Happy New Year from Apartment Prepper

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As we celebrate the beginning of another year, I’d like to thank you for making Apartment Prepper a part of your day.  I am grateful to be able to write and share what I’ve learned about preparing for emergencies.  In turn, I’ve also learned a lot from our community of readers.  Your readership encourages me to continue writing this blog.  Though my original intent for this blog was preparing for disasters in an apartment, it has grown to encompass a lot […]

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Grid Down Figgy Pudding

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Grid Down Figgy Pudding

Grid Down Figgy Pudding
Micheal Kline “Reality Check” Audio player below!

In this show we will be getting completely smashed with holiday cheer…well I might be anyway.

Almost everyone loves alcohol in some form or fashion. Food preservation generally evokes visions of pickles, jellies, canning, dehydrating, dried garlic strung on a decorative braid, or even fruits and vegetables preserved in oils. Did you know that fruits and vegetables can also be preserved

in alcohol – spirits such as vodka, cognac, brandy or even wine?

Continue reading Grid Down Figgy Pudding at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Preparedness Activities You Can Do during the Holidays

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com With many people taking a break to enjoy the holidays, prepping takes a back seat to all the hustle and bustle of the season.  This is understandable.  But there are also opportunities to get a few things done. Discover old recipes and back them up I was looking through my recipe binder while choosing menu items and came across some very old recipes hand-written by friends and family members whom I haven’t seen […]

The post Preparedness Activities You Can Do during the Holidays appeared first on Apartment Prepper.

Beating the Winter Blues: 4 Ways to Save Your Sanity

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Winter is coming, and with it comes…boredom.

While my kids are fantastic at entertaining themselves, we’re a really active family. We love to go to the park, explore our community on walks, and play games outside in the yard. Because of medical limitations like asthma, now that the air is a bit colder, we’ve been trying to find new and interesting ways to have fun.

Are you worried about ways to keep your kids busy this winter? Here are some fun ideas you can consider implementing in your own life.

Join a group – or start your own!
If you haven’t been on MeetUp.com lately, now’s the time to check it out. Most communities have a variety of MeetUp groups that include things like play dates, field trips, outings to local events, and even mom’s nights out! You can also find groups on sites like Facebook that enable you to connect with other local families. If you can’t find a group in your area, don’t worry! Why not start your own? Creating your own group requires a bit of dedication and planning, but it’ll be well worth it to have new buddies to hang out with.

Get a new hobby
If you need a new hobby, the cold winter months are the time to start. Chances are that most of your friends are staying out of the cold, too, so consider meeting up with them to try something new. If you haven’t tried making your own candles, getting in on the rock-painting trend, or playing Minecraft, now’s the time to try.

Play with your kids
Why not pick up a board game, video game, or fun family activity you can enjoy together? This winter is the perfect time to hang out with your kids and really get to know them. Some of the best conversations with your kids will happen while you’re just hanging out, so consider finding an activity at home that all of you can enjoy together. Lately, my kids and I have been playing Fortnite Battle Royale, which is free to play and a ton of fun.

Read something you’ve never read before
Are you stuck in the same rut when it comes to reading? Why not branch out? Kindle has a ton of free books each day, so it’s a great way to try out new authors and maybe discover new favorites. If you tend to read epic fantasy by the same author, why not try someone new? Better yet, get brave and try reading something in a totally different genre you’ve never considered exploring before.

No matter where you live or what your interests might be, it’s possible to find fun, interesting ways to enjoy spending time with your family this winter. Sometimes it just takes a bit of planning and preparation in order to do so.

Warning: Crime Skyrockets During the Holidays – Here Are 17 Things That Are Making Your Home a Target for Burglars

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Everybody loves the holiday season, including burglars. Every year, the rate of theft and property crime skyrockets between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. There are two main reasons for this: 1) Burglars know that after Black Friday, most homes contain expensive gifts and gadgets. 2) Burglars know that many people are off visiting relatives, leaving […]

The post Warning: Crime Skyrockets During the Holidays – Here Are 17 Things That Are Making Your Home a Target for Burglars appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Five Great Preparedness Gifts for Under $20

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The Christmas season is here once again and, like most things, that got me to thinking about preparedness.  Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, or any other reason you may need a gift for a special someone, finding for a quality gift for the preparedness-minded person in their life that won’t break the bank is always a priority.  Here is a quick list of useful and affordable that any prepper would be thankful to receive!

 

 

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System or the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

 

 

Regardless of which one you choose, you can trust both of these lifesaving water filters with your life.

 

 

Strikeforce Fire Starter

 

 

 

Durable and dependable, this is the only fire starter I will carry in my kit.

 

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, 4.1-Inch

 

 

 

Affordable enough to buy several to spread throughout various packs, this reliable survival knife is always a winner.

 

resqme The Original Keychain Car Escape Tool, Made in USA (Red) – Pack of 2

 

 

 

 This lifesaving tool is small and lightweight, but it packs a powerful punch!

 

Shemagh

 

 

 

Endlessly useful and easily affordable, finding a couple of these in your stocking Christmas morning is guaranteed to bring a smile to any prepper’s face.

 

BONUS ITEMS!

 

Practical Prepping:   No Apocalypse Required

 

 

 

A relaxed look at how anyone can quickly go from scared to prepared without taking on a second mortgage.

 

Practical Tactical Quick Start Guide

 

 

 

Exactly what it says.  A practical, jump start for the preparedness novice, or a fast-access reminder for the more seasoned prepper in your life.

 

Nation Makers tactical morale patch

No all heroes wear a cape.  Say “Thank you.” and recognize the every day heroes in your community by giving the Nation Makers patch.

 

 

If you want to better understand my thoughts on personal preparedness, please check out my books HERE and HERE, or wander deeper into this blog.  I hope this website will help you along your way, especially if you’re just getting started.  Keep up with everything Practical Tactical by subscribing to our mailing list and be sure to LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW us across all of our social media platforms as well.

www.practicaltactical4you.com

Practical Tactical

Prepper Gift Guide!

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Prepper Gift Guide!

Prepper Gift Guide
Host: James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio player below!

Whether you find yourself here because you are a prepper yourself or, maybe, you are doing some intel for that special survivalist in your life, you have come to the right place. What I am looking to achieve is the ultimate guide to 2017 gifts for the prepper. Now, this is going to be much more than simply lists of items that are prepper centric.

Continue reading Prepper Gift Guide! at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Skill-Based Gift Ideas to Suit Every Survival Kid

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gifts for adventurous kids

My kids were raised in an adventurous family. We live to swim against the stream and take on challenges of all kinds. At times, it seemed as though I was raising feral children, but now in their teen years, they’ve turned out okay after all! Adventure is good for kids because it developed self-confidence and an “I can do it attitude.”

Over the years on this blog, we’ve posted lists of skills kids should have and it occurred to me that kids who learn these skills are leading lives of adventure, filled with challenges

On this blog, I have several lists of skills kids should know — many are skills that will lead kids into new Browsing through the lists of skills kids should know and have, it occurred to me that those lists are excellent resources for gift ideas! Here are just a few gift suggestions from each list.

What’s extra tricky about these lists and gift suggestions is that they make learning a new survival skill fun and will most likely involve everyone in the family. It’s hard to beat that combination.

From our original, classic list, “32 Survival Skills Your Child Should Know and Be Able to Do ASAP!”

SKILL: Grow vegetables from seeds.

GIFT: A Grow Bottle from SeedsNow.com. I love the idea of giving a gift that is an all-in-one kit for growing a practical and edible plant. Just for fun, check out these holiday ornaments that contain seeds for plants like Dog Grass, Catnip, and Wintergreen.

SKILL: Know basic first aid.

GIFT:very kid-friendly first aid kit, the medibag.

SKILL: How to read a map and use a compass.

GIFT: A copy of Survivor Kid and a good quality compass.

To see the complete list of these skills and, hopefully, generate some gift ideas for the young ones in your life, click here.

From our list, “32 Basic Survival Skills Kids”

SKILL: Pack your own survival pack.

GIFT: One of the very nice, quality packs from Flying Circle Bags. Include some basic supplies, like a LED flashlight or UV Paqlite, some high calorie “survival bars”, a roll of duct tape, and some paracord.

SKILL: Follow a recipe.

GIFT: A fun kids recipe book, measuring spoons, and other basic kitchen supplies.

SKILL: Make a meal without power.

GIFT: Materials to make a solar cooker, instructions, and the promise to work on this project together. The Solar Cooking Science Kit is a good place to start. I’d suggest the Sun Oven, but that’s a little pricey for a kid’s gift!

SKILL: Know and use home and natural remedies.

GIFT: A basket of mild essential oils (lavender and lemon, for example), seeds for an herb garden, and a copy of A Kid’s Herb Book. Buy the book ahead of time to get more ideas of what to include in that basket! We reviewed the book here.

Read the entire list of skills here.

Suburban and urban kids need plenty of skills, too! Here are gift ideas from “32 Mental and Urban Survival Skills for Kids”

SKILL: Know how to manage money and set a budget.

GIFT: Financial Peace Junior and a small stash of Christmas gift cash to get the budget/savings process started.

SKILL: Self-defense.

GIFT: A series of lessons at a good, local martial arts school.

SKILL: Shoot a gun, including the use of eye and ear protection.

GIFT: An air-soft rifle, BB gun or .22 rifle. Include goggles and good quality ear protection.

To review the entire list of mental and urban survival skills, click here.

Finally, wilderness survival skills from our list, “32 Wilderness Survival Skills for Kids”

SKILL: Tie different types of knots.

GIFT: A roll of paracord and knot-tying instructions. This game, Knot So Fast, combines knot tying with some fun competition.

SKILL: Dutch oven cooking.

GIFT: Their own Dutch oven, a Dutch oven cookbook, heat-safe mitts, and a chimney charcoal starter. Boys and girls alike will love learning this skill!

SKILL: Identify and understand animal tracks and scat.

GIFT: The Who Pooped…? series of books features animal scat information for different parts of the country, including the Black Hills and a few other National Parks. A book my kids thoroughly enjoyed is Tracks, Scats and Signs.

Our entire list of wilderness skills can be found here.

 

Enjoy these gift suggestions now in the holiday season and for every special occasion throughout the year!

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Handmade Holiday!

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Handmade Holiday!

Handmade Holiday
Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio player below!

On this episode of Herbal Prepper Live, we’re talking about handmade herbal and natural gifts for the holidays. If you’re like me, you probably shun the stores between the Thanksgiving to Christmas shopping frenzy. But, I still like to give gifts people will actually want- gifts that make people feel better, gifts that help make the home cozy during the winter, and gifts that help people be more prepared.

Continue reading Handmade Holiday! at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Thanksgiving Blessings to All!

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com I am full of gratitude today as we celebrate Thanksgiving in spite of the difficulties in the past few months.  Widespread disasters, mass shootings and divisiveness may have taken a toll on the nation, yet we still live in a great country with opportunities for everyone.  We are blessed to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with comforts, food and camaraderie. I feel privileged to write Apartment Prepper and I always look forward to […]

The post Thanksgiving Blessings to All! appeared first on Apartment Prepper.

Just in time for the holidays: Homemade 100% Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

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whole wheat dinner rolls recipeTall, fluffy and light- not usually words you associate with whole wheat right? Well, these rolls are all of those things and more! They are made with 100% whole wheat, get a little sweetness from honey and richness from eggs and milk. All in all, the perfect roll.

To start making these, I milled some white wheat berries in my grain mill and creamed some milk. Such a hard life I live with all of this good food around me! I looked the recipe over and although it originally called for being made in a stand mixer, I decided to try it out in my bread machine. Success!! My Kitchen Aid is on the fritz so being able to make these in the bread machine was an especially good thing.

I found the recipe on An Oregon Cottage and it’s a keeper. I can’t wait to serve these up with our tomato soup tonight! My family loves them and I am confident that you family will too.

100% Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

  • 2 Tablespoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups whole wheat flour* (hard white wheat or hard red wheat both work great)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of your bread machine, add the water, yeast and honey. Let it bubble up and get foamy. Add in the milk, eggs and butter. Put the 4 1/2 cups of flour and salt on top of that and turn it onto the “dough” setting.
DSC_0002Keep an eye on the dough while it mixes, this will be a softer dough. You should be able to touch it and not have it stick to your finger, but feel tacky. Add in a little more flour if your dough it too soft and just a sticky blob. It will form a ball when it’s just right.
Let the bread machine do the work of mixing and raising.
Grease a 9×13 inch pan and lightly dust your counter with flour. Plop the dough onto the floured counter and pat it out into a rectangle. Cut the dough into 24 even pieces and shape into a ball. I like to place the dough on the counter, cup my hand over the top and roll it in small, quick circles until it makes a smooth ball.
Place the roll into the pan 4 across and 6 down until you have a pan filled with rolls. Cover with a towel and let raise for 1 hour. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until nicely golden and make a hollow sound when tapped. Remove from the oven and butter those tops! Let cool and enjoy.
*If you enjoy grinding your own wheat, the Wondermill Junior is the recommended manual grain mill by Survival Mom. Once you get to know wheat, it really is easy to grind fresh flour every time you bake.
This recipe comes courtesy of Charley Cooke. She posts delicious recipes on her blog, Cooke’s Frontier.

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Money Mondays: Use Food Storage for your Thanksgiving Feast

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com This week, while you are planning your Thanksgiving menu, consider “shopping” from your food storage items that are nearing expiration.  If you are short on cash, this is also a way to save a few dollars. So why not include some of your food storage items for Thanksgiving? A few ideas Canned corn and green beans can be used for casseroles Mountain House Noodles and Chicken makes a tasty meal all by itself […]

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The High Cost of Cheap Turkey

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Is Pastured Turkey Worth the Cost?

Here in Virginia, a regular fifteen-pound turkey at the supermarket will cost you about $30 or less. But if you want a local, traditional turkey like a Bourbon Red, raised on pasture—expect to pay anywhere from $60–$90.

That’s a lot of money! Is it really worth it?

I saw some turkeys a while ago that definitely answered that question for me. These turkeys were probably around five months old, in a truck, on their way to slaughter.

A “normal” turkey’s life span is about 7–10 years. But these turkeys wouldn’t make it to see their first birthday. If they weren’t slaughtered for Thanksgiving, most of them would die of heart disease and organ failure by Christmas.

In fact, statistically speaking, 20 percent of their turkey buddies already died before they got to this truck. Around 6 percent of them had their heart give out within just one or two months of birth.

Why Are These Turkeys So Different?

In order to maximize profits, these turkeys were selectively bred to have incredibly large breasts—so large that the birds have trouble standing up. And forget about flying! Their legs often bow and sometimes spontaneously fracture under the weight.

Heritage breeds like the Bourbon Red that are raised on pasture are incredibly athletic and free. They run up to 25 miles per hour, fly, and often roost in the trees. (If you want to see something funny, watch a farmer try to catch his or her Bourbon Red turkeys!)

And Ben Franklin is reported to have wanted our national bird to be the fierce turkey rather than the bald eagle.

Turkeys on Antibiotics

Given a choice, turkeys aren’t vegetarians. They eat lots of greens, bugs, and rodents.

The turkeys I saw on that truck, on the other hand, were fed a vegetarian diet of GMO grains like soy and corn.

And now, an important note about antibiotics: You may have heard about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Veterinary Feed Directive Final Rule, which went into effect on January 1, 2017.

The rule aims to reduce antibiotic resistance by eliminating the common practice of using “medically important” antibiotics to promote animal growth and feed efficiency. However, with the approval of a veterinarian, turkey producers may still feed these antibiotics in therapeutic dosages to prevent the illnesses fostered by the living conditions often found in commercial operations—dark, overcrowded barns packed with other turkeys, walking and living in their own feces.

In fact, a 2013 study showed turkey meat to be the dirtiest of all meats, with nine of ten samples containing dangerous fecal bacteria including E. coli.

As we’ve learned, humans aren’t the only ones harmed by commercial animal-raising systems.

The animals I was looking at on that truck were incredibly sick—the natural result of a commercial farming revolution that has rejected the wisdom of nature. Farming has gone industrial, so that the largest U.S. turkey farms produce well over a million turkeys a month.

The entire commercial turkey industry has learned to hijack modern science to breed and raise a turkey that gets as large as possible as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Plus, by the time you buy the turkey, it’s been so filled with salt water that this solution accounts for up to 40 percent of the turkey’s final weight.

So What Can I Do?

The farmers who embrace the wisdom of nature, the traditions of our ancestors, and the facts of modern science all agree: Raising a turkey on pasture so that it can eat its natural diet is the best way to optimize the health of farms, turkeys—and you, the customer.

Turkeys raised on pasture live healthier, happier lives; are healthy when they are slaughtered; and make you healthier, too. Their meat contains more anti-inflammatory fats like Omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid (another essential fat that is scarce in the modern diet).

Farming practices that embrace Mother Nature’s wisdom preserve the land, support the soil, and create far less pollution.

These are just a few reasons to choose a pastured turkey this Thanksgiving.

Three Questions for Your Farmer

If you truly want to do your part to help preserve our beautiful planet and your health, you need to ask three questions of your farmer:

  1. What did this turkey eat? You’re looking for a bird that lived on mostly foraged grasses and greens, wild animals, and only a small amount of organic grains and feeds.
  2. How did this turkey live? Happy turkeys move around from pasture to pasture and enjoy lots of sunlight.
  3. What drugs was this turkey given? Ideally, none—or only some medicines if they were sick.

You should know that the terms “cage free” and “free range” are virtually meaningless in that they make very little difference in the actual life or treatment of the turkey you are purchasing. If you see these terms, know that you are often no better off buying one of these than you would be buying an industrially raised turkey.

If you see “vegetarian fed,” know that turkeys are not vegetarians.

If you see “organic,” that’s a little better—at least you know they are hormone- and antibiotic-free, for the most part. But they still may have led lives of confinement indoors, eating grains, and living in cramped and unsanitary spaces.

Where Should I Start?

You can start by looking for a local farm that uses traditional farming practices. If you’re unsure, ask them the three questions above.

You can also talk to a practitioner who is listed on PrimalDocs.com. Most of them know where to get local traditionally raised animals.

Also check out LocalHarvest.org and EatWellGuide.org. Last, you can look up your local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation for help finding great farms and resources near you.

TGN Bi-Weekly Newsletter

(This is an updated version of a post that was originally published in October 2014.) 


Sources:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6721797
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1480912/pdf/canvetj00082-0039.pdf
  3. https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/ucm449019.htm
  4. https://www.peta.org/living/food/turkey-factory-farm-slaughter
  5. https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AntimicrobialResistance/NationalAntimicrobialResistanceMonitoringSystem/ucm059103.htm
  6. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/05/01/180045788/antibiotic-resistant-bugs-turn-up-again-in-turkey-meat
  7. http://ncifap.org/_images/PCIFAPFin.pdf
  8. http://extension.psu.edu/animals/poultry/topics/general-educational-material/the-chicken/modern-turkey-industry
  9. http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm
  10. http://www.cooperfarms.com/OurCompany/MediaCenter/News/tabid/147/ArticleId/61/One-of-Americas-biggest-turkey-farms-is-in-NW-Ohio.aspx
  11. http://www.ibtimes.com/brine-injected-meat-40-percent-salt-water-usda-300969

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The Top 10 Things a Prepper is Thankful For

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Weren’t we celebrating the 4th of July a few weeks ago? November has the ability to pull me out of my busy life, make me stop and reflect upon what I am thankful for. The ease of online banking, Netflix and my microwave rank pretty high on my list. As preppers, don’t we tend to look at our lives with a broader vision? Below are 10 things I think most preppers are thankful for. I would love to hear what is on your “thankful” list.

thankful prepper

  1. Other preppers — We are a great community of like-minded people who love to learn, especially from each other. Look back at the beginning of your prepping journey, weren’t there people that helped you along the way? The preppers I know, are always willing to learn and teach.

 

  1. Freedom — Many countries have such harsh restrictions that prepping is more of a challenge for their citizens. Though we may all have our opinions about how things should be done in Washington, when compared to many other countries, we have it so good.

 

  1. The internet — Where else can you learn which leaves make the best toilet paper in less than 2 seconds? In just 2.3 seconds a world of information is at our fingertips. Also, we have the ability to then share this gem of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of other people. Many preppers and Survival Moms have connected with others around the world, sharing ideas, asking questions, and being supportive. That’s amazing.

 

  1. Mistakes — Haven’t we all made them? Being a prepper, they are a valuable experience. How else do we learn? What is even better is learning from mistakes that others make! Each time we make a mistake, we become better prepared because of the experience and knowledge gained.

 

  1. Amazon and the wonders of Prime — We have all done it, shopping late at night on Amazon. The perfect preparedness gadget that we can’t live out is there, picture perfect. How cool is it that at the click of a mouse we can have what we want, paid for, and on its way to our doorstep? I’ve found that my Amazon Prime membership pays for itself over and over and over during the year. Brief sales pitch here: sign up for a free 30-day trial, do all your holiday shopping using the Prime benefits, and then decide if you want to pay the annual fee or not.

 

  1. Medical advancements and knowledge — Lives are being saved, surgeries are safer, new medicines and therapies are being discovered. As a prepper, we can take care of ourselves and those around us better. Just recently, the Survival Mom had a total hip replacement! She had worried about not being physically able to evacuate or run away from danger, but just 2 weeks after the surgery, she was walking around, feeling stronger than ever. Thank God for modern medicine and medical technology!

 

  1. Family and friends — They can drive us a little bit crazy sometimes, but we love them. They are the reason we hope a disaster doesn’t happen but prepare as if it will. If you’re worried about holiday get-togethers with family, maybe the tips in this article might help!

 

  1. The news — Yes, the news. It reminds us of all the reasons that we need to be self-reliant. Whether we read about political or civil unrest, hurricanes, earthquakes or the economy, we are reminded of what could happen and it nudges us to continue prepping. In a weird way, the bad news is actually good for us if we use it to better prepare ourselves.

 

  1. Freebies (or close to it) — Those little treasures that people give me or I find at a thrift store really make my week! I am always amazed at what people part with. If it is a prep item, awesome! If not, it has still saved me money! This handy list has dozens of different prepper and survival related items to look for at thrift shops and yard sales.

 

  1. Opportunity — We have an abundance of opportunities to prepare ourselves and our loved ones and pursue the life we dream of. We can get an education, choose our own profession, worship as we feel, fail every now and then, and be able to try again.

What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

thankful preppers

Minimalizing Made Easy: Here’s What You Need to Know

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It’s no secret that I’m a firm believer in minimalism. In fact, I’ve written a couple of books about simple living and the value of living with less. I love the concept of simple living and minimalism in general. While there’s nothing wrong with having belongings, there’s a certain freedom in simplifying what you have and not hanging onto items out of emotional guilt or childhood trauma.

For me, simple living means I can be in a calm space without a lot of clutter and just have room to be. Instead of focusing on buying stuff and accumulating knick-knacks, I can focus on making memories and spending time with my family.

If you’ve been thinking about taking the leap, so to speak, and starting to live a simpler life by decluttering your home and moving to a more minimalistic approach, there are a few things you need to know before you begin.

First off, start slow. No one is saying you need to sell all of your stuff and buy a tiny home. A few years ago, my husband and I gave away almost all of our belongings (we stored a few boxes with my parents), sold our cars, and moved overseas. The experience was incredible, and getting rid of things wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. We both have a flair for the dramatic, though, so don’t think you need to do anything this crazy. For you, perhaps decluttering your junk drawer will be a good place to start. Maybe simplifying your dining room is what matters most. Never think that just because you read stories about people who live with one piece of furniture that you need to be that person. You don’t. You just need to be you.

It’s also important that you be realistic and respectful of your family. If you live alone, you can skip this part, but for minimalists with spouses and kids, make sure you aren’t decluttering to the point of stressing out your family. Here’s what I mean: I have a girlfriend who wanted to do the whole minimalist-living thing. Her husband didn’t. She got rid of almost everything in the house except for a box of his VHS tapes he was saving. She was trying to decide whether she should get rid of these when he wasn’t looking because he never used them. See the problem? To her, these VHS tapes just took up space. For him, they were a collection of favorite movies he’d taken years to accumulate. I don’t know what ended up happening in this particular situation, but I hope that they were able to communicate openly and honestly and come up with some sort of solution that worked for both of them. If you live with other people, don’t declutter their stuff. Instead, focus on yourself.

It’s also a good idea to set realistic goals. What is it you hope to accomplish by decluttering your house? Some possible goals could include:

  • Having a more relaxing living space
  • Not having piles of books or papers on the kitchen table
  • Reducing the number of boxes in the garage
  • Keeping the space beneath the beds clear
  • Minimizing the amount of clean-up and dusting you have to do
  • Having a tidy living room so unexpected guests don’t cause stress or hasty cleaning
Each person seeks minimalism for a different reason. Understand that no matter what your goals are, there will always be exceptions and there will always be things you can’t declutter. For example, my husband and I both love to study languages. We will never not have books in our house. To some people, the idea of having shelves and shelves of books is a dust bunny invasion waiting to happen. For us, it’s a haven. While it’s pretty difficult not to compare yourself to others, make a conscious effort to focus on yourself and your own goals, rather than what other people are doing.

Are you a minimalist? What are your personal minimalism goals? Leave me a comment and let me know! You can also check out one of my minimalism books, such as Minimalism Made Easy: What it Really Takes to Live With Less, for more ideas!

2017’s Best Holiday Gifts for Preppers

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Baking pies?

Hanging wreaths?

Cold weather?

Must be holiday season!

If you’re like me, you love the holiday season for a number of reasons: decorations, hanging out with family, and eating. Best of all, in my opinion, is the chance to come up with creative and interesting gifts to give the special people in my life. Coming from a family of preppers means that many of my gifts this year are prepper-themed. While finding the right gift for the prepper in your life might seem tricky, the truth is that there are a number of fantastic prepper-themed gifts to fit any budget. Check out these ideas.


1. A complete first aid kit
The First Aid Kit By Renegade Survival for Camping and Hiking or Home and Workplace offers a complete first aid solution for the prepper in your life. Best of all, it comes in an incredible bag that’s easy to transport and store. Finding the right first aid kit can be tricky, but this one offers a number of items that are perfect for any prepper.

2. A backpack for bugging out or traveling
This Military Tactical Assault Pack Backpack has a lot of features that any prepper is sure to love. Backpacks are a great choice when it comes to prepper gifts since most preppers can never have enough! I’m still in the process of creating a bug out bag for my car, but I’ll probably choose a durable backpack for it since backpacks offer a simple way to transport important survival items easily.

3. Gardening tools
One thing that tends to get overlooked when you’re reading prepper guides are gardening tools. Most preppers have at least some interest in gardening, so why not help them out with some gardening supplies? The Vremi 9 Piece Garden Tools Set offers a great starter set for newer gardeners who might not have all of the supplies they need to create a fantastic garden.

4. A sleeping bag

Most preppers love to camp, which means a sleeping bag is a solid choice. Sleeping bags can be used regularly for camping and outdoor gatherings, but also make a good addition to bug-out and survival gear supplies. I like this Sleeping Bag, but there are plenty of choices to fit your needs and preferences. 

5. A tent

Again, preppers love to camp! Why not select a Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent for the prepper in your life? The right tent provides a simple space to sleep while traveling, but can also provide some security if you plan to bug out at any point. When you’re shopping for the right tent, make sure you select something that’s big enough for the person you’re shopping for. If he or she has a family, make sure you select a larger tent with plenty of space for everyone.

6. Flashlights
If you’ve ever survived a tornado, hurricane, or long-term power outage, you know one of the first things to disappear from store shelves are flashlights. That’s why a J5 Tactical V1-Pro Flashlight – The Original 300 Lumen Ultra Bright LED Mini Tactical Flashlight is a great choice for preppers this holiday season. Consider gifting a flashlight along with plenty of batteries for the prepper in your life. Flashlights are one of my favorite gifts to give (and receive!) because they’re small, portable, lightweight, and inexpensive.

7. Prepper Books
Never underestimate the value of a good book. This year, why not give books to the prepper in your life? Even if he or she has been prepping for years, sometimes prepper guides can be a fun way to find inspiration and new ideas when it comes to survival. Here are just a few choices you can consider.

   

Have you considered these gift ideas before? Did any stand out? What are you planning to buy the prepper in your life this holiday season? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Herbal Gifts Handmade!

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Herbal Gifts Handmade! Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Listen in player below! Calling all DIYers! Want some ideas for frugal, quick-to-make holiday gifts? You still have time to to make loads of handmade, natural, herbal gifts. Be sure to listen to Herbal Prepper Live this Sunday to learn how. Listen to this broadcast or download “Herbal … Continue reading Herbal Gifts Handmade!

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Celebrating During Times Crises

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celebrate in a crisisMy family lived in Northern Alabama and experienced the April 2011 Tornado Outbreak. We saw one of the tornadoes from our front window. I worked clean up and recovery after the storms and the damage and loss was devastating for so many people. Even those of us that were spared direct damage still had to deal with days (and for some, weeks) of no power.

So, while we of course were thankful for being spared, there could have been a “mini-disaster” of our own because the day after the storms was my daughter’s 9th birthday. We were stuck at home and unable to go out for birthday fun as planned. Thankfully, I had already purchased her presents and had a dessert mix on hand so we were able to plan a last minute family celebration at home.

Now, please don’t misunderstand, missing out on a planned birthday party in NO WAY compares to the loss of property and life that was experienced due to these storms. My daughter understood what was happening and was not upset in the least by changing plans. But it made me think about a long term disaster or TEOTWAWKI event. It will be important to celebrate birthdays and holidays even in the midst of a crisis when at all possible.

My daughter’s 9th birthday is what triggered my desire to add holidays to our family preparedness plan.

Celebrate in a crisis

If we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, for example, and have to shelter-in-place for weeks or months, I am now prepared to still celebrate with my family on our special occasions.

  • Greeting cards for each birthday, anniversary and holiday
  • A small gift for each birthday, anniversary and holiday. Books, Mad Libs, card games, drawing books, and craft kits are great options.
  • Candy or other shelf stable treats related to each holiday
  • Stocking stuffers for Christmas. In my family that means scented hand sanitizers or lip gloss, little stuffed animals, mini Lego kits, and fun gadgets.

Rotation of these items is easy! When the birthday or holiday comes around, use what you have set aside and then buy something for the next year. I buy a bag of Halloween Candy on November 1st on sale and add it to the stash. After Valentines Day, I purchase a box of Valentine’s Cards with the candy included. Not only will my kids enjoy these, but they will have them to share with others in the neighborhood that might not have planned to celebrate.

If you find yourself in the midst of a shelter-in-place and haven’t planned ahead for some of these events, look around the house for something you can make. If you know how to knit or crochet, draw or paint, weave, make jewelry, etc, you can have supplies on hand to create a nice gift. The ability to bake cakes, cookies, or brownies and a few balloons or streamers will help create a festive occasion.  Be sure to have craft items for children so they can get involved in decorating and by making gifts for each other.

Think about the emotional boost that your family would get during a TEOTWAWKI event by doing something as simple as celebrating a birthday or having presents to open on Christmas morning. Hard times have a way of putting things into perspective and the celebrations don’t have to be huge, but taking the time to honor the person or the day can lift spirits, increase resilience, bond family members, and just produce some smiles.

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52 Weeks Savings: June brings sunshine and summer deals

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52 weeks savings challengeIn June, we celebrate summer, Father’s, graduations, weddings and Flag Day. It marks the halfway point of the year and on the 25th, it will only be six months until Christmas! Maybe this is the month to start making a holiday gift list and begin looking for bargain-priced gifts, well before the shopping rush begins.

There are loads of great June sales and bargains. Here’s what we’ve tracked down for you.

Food sales

June is National Dairy Month, which means there will be sales on ice cream, cheese, butter, milk, cream cheese, yogurt and popsicles. Most of these freeze very well, so it is an easy thing to stock up on. June is Turkey Lovers Month, so there should be sales on turkey deli meat (whole turkeys are cheapest to buy around Thanksgiving).

Cookout supplies are also on sale, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, buns and charcoal. If a charcoal grill is one of your alternate cooking options, it would be a good time to stock up on it. Soda, iced tea and bottled water also go on sale. Bottled water is a great thing to have on hand for almost every emergency. I keep a case in our vehicle during the summer months for when we are out and about.

Watermelon goes on sale during June, and there will be good deals on lots of seasonal produce. Consider going to farmer’s markets or researching what u-pick farms are near you to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. It can be preserved by canning, freezing or dehydrating.

TIP: Think about what desserts you might want to have in the winter months and get the fruit for it now.

Here is what is usually in season in June:

June Household Sales and Bargains

Tools, tools and more tools: with Father’s Day, the typical gifts for dad are on sale. Cologne and menswear will also be on sale for this occasion. Dishes and kitchen appliances should be on sale to coincide with wedding season. Graduations start winding down in June, so the party supplies will be on sale, which can be used for future parties or for food storage supplies.

TIP: Paper plates are a very handy items in an emergency. They don’t need to washed, so you avoid wasting valuable time and water, and you can either shred and compost them or burn them in a campfire. The best thing is that paper plates from any past holiday or birthday party work just fine for this purpose!

For household items, some small electronics like camcorders and computers should be on sale. Both are good items to have on hand for keeping track of inventory for personal and insurance purposes. Carpeting and indoor furniture are usually on sale in June.

Women’s underwear, bras and lingerie are a hot item in June, since Victoria’s Secret holds its semi-annual sale in June.

And, as always, be on the lookout for gifts! Sooner or later, a birthday, bridal/baby shower, wedding, or some other holiday will surprise you, and when that happens, most of us usually go into the panic-shopping mode! That’s the mode where we don’t care how much something costs — we just need to get that gift today! Don’t be that crazy-eyed lady at the mall! Shop ahead and look for the bargains posted here in this article as well as the entire, monthly 52 Weeks Savings series on this blog.

Outside the home

Gardening items start going on sale in June. It is never too early to start planning next year’s garden. Stock up on seeds and gardening tools. Seed planters are handy along with organic fertilizer. June is Rose Month, since most are in bloom. This can mean lower prices for roses and rose bushes in June.

Sports and Fitness

Summer sports gear and swim gear go on sale in June. Many people tend to focus their exercise outside in June, so indoor exercise equipment goes on sale and some gyms may offer discounted memberships. June is hosts National Fishing & Boating Week and National Get Outdoors Day, so local parks and recreation departments may offer special and possibly free activities for those days.

Events                  

Taking a staycation this year? Check out this link for a list of blogs for fun things to do in different states: .

June is also National Aquarium Month, so if you have a local aquarium, they may offer deals.

Some stores and restaurants like to participate in specific special days, so keep an eye out for deals on the following days:

June 5 – National Doughnut Day

June 7 – National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

June 10 – Iced Tea Day

June 18 – Go Fishing Day

June 20 – Ice Cream Soda Day

June 27 – Sunglasses Day

Flea markets and yard sales gear up this month and are a great way to find deals on almost any item. Here’s a list of 21 things to always be on the lookout for.

Activities for Children

Summer reading programs are in full gear in June as schools let out for the summer. Check your local library and local bookstores to see what they offer. For a list of stores, theaters and online programs, visit http://savingdollarsandsense.com/free-summer-reading-programs/.

Several stores also offer children freebies as a reward for a good report card. Ask your local stores if they do anything for report cards or, for a list, visit http://savingdollarsandsense.com/good-report-card-freebies/.

Check local hardware and craft stores for children’s make-and-take events.

Register at www.kidsbowlfree.com to get children up to 2 free games of bowling a day at your local bowling alley.

Some movie theaters offer discount movies during the summer. Check your local theater for prices and movie listings.

Money saving tips

In the summer, close blinds and curtains to keep sun out on hot days to reduce cooling costs. If possible, dry clothes outside on a clothesline to avoid running the dryer. Take a different approach to summer meal planning and incorporate meals that are light, such as salads that incorporate fresh ingredients, or that involve cooking outside on the grill or over a fire pit.

If you have a solar oven, Sun Oven, or want to make a DIY solar cooker, this is prime season and a great time to learn this skill before a power outage or some other disaster happens. Using a solar oven will help keep your kitchen cooler and you won’t be using any electricity at all.

By the end of June, you should have $325 saved if you’re following the weekly savings plan (25 weeks). If you have extra right now, perhaps going to a higher week in the chart and putting that money away would be a smart thing to do. Take things one day at a time and focus on what you can do and what you can enjoy.

If you’re on Facebook, it’s not too late to join our very active 52 Weeks Savings Club for tips and encouragement.

Saving money is a daily lifestyle and the key is having a good attitude. Take pride in what you have already saved up and learn from any mistakes.

Take advantage of June’s deals and start looking forward to a fun summer. Come back next month to see what deals July offers to help you save AND prepare!

52 weeks savings challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27   I’d like to wish everyone all the joy and hope that Easter brings.

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Goals & resolutions a better way!

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Goals & resolutions a better way! Bob Hopkins “APN Report” Audio in player below! New Years is upon us! For some, it’s party time, bidding goodbye to one year & ushering in a new. And for others, it’s when we set resolutions for ourselves, and steadfastly try to stick to them… at least until the … Continue reading Goals & resolutions a better way!

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Top 18 Holiday Bargains for Stocking Up

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The holidays are the perfect time for stocking up! Here are 18 bargains to look for. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comBeginning in October every year, grocery stores begin prominently displaying all types of food typically used in holiday cooking and baking. Every grocery store I’ve been to in the past couple of months has their holiday bargains right out front and center.

For Survival Moms who want to stock up their food pantry, this is an ideal time to take advantage of the coupons and sales that also come at this time of year. Today I took a look at this week’s grocery ads, and here’s a master list of items you may want to grab before the holiday season ends.

  • Ham and Turkey
    • Both of these can be frozen and/or canned to provide meals well into the New Year. A frozen turkey can remain frozen and still be safe to eat for up to a year. 
    • Stuck with a lot of leftover ham or turkey? Here’s a list of great recipes for turkey and more for ham that will give you something fresh and delicious to make with those leftovers.
  • Fresh oranges
    • Once the orange has been eaten, dry the peels and create your own orange zest for recipes throughout the year. If you end up with more zest than you think you’ll use within 6 months or so, use a Food Saver to vacuum seal the remaining zest in a pouch for longer term storage.
    • Speaking of a vacuum sealer, I highly recommend that you use it for vacuum sealing canning jars filled with foods of all kinds. It really is a must-have for a prepper’s kitchen.
  • Coffee
    • Grocery stores know that coffee is part of holiday entertaining, so you’re going to find lots of coffee brands on sale. Coffee beans, and especially green, unroasted coffee beans, will have the longest shelf life, but you can still repackage both beans and ground coffee in canning jars using the Food Saver jar attachment to suck out all the air/oxygen or seal the coffee in plastic pouches using your vacuum sealer.
    • Coffee is definitely worth stocking up on, but be sure to keep it stored in a cool, dark, and dry location. Even so, it will have its freshest flavor if used within just a couple of months.
  • Nuts
    • Again, this is the season for baking all types of treats and many of my favorite recipes include nuts. You’ll find nuts on sale but keep an eye on prices because they are still generally a higher priced grocery item.
    • If you do find a bargain, store those nuts in a cool, dry, dark location, and, if possible, vacuum pack them using a Food Saver. This will help the nuts stay fresh and stave off their tendency to go rancid.
  • Fresh fruit
    • Depending on where you live, you may find low prices on blueberries, blackberries, pomegranates, pineapple, oranges, and a lot more.
    • Dehydrating fruit is very simple and food dehydrators don’t have to cost a lot of money. I found mine on Craigslist several years ago for $30 and it still works fine. The Excalibur dehydrator is considered top of the line, and maybe if you have Christmas gift money, this might be a good time to buy!
    • You can also freeze fruit and even can it, so stocking up now on fruits that are in season is a very smart thing to do. Just make sure you budget your time so all that yummy stuff won’t rot during an especially busy time of year.
  • Butter
    • Right now my favorite grocery store has a pound of butter for $2.50. That’s the lowest price I’ve seen in a while. Butter can easily be frozen, at one time I had 40 pounds of it in our big freezer!
    • I’ve heard of canning butter but am not convinced it’s the safest thing to do.
  • Alcohol
    • Call me crazy, but it never hurts to have a few bottles of whisky or vodka around. Even if you’re not much of a drinker, vodka can be useful in making tinctures and from what I’ve heard, whiskey has medicinal uses as well. This article explains why preppers should stock up on alcohol.
    • If you’re thinking of stocking up on bottles of alcohol as a product for barter, stick with hard liquor: vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whiskey and brandy, as they can all have indefinite shelf lives.
    • Learn how to make your own wine with instructions from a book like this one
  • Potatoes, both fresh and instant
    • Potatoes can be peeled, sliced, and dehydrated by following these steps.
    • When stored in a very cool location, around 45 to 50 degrees, they can stay fresh for up to 3 months.
    • Instant mashed potatoes come in handy for quick meals. However, they will need to be repackaged for a longer shelf life. Read these instructions. Once repackaged, I highly recommend placing them in the freezer for at least a week in order to kill any microscopic insect eggs that might be present.
    • Here’s a terrific collection of awesome potato recipes.
  • Canned vegetables
    • Store these in a cool location and they can last for more than a year. Do circle the “Best By” date and then open a can every so often to check for color and flavor.
    • You can always drain the veggies and dry them on your dehydrator trays for even longer shelf life.
  • Over-the-Counter meds for coughs and cold symptoms
    • These generally have a shelf life of more than a year.
    • During the winter months, you’ll also find coupons for these for added savings.
  • Batteries
    • Retailers aren’t stupid. They know that for every battery-operated gift purchased, someone is going to need batteries! Keep an eye out for coupons and combine them with store sales.
    • Batteries are among the most useful items you can stock up on, so go crazy when you find a really good deal!
  • Not-just-for-Christmas wrapping paper
    • Who said that white wrapping paper with red polka dots is just for Christmas? When you find wrapping paper that will be perfectly fine throughout the year, buy it!
  • Gravy and gravy mixes
    • There’s nothing like homemade gravy, but there’s also nothing handier than opening a jar of gravy and pouring it over mashed potatoes! A few jars of gravy in the pantry just might save dinner one day soon!
    • Gravy packets are great as a stock-up item. They have very long shelf lives, can be prepared quickly, and can make items as plain as white rice pretty tasty. I recommend a stash of these for a bare-bones food storage plan like this one.
  • Frozen pies
    • Now, you wouldn’t ordinarily think of a pie when it comes to stocking up, but one or two in the freezer can come in handy.
    • Think about any special occasions coming up, potlucks, parties — any even where you might have to make dessert. Now think about how busy you’re going to be this year. A frozen pie looks like a better and better idea, doesn’t it?
  • Baking staples
    • Sugar, flour, baking powder, chocolate chips — you’ll find all these and a lot more on sale. And, all of them can be stored long-term.
    • Flour, in particular, must be repackaged. Read this to learn how.
    • Watch this video to learn how to store things like chocolate chips, shortening, and candy.
  • Snack foods
    • Grocery stores know that serving appetizers and snacks are a part of the holidays. You’ll find things like Triscuits and other crackers on sale, along with pretzels and chips. If you find these at a great price, stock up and plan on portioning them into snack bags for your kids’ lunches.
  • Chex cereals
    • Everybody and their dog is going to be making one variation of Chex mix or another, so why not stock up on several boxes for breakfasts or other recipes?
    • If you want to store Chex or any other cereal for long term, follow the instructions in the video I mentioned above or package the cereal in mylar bags with an oxygen absorber. This package includes both the bags and the absorbers.
  • Canned soups
    • Like most other canned foods, soups can have a long shelf life if stored in a cool location.
    • Buy soup flavors that your family members enjoy and soups that you normally use in recipes.

What other foods that are on sale during the holidays do you stock up on?

Holiday Herbal Gifts Part 3 “Salts”

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Holiday Herbal Gifts Part 3 “Salts” Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio in player below! Wrapping up this series on herbal gifts, the focus is on salts. Salts of various types make great, quick, natural, and non-toxic, handmade gifts. Best of all, they are easy. By definition, a salt any chemical compound formed from the … Continue reading Holiday Herbal Gifts Part 3 “Salts”

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12 Days of Christmas: Day 12, Do It All Again Next Year!

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christmas organizationOne of the reasons why I love Christmas is that my home is at its loveliest for one whole month. Over a big window facing the back yard is strung a lush garland of pine entwined with tiny white lights. My two trees (Mom’s, done in all red and gold and the “family” tree with our personalized, handmade and Disney ornaments) fill a living room and family room, respectively, and take my breath away.

All this beauty makes me wish the holidays could last forever, but all too soon, it will be time to take down the lights, trees, decorations, and ornaments and store them until next year. My memory is so faulty, though, how will I remember where everything went? After all, even the hall bathroom received its’ fair share of Christmas decor and my daughter and I put a lot of thought into all the little holiday touches we add here and there around the house. Christmas organization isn’t something I can ignore!

At my age, my memory isn’t as good as my forgettery, so to help it along, I take a series of photos to remind myself where everything goes. A quick shot of the hall bathroom, one of the dining room table, another of the kitchen island, the outside lights, and on and on will be a lasting, photographic record so that next year I won’t be standing there with decorations in hand saying, “Now where does this thing go?”  This is an easy task to delegate to your kids, by the way, and since you’ll probably have the camera out anway, Christmas Day is a good day to get ‘er done.

Once your photography session is finished, you can store everything on your computer in a file, “Christmas decor 2016” or, better yet, store them on a CD in case your computer crashes.  I prefer having the photos printed and placed in a small photo album, which gets stored in one of the holiday bins. I’ve noticed those little photo albums become great memories, as we’ve moved from house to house over the years.

Take this idea one step farther and create a Christmas 2017 photo album that includes all your photos from the season. You’ll have pages and pages of fun memories interspersed with practical reminders of what you want to decorate, and how, next Christmas.

Other ways of getting ready for next Christmas 11 months early are:

  • Clearly label all Christmas bins, boxes, and bags with their contents. I recommend one that prints labels in large fonts, like this one.
  • Color coding is your friend. Just this morning, my husband was rummaging around our bins looking for outside lights, which are all packed in bright blue plastic bins. Color coordinating at its finest!
  • Ward off damage by heat, humidity, and pests by storing your decorations accordingly. Our bins of Christmas lights did just fine in our Phoenix attic but our collection of Disney ball ornaments were damaged by heat over the years.
  • If your ornament collection includes keepsakes, you really want to protect those. Store them in their original packaging or wrap them in tissue and store in a partitioned box like this one.
  • You might be surprised how far Christmas decor storage has come. Just a quick look around a store like Target or on Amazon will turn up Christmas tree storage bags, Christmas wrapping paper storage tube, a holiday wreath storage bag, and a bag that contains reels to store your strands of Christmas lights. All these come in bright red, which will help you identify your Christmas supplies next year.

One of the secrets to a relaxing holiday season is getting up all your decorations, including the tree, early in the month. Knowing ahead of time where everything goes makes that job a piece of (fruit)cake!  With the photos you took this year, your kids can decorate the house next year, and you can relax! What a concept, and you deserve it!

christmas organization

 

12 Days of Christmas: Day 11, Is That All There Is?

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12 Days of Christmas Day 11 Is That All There Is via The Survival Mom

Christmas never seems as big and grand as it does when you’re a child. For weeks prior to the big day, their wide eyes see lights go up and they watch a thousand or so TV commercials advertising the latest and greatest “must have” toys.  Anticipation grows and grows, and it’s really amazing their little bodies can contain it all!

Once the 26th arrives and all the presents have been opened and the relatives have gone home, there’s a natural feeling of a let down. “Is that all there is?”

Enter: after Christmas surprises!

I love having one last holiday surprise for my kids in the form of a fun Christmas outing that takes place a few days after Christmas. One year it was attending The Nutcracker. Once we drove up north to play in the snow and anther year, we drove over to Disneyland for a quick trip to catch their spectacular holiday displays. Whatever it is, it’s fun for the entire family to have one last “something” to look forward to, even a pre-planned family game and pizza night.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, just something special enough to look forward to.

After the flurry, focus on friends

If you can, grab your calendar right now and schedule 1 or 2 simple get-togethers with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and any other group you’re a part of, post-Christmas. By “simple”, I mean, no stressing over the house looking “perfect”. If your friends come over to critique your home, you seriously need to get new friends. Don’t stress over the menu, either. It’s the conversations, the laughs, the shared memories and building of bonds that will be remembered, not that your party was catered by Chef Frou-Frou.

Very simple menu ideas?

  • DIY sandwiches, burgers, or hot dogs
  • Baked potato bar
  • Soup or chili with salad and bread
  • A big pot of spaghetti or baked rigatoni
  • Pizza from the cheapest place in town
  • Frozen lasagna (Don’t judge!)

For entertainment? How about…nothing! Nothing but talk with some music playing in the background. If the weather is cool, a fire in the fireplace cozies up the house and even a couple lighted candles add atmosphere. Your house is already decorated and is at its prettiest.

Have kids? Turn off the lights and let them play “Midnight” Hide and Seek. Adults can either sit in the dark or move to a lighted area somewhere else in the house. Card games and board games, allow for conversation — TV and video games do not! I recommend arranging an activity for the kids that won’t require a lot of supervision, or maybe pay a teenager to babysit the kids right there in your home as a way to diminish interruptions.

This year, my family fell in love with the dice game, Tenzi. It’s suitable for players of all levels and combines a very simple concept (tossing dice) with lots of competition and racing against time. I highly recommend it!

I probably don’t need to remind you, but banish all political talk for the night. Even if you’re among 100% likeminded people, you don’t need the stress or elevated blood pressure!

Whatever you plan for your post-Christmas event, don’t keep this a secret. Anticipation is part of the fun, and I always let my kids know ahead of time about our plans. How could you extend your Christmas just a wee bit longer this year?

after Christmas surprises

Handmade Herbal Gifts: Part Two

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Handmade Herbal Gifts: Part Two Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio in player below! This week, we are continuing with part two of the 3-part handmade Herbal Gifts series that begun last week. (See last week’s description below.) Tonight I’m sharing ideas for salves, lotions, aftershave, beard oil, bath salts, and magnesium oil. From last … Continue reading Handmade Herbal Gifts: Part Two

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When You Give This Christmas, It’s Easy to Give Back, Too!

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For too long, this blessed holiday season has been focused primarily on spending money. (If you don’t believe me, listen to my podcast, “The Parable of Fall Decor & Prepping“.) We spend money to decorate our homes, inside and out, spend it on new clothes for holiday photos, over-spend on gifts, and then there’s the expense of traveling to see relatives or hosting them. It’s not unusual for families to spend a couple thousand dollars or more between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But what if your spending was also a way to give back? What if some of your purchases benefited others in a way that went beyond dollars and cents?

Radko Christmas ornament from the MD Anderson Children’s Art Project.

One group that does that is The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Children’s Art Project that provides therapy through art classes. A cancer diagnosis is life-altering. My brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin Disease when he was young and its impact lasted a lifetime. As a way to help children cope with the fear, the pain, and spending long periods of time away from home and friends, the Children’s Art Project provides not only a distraction but a means for children to express emotions and reduce stress.

The Children’s Art Project takes the artwork of many children and features it on products, such as holiday and note cards, Radko ornaments, kitchen accessories, mugs, umbrellas, scarves, ties, and tote bags. When these are purchased, the proceeds return to MD Anderson to fund additional art classes, as well as camps and support groups.

Ksenia, now 16, traveled from her native Russia to Houston for cancer treatment at MD Anderson. While she was there, The Children’s Art Project classes gave her an outlet to illustrate small little worlds that are often overlooked in today’s busy world. You can see a few of her designs in this photo.

There are many similar gift ideas you’ll discover over the holidays that return a portion of the proceeds to organizations that care for the homeless, abused women and children, animal shelters, and veterans. Keep an eye out for opportunities to make those purchases as gifts, either to others or yourself. While you’re at it, be sure to tell your kids and grandkids the story behind the purchase. It’s a great way to help them develop empathy and the desire to help others.

Be sure to check out more from the Children’s Art Project and get 20% off by using the coupons code ESB20 at checkout!

childrens art project

This content was sponsored by MD Anderson Cancer Center. I was given samples of products and compensated for my time and research.

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The 12 Days of Christmas: Day 9, Our Favorite Things

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creative Christmas gift

I was never an avid Oprah fan, but every year I looked forward to her holiday episode, “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”  If you haven’t seen one of these episodes, they were pretty spectacular.  Oprah would present about a dozen or so products that she fell in love with that particular year.  She raved about it, would sometimes interviews the inventor or designer, and then with a big fanfare, Oprah employees walked in with that particular gift for everyone in the audience.  You couldn’t help but wish you were sitting there!

Even now that her show is over, she is still showcasing her favorite things on Amazon. You can see them all here.

Several years ago, I decided to replicate this concept. It’s so much fun to put together this budget-friendly gift. Throughout the year, I pay attention to anything our family especially enjoys and then put all those items together in a collection of “Our Family’s Favorite Things.” It’s a fun process because it brings back so many great memories of the year gone by. Sometimes these things are favorite foods we’ve discovered, a gift card to a favorite restaurant, photos of some of your family’s favorite memories for the year, a favorite CD or DVD or a product you’ve fallen in love with.

Past boxes from my family have included:

  • A box of Kodiak Cakes mix
  • Patriots by James Wesley Rawles
  • Photos of my kids on their sports teams
  • Waterproof matches.  Sounds silly, but the kids and I tested them, and they really work! Most people have heard of them but have never actully used them.
  • A pillowcase sewn by my daughter.  She learned how to sew one year and these were her contribution to the basket.
  • Gift cards to a bowling alley (We re-discovered this fun sport just recently.)
  • Half-pound of See’s California Brittle
  • A copy of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  Our family has loved the entire Percy Jackson series and I ended up reading aloud all 5 books.
  • Recipes for two favorite main dishes I discovered this year
  • Seasoning mixes
  • A favorite nail polish color or,
  • A favorite essential oil
  • Knork flatware. We’ll never use another brand. I’ve even purchased a set for my daughter when she someday moves out. Get on their mailing list and you’ll receive notices of really good discounts during the year.
  • Key West salted caramels made in a tiny candy shop we discovered.
  • Daim candy, another sweet indulgence we purchased in Iceland
  • Tiny bottles of local wine and liquor from travel destinations
  • Boxes of Texas-shaped crackers, now that we live in Texas
  • A CD of the songs we fell in love with during the year

Get the idea?  This can be a whole family project with each person contributing and there’s no limit when it comes to creativity.  The gifts can be handmade or homemade and don’t have to cost a dime, and if you’ll be mailing this across the miles, it’s possible to put everything in a flat-rate envelope. Plus, deciding what to include brings back lots of fond memories.

There’s still time to put this together.  It might be the best gift your family has given!

creative gift idea

12 Days of Christmas: Day 8, Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

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peaceful Christmas

The stocking are hung by the chimney with care.

The tree is adorned with ornaments, tinsel, and lights.

The house smells of warm, home-baked goodies.

As Survival Moms, we spend a lot of time creating the Christmas, or Hanukkah, of our children’s dreams and our own. It’s possible, though, for the beauty of the holidays to pass us by, and too often, it does.  This year, don’t let that happen. Purposefully, set aside a block of time to enjoy all you’ve done and include at least one thing that will fill your heart with the spirit of the season. A peaceful Christmas doesn’t have to be at odds with one that is filled with fun activities.

Ignore the pile of laundry for just a few minutes.  The dishes in the sink can wait, or better yet, be delegated to one of the kids.  Turn off all the lights tonight and enjoy some quiet moments in front of the Christmas tree. You’ve done so much to create holiday magic that it only seems fair that some of the magic should be yours!

What will make this holiday time special and memorable for you?  A phone call to an old friend?  Lunch or dinner at a special restaurant or continuing a generations-old tradition with your own kids or grandkids?  Schedule those special moments on your calendar and enjoy counting down the moments or days until they arrive.  Who said Christmas giddiness is just for kids?

One more thing, Mom! You know your loved ones and close friends are going to ask, “What do you want for Christmas?” It’s a sincere question and you can alleviate a lot of their stress by having a few suggestions. A weekly date with hubby? A Vera Bradley throw? Something shiny from James Avery? A mother-daughter night out? It’s not self-centered or greedy to actually tell someone when they ask “The Gift Question”!

peaceful Christmas

Survival Mom’s Holiday Shopping Guide

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survival mom giftsThis year, my list of recommended holiday gifts is quite a collection. A bit of an odd lot, if I say so myself. However, I’ve used every single item on the list and have provided brand names and links so you can track them down yourself. There is, truly, something here for everyone.

SilverFire Survivor Rocket Stove

I’ve used other brands of rocket stoves and even made one by hand, but this one is the best. It’s highly efficient, using only small amounts of dry biomass and produces very little char. Rather than chunks of charred wood, it produces only a fine ash. Heavy-duty, it’s something you can rely on as a long-term investment. I’ve met with the inventor, Todd Albi, and he knows more about heat and cooking than most everyone else on the planet. A few companies have copied his design but haven’t come close to the efficiency of the Survivor Rocket Stove.  He has also invented the Dragon Pot…http://www.silverfire.us/stoves-backpack-stove-fixed-chimney-gasifier-rocke

The Dragon Pot

In a former life, I was quite the expert when it came to cookware. I tested multiple types and even sold high end cookware. When I first tried the Dragon Pot, though, I wasn’t prepared for a pot that heated up so quickly, easily faster than my non-stick, stainless steel, and cast iron pots and pans. I love this pot and use it every time I cook a pot of soup, beans, or need to boil water quickly. The one caveat I would mention is that the entire pot, including the handles, gets very hot, very fast, so be sure to have potholders handy. This page gives an extensive explanation for the design and functionality of this versatile pot. Shipping is included in the price of the stove when you order it from SurvivalMomStore.com

th_p-486-1-dragon_pot01_b

Pelican LED flashlight

I own many, many! flashlights, but when we were in Iceland this fall, my handy Pelican LED flashight outshone them all. A few late nights when I had to make my way to the campground bathroom, I couldn’t believe the broad spread of light from this tiny unit. It’s solid, sturdy, and would make a great stocking stuffer. Priced right around $27.

Fleece lined tights

I said this list was a little crazy and now I’m proving it with the inclusion of tights, of all things! Getting ready for Iceland, I was terrified that we wouldn’t be warmly dressed. This comes from a long-time resident of Phoenix and now Texas. I heard about fleece lined tights through the grapevine, and let me tell you, when I put them on for the first time, I was in cozy-cuddle heaven! If you live in cold weather or will be spending time in chilly weather, YOU NEED THESE!! My husband wouldn’t admit it, but I think he was jealous!!

fleece lined tights

Membership to Preppers University

One of the projects I’m most proud of is the multi-week, small group classes in Preppers University. These classes are called “Intensives” because they are so very, very intense. They are perfect for the beginning prepper, a prepper who has reached a decent level of being ready for emergencies but wants to become even more self-reliant, and even very advanced preppers. The classes are all live with some of the best-known names in the prepper and survival world and come with assignments, reading resources, printables, exclusive Facebook groups for networking, exclusive podcasts and video classes, and so much more. Tuition for each course is $139, the 8-week Prepping Intensive and the 6-week Advanced Prepping Intensive. As I wrote here, this is the absolute best I can offer you in the way of helping you get prepared.

Buy this as a gift and we’ll send a special “Gift to You” email to the lucky recipient. Learn more about our 2 courses here and register at this link.

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Swedish Fire Knife

Here’s a great gift that is 2 products in 1, both an excellent knife and a firesteel fire starter. My family has had these in our emergency kits and camping gear for many years. They come in different colors, which makes them either easy to spot in a kit or bag (bright pink or orange, for example) or blend in with your regular, nondescript gear (black). The Swedish Fire Knife has a good quality, fixed steel blade.

Family mess kits

Another product made by the Swedish Fire Knife folks is this mess kit. Its 8 pieces includes a small cutting board, a spork, and a “harness” that holds the entire kit together. When I saw that it came in 7 different colors, I knew I had a winner. I let each kid pick their own favorite color and now that’s one less argument!

Vera Bradley fleece blankets

I bought one of these about 4 years ago and was hooked. They run a little on the expensive side, usually round $48-50, but they are wondrously lush with vibrant colors. And, they match absolutely nothing in y my house, but with this level of coziness, who cares? Here’s what’s funny: my teenage son loves them. He was even fine taking one with him on a recent Civil Air Patrol training school — but I talked him off that , ledge. This is a fantastic gift for just about anyone on your list. We keep ours rolled up and in little cubbies in the family room. We have other fleece blankets, but these are our favorites. You can buy Vera Bradley on Amazon, the prices are about the same as retail stores, but I always look for discounted blankets when I go to the Vera Bradley section of a local boutique. Oh, if you see very expensive prices on Amazon, it’s probably because that particular design is discontinued. Here’s the link to a few blankets on Amazon and the official Vera Bradley website with all the new colors and designs. (They come in 2 different sizes, so check for measurements.)

Wool socks

Socks and underwear for Christmas. Not much better than a lump of coal, right? Well, the right pair of wool socks will rock your world and change your mind about getting “just socks” for Christmas. Being a desert gal for most of my life, flip-flops were the name of the game when it came to footwear. However, when you’re out hiking or just wearing most any type of closed-toe footwear, wool socks are far more comfortable and absorbent than cotton. A nice bonus is that they don’t absorb odors. When we’re out in the wilderness, doing our primitive camping, and with no access to laundry facilities, we just hang our socks around the tent or draped over branches and let them air out overnight. I own wool products from both Smartwool and the REI brand and can recommend both.

 

Solavore Sport Oven or the All-American Sun Oven

Speaking of surviving in the great outdoors, one cooking method that requires no fuel other than the sun is solar. With a solar oven, the oven’s design and the sun do all the work, leaving you free for other activities. I have used and recommend the Solavore Sport Oven and the All American Sun Oven. They are both effective for cooking food and sanitizing water — they just have different designs. I compare and contrast both in this article. With either one, you get an excellent backup to your home’s stove/oven should the power go out and a portable oven for camping or picknicking. Both ovens come packaged with other products, so be sure to read the details carefully if you’re considering both.

Try the World subscription

I’m not an official paid rep for this company, but I really should be! These boxes of curated treats from all over the world are a monthly highlight for my family. We loved the box with treats from Italy (the chewy amaretto cookies were amazing!) and fell in love with chutneys and other condiments from places as varied as France, Morocco, and Brazil. Each box comes with recipes and a dozen or so full-size packages of foods and beverages. This year, Try the World was my go-to when it came time for business gifts. Check out the subscription options here. Receive 2 additional boxes for free by letting me refer to you Try the World! Just email to me your email address and I’ll make sure Try the World gets in touch with this special offer. (Send email to admin @thesurvivalmom.com) Thanks! (I receive a $15 gift card for each referral subscription.)

Lightweight fleece sleeping bag

I know everyone thinks the really cool, heavy duty sleeping bags are the bomb, but over the years, and on many camping trips, we discovered that our heavy bags were too much. So, one day while camping in northern Utah, we came across something wondrous at their local Walmart: fleece sleeping bags. They were just the right weight for so many nights and have been used for Civil Air Patrol camp-outs and sleepovers. I even packed them when we went to Iceland, and boy, were we glad. They added a welcome layer inside our heavier bags on cold nights as we slept in our camper van. This particular bag in the photo isn’t the exact brand we own, that would be Ozark Trail, but it appears to be very similar, although in a rather oddly arranged position.

I told you this was quite a mixed bag of gift suggestions, but this is kind of the year I had. A mash-up of family travel, trying new things, and making a point to be more hospitable. The busier we get, it seems, the less time we have for forming friendships, and that’s no way to live.

I may be adding more suggestions to this list over the next 72 hours or so and, as you can see, this list is appropriate any time of the year. For many more family and budget-friendly holiday ideas, be sure to check out my series, “12 Days of Christmas.

survival mom gifts

12 Days of Christmas: Day 7, Give the Gift of Preparedness

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 Christmas gifts for preppers

So is your gift shopping all finished?  If not, this year spread the message of preparedness with a plethora of thoughtful gift ideas that carry with them the underlying purpose of preparing your loved ones for emergencies. One of these just might put a huge, satisfied smile on the face of even the pickiest person on your list, and many of these are very budget friendly. Christmas gifts for preppers and non-preppers alike.

For the skeptic in your life

Give Patriots by James Wesley Rawles or One Second After by William Forstchen, and then sit back and wait for a panicked phone call.

For the prepper who seems to have everything

Give them a 6-week Advanced Prepping Intensive course with Preppers University. As one of the founders and an instructor, I can promise you, they will be challenged in ways they can’t imagine. From learning about how to plant and grow camouflaged gardens to setting up a communication schedule with timetables and codes — this course really does cover “advanced” prepping. Here’s a link with information about the course. (The 3 payment plan is a nice feature.)

For the road warrior

Put together a customized survival kit for their vehicle.  Think combo 72 Hour Kit/Road Emergency Kit.  You can find what you need in your own stash of supplies, sporting goods stores, and automotive stores. Customize it with gear and other supplies unique to their circumstances, such as needed OTC medications (see this list for suggestions). If you’re short on time, a ready-made kit is a good substitute, and if you order online, shipping to another address is easy.

For the beginning prepper

Nothing says, “I love you and want you to survive TEOTWAWKI,” like a 5-gallon food grade bucket filled with packets of freeze dried or dehydrated foods, a portable water filter, a gift certificate for range time at a local shooting range, and a copy of my family survival book, Survival Mom. It’s very easy and fun to read with over 300 pages of helpful info, family activities, and checklists. I recommend Mountain House meals.

For the overwhelmed mom

A “Mom’s Survival Kit” filled with small snacks, coloring and activity books and small toys may be her only link to sanity someday as she and her brood hunker down in a bomb shelter or, more likely, are stranded on the side of the road.  Add a gourmet chocolate bar and a fun magazine or novel, and she’ll weep tears of joy.

For someone who needs a new hobby

A gift certificate for shooting lessons, a canning course, hunting skills and safety, a craft class at a store like Jo-Anne, a master gardener course, and so on. In one fell swoop, you’ll have that gift checked off on your list and will have opened the door to a new hobby that could last a lifetime.

And, finally, ultimate survival gifts for the King or Queen of Preppers

I have a fun list of 23 gifts that may seem extreme, or not, but for sure, they are the ultimate when it comes to gift-giving in this category. You’ll find that list here.

Christmas gifts for preppers

The 12 Days of Christmas: Day 6, The Gift of Memories

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gift of memories

Here’s an idea for something even the youngest members of your family will enjoy making and receiving: their own collection of photo memories. When my daughter was three years-old, I made a photo collage for her room.  I combined small photos of family members and close friends, a pic or two from recent vacations, and a few of her and put them in a store-bought collage frame. Even though she was just a preschooler, she loved having her own collage of memories and the people she loved.

This year she placed about a dozen photos from past family vacations in our Christmas tree. Once sentimental, always sentimental, I guess, but I realized how inexpensive photos can decorate for the holidays and throughout the year.

Our tree has ornaments made of tiny photo collages and photos inside clear glass balls. Add some shiny tinsel to that glass ornament, and you have something that is both memorable and beautiful. These make great gifts for teachers, friends, and even your kids’ friends. At barely over $1 each, they are gifts manageable for even tight budgets.

Another very inexpensive tree ornament are plastic sparkling snowflakes, like these. For years we’ve nestled these in the branches of our Christmas trees, but with a little hot glue, you can easily personalize them with family photos. What a great family project to select photos from this year’s best memories and create a scrapbook of sorts you can enjoy all season long. Be sure to store these in a cool location during the rest of the year in order to preserve the photos.

Take this idea a little farther by making photo ornaments that feature old photos from past decades. What a treat for a grandparent to receive a collection of ornaments with photos from her past and of her kids and grandkids as they grew through the years!

In today’s age of digital photographs, it’s easier than ever to compile incredible memories from months and even years gone by. You can store thousands of them in the cloud, on a flash drive, or your computer’s hard drive, and then quickly sort through to find the best photos to keep when the holidays arrive. There are so many different gift options beyond tree ornaments.

For gift-giving, consider sorting your photos in different categories, depending on who the gift is for. Once you’ve selected the best of the best, you might find that some are best suited for different people:

  • Grandparents on each side of the family
  • Long-distance relatives on each side of the family
  • Grown kids who have left the nest
  • Close family friends

These very simple craft foam photo frames can be decorated by even the youngest family member. Online sites like Canva and Pic Monkey allow you to edit photos, add captions, and create collages, all for free. Add a frame and you have a gift.

For the past two years I’ve taken this idea and applied it to wall calendars using Shutterfly and Snapfish.  Sadly, I’m not a scrapbooking queen, but even I was able to make beautiful digital collages for each month of the year. In addition to the photos, there is space on each calendar page for a few words.  I included favorite Bible verses one year, and this year, phrases from favorite songs.

One year I created a hard-cover book for my parents. It was a collection of the many “mom and dad” type sayings they were famous for over the years and placed a few photos of us kids and the grandkids on each page. Are your parents or some other family member famous for certain sayings? This is a fun way to remember their words and add corresponding photos. Here’s a sample from the book I created:

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Putting together photo memories is do-able on any budget, and the finished product is priceless. Online companies like Shutterfly make it possible to have your photos printed on calendars, mugs, fleece blankets, canvas wall hangings, note cards, and so much more. Printing digital photos at home or through an online service like COSTCO or Walgreens has never been cheaper or easier. Even when Christmas is only days away, it’s possible to print photos at home or through a one-hour service. One year, with my back to the wall, I was able to design our annual photo Christmas card, get it printed at Walgreens and then sent out the same day. Whew!

If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, and I highly recommend becoming one, in 2 short days you can have answers to your gift giving dilemmas. This cute clothesline-of-photos caught my eye because the 51khqdy4culphotos can be changed and you can add other mementos, including your child’s artwork.

If you’ve ever doubted the value of photographs, then imagine what it would be like 10 years from now to have no images at all of precious moments like birthdays, holidays, or just hanging out as a family. When you give the gift of memories, you give not only a gift but something far more precious.

gift of memories

The 12 Days of Christmas: Day 5, Keep it Simple, Sweetie!

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simple Christmas

Have you noticed that the most memorable moments in life are often the simplest?  Children, in particular, are happy with simple, basic pleasures.  Life is too complicated all by itself, and at Christmas time, it gets even worse! Aim for a simple Christmas this year.

Focus on simple activities that make the most of family time together. To make sure they actually happen, the key is scheduling. In my life, if it goes on the calendar, it gets done.  If it floats around in my head, it will almost always be forgotten. So grab that December calendar, think about what your family would enjoy, and then make a date! Here are some ideas to get  you started.

  • Family game night — card games, board games, teach the kids how to play backgammon. One of our new favorites is Tenzi, a fun dice game you can play just about anywhere.
  • Family baking night. If funds are low, put your food storage to good use! From-scratch goodies can be very frugal when you’re talking about snickerdoodless, sugar cookies, caramel popcorn, oatmeal cookies, gingerbred, and brownies. See what you already have the ingredients for and try not to run out to get anything else. For sure, if your plan is to just buy one ingredient, say chocolate chips, you’ll end up spending fifty bucks. That’s the way these things work!
  • Set out a Christmas jigsaw puzzle and spend time working on it throughout the month. You can probably find one at a thrift store.
  • Family talent night. No talent?  No problem!  This is for pure entertainment, and a few laughs!
  • Walk around the neighborhood to look at the lights, or become impromptu Christmas decoration judges and actually award prizes houses with the most outstanding light displays.
  • A family craft night, making ornaments or gifts. I list numerous possible crafts in this article that ar suitable for gifts but also as a family hobby.
  • Invite a few friends over for a holiday goodie potluck, hot chocolate, and reading the real Christmas story
  • Hot chocolate. Tonight my son came home drenched from an icy rainstorm and hubby walked in minutes later, chilled. I whipped up some homemade hot chocolate from scratch and we enjoyed the hot drink together before getting back into the busyness of our day.
  • Churches in your area will be holding festivities of all kinds and all will be free.
  • Check out your library’s event calendar. There will be holiday story hours and activities and maybe craft hours.

I’ll bet you could add a half dozen or more suggestions to this list. Keep it simple and inexpensive. Your aim is a peaceful holiday with memorable moments — not mom with a migraine, stressed hubby, grumpy kids, and an emptied bank account.

If we say that spending time with our family and friends is the most important part of the holidays, then doesn’t it make sense to do just that?  Simple times spent together make memories and build relationships.

Years ago, friends gave us tickets to see “The Christmas Sweater” with Glenn Beck. I’ll never forget a comment he made — what he wants most for Christmas is time.  We can make more money, we can buy more food, we can get more stuff, but the one thing we can’t make more of is time.  Make the most of the time that is still left of this beautiful holiday season by scheduling simple, fun activities with the ones you love.  Ultimately, those are the moments that make forever memories.

simple christmas

Handmade Herbal Gifts

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Handmade Herbal Gifts Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Listen in player below! Calling all DIYers! Want some ideas for frugal, quick-to-make holiday gifts? You still have time to to make loads of handmade, natural, herbal gifts. Be sure to listen to Herbal Prepper Live this Sunday to learn how. The herbal crafts I’m covering require … Continue reading Handmade Herbal Gifts

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50 Affordable Gifts for Survivalists

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There is now less than a month until Christmas! If you know a prepper or a survivalist and you’re looking for gift ideas, we got you covered. And if you’re a prepper yourself and looking for some cool survival items to put on your wishlist, we also got you covered. Below you’ll find an alphabetical […]

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Black Friday Show!

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Black Friday Show! Forrest & Kyle “The Prepping Academy” Listen in player below! The holiday chaos, food, family, road rage, and the one question that plagues us all: what do you buy for the Prepper who has everything? How ’bout some tips from Kyle on how to survive the holiday madness? It’s incredibly difficult shopping for … Continue reading Black Friday Show!

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Thanksgiving Blessings to You

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You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Corinthians 9:11-12   This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com Thanksgiving 2016 comes only a few weeks after one of the most divisive elections in our country.  […]

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Top Prepper Gadget Christmas Gifts

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Top Prepper Gadget Christmas Gifts Highlander “Survival & Tech Preps” Audio in player below! Are you a technology nut like me? If so this is the show for you! I will be giving the best list of pepper type gadgets that would make the perfect gifts. These are gifts for those like minded individuals that … Continue reading Top Prepper Gadget Christmas Gifts

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A Preppers Thanksgiving

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A Preppers Thanksgiving James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! You call me Hallmark or call me whatever you want. These days make the Winter worth living through. The holy days across the nation and the holiday season. The gathering of family around flame to either fight or laugh about the radical turns … Continue reading A Preppers Thanksgiving

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Preparing for the Holidays

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Preparing for the Holidays James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! My new book is launching today and I thought it would be important that we talk about the risks in America as well as how we can enjoy this holiday season without concern of being offed by some violent refugee or even … Continue reading Preparing for the Holidays

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Happy Independence Day!

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com I wish everyone a Happy 4th of July!   As we celebrate our country’s independence, let us remember the heroism and sacrifice that went into gaining and maintaining our freedoms. It’s also a good time to consider our own personal independence from whatever keeps us from living our best life:  freedom from debt, consumerism, destructive habits or even over-reliance on the system.  We can’t all be off-grid, but we can all learn to be […]

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Top-10 Survival Gift Ideas for Father’s Day

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Top-10 Survival Gift Ideas for Father's DayFather’s Day is close at hand. How about getting the old man something a little different this year? Something he can use—that might even help him survive the unexpected.

Here are 10 survival gift ideas for Father’s Day that I think any man would relish. Whether Dad is a camper, fisherman, hunter, hiker, prepper, DIYer, homesteader, or even a traveling businessman, there’s something in this list for him. And I bet he doesn’t already have everything on it.

Full disclosure: Most of these links are Amazon affiliate links. But the products are simply examples, not meant as specific recommendations. Short on time? Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, and you can get many of these gifts within a couple of days.

Dealing With Holiday Stress

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Each year the holidays come. I say “the holidays,” but really I mean “Christmas,” because let’s be honest: most people celebrate Christmas in some form. It’s now mid-December, which means my Facebook feed is full of people arguing about:

1) How many gifts to get each child
2) How much to spend on each child
3) How it’s mean to buy gifts for your children because some families are poor
4) What recipes to cook for Christmas
5) Whether or not it’s okay to say “X-Mas”
6) Advent and what it really means
7) How you should be nice to people even if they aren’t Christian because Christmas is for everyone

Now, my husband and I stopped celebrating “Christmas” awhile ago. I grew up in a conservative Christian household and I have no beefs with celebrating the birth of Christ. None. What I do have a problem with is that “the holiday season” tends to be a really great time for people to be general jerkfaces to one another without cause. Whether it’s fighting on Facebook or just being pushy and rude at the store, Christmastime, to me, is one of the worst times of the year.

It’s also one of the most stressful.

But there are ways you can deal with the stress that often accompanies Christmas.

First off, learn to say “no.” No, you do not have to participate in every secret Santa gift exchange. If you’re a minimalist, this idea is horrifying, anyway. No one wants a bunch of cheap, stupid gifts sitting around their house. No one wants someone else to buy them random books they’ll never read or ugly sweaters that will sit in a box. If you don’t want to spend money on people you don’t like, then don’t. Say no. You can be honest or you can be polite in your refusal. You do not have to get political. Remember that you also don’t need to offer people a reason you aren’t doing something. You don’t know anyone an explanation. “I won’t be able to make it” or “We already have plans” are fine. “It’s not in the budget this year” is also fine.

Next, remember that your lifestyle is between you and your spouse. You answer to your husband or wife and the rest of the world doesn’t matter. If you don’t want to go to 30 holiday parties, then don’t go to 30 holiday parties. If you want to spend $1,000 on Christmas gifts, then spend it. If you want to go on vacation at Christmastime because you both have breaks from work and you can afford it, then do it. You do not have to participate in conventional Christmas activities. You do not have to buy a tree. You do not have to go to Christmas Eve church. Choosing not to celebrate Christmas the way other people want you to does not mean you don’t love Jesus.

If you do decide to celebrate Christmas, prepare as much as possible ahead of time. If you plan to cook, decide on your menu now. Stock up on your nonperishables so you’ll have them when it’s time for your party. Don’t wait until the last minute and then scramble around from store to store trying to find the food you need. If you want to order pies from a restaurant, get your order in now. Today. Don’t wait until five days before. They’ll be sold out. Buy your gifts early and put them away so you won’t be worried about shopping at the last second.

Finally, don’t celebrate with people you can’t stand. I’m constantly reading articles on “how to deal with relatives you hate” or “how to avoid talking about politics at Christmas.” Really? Why would you celebrate with people you hate? You know there are plenty of other days in the year you can see your Grandma, right? You don’t have to go visit at Christmastime when there are going to be people you hate hanging around. If Christmas is that big of a burden, just skip it. Skip the drama, skip the stress, and do something different. Visit your grandmother another day. I promise: she’ll be okay.

How do you avoid stress during the holiday season? Do you celebrate Christmas?

Holidays Got You Stressed? Try These Essential Oils

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Holidays Got You Stressed? Try These Essential Oils

Image source: napervillemagazine.com

The Christmas season is supposed to be a joyful time, filled with warmth, love and memories. But for many people, it can be quite overwhelming. All of the shopping, commitments, to-do lists and cooking can take a toll on us physically, mentally and spiritually.

For those of us who prefer to manage our health naturally, essential oils can help us keep our spirits up and maintain our energy during this very busy season of the year.

Here are some common conditions and the oils that have been found to provide relief:

Anxiety. Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed and anxious at one time or another, especially during the holidays? Rather than having an anxiety-filled season this year, why not use the following oils to help you stay relaxed even when the pressure is on?

Suggested oils for mild anxiety: Lavender, orange, lemon, roman chamomile, valerian, melissa, copaiba, ylang ylang, angelica, basil, bergamot, cedarwood, clary sage, cypress, frankincense, geranium, hinoki, hyssop, jasmine, juniper, lime, marjoram, onycha, patchouli, pine, rose, sandalwood, tangerine and tsuga (grounding).

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Sadness. Many of us feel sad and overwhelmed with various issues at this time of year, such as relationship conflicts, loneliness and feeling socially disconnected. The following oils may help improve your mood and help you face the holiday season with greater joy and peace.

Suggested oils for mild sadness: Frankincense, lavender, lemon, orange, bergamot, ylang ylang, rosemary rosewood, tangerine, grapefruit, jasmine, neroli, sage, basil, clary sage, geranium, ginger, juniper, onycha, patchouli, pepper, ravintsara, roman chamomile and sandalwood.

Holidays Got You Stressed? Try These Essential Oils

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Stress and the holiday season often go hand-in-hand. The following oils may help you feel much less stressed throughout the holidays, and enjoy the activities that you engage in more: lavender, ylang, ylang, bergamot, lemon, basil, clary sage, cypress, elemi, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, marjoram, neroli, onycha (benzoin), pine, Roman chamomile, rosewood, spruce and tangerine.

Lack of Energy. With all of the activity during the holidays it’s very easy to get tuckered out. While it is critical to prioritize and say “no” to unnecessary activities, the following oils can help increase your energy and get you through a busy day.

Suggested oils to help increase energy: Fir, peppermint, basil, black pepper, cypress, eucalyptus, juniper, lemon, lemongrass, myrtle, nutmeg (increases), orange, palo santo, rosemary, thyme and grapefruit.

Hangovers. Have a little too much to drink at the holiday party last night? Try the following oils to help revive you: lemon, grapefruit, fennel, lavender, rose, rosemary and sandalwood.

Headaches. Don’t let a pounding headache rule or ruin your day. Try these oils to halt a headache in its tracks: peppermint, rosemary, basil, calamus, cardamom, clove, cumin, eucalyptus, frankincense, lavender, marjoram and sage lavender.

Digestive system. Got tummy troubles from eating too much at your family holiday gathering? Try these oils to help with digestive discomfort and indigestion: peppermint, ginger, lavender, thyme, grapefruit, orange, angelica, cardamom, copaiba, coriander, cumin, goldenrod and ginger.

Sleep. Need some help getting to sleep and staying asleep while waiting for Santa’s arrival? Try lavender (apply on the spine), valerian (for sleep disturbances), marjoram, and roman chamomile oils.

When choosing an essential oil be sure to use only therapeutic-grade oils, which are the highest quality and the most effective. Using low quality essential oils may not only be ineffective for the results that you are seeking, but they also may be harmful because they can contain chemicals and solvents.

As always, consult with a health practitioner to determine if essential oils are right for you and for your personal health condition(s). Not all essential oils are right for everyone, and those with serious health conditions should work with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine the best solution for them.

What essential oils would you add to this list? Share your advice in the section below:

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This Week’s Best Survival Posts

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At Expert Prepper we’re committed to bringing you the best survival posts and preparedness information. There was a lot of great stuff out there this week, from survival gear reviews to breaking news and the latest and greatest survival tips. Check out this weeks top blog posts below: How to Avoid Getting Robbed During the […]

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