The Grapes of Youth: 11+ Age-Defying Reasons to Love This Plant

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I grew up picking muscadines, a local wild grape, in the woods around my home. The table grapes from the store were nice, but nothing beats a ripe muscadine. My wife disagrees, but as I tell her, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love muscadines and those who are wrong.” She’s cute when she’s angry.

Anyway, let’s talk about grapes. Or rather, let’s talk about the plant as a whole. The grapevine has much more to offer besides fruit, and you might be surprised by some of its age-defying benefits.

Identification

Grape leaves come in a variety of shapes, which isn’t very sporting of them, if you ask me. They can be rounded, heart-shaped, lobed, hairy, smooth, toothed, etc. Determining the exact species can be maddening. Thankfully, grapes as a whole are easy to identify.

Grapes 1

Grapes 2Grapes grow on woody, clinging vines with tendrils, and they form clusters of berries. Well, I say they form clusters of berries. But anyone who has gone out to hunt wild grapes knows the frustration of coming across bare vine after bare vine. The sad truth is that less than half of the vines are female, and even those will only produce fruit sporadically.

The trick here in the Ozark Mountains is to just walk uphill of a non-fruiting vine. The seed that grew it probably rolled down from the momma plant just uphill. You can often find several generations of plants that have colonized a hillside, and chances are that several of them have decided to fruit that year. But let’s get back to plant identification.

The leaves are alternate and highly variable, as mentioned above. When you find a leaf growing on one side of the stem, you’ll often find it opposite a tendril. The tendrils can be single or forked.

Grapes 3

If you find a woody vine without tendrils, it’s not a grape. It could be the dangerous look-alike, moonseed. Another way to tell is that grapes have multiple, ovoid seeds (not counting seedless grapes), while moonseed has a single, crescent moon–shaped seed.

Grapevines are fairly adaptable, in terms of environment. Given their choice, they’ll take full sunlight, a generous amount of water, and soil with good drainage. They can be found in thickets, fencerows, woods, and forest edges. They grow in all of the contiguous United States and in the eastern half of Canada. Cultivated and wild grapes can also be found in many locations worldwide, particularly in Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Edible Uses

We all know how to eat grapes. Make them into juice, jelly, wine, or raisins, or just eat them whole. Cultivated grapes are usually sweeter than their wild counterparts. Some wild grapes, however, such as my native muscadines, are especially sweet and tasty.

Grape leaves can also be eaten in a variety of ways. Raw is an option, though I find this method to be the least palatable. The young leaves are fine on a sandwich or in a salad. They could also be boiled for 10-15 minutes and served with butter. I like to add them in with a taco salad. Older leaves will need more boiling, and you will hit a point where they’re just too tough to be worth the trouble. But it’s up to you exactly when that point is.

Dolmas

The most well-known edible use of grape leaves is probably in dolmas. Dolmas are stuffed vegetable, rice, and/or meat dishes that use grape leaves as wraps. Just parboil the leaves for a minute or two. Then dip them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Now you can place a spoonful of whatever filling you like onto each leaf and wrap them up like burritos. You can eat them as they are, or place them in the oven for additional baking. Bigger leaves are a lot easier to work with here.

Grapes 4

Leaf Chips

Another tasty option is leaf chips. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place your grape leaves in a bowl and lightly coat them with olive oil. Next, spread them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, or the seasoning of your choice. Place them in the oven and let them cook for about 10 minutes. Give it a try.

Grapes 5

The seeds can be pressed for their oil, which is edible and also used in herbal skin applications. Infused grape-seed oil is considered fairly ideal for already oily or blemished skin. It is absorbed quickly and leaves no oily residue.

The sap is edible as well. It could just be a lifesaver if you’re ever lost in the woods and in need of a clean water source.

Medicinal Uses

Resveratrol

Now we get to the really exciting part. In terms of medical properties, grapevines are a veritable fountain of youth. In particular, the chemical resveratrol can help to prevent almost all age-related chronic diseases, and may render many chronic diseases—such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, Type 2 diabetes, and osteo-arthritis—reversible.1)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.2)Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.

In one study, middle-aged male mice were fed a high-calorie diet, and were then given resveratrol. While the resveratrol did not keep them from gaining weight or help them lose weight, it did protect them from the negative effects associated with the weight gain. And not only were they protected from weight- and age-associated health problems, but also their health and mobility steadily improved until their test results were within the same range as the control group of normally fed mice.3)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.

Resveratrol seems to be able to mimic the effects of a calorie-restrictive diet, tricking our bodies into aging more slowly.4) Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013. The science on this isn’t completely settled, though it is a very encouraging idea.

Cancer

Resveratrol also has some rather promising anti-cancer properties, particularly as a preventative. It has been shown to interfere with the three major stages of tumor formation—initiation, promotion, and progression.5)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.6)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003. In particular, resveratrol has been associated with a significantly lower risk of prostate cancer.7)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.

Oligomeric Procyanidins

While resveratrol gets most of the glory, grapes produce a number of health-supporting compounds, such as oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs). OPCs are highly antioxidant—many times more powerful than vitamins C and E.8)Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.

These compounds are commercially extracted from seeds. However, they are 10-100 times more abundant in the leaves. And why buy a supplement when you can pick a leaf?

By the way, OPCs are especially antiviral toward dengue.9)Buhner, Stephen Harrod. Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging Resistant & Epidemic Viral Infections. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2013. So just tuck that little tidbit away in the event that you spend some time in a tropical region.

Circulatory System

The Vitis genus also seems to have a special affinity for the circulatory system. Many of its effects may be linked, directly or indirectly, to this affinity. It helps to regulate blood sugar levels, prevent blood clots, prevent and repair varicose veins, treat hemorrhoids, and protect against atherosclerosis.10)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.11)Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.12)Johnson, Rebecca L., Steven Foster, and Andrew Weil. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The Worlds Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2014.

It also supports and protects the microvascular systems of the body, such as the delicate blood vessels in the eyes and fragile capillaries throughout the body. This circulation enhancement is used to treat macular degeneration and eye strain, and may help to prevent cataracts.13) Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.14)Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.15)Johnson, Rebecca L., Steven Foster, and Andrew Weil. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The Worlds Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2014. Increased circulation to the brain may explain the neuroprotective benefits, such as its potential to help improve and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.16)Ma, Teng, Meng-Shan Tan, Jin-Tai Yu, and Lan Tan. Advances in Pediatrics. 2014. Accessed May 23, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4261550/.17)Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.

Connective Tissue

Grapes and grape leaves strengthen, stabilize, and repair connective tissue throughout the body and have been used to help strengthen the intestinal walls to prevent or stabilize diverticular disease.18)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.19)Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007. They also help to prevent bruising, particularly in the elderly.20)Foster, Steven, James A. Duke, and Steven Foster. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. This may be related to the plant’s circulatory effects, connective tissue effects, or a combination of both.

Antimicrobial

Compounds within the grape plant also have selective antimicrobial properties—a dampening effect on pathogenic bacteria—while having only a minimal effect on healthy gut flora.21)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013. They also have some antiviral properties, especially toward dengue, as mentioned above.22)Buhner, Stephen Harrod. Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging Resistant & Epidemic Viral Infections. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2013.

Other Properties

The leaves are astringent, anti-inflammatory, and help with asthma and allergies by reducing histamine production.23)Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.24)Chevallier, Andrews. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. DK, 2000.25)Johnson, Rebecca L., Steven Foster, and Andrew Weil. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The Worlds Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2014. Leaf tea has traditionally been used for diarrhea, stomachache, thrush, hepatitis, and uterine bleeding.26)Chevallier, Andrews. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. DK, 2000.27)Foster, Steven, James A. Duke, and Steven Foster. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Leaves have also been used as a poultice for rheumatism, headaches, fevers, and blisters on the feet.28)Chevallier, Andrews. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. DK, 2000.29)Foster, Steven, James A. Duke, and Steven Foster. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.

Selecting Grapes

Medicinal properties tend to be stronger in grape varieties with darker fruit, though exceptions exist and growing conditions can also have an effect. Resveratrol production, for example, is greater in grapes that have had to endure a fungal attack.30)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013. Grapes that have been treated heavily with pesticides, such as most store-bought grapes, have fewer medicinal benefits.31)Magee, J.B. “J.B. Magee.” HortScience. April 01, 2002. Accessed May 23, 2018. http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/37/2/358.short.

Resveratrol is usually associated with the skin of grapes, where it tends to be the most concentrated. However, resveratrol can also be found in significant quantities in the leaves, though this, too, depends on variety and growing conditions.

Method and Dosage

While the fruit gets the most glory, grape leaves contain the same medicinal compounds in varying proportions. Use whichever you prefer or whichever is available.

The leaves can be eaten directly or used in infusions or tinctures. Grapes are most famously used in wine, though juice can be used fairly interchangeably. The juice may even have longer-lasting antioxidant protection.32)Johnson, Rebecca L., Steven Foster, and Andrew Weil. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2014.

Due to the variability between grape varieties and species, recommending a standard dosage is problematic. This is one place where standardized supplements have an advantage over wildcrafting. My best advice would be to listen to your body. Try a bit every day and see how you feel in a couple of weeks. Up the amount as needed.

Also, resveratrol metabolizes quickly, so more frequent doses may be advisable. And, no, I’m not giving you permission to drink all the wine you want. A little wine is fine, but remember the non-alcoholic sources, as well.

Lastly, for maximum medicinal effect, consume grape products separately from fatty meals. Fats significantly reduce the bioavailability of resveratrol.33)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.

Caution

When combined with blood-thinning medications, grapes may increase the bleeding risks.34)Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.

I hope you’ll be motivated to ditch the pesticide-laden, store-bought grapes and grow some of your own.

Are you already growing grapes, or do you have any wild vines nearby? Let me know in the comments!

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Psst! Our Lawyer Wants You to Read This Big, Bad Medical Disclaimer –> The contents of this article, made available via The Grow Network (TGN), are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information provided by TGN. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk. And, of course, never eat a wild plant without first checking with a local expert.

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References   [ + ]

1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 18, 21, 30, 33. Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.
2, 11, 19, 23, 34. Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.
4. Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.
6. Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003.
8, 14, 17. Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.
9, 22. Buhner, Stephen Harrod. Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging Resistant & Epidemic Viral Infections. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2013.
12, 15, 25. Johnson, Rebecca L., Steven Foster, and Andrew Weil. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The Worlds Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2014.
13. Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.
16. Ma, Teng, Meng-Shan Tan, Jin-Tai Yu, and Lan Tan. Advances in Pediatrics. 2014. Accessed May 23, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4261550/.
20, 27, 29. Foster, Steven, James A. Duke, and Steven Foster. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
24, 26, 28. Chevallier, Andrews. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. DK, 2000.
31. Magee, J.B. “J.B. Magee.” HortScience. April 01, 2002. Accessed May 23, 2018. http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/37/2/358.short.
32. Johnson, Rebecca L., Steven Foster, and Andrew Weil. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2014.

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8 Genius Uses for Buckets on the Homestead

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Life on the homestead requires a lot of creativity and frugality. The “five R’s” seem to be constantly in play: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose, and Repair. Nothing ever goes to waste—today’s trash simply becomes tomorrow’s resources.

When buying something new is necessary, I usually try to make sure the item fits at least one of the following criteria:

  1. First, does the item have more than one alternative use or purpose?
  2. Second, does the item take up minimal space?
  3. Third, is the item inexpensive?

My Favorite Homesteading Tool

My absolute favorite “tool” on the homestead actually fits all three criteria: none other than the five-gallon plastic bucket. Not only do these wonder tools nest neatly into a tidy stack, they also have a seemingly unlimited number of uses.

Whether you are into homesteading, preparedness, or permaculture, five-gallon buckets are essential tools of the trade!

Getting Buckets for Free

A note about price: If purchased from a hardware store, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $five-dollars per bucket. But you can acquire them for FREE from your grocery store’s bakery department. All you have to do is ask nicely for the buckets that their icing came in. Other free sources include pickle buckets from hamburger joints, soap buckets from car washes, and lard buckets from Mexican restaurants.

Of course, be prepared to clean them!

Uses for Buckets

The Bucket List

So, what exactly can you do with a five-gallon bucket once you procure it? I thought you’d never ask! Below, I showcase some general ideas that I use quite frequently. (If you’re keen on any given idea, more detailed tutorials can be found all over the Internet.)

1. Container Gardening

First and foremost, five-gallon buckets make for outstanding container gardens when you drill drainage holes in the bottom of the buckets. While some permaculturists might frown on the idea of container gardens, they are quite useful if you want to keep invasive (opportunistic) plants such as mint from taking over your garden. Additionally, in a grid-down situation, you can easily secure your food indoors overnight to protect from potential looters. That brings a whole new meaning to the words “food security!”

2. Growing Mushrooms

Another clever use for buckets is growing edible and medicinal mushrooms in them. Just drill staggering holes in the sides of the bucket, fill the bucket with free coffee grounds from the local corner coffee shop, and inoculate with the spawn of your favorite mushroom.

3. Organizing Your Tools

A five-gallon bucket also makes for a great tool bag. Either online or at your local hardware store, you can buy organizers that are specifically made for buckets and have all kinds of compartments. The outside sleeve compartments of the bucket are ideal for your smaller tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers. On the inside of the bucket, you can store your heavy-duty tools like your hammers, axes, and saws.

Read More: “No More Disappearing Tools With This Simple Trick!”

4. Making Wine

You can even make wine with a five-gallon bucket. Simply pour in some apple cider (sans preservatives), sugar, and yeast. Drill a hole into the lid, insert a rubber grommet, and then insert an airlock bubbler (available for a dollar at most home-brew stores). The Big Bird/Cookie Monster–style explanation is that the “yeasties” eat the sugar and essentially poop out carbon dioxide and alcohol. The airlock bubbler allows the carbon dioxide to escape, but prevents oxygen or other contaminants from entering your wine. There are a few more specific steps and ingredients that go into producing quality wine, but this is basically how wine is made! People drink alcohol in both good times and bad. Wine making can prove to be a very valuable and profitable skill in a grid-down scenario.

Uses for Buckets

5. Feed the Worms

One of my favorite uses of a five-gallon bucket is as part of a vermicompost system (a.k.a. a worm bin). Red wiggler worms are voracious eaters. I feed them my shredded junk mail and food scraps. In return, they give me “black gold.”

If mushroom compost is the Cadillac of compost, worm castings are the Rolls Royce!

6. Make Compost Tea

In addition to vermicompost, compost tea happens to be the secret of success for many master gardeners. And with a five-gallon bucket, you can brew your own compost tea right at home. All you need is an air pump for aeration, some worm castings (compost), non-chlorinated water, and a few other ingredients. After two days of brewing, it is ready to spray on your crops using a pump sprayer. Your plants will grow twice as big, twice as fast!

Read More: “Compost Tea: An Easy Way to Stretch Your Compost”

7. Make a Mousetrap

Have a mouse problem, but don’t have the heart to set out a traditional mousetrap? Well, you can make a catch-and-release mousetrap out of a bucket and a few pieces of wood, plus peanut butter for bait. The contraption reminds me of the board game Mouse Trap that I used to play as a child!

8. Filter Water

Lastly, you can make a heavy-duty water filter from two five-gallon buckets stacked on top of each other. The top bucket has a ceramic water filter that filters out the dirty water dumped into it. The bottom bucket has a water spigot that allows you to extract the newly filtered water.

I hope you enjoyed some of the examples I’ve provided of why five-gallon buckets are the absolute best and most versatile tool for homesteading, preparedness, and permaculture. Five-gallon buckets not only serve as a container to grow your food in, they can be used in creating the fertilizer that enriches your garden. To top it off, you can use buckets to collect and ultimately store your bountiful harvests!

What about you? What’s your favorite way to use a five-gallon bucket? Leave me a note in the comments!

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This State Just Banned Carrying A Gun While Drinking A Single Can Of Beer

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Utah Bans Carrying A Gun While Drinking A Single Can Of Beer

Simply carrying a gun after drinking one beer or one glass of wine soon will be a crime in one American state.

That’s because a new law in Utah cracking down on drunk driving also might, by extension, restrict gun rights in the state.

A new law, HB 155, lowers the blood alcohol limit for driving in Utah from .08 percent to .05 percent,  making it the toughest such law in the nation, The Washington Post reported. The lowest threshold in other states is .08.

Governor Gary R. Herbert signed the measure into law on March 23 despite opposition from the restaurant, alcohol and tourism industries, as well as from some gun rights groups.

The new law, combined with another part of Utah criminal code, has a major impact on gun owners.

The Self-Defense And Hunting Weapon That Doesn’t Require A Firearms License!

Section 528 of Title 76 and Chapter 10 of the Utah Criminal Code states: “Any person who carries a dangerous weapon while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance … is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.”

“Under the influence” is now defined as .05 percent.

“To understand how low this limit is, consider that a 100-pound woman would most likely reach this level after one beer and as such would be unable to carry a hunting knife, firearm, or even a stun gun,” a statement from the Utah Shooting Sports Council (USSC) reads. The USSC urged Herbert to veto the law. “… The restrictions on carrying a dangerous weapon would apply at all times and everywhere including your home.”

USCC emphasized that it “is not good practice to be shooting while drinking, nor do we believe that one should be allowed to carry a firearm while drunk.”

“However, there is a big difference between actively shooting a firearm while drunk and simply carrying a firearm or hunting knife when one has had a beer,” USCC said. “We believe that a person should not lose the ability to exercise their right of self-defense for having a small amount of alcohol in their system.”

The American Beverage Institute ran an ad in some newspapers reading, “Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation.”

Similar laws eventually may spread. The Post reported that bills lowering the blood alcohol level to .05 percent were proposed in Washington state and Hawaii but failed.

Herbert did not address the gun issue but pointed to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that found, “A large body of creditable research over many years has clearly shown that impairment of tasks necessary for safe driving begins at levels as low as 0.05 percent.”

France, Italy, Russia and Australia all have .05 limits.

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

If You Run Out Of Ammo, What Would You Do? Learn How To Make Your Own! Read More Here.

Water Into Wine

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Water Into WineI left the empty life behind. He turned the water into wine.

—Dave Stearman, “He Turned the Water into Wine” (1973)

 

He comes to make His blessings flow  Far as the curse is found.

— Isaac Watts, “Joy to the World” (1719)

 

A Jewish Wedding

They were getting married.  A young couple.  A simple celebration.  Their families weren’t rich.  Even scraping together enough money to pay for the food and wine had been difficult, but family and friends chipped in.

Organization was a headache, too, but the young couple had found a family friend to serve as coordinator.  Her name was Mary.  She was a widow from nearby Nazareth.  She was known for her godliness and good sense.  She had raised a large family and had lots of practical experience.  Perfect for a planner. There was more, though, something unusual.  Rumors had it that strange things happened when her first Son was born.  Angels.  Stars.  Prophecies. She and her family had spent time in Egypt, too, in Alexandria perhaps.  No doubt she had stories to tell, if only she would.

There was one more thing about the wedding.  Mary’s Son Jesus had recently taken up the calling of Rabbi, a teacher of the Law.  The desert prophet John had introduced Him to Israel, and thus He had already begun to attract a small following.  The families had invited Jesus to join the celebration and to bring His disciples.  More mouths to feed.  But rabbis were always well-received at Jewish weddings.

Awaken Your Child’s Love Of Learning And Put God Back Into History! Read More Here.

The bridal procession itself had begun at dusk.  Covered with a veil and surrounded by her childhood friends, the young bride had left her father’s house and set out for her new home.  Before her went pipers.  Then came those who passed out oil and wine to the grownups, and nuts to the children.  Some carried torches or lamps on poles.  Those nearest the bride had myrtle branches or wore garlands of flowers.  Everyone rose to greet the procession and to pronounce blessings and praise.

Once the bride reached her new home, she was taken to her espoused husband.  Then came the official pronouncement:  “Take her according to the Law of Moses and of Israel.”  The groom signed the contract, the written vows in which he promised to care, keep, and provide for his wife.  Next came the ceremonial washings and their accompanying benediction.  Finally, there was the bridal cup and one more blessing.

Then came feasting.  There were many guests.  Perhaps more than the young groom had thought would come.  The wine began to run low.  In Jewish life and for a Jewish festival, this meant disaster.  Mary, always watchful, saw the problem.  There was no backup plan for wine.  But Mary had something else in mind.

Mary went to Jesus and said simply, “They have no wine.”

Mary and the Wine

We aren’t told exactly what Mary was thinking. We’re not sure if Mary completely understand who her Son really was.  Certainly, He had always been responsible and reliable as a young man.  And with Joseph gone, she had learned to trust Jesus with the ordinary affairs of money and family.  But given Jesus’ response, she may have actually been looking for a miracle.

John had baptized Jesus and hailed Him as the Lamb of God and as the One who would pour out the Holy Spirit.  And, in fact, the Spirit had descended upon Jesus, and a heavenly voice had pronounced Him the Son of God.  Surely Mary had heard of all this.  And just as surely it would have resonated with the old memories and meditations she had locked up in her heart.  What was in Mary’s heart?

Well, what had the angel said?  “He shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David. … He shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:32, 35).  “Messiah the Lord.”  That’s what the angels had called Him to the shepherds.  “Born, King of the Jews,” the wise men had said.

Water Into WineHad the time finally come?  Was everything about to come together?  Did she need to give one little nudge?  Or maybe she simply needed help, and her observation veiled a motherly hint for action.

“They have no wine,” she said.

Jesus said, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?  My hour is not yet come.”

Whatever Mary may have had in mind, Jesus was now on His Father’s timetable.  His final revelation as Messiah lay three and half years in the future.  In the meantime, it wasn’t for Mary to dictate, however gently, how He should pursue His course to the cross and the throne.

In confidence, humility and meekness, Mary simply turned the matter over to Jesus and trusted Him for whatever resolution pleased God.  She told the servants, “Whatever He tells you to do, do it.”

Water Into Wine

Jesus directed the servants to six large stone water pots.  These contained the water that the faithful used for ritual purifications.  Each could hold 20 to 25 gallons.  But the crowd had already used up a lot of the water.  So Jesus told the servants to fill the water pots.  They did… up to the brim.  Jesus told them to carry some of what was in the jars to the table master, the one who oversaw the banquet.  They obeyed.

When the table master tasted what the servants brought him, he immediately called for the groom.  He said, “Every man sets out his good wine at the beginning of the feast; then, when everyone’s had plenty to drink, he puts out the worse.  But you’ve kept the best until now!”  The groom, unaware of the miracle, didn’t know what to say.

This was the beginning of Jesus’ miracles, His first manifestation of His power and glory (John 2:11).  Scripture simply says, “and His disciples believed on Him.”

A Feast of Wines

The prophets had described the coming of Messiah through a great many figures and metaphors:  water, wind, and fire were among their favorites.  But another prominent, recurring image was that of festival, of banqueting, and every good feast involved lots of good wine.  Here are a few of the prophecies that connect Messiah with the free gift of celebratory wine:

And in this mountain, shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined (Isa. 25:6).

Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price (Isa. 55:1).

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt (Amos 9:13; cf. Joel 3:18).

It was no accident that Jesus began His ministry by providing an abundance of wine for a wedding.  The miracle was an open declaration that He was the Messiah and the divine Bridegroom. But not just that … also that the kingdom of God had come in power and that God was about to make all things new.  The sacrament He established just before His death said the same thing …  new and eternal life through the blood of the new covenant (Matt. 26:27-29).  But Jesus ordained wine for the sacrament (instead of blood) — wine for the celebration of victory.

As our Priest, Jesus has completed and perfected our atonement.  As our warrior King, He has defeated sin and death.  His work is done.  He has taken His throne (Heb. 10:11-14).  It is time to celebrate and rejoice.  He summons us to eat and drink with Him at His table in His kingdom (Luke 22:28-30; cf. Matt. 8:11).

The Lessons of the Miracle

Jesus’ first miracle displayed His power as Creator.  We aren’t told whether He called new carbon molecules into existence or merely restructured the protons of the existing hydrogen and oxygen molecules to make the water into wine.  It doesn’t matter.  This was a creative miracle.  Jesus is God.  Period.

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Jesus performed the miracle at a simple wedding, as the traditional wedding ceremonies remind us, saying of human marriage: “which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee.”  At the beginning of the world He ordained marriage and gave away the bride (Gen. 2:18-25).  Now as the Divine Bridegroom, He blessed marriage anew and revealed Himself in and through it.

Water Into WineIn the wine miracle, Jesus displayed the stark contrast between His own ministry and that of John the Baptist.  “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine” (Luke 7:33).  John majored in austerity and abstinence, traits appropriate for a nation that stood on the verge of destruction (Matt. 3).  But Jesus came to establish a kingdom whose marks are “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

To perform the miracle, Jesus used waters set aside for ritual purifications.  These were not washings that God had ordained, but ritual cleansings established by tradition (Mark 7:3-4).  Apparently unimpressed with Jewish tradition, Jesus swept it aside to rescue an ordinary wedding and ensure the happiness of two young lovers and their guests.

In this miracle, Jesus turned the ordinary into the extraordinary.  He could have left the wedding guests with water.  Certainly, water is life-sustaining.  He could have given them grape juice.  But He gave them wine.  He replaced the mundane with the extraordinary, the bland with celebration.  The good news is, He still does it with human lives today.

In the miracle, Jesus showed Himself the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and announced the advent of His kingdom.  He chose to work with images of joy, celebration, prosperity, and renewal.  This is not a Neo-Platonic kingdom locked up in our hearts, but a kingdom with real consequences in the real world.  “He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.”

Conclusion

It has been nearly 2,000 years since Jesus turned the water into wine.  Very few of the wedding guests knew or understood what He had done.  Jesus wasn’t trying to prove His identity or start an advertising campaign.  Jesus Christ is the living God who does wonders.  He is Life:  He makes all things new.  Those with faith and “eyes to see” will take comfort in the water into wine miracle.  Those without faith will see nothing but myth and superstition.  But then againv… such will not believe “though one rose from the dead.”

Dedicated To Jared Brewer, Who Makes Great Wine

For Further Reading:

Alfred Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” (New York:  Longmans, Green, and Co., 1904).

How To Make Mead (Honey Wine)

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How To Make Mead (Honey Wine) To get the best tasting wine, I would suggest sourcing local honey, you will get the benefits of the local pollen and help with allergies too. Bees are amazing aren’t they? You will need a 5 gallon glass carboy (preferably a sturdy on with a handle, these things can …

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3 Off-Grid Ways To Make Dandelion Wine (Yes, Wine)

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3 Off-Grid Ways To Make Dandelion Wine (Yes, Wine)

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You’ve heard the motivational phrase about making lemonade from lemons. Well, what about making wine out of weeds? Literally.

The next time you see a fresh crop of dandelions spreading across your lawn, don’t think about how you are going to kill them. Instead, think about the great wine you are going to make out of them.

If this sounds a little crazy, let me assure you it is not. Dandelion wine is a time-tested, well-loved beverage that is made from those pervasive weeds. And, what’s more, it is pretty easy to make.

Thought to be of Celtic origin, dandelion wine is regarded as a European country wine. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, when it was considered improper for ladies to drink alcohol, dandelion wine was recommended as an acceptable medicinal wine for the kidneys and digestive system.

If you need more convincing, dandelion is high in calcium, vitamin A and protein.

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The Internet is rife with dandelion wine recipes – some of which have been passed down through the generations — clearly showing that there is no one true way to make the stuff. Some use the whole flower heads only (no petals), some use flower heads and greenery but no stalks, some use flower heads, greenery and stalks, and still others only use the flower petals. However, they all have dandelions — lots of dandelions — and some form of sweetener.

Wine made from dandelion petals (rather than the whole head) has a gentler taste and is more aromatic than wine made from the whole heads. Wine made from the whole heads has a heavier taste because of a higher concentration of tannin. The choice, then, is a taste preference and a timesaving preference. Plucking the petals is time-intensive, after all.

Dandelion wine is light tasting and lacks body for some wine drinkers. Therefore, many recipes call for bodybuilding ingredients, such as raisins, dates, figs or even rhubarb. How much sugar you add in the wine-making process determines whether the end product is dry, semi-sweet or sweet.

How to Harvest Dandelions

Dandelions tend to close up at night, so your best bet is to choose a hot, dry sunny afternoon to pick your dandelions. Avoid flowers that are damp or wet.

Arm yourself with a bucket, because you need about a gallon of flower heads to make a gallon of wine. If you are just using flower heads, pluck off the heads and gently place them in the bucket. If necessary, you can pick your dandelions over the course of a few days, but store them in the freezer until you have enough flowers for the amount of wine you want to make.

3 Off-Grid Ways To Make Dandelion Wine (Yes, Wine)

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If you have small children, you can enlist their help. Kids enjoy picking dandelions, and they can help cut down on the bending you would have to do if you tackle the project alone.

Here are three recipes for making your own homemade dandelion wine:

1. Recipe one

Ingredients

  • 3 qt dandelion blossoms
  • 1 gal water
  • 2 oranges, with peel
  • 1 lemon, with peel
  • 3 pounds sugar
  • 1 package wine yeast
  • 1 lb raisins
  • Sterilized bottles and corks

Directions

1) Collect the blossoms when they are fully open on a sunny day.

2) Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the flowers in a large pot. Cover pot and let steep for three days.

3)  Slice fruit and make zest from peels.

4) Add orange and lemon zest to the flower-water mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, strain out solids, then add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Let cool.

5) Add orange and lemon slices, yeast and raisins to the liquid. Cover mixture with a loose lid to ferment.

6)  When the mixture has stopped bubbling, which can take up to a week, the fermentation process is complete. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and then transfer to sterilized bottles.  Place a deflated balloon over the top of each bottle to monitor fermentation. If the balloon remains deflated for 24 hours, the fermentation process is complete.

7) Cork the bottles and store them in a cool, dark place for six months or more before drinking.

2. Recipe two

Ingredients

  • Half-gallon dandelion flowers
  • 2 oranges, juice and thinly sliced peels
  • 1 lemon, juice and thinly sliced peels
  • Small piece of ginger root
  • 1-1/2 lbs sugar
  • 1/2 oz yeast

Directions

1) Place flowers in a large pot or crock and pour a half gallon of boiling water over them, making sure they are completely covered with water.

2) Cover pot and steep for three days.

3) After three days, strain the flowers from the liquid and then squeeze flowers to get all their juice.

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4) Pour mixture into a cooking pot. Add ginger root, lemon and orange juice and zest.

5) Add sugar and gradually boil mixture for 20 minutes.

6) Pour liquid back into the rock and let cool. Add the yeast.

7) Pour mixture into a fermenting jug that is fitted with an airlock. Wine will ferment in six days to three weeks.

8) When the fermentation process is complete, transfer liquid to sterilized bottles with caps or corks. Let bottles stand for six months.

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3. Recipe Three

Ingredients

  • 1 qt dandelion petals
  • ¾ lb chopped golden raisins
  • 2 lbs granulated sugar
  • 3 lemons, both juice and zest
  • 3 oranges, both juice and zest
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 7½ pts water
  • Activated wine yeast

Directions

1) Pluck petals from dandelions.

2) Pour boiling water over dandelion petals into a sterile glass jug or food grade bucket.

3) After 2 hours, strain and discard petals.

4) Return water to heat and bring to low boil.

5) Add juice and sugar, stirring well to dissolve.

6) Add zest and chopped raisins.

7) Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

8) When mixture reaches room temperature, stir in yeast nutrient and activated yeast. Cover pot.

9) Stir three times per day for about 10 days to two weeks.

10) Strain mixture into secondary fermenter with a snug airlock.

11) After three weeks, transfer the liquid part (leaving the sediment) into another sanitized fermenter. Fill to top with sterile water and reattach the airlock device.

12) When the wine clears, wait 30 days and then top up and refit airlock device. Age wine at least six to 12 months.

If you would like to read more about how to make dandelion wine, here are a few good resources:

  • Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines by Helen S. Wright, published by Press Holdings International, 2001.
  • The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012
  • Drink the Harvest: Making and Preserving Juices, Wines, Meads, Teas, and Ciders by Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest, published by Storey Publishing, 2014

Have you ever made dandelion wine? What tips would you add? Share your advice in the section below:

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

9 Reasons Why Every Prepper Should Have a Stash of Alcohol (Even if you don’t drink)

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prepper stash alcoholBottles of wine, beer, vodka and rum aren’t exactly what first comes to mind when preparing for emergencies, but there are several reasons preppers should consider having a stash of alcohol on hand, even if you don’t drink.

For those who do drink, that purpose is obvious. Yet, alcohol also has value and uses that go beyond personal enjoyment. Here are nine reasons why every Survival Mom should consider having a stash of alcohol.

1. Disinfectants in your stash of alcohol

Alcohol that is higher than 35 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), or 70 proof, can disinfect, but not sterilize, wounds and tools. Disinfecting an item eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms, except bacterial spores. Sterilization eliminates all forms of microbial life. To disinfect, you’ll have to look at having vodka, brandy, rum, gin or pure vanilla extract on hand. However, if a wound is disinfected with alcohol, it can also kill the good tissue around the wound, so it should be used as a last resort. You could also use this kind of alcohol to wash your hands to disinfect them, and in the absence of other cleaners, you could use them to clean surfaces, cooking tools and dishes. Surgery and childbirth are two scenarios in which medical tools need to be as disinfected as the situation will allow. In a pinch, alcohol could be the best way to minimize the possibility of infections.

2. Medicinal uses

In addition to the medical uses mentioned above, tinctures are created using an alcohol base. Tinctures are herbal remedies where herbs are concentrated in an alcohol and water mixture. For example, a cough suppressant can be made using whiskey, honey and lemon.

Alcohol does not help with hypothermia. You often see in movies and on TV a person who has come in from the cold get offered a stiff drink to help warm them up. They may feel warmer afterward, but ultimately, that drink will serve to lower the person’s core temperature because alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate.

Alcohol can also help calm an upset stomach, temporarily help with tooth pain, and help calm an anxious person. A little bit can help a person fall asleep faster. Poison ivy and bug bites can also be relieved by rubbing some alcohol on the affected area. Alcohol can be a muscle relaxant, too.

3. Barter 

Some people value alcohol more than others and it will fly off the shelves in several emergency scenarios (riots, power outages, impending snowstorms or hurricanes). Having some on hand might give you the upper hand when trading for food or household supplies. Consider stocking up on both large bottles as well as the tiny “airplane” sizes.

INTERESTED IN BARTERING? Barter may not be the simple transaction many preppers envision. Here’s what you need to know about bartering before planning on it becoming your survival solution.

Bottles of highly prized brands of alcohol have also come in handy as bribes. Not recommending this. Just making note of it!

4. Celebrations

Despite the situation or emergency, life will continue – babies will be born, people will marry and funerals will take place. Many of these occasions bring people together to celebrate or remember. Wine or champagne can add to the celebration and help give people a sense of “normalcy,” which can be a powerful element in who thrives during difficult circumstances and who doesn’t.

5. Religious

Some religions use alcohol as part of a religious ceremony or rite. Continuing these traditions can mean a lot to people of those faiths. During Prohibition, one of the only ways for a winery to stay in business was to make wine for religious reasons.

6. Fire and defense

As with wound care, alcohol is not the first choice in sustaining a fire, but it does work if needed. Much care should be used if using alcohol around any kind of fire. Do not pour alcohol on an active fire, but soak something and put it in the kindling/coals before setting the fire.

If you find yourself in a situation where your home or family needs to be defended, you could create a fire bomb using alcohol. Extreme care needs to be taken if alcohol is used in this manner and in no way are we recommending this!

LEARN MORE WITH THIS DIY PROJECT: Make a mini-stove with Altoids in alcohol.

7. Cooking/preservation

There are plenty of recipes that call for wine and other forms of alcohol, but one of the best reasons to have alcohol around is to preserve items from the garden. Soaking herbs or plants in vodka makes extracts, like vanilla, peppermint, and lemon. Fruit can be preserved in alcohol for long-term storage. Ginger and turmeric can be preserved in alcohol, too.

8. Stress relief

Alcohol can help a person relax a bit or “take the edge off.” There will be a lot of stress in most survival situations and having a small vice is one way humans deal with stress. The social aspect of having a drink at the end of a long day is often what helps people deal with stress the most.

9. Everyday emergencies (cooking/gifts)

Sometimes the emergency isn’t dire but is still stressful. Having a few bottles of wine on hand for recipes or for a hostess gift when you’re invited to a dinner party is a good idea. Even if the hosts are non-drinkers, they can still put the bottle to good use.

Tips for storage

Alcohol needs to be stored in a cool, dark place. As a liquid, it can evaporate if the bottle has been opened. The shelf life varies depending on the type of alcohol. Beer and wine will generally last about six months to two years depending on the way it was made. Liquors vary widely, but also tend to break down by the two-year mark. Spirits and moonshines do not expire due to their high alcohol content.

Learn To Make  Your Own Prepper Stash of Alcohol

Another option to having alcohol on hand is learning to make your own. Home beer brewing and winemaking are becoming the new fad hobbies with supply stores showing up in many cities, as well as online. Many of these stores offer classes and will help you on your brewing journey. You can also use a still to make distilled water, spirits and alcohol that can be used for fuel. State laws vary on home brewing and distilling so make sure to check what is allowed where you live.

MAKING HOMEMADE WINE: This is a handy skill and not as difficult as you might think. Your final product may not win the blue ribbon in a wine competition but can still be enjoyed for what it is — a DIY project you can drink!

Preppers with a stash of alcohol can only benefit in the long run. If you’re not sure about how much and exactly what you want to have on hand, start with a variety of small bottles. Make sure to keep them out of the reach of children or possibly hidden or locked up if you have teenagers. It’s an item that can have a multitude of uses and doesn’t cost a whole lot of money.

STOCKING UP TIP: You’ll often see grocery carts filled with bottles of alcohol in the liquor department of your grocery store. Browse through those and, if you aren’t sure where to start, pick up vodka, rum, gin, or whisky, as they have many multiple uses and longer shelf lives.

Want to learn more about prepping?

prepper stash alcohol

 

1 Minute Wine Recipe

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1 Minute Wine Recipe Ever wanted to try your hand at making wine? Most people who look into it get overwhelmed with all the different equipment needed. If that doesn’t turn them away, the complicated steps involved according to numerous wine making guides can leave the average person feeling like they need a degree just …

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How To Easily Plant And Grow Grapes

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If you’ve always wanted to grow grapes – now is the time to get started! Springtime is the perfect time to plant a few grape vines to enjoy bountiful harvests for years to come.   Planting a small selection of

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How To Build This Simple Yet Elegant Wine And Glass Rack – From Pallets!

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Sometimes, simple can be elegant.  A few years back, when we featured our large 60 bottle DIY wine rack built from pallets and old barn wood – we had a lot of followers email and ask if there was a way to make a smaller version. So, using much of the same methods in building the larger rack – we created a mini version for today’s DIY post. The rack holds a modest wine collection of 20 bottles – and a set of 12 wine glasses to boot! The entire piece measures just 21″ wide x 11″ deep x 36″ high – and can be painted or stained to fit in with any decor. Better yet – it can easily be created in an afternoon from scrap lumber or pallets – for free!  This can make the perfect Christmas gift for those friends and family who enjoy wine! Tools Used : For this project, we used a table saw, chop saw ( a jig saw or hand saw can be used in place), nail gun and a hand sander. Selecting The Wood: Whether you are using new boards, pallet wood or reclaimed lumber –  you will want to make sure your boards are somewhere […]