two transformers at two small substations shut down defensively to prevent equipment damage. The result? San Diego experienced a blackout. Street and airport traffic was halted. Raw sewage was released into the ocean. And an estimated 2.7 million households were without power in California, Arizona and Mexico.

The National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences in 2012 examined the various parts of the power grid and concluded that substations are “the most vulnerable to terrorist attack.”

“We’ve known we had an issue for a long time and have been very slow to do anything about it,” M. Granger Morgan, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who studied the San Diego blackout, told Smith.

The Foundation for Resilient Societies has called for an analysis of the impact of simultaneous attacks, both physical and cyber, on substations. Thomas Popik, chairperson of the non-profit organization, told the FERC in June that the grid is “a battlefield of the future” that needs military-type defenses.

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Michael Bardee, director of the FERC’s Office of Electric Reliability at FERC, acknowledged to The Wall Street Journal that his agency could do more to study security vulnerabilities at substations.

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Meanwhile, some local power companies are trying to beef up security. The Vermont Electric Power Co., for example, approved $12 million for an improved security program after thieves broke into and stole copper from some of its substations dozens of times between 2012 and early 2014.

With more secure fencing and better security cameras in place, the utility has not had a break-in in more than a year.

However, WSJ found nine recent substation break-ins where theft did not appear to be the motive.

One of these was at the federally owned Liberty substation in Buckeye, Ariz., which is near Phoenix. In November 2013, an intruder cut fiber-optic cables that serve Liberty and the Mead substation near Hoover Dam. It took workers two hours to fix the problem.

Two months later, two men broke into Liberty again and left after they were unable to cut power to a security trailer that had lights and cameras installed after the first incident. Investigators later discovered that most of the new security cameras had not been properly programmed or installed.

The Liberty substation is operated by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), which controls power lines used by utilities serving some 40 million people in 15 states.

A federal audit last year cited WAPA for violations of security regulations, including broken or outdated equipment, poor control over keys to critical locations and failure to install security systems.

Keith Cloud, the WAPA’s head of security, told WSJ that he has received about $300,000 for security upgrades at some of the utility’s 328 substations, including Liberty.

But to protect the system’s 40 most important control centers, he said he would need $90 million. “I don’t have the authority or budget to protect my substations,” he said.

Do you believe America’s power grid is vulnerable to a major attack? Do you think one is inevitable? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Inside A Secret Government Warehouse Prepping For Societal Collapse

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Inside A Secret Government Warehouse Prepping For Societal Collapse

It sounds like something out of a Cold War era movie. Boxes of medical supplies stacked high in government warehouses to help citizens in the event of a public health emergency.

However, this huge stockpile is very real. It is called the Strategic National Stockpile, and according to the CDC website, “Once Federal and local authorities agree that the SNS is needed, medicines will be delivered to any state in the U.S. in time for them to be effective. Each state has plans to receive and distribute SNS medicine and medical supplies to local communities as quickly as possible.”

For security reasons, the location and the number of warehouses that comprise the SNS are classified information – as is much of what is in them. “If everybody knows exactly what we have, then you know exactly what you can do to us that we can’t fix,” Greg Burel, director of the program told National Public Radio in a recent interview. “And we just don’t want that to happen.”

The SNS started in 1999 with an approximate $50 million budget. Since then, it has built an inventory in multiple warehouses that is valued at just over $7 billion. “If you envision, say, a Super Walmart and stick two of those side by side and take out all the drop ceiling, that’s about the same kind of space that we would occupy in one of these storage locations,” Burel said.

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The SNS extensive inventory includes massive amounts of small pox vaccines, antivirals in case of deadly flu pandemic, medicines to treat radiation burns and sickness, chemical agent antidotes, wound care supplies, antibiotics and IV fluids.

NPR science writer Nell Greenfieldboyce recently visited an SNS. She was told she was the first reporter ever to visit the secret warehouses, and she had to sign a confidentiality agreement not to describe the location or the exterior of the facility.

A locked section of the warehouse stocks painkillers than can be addictive. A giant freezer is filled with medicines that need to be kept frozen. Greenfieldboyce described a humming sound that comes from the rows of ventilators that are charged once a month and sent out for maintenance once a year.

With an annual budget of more than half a billion dollars, the SNS is charged with deciding what to purchase for the stockpile. In order to do so, officials must determine which threats are realistic and which are not.

“That’s where we have a huge, complex bureaucracy trying to sort through that,” Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told Greenfieldboyce.

The government recently hired a firm called Gryphon Scientific to analyze how well the stockpile could respond to a range of health disaster scenarios.

Inside A Secret Government Warehouse Prepping For Societal CollapseAlthough he said he could not be specific on results of the study, Gryphon Scientific’s Rocco Casagrande told the NPR reporter, “One thing we can say is that across the variety of threats that we examined, the Strategic National Stockpile has the adequate amount of materials in it and by and large the right type of thing.”

However, he pointed out that the studies were based upon a single type of attack at a time or a single type of weapon.

The brief shelf life of some of the newer medicines is a problem for the SNS. “These are often very powerful, very exciting and useful new medicines, but they are also very expensive and they expire after a couple years,” explained Dr. Tara O’Toole, a former Homeland Security official who is now at In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit that helps bring technological innovation to the U. S. intelligence community.

Another problem is the time it would take to get the medicines from the warehouses to the people who need them in the event of real emergency. “It is not going to be easy or simple to put medicines in the hand of everybody who wants it,” O’Toole told NPR.

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The warehouse Greenfieldboyce visited contains 130 shipping containers, but who will be on the receiving end of these shipping containers during an actual emergency?

“While they do have plans for emergencies, and lists of volunteers, they’re volunteers,” said Paul Petersen, director of emergency preparedness for Tennessee. “And they’re not guaranteed to show up in the time of need.”

Local public health officials have had severe budget cuts and are underfunded, Petersen told NPR. “Over and over, I heard worries about this part of the stockpile system.”

O’Toole said, “We have drastically decreased the level of state public health resources in the last decade. We’ve lost 50,000 state and local health officials. That’s a huge hit.” She commented that emergency drills would be helpful, adding, “The notion that this is all going to be top down, that the feds are in charge and the feds will deliver, is wrong.”

Meanwhile, the secret warehouses continue to stockpile supplies. “We have the capability, if something bad happens, that we can intervene in a positive way, but then we don’t ever want to have to do that. So it’s kind of a strange place,” Burel told NPR.

“But we would be foolish not to prepare for those events that we could predict might happen.”

What is your reaction to this story? Share it in the section below:

Sources:

CDC

NPR

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7 Ways To Chase Away Mosquitoes Without Deet (No. 3 Was New To Us, Too!)

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7 Ways To Repel Mosquitoes Without Deet (No. 2 Was New To Us, Also!)

Image source: Pixabay.com

It was the perfect morning for a hike. After a string of hot days, the weather had cooled considerably. Humidity was low, and there was not a cloud in the cool morning sky.

My kids and I were ready for the adventure of a new hiking trail. We had snacks, plenty of water and other supplies in our daypacks, and we hit the trail with enthusiasm. Before long, however, my daughter and I were swatting our necks and arms. Soon, we realized we were being badly bitten.

Mosquitoes! They can ruin a hike, a camping trip, a picnic or even a lazy afternoon in your backyard. Scientists estimate that about one out of every five people is especially susceptible to mosquito bites – which explains why my son was relatively unscathed that day. Your blood type, metabolism, diet, general scent and even the color of your clothing play a role in why mosquitoes bite certain people more than others.

Not only are mosquito bites painful and itchy, but mosquitoes can carry dangerous diseases such as the West Nile Virus and malaria. If, like me, you prefer to avoid toxic commercial insect repellents, there are some alternative measures for repelling mosquitoes.

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Here are eight all-natural ways to keep mosquitoes from ruining your summer outdoor fun.

1. Garlic. Mosquitoes dislike the smell of garlic. You can repel mosquitoes by eating garlic before you spend time outdoors, since the garlic oil is slowly released through the pores of your skin.

You also can keep mosquitoes away by rubbing garlic juice on your skin. Simply pinch a fresh clove or two in order to get the juice flowing and apply it to your exposed skin. Another option is to consume garlic capsules.

2. Herbs. You can keep mosquitoes at bay with certain herbs, including lemongrass, mint, rosemary, lavender and basil. Simply rub the leaves onto your exposed skin before going outdoors.

To keep mosquitoes away from your home and garden, try planting these herbs in your garden, especially near your doors and windows. Planning a barbecue? Throw a few springs of rosemary on your charcoal grill to repel the biting insects.

3. Vitamin B1. Studies dating back 50 years indicate that taking vitamin B1 (thiamine) can deter mosquitoes and other flying insects from biting. Scientists theorize that vitamin B1 produces a skin odor that female mosquitoes, which are more likely to bite than male mosquitoes, find offensive.

Vitamin B1 is water-soluble. Try taking one 100 mg tablet each day (with a meal) during mosquito season.

4. Natural oils. Certain natural oils work well as natural mosquito repellants. You can create your own natural repellent by mixing a few drops of oil with a carrier liquid such as olive oil or sunflower oil. A 10 to 1 ratio often is a good formula. (Please note that researchers caution against using natural oils on children younger than three years old.)

Here are some natural oils that repel mosquitoes.

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Tea Tree oil
  • Lemon oil

5. Homemade citronella candles.

7 Ways To Repel Mosquitoes Without Deet (No. 2 Was New To Us, Also!)

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Citronella is a time-honored insect repellent. Here is a recipe for making homemade citronella candles.

What you need:

  • One-half pound raw, settled beeswax
  • Citronella and one or more of these essential oils: rosemary, geranium, lavender
  • Pan of boiling water and metal bowl (to use as double boiler)
  • Tea light wicks (available from crafts store)
  • 10 candle holders
  • Wooden chopsticks or similar small sticks for stirring
  • Thermometer
  • Knife

Directions:

Use the knife to break the beeswax into small pieces. Place the pieces in the metal bowl over the pan of hot water and stir continuously while it melts. Use the thermometer to test the water temperature. When it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, start adding several drops of the essential oils, stirring well after each addition.

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Pour the mixture into the candleholders. (If you are using glass, reduce the chance of breakage by pouring in a small amount of wax and letting it cool a little before adding more.) Once the mixture has cooled and a slight skin has formed on the top of the wax, add the wicks.

If the wicks are not already primed, pre-dip them in the wax for longer burning time. Next, place the primed wicks into the wax. The candles will be ready to use when the wax has completely hardened.

6. Apple cider vinegar. Insects, including mosquitoes, will avoid the strong smell of apple cider vinegar. You can make a natural mosquito repellent with organic apple cider vinegar and the essential oil of your choice. Add 25 drops of essential oil (such as lavender) to one-quarter cup of apple cider vinegar in a glass jar with a lid. Shake well to blend. Apply to skin.

7. Bats. Did you know that one small brown bat can eat more than 1,000 mosquitoes in one night? Attracting bats to your yard can therefore be an efficient and easy method of mosquito control.

Get tips on building a bat house here.

Finally, pay attention to the time when you are outdoors. Mosquitoes are most active early in the morning and at dusk. If you venture outside at these times, cover up with lightweight long sleeves and with long pants. Wear light colors, as dark colors tend to attract the annoying insects.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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7 Garden Plants That (Really Do) Repel Squirrels

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7 Garden Plants That (Really Do) Repel Squirrels

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I remember being devastated one spring when, as a new homeowner and a new gardener, I found all my carefully planted tulip bulbs unearthed and eaten. Squirrels were the culprits. Those furry, chattering creatures were not content with the plentiful supply of acorns from nearby trees, and they went after my new bulbs instead.

Squirrels certainly can be a nuisance to the gardener. They are avid foragers. In fact, they spend most of their time gathering food and either eating it or storing it for the future.

Squirrels are also quite persistent and will dig holes and chew through almost anything that gets in the way of their pursuit of a tasty meal. Instead of nibbling on flowers or shoots as deer and rabbits do, squirrels will dig down to pull up and devour bulbs.

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However, there are some bulb plants and other plants that squirrels usually avoid. Here are seven garden plants that repel squirrels.

1. Daffodils

Daffodils and other members of the Narcissi family can deter not only squirrels but also deer and rabbits. Squirrels do not like their taste or their smell.

Although I am a fan of the bright sunny yellow daffodil, these blooms come in orange, white and combinations of bright colors as well. Daffodils are hardy in a range of climates. They are lovely border plants and can provide an early spring burst of color between your shrubs or around your trees.

2. Alliums

7 Garden Plants That (Really Do) Repel Squirrels

Image source: Pixabay.com

Squirrels also are not fond of alliums, which are relatives of the onion family. The ornamental varieties of these plants have large, round flowers that come in white, purple, pink, yellow and blue. Edible alliums include garlic, scallions and onions. These varieties produce a strong odor that repels squirrels. Alliums are hardy perennials in many climates.

3. Fritillaries

In addition to the interesting colors and patterns of their blooms, fritillaries, which are part of the Liliaceae family, have a strong scent that squirrels avoid. Fritillaries are hardy in zones 5 through 9.

These plants do well in rock gardens or as border plantings. Look for Fritillaria meleagris, which has single or double blooms in a checkboard maroon and or a red-purple or red-white pattern.

4. Galanthus

The strong scent from Galanthus bulbs may keep squirrels from foraging in your garden. There are many species of Galanthus, including perennial bulb varieties that bloom from spring well into fall.

The giant snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii) variety has large statement flowers that add drama to your garden.

5. Hyacinth

Although I love the deep blue hyacinths best, these plants come in many shades of reds, purples and whites, too. These spring-flowering bulbs look impressive when planted in groups of 10 or more plants.

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Hyacinths have fragrant flowers that bloom in dense clusters, and squirrels do not like them.

6. Lily-of-the-Valley

What’s great about these pretty plants is that they can thrive in shady areas of your garden. The plant stems are covered with dainty bell-shaped flowers that have a strong scent that squirrels dislike, as well as bright green, sword-shaped leaves.

These plants are easy to grow and they thrive as perennials in many zones.

7. Geraniums

I know I can count on geraniums to withstand cool temperatures of spring and fall as well as plenty of hot sun in the summer. In addition, these workhorses of the flower garden have a scent that repels squirrels.

Geraniums like moist, well-drained soil. Pinch spent blooms for more color.

In conclusion, it’s a good idea to think with your nose when trying to keep squirrels away from your garden. You also might want to try sprinkling hot spices, such as chili powder or cayenne pepper, around areas they frequent in your flower or vegetable beds.

Peppermint is another natural squirrel repellent. You can plant peppermint plants or spray a mist of water with a few drops of pure peppermint oil added to it.

Good luck!

How do you keep squirrels out of your garden? Share your tips in the section below:

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Gardening Wisdom From Thomas Jefferson: 5 Things You Should Learn

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Gardening Wisdom From Thomas Jefferson: 5 Things We Should Learn

When they consider Thomas Jefferson, many Americans first think of him as the author of the Declaration of Independence or as our nation’s third president, who was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition. However, Jefferson’s contributions go deeper than those accomplishments.

Jefferson was a true Renaissance man with a variety of interests and hobbies. He was an accomplished architect, an inventor and a violinist. He could read more than five languages. Jefferson also was a horticulturist who made important contributions to American gardening.

In a letter to Charles W. Peale in 1811, Jefferson wrote, “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. … But though an old man, I am but a young gardener.”

At Monticello, his beloved Virginia estate, Jefferson became a pioneer of gardening practices that are useful for us today. Always passionate about growing things, Jefferson further developed this interest during a diplomatic trip to England in 1786 with his long-time friend John Adams.

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Gardening Wisdom From Thomas Jefferson: 5 Things We Should Learn

Jefferson’s garden at Monticello

During the two-month trip, he was able to tour and examine many English gardens. Those observations became the basis for his own extensive gardening ideas. Much of what he learned can be applied to any garden of any size.

Here are five examples of Thomas Jefferson’s gardening wisdom.

1. Experiment … extensively

Jefferson once wrote that the “greatest service which can be rendered to any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.” When he traveled throughout our young country and abroad, Jefferson often exchanged seeds and seedlings with other gardeners. He enjoyed cultivating those seeds and young plants in his Monticello garden.

Because he grew a variety of crops, including a mix of tropical species with cool weather crops, he devised a unique terraced landscape for his 1,000-foot-long vegetable garden. By placing the garden on a south-facing slope, he was able to capture abundant sunshine.

Creating this unique form of “hanging garden” involved the removal of about 600,000 cubic feet of red clay and the creation of a 1,000-foot-long rock wall that was 15-feet tall in some places.

2. Grow what you eat

Jefferson loved to eat vegetables. In fact, he wrote that “they constitute my principal diet.” Because of his extensive travels, he was exposed to a wide variety of cuisines. He frequently took recipes back home with him and encouraged his cooks to use Monticello’s homegrown produce in new ways. In this way, he created a new American type of cuisine he described as ‘half-French and half-Virginian.”

His Monticello garden featured 330 different varieties of vegetables and 170 varieties of fruits. According to Monticello gardening expert Peter Hatch, Jefferson’s garden inspired a “revolutionary cuisine.” A Monticello recipe for okra soup, for instance, reflects influences from Native Americans (lima beans), Europe (potatoes and tomatoes) and Africa via the West Indies (okra).

Karen Hess, a noted culinary historian, called Jefferson “our most illustrious epicure, in fact, our only epicurean President.”

3. Go natural

Jefferson would be quite at home with the organic gardening movement of today. When his daughter, Martha, wrote to him while he was in Philadelphia serving as secretary of state, she complained about insects damaging the vegetables at Monticello.

Gardening Wisdom From Thomas Jefferson: 5 Things We Should Learn

Image source: Pixabay.com

He responded, “I suspect that the insects which have harassed you have been encouraged by the feebleness of your plants; and that has been produced by the lean state of the soil.”

He recommended the garden be covered that winter with “a heavy coating of manure. When is rich it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance, and of the best quality.”

In 2009, White House chef Sam Kass reserved a section of the White House garden to showcase Jefferson’s Tennis Ball and Brown Dutch lettuce, Prickly-Seeded spinach and Marseilles fig, a few of Jefferson’s favorite plants.

4. Keep notes

Jefferson had a scientist’s mind, and because of that, he kept scrupulous notes about what worked and what did not work in his garden.

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He recorded his gardening efforts in his Garden Book, a personal journal he maintained from 1766 to 1824. Hatch reports that Jefferson was not afraid to admit defeat in certain gardening circumstances. “On one page in 1809 the word failed is written down 19 times,” Hatch writes.  “He had a holistic view, as we say today, of the gardening process. It is the failure of one thing that is repaired by the success of another.”

Gardening Wisdom From Thomas Jefferson: 5 Things We Should Learn

Jefferson’s garden at Monticello

In his “A General Gardening Calendar,” Jefferson’s only published horticultural work, he offered a monthly guide for kitchen gardening. In the calendar, which was first published in 1824 in the American Farmer, a Baltimore periodical, Jefferson instructs gardeners to plant a thimble spool of lettuce seed every Monday morning from February 1 through September 1.

5. Make your garden an area for retreat

Jefferson enjoyed the restorative aspects of being a gardener and believed that gardens should be seen, experienced and enjoyed.

For example, he designed and built an octagonal pavilion in a central garden location at Monticello and used this spot as a location for reading, writing and even entertaining.

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth,” he once wrote, “and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”

Have you been to Monticello? What other “Jefferson advice” would you add? What do you remember about his garden? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Sources:

https://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/historic-gardens

https://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/jefferson-scientist-and-gardener

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/05/10/152337154/thomas-jefferson-s-garden-a-thing-of-beauty-and-science

https://www.masshist.org/thomasjeffersonpapers/garden/

A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello, a book by Peter Hatch

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That Time The U.S. Government Told Every American To Stockpile – And No One Thought It Was Crazy

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That Time The U.S. Government Told Every Single American To Stockpile – And No One Thought They Were Crazy

If you have seen photos of recently discovered backyard fallout shelters, you would agree that they look like fascinating time capsules from early 1960s America. We see packaged foods — such as breakfast cereals and crackers with labels that indicate a time gone by – along with first-aid supplies, tools, clothing and batteries. Cots, books and games are neatly placed on subterranean shelves.

You might think that the construction of such a shelter was the brainchild of only a few people who were concerned about heightening Cold War tensions and the possibility of nuclear war.  You would be wrong.

As strange as it seems today, the U.S. government actually encouraged people to create fallout shelters in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In an effort to promote home fallout shelters, the U.S. Office of Civil Defense even issued a series of manuals that instructed Americans on how to construct their own home fallout shelters.

Fallout shelters were distinct from bomb shelters in that they were not to protect you from ground zero of a nuclear blast – which would be impossible – but from the widespread radioactive fallout that resulted from a blast.  Beginning with the Eisenhower administration, the government launched a program to convince private citizens to build fallout shelters in or near their homes.

One option was to create temporary shelter in your basement. Another was to build and stock an underground shelter in your backyard. At the time, citizens were encouraged to stockpile enough food and supplies for two weeks, since it was believed that the radiation levels from a nuclear explosion would drop to a safe level by that time.

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New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller started a fallout shelter program in New York in 1960, and he urged newly elected President John F. Kennedy to do the same thing on a national level.

By 1961, tensions between the Soviets and the United States had escalated, and the United States was facing the sobering prospect of nuclear warheads being stationed in Cuba. That year, the majority of Americans believed a nuclear war would occur within five years, according to the Smithsonian Institute.

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As the threat of nuclear war became more real, Kennedy addressed the nation. On July 25, 1961, he said, “We have another sober responsibility. To recognize the possibilities of nuclear war in the missile age, without our citizens knowing what they should do and where they should go if bombs begin to fall, would be a failure of responsibility.

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“In May, I pledged a new start on Civil Defense. Last week, I assigned, on the recommendation of the Civil Defense Director, basic responsibility for this program to the Secretary of Defense, to make certain it is administered and coordinated with our continental defense efforts at the highest civilian level. Tomorrow, I am requesting of the Congress new funds for the following immediate objectives: to identify and mark space in existing structures—public and private—that could be used for fall-out shelters in case of attack; to stock those shelters with food, water, first-aid kits and other minimum essentials for survival; to increase their capacity; to improve our air-raid warning and fallout detection systems, including a new household warning system which is now under development; and to take other measures that will be effective at an early date to save millions of lives if needed.

“In the event of an attack, the lives of those families which are not hit in a nuclear blast and fire can still be saved — if they can be warned to take shelter and if that shelter is available. We owe that kind of insurance to our families — and to our country.”

The concept of the home fallout shelter was hotly debated throughout the country. Some people stated that that fallout shelters would be useless in protecting urban residents near ground zero of an attack. Others thought that the idea revealed weakness and was distinctly un-American.

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However, the need for a basement or backyard shelter picked up steam for people living in suburban communities. By August 1961, a Gallup poll showed that 3 million families had made some home modifications for protection from nuclear attack, and another 9 million had stockpiled food.

Some builders reported being inundated with orders for supplies to build shelters. Office of Civil and Defense standards specified concrete or metal construction built under three feet of soil, two feet of concrete or three inches of lead. One company that made pre-fabricated shelters advertised that roof of its shelter could be used as “an attractive patio.” Some fallout shelter plans used a hand-cranked blower system for ventilation, and others had elaborate electrical systems and running water.

DIY Projects, Too

A home fallout shelter’s basic purpose was to reduce a family’s exposure to harmful fallout from a nuclear blast and its likely aftermath of radiation until radioactivity has dropped to a safer level. As a do-it-yourself project, a concrete block basement shelter could be built for about $200 in 1961.

Separate underground backyard shelters were more expensive. According to the National Archives and Records Administration records, Louis Severance built a fallout shelter near his Michigan home with a 10-inch reinforced concrete ceiling and thick earth cover and concrete walls. The Severance shelter featured a ventilation system, an escape hatch, an entrance to the home’s basement, a kitchen, running water, a toilet, and a sleeping and living area for the family of four. It cost roughly $1,000.

According to the Nebraska State Historical Society, Civil Defense agencies provided candies for use in shelters as “carbohydrate supplements,” and boxed crackers called “Nebraskits” also were available.

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Nebraska City’s Otoe Food Products provided canned drinking water for civil defense under the Morton House brand and Elkhorn’s Roberts Dairy packaged water in its familiar milk cartons for shelter use.

Don’t Forget Games in Your Shelter

The Office of Civil Defense recommended that people remain in a shelter for at least two weeks after a nuclear blast. Families with children were advised to stock games such as Monopoly, playing cards and journals to help pass the time.

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The tense political climate and the government’s awareness of it are reflected in this 1962 public service radio announcement by the U.S. Department of Defense:

“This is basic civil defense information from the Department of Defense, Office of Civil Defense, Washington. If you receive warning of an enemy attack, get to the nearest fallout shelter promptly. But if you’re caught in the open, and there’s a brilliant nuclear flash in the distance, take cover immediately. Even miles away you may be exposed within seconds to a searing heat wave from the explosion, followed by a blast wave and flying debris.

“Get into the nearest building immediately or into a ditch or culvert, beneath a parked car, behind a tree or wall, anything solid that will give you some measure of protection. Curl up in a ball, and cover your head with your arms. Stay there until heat and blast waves have passed.

“Then, go to the nearest fallout shelter before radioactive fallout starts drifting down. If there’s no fallout shelter within range, go to the nearest large building and take shelter in the basement or one of the inner hallways. Know in advance what to do in any emergency situation. Find out from your local Civil Defense office.”

By the end 1962, some of the worst fears from the Bay of Pigs crisis in Cuba and from the tensions in Berlin had lessened. At the same time, scientists began publicly discussing the futility of a 14-day stay in a fallout shelter, noting that survivors of a nuclear attack would need to remain underground for months in order to avoid harmful after effects.

“When they stopped to think about the magnitude of the potential disaster, they realized that there wasn’t much they could do,” explains David Monteyne, author of Fallout Shelter: Designing for Civil Defense in the Cold War.

Looking back, it is fascinating to consider that the government actually encouraged its citizens to build fallout shelters and to stockpile. Yet even today, the US government still encourages Americans to keep a three-day stockpile. Even though a nuclear attack may not be as likely, other threats remain — and millions of Americans remain committed to preparing for an unknown future.

What do you remember, if anything, about the threat of the 1950s and 1960s? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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10 All-Natural Ways To Repel And Kill Houseflies (No. 4 Is Super-Creative)

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Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

Ah, the sounds of summer – the laughter of children as they play in the lawn sprinkler, the ice cream truck’s calliope soundtrack as it winds its way through the neighborhood and THWACK, the sound of a flyswatter hitting another household surface.

There are more than 300,000 known species of flies, and they can be found all over the world. In addition to being annoying, flies can carry and spread disease. Scientists believe they can transfer more than 100 pathogens, resulting in diseases such as typhoid, tuberculosis, cholera and dysentery. During the Spanish-American War, for example, an estimated 5,000 soldiers died from typhoid, a disease that is spread by flies, whereas only 4,000 soldiers died from combat.

If annoying houseflies are ruining your summer fun and you do not want to use toxic sprays around your home, here are some all-natural ideas for getting rid of them.

1. Apple cider vinegar

There are so many reasons to keep a bottle of apple cider vinegar handy in your home. Here is one more. Flies are attracted to the smell of apple cider vinegar. Therefore, you can create an easy and efficient flytrap with apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap.

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Place one-fourth cup of apple cider vinegar in a cup or jar. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap. Next, partially block the entrance to the cup with a piece of plastic wrap poked with several small holes.

Place the cup in an area you have a fly problem and leave it there for at least 24 hours. Create and place as many traps as needed.

Flies will be attracted to the smell of vinegar and enter the cup through the holes in the wrap. However, they will not be able to figure out a way to escape. The dish soap causes the surface tension to break, causing the flies to sink into the liquid and drown.

2. Cloves

Here is a mess-free remedy that can help throughout your home. Flies dislike the smell of cloves. To keep flies away, place small bowls of dried cloves in rooms throughout your home. Another option is to stick cloves into an apple as a natural fly repellent.

Replenish the cloves when the scent fades.

3. Basil

Flies dislike the smell of basil and avoid areas where basil is present. Try placing some basil plants in sunny windowsills in your home. Place plants also near doorways and eating areas of your home.

To keep the scent of your plant strong, be sure to water it at its roots, and not on its leaves.

Another option is place bowls of dried basil in areas that flies frequent.

4. Natural flypaper

Commercial fly strips have toxic substances in them that can pose harm to your family and pets. You can make a natural version that works just as well. The key is to create a fragrant sticky substance to attract and then trap those pesky flies. Here is one recipe:

Ingredients

  • Cardboard or card stock paper
  • ½ cup corn syrup (there is an organic version)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Thread

Directions

Cut two-inch wide strips from cardboard or card stock. Punch a hole at the top of each strip and insert thread to create a loop for hanging.

Mix the corn syrup and sugar together. Coat one side of each strip with the mixture. Hang the strips where flies are congregating. Flies will be attracted to the strip, but they will become stuck to the strip when they land on it.

5. Lavender

You may love the fresh, sweet smell of lavender, but flies hate it. Try growing a large pot of lavender near your doorway, or hang sprigs of dried lavender in areas that flies tend to congregate inside your home.

6. Bay leaf

Dried bay leaves are another way to deter flies in your home. The leaves produce a subtle fragrance that flies dislike. Place some singly or in groups in areas where flies are a problem.

7. Mint

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

Fresh-smelling mint in plant form or dried form also discourages flies. Try placing a bowl of crushed dried mint leaves on your kitchen counter or in other areas where flies are a nuisance.

8. Lemongrass spray

You can deter flies and help your home smell fresh and clean by creating a lemongrass spray.

Ingredients

  • Lemongrass essential oil
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • Spray bottle

Directions

Place 10-12 drops of lemongrass essential oil into spray bottle.

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Pour hot water into bottle.

Shake well to mix the ingredients.

Spray mixture around thresholds and windowsills or other spaces where flies are entering your house.

9. Honey trap

Many of us have heard the saying, “You can catch more flies with honey.” Well, here’s how.

Ingredients

  • Plastic one-liter or two-liter bottle (cap removed)
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Water
  • Dish soap

Directions

Cut the bottle in half. Then fill the wider bottom section halfway with water. Add a few drops of dish soap to the water.

Next, smear honey near and all around the mouth of the top bottle section. Then place the top half over the water-filled portion with the mouth of the bottle in the water. Place this honey trap where flies are a problem. The honey will attract the flies, but they will become trapped and will drown in the water.

10. Eucalyptus oil

The strong odor of eucalyptus makes it a good fly repellent. Here is how to make a flytrap with eucalyptus oil.

Ingredients

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Ribbons or strips of cloth

Directions

Place several drops of eucalyptus oil onto the strips or ribbons.

Hang the strips near windows and doors or simply place them out on windowsills.

Please note: Doctors recommend that pregnant women and people with high blood pressure or epilepsy avoid contact with eucalyptus.

How do you get rid of flies? Share your tips in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

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‘Help! Rabbits Are Eating My Garden’ (Here’s What To Do)

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'Help! Rabbits Are Eating My Garden' (Here's What To Do)

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Have you had the unpleasant experience of visiting your garden in the morning only to find that your tender young shoots have been cut off overnight, as if with a pair of shears?

If so, you may have had a nighttime visit from a rabbit or two. Rabbits are cute to look at, but they can be a real nuisance to gardeners. Known to be voracious eaters, they can wipe out an entire area of new growth overnight.

Because they have both upper and lower incisors, rabbits tend to make a clean cut on a stalk when they eat. Other telltale signs of rabbits in your garden are pea-sized droppings in and around the garden, and chewed tree bark close to ground level. Tufts of fur on branches and areas that reveal digging activity or even bedding down also can be signs of rabbits.

Rabbits are timid animals and do not like to stray far from cover. One way to discourage them from getting into your garden is to eliminate hiding places such as areas with tall grass and piles of stone or brush.

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Another idea is to plant alfalfa or clover outside your garden area. Rabbits are particularly fond of these two plants and may remain there for their meal– especially if it feels safer — instead of bothering your other plants.

One more plan of action to deter rabbits is to add some plants to your garden that rabbits dislike. Rabbits tend to go for tender shoots and tender woody plants that have a thin bark, so your young plants are at the highest risk of being eaten. However, if you place some less attractive plants among the ones that the long-eared guys like, they may stay away from your garden.

Generally, rabbits dislike plants that have a strong fragrance or have fuzzy leaves. A determined rabbit may simply graze around the plants he does not like, but here are seven garden plants that repel rabbits.

'Help! Rabbits Are Eating My Garden' (Here's What To Do)

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1. Veronica – With its pretty flowering spikes of blue, pink or white, veronica adds some height (one to two feet) and texture to your garden. Veronica prefers full or part sun and well-drained soil. And the bunnies don’t like it.

2. Lavender – You may love the fragrance of lavender, but rabbits do not. This tough beauty can withstand both heat and drought. You can plant it as single plants or form a hedge with many plants to deter pesky bunnies. Lavender prefers full sun and well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.

3. Siberian Iris – This elegant iris variety has gorgeous purple, rose, blue or white blooms and big grassy foliage. It adds beauty to your garden while potentially deterring rabbits. The Siberian iris grows from one to three feet tall and prefers full or part sun and well-drained soil.

4. Salvia – With a wide variety of bold colors to choose from, salvia is a colorful addition to your garden. Try it as a border plant to keep rabbits from entering your vegetable garden. Salvia likes full sun and well-drained soil, and it can grow from one to even five feet tall, depending on the variety you choose.

5. Peony – They take a while to establish themselves from new roots, but when they do, peonies are a joy to behold. With large late springtime flowers and a beautiful variety of colors, peonies are an attractive addition to your garden. What’s even better is that rabbits do not like their tough foliage. Peonies like full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to seven feet, depending on the variety of plant.

6. Verbena – Lovely verbena can grow from a mere six inches to three feet in height, and it produces delicate pink, red, white or blue flowers, depending on the variety you select. Rabbits do not like the way verbena smells and usually will steer clear of the plant. Verbena prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

7. Daylily — Easy to grow and maintain, daylilies come in a rainbow variety of shades. They like full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to six feet tall. Rabbits do not like their thick stalks.

Keep in mind that if your long-eared nighttime visitors are hungry enough, they will eat almost anything green in your garden. However, your plants are particularly attractive to rabbits when they are young and tender. Once your plants are established, they are less tempting, and, as a result, other plants may more easily discourage rabbits.

Related:

Deer Hate These 7 Plants (So Plant Them Around Your Garden)

How do you keep rabbits out of your garden? Share your ideas in the section below:

Sources:

http://ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=13

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/how-keep-rabbits-dining-trees-and-shrubs-1

http://www.pcmg-texas.org/animals/88-keeping-rabbits-out

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3 Off-Grid Ways To Make Dandelion Wine (Yes, Wine)

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3 Off-Grid Ways To Make Dandelion Wine (Yes, Wine)

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You’ve heard the motivational phrase about making lemonade from lemons. Well, what about making wine out of weeds? Literally.

The next time you see a fresh crop of dandelions spreading across your lawn, don’t think about how you are going to kill them. Instead, think about the great wine you are going to make out of them.

If this sounds a little crazy, let me assure you it is not. Dandelion wine is a time-tested, well-loved beverage that is made from those pervasive weeds. And, what’s more, it is pretty easy to make.

Thought to be of Celtic origin, dandelion wine is regarded as a European country wine. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, when it was considered improper for ladies to drink alcohol, dandelion wine was recommended as an acceptable medicinal wine for the kidneys and digestive system.

If you need more convincing, dandelion is high in calcium, vitamin A and protein.

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The Internet is rife with dandelion wine recipes – some of which have been passed down through the generations — clearly showing that there is no one true way to make the stuff. Some use the whole flower heads only (no petals), some use flower heads and greenery but no stalks, some use flower heads, greenery and stalks, and still others only use the flower petals. However, they all have dandelions — lots of dandelions — and some form of sweetener.

Wine made from dandelion petals (rather than the whole head) has a gentler taste and is more aromatic than wine made from the whole heads. Wine made from the whole heads has a heavier taste because of a higher concentration of tannin. The choice, then, is a taste preference and a timesaving preference. Plucking the petals is time-intensive, after all.

Dandelion wine is light tasting and lacks body for some wine drinkers. Therefore, many recipes call for bodybuilding ingredients, such as raisins, dates, figs or even rhubarb. How much sugar you add in the wine-making process determines whether the end product is dry, semi-sweet or sweet.

How to Harvest Dandelions

Dandelions tend to close up at night, so your best bet is to choose a hot, dry sunny afternoon to pick your dandelions. Avoid flowers that are damp or wet.

Arm yourself with a bucket, because you need about a gallon of flower heads to make a gallon of wine. If you are just using flower heads, pluck off the heads and gently place them in the bucket. If necessary, you can pick your dandelions over the course of a few days, but store them in the freezer until you have enough flowers for the amount of wine you want to make.

3 Off-Grid Ways To Make Dandelion Wine (Yes, Wine)

Image source: Pixabay.com

If you have small children, you can enlist their help. Kids enjoy picking dandelions, and they can help cut down on the bending you would have to do if you tackle the project alone.

Here are three recipes for making your own homemade dandelion wine:

1. Recipe one

Ingredients

  • 3 qt dandelion blossoms
  • 1 gal water
  • 2 oranges, with peel
  • 1 lemon, with peel
  • 3 pounds sugar
  • 1 package wine yeast
  • 1 lb raisins
  • Sterilized bottles and corks

Directions

1) Collect the blossoms when they are fully open on a sunny day.

2) Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the flowers in a large pot. Cover pot and let steep for three days.

3)  Slice fruit and make zest from peels.

4) Add orange and lemon zest to the flower-water mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, strain out solids, then add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Let cool.

5) Add orange and lemon slices, yeast and raisins to the liquid. Cover mixture with a loose lid to ferment.

6)  When the mixture has stopped bubbling, which can take up to a week, the fermentation process is complete. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and then transfer to sterilized bottles.  Place a deflated balloon over the top of each bottle to monitor fermentation. If the balloon remains deflated for 24 hours, the fermentation process is complete.

7) Cork the bottles and store them in a cool, dark place for six months or more before drinking.

2. Recipe two

Ingredients

  • Half-gallon dandelion flowers
  • 2 oranges, juice and thinly sliced peels
  • 1 lemon, juice and thinly sliced peels
  • Small piece of ginger root
  • 1-1/2 lbs sugar
  • 1/2 oz yeast

Directions

1) Place flowers in a large pot or crock and pour a half gallon of boiling water over them, making sure they are completely covered with water.

2) Cover pot and steep for three days.

3) After three days, strain the flowers from the liquid and then squeeze flowers to get all their juice.

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4) Pour mixture into a cooking pot. Add ginger root, lemon and orange juice and zest.

5) Add sugar and gradually boil mixture for 20 minutes.

6) Pour liquid back into the rock and let cool. Add the yeast.

7) Pour mixture into a fermenting jug that is fitted with an airlock. Wine will ferment in six days to three weeks.

8) When the fermentation process is complete, transfer liquid to sterilized bottles with caps or corks. Let bottles stand for six months.

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3. Recipe Three

Ingredients

  • 1 qt dandelion petals
  • ¾ lb chopped golden raisins
  • 2 lbs granulated sugar
  • 3 lemons, both juice and zest
  • 3 oranges, both juice and zest
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 7½ pts water
  • Activated wine yeast

Directions

1) Pluck petals from dandelions.

2) Pour boiling water over dandelion petals into a sterile glass jug or food grade bucket.

3) After 2 hours, strain and discard petals.

4) Return water to heat and bring to low boil.

5) Add juice and sugar, stirring well to dissolve.

6) Add zest and chopped raisins.

7) Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

8) When mixture reaches room temperature, stir in yeast nutrient and activated yeast. Cover pot.

9) Stir three times per day for about 10 days to two weeks.

10) Strain mixture into secondary fermenter with a snug airlock.

11) After three weeks, transfer the liquid part (leaving the sediment) into another sanitized fermenter. Fill to top with sterile water and reattach the airlock device.

12) When the wine clears, wait 30 days and then top up and refit airlock device. Age wine at least six to 12 months.

If you would like to read more about how to make dandelion wine, here are a few good resources:

  • Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines by Helen S. Wright, published by Press Holdings International, 2001.
  • The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012
  • Drink the Harvest: Making and Preserving Juices, Wines, Meads, Teas, and Ciders by Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest, published by Storey Publishing, 2014

Have you ever made dandelion wine? What tips would you add? Share your advice in the section below:

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Hair And Urine: The Absolute Best Way To Keep Animals Out Of Your Garden?

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Hair And Urine: The Best Way To Keep Animals Out Of Your Garden?

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If you are into saving money and making the most of natural resources – and who isn’t? – then you may be overlooking some readily available and renewable options. In fact, you may be flushing one of them down the toilet or throwing the other one away when you clean your brushes and combs.

Yes, human urine and human hair can be surpassingly effective in your garden as deterrents to pests and as fertilizers.

Human Urine in the Garden

Contrary to what you might think, fresh human urine is clean and bacteria-free. It is only when urine is stored for more than 24 hours that it gets that familiar, unpleasant odor. Healthy human urine is about 95 percent water, 2.5 percent urea and 2.5 percent a mixture of hormones, minerals, enzymes and salts.

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In his 1975 study “Urinalysis in Clinical Laboratory Practice,” Dr. A. H. Free detailed some of the nutrients found in human urine, including creatinine nitrogen, urea nitrogen, uric acid nitrogen, amino nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, chloride, sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, inorganic phosphate and inorganic sulphate. Plants require all of these macronutrients.

Hair And Urine: The Best Way To Keep Animals Out Of Your Garden?

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The only real problem with the use of human urine as a fertilizer is the potential for excess nitrogen and inorganic salts. Soil conditions as well as rainfall and watering – in addition to the needs of your particular plants – should come into consideration when using human urine as a fertilizer, but diluting the urine usually takes care of the problem.

A ratio of one part urine with 10 parts water helps mitigate the excess nitrogen and reduces the chance of offensive odor as well.

Speaking of that odor, dilution will make the urine undetectable to the human nose, but garden pests will still be able to smell it. And that’s a good thing. Rabbits, deer, groundhogs and skunks dislike the smell of human urine and tend to stay away from it.

Try spraying your urine solution around the perimeter of your garden to discourage these unwelcome guests. Another option is to place cotton balls soaked in the solution around the edges of your garden, perhaps in disposable containers if you’re really squeamish. Human urine and hair (below) are particularly helpful if you have a garden that you can’t monitor on a daily basis. In fact, many gardeners say urine and hair are the only deterrents that work.

A few words of advice:

  • Use only healthy, fresh human urine
  • Use a spray bottle or bucket that is clearly labeled and dedicated for this purpose
  • Reapply after rainfall or irrigation
  • Some gardeners believe that male urine works better than female urine as a deterrent for pests.

Human Hair in the Garden

Another renewable resource for your garden is on the top of your head. Human hair can deter animals and work as a fertilizer for your garden. Working as a natural mulch, human hair adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. You can sprinkle it throughout your garden.

haircut-1007891_640Mississippi State University researchers found that human hair has significantly more nitrogen than manure, and therefore can serve as a natural replacement for some traditional fertilizers. In the study, researchers compared the use of human hair with commercial fertilizers on the health and productivity of lettuce, yellow poppy, wormwood and feverfew.

Plant yields were higher for the hair-fertilized plants when compared with the untreated control plants, overall, but were lower than for the lettuce and wormwood plants treated with commercial fertilizers. However, the yellow poppy saw higher yields with the hair treatment. Results did not differ with the feverfew.

The researchers concluded that since lettuce and wormwood are fast-growing plants, the time it takes hair to degrade and to release nutrients was a factor in the study results. Human hair, as a fertilizer, breaks down very slowly.

A report published in the journal Hort Technology found that human hair contains all the organic nutrients plants need to grow, but it takes a month or more for those nutrients to decompose into an inorganic form plants can use. The report suggested that hair is a good fertilizer for slow-growing plants such as basil, sage and certain ornamental shrubs. For quicker-growing plants, try mixing hair with other fertilizers for the first few weeks.

Another potential problem of using human hair in your garden is the effect of any styling chemicals on your plants. Be sure to use unwashed hair that is free from sprays, coloring or other additives.

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Just as with human urine, human hair can serve as a deterrent to animals, especially snails, rodents, rabbits and deer. In addition to sprinkling hair in your garden, you can tie cheesecloth or nylon bags filled with unwashed hair onto posts or branches near your garden to deter animals.

Upon request, barbers and hair salon will save some of the snipped hair they sweep off their floors for you. Since it is unlikely this hair is chemical-free, it’s best to use this hair as a deterrent instead of a fertilizer, however.

A few tips:

  • Human hair will lose its scent within a week or two (less in rainy conditions) and will need to be replaced frequently.
  • Save clippings from shaving to add to your hair collection.
  • You can also mix dog and cat hair with human hair in your garden.

If you’re struggling to keep pests out of your garden this year – or you’re looking for a cheap fertilizer — then give these overlooked solutions a try.

What advice would you add? Share your tips for using hair or urine in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

Hair And Urine: The Best Way To Keep Animals Out Of Your Garden?

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Hair And Urine: The Best Way To Keep Animals Out Of Your Garden?

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If you are into saving money and making the most of natural resources – and who isn’t? – then you may be overlooking some readily available and renewable options. In fact, you may be flushing one of them down the toilet or throwing the other one away when you clean your brushes and combs.

Yes, human urine and human hair can be surpassingly effective in your garden as deterrents to pests and as fertilizers.

Human Urine in the Garden

Contrary to what you might think, fresh human urine is clean and bacteria-free. It is only when urine is stored for more than 24 hours that it gets that familiar, unpleasant odor. Healthy human urine is about 95 percent water, 2.5 percent urea and 2.5 percent a mixture of hormones, minerals, enzymes and salts.

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In his 1975 study “Urinalysis in Clinical Laboratory Practice,” Dr. A. H. Free detailed some of the nutrients found in human urine, including creatinine nitrogen, urea nitrogen, uric acid nitrogen, amino nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, chloride, sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, inorganic phosphate and inorganic sulphate. Plants require all of these macronutrients.

Hair And Urine: The Best Way To Keep Animals Out Of Your Garden?

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The only real problem with the use of human urine as a fertilizer is the potential for excess nitrogen and inorganic salts. Soil conditions as well as rainfall and watering – in addition to the needs of your particular plants – should come into consideration when using human urine as a fertilizer, but diluting the urine usually takes care of the problem.

A ratio of one part urine with 10 parts water helps mitigate the excess nitrogen and reduces the chance of offensive odor as well.

Speaking of that odor, dilution will make the urine undetectable to the human nose, but garden pests will still be able to smell it. And that’s a good thing. Rabbits, deer, groundhogs and skunks dislike the smell of human urine and tend to stay away from it.

Try spraying your urine solution around the perimeter of your garden to discourage these unwelcome guests. Another option is to place cotton balls soaked in the solution around the edges of your garden, perhaps in disposable containers if you’re really squeamish. Human urine and hair (below) are particularly helpful if you have a garden that you can’t monitor on a daily basis. In fact, many gardeners say urine and hair are the only deterrents that work.

A few words of advice:

  • Use only healthy, fresh human urine
  • Use a spray bottle or bucket that is clearly labeled and dedicated for this purpose
  • Reapply after rainfall or irrigation
  • Some gardeners believe that male urine works better than female urine as a deterrent for pests.

Human Hair in the Garden

Another renewable resource for your garden is on the top of your head. Human hair can deter animals and work as a fertilizer for your garden. Working as a natural mulch, human hair adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. You can sprinkle it throughout your garden.

haircut-1007891_640Mississippi State University researchers found that human hair has significantly more nitrogen than manure, and therefore can serve as a natural replacement for some traditional fertilizers. In the study, researchers compared the use of human hair with commercial fertilizers on the health and productivity of lettuce, yellow poppy, wormwood and feverfew.

Plant yields were higher for the hair-fertilized plants when compared with the untreated control plants, overall, but were lower than for the lettuce and wormwood plants treated with commercial fertilizers. However, the yellow poppy saw higher yields with the hair treatment. Results did not differ with the feverfew.

The researchers concluded that since lettuce and wormwood are fast-growing plants, the time it takes hair to degrade and to release nutrients was a factor in the study results. Human hair, as a fertilizer, breaks down very slowly.

A report published in the journal Hort Technology found that human hair contains all the organic nutrients plants need to grow, but it takes a month or more for those nutrients to decompose into an inorganic form plants can use. The report suggested that hair is a good fertilizer for slow-growing plants such as basil, sage and certain ornamental shrubs. For quicker-growing plants, try mixing hair with other fertilizers for the first few weeks.

Another potential problem of using human hair in your garden is the effect of any styling chemicals on your plants. Be sure to use unwashed hair that is free from sprays, coloring or other additives.

Need Non-GMO Seeds For Your Organic Garden? The Best Deals Are Right Here!

Just as with human urine, human hair can serve as a deterrent to animals, especially snails, rodents, rabbits and deer. In addition to sprinkling hair in your garden, you can tie cheesecloth or nylon bags filled with unwashed hair onto posts or branches near your garden to deter animals.

Upon request, barbers and hair salon will save some of the snipped hair they sweep off their floors for you. Since it is unlikely this hair is chemical-free, it’s best to use this hair as a deterrent instead of a fertilizer, however.

A few tips:

  • Human hair will lose its scent within a week or two (less in rainy conditions) and will need to be replaced frequently.
  • Save clippings from shaving to add to your hair collection.
  • You can also mix dog and cat hair with human hair in your garden.

If you’re struggling to keep pests out of your garden this year – or you’re looking for a cheap fertilizer — then give these overlooked solutions a try.

What advice would you add? Share your tips for using hair or urine in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

9 Ancient Heal-Everything Uses For Garlic That STILL Work Today

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9 Ancient Heal-Everything Uses For Garlic That STILL Work Today

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You may know it as something you mince for stews and sauces or something you spread on bread with butter or olive oil. Maybe you associate it with lingering bad breath or even with folklore – spurred by Bram Stoker’s Dracula — about repelling vampires.

For centuries and even millennia, however, nutritionists and healers have touted garlic as one of nature’s most potent wonder drugs. Evidence of garlic has been found inside Egyptian pyramids and Ancient Greek temples. Garlic also is referenced in the Bible and in medical books from Ancient Rome, China and India.

Historians have discovered that ancient Egyptians fed their slaves diets rich in garlic to help them stay strong and to work harder. Ancient healers also prescribed garlic for a variety of ailments, ranging from the common cold to cardiovascular problems.

There is evidence that garlic may have been one of the first “performance-enhancing” drugs, since it was fed to athletes during the Ancient Olympics in Greece. Hippocrates, known as the Father of Modern Medicine, prescribed garlic for many uterine and pulmonary complaints and as a cleansing agent for the body.

Garlic was used prominently during World War II by the Russians when Red Army doctors ran out of antibiotics. It was dubbed “Russian penicillin.”

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Today, modern research has confirmed these healing powers of garlic. In fact, garlic contains about 400 different chemical components and compounds that help the body fight off disease and to maintain good health.

Most of garlic’s benefits come from eating it in its most natural form – raw — because cooking can destroy some of its natural properties. Garlic is rich in vitamin B6 and is a good source of manganese, selenium, and vitamin C. It also provides potassium, iron, phosphorous and calcium.

9 Ancient Heal-Everything Uses For Garlic That STILL Work Today

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There are multiple healing benefits for garlic:

1. It reduces blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic reports that by dilating blood vessels and relaxing smooth muscles, garlic may help lower your blood pressure by 7 to 8 percent.

Research suggests that when study participants consumed 200 to 400 milligrams of garlic extract three times a day for a month, they experienced lower blood pressure. Consuming raw garlic also may reduce the hardening of the arteries that is a common part of the aging process.

2. It fights bacteria. A Washington State University study demonstrated that garlic may be just as or more effective than prescription antibiotics in fighting the common bacteria known as campylobacter bacterium. This bacteria infects about 2.4 million Americans with stomach-related illnesses each year.

3. It may reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer. Eating garlic enhances the body’s production of hydrogen sulfide, which may be effective in preventing the development of prostate, pancreas, rectal and colon cancer.

A study by the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that letting chopped or crushed garlic to sit for 10 minutes before heating helps it retain more of the sulfur compounds that help fight cancer than if it were cooked right away.

According to the National Cancer Institute, data from seven population studies showed that the higher the amount of raw and cooked garlic study participants consumed, the lower their risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.

Garlic has antibacterial properties and an ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, to enhance DNA repair and to reduce cell proliferation, according to the data.

4. It can reduce fatigue. Research suggests that consuming garlic promotes the body’s production of hydrogen sulphide and nitric oxide, which relax the arteries and increase blood flow to muscles. This process boosts muscle growth and post-exercise recovery.

5. It can eliminate toxins from the body. Garlic’s multiple sulfur-containing compounds stimulate the liver enzymes that are responsible for removing toxins from the body.

A diet rich in garlic can help fight urinary tract infections, too. If you suffer from athletes’ foot, try soaking your feet in a footbath of garlic cloves and water to combat the problem. In this case, garlic works as an antifungal.

6. It relieves earaches. A recent pediatric study showed that 14 strains of bacteria taken from the noses and throats of children diagnosed with ear infections were killed when the children consumed raw garlic.

The fungus that causes swimmer’s ear has been treated successfully with a mixture of garlic and water.

9 Ancient Heal-Everything Uses For Garlic That STILL Work Today

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7. It reduces pain and inflammation from arthritis. Try preparing a paste made from garlic cloves and rub it on the painful area. Garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties action reduces pain in swollen and sore joints.

8. It prevents blood from clotting. Garlic contains diallyl disulfide, a compound that keeps blood from clotting. Therefore, consuming fresh garlic can help prevent arteriosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.

9. It can help prevent hair loss. Now you may not want your hair to smell like garlic, but the results might be worth it if you are experiencing hair loss.

Try rubbing your scalp with this garlic-based solution:

Ingredients

1 tsp garlic juice

8 oz. rosemary tea

1 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. lemon Juice

Directions

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl or cup. Then rub the mixture into your scalp nightly. Let it stay on your scalp for 20 minutes before rinsing with clean water.

How can you add more garlic to your diet? Here is a simple recipe.

In a juicer, blend four cloves of garlic with the juice of two tomatoes and one lemon to make a delicious, nutritious drink. Keep refrigerated.

You also can make a tomato garlic soup in your blender with the same ingredients. Add some sea salt and pepper to taste.

Easy to grow and easy to add to recipes, garlic can and should be a staple of your family’s healthy diet.

How do you use garlic for your health? Share your tips in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

9 All-Natural Cures For Recurring Bad Breath

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9 All-Natural Cures For Recurring Bad Breath

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Whether it is from the onions on your sandwich or that extra cup of coffee, you probably have dealt with the uncomfortable problem of having bad breath at one time or the other.

Many of us grab a mint or chew a piece of gum for a quick fix. Some of us stash a bottle of mouthwash in our desk drawer or in a compartment in the car to freshen our mouths when we are on the go.

However, what do you do when you have an ongoing breath problem? Most commercial breath freshening products contain harsh, unnatural ingredients, and they can simply mask an underlying problem that is causing the bad breath in the first place.

The good news is that there are many natural ways to fight bad breath. In addition, most are easy and inexpensive. Here are nine natural ideas to try to help eliminate bad breath.

1. Take care of your teeth and mouth. The first step to fighting bad breath is to take a good look at your oral hygiene. It is important to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Additionally, if you usually brush your teeth only first thing in the morning and last thing at night, consider brushing your teeth more frequently.

New ‘Survival Herb Bank’ Gives You Access to God’s Amazing Medicine Chest

Try brushing after every meal — which may involve having a toothbrush and toothpaste with you at work or in your car — and floss your teeth twice a day.

Speaking of that toothbrush – when was the last time you got a new one? Replacing your toothbrush every two to three months can help keep your breath fresh.

Your teeth are not the only culprits when it comes to bad breath. Your tongue can harbor odor-causing dead cells, fungi and bacteria. Try scraping your tongue each morning with a spoon and then rinsing with water afterwards to decrease or eliminate the odor.

Simply place the spoon on the back of your tongue and then drag it slowly forward. Rinse well and then repeat several times. Include the sides of your tongue in this cleaning process.

9 All-Natural Cures For Recurring Bad Breath

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2. Drink plenty of water. Did you realize that a dry mouth could play a role in bad breath? When you do not wash bacteria away with water, they can thrive on the food particles in your mouth. These germs then can release foul-smelling byproducts that cause bad breath.

Your body’s own natural saliva can do the trick, but if you are dehydrated, you may not be producing enough salvia to eliminate the bacteria. Aim to drink more water during the day, and try swishing it around your mouth to help eliminate mouth odor.

3. Consume enough zinc. A deficiency in the mineral zinc can be a contributing factor to bad breath. As an antimicrobial, zinc helps neutralize and eliminate harmful germs in the mouth. Try supplementing your diet with food rich in zinc, including pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, sesame seeds and chickpeas.

4. Supplement with herbs and spices. Many items from your kitchen spice shelf or your herb garden can aid in eliminating bad breath when you chew them. Here are a few examples:

  • Cloves
  • Fennel
  • Dill
  • Cardamom
  • Anise seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
9 All-Natural Cures For Recurring Bad Breath

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5. Enjoy some citrus fruit. Eating an orange can be a simple and healthy way to fight bad breath. By stimulating your salivary glands, the citric acid also creates an acidic environment in which bacteria cannot thrive.

Another option is to nibble on a clean, small piece of lemon, lime or orange rind.

6. Create a natural mouth rinse. Many commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol, but you can easily create your own natural mouth rinse. Try gargling with a simple salt-water solution to help rid your mouth, throat and tonsils from bacteria.

Another option is to mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda to cleanse and to freshen your mouth. Squeeze in some lemon or lime juice, if you like, for flavor and for the added benefits of Vitamin C.

7. Consider probiotic foods. An overloaded digestive tract can contribute to breath problems. Basically, stomach problems can create a build-up of excess of gas that then exits your body through your mouth.

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Supplementing your diet with probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kombucha tea and fermented sauerkraut helps get your digestive system back in balance. Another idea is to mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with water and drink it prior to eating a meal to aid your digestive process.

9 All-Natural Cures For Recurring Bad Breath

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8. Eat more raw foods. Many raw foods, such as apples, celery and carrots, can act as natural toothbrushes. Not only do they scrub your teeth as you chew, but they also can kill odor-causing bacteria. Some raw foods also have a high-water content that helps you produce more saliva.

9. Cleanse your body of toxins. Bad breath can be a sign that your body has a high level of toxins. Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes can contribute to the problem of bad breath, for example.

A natural way to cleanse your body is by drinking stinging nettle tea. Stinging nettle is a powerful herb that can help eliminate toxins, boost adrenal function, stimulate the lymphatic system and increase the excretion of uric acid through the kidneys – all of which can help fight bad breath.

If you are taking any medications, talk with your doctor to see if your prescription could be causing dry mouth or otherwise could be contributing to a breath problem. Over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants or diet pills also could be part of the problem.

Finally, bad breath could be a symptom of an underlying health issue, including anything from gum disease, to lactose intolerance, to diabetes. If you have tried the above natural remedies and still are experiencing bad breath, it may be time to see your doctor for a physical.

How do you fight bad breath? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

Frost 101: THIS Is The Temperature You Better Start Covering Your Vegetables

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Frost 101: THIS Is The Temperature You Better Start Covering Your Vegetables

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Every spring when the first spell of warm weather occurs, many beginning gardeners head to their local garden centers and nurseries, eager to get planting. When the temperatures rise and the sun is shining, it is tempting to want to get a head start on your spring garden.

However, that head start can be a frustrating waste of time and money when spring frost damages or destroys your young plants. You can avoid this scenario by doing a little homework on frost and freeze dates in your area.

First, what exactly is frost? By definition, frost is a collection of tiny white ice crystals that form on the ground or other solid surfaces when the air temperature gets cold.

Frost forms when water vapor in the air changes from the gas phase to the solid stage. Frost is difficult to predict, though, because the air temperature within the vicinity of your garden can be several degrees higher than 32 degrees Fahrenheit – the freeze point — and yet it can still form on your plants. As a result, the National Weather Service uses 36 degrees Fahrenheit and below as its guideline for a possible frost. But even then, frost may not occur. The air must be mostly still, and moisture has to be in the air. (A frost is different from a freeze, in which the temperature must be 32 or below.)

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Frost can damage plants by causing ice crystals to form in the plant cells, disrupting the movement of fluids to plant tissues. Frost-damaged leaves first appear water-soaked; then they shrivel and turn dark in color.

Garden plants are classified according to the temperatures they can usually tolerate. Plants classified as “hardy” can tolerate some frost, while plants classified as “tender” often are killed or damaged by frost.

Frost 101: THIS Is The Temperature You Better Start Covering Your Vegetables

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The average last spring frost date usually ranges from mid-March to mid-May, depending on where you live in the United States. Almanacs, websites and university extension services often take historical data into consideration and list an average date as the last frost date.

Many seed and gardening websites feature last frost dates that you can look up by typing in your zip code. Keep in mind, however, that that date is an average, and that means that a frost can certainly occur after that date.

The location of your garden can play a big factor in whether your plants are damaged by a frost or not. Generally, air temperature lowers from 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit with each thousand-foot increase in altitude. Therefore, the higher the elevation of your garden, the more likely your plants will be hit by a frost or freeze. On the other hand, cold air is heavier than warm air and can sink to lower areas, causing frost damage.

The best spot for an early annual garden is on a gentle, south-facing slope that is exposed to plenty of late-afternoon sun and is protected from the north wind. A garden that is surrounded by trees, shrubs or buildings or is located near a body of water is also less likely to be damaged by frost. Additionally, closely spaced plants can protect each other from frost damage.

The best way to prepare for a late-season frost is to know the sensitivity level of your plants. In addition, the plant itself can give you clues. Immature plants that still had new growth showing well into the fall are susceptible to damage. Plants with dark-colored leaves – especially bronze or maroon – absorb and retain heat and can better handle a frost. Also, in general, plants that are compact have less to expose to the cold and wind and therefore can ride out a frost better than taller plants with smaller leaves.

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What should you do if you have planted your garden and learn that a frost is likely? Here are a few tips:

  • Cover your plants to retain soil heat and moisture and to protect them from strong winds. You can use newspapers, fabric tarps, sheets, straw or baskets, but be sure to cover the entire plant in order to trap any heat. Anchor lightweight coverings to prevent them from blowing away. Avoid plastic covers because, unless you remove them quickly enough in the morning, they can create enough heat in the morning sun that will actually burn your plants.
  • Water your plants if frost is predicted. It may seem counter-intuitive, but as the water freezes, it will release heat, protecting the plants from damage.
  • If you are able to use an electric fan to protect your plants from the elements, then set one up by your garden. Even a small breeze can help stop cold air from settling on your plants and then freezing during the night.
  • Potted plants are susceptible to frosts because their roots are less insulated. Move smaller pots indoors or under a cover. If the planters are too big to move, wrap the pots in burlap or bubble wrap or try burying the pot in the ground. Also, place a covering over the foliage.

As you plan your spring garden, realize that in late April or early May, you are not out of the woods for a spring frost. If your green thumb cannot wait and you are a bit of a risk taker, you still can have gardening success as long as you watch the weather carefully and prepare for the worst.

Related:

Tricks And Secrets To Keep Rabbits From Destroying Your Garden

How do you protect your garden from frosts? Which vegetables do you plant the earliest? Share your tips in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

6 Chemical-Free Ways To Chase Away Pesky Moles

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6 Chemical-Free Ways To Chase Away Pesky Moles

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You walk out one morning onto your carefully maintained lawn and garden, only to find a series of unsightly mounds of dirt and broken earth. When you step on the mounds, they give way. As you look more closely, it appears the mounds connect with an underground tunnel system.

Does this scenario sound familiar? If it does, your yard has had a visitor – a mole. Before we look at what you can do to get this burrowing pest out of your yard, let’s learn a little bit about this unusual animal.

Known for its short powerful paws and long claws that are excellent for digging, the mole is a burrowing mammal that has small eyes and ears, gray or black velvety fur, a thin hairless snout and is about six to eight inches in length.

Moles are insectivores, meaning they feed on insects and insect larvae. Although they live underground all year round, they are particularly active during the warm, wet months of spring and autumn, when the ground is soft, and earthworms and white grubs are readily available.

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Industrious creatures, moles can dig at a rate of 18 feet per hour, making surface tunnels and deep tunnels anywhere from two inches to five feet underground. This surprising rate for such a small creature explains why those mounds appear to spring up out of nowhere.

Moles tend to be solitary creatures except during breeding season, so the tunnels in your yard are likely the work of only one mole. The mounds you see in your yard are connected to main runways, which are a foot or more underground and are usually not visible. A hungry mole builds new underground tunnels that connect with these main runways every day.

6 Chemical-Free Ways To Chase Away Pesky Moles

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If the mole builds enough tunnels in your yard, it can go from simply unsightly to unsafe, with holes throughout the yard.

Using chemicals to repel or kill moles is not a good idea, since the chemicals can be harmful to your garden as well as to any beneficial insects. So what are natural ways to keep moles out of your lawn and garden? Here are some ideas.

1. Repellants. Moles have limited eyesight, but they have an advanced sense of smell. They react strongly to the odor of castor oil, so you may be able to restrict their activity with the use of a castor oil spray.

Combine two tablespoons of dish soap with one cup of castor oil and one gallon of water in a sprayer. Apply this solution into any tunnels in your yard once a month and after rainfall or watering.

2. Barriers. Another option is to bury a 24-inch hardware cloth or metal barrier at least one foot below the surface of your yard, bending the bottom of the barrier out at a 90-degree angle.

To find out where to place the barrier, flatten pushed up soil with the flat side of a shovel and then check the area the next day. If it is loose and/or mounded again, you have found an active tunnel.

3. Drainage. Since moles like moist soil, you can make sure your lawn and garden has proper drainage after a rainfall or watering.

4. Plants. Another way to deter moles from your property is by planting certain plants that moles dislike. Natural mole repellents include marigolds, chocolate lilies, daffodils, alliums, mole plants, fritillaries and castor beans. Garlic is another good choice.

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5. Technology. Some homeowners have found success by placing battery-powered ultrasonic devices in the ground to create noises and vibrations that bother moles.

6. Trapping. Many experts consider trapping to be the most effective way to remove moles from your property. Trapping and then relocating the mole can be an option if you dislike the idea of killing it.

First, locate the active tunnels by flattening mounds and then observing if it is raised again the next day. Then, place a live trap with earthworms as bait in the entrance to the hole and cover with any solid covering. Here are two video links on trapping moles without killing them:

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6. Wait it out. A final option is to take a passive approach. Moles have a short life span of less than three years, so Mother Nature may take care of the problem that way. In addition, a change in weather or a change in ground moisture can cause your troublesome visitor to go elsewhere.

Finally, even though those mounds of dirt can be maddening, it is important to realize that moles can be beneficial to your property. The quick digging that moles perform efficiently aerates your yard, allowing nutrients to circulate in the soil. Additionally, moles consume grubs and other insects that can destroy the roots of your plants and shrubs.

How do you get rid of moles? Share your ideas in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

The 7 LEAST Healthy Vegetables You Can Plant (No. 6 Is Found In Lots Of Food)

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The 7 LEAST Healthy Vegetables You Can Plant (No. 6 Is Found In Lots Of Food)

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We all know that fresh vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, but did you know that not all vegetables are created equal? In fact, some veggies are not all that great for you.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that moderately active adults up to age 50 consume about 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day, while adults over 50 should reduce this daily intake by a half cup.

These guidelines are tricky, however, because some veggies are higher in sugar and calories than others are. For instance, a cup of mashed vegetables is more concentrated than a cup of sliced zucchini, but the USDA guidelines consider them as equivalent. Also, the USDA counts an eight-ounce serving of 100 percent vegetable juice the same as one cup of raw vegetables, even though the nutritional content would vary considerably.

As a general rule, the healthiest vegetables (and fruits) are those that have a high-density value, which is the amount of nutrients a food has in relation to the number of calories it has.

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So, yes, there is a list of least nutritious vegetables.

Here, then, are the seven least nutritious vegetables you can grow in your garden this year, according to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database.

7. Celery

You would have to eat an awful lot of celery to get a nutritional boost. An eight-inch stalk, for example, offers only 1.6 percent of the daily requirement for calcium and 2 percent of the requirement for vitamin C. Low in calories and high in fiber, store-bought celery is prominent on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of vegetables and fruit with pesticide residue. Even if you grow it yourself in your own organic garden, however, celery serves as little more than as an edible scooper for dips and spreads.

6. Cucumber

The 7 LEAST Healthy Vegetables You Can Plant (No. 6 Is Found In Lots Of Food)

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One cup of refreshing sliced cucumber offers only 16 calories; however, its nutritional value is slim as well. Even if you grow your own organic cucumbers – thereby avoiding the synthetic wax added to supermarket cukes — you will gain less than 5 percent of the USDA daily requirement for potassium, manganese, magnesium and vitamin C by eating this vegetable.

5. Eggplant

Although it is a good source of fiber, raw eggplant can contain high levels of solanine, a form of glycoalkaloid poison found in members of the nightshade vegetable family. Solanine can pose a particular problem for people with joint problems or chronic inflammation.

Eggplant also contains oxalates, a substance that may contribute to kidney or gallbladder problems, including the formation of kidney stones, in certain individuals.

4. Radishes

Although radishes do contain vitamin C, you would have to eat very large amounts of them to get it. But the consumption of large amounts of radishes can irritate the digestive tract. Eating these root vegetables, which are classified as a goitrogenic food, also can aggravate a thyroid condition.

3. Spaghetti squash

Often touted as a low-carb, low-calorie replacement for pasta, spaghetti squash gets its name because its flesh separates into spaghetti-like strands after cooking. Although it does contain a fair amount of fiber, spaghetti squash offers little in terms of nutritional value.

2. White (button) mushrooms

Mushrooms of all types have tough cell walls that make them practically indigestible if you do not cook them.

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Common button mushrooms offer little nutritional benefit, although, yes, they can be quite tasty!

1. Onion

The 7 LEAST Healthy Vegetables You Can Plant (No. 6 Is Found In Lots Of Food)

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Onions are part of the allium family, a genus of bulbous plants (including garlic, shallots, leeks and chives) that produce chemical compounds that have distinctive taste and smell and that often irritate the human body. (If you cry when you slice onions, this is the reason.)

Many people experience gassiness and bloating after eating raw onions.

Final Thought

Keep in mind that each of these so-called unhealthy vegetables also contains some beneficial nutrients. In most cases, there is no need to eliminate them from your diet, but this year you may want to plant more nutritious veggies in your garden.

Related:

The 7 Healthiest Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This Year

What vegetables would you add to our list? Share your ideas in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

The 7 Healthiest Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This Year

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The 7 Most Nutritionally-Dense Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This Year

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If you are looking to become more self-sufficient while boosting your nutrition at the same time, there is no better choice than with a home vegetable garden.

Homegrown veggies are superior to store-bought veggies in terms of freshness, taste and nutrition. When you add in their lower cost, and the pride you feel in growing your own food, it is a no-brainer. Plus, many veggies are easy to grow and do not require large amounts of space.

It makes sense that fresh-picked vegetables taste better than store-bought veggies, but why are they more nutritious? It has to do with that freshness. Supermarket produce usually has traveled many miles over a period of a few days to even a few weeks to get to your store. That long trip from farm to table allows nutritional content to degrade, especially if the vegetables have been exposed to heat. According to nutritionists, temperature is the top factor in keeping fruits and vegetables in the best condition.

Looking For Non-GMO Seeds For Your Garden? The Best Deals Are Right Here!

The 7 Most Nutritionally-Dense Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This YearIf you are looking to pack the biggest nutritional punch that you can with your garden this year, here is a list of seven veggies – based on government nutritional data (see chart) — that are the healthiest you can grow.

1. Kale – You’ve probably read about all the health benefits of this superfood, but did you know it was easy to grow, too? It likes sunny, cool conditions of the spring and fall and soil that has a neutral to slightly alkaline pH.

Kale leaves are rich in fiber, iron, vitamins A, K and C, and new studies link kale to lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Add it to salads, soups and stews for its hearty taste and nutrition.

2. Spinach – This super healthy vegetable does well in spring, fall and even winter in some locations. Leaves will turn bitter tasting, so it is a good idea to harvest them promptly.

Spinach contains the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin that are good for eye health and for digestion. Spinach also is high in iron, calcium and vitamins A, B and C.

3. Collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens — You can mix these greens — which are rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants — or eat them separately. A Harvard University study concluded that people who regularly consume dark green, leafy vegetables are about 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Eating these greens may also protect against certain types of cancers, according to studies by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

These greens are hardy in the garden. They don’t need much space, and they can thrive in partial sunlight.

The 7 Most Nutritionally-Dense Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This Year

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4. Carrots – You probably grew up hearing that eating carrots was good for your eyes. It’s true. Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives carrots their orange color and helps the retina and other parts of the eye to remain healthy. This root vegetable, which is at its most nutritious in its raw state, also is a good source of fiber, antioxidant agents, vitamins C, K and B8, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium, manganese and copper. Bugs Bunny was definitely on to something!

Carrots grow best in the cool temperatures of early spring and late fall. They can do well in small spaces and do not mind a little shade.

5. Red bell pepper – High in nutrition and low in calories, red bell peppers taste great raw in salads or cooked in pasta dishes. One medium pepper can provide 150 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. At only 32 calories, that’s quite a boost. Red bell peppers also help combat atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease.

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Red bells come in many different varieties. They prefer full sun and soil of at least 65 degrees that drains well. As the plants grow, you may need to stake them, depending on the size of the peppers you are growing.

6. Bok choy – One of my new go-to-favorites, bok choy (aka Chinese white cabbage) is loaded with more beta-carotene and vitamin A than any other type of cabbage. It also contains vitamins C and K, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Additionally, the Harvard School of Public Health calls bok choy a better source of calcium than dairy products.

The 7 Healthiest Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden

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Bok choy is low in calories – one cup contains about 20 calories – yet its high fiber content will help you feel full. You can use bok choy in place of other cabbages or eat it raw.

Bok choy requires rich, loose soil, and it will need fertilization not long after planting.

7. Sweet Potatoes – Many nutritionists place sweet potatoes first in their list of healthy veggies. They contain high amounts of vitamins B6, C and D, iron and magnesium.

Unlike other types of potatoes, sweet potatoes prefer hot weather, so they grow best in the South. If you live in a colder climate, you can have success with raised beds with covers. Either way, sweet potatoes like sandy soil and plenty of sunshine.

According to 2015 research by the National Gardening Association, 35 percent of all American households are growing food either in a home garden or in a community garden. This percentage is an overall increase of 17 percent over the last five years.

Another advantage of growing your own vegetables is that you avoid the dangers of chemicals. When you plant and care for your own garden vegetables, you know exactly what has been sprayed – or has not sprayed – on them.

What are your favorite healthy vegetables? Share your advice in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

9 Long-Lasting Vegetables That Will Stay Fresh For MONTHS After Harvest

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9 Long-Lasting Vegetables That Will Stay Fresh For MONTHS After Harvest

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Are you planning your spring and summer garden? This year, plan to make room for vegetables that will remain fresh for months after harvesting.

By making some simple choices, you can increase the amount of food you can store and decrease the amount of food you throw away because of spoilage. For example, spinach can wilt within days, but cabbage can stay fresh for months.

Here are some of the best vegetables you can plant for long-term storage as well as a few tips for keeping them at their best.

1. Beets – When stored in the fridge, beets can stay fresh for two to four months. Be sure to trim off the top greens before storage for best results.

2. Cabbage – Many lettuces do not last long after harvest, but cabbage can last up to two months in your refrigerator. Wrap it in plastic for best results.

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3. Carrots – If you keep your carrots dry, then they will keep fresh in your refrigerator’s vegetable crisper for three to four weeks (or more). Avoid storing them in a plastic bag, since moisture can be retained in the bag, accelerating rotting.

9 Long-Lasting Vegetables That Will Stay Fresh For MONTHS After Harvest

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4. Celery — Did you know you could keep celery fresh for two weeks in the refrigerator if you wrap it tightly in aluminum foil?

On the other hand, celeriac, the root of celery plants, likes moisture. You can store it wrapped in plastic on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Try placing your root in a dish of water on your kitchen windowsill, and it will regrow new celery stalks.

5. Garlic – Garlic bulbs will last for three to five months when stored in a cool, ventilated area. You also can store garlic in the fridge for months. Place it in a paper bag for best results. Keep in mind that refrigerated garlic will sprout within a few days of being brought to room temperature, so take out only what you need.

6. Onions – Onions are great for long-term storage. If you place them in a dry area that stays between 30 and 50 degrees, they can keep fresh for up to 12 months.

If you do not have a spot like that or if you need them in a handier location, you can store onions in a dark cabinet in a mesh bag for about a month.

7. Potatoes – If you have a basement or cellar that stays cool, consider storing your potatoes there. Potatoes will stay fresh for several months in a low-light area that keeps a temperature of about 40 degrees.

Keep your potatoes away from onions and applies; otherwise, your potatoes will ripen too fast and rot. Also, don’t store potatoes in the refrigerator. Refrigeration can change the color and taste of potatoes.

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Sweet potatoes also prefer a cool, dark area. They will keep for about a month if stored in a loose bag.

9 Long-Lasting Vegetables That Will Stay Fresh For MONTHS After Harvest

Rutabaga. Image source: Pixabay.com

8. Rutabaga –Rutabagas can stay fresh for up to a month in your refrigerator. Just as you do with celeriac, store them wrapped in plastic on a low shelf in your fridge.

9. Squash –– Pumpkins, butternut squash and other squash varieties, including pumpkin, will last between two and six months when stored in a dark, dry environment. A temperature in the low to mid-50s is ideal, and make sure there is some room between the vegetables for ventilation when they are stored.

In addition to planting more long-lasting veggies, it is a good idea to keep longevity in mind when you shop for groceries. According to research from the Natural Resources Defense Council, just 48 percent of the produce produced in the U.S. is actually eaten. The rest heads to the trash, where it ends up in landfills or compost piles. That food waste calculates to $2,275 each year for a family of four.

Here are some general basics to keep in mind for long-term storage:

  • Dark, dry and well-ventilated areas work best.
  • Storage bins should be sturdy and easy to wash and to dry.
  • Wire bins can bruise fruits and veggies.
  • Check on produce frequently so you can notice ripening or rotting right away.
  • Avoid plastic bags for non-refrigerated food as they can retain moisture and accelerate rotting.

What vegetables would you add to this list? What are your best storage tips? Share your ideas in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

All-Natural, Poison-Free Ways To Rid Your Home Of Mice

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All-Natural, Poison-Free Ways To Rid Your Home Of Mice

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Although they are small, mice can cause big problems when they enter your home. They can carry and spread disease and, since they breed quickly, they can do damage to your home and your belongings if left unchecked.

No one wants to think a mouse infestation is in the home, but if you are seeing any of these signs, you may have a rodent problem:

  • Unexplained tears, holes or shredding in clothing, fabric, insulation or other materials.
  • Small holes in desk drawers, kitchen cabinets and other furniture.
  • Mouse droppings; these are black, granular in shape and are three to six mm in length.
  • Strange rustling and scratching noises in the walls, especially at night.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mouse poisons account for thousands of calls to poison control centers each year, and research shows that remnants of these highly toxic substances can linger around your home for years, posing a danger to your family members, your pets as well as plants and wildlife.

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You have probably seen cartoons throughout your life of mousetraps wedged with bits of cheese, but you may be looking for other ways of removing these pests from your home and then keeping them out.

As is the case with many pests, including insects, ridding your home of mice can be a bit of trial and error. However, here are some effective – and natural – ways to get rid of them.

Peppermint oil is a natural product that is safe for both humans and animals, but mice hate the smell. Simply place a few drops of 100 percent pure peppermint oil on some cotton balls and then leave the cotton balls in areas where you have seen evidence of mice.

All-Natural, Poison-Free Ways To Rid Your Home Of Mice

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Other options for deterring mice with mint are to place mint plants or mint leaves around your home or even to smear mint toothpaste along baseboards or cabinet corners where mice have been. Another idea is to brew some strong peppermint tea and place it in a spray bottle. You can then spray the tea in areas where mice have entered your home.

The smell of mint will lose its effectiveness in a day or two, so be sure to replace the oil, mint or toothpaste several times a week for best results.

Bay leaves also have a strong odor that mice dislike. Try scattering some bay leaves in your pantry, kitchen cabinets and on shelves where mice have been active.

Mice also detest the smell of cloves. As you did with the peppermint oil, you can put several drops of clove essential oil on cotton balls and place the cotton in areas mice have gathered. Another option is to place whole cloves in a cotton mesh bag and set or hang the bags in trouble spots.

It may sound a little unusual, but mice do not like aluminum foil. They cannot chew through it easily, and they do not like the sound it makes when they walk on it. Therefore, you can place aluminum foil in areas mice have entered, or cover areas they have walked with sheets of aluminum foil.

Similarly, scented dryer sheets are a good mouse deterrent. You also can use them to seal cracks and crevices where mice may have entered or place them in areas where you suspect mice congregate at night.

Another safe way to deter mice is with baking soda. Simply sprinkle baking soda in trouble areas. You can sweep or wipe it up in the morning and reapply in the evening for best effectiveness.

Now that you have gotten rid of the mice that have taken up residence in your home, let’s look at ways to keep them out.

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The bad news is that mice can enter your home through gaps, cracks and openings in your home that are as small as a dime. Your first line of defense is to find and seal these openings. Be sure to examine areas where utility wires (such as for cable TV or the phone) enter your home. Also, look at areas around exhaust fans and dryer vents as well as the edges around windows and doors.

You can stuff steel wool into larger gaps before sealing them with caulk. Mice have difficulty chewing through steel wool, so it serves as a deterrent.

Mice are nocturnal and are constantly foraging for food and for bedding materials. Here are some tips for making the interior of your home less attractive to mice:

  • Store food –including cereals, rice and flour — in airtight containers.
  • Wipe down counters and sweep floors of crumbs at least once a day.
  • Pick up pet food bowls after feeding.
  • Keep sink and counters free of dirty dishes.
  • Empty kitchen trash at night.
  • Keep outdoor trash cans away from home entrances.
  • Remove and recycle old newspapers and magazines.

Finally, one of the best ways to keep mice away from your home is by adopting a cat. Cats are natural predators of mice.

Additionally, mice have strong aversion to the odor of cat urine and stay away from a home when they detect the smell. In fact, even if your cat is lazy at hunting mice, placing tubs of used kitty litter around the perimeter of your home can do the trick of keeping mice away.

What all-natural tips would you add for keeping mice away from your home? Share your advice in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

7 Smart, Off-Grid Reasons You Should Stockpile Bleach

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7 Smart, Off-Grid Reasons You Should Stockpile Bleach

You probably know that bleach is great for getting stains out of your soiled white laundry, but did you know there are many other uses for bleach? In fact, it is an item you should consider adding to your inventory of emergency supplies.

Here are seven reasons you should stockpile bleach (sodium hypochlorite).

1. Make water safe to drink. When boiling water is not an option available, and there is no other means of purifying water, bleach is an option.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends using about eight drops of bleach for each gallon of water for emergency water purification. Wait at least 30 minutes after adding the drops of bleach before drinking the water.

If you do not have a dropper, you can dip the corner of a piece of paper into the bleach, allowing it to form drops on the end. Then, shake the drops into the water.

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Do not use scented bleaches for water purification purposes. These bleaches contain additional perfumes, dyes and additives that can be poisonous.

2. Sanitize surfaces and containers for food preparation and food storage. You can disinfect contaminated surface areas with a solution of one teaspoon of bleach per one gallon of water.

Use the bleach solution whenever any surface has been exposed to any raw meat or raw poultry to prevent the transferring of bacteria to other foods.

Also, use the same bleach solution to clean and deodorize plastic coolers and thermoses. Pour the solution into a cooler, washing the side and corners and letting the solution soak for about 30 minutes. Rinse well and then drain the solution. To clean a thermos, pour the solution into the thermos and let it soak for about 10 minutes before rinsing well.

3. Clean fruits and vegetables. In an emergency, fresh fruits and vegetables can become contaminated by flooding and by standing water. Clean the food’s outer layer by soaking it for 30 seconds in a solution of one teaspoon of bleach per one gallon of water. Rinse well with clean water and let the fruit or vegetable air dry.

7 Smart, Off-Grid Reasons You Should Stockpile Bleach

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4. Kill mold and mildew. Dangerous molds and mildews can grow quickly during many weather emergencies and/or power outages in hot weather.

To kill mold and mildew, mix together one cup of bleach with one gallon of water. Then spray or sponge the solution on affected areas. Let the solution work for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing the area well.

5. Clean clothing and bedding. In many crisis situations, there is the danger of the spread of disease. You can clean and sanitize clothing and bedding with a bleach/water solution ratio of 1 to 100.

6. Sanitize hard surfaces. You may also use the one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water solution to kill germs on any hard surfaces that you frequently touch in your home, such as doorknobs and light switches.

7. Disinfect toys. Kill germs on children’s hard, non-porous color-safe toys by soaking them in a solution of one-half cup of bleach per one gallon of water for five minutes. Then rinse with clean water and let the toys air dry, preferably in the sunshine.

Using bleach can be dangerous, so you do need to take some precautions. First, bleach works as a contact agent, so avoid spraying bleach into the air. Not only will it be ineffective in killing airborne viruses, but you will run the risk of getting bleach droplets in your eyes or on surfaces that could be damaged by the bleach.

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Do not mix bleach with other cleaning solutions such as white vinegar or ammonia. You can create poisonous fumes by mixing these chemicals. Be aware that anyone who suffers from asthma or other breathing-related difficulties should stay clear of bleach.

Bleach is a dangerous, corrosive substance. Dilute it with water for most jobs, and wear heavy rubber gloves, eye protection and a facemask when working with bleach. Open windows to provide ventilation in any area in which you are using bleach.

Did you know bleach has an expiration date? Yes, bleach loses its potency after about six to eight months, so you will want to rotate your supply. You needn’t dispose of your expired bleach; it still can be useful for some cleaning purposes.

Here some other uses for bleach in and around your home:

  • Kills slippery moss and algae on unpainted bricks, patio stone and cement.
  • Kills weeds.
  • Destroys insect eggs in standing water.
  • Cleans and disinfects trashcans.
  • Removes mildew stains from shower curtains and rubber shower mats.

Because of its corrosive power, bleach should not be your first option for daily cleaning. However, in a heavy-duty emergency, you will find that bleach can literally be a lifesaver. Plus, it is inexpensive and readily available at your local grocery or hardware store, often as inexpensively as $1 a gallon.

Related: 

7 Off-Grid, Surprising Reasons You Should Stockpile Vinegar

What are reasons you stockpile bleach? Share your tips in the section below:

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Everything You’ve Heard About Drinking Whole Milk Is Wrong

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Everything You've Heard About Drinking Whole Milk Is Wrong

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Skim. Low fat. Two percent. One percent. What type of milk do you choose for your family? If you are like most Americans, you steer clear of whole milk, believing that it contains too much fat and calories.

Since the early 1970s, whole milk has been criticized by scientists and nutritionists for its high content in saturated fats, which have been believed to lead to weight gain, and because of its high LDL level (or bad cholesterol level), which has been thought to contribute to heart disease.

According to the USDA, sales of whole fat milk sales decreased by more than 60 percent between 1975 and 2014. During the same period, on the other hand, sales of 2 percent milk increased by almost 106 percent, and sales of 1 percent and skim milk soared by about 170 percent and 156 percent, respectively.

Some critics have called a glass of whole milk no better than a glass of liquid fat. Others have said that whole milk consumption can be a contributing factor to the onset of diabetes.

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However, recent studies are showing that we have been sold a bill of goods where whole milk is concerned, and that drinking whole milk actually may be better for you than drinking low fat or non-fat milk. Here’s one reason: The fat content in milk helps bind its other ingredients, such as calcium and vitamins, so that the body can absorb them more efficiently, studies show.

A recent article published in the European Journal of Nutrition reported that people who consume full-fat dairy products, including whole milk, are not more likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes than people who consume low-fat dairy products.

Dr. Mario Kratz, first author of the study review and a nutrition scientist at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, reviewed 25 studies for the published research. In a press release accompanying the review, he reported that none of the research suggested that low-fat dairy is healthier or is better for humans in terms of obesity.

Everything You've Heard About Drinking Whole Milk Is Wrong

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A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care in 2013 reviewed the dairy consumption and obesity rates of about 1,500 middle-aged and senior adults. It found that those people who frequently consumed full-fat dairy products had lower obesity rates than those who consumed low-fat dairy products.

How is it that a food with more calories can be better for maintaining a healthy weight? The answer lies in the fact that not all calories are the same. Kratz and his team theorized that the fatty acids in whole dairy products help you stay fuller longer and thus eat less in the long run. Dairy fat may also help the body regulate hormones and help your body burn energy.

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United States commercial dairies process milk of all fat contents similarly. The cream is separated from the whey. With the exception of skim milk, the cream is then added back in. Low-fat milk contains 1 percent or 2 percent fat, and whole milk contains 3.25 percent fat. (Of course, if you drink raw milk, you don’t have to worry about that.)

Not surprisingly, the taste of low fat and skim milk is less rich and creamy than low fat varieties Frequently, dairies add flavors to low-fat and skim milk to make up for the loss of taste when the fat is removed. In those cases, the sugar content can increase by as much as 14g per eight ounce serving.

Whole milk contains fewer carbohydrates than low fat or skim milk because more of its volume contains fat. Whole milk also contains slightly less protein than low fat or nonfat options.

Recent research also shows that the saturated fats in whole milk may protect against certain diseases and are not associated with heart disease as previously thought.

If are concerned about the use of growth hormones or antibiotics in commercial dairies, check out organic milk options at your grocery store. You also could consider purchasing your cow’s milk straight from a dairy farmer whose cows are raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics.

Scientific recommendations vary on how much milk we should drink on a daily basis. The Harvard School of Public Health, for instance, recommends consuming one or two servings a day of milk and dairy products. On the other hand, the International Food Information Council’s latest dietary guidelines suggest three servings of milk, or of an equivalent dairy product per day.

How much milk you should drink each day may be unclear, but it does appear that drinking whole milk is something you can put back into your diet in moderation without any misgivings.

Do you believe whole milk is healthy? Share your thoughts in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

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7 Off-Grid, Surprising Reasons You Should Stockpile Vinegar

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7 Off-Grid, Surprising Reasons You Should Stockpile Vinegar

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When you are gathering and storing items for an emergency, you naturally think of food, water and clothing. White vinegar usually does not does not fit under one of those categories, but you will find it to be an indispensable addition to your stockpile.

White vinegar is inexpensive, non-toxic and it serves many important purposes. Here are seven reasons why you should stockpile white vinegar.

1. Vinegar kills germs and bacteria. Research shows that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar (which is the kind commonly found at the supermarket) kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold and 80 percent of viruses.

Place vinegar in a spray bottle to clean and to disinfect your home, including the kitchen and the bathroom. If you are worried about the strong smell, realize it will dissipate in a few hours, or you can combine vinegar with lemon juice to cut the vinegary odor and for added cleaning and disinfecting power.

2. Vinegar is helpful in the kitchen. White vinegar can lend a hand to many cooking tasks. For example, try adding a few tablespoons of vinegar to the water when you boil eggs. It helps prevent the whites from leaking out if the shell cracks. Adding the same amount to the water when you are poaching eggs helps the egg whites stay formed.

Another cooking tip is to rub your hands with white vinegar after cutting onions to eliminate the unpleasant odor. You also perk up wilted leafy greens by soaking them in cold water and vinegar.

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Finally, you can reduce the amount of gassiness that vegetables in the cabbage family – including cauliflower and broccoli — cause by adding a little vinegar to the cooking water. This idea also works when cooking beans.

7 Off-Grid, Surprising Reasons You Should Stockpile Vinegar

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3. Vinegar is a general household cleaner. Keeping in mind that it is an odor neutralizer and a disinfectant, vinegar works wonders all through the home.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Remove watermarks on furniture with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and olive oil. Rub the solution against the grain.
  • Clean tile grout with white vinegar and a toothbrush.
  • Remove cloudy deposits from glassware and windows with white vinegar.
  • Attract and kill pesky fruit flies by setting out a small dish of white vinegar with some pieces of smashed fruit. Cover the dish with plastic wrap that has some holes in it. The flies will be attracted to the bowl but will not be able to get out.
  • Deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring a mix of equal parts vinegar and baking soda down the drain. Let it sit and fizz for a few minutes before flushing with warm water.
  • Pour a cup of vinegar into the bottom of your dishwasher to get rid of grimy build-up and to keep things smelling fresh.

4. Vinegar works wonders on your clothes. Vinegar works its magic on clothing and upholstery, too. You can spray white vinegar on shirts that are stained by deodorant or perspiration. It also works well on stubborn mustard, ketchup and tomato sauce stains

If someone in your home has a bed-wetting accident, you can apply a solution of vinegar and water to the mattress. After it dries, sprinkle on some baking soda and then brush or vacuum thoroughly. Problem solved.

Try adding a cup of white vinegar to your washing machine’s rinse cycle. It helps boost the colors in your laundry, and it can help dissolve soap residue for a cleaner wash. Additionally, vinegar acts as a natural and inexpensive fabric softener, mildew reducer, static reducer and mold inhibitor.

5. Vinegar can be used outdoors. White vinegar is handy as a car cleaner. Try using a three-to-one solutions of white vinegar and water to clean your car’s windows and windshield.

Do you have old bumper stickers or window decals you want to get rid of? Vinegar is good at de-sticking stuff. Spray the sticker with enough white vinegar to saturate the area, and then let it sit for a few hours. The sticker should then peel away easily.

You can kill weeds and crabgrass along your property’s sidewalks and driveways by pouring white vinegar on them. The best part? It is non-toxic to children and pets.

6. Vinegar is great for animal care. Keep products with chemical ingredients you can’t pronounce away from your pets by using vinegar for pet-cleaning tasks. Here are a few pet-related ways to use vinegar:

  • Use vinegar to clean and deodorize the cat litter box.
  • Get rid of skunk odor by soaking your pet in a tub filled with a half-and-half solution of vinegar and water. Then rinse well with fresh water.
  • Spray a water and vinegar solution on places that you want your pets to stay away from in your home. Cats, in particular, hate the smell.
  • Clean your pet’s itchy ears with a cotton swab dampened with white vinegar.

7. Vinegar works for a myriad of other uses, as well. You can use white vinegar to clean and deodorize all through your home. Here are a few other ideas you may not have considered.

Vinegar can remove build-up and deposits on a showerhead. Simply remove the showerhead and let it soak overnight in a bowl or basin – or even a zippered bag — filled with white vinegar.

Extend the life of your cut flowers by adding two tablespoons of white vinegar to the vase water.

You also can use vinegar to loosen stuck-on chewing gum on furniture or floors. In addition, you can bring life back to scuffed CDs and DVDs. Simply wipe them down with a soft cloth moistened with vinegar.

Do you know of other uses for vinegar? Share your ideas in the section below:

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The Quickest Ways To Test Your Water For Lead

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The Quickest Ways To Test Your Water For Lead

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The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has underscored the need for the monitoring of lead levels in our water supply. In a move to save money in financially strapped Flint, the state moved the city’s water supply source from Detroit to the polluted Flint River. In addition to pollutants in the river water, many of the lines that deliver the water to Flint residents were eroding, leaching lead and other contaminants into the water.

As the finger-pointing in that situation continues, what remains clear is that Americans need to be alert to the problem of old pipes and the dangers they can bring, especially to babies and children. Flint’s Hurley Medical Center has found that the number of children with above-average lead levels in their bloodstreams skyrocketed after Flint changed it water source.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls lead the most dangerous environmental health hazard for American children today. Babies can get about 50 percent of their exposure to lead by drinking formula made with contaminated water.

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Lead levels can accumulate in the body slowly over time, so even low levels can become toxic eventually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even a blood level of as little as 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter can have a harmful effect on a child’s learning and behavior, for example.

Lead exposure can damage the body’s nervous and reproductive systems as well as the kidneys. It also can contribute to high blood pressure and anemia. Lead accumulates in the bones, and therefore it interferes with the body’s metabolism of calcium and Vitamin D.

The Quickest Ways To Test Your Water For Lead

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Municipal water systems are required to test their tap water regularly and to publish the test results on an annual basis. Many of these tests also are available on local water authority websites. You also may be able to access your local report through the EPA website.

If your water comes from a private well, visit EPA.gov/privatewells.

Lead also can come from your own home’s interior pipes or from the line coming from your main supply to your home. Lead often comes from the corrosion of older pipes and fixtures and/or from the lead solder that is connecting the pipes. When water sits in those corroded pipes, lead can enter the water supply.

How can you tell if your own drinking water is safe for your family? Since you cannot see, smell or taste lead in drinking water, the CDC says the only way to know if it contains lead or not is to have it tested.

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Here are some steps to follow:If you use utility water, then contact your local water authority for lead test results. Test results should fall below the EPA’s action level of 15 ppb. (This number means 15 particles of lead in a billion particles of water.)

1. If you use utility water, then contact your local water authority for lead test results. Test results should fall below the EPA’s action level of 15 ppb. (This number means 15 particles of lead in a billion particles of water.) Next, inquire about

2. Next, inquire about testing of the service pipe (header pipe) at your street.

3. If the header pipe also tests for safe lead levels, it is time to test the water within your home to see if lead is entering the water from pipes or fixtures inside your home. Many local water agencies will test your home’s water for no cost. Check with your agency.

4. If this service is not available, you can schedule a test by a state-certified testing laboratory. Visit this EPA link for more information.

5. Another option – especially if you use well water — is to use a national testing service, such as National Underwriter Laboratories. NUL will test your water for contaminants, including everything from lead to fecal bacteria. Cost can range from about $50 to $500, depending on how many contaminants that are screened.

6. You also can test your home’s water supply yourself, using a home test kit designed for that purpose. Hardware stores and home-improvement stores sell these do-it-yourself kits, and the prices usually range from about $15 to about $60 per test kit.

If you go this route, be sure to follow the package directions carefully. You should test “first draw” water, or the water that comes out of your faucet after sitting for about eight hours or overnight. This water will have the most accumulation of contaminants. As you use your household water throughout the day, you flush toxins out and may not get an accurate reading.

Have you ever tested your water for lead? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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Kerosene: The Best Backup Heat For Off-Gridders?

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Kerosene: The Best Backup Heat For Off-Gridders?

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No matter where you live and what the heat source for your home, you may encounter a time when you need a back-up heater.

Portable kerosene heaters have many advantages. They store easily and are relatively inexpensive to use as a backup for an electrical outage or for when the wood for your fireplace or woodstove is too wet or scarce. They also burn fairly clean and can produce a good amount of heat for their size. And, the kerosene itself is easy to safely store.

There are two basic types of kerosene heaters you can use in your home — convective and radiant.

Usually circular in shape, convective kerosene heaters are designed for larger areas of your home. You should not use them for a bedroom or other small closed-in area. Convective kerosene heaters allow warm air to move upward and outward throughout the space.

A drawback of convective heaters is that they do not have removable fuel tanks and usually must be moved for refueling. Be sure to look for models that have a fuel gauge to make this process easier.

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Radiant kerosene heaters, on the other hand, usually are box-like or rectangular in shape. These heaters are designed for smaller areas, such as bedrooms. They have a wick, a combustion chamber and a reflector that allows you to direct the heat at certain spots of the room.

Most radiant models have a removable fuel tank, which makes refueling more convenient than with convective heaters. Some radiant models have electric fans to increase the flow of air, but, of course, this option will not do you much good in an electrical outage.

Follow All Warnings

Safety is one of the reasons many people are hesitant about using either form of kerosene heaters in their homes. Indeed, to minimize the risk of fire, you should use extreme caution in using kerosene heaters.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, supplemental heaters, such as kerosene heaters, are the leading cause of home fires during the winter months. On a year-round basis, supplemental heaters come second only to cooking equipment as the leading cause of home fires.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when using kerosene heaters.

  • Use only 1-K grade kerosene for your heater. Do not use gasoline or another substitutes such as camp stove fuel. Other fuels can start a fire or cause an explosion.
  • Use a heater that is tested, labeled and listed to have passed national safety standards.
  • Match the square footage of the space you want to heat with the output of the heater.
  • Place the heater on a level, protected surface where it is out of the way and will not be bumped into or knocked over.
  • Purchase a heater that has an automatic safety shut-off device. This switch will snuff out the flame if the heater is tipped over, for example.
  • Do not refuel an indoor kerosene heater when the heater is still hot. It is important to wait for it to cool.
  • Do not move a lighted kerosene heater. If you need to move it, first extinguish the flame and then wait for the heater to cool before moving it.
  • During heating season, check the wick on a weekly basis. Follow manufacturer’s directions for cleaning the wick.
  • Since kerosene heaters have an open flame, they should not be used in a room where there are any other flammable solvents, such as aerosol sprays, lacquers or oils. Additionally, it is important to keep kerosene heaters a minimum of three feet away from furniture, curtains, clothing, bedding and other combustible materials, such as paper.
  • If your children or pets touch part of an operating kerosene heater, it could result in a serious burn. Keep kids and pets away.
  • Do not smoke around a kerosene heater.
  • Clean any kerosene oil spills promptly. Spilled fuel is a fire hazard.
  • Do not store kerosene in a container that has been used or could be used for other materials. Make sure the container is designed for kerosene storage and is appropriately marked as such. Blue containers are often used for kerosene.

In addition to the fire risk kerosene heaters pose, they also can pollute your indoor air, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde are released into the air when kerosene heaters operate.

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These pollutants can build up in the home, if not monitored. One solution to this problem is to purchase a vented heater and to exhaust the gases outside through a wall in your home. If venting outside is not an option, do not use the heater in a closed space. A carbon monoxide detector would be a good investment.

If anyone in your family experiences dizziness, drowsiness, respiratory irritation or breathing difficulty when the heater is in operation, turn off the heater and move the family member where he or she can get some fresh air.

Finally, if your kerosene heater does ignite a fire, do not try to move or carry the heater. This movement could actually make the fire worse.

Instead, turn off the heater immediately. If this does not extinguish the fire, leave the house and call the fire department.

Portable kerosene heaters can be a great way to supplement the heat in your home this winter. When you follow proper precautions, they can add to your peace of mind that your family will be warm in an emergency.

Have you ever used kerosene to heat? Share your advice and tips in the section below:

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11 All-Natural Remedies You Should Stockpile For Flu Season

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11 All-Natural Remedies You Should Stockpile For Flu Season

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Cold and flu season is here, and many Americans are stocking up on over-the-counter medications to help fight sickness.

In fact, according to the research organization Euromonitor International, retail sales of cough, cold and allergy remedies in the US are expected to reach $8.8 billion in the next four years. However, before you hit the pharmacy or even your doctor’s office for a prescription, you would do well to look to a variety of potent natural remedies. Many of them can be found in your grocery store’s fresh produce section, or they may already be in your kitchen.

1. Lemon juice. Heat it and mix it with water, and then drink. You can ease a sore throat by heating water and adding fresh lemon juice. A spoonful of honey helps the taste and offers an added boost of nutrition.

2. Apple cider vinegar. Add a tablespoon of this miracle liquid to a glass of water and gargle on an hourly basis until symptoms improve. The vinegar helps alkalize the body and helps kill infections.

3. Cinnamon. Cinnamon is effective as a natural antiviral and antibiotic. Simply mix one tablespoon of cinnamon with one teaspoon of honey and stir to make a tangy tea that helps reduce cough and congestion.

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4. Garlic. Garlic is a natural antibiotic, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Finely mince two to three cloves and then place them in a small glass of water. Drink quickly.

5. Thyme. You can use thyme as an antiseptic and decongestant. Steep thyme leaves into a tea and sip slowly.

6. Eucalyptus essential oil. Eucalyptus is a natural antibiotic and naturally antiviral. Add a few drops to heated water and inhale for relief from congestion.

7. Peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil is a soothing remedy for sinus congestion, nausea and upset stomach.

8. Oregano. Oregano can be used in a soothing tea, or it can be added to a warm bath. It is a natural antibiotic.

9. Ginger. Use fresh ginger on its own or blended with garlic for its strong antiviral qualities and its ability to boost immune system function.

11 All-Natural Remedies You Should Stockpile For Flu Season10. Honey. An excellent source of antioxidants, raw honey can help rebalance electrolyte levels and treat coughs and sore throats. Also, when used consistently, raw honey can help increase the body’s white blood cell count. Take a teaspoon of honey directly or add it to your favorite herbal tea.

11. Echinacea. Echinacea contains polysaccharides that naturally boost the body’s resistance to infection. A study involving 755 participants conducted by the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University found that participants who took echinacea had significantly fewer sick days than those who took a placebo.

Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Needs

Nature has provided us with vitamins and minerals that boost our immune system so that we can ward off illness, but it’s important to understand which vitamins and minerals we need for flu season. Consider increasing your intake of:

Vitamin C. Increasing your intake of Vitamin C should be among your first line of defense in cold and flu season. In controlled studies, Vitamin C has been shown to aid in the prevention of influenza, as well as shorten the duration and reduce the severity of respiratory infections. Foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, berries and papayas.

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Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain the body’s mucus membranes, which are part of our defenses against viral and bacterial infections. Vitamin A also assists with vital T cell function, which is part of a healthy immune system. Natural sources of Vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, squashes, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, liver, fish and tropical fruits.

Vitamin D3. As a hormone precursor, Vitamin D3 helps optimize important Vitamin D levels, which can help prevent illness and help speed recovery. Cod liver oil is a potent source of Vitamin D3. Other lesser sources are beef liver, egg yolks, cheese and fatty fish

Zinc. Zinc helps maintain healthy immune function. Low levels are associated with a decrease in T cell function, the white blood cell that helps us fight infections. Natural sources of zinc are spinach, lean beef, shrimp, kidney beans, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and oysters.

Many teas and herbal drinks have been used for centuries to fight off illness. Next, let’s look at hot drinks that can help during cold and flu season.

Before taking any supplement, check with your health care provider. This is especially true for young children and pregnant or nursing women.

Here are some other natural tips for boosting your body’s resistance to illness if you feel a cold or flu coming on:

  1. Take a hot bath with one to two cups of Epsom salt added to the water. Epsom salt has many beneficial properties that can help soothe and relax the nervous system, soothe bodily aches and pains, ease muscle strains, heal cuts and abrasions, and treat congestion.
  2. Drink plenty of warm liquids, including the above-mentioned teas as well as soups and plenty of water.
  3. Get plenty of rest. When you are fighting off an illness, your body needs some down time. Stop “burning the candle at both ends” and get to bed early.

What do you stockpile for flu and cold season? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Beet Juice … As A Deicer?

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Beet Juice … As A Deicer?

Did you know that run-off from road salt can affect soil and water in a similar way as acid rain? According to a study by University of Maine researchers, road salt run-off at concentrations of 220 milligrams per liter can cause 10 percent of a waterway’s species to die within a month.

As it is applied, road salt also bounces off the roads, finding its ways into fields, streams and gutters quite a ways from the road where it was placed, and often causing more and more salt to be spread on that road. Scientists have documented an increase in groundwater salinity in the winter months and particularly in areas that are close to major roadways. In other words, they have made a link between road salt and the contaminated ground water.

As a result of the dangers of road salt and its high cost, many municipalities have looked to more environmentally friendly alternatives for de-icing roads, sidewalks and trails. One of the most promising alternatives is beet juice.

Yes, beet juice. A mixture of beet juice – made from the lowly sugar beet — and salt is less toxic, less corrosive, and stays put better than salt alone.

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation pioneered beet juice as a deicer. The sugar beet industry is big in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota, and researchers were looking for ways to use and/or re-use sugar beet waste when they found the benefits of beet juice as a deicer.

Whereas salt only prevents water from freezing at temperatures of 5 degrees or higher, beet juice lowers the freezing point of water to as low as 20 degrees below zero. Adding beet juice to road salt also significantly lowers the “bounce rate” of salt from about 30 percent to 5 percent. Therefore, far less salt is needed to cover an icy roadway or walkway.  Beet juice deicer is also easier on vehicles, pavement, plants, trees and waterways.

Plus, the savings can add up. With the use of the new beet juice product, the Morton Arboretum in suburban Chicago is using nine times less salt, a savings of saving almost $14,000.

Beet Juice … As A Deicer?

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K-Tech Specialty Coatings in Indiana has been distributing a product called “Beet Heet,” which is a sugar beet molasses-based product that can increase salt’s capacity to melt ice. Promotional material for the sticky mixture says it stays put on the road with much less runoff or bounce off than salt alone.

Last winter about 175 municipal agencies — most of them in the Midwest — used the product or a similar one. The brine made from beet juice and salt “hangs on” to the road for several days, melting snow and ice and making repeated applications unnecessary.

The New York Thruway Authority, for example, is in its fourth year using a beet extract solution as part of its winter maintenance program. According to a 2015 press release from the Thruway Authority, the agency expected to use 175,000 tons of rock salt, 230,000 gallons of salt brine and 100,000 gallons of the beet brine mixture to keep the roads free of ice.

Now, you may be wondering why you haven’t seen a purplish red hue on the roads during the winter

That is because the beet juice deicer is actually a brown liquid, made partly from extract of the white sugar beet. The brownish mixture does not stain the raids.

For more than a decade, scientists have been experimenting with beet juice and other natural ways to melt ice or to make salt work more effectively. Some of the other products finding their way into road salt mixtures are cheese brine, molasses and potatoes.

With the success of beet juice, the experimentation is sure to continue.

What is your reaction to the use of beet juice to clear roads? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The Right Way (And Wrong Way) To Garden Indoors With Grow Lights

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The Right Way (And Wrong Way) To Garden Indoors With Grow Lights

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Starting and growing plants indoors is a great way to augment your gardening space and to extend your growing season. However, providing the proper lighting for your indoor plants can seem like a daunting task.

It doesn’t have to be. With the right grow lights, you can be on your way to an indoor garden this winter. The first decision to make is incandescent versus fluorescent lighting. Most indoor plants will benefit from fluorescent lighting, which is more energy efficient and burns cooler than incandescent lighting.

Standard 20- and 40-watt fluorescent tubes are great for starting plants from seeds. For larger plants, you can use high output fluorescent lighting, which produces double the amount of light as standard tubes, yet burns cool. High output tubes have a lifespan of about 10,000 hours.

Just as they do outdoors, plants have varying needs for light. Too much light can cause foliage to curl. Too much heat can cause leaves to burn. On the other hand, plants that receive too little light can become weak and stretched-out out or “leggy.”

How much light is the right amount depends on what you are growing. Foliage plants generally require less light, for instance, whereas exotic plants like more light. Keep in mind also that some plants – such as the poinsettia — require periods with no little to no light in order to flower.

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Plants use light waves that we can see (visible light) and some invisible wavelengths we can’t see (such as infrared light). Plants capture these wavelengths in both the blue and red parts of the light spectrum to use during photosynthesis.

Standard incandescent lights serve as a good source of red rays, but they a poor source of blue rays. Incandescent bulbs also produce more heat than many plants can tolerate. On the other hand, fluorescent lights give off both red and blue wavelengths. They also give off little heat, so they can be placed only inches above seedlings and young plants.

The Right Way (And Wrong Way) To Garden Indoors With Grow Lights

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Be sure to account for plant growth with the placement of your fluorescent grow lighting. Although fluorescent lights work well when they are close to plants, you will need to raise the fixtures as your plants grow. Plants that touch a fixture can burn, so consider adjustable hangers for your grow lights.

How do you determine how much indoor lighting you need? For light-needy plants like tomatoes, a good rule of thumb is about 40 watts per square foot of growing space. For low light plants such as herbs and lettuces, you need only about 25 to 30 watts per square foot.

When figuring your growing area, be sure to measure only your growing area, not the actual room size. If you will be growing tomatoes in a 3 x 3 area, here is the formula for lighting:

The growing area: 3 x 3 = 9 square feet. To get the desired wattage, multiply watts x square feet. So, 40 x 9 = 360 watts. You can round up to 400 watts and plan on using a 400 watt grow light for optimum tomato growth.

Also, consider a reflector. What is a reflector? A reflector ensures that your plants receive a uniform amount of light from a grow light.

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Keep in mind that the quantity of light can drop off dramatically under the lights, depending on where the plants are located. A sign that this is happening is when seedlings and plants grow at an angle toward brighter light. To solve this problem, extend fluorescent light reflectors out past the edges of your flats. Another trick is to line older reflectors with aluminum foil to provide more light for your plants. You also can place aluminum foil or a white surface behind plant fixtures for more light reflection.

Horizontal reflectors are the most efficient reflectors and are the most popular. To determine the type of reflector you need, once again you must factor in the size of your growing area.

For the 3 x 3 tomato garden we have been using as an example, a small reflector will help provide the maximum amount of light on the growing plants. Look for reflectors that have air-cooling flanges and tempered glass.

Take the time to shop around for the right grow lights for your indoor garden. Check out your local garden store as well as some of the variety of deals that are available online.

About 2.7 million American households buy indoor grow lights each year and, according to the University of Vermont Extension Service, about 15 million American households grow plants under lights indoors. You can join those numbers today.

By using grow lights effectively, you can grow plants from virtually any location in your house at any time of year – and enjoy fresh produce even during the cold months. Give it a try.

What advice on grow lights would you add? Share it in the section below:

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How ‘Nighttime’ Cow’s Milk Can Actually Make You Healthier

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How 'Nighttime' Cow's Milk Can Actually Make You Healthier

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Did your grandmother encourage you to drink a cup of warm milk before bed? This folk remedy has been around for generations, and like many folk remedies, there is actually something to it. However, the type of milk – specifically when the milk was milked from the cow – may have more to do with its effect on our sleepiness than we ever thought.

Recent research indicates that cow’s milk that is milked at night may have more of a sleep-inducing effect on humans than milk that is milked during the day — and if you have trouble sleeping, that means it can actually make you healthier.

Researchers from Seoul, Korea’s Sahmyook University found that so-called “night milk” contains more tryptophan and melatonin, natural hormones that aid in regulating the sleep-wake cycle.

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, mice were fed with dried powder made from cows milked during the day and the night. The mice who were fed night milk were less active than those who were fed the milk collected during daytime hours. Scientists noted that the night milk contained 10 times the amount of melatonin and 24 percent more tryptophan than daytime milk.

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Mice fed on night milk also exhibited less anxiety and more of a willingness to explore open spaces than mice that had daytime milk.

How 'Nighttime' Cow's Milk Can Actually Make You Healthier

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“Considering the fact that tryptophan and melatonin are abundant in night milk, it is possible that the sedative effect of night milk may be attributable to these substances,” researchers theorized in a press release accompanying the 2015 research findings.

A German company has already capitalized on the sleep-inducing aspects of night milk. In 2010, Munich-based Milchkristalle GmbH released its “Nachtmilchkristalle” product (translated as night milk crystals). The powder is made from milk collected from dairy cows between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

The body converts tryptophan — an essential amino acid that we can only get through the foods we eat — into serotonin, a natural hormone in the body that helps make you sleepy. The body then uses serotonin to make melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles.

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Tryptophan also is used by the body to make niacin, a B vitamin that is important for the skin and for the digestive system. Niacin also has been associated with calming anxiety.

Milk is not the only source of tryptophan. Poultry, meats, cheese, yogurt, fish and eggs contain the hormone, and pumpkin seeds are a good non-animal source.

Previous research studies have suggested that the calcium content of milk also makes it work as a sleep aid. Calcium can help some people to relax.

If you choose to drink milk before bed – whether it is daytime milk or nighttime milk — nutritionists recommend that you watch the fat content. The fat in whole milk can put a burden on your digestive system when you drink it before retiring for the night.

What do you think about the daytime milk vs. nighttime milk debate? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

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Your Grandma Was Right About Early Risers (And Here’s Scientific Proof)

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Your Grandma Was Right About Early Risers (And Here’s Scientific Proof)

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William Blake wrote, “Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”

Jonathan Swift wrote. “I never knew a man come to greatness or eminence who lay abed late in the morning.”

Benjamin Franklin wrote “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

For centuries, philosophers have written about the advantages of rising early. However, are early risers really more productive than late risers? Research seems to confirm it, and what’s more, early birds tend to be healthier overall than their night owl compatriots.

First, what is a morning person? The term is informally defined as someone who feels awake and full of energy in the mornings. Morning people also tend to wake up naturally around the same time each day, by 7 a.m. or earlier.

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Research shows that early risers are more productive at work, get better grades and are healthier in mind and body. One theory is that getting up early gives you more time to prepare for the day.

According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, work supervisors evaluated morning workers as more conscientious than those who start work later. These findings remained constant even after researchers accounted for total work hours and objective job performance reports.

A study conducted in 2013 of students at five German high schools found that late risers had lower grades than morning people, even after researchers accounted for factors such as cognitive abilities and their motivation to do well in school. Another study conducted by the University of North Texas in Denton of more than 800 college students found that early risers had a GPA that was a full point higher – 3.5 as compared with 2.5 — than their night owl peers.

Your Grandma Was Right About Early Risers (And Here’s Scientific Proof)

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Study author Daniel J. Taylor theorized that early bird students find it easier get to classes on time and to study before later classes. He added that students who go to bed earlier might be less likely to drink excessively or to participate in other activities that could negatively affect their academic performance.

Whether or not you are an early or late riser can also affect your body weight, according to research by Northwestern University. The study, which found that early risers have a lower body mass index (BMI) than late risers, connected this finding with the body’s dependence on the circadian rhythm. Lead researcher Phyllis C. Zee concluded that if we do not get enough light at the appropriate times of day, our body clock could be affected, leading to an altered metabolism and weight gain.

Early risers also tend to be more consistent in adhering to an exercise regime, according to the American Council on Exercise. Most studies indicate that people who exercise in the morning set and maintain more rigorous workout schedules.

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An altered body clock can even affect your driving ability. Spanish researchers found that night owls taking an 8 a.m. driving test performed worse than they did on the same test given at 8 p.m. Early risers, on the other hand, had consistently better scores at both times.

An interesting aspect of these and other studies about early risers is that the findings do not have to do with the amount of sleep we get, but instead with when we sleep. Our bodies are designed to sleep with a natural circadian rhythm that is connected with sunlight and darkness. To put it simply, most people who adjust to this cycle sleep better.

Research by Harvard University suggests that night owls can reset their circadian rhythm by going outside into the daylight early in the morning. If you are a late riser, one way to work your way into an earlier wake-up time is to get up a half-hour earlier for three days and then to repeat the process with another 30 minutes adjustment.

If you need more of an inducement to “get up and at ‘em” earlier, research indicates that early risers are happier than night owls. According to a University of Toronto study of more than 700 adults, morning people reported up to 25 percent higher feelings of cheerfulness, happiness and alertness than their night owl counterparts did. The study linked early exposure to daylight to more energy and a reduced risk of depression.

Convinced? Here are some other tips to move to more of an early bird lifestyle:

  • Sleep in a quiet, dark room for effective sleep. Turn off electronic screens 30 to 60 minutes before you get in bed.
  • Get everything you will need in the morning – such as clothes and lunch — together before you go to bed. Shortening your morning to-do list makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning.
  • Maintain a regular evening routine that will let your mind and body know it is time for sleep.
  • Be consistent by setting your alarm clock for the same time every morning — weekdays and weekends.
  • Move the alarm clock away from the bed so that you must get out of bed to reach it. Set it to play a pleasing tone and skip the snooze button once and for all.
  • Open your curtains and shades to let in as much light as possible.
  • Drink a glass of water soon after rising. Dehydration causes fatigue. If you are groggy when you wake up, you may need water, not more sleep.
  • Eat breakfast for the energy and brain food it provides.

The bottom line is your grandmother was right. Early birds do get the worm. Why not make getting up a half hour earlier or more one of your New Year’s Resolutions?

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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7 Guaranteed Ways To Beat The Post-Christmas Winter ‘Blahs’

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7 Guaranteed Ways To Beat The Post-Christmas Winter ‘Blahs’

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The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over, the cold weather has set in, and spring seems like a long time away.

If you are like many people, you may be experiencing a post-Christmas letdown or what we commonly call the “winter blues.” Some of the causes include the low amount of daylight hours, the wintry weather that keeps us more sedentary and the after-effects of some holiday diet splurges. In addition, we may be less than thrilled with heading back to the same-old, same-old after a festive break from our normal routine.

Take heart. There are some tangible ways to combat the winter blues. Here are seven ways you can get your 2016 off to a healthier and more energetic start.

1. Get outside. During the shorter days of winter, our bodies produce more melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. As a result, we can feel more sluggish. When we combine that lack of energy with the wintry weather outside, we may stay inside more than we should.

To combat the negative feelings that result from staying put too often, plan to spend some time outdoors each day. Even a 20- to 30-minute walk can improve your outlook by triggering the production of mood-boosting endorphins in your brain.

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Aim to make the most of the day’s sunlight, since the sun provides the body with important Vitamin D. In addition, when you are inside working, try to sit by a window to expose yourself to as much light as possible during the day.

2. Get some exercise. If it is too cold or wet to spend much time outdoors, head to the gym for a workout. Even 20 minutes of activity can elevate your mood and reduce anxiety levels.

January is a great time to start an exercise class or to take up an indoor sport, such as swimming, that will get you moving. It’s even a great time to start an outdoor sport, such as snowshoeing.

Don’t forget to use exercise as a time to unplug from your electronics. A growing amount of research indicates that our dependence on our smartphones and other forms of technology is making us more stressed.

3. Bring the outdoors in. Indoor plants can boost your spirits and make your home or workplace healthier. Many plants absorb airborne pollutants and release fresh oxygen and beneficial negative ions into the indoor air.

7 Guaranteed Ways To Beat The Post-Christmas Winter ‘Blahs’

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The Environmental Research Laboratory reports that rooms filled with plants can contain more than 50 percent fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without plants.

Additionally, a 2014 study by Exeter University that was published in the journal of the American Psychological Association found that employees were 15 percent more productive when a few houseplants were added to their previously bare workspaces.

Similarly, another study by Washington State University found that workers with common houseplants in their offices were 12 percent more productive and reported less stress than workers without plants in their offices.

Another way to being the outdoors inside is with better indoor lighting. Many sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) find they feel better when they spend time in front of or beneath a light box. Your doctor can give your more information on this light therapy.

4. Watch your nutrition. You don’t need to beat yourself up for all of those Christmas goodies you ate, but now is the time to get your diet and nutrition back on track.

When we reach for sugary foods and for comforting carbohydrates such as pastas and breads, we may in fact be contributing to our feelings of winter doldrums. Be sure to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and lean proteins in your diet.

In addition, many of us neglect to drink enough water during the winter. With dry indoor air and cold outdoor temperatures, we need to make an effort to stay hydrated. You’ll feel better and look better if you do!

5. Plan activities you enjoy. After the holidays, we can miss the social aspect of parties and other events. There is no reason your winter calendar should be a blank slate. Look for ways to keep active.

Try an art class or a book club, for example. Attend movies, concerts, plays or museum events. Plan fun activities or outings around winter holidays such as President’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

6. Help others. Many people look for ways to give back to the community over Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the need for volunteers is great all year-round. A benefit of volunteering is that it makes you feel better while you are helping others.

The opportunities for helping others in your community are endless. Check with your place of worship, your local food bank or homeless shelter. You also could ask at your library or area schools.

7. Plan for spring. Another way to lift your spirits is to make concrete plans for the warmer months. Check out seed catalogs. Create a map for your spring and summer garden. Take a gardening workshop. Reorganize your garage workspace for spring projects.

When the weather permits, prepare your garden for vegetable planting by turning over your soil. Add compost, leaves and other organic material to the soil to enrich it for your spring garden. Research ways you can conserve water when the warm weather hits.

What advice would you add to this list? Share it in the section below:

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The Miracle ‘Pine Tree Medicine’ The Native Americans Drank

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The Miracle 'Pine Tree Medicine' That Native Americans Drank

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Did you know that a pine tree’s needles contain more Vitamin C than fresh orange juice?

In fact, native North Americans drank tea made from pine needles for centuries to both prevent illness and to treat coughs and colds. The natives introduced European settlers to pine needle tea as a way to combat scurvy, a deadly disease caused by Vitamin C deficiency.

Historians also believe that Taoist priests have consumed pine needle tea for centuries for its healing properties and because they believed it slowed the aging process.

Vitamin C works as an antioxidant and an immune system booster. It improves the cardiovascular system as well as skin and eye health.

Pine needle tea also is rich in Vitamin A, an antioxidant beta-carotene which is important for vision (especially in low-light situations), hair and skin regeneration and the production of red blood cells. Pine needle tea has a pleasant smell and taste and is known to lessen fatigue and to improve mental clarity.

The tea is a mild diuretic, so it can have a beneficial effect on the kidneys. The tea has decongestive and disinfectant effects on the respiratory system, often reducing and soothing throat irritation and inflamed bronchi.

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If you are looking for a healthy hot drink this winter, then look no further than the needles from your nearby pine tree. Many people prefer the taste of smaller needles, but the tea from larger needles works well in the tea.

How to Make the Tea

The Miracle 'Pine Tree Medicine' That Native Americans Drank

Image source: Pixabay.com

Your first step is to find and to identify a pine tree that has not been treated or sprayed with chemicals. Many tea drinkers prefer the taste of tea made from the needles of the white pine.

Keep in mind that not all conifers are pine trees. Additionally, some pine tree needles are not safe and may contain isocupressic acid or other toxic substances. All pregnant women should avoid pine needle tea because it can induce an abortion.

Avoid the needles of the following trees:

  • Ponderosa pine (also known as blackjack, western yellow, yellow and bull pine)
  • Lodge pole pine (also known as shore pine)
  • Common juniper
  • Monterey cypress (also known as macrocarpa)
  • Common yew
  • Norfolk pine (also known as Australian pine)

Next, gather a handful of young, green needles from the end of a branch. You may collect older needles if you need more needles.

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Remove the brown, papery sheath from the needles by simply pulling it off. Then wash the needles thoroughly with water.

If desired, you may chop the needles into small pieces about one-quarter-inch to one-half-inch in length. The chopping speeds up the release of the pine needle oils.

Now, heat a cup of water per serving of water to just before the boiling point. Avoid boiling pine needle tea because you will lose valuable nutritional content. Vitamin C, for instance, is heat-sensitive.

Pour the hot water over a tablespoon of needles and then steep the tea for about 10 minutes. Cover the tea while steeping for best results. The needles will settle to the bottom of your cup, but if some of your needles are small, you may want to use a strainer before drinking.

Pine needle tea has a very pale color but a very strong aroma and flavor. Depending on the type of needles you use, your tea color will range from nearly clear, to a light golden brown shade, to a reddish brown.

Pine needle tea tastes great as-is, or you can add lemon, orange or spices as desired. It is a good idea to make only as much tea as you will drink at one sitting, however. Stored pine needle tea tends to lose much of its vitamin content.

While it tastes great hot this time of year, pine needle tea also may be enjoyed cold. Some people swear by the cold tea’s healing properties as a hand wash as well. When the tea is added to bathwater, it can be used to treat gout pain, nerve pain and arthritis, as well as muscle strains and sprains.

Here are a few words of caution about consuming pine needle tea. Again, doctors recommend that pregnant women avoid drinking pine needle tea. Also, be sure to collect needles from trees that are a good distance from a busy road, since the needles can retain chemicals from auto exhaust.

Have you ever make pine needle tea? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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The Crop-Killing, Snow-In-June American Disaster You’ve Never Heard Of

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The Crop-Killing, Snow-In-June Natural Disaster You've Never Heard Of

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The Germans called it “The Year of the Beggar.”

The New Englanders called it “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.”

From his home in Monticello, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Never were such hard times.”

Writer Mary Shelley described a June outing that year to Lake Geneva this way: “An almost perpetual rain confines us principally to the house.” She ended up using some of the descriptions of that dreary summer in her novel Frankenstein.

It was the year 1816, often called “The Year Without a Summer,” and it just might be the most important meteorological event you have never heard of. Spring arrived on time, but then the weather went into reverse, with cold temperatures and continually overcast skies. Dim sunlight and frigid temperatures became so severe and widespread that major crop failures were reported across the United States, the rest of North America and Europe for a period of three years. New York state and Maine experienced snow in June.

While some scientists blamed sunspots for the weather problems of 1816, and some theologians blamed the wrath of God, it has only been within the last few decades that modern technology has enabled us to understand what really happened. And the implications are significant for our world today.

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Scientists now believe that this three-year period of severe climate change was set off by a volcanic eruption. On April 15, 1815, Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa in what is now Indonesia erupted, spewing lava and dust for a week and then continuing to rumble for three months.

With a plume of gases and ash that extended more than 18 miles into the atmosphere, the massive Mount Tambora eruption is the most explosive volcanic event in recorded history. The 1815 eruption threw millions of tons of sulfur-dioxide gas into the stratosphere, and the gas then formed 100 million tons of sulfuric acid, which became dispersed by wind throughout the planet in the form of tiny droplets, clouding the skies and partially blocking the sun.

The Tambora explosion was far greater than the better-known Mount Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883. We know more about that natural disaster because the news was quickly spread by telegraph and then by newspaper. Most Europeans and North Americans did not hear about Mount Tambora for several months or even longer.

The explosion initially killed more than 10,000 people on the island, but it is estimated that another 80,000 people eventually died from starvation and diseases related to the cataclysmic event. In fact, the energy created by Mount Tambora was equivalent to 2.2 million atomic bombs.

The volcanic dust and ash that spread throughout the world blocked sunlight and disrupted natural weather patterns.

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Mount Tambora, today.

Mount Tambora, today.

What are some of the far-reaching results of the ravaged weather of 1816?

  • Many New England farmers, with their crops and their entire livelihood devastated, ventured west with their families. The state of Vermont, for example, experienced a population drop of an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people.
  • The cold, rainy summer led to a sweeping potato famine in Ireland.
  • In Europe, the wheat crop was ruined, causing widespread bread shortages.
  • Food prices rose sharply across Europe, with riots, arson and looting frequently taking place.
  • In Switzerland, an ice dam formed below part of the Giétro Glacier. Despite efforts to drain the lake that formed, the ice dam collapsed in June 1818, killing an estimated 45 people.
  • In Asia, unseasonably cold temperatures killed rice crops, trees and water buffalo. The eruption disrupted China’s monsoon season, resulting in severe flooding in the Yangtze Valley. In India, the summer monsoon season was delayed, resulting in late torrential rains.
  • Outbreaks of cholera spread from a region near the River Ganges to as far away as Moscow.
  • Because of all the volcanic ash in the atmosphere, brown snow fell in Hungary. Red snow fell throughout the year in Italy’s northern and north-central region.

Floods, drought, disease, famine – all caused by a volcanic eruption half a world away. With the world’s population so much greater than it was in 1816, the effects of another eruption on the scale of Mount Tambora would be unthinkable.

Today, the year 1816 stands as a startling reminder of how one world event — even a volcano in Southeast Asia — can have dire consequences on our food supply.

Poet Eileen Marguet (1918-2012) wrote a poem that sums up the year of 1816 for many Americans.

It didn’t matter whether your farm was large or small.

It didn’t matter if you had a farm at all.

Cause everyone was affected when water didn’t run.

The snow and frost continued without the warming sun.

One day in June it got real hot and leaves began to show.

But after that it snowed again and wind and cold did blow.

The cows and horses had no grass, no grain to feed the chicks.

No hay to put aside that time, just dry and shriveled sticks.

The sheep were cold and hungry and many starved to death,

Still waiting for the warming sun to save their labored breath.

The kids were disappointed, no swimming, such a shame.

It was in 1816 that summer never came.

Do you believe America is ready for another such natural disaster? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Does Freezing Food Really Kill Bugs?

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Does Freezing Food Really Kill Bugs?

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Picture this unhappy scenario. You open up your carefully prepared and stored food at a time of need only to find it infested with bugs.

Nearly all dried foods – including grains, cereals, beans, nuts, powdered milk, dried fruits, cured meats and spices — are susceptible to an insect infestation. How can you prevent this problem from happening to your important long-term food investment? Some people freeze foods before storing them. But does that really work? The answer: yes!

Freezing does work, with some caveats.

Your first step is to realize that storage containers can make all the difference in eliminating insect infestations.

Flimsy paper or cardboard packaging is no match for hungry bugs, so it is important that you store your food in strong, airtight containers. Insects can also eat their way through foil, plastic bags and plastic lids.

For example, a study by The Benson Institute showed that insects found their way into #10 cans containing insect-free wheat by way of their plastic lids. Using several packaging barriers to protect your stored food is a good idea.

How long do you need to freeze your dry goods for bug control — and at what temperature? Geri Guidetti, founder of the Ark Institute and a leading authority on survival gardening, suggests that you freeze food for a minimum of three days.

Another Benson Institute study suggests that the temperature at the center of the food container must reach -9 degrees F (-23 C) for two to four hours for best results.

In his book “When Disaster Strikes,” Matthew Stein writes, “You can freeze containers of food to destroy living insects, but this will not usually kill their eggs. Refreeze the container after 30 days to destroy bugs that have hatched. Freeze in an upright or chest freezer for 72 hours at 0 degrees F or lower.”

Some researchers say freezing will not kill all insects. If you try the freezing method to prevent an infestation, it is a good idea to inspect your food for bugs on a regular basis. Early detection of a bug problem can prevent all your of food supply from sustaining insect damage.

Here are other options for ridding your dry food of bugs:

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth. Image source: Wikipedia

Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) can work as an effective natural pesticide. Use one cup of food grade DE for every 25 pounds of grain for long-term storage. Layer the DE throughout the grain for best results. An added bonus is that DE is highly absorbent, so it protects dry foods from moisture that might cause food to clump, grow moldy or germinate.

Dry Ice

Dry ice also can kill bugs in your dry foods. “The Family Preparedness Handbook” by James Talmage Stevens suggests two techniques for this method.

For the “on-top method,” place a quarter-pound of dry ice on an insulating material (such as Kraft paper) on top of a nearly full five-gallon container. Press the lid down on top of the material firmly but gently to allow air to escape.

After a half hour or so, look for the dry ice to have evaporated completely. When the dry ice has completely evaporated, remove the insulating material and seal the container.

The “on-bottom” method is another option. Place a quarter pound of dry ice under the insulating material. Press the lid down so air can escape. After about 30 minutes, check to see if the dry ice has evaporated. When the dry ice has completely evaporated, remove insulating material and then seal the container.

How do you kill bugs for long-term food storage? Share your ideas in the section below:

The 1921 Event That Could Kill 280 Million Americans Today

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The 1921 Event That That Could Kill 280 Million Americans TodayOur sun is a very volatile star, with violent eruptions often occurring without us even knowing it.

Solar storms, defined by NASA as “eruptions of mass and energy from the solar surface, including prominences, flares, sunspots and coronal ejections,” are not a direct threat to us here on Earth’s surface, since our atmosphere serves as a protective shield from the explosions. In fact, most of the time, solar storms go unnoticed on Earth.

However, solar storms have the potential to cripple our power grid and communications technology, and, as a result, bring much of the modern way of life to a standstill. Here’s how:

The most powerful solar storms send coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that contain charged particles out into space. CMEs that strike our atmosphere could cause a disturbance of the Earth’s magnetic field, potentially disrupting satellites, interrupting navigation systems and communications systems and taking out power grids for entire regions.

The biggest solar storm in recorded history was the Carrington Event, named for Richard C. Carrington, who observed and recorded the 1859 solar event. It wiped out telegraph machines and sent auroras – normally only seen in places like Alaska and Canada — as far south as Hawaii, Cuba and even Africa.

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Another lesser-known solar superstorm occurred in the 20th century, however, and even though it was long before modern technology, it can give us a glimpse at the devastating effect a solar storm could have on our 21st century lifestyle.

On May 13, 1921, astronomers noted a huge sunspot with an estimated width of 94,000 miles and a length of 21,000 miles on the solar surface. Auroras were observed for the next few evenings across much of Europe, in the Eastern United States and in California.

More significantly, most of the East Coast experienced a communication blackout caused by the solar storm. That morning, the entire signal and switching system of the New York Central Railroad shut down due to current charges from the storm. The event also sparked a fire in the control tower at 57th Street and Park Avenue.

The 1921 Event That That Could Kill 280 Million Americans TodayA telegraph operator reported that his switchboard ignited, causing an entire building to soon become engulfed in flames. A similar report of a fire came from a telephone station in Sweden that morning, and the solar storm affected telephone, telegraph and cable traffic over most of Europe.

What does this 1921 event mean to us today? Aside from being fascinating historically, it portends the dire results of a modern solar storm. The impact of a storm today would be far more severe, considering our dependence on technology for so many aspects of our lives, including paying bills, buying groceries, sending emails and even pumping gas.

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American and European scientists have expressed concern that the plasma cloud from a solar superstorm could wipe out vast electronics networks and technologies, causing unpresented havoc. Without electricity, the entire modern-day financial infrastructure shuts down, as does the delivery system for food.

According to John Kappenman, an engineer at MetaTech Corporation, a California-based science and engineering company, a solar storm on the same level as the so-called Railroad Storm of 1921 would affect 150 million people across North America. Resulting magnetic storm currents also could damage transformers that would affect many others.

In all, losses could exceed $30 billion in lost salaries, spoiled food, business closures and other related effects of a huge solar storm. And those numbers could ratchet up dramatically if outages and other storm-related problems persisted for weeks.

Grid expert and Congressional EMP Commission member Peter Pry said in testimony this summer that a storm on par with the 1921 one “could kill up to 9 of 10 Americans through starvation, disease, and societal collapse” because the grid would be down for so long. That’s more than 280 million people. (Listen to Pry on Off The Grid Radio here.)

Experts agree that we may have only 24 hours warning before a storm collided with Earth. How can we prepare for a disaster? The answer is much the same as you would for any other natural disaster – by stockpiling food, water and other necessities.

In addition, it is wise to keep cash on hand, since banks will be unable to process withdrawals during a massive power outage.

If you would like to know more about solar storms or to monitor solar activity, visit SpaceWeather.com or NASA.gov.

Do you believe America is prepared for a major solar storm? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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12 Off-Grid Ways Your Grandparents Re-Used Old Newspapers (That You Should Try)

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12 Off-Grid Ways Your Grandparents Re-Used Old Newspapers

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Over the past couple of decades, Americans has gone crazy for recycling. Most communities have a recycling program, and we feel good about saving our cans, bottles, boxes and newspapers and putting them at our curbs for a weekly pick-up.

But long before the phrase “reduce, reuse and recycle” was ever coined, your grandparents used their old newspapers for a wide variety of tasks.

As you develop a more frugal lifestyle, it is time to think of all the many ways you can repurpose newspapers in your own home and garden. Here are 12:

1. Glass and window cleaner. Crimple up some newspaper and then dip it into a mixture of one part white vinegar and three parts water. You will get streak-free results that are much better than with any chemical-laden commercial window cleaner and cloth. Hint: Wear rubber gloves. The newsprint will not transfer to your windows, but it might get on your hands if you’re not careful.

2. Fire starter. Try tightly rolled pieces of newspaper as fire starters for your fireplace, bonfire or outdoor grill.

3. Seed pots. You can make your own seed pots by following these easy steps:

  • Cut sheets of newspaper in halves or thirds, depending on the size of seed pot you want. Avoid pages with color because the ink contains heavy metals.
  • Roll the newspaper so that it circles a glass jar or aluminum can with a few inches of paper, also extending above the opening of the container.
  • Push the paper that is above the container opening inside, so that the pieces are securely wrapped around the lip of the jar or can.
  • Turn the container over and gently remove the jar or cup.
  • Use the bottom of the jar or can to tamp down the inverted ends, so the bottom of the newspaper pot is secure.
  • Add soil and seeds, and the seed pot is ready to plant. The newspaper holds moisture so that your growing plant will not be over- or under-watered.

4. Weed barrier. Use newsprint to block weeds out of a raised bed. Simply cover the bed with layers of newspaper and water the paper before you fill the bed with dirt and other organic matter. The newsprint will help keep weeds out and moisture in.

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5. Gift wrap. Forget store-bought wrapping paper. Newsprint works great. You can even customize your gifts by using the sports sections for sports fans, the fashion section for the fashionistas on your gift list or the Sunday comics for kids. Shredded newspaper also makes for a great filling for gift baskets or gift bags.

6. Packing. You can use your newspaper to wrap your valuables when you are moving or shipping items. It is lightweight, effective and you can’t beat the cost.

12 Off-Grid Ways Your Grandparents Re-Used Old Newspapers

Image source: Pixabay.com

7. Liner paper. Use your newspaper to line drawers and shelves in your pantry or in your refrigerator. It will help absorb spills and odors.

8. Fruit ripener. Did you know you could hasten the ripening process along of certain fruits by wrapping them in newspaper? The next time you have under-ripe avocadoes, peaches or other fruit, give this trick a try.

9. Compost. Add strips of newspaper into your worm bin and mix well with your grass clippings. The paper helps absorb odors and makes a great bedding for your worms.

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10. Kitty litter box. Use newspaper to line you litter box. It is cheap and effective. You also can use layers of newspaper to housetrain your new puppy.

11. Shoe and boot shaper. Use rolls of newspaper in your shoes, boots and handbags to help them keep their shape between wearing or using.

12. Furniture and counter protector. Do you have a messy cooking or cleaning job to do? Place sheets of newspaper down on your work surface before you begin. It not only protects your floors and furniture from damage, but it makes clean-up a breeze.

Newspapers are printed on uncoated ground wood paper (called newsprint), which is made by grinding wood pulp without removing the lignin and other components of wood pulp.

By weight and volume, newspapers are the largest part of most curbside recycling program. Before you throw this Sunday’s paper in the recycling pile, why not first think about all the jobs you can do with it yourself?

What are other ways you can re-use old newspapers? Share your advice in the section below:

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The Simple Way To Dye Fabric Naturally With Plants

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The Simple Way To Dye Fabric Naturally With Food

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As you explore different ways of creating and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle, you may want to experiment with the art of natural dyeing. Native peoples for millennia have used plants to create colorful dyes for decorating their clothing, their homes and even their bodies.

The great news is that you can find what you need for dyes right in your own backyard. You can use roots, nuts, berries and flowers to create a wide variety of colors and color combinations for dyeing your clothing items. As you get the hang of the dyeing process, you will enjoy experimenting with many different shades.

For best results, blossoms should be in full bloom. Berries should be ripe, and nuts should be mature. In order not to threaten the health of a plant, do not gather or harvest more than two-thirds of a stand of a plant.

Here are some common plants and the colors they produce:

  • Blackberries, iris root, walnut hulls – purple, dark purple, gray.
  • The Simple Way To Dye Fabric Naturally With Food

    Elderberries. Image source: Pixabay.com

    Raspberries, cherries, strawberries, beetroot, plum skin, red and pink roses — red/pink.

  • Pomegranates, beets, bamboo, reddish hibiscus, bloodroot – red/brown.
  • Red sumac berries, basil leaves, day lilies, pokeweed berries, huckleberries — red-purple.
  • Blueberries, red cabbage, purple grapes, elderberries, red mulberries – blue.
  • Onion skin – yellow/brown.
  • Turmeric — yellow/orange.
  • Carrots, gold lichen – orange.
  • Bay leaves, sunflower petals, marigolds, St John’s Wort, paprika, turmeric, dandelion flowers, celery leaves, Queen Anne’s lace roots, lilac twigs, barberry roots, mahonia roots, yellow dock roots – yellow.
  • Dandelion roots, oak bark, walnut hulls, tea, coffee, acorns, coffee, tea – brown.
  • Spinach, artichokes, Savoy cabbage, peppermint leaves, sorrel roots, snapdragons, grass, plantain, lilacs, nettles, peach leaves – green.

After you have gathered your plant material, it is time to consider your fabric. As you might expect, natural fabrics, such as cotton, silk, linen and wool, will absorb the natural dyes with the best results.

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You may dye synthetic fabrics with plants, but the colors will be less vibrant.

It is a good idea to use a scrap of fabric to test the color and to gauge the color saturation before you begin the dyeing process.

Your next step is to prepare the fabric for dyeing by soaking it in a color fixative. This step helps the fabric absorb the color more readily.

For berries, you will use salt as the fixative, and for other plants, you will use vinegar. Dissolve a half cup of salt in eight cups of cold water, or combine one part white vinegar with four parts cold water.

Next, place your damp fabric in the correct fixative solution for about an hour. Rinse with cool water and then wring out extra water.

The Simple Way To Dye Fabric Naturally With Food

Image source: Pixabay.com.

Now you are ready to make your dye solution. Chop your desired plant material into small pieces and place them in a large non-reactive pot (glass or stainless steel work well). Cover with twice as much water as plant material. Bring solution to a boil, and then let it simmer for about an hour.

Next, strain out the plant material and add your fabric to the solution. Depending on the plant you are using, you could get the desired shade in as little as 15 minutes. The longer the fabric stays in the dye, the deeper the color. For a very strong shade, you can allow your fabric to soak in the dye overnight.

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Rinse the fabric well until the water runs clear. Then hang it up to dry. Continue to wash dyed items separately from other items in your laundry, as the color many run until all excess dye is removed.

How does the dyeing process work?

Fruit and vegetables contain colorful chemicals called polyphenols. These polyphenols are the reason your clothing, tablecloth or carpet gets stained when you spill certain food or drink. They attach to fabric and dye it.

Salt and vinegar help the polyphenols stay attached to the fabric. Without them, the dye would fade each time you wash the fabric.

The best part about using natural dyes is the satisfying aspect of it. As you experiment with different colors and color combinations, you will marvel at the beauty of natural fabric enhanced with natural dyes.

Here’s a final tip: Make sure you dye only what you want to dye. Cover your counter top and the clothes you are wearing while you work. And wear rubber gloves to keep the dye from staining your hands.

Do you use natural dyes? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

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How To Purify Water With Fruit Peels

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How To Purify Water With Fruit Peels

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Whether it is due to drought, pollution, lack of conservation efforts or simply a burgeoning population, the scarcity of clean drinking water is a looming problem for our country and for our world.

According to The Water Project website, one in nine people in the world currently does not have access to safe drinking water. In addition, as much as 80 percent of illnesses in developing countries are linked to unsanitary water conditions. Some experts estimate that by 2050 there will simply not be enough fresh water to sustain the world’s expected 9.1 billion population.

These numbers do not even consider the shortages of clean water that can result from natural disasters or other calamities that would limit an otherwise functioning water supply system. Nor do they take into account that deteriorating city infrastructures are delivering contaminated water to many people throughout the world, including the United States.

Although all these statistics are startling and worrisome, there is some good news. During a survival situation, there are some natural ways to reduce the contaminants in your drinking water. And the best part is that they are low-tech or no-tech solutions. In fact, they come from nature itself and involve fruit peels.

National University of Singapore Researcher Ramakrishna Mallampati was not the first person to use fruit peels to purify water, but his studies have given scientific backing to what many cultures have passed down from generation to generation.

Findings from a two-year study were published in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces in 2013. Since then, other studies have replicated his research.

How can you put this knowledge to use in your own drinking water supply? Here are four fruits that can be used to purify water. Please note that these processes usually do not remove disease-causing organisms, or pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria — from the water, and it is recommended that you use a water filter, such as a portable Paratrooper Water Purifier, to completely clean the water so that it is safe.

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Such a filter even would allow you go drink lake and river water.

Apple and Tomato Peels

Mallampati’s study found that peels from apples and tomatoes work like sponges in contaminated water, absorbing and thereby reducing levels of metals, pesticides and dyes.

The peels of eight tomatoes were able to remove several different contaminants found in one liter of water within one hour. These contaminants included heavy metal ions (such as lead), dissolved organic and inorganic chemicals, pesticides and dyes.

How To Purify Water With Fruit Peels

Image source: wikimedia

Since apples and tomatoes are two of the most widely consumed fruits in the world, this study finding has the potential for inexpensively helping hundreds of millions of people.

To try Mallampati’s water purification in your own home yourself, follow these simple steps:

  • Peel your apples and/or tomatoes and place them in a rubbing alcohol solution
  • Let the peels soak well in the solution
  • Remove the peels from the solution and let them dry out.
  • Place the peels in a container of water
  • After two hours, remove the peels from the water
  • The water is ready to drink.

Banana Peels

Banana peels also can help purify water. In a separate 2011 study conducted at the Bioscience Institute in Botucatu, Brazil, researchers found that banana peels removed lead and copper from river water.

How does it work? Banana peels contain nitrogen, sulfur and carboxylic acids. These acids can bind with polluting metals in the water.

In an article published on Scidev.net, Dimitris Kalderis, a wastewater treatment expert at the Technical University of Crete, wrote: “The results are very promising, and the banana peel process has proven to be a cost-effective and quick alternative to conventional methods … I think that a small automated system to use either at home or at a central point for multiple families could be developed. The knowledge is there, what we need right now is innovation and construction.”

Sunlight and Lime Juice

Often called solar disinfection, this method is quick and effective. The solar disinfection method involves placing a clear glass container filled with contaminated water in direct sunlight for a minimum of six hours.

A study conducted by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that when lime juice was added to the water during this solar disinfection process, harmful bacteria – including E. coli – was removed significantly more quickly than with solar disinfection alone. In fact, the process took only about 30 minutes.

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This amount of time is similar to the treatment time involved with boiling water. However, this method was not as effective as other methods in removing viruses from the water. In addition, researchers noted that the purified water had a pleasant taste.

Seaweed

If fruits are not readily available, another exciting trend in water purification involves seaweed. Seaweed needs nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous in order to survive, so it absorbs them. Some scientists, including University of Connecticut biologist Charles Yarish, have theorized that seaweed could help clean polluted coastal waters and rivers.

With almost 800 million people worldwide lacking access to clean water, the studies of these easy inexpensive means of purifying water are promising. Since many fruit peels just go to waste, researchers are investigating other fruit peels – especially fruits that are local to certain areas of the world — and other natural fibers for their ability to clean water.

Again, these methods won’t remove all dangerous pollutants, and it is recommended that you use something like a Paratrooper water filter to make the water fully safe. But in a survival situation, they are worth trying.

What advice would you add on purifying water? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Clean Water Is Becoming More Rare Than Oil. Read What To Do Here.

10 Off-Grid Reasons You Should Stockpile Baking Soda

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10 Off-Grid Reasons You Should Stockpile Baking Soda

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Those little orange boxes of baking soda are handy to have in your refrigerator to get rid of unpleasant odors and on your pantry shelf to use in baking, but there are good reasons you should store this amazing resource for emergencies.

Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO₃) is a compound that contains the mineral nahcolite and is found dissolved in many mineral springs. Historians know that ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, used baking soda for many purposes around the home.

Often priced at about $1 for a one-pound box and even less expensive when purchased in bulk quantities, baking soda is an affordable and important part of your off-the grid supplies.

Here are 10 reasons you should stockpile baking soda:

1. Personal hygiene. Baking soda is an ingredient in many types of toothpaste, and you can make your own by mixing it with some water. Baking soda also freshens breath. Simply mix a teaspoon into a glass of water and gargle.

You also can use a paste of baking soda and water to remove dirt and stains from the hands and body. Or pat some baking soda under your arms for a natural deodorant.

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Baking soda works well as a dry shampoo. Sprinkle some baking soda into your roots and then work through your hair. Brush well, and your hair will look and smell fresher.

2. Medical uses. Baking soda is a natural heartburn reliever, since it helps to neutralize the acids in your digestive tract. Mix a half teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water. Stir until dissolved completely. Drink once every four hours. This remedy is for adults only and should not exceed five teaspoons per day.

A baking soda-water paste is an effective way to soothe the pain of sunburn and insect bites and stings. It also can soothe and protect areas of chafing on the body, such as between the thighs.

3. Indoor cleaning. Baking soda works as a gentle abrasive cleaner on all your kitchen and bathroom surfaces, including counters, sinks and tubs. With water and elbow grease, it will power out many stains without worry of scratching surfaces.

Try using baking soda to remove cooked-in or burnt-on food on your pots and pans. Remove all excess food and then place a layer of baking soda on the stain. Cover with about two inches of water and bring the pot to boil. Remove from heat and let it sit overnight. In the morning, you should be able to wipe the remains away.

10 Off-Grid Reasons You Should Stockpile Baking Soda

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4. Outdoor cleaning. You can use a baking soda-water paste to clean your outdoor grill and outdoor furniture.

In addition, its mild alkaline content makes it a safe cleaner for your car. Mix one-fourth cup of baking soda in a quart of warm water. Apply with a sponge or soft cloth to all car surfaces, including chrome, light covers, tires, vinyl seats and mats.

5. Clean batteries. You can neutralize corrosion on batteries with baking soda. First, be sure to disconnect the terminals. Then apply a paste of three parts baking soda and one part water with a damp cloth to clean away corrosion. Wipe dry. Then reconnect the terminals.

6. Clean drains. Did you know you can safely clean sluggish drains with baking soda? Simply pour one-half cup of baking soda down the drain and flush with boiling water for quick results. An added bonus? Your drain will smell better, too.

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After your drain is running better, sprinkle some baking soda in your sink – even stainless steel ones – and scrub with a damp sponge or cloth for a shiny surface.

7. Laundry. Baking soda can be used alone or as a boost to your regular laundry detergent. Add one-half cup to your washing machine load to help balance pH levels.

You can use baking soda to freshen and deodorize bedding and sleeping bags in between washings. Sprinkle on the bedding and let the baking soda set for about 15 minutes. Then shake well outdoors to loosen and remove the baking soda.

8. Put out fires. In an emergency, you can use baking soda to smother fires in clothing, fuel, wood, upholstery and carpet. Baking soda can be used for electrical fires as well, and the good part is it will not ruin some items, as water will.

9. Deodorizer. Baking soda does a great job of absorbing odors. In addition to your main refrigerator, you can use it in coolers and portable refrigerators as well.

Sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of your garbage cans to neutralize odors there.

Here’s another deodorizing tip: If a skunk sprays your dog, add a cup of lemon juice, a box of baking soda and a half-cup of shampoo in a warm bath to help kill the odor.

10. Cooking. You can use baking soda to safely clean your fruits and vegetables before eating them or cooking them. Scrub them with a clean brush and a paste of baking soda and water. Then rinse thoroughly.

You can decrease the cooking time for dried beans with baking soda. Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the water you soak the beans in overnight before cooking them. It not only cuts the cooking time in half, but it makes the beans more digestible for most people.

Finally, here is one more reason you need to stockpile baking soda. You can use it to make a rehydrating drink for survival situations. In cases of severe dehydration, when other methods of rehydrating are not available, here is an effective option.

Mix the following ingredients together:

      • 1 quart of water
      • ½ tsp of baking soda
      • ½ tsp of table salt
      • ¼ tsp of salt substitute (potassium chloride)
      • 2 tablespoons of sugar
      • Fruit juice as flavoring (optional)

Have dehydrated person take small sips of the solution every five minutes until he or she begins to urinate normally.

Do you know of other uses for baking soda? Share your tips in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

17 Surprising Off-Grid Ways Salt Can Help You Clean

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17 Incredible Off-Grid Ways Salt Can Help You Clean

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We sprinkle it on our foods, we add it to boiling water and we use it on slippery sidewalks and roads. We even toss it over our shoulders to ward off “bad luck.” However, did you know you can use salt for many cleaning purposes around your home?

You can. Good old common table salt, which is a mineral composed mainly of sodium chloride, can be used either alone or in conjunction with other natural agents such as lemon juice and vinegar, for a myriad of cleaning uses.

As you simplify your lifestyle, you will find that you can do away with many commercial cleaning products and go with natural, non-toxic ones instead. We have put together a list of some of our favorite ways to clean with salt, an abundant and inexpensive natural resource.

1. Grease. Salt can work magic on grease stains since it absorbs grease. Simply sprinkle salt on your greasy pots and pans and then wipe with a clean cloth. Some grease spots on carpet can also be removed with a solution of one part salt and one part rubbing alcohol. Be careful to rub in the direction of the nap of the rug.

2. Sink drains. To help eliminate odors in your sink and to prevent a build-up of grease, pour a solution of salt and hot water down your kitchen drain on a regular basis.

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3. Water rings. Make a thin paste of salt and vegetable oil or olive oil and gently rub it on any white marks caused by glasses and hot dishes on your wood furniture.

4. Dried-on egg. You know how cooked egg tends to settle on your frying pan? Use salt to loosen the eggy mess before scrubbing clean.

5. Coffee and tea stains. Fill your stained coffee and teacups with a solution of saltwater to help get rid of unsightly stains. The abrasiveness of the salt helps clean away the stains. Another option is to mix salt with your regular dish soap for added cleaning power on stains.

6. Refrigerator. You want to avoid toxic chemicals when you clean your refrigerator. Try using a mixture of salt and plain soda water to wipe out and deodorize your fridge interior.

17 Incredible Off-Grid Ways Salt Can Help You Clean

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7. Brass or copper. Make a paste by combining equal parts of salt, vinegar and flour. Rub the paste into the metal and let it sit for about an hour before cleaning and buffing with a soft, dry cloth.

8. Rust. Make a paste with equal parts salt and cream of tartar and a little water. Rub the paste on rust and let it dry. Then brush off the dried paste and buff the area with a soft, dry cloth.

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9. Mildew stains. Moisten mildew spots with a mixture of salt and lemon juice. Place the item in the sun to dry. Then rinse well with water and let dry.

10. Coffee pot. Clean your stained coffee spot by placing salt and ice cubes inside the pot and swirling them around. The ice helps the salt scour off the stains. Another option is to add about four tablespoons of salt to the water you use to fill your coffeemaker. Run it as usual and then discard the water and rinse the pot well before using to make coffee.

11. Cutting board. Clean and deodorize your cutting boards safely by rubbing them with a mixture of salt and lemon juice.

12. Wine stains. First, blot up as much of the stain as you can with a clean cloth. Then cover the stain with salt to absorb any remaining residue. Next rinse the garment or tablecloth with cold water. If the stain is on your carpet, scrape salt away and then vacuum the spot well.

13. Fish tank. You can remove hard water deposits that accumulate on the inside of your fish tank with a salt paste. Be sure to use only plain – not iodized salt – for this purpose and rinse well before returning fish to the tank.

14. Wicker. To clean and to help prevent discoloration of your wicker furniture, scrub it with a stiff brush and a solution of warm saltwater. Allow furniture to air dry out in the sun.

15. Perspiration stains. Mix about four tablespoons of salt into a quart of hot water. Then use a sponge to work the solution into the fabric until stains fade.

16. Blood stains. This method works only for natural fabrics that can take high heat. First, soak the stained fabric in cold saltwater. Then launder in warm, soapy water before rinsing well in hot water.

17. Oven. Sprinkle salt on burned food and spillovers inside the oven or on burners while they are still hot. Later when the surface is cool, simply wipe away the salted area with a stiff brush or sturdy cloth.

You may be wondering about the different types of salt that are available at your local store. For eating purposes, your best bets are unrefined salts, such as sea salt and Himalayan salt, since they are the highest in organic quality. Those salts also have a higher price tag. However, for cleaning purposes, you can use refined salt (table salt) or iodized salt, which often sell for about 50 cents for a 26-ounce package.

Do you know of other uses for salt? Share your tips in the section below:

If You Use Salt To Clean, You’ve Got To Try Vinegar, Too!

How Long Will Frozen Food Really Last Before It Goes Bad?

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How Long Will Frozen Food Really Last Before It Goes Bad?

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Freezing is an easy and convenient way to save time and money when it comes to feeding your family. You can make meals ahead and freeze them for future use. You can freeze seasonal fruits and vegetables for the winter. You can even freeze random leftovers for what my kids know as our no-cook “leftover surprise” night.

But freezing does present two possible problems. First, how can you know how long a frozen food item is safe to eat? And, secondly, what will happen to all that frozen food if the power goes out?

Most frozen foods remain safe to eat almost indefinitely. Therefore, most storage “times” for frozen foods are merely suggested times for best taste and quality only.

Keeping in mind that the federal government is conservative with its estimates, here are some general guidelines from FoodSafety.gov and nchfp.uga.edu.

  • Ground meat: 3 to 4 months
  • Fresh meat: 6 to 12 months
  • Poultry: 12 months
  • Fish: 3 to 6 months
  • Pork: 6 to 8 months
  • Processed meat (hot dogs, sausage lunch meat, bacon): 1 to 2 months
  • Leftovers (cooked meat): 2 to 6 months
  • Butter: 5 to 6 months
  • Hard cheese: 6 to 12 months
  • Soft cheese: 4 months
  • Eggs (removed from shell): 12 months
  • Milk: 1 month
  • Fruits: 12 months
  • Cooked vegetables: 1 month
  • Raw vegetables: 12 months
  • Onions (raw): 3 to 6 months
  • Baked goods: 6 months

The best place for long-term storage is the back of your stand-up freezer or the bottom of your chest freezer. Use the freezer door for times you use up frequently, since door items are subjected to more temperature fluctuation.

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Packaging matters. Resist the urge to place an item in the freezer in its store-bought package unless the packaging is intended for the freezer. Be sure to let cooked foods cool before packaging them to help speed up the freezing process and to help them retain their natural color, flavor and texture.

Then use containers that are moisture-vapor resistant, durable, leak-proof and easy to seal. When placing foods in the package, allow enough room for some expansion during the freezing process. Mark your packages with pens and labels designed for freezer use.

Although you may think you’ll never forget what is in that big Tupperware container, you just might in a couple of months. Label the food with its contents and the date you are freezing it. That way, you can try to follow the same first-in, first-out rule for your freezer that you follow with your pantry foods.

But What If You Lose Electricity?

How Long Will Frozen Food Really Last Before It Goes Bad?

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But what if the power goes out? How long will frozen food last then?

Although you can invest in fuel-powered generators to keep your freezer running for a time, in a long-term emergency, you may not be able to consume all your frozen food before you run out of fuel. As a result, no emergency food storage plan should rely on frozen food.

What if you do not use a generator? To maximize your freezing time during a power outage, try to keep your freezer as full as possible. A full freezer operates more efficiently than an empty or sparsely used freezer. Consider freezing plastic bottles that are filled about two-thirds full with water as a way to keep your freezer fuller. The water may come in handy during an emergency as well.

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In a power outage, the food in a full free-standing freezer will keep for about 48 hours if its door remains shut. Food in a full chest-type freezer may last as much as 24 hours longer – again, if cold air is not lost through an opened door.

During a power outage, you can quickly take out items that you will use in the short term and place them in coolers. This planning ahead process will help you keep the freezer door shut and help keep your frozen foods colder longer.

Here are some other tips:

  • Breads will defrost more quickly than meats and vegetables.
  • Most thawed or partially thawed foods may be safely refrozen if they still contain visible ice crystals or if the appliance has a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • If the color of an item has changed, if an unusual odor is present, or if the item feels warm, discard it.
  • Covering the freezer with blankets will help it retain its temperature. (Avoid covering vents.)

Additionally, it is worth it to invest in a quality freezer thermometer. Most frozen food storage guidelines are based on a maintained freezer temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degree Celsius) or colder.

What freezer tips would you add? Do you eat frozen foods that are many years old? Share your advice in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.