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Updated: 1 hour 30 min ago

Homesteading: Ducks vs. Chickens & How We Chose

6 hours 59 min ago

Some people will be able to have both ducks and chickens on their homestead with no trouble whatsoever. We really wanted to raise a flock of something though for the eggs, and eventually made the decision to raise ducks. This is our story of how and why we ended up with 6 ducks and zero chickens.

There were several reasons for our decision, and honestly, right up until the afternoon we bought two ducklings from the closest Tractor Supply, we had still planned to get a dozen chickens in the spring. But just getting those first two little ducks changed our minds and made us “duck people.”

PETS

Originally, we only wanted the ducks to be pets and we were only wanting two.  Our children have been wanting ducklings since the first time they saw them at Tractor Supply last year as I shopped for dog food and cat food. When we finally bought them their ducks on the first Saturday in August, we listened to the instructions from the lady who put the cute ducklings in the box and got all of the things we needed to care for them.  It wasn’t too expensive, but we already had a “duck house” built on the property and a heat lamp. We simply put up some screws to hold the heat lamp down low, added some pine flakes, some water, and some food and viola! The pet ducklings had a place to live.

Since these were pets, our kids named their ducks (Wiggles and Moose) and we knew we were not going to eat their pets, so the meat was not a factor in our decision to raise ducks. Once we saw just how much the kids loved those squirmy little birds, my husband and I took to Google to find out more about these guys.  As it turns out, ducks make great pets! In fact, two days after getting the ducks, my son was holding his duck, Moose. As it fell asleep in his hands, the dog snatched it from him, killing it. The heart-wrenching scream that came from my six-year-old was like nothing I had ever heard. He honestly loved that duck like it was a dog or a cat.  I immediately got on the phone with Metzer Farms in Gonzales, California to order my son another duck because Tractor Supply was sold out.

Oddly enough (or luckily enough depending on how it’s looked at), we had already decided to get four more ducks and increase our flock to 6 once Tractor Supply got another shipment in.  Unfortunately, it was faster (albeit more expensive) to order 6 ducklings from Metzer Farms.  I placed the order at around 10 am on a Monday and on Wednesday at 6 am, I got a call from the local post office that the ducklings were in and to come to pick them up.

We got a female white Pekin that looked similar to my daughter’s duck, Wiggles, two Cayugas, a Khaki Campbell, and a male and female blue Swedish. Unfortunately, we lost the male blue Swedish.  He just never developed or ate or drank. He’s buried next to Moose. But in addition to making great pets for the kids, the ducks have several other advantages for us, personally.

EGGS

Duck eggs are larger and more nutritious than chicken eggs. They are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids and the yolk to white ratio is also higher, boosting a higher calorie content. Bakers say that using duck eggs as opposed to chicken eggs in baking gives cakes and cookies a “richer” flavor and fluffier pastries due to the extra albumen. They are bigger eggs too: two duck eggs will equal about three chicken eggs. If you want to get more protein in your diet, the duck egg edges out the chicken egg once again. An average chicken egg contains 6.28 grams of protein, while an average duck egg contains 8.97 grams of protein.

Ducks will lay eggs all year long, even in the winter, if you give them enough light. Ducks have routine egg-laying hours and produce eggs for many more years than chickens making them more economical if you are going to eat the eggs, and once ours start to lay, we will be eating them for sure. Ducks normally lay their eggs between 4:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. daily. This means they lay their eggs in the nests in their night pens instead of hiding a nest in the yard. You can pick up the duck eggs just once per day, at the same time that you let the ducks out to forage – and that brings us to our next advantage…

FORAGING

Ducks are much better foragers than chickens and can keep your vegetable garden slug free! Chickens can definitely help with pest control in yards, gardens, and pastures under certain circumstances. But chickens don’t eat big slugs or snails as ducks do. Because ducks forage a larger portion of their diet than chickens, they can really be economical to own, especially in the summer when they won’t need as much food.

For these reasons, we decided to “scratch” the chicken idea and stick with ducks.  But there are some advantages to choosing chickens too.

CHICKEN ADVANTAGES

Chickens do come with their pros, and they may be a better choice for others than they were for us. Chickens are more readily available, and usually cheaper to purchase. They are a better “confinement animal”, which is an important factor if space is an issue. They don’t desire as much free space to roam around.

The thicker shell on a duck egg makes it harder to crack and getting a clean break to cook or bake with duck eggs takes practice and patience. Duck eggs will be harder to whip than chicken eggs because of the lower water content.

What about you? Ducks, chickens, or both? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

How You Train Your Mind Will Either Make or Break You

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 00:19

The mind is a very powerful muscle in the body. In fact, it’s the strongest muscle and has the capacity to make or break you. It can either propel you through a challenge or paralyze you into inaction. Therefore, having control over the mind gives you the wherewithal you need to withstand biological and emotional stressors during disasters or life events, as well as better adapt to the situation at hand. In fact, Navy SEALS use this technique in their training which is why they are always cool and collected when in dangerous environments.

Survival is all in the attitude

If the mind is untrained, it can easily go to a place of hopelessness and negativity where eventually a person gives up altogether.

If you’re caught in a situation in which you feel powerless, there are two scenarios that could play out: 1.) You can imagine yourself as a hero, figuring a way out, or 2.) You can imagine yourself as a victim, suffering and waiting for rescue. Which would you choose? (The answer is that you are going to figure a way out and survive!) Remember, it’s all in your attitude!

A key strategy for having the right attitude is through mental repetition. Repetition is an effective measure in preparing the mind. Repeating positive reinforcing statements such as, “I can do this”, “I will succeed”, or “I will get through this”, trains your mind and prevents it from wanting to give up. This creates resiliency.

Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. In fact, developing resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress. It is what gives people the ability to come back from disappointment and failure stronger and more determined than ever.

Resilience is not a trait or characteristic that you either have or don’t have. It is a learned ability, one that can be learned and built and developed by anyone. Resilience relies on different skills and draws on various sources of help, including rational thinking skills, physical and mental health, and your relationships with those around you.

Resilient people not only survive and bounce back after a setback, but they also come back stronger and wiser. People who are highly resilient are excellent at finding the silver lining in any situation. They excel in finding the lesson each negative experience has taught them and applying what they learned in future endeavors.

Training the mind to overcome

When playing stories out in your head, your mind does not know if the story is real or not real, it just plays the story out as it unfolds. If you imagine yourself being decisive, controlling your fears, and behaving rationally, then the mind will only know to act this way in the future.  If you imagine yourself hiding, terrified and meek, then you will train your mind to act in this manner.

Maneuvering through a worst-case scenario takes mental preparation and working through emotions we would rather not deal with. Ultimately, one of the emotions you must conquer is fear. Fear and negative thinking can quickly spread like a virus infecting yourself and others around you. Having overwhelming fear can take you to a fight or flight status and literally cause the brain to be paralyzed into inactivity. One way to circumvent this is through visualization.

Visualization techniques are effective exercises that one can do to safely put themselves in a dangerous situation in order to desensitize oneself to the stress of the situation. In turn, you break through the fears and anxieties of the situation and begin finding plausible ways of dealing with it. These mental “dress rehearsals” are similar to what athletes use to give them a greater edge in performance and countless research studies back this up. In fact, as far as athletic performances go, using visualization exercises improves performance by 45%! Why not use this time-testing tool in mentally preparing for emergencies?

In an article on the subject, “By repeatedly facing threatening situations under calm, controlled emotional conditions, we learn to respond in desired ways, free of threat. A good example would be someone who is paralyzed with germ-related phobias, washing hands, showering, and changing clothes dozens of times daily. By encouraging that person to rehearse cognitive reframing and relaxation methods while gradually exposing themselves to sources of germs, a therapist helps build a sense of safety and mastery. Step by step the work proceeds to tackle greater challenges, from looking at germ-laden objects in the toilet to quickly touching doorknobs to shaking people’s hands and beyond. Quite literally, desensitization reprograms our emotional responses by rewiring our brains.”

The steps below are 9 steps to help better prepare you for a disaster and revolve around the idea of visualization an incident before you are faced with it. Doing so helps to diminish stress and your performance will increase. You’ll handle things better.  With time and practice, this simple meditation process can be trimmed to be done in about 5 minutes, and in this manner, you can face challenges in a few hours in the same manner that you can face them with several days or weeks to prepare.

  1. Sit in your chosen quiet place in the most comfortable position possible (laying down, sitting back, or sitting cross-legged, for example.
  2. Consciously allow your muscles to loosen up and physically relax them
  3. Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly: nothing forced, just try to introduce some regularity in it.
  4. Focus your eyes upon a stationary object that is “tranquil” and non-moving
  5. Clear your mind, yet think briefly about what it is that you face. What you are doing is imprinting the event and making it more harmless in your mind.
  6. Allow your eyes to close, focusing upon your breathing, and regulating it
  7. Think positive thoughts: that you will overcome the upcoming challenge
  8. Minimize the challenge: tell yourself that (even if it is not good) it is not so great that you cannot overcome it.
  9. When you feel ready, end the session and stand up slowly

After an event, do the same thing, focusing not on what happened but on what is in front of you.

I have found that it is necessary to clear your mind and focus when you are preparing for a significant event, as well as after the event occurs. There are several elements to performing this, and they can be used for just about anything you may face.Events that occur suddenly and without warning are a little harder to prepare for, and some of them not at all. Stress is something that can build up to a degree that renders you incapable of doing anything, if you do not learn how to deal with it.

Staying positive with controlled and purposed action

The enormity of training your mind to act in times of difficulty is hard especially if you do not have a starting point. But breaking that into smaller, more achievable goals makes the goal easier. These small victories are purposed actions that keep your mind moving in a positive stream. In a dire situation, where multiple people are affected, having these small victories keeps the morale of the group up so that everyone is working toward a common goal – surviving the event.

A starting point is one referenced above – visualizing the event and all that it entails. Think of the challenges, the societal or community implications the emergency will have, the supplies you will need, how long you think the emergency will last, and how your family can come together to get through. Further, you need to think of the darker side of the disaster and start coming up with controlled and actionable steps – this is the warrior mentality!

Let’s cover a few concepts that can further your preparations…thoughts to consider.

  1. You are going to be faced with a deliberate decision: to act or not to act when it hits the fan. This may take several forms: escape from a large city or suburb and fleeing to somewhere out of a target zone…with dangers along the way.
  2. In a SHTF situation, the resultant frenzy that begins 24-48 hours later (or even sooner) may force you to fight…and “Marquis of Queensbury Rules” will not be honored by those storming your house and front lawn.
  3. Fight or Flight: you must weigh the threats and see which are viable…that you will have to confront immediately, or that it is best to withdraw from. Discretion is the better part of valor.
  4. Are you “finger-drilling it,” or is it for real? Are you ready…really prepared physically, mentally, and yes, spiritually…to act?  On behalf of you and your family?  There: it’s the next-door neighbor trying to jimmy your back door open with a crowbar, and his two sons with rifles behind him.  Are you ready for them?
Change is constant

One principle you must keep in mind when dealing with emergencies is that change is inevitable. Change is the one true constant in this universe, yet it is something we tend to stress about and avoid altogether. Many do not handle stress well because they are unprepared to deal with what has been thrown at them. They are resistant to change. This rigidity will only hinder them from finding solutions. Disasters bring change and a lot of it. An aspect of mental preparedness, therefore, is learning to be more fluid and respectful of change in your day-to-day life. This ease in movement and acceptance of change will help you adapt more quickly to all situations. The more flexible you learn to be, the more adaptable you will be in an emergency.

We have all heard that practice makes perfect. One way to be mentally prepared for situations of extreme stress, therefore, is to practice rehearsal drills. Consistent practice will turn your life-saving plans into muscle memory. This rehearse-to-be-ready concept is how many emergency personnel and even athletes train to condition their mind and body. This could make all the difference when stress is sending your neurotransmitters out of whack. Even implementing stress relief techniques when responding to daily stress helps. The daily “minor disasters” give valuable insight into your mental and physical reaction to stressors, allowing you to know how you best perform under pressure.

To summarize, how you train mentally will either make or break you. No one wants to freeze from inaction during an emergency. In order to get to the place where you are acting in a rational, controlled manner, you must learn to exercise and stretch the mind to mentally prepare for the desired outcome. Things may not go as planned. In fact, plan for that! Use daily stressful events as an exercise and learn to focus on the problem and not the emotions that are caused by it. The ugly side of not mentally preparing your mind for a disaster is confusion, distress, shock, indecision, negativity, panic or just giving up because the situation has become too difficult. When all is on the line, you want a calm, clear head that is able to take controlled and purposeful movements.

Nothing is impossible. All you need is a strategy, problem-solving skills, control over your emotions, a little patience, and practice.

 

5 Ready Nutrition Herbal Tinctures You Can Take To Reduce Stress

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 07:47

Stress is a normal part of life. We all experience it at times, no matter how much we may try to avoid it. At best, stress can interfere with your happiness and productivity and at worst, it can disrupt your entire life.

Not only can stress be unpleasant, but it can also be a slow killer: It can adversely affect your immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and central nervous systems, especially when it is experienced chronically.

Avoiding the common symptoms of stress and stress itself is entirely impossible. Many of the ups and downs of everyday life are simply out of our control. Fortunately, Ready Nutrition now offers organic herbal tinctures, and five of them can help you reduce stress – naturally.

Let’s take a look at what herbal tinctures are, how they work, and how to use them. Then, we can explore herbal tinctures that can help relieve stress.

What are herbal tinctures?

A tincture is a concentrated liquid herbal extract made from herbs that are taken orally. Fresh or dried leaves, roots, bark, flowers, and berries may be used to make tinctures. They can be made from a single plant or a combination of plants and are made by soaking herbs in alcohol for several weeks to extract the active components (phytochemicals) of the plants.

After a few weeks, the herbal mixture is strained and the herb parts are removed, leaving behind the concentrated liquid. Alcohol is used because it is an excellent food-grade solvent and can extract herbal constituents (such as resins and alkaloids) that are poorly soluble in water. Another benefit of using alcohol as a solvent is that it is an excellent preservative that retains the freshness and potency of medicinal plants and greatly increases the shelf life of the tincture. Don’t worry – you won’t get intoxicated from the alcohol in tinctures.

How do herbal tinctures work?

Tinctures bypass the need to digest entire herbs in the gut and are easily absorbed by the body. Because they are concentrated, dosages are small and can be diluted in your favorite beverage. They are commonly made with the same plants as herbal teas, but tinctures are much stronger – a dropper of tincture is more potent than a cup of steeped tea. In fact, you can add Ready Nutrition tinctures to tea if you’d like.

Tinctures have a milder, more subtle effect than pharmaceutical drugs, so it is important to have realistic expectations if you are using them for a chronic condition. Some tinctures DO provide rapid relief of symptoms, but most do not offer a quick fix.

Some experimentation with dosages and frequency might be necessary to figure out what works best for you. Natural medicines like tinctures can be very effective and do have a long history of successful use, so be patient and consistent, and remember to make additional lifestyle changes to support good health and healing as well.

Here’s how to use herbal tinctures.

Tinctures can be taken straight or mixed with hot tea, water, or another beverage you enjoy. When mixed with hot tea, some of the alcohol content is “burned off” (without impacting the effectiveness of the herbs), which some people find more palatable.

Some herbalists recommend taking tinctures on an empty stomach, but that isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. While some natural remedies (like CBD oils) are often taken sublingually (drops are placed under the tongue), herbalists generally don’t recommend taking tinctures that way because the alcohol may cause an unpleasant burning sensation.

There’s a wide range of health concerns that tinctures can help manage.

Remember that with natural remedies, more isn’t always better. Follow the suggested dosage guidelines on your bottle’s label. If you have questions about which dosage is right for you, seek guidance from a trained professional.

These Ready Nutrition Herbal Tinctures may help you relieve stress.

California Chill

California Poppy (Eschscholizia Californica) is regarded as a highly effective stress reducer, bringing calmness and serenity to its users. It is a non-narcotic natural sedative that is non-addictive and is not habit-forming.

The major health properties of this herb are sedative, analgesic, and antispasmodic in action.

The main active ingredients in the California poppy are alkaloids such as chelirubine, sanguinarine, and macarpine. There are other alkaloids present, although they minor by comparison. This herb has a natural and gentle effect on the human body.  And don’t worry – while the California poppy herb contains some alkaloids that act as sedatives, it does not contain any opium and is only distantly related to the opium poppy. Further, California Chill Organic Herbal Tincture is made with a non-narcotic natural sedative that is non-addictive and not habit forming. (from California Chill article)

Safely relieve nervous tension, occasional anxiety, irritability, racing thoughts, and restless behavior caused by everyday stress with California Chill tincture.

St. John’s Wort Organic Herbal Tincture for Mood Balance & Positive Outlook

Also known as hypericum, Klamath weed, and goatweed, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a plant with yellow flowers whose medicinal uses were first recorded in ancient Greece. The flowering tops of St. John’s wort are used to prepare teas, tablets, and capsules containing concentrated extracts. It is important to understand that St. John’s wort interacts with many medications, which can make those medications less effective.

St. John’s Wort is a neurotransmitter modulator that increases serotonin levels in the brain through a process called natural reuptake inhibition. Boost mood, promote a positive mood balance, improve day-to-day outlook, and increase daytime energy levels with this tincture.

Valerian Root Organic Herbal Tincture for Total Body Deep Relaxation

Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis) has a long history of use as a sedative – going back nearly 2,000 years! Compounds in the plant that may induce relaxation and sleep include valerenic acid, which binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors and promotes calmness and relaxation, isovaleric acid, which can inhibit involuntary muscle contractions; and hesperidin and linarin, which are two antioxidants that possess sedative qualities.

This tincture can help relieve occasional anxiety or panic attacks, restless behavior, racing thoughts, nervous stomach, trouble sleeping, headache, and muscle spasms.

Passion Flower Organic Herbal Tincture

The aerial parts of passionflower plants (Passiflora Incarnata) have long been used to manage certain health challenges, including anxiety, restlessness, agitation, and insomnia.

Passionflower is a neurotransmitter modulator that acts on GABA-B receptor sites to slow down central nervous system activity, producing sedative effects. Relieve nervousness, nervous tension, occasional anxiety, restless or racing thoughts, hypervigilance, and trouble relaxing during the day with this herbal tincture.

Stress Relief w/ Arctic Root

Arctic root (Rhodiola Rosea) has a long history of use for anxiety, fatigue, anemia, infections, headache, and depression related to stress.

It is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the body — inside and out — so you are always ready to face everyday stress with your best foot forward. Arctic root can stimulate immune system function to shorten physical and mental recovery periods, support healthy neurotransmitter balance to improve mood and boost cognitive functions like mental sharpness and memory so you get more done in less time.

Do you use herbal tinctures?

If so, which ones are your favorites?

Be well!

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or ailment. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the creation or use of herbal tinctures. A person should speak to their doctor before using a tincture or any other herbal supplement, especially if they take medications.

 

4 Summertime Dangers That Threaten Our “Best Friend” & How We Can Help

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 12:17

Man (or woman’s) best friend has long been considered the dog.  Dogs add so much joy to our lives that it is difficult to not think of them as members of our family. Because of that, we’ve decided to put together a list of four things that threaten our dogs in the summertime and what can be done to keep our best friend safe.

Even if this list serves as nothing more than a reminder, make sure you’re just as prepared for the dog as you are for yourself. Regardless of how safe we are though, things still go wrong, and when they do, you’ll want to know what to do so you can react quickly to help your endangered pet.

  1. The Sun

The most common threat to a dog in the summer is the sun.  It can cause sunburns, burnt paws, heatstroke, and dehydration. Keeping your dog cool is a must especially when temperatures soar into the 90s.  Dogs don’t sweat like humans, so it’s much harder for them to cool off than it is for us.  If you must leave them outside, make sure they have adequate shade and a lot of cool water, also preferably in the shade.

4 Things You SHOULDN’T Do & 2 Things You SHOULD Do With Your Pet In Summer

You should avoid taking a dog for a walk during the hottest part of the day for two reasons: you don’t want them to burn the pads of their paws, nor do you want them to get dehydrated.  If you do go for a walk, it is always a good idea to bring enough water for both of you to make sure everyone, two-legged and four-legged, stays hydrated.

Learning the signs of heatstroke will also come in handy, but hopefully, you’ll never go through that!  If you know the signs, however, and the worst does happen, you can make sure your pet makes it to the animal hospital or veterinarian sooner to prevent permanent damage or death.

2. Ticks

Ticks are nasty little creatures. They carry disease and burrow deep often under a dog’s fur where they are hard to find until the skin begins to fester and the irritation builds. Unfortunately, ticks can infest even the dogs that aren’t outside often. Once attached to your dog, certain female ticks can cause a rare paralysis in dogs as a result of a toxin they produce while feeding while spreading diseases. The disease with which most people are familiar is called Lyme disease but another is Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Lyme disease can cause arthritis and swelling of your dog’s joints, resulting in painful lameness. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause fever, lameness, and other signs. There are also other diseases that ticks can transmit to your dog.

Use flea and tick prevention products to at least boost your dog’s chances of NOT getting ticks. Use tick prevention products regularly and as directed by a veterinarian based on your particular area.  Some things could work better than others. There are so many options that no dog should be unprotected.  You can choose from topical oils, pills, collars, and sprays.

3. POOLS & LAKES

Not all dogs are the best swimmers. Some are, and if you know your dog can handle water, let him swim! But if you don’t know, don’t assume you can just toss your pup into the lake and he’ll take to it.  There is still the potential for drowning.

If you are going on a boat with a dog that doesn’t care for water or can’t swim, put a life jacket on him.  You would think he’ll never fall overboard, but stranger things have happened and it’s simply better to be prepared. If your dog is new, or this is your first summer with your best friend, make sure you take it slow and monitor the dog as he experiences the lake or the ocean for the first time.

4. Porcupines

The porcupine is the worst friend of the dog! These creatures can do major damage to your pet!  Do some research and see if porcupines are common in your area. If they are, this is definitely a threat to be concerned about during the summer months a quick response is necessary!

Having a dog come back to you with porcupine quills stuck all over his face is one of the worst feelings a pet owner can possibly experience. (Ask me how I know!) Dogs get very curious and don’t understand until it’s too late just how unfriendly a porcupine is.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do about this one except be prepared if you live in an area where porcupines are common.

If your dog does have a run in and ends up with quills all over his face, call the veterinarian as soon as you can.  Many have emergency numbers where vets can be reached after hours.  You want to act quickly because the longer the quills stay in your dog, the higher the chances are of infection.  You should also check to see if ay quills are in your dog’s eyes, nose, throat, or mouth.  Not only are these areas highly sensitive, but this can also be an emergency situation and permanent damage may already be done. The vet will likely ask you this on the phone too, so assess the damage. More often than not, you will want to get the dog to the vet as soon as you can!

If your dog only has a few quills in his whiskers, you may be able to pull them out yourself, however, make sure you still get him to the vet to make sure you got them all! Grab the quill with needle-nosed pliers as close to the dog’s skin as you can and pull steadily. Keep in mind that removing porcupine quills is incredibly painful, and your dog may only be able to handle the removal of a few before he lashes out and bites you out of fear and pain. You will most likely have to take him to the vet anyway. The vet will put the dog under anesthesia to remove the rest of the quills. Promptly removing the quills is of the utmost importance as they can travel through the body and damage the organs if left alone.

DO NOT CUT THE QUILL! You may have heard that cutting the quill releases some kind of pressure and it becomes easier to remove.  Not only is that untrue, but it also makes the quill harder to get out intact because it splinters the shaft endangering the dog further. If the quill is too short and split, you could break it off by not being able to get a good grip.  It’s better to leave it alone and the veterinarian deal with it. In the meantime, discourage your dog from pawing at his face and lodging the quills deeper. (Easier said than done…)

While these common summer dangers are scary and can be life-threatening, being aware of them and taking the appropriate action when something goes wrong could save your best friend’s life.

 

Mom-Approved Back-To-School Preparedness Kits For Kids

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 14:20

As we start gearing up for the first day of school, it’s important to plan for emergencies that may occur when our children are away from home and not in our care. We moms can’t always be around to help when our kids need it. Having some handy items stashed away in a backpack for the kids to use can also teach them the importance of preparedness and the beginning steps of self-reliance.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) suggests each child do these 4 things to be prepared for emergencies:

  1. Have a plan on how to reunite with your child – contact the school and make sure you are aware of who will be contacting you if there’s a need for your child to not be at school or on the bus. If there’s an emergency evacuation after, for example, an earthquake, make sure your child knows who is allowed to pick them up and who they can go home with so you can reunite with them.
  2. Update emergency contact information –  make absolutely certain the school has all of your information.  Give them your email, phone number, and other information regarding communication. The more ways they have to reach you the better. This is the one time moms shouldn’t be overly concerned about privacy.
  3. Backpack Emergency Card – make a backpack emergency card for your child. Make sure this card can withstand some wear and tear, because, as we all know, kids can be kind of hard on anything they carry in their backpacks. On the card, you should include important personal information about your child, like their name, school, contact information, date of birth, and any medical conditions, such as allergies. On the backside of the card, include contact information for yourself and an additional emergency contact.
  4. Have your child memorize important addresses and phone numbers – if the school does not have access to their files, and your child lost their emergency card, making sure they know their own address and your phone number is important. Consider having them memorize the phone number of your place of work too, or another emergency contact.

While those steps are good ones to take to prepare your child for an emergency, if you can, you should go just one step further.  You and your child(ren) should each make an emergency kit for them. The added bonus is that this is a fun family activity that everyone can do together.  If their kit is packed well, it can be put in the bottom of their backpack and they will have it with them anytime they go to school.

10 CRITICAL ITEMS TO ADD TO EMERGENCY KITS FOR KIDS
  1. Mini first aid kit – many items can be purchased from the dollar store. You can also buy a small inexpensive kit from Amazon. 
  2. Emergency contact list
  3. Flashlight
  4. Whistle
  5. Granola bar or small snack
  6. Extra money for lunch
  7. Chapstick
  8. Extra clothing
  9. Emergency phone
  10. Water bottle – try not to get a cheap plastic bottle that will break in their bag, and I personally steer clear of glass when it comes to the kids.  There are some great stainless steel water bottles available, and your child can even choose which color they prefer. Again, this is just a suggestion and personal preference. (My son ruined 3 plastic water bottles in the nine months of school last year.)

Let your kids have some say in what they put in their kit. Avoid the obvious problem items like pocket knives, however. That’s just asking for a problem with the school.  If they have a flashlight they really like and want to add, let them! This is a good way to get them engaged and start them off on the right path of preparedness and self-reliance. Also, make sure you have a conversation with them about the money if you decide to put extra cash in their backpack. There’s a chance that your child will say something to the wrong kid and that money could get stolen. They need to understand that they don’t have to tell other kids what’s in their kit or that they even have one. These conversations are good to have while you look on Amazon for items to add or while putting it together at home.

Good luck! And we all hope you have a wonderful school year!

 

Earthquakes: What To Expect, What To Do During A Quake, And How To Prepare

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 06:50

Earthquakes can happen when we least expect them, and unless you live near a fault line you probably haven’t thought too much about them.  But it’s important to know what to expect when an earthquake strikes, what to do during the quake, and actions to take immediately afterward.

An earthquake is caused by a sudden slip on a fault – the point where the tectonic plates meet. The tectonic plates are always slowly moving, but they get stuck at their edges due to friction and when the stress on the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake that releases energy in waves that travel through the earth’s crust and cause the shaking and destruction that we experience on the surface of the Earth.

WHAT TO EXPECT

During an earthquake, your experience will very much depend on the severity of the quake. In a mild or moderately mild earthquake, expect ceiling lights to move, shake, and/or sway and some minor rattling of objects may occur in your home.  If it’s slightly stronger than a mild quake, pictures could come off the walls or things could fall off shelves and break. You may feel a slight quiver under your feet if you are outside. If you are close to its source, you may hear a loud bang followed by shaking. These milder quakes usually only last a few seconds at the most. There will be little to no damage and no actions need to be taken other than to get away from anything that can possibly fall on your head.

If you happen to experience a large earthquake, things will be dramatically different. A large quake can last for several minutes. The ground or floor will move, perhaps violently depending on the magnitude and your proximity to the epicenter (the exact point where the earthquake occurs.) If you are far away from the source, you might see swaying buildings or hear a roaring sound. Whether far away or close to the source, you will likely feel shaking followed by a rolling motion, much like being at sea. You may also feel dizzy sensation and be unable to walk during an extreme earthquake. The shaking will be intense! If you live in a high rise or a multi-story building, you could experience more sway and less shaking than in a smaller, single-story building, or your home. The lower floors of multi-story building shake rapidly, much like residential homes. Furnishings and unsecured objects could fall over or slide across the floor with some force. Unsecured light fixtures and ceiling panels may fall and it is possible for windows may break. Fire alarms and sprinkler systems may be activated and the power grid could go down, meaning the electricity would go off and you would have no power.

WHAT TO DO

If you find yourself indoors during a severe earthquake, you’ll want to take action quickly to prevent injury or death. Do NOT go outside! Find a sturdy piece of furniture to get under and cover your head and face with your arms and hands. If you need to, hold onto the object covering you so you remain under its protection. Stay away from windows and shelves.  If you don’t have any furniture, go as far away from the outer walls as you can, crouch down against an INTERIOR wall.  Face away from the windows if you must be near them!

If you are outside when an earthquake occurs, move away from buildings.  Don’t go inside! If you are around crowds of people, try to get to an area where you will be safe from being trampled.

If you’re driving when the earthquake strikes, pull over to a safe place where you are not blocking the road an keep the roads clear for rescue and emergency vehicles. Stay inside the vehicle! Avoid bridges, overpasses, underpasses, buildings or anything else that could possibly collapse. Turn your car radio on and listen for instructions from emergency officials. Do not attempt to get out of your car if downed power lines are across it. Wait to be rescued. You can put a HELP sign in the window of your car if you need assistance.

WHAT TO DO AFTER AND EARTHQUAKE

The first thing you should do is remain calm, and if you are uninjured, help others who may be stuck or hurt. Turn on a radio so you can be made aware of any information about the quake that just took place. Put on sturdy shoes and protective clothing (if you can get to them) to help prevent injury from debris, especially broken glass. Check your home for structural damage and other hazards. If you suspect your home is unsafe, do not re-enter.  Grab your emergency bag if you have to head out.

HOW TO PREPARE

Preparing for an earthquake is going to be similar to preparing for other types of natural disasters.  If you would like a comprehensive breakdown and a step by step guide, consider reading The Prepper’s Blueprint by Tess Pennington. The book offers tips and guidance on preparations for every kind of disaster, including earthquakes.

You should have an emergency bag already put together and in a place that’s easily accessible.  This can also be your bug out bag, so if you have one of those, you’re likely already prepared.  Some have car emergency kits and that will have several items you’ll need in it too. If you live in an area where earthquakes are common, you’ve likely already got everything in an emergency bad that you would need in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.

*TIP: Put your emergency bag in a place that makes it easy to get to. After a large earthquake (one that destroys buildings) you may not be able to safely obtain your bag.  Keep it in a garage or hidden outside. It won’t do you any good in a closet of a house that is falling down.

Inside your bag, you should have things that will help sustain you for a few nights or days until more permanent measures can be taken. Consider having a tent and some food and water in the bag.  A flashlight, some matches or a lighter, and a life straw are all excellent additions too. You may want a knife and a few personal hygiene items as well as a first aid kit. How you pack your bag and any additional items will be at your discretion.

Come up with a plan and make sure the whole family knows what to do and where the emergency bag is located. Planning ahead is the best way to mitigate injury or worse when the absolute worst natural disaster occurs.

 

Our Brains Are Hardwired Toward Negativity: How To Fix It & Live More Positively

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 16:26

Human beings are hardwired for negativity and our brains fixate on the bad over the good. This can cause unnecessary stress and health issues but there are some things we can do about it, so we can live a more positive and vibrant life.

Criticisms often have a greater impact than compliments and bad news frequently draws more attention than good. All you have to do is turn your TV on to a news channel to see the evidence of this! The reason the news focuses on the bad is that negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones. Psychologists refer to this as the negative bias (also called the negativity bias), and it can have a powerful effect on your behavior, your decisions, and even your relationships.

Also known as positive-negative asymmetry, this negativity bias means that we feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise, according to Very Well Mind.  This psychological phenomenon explains why bad first impressions can be so difficult to overcome and why past traumas can have such long lingering effects. In almost any interaction, we are more likely to notice negative things and later remember them more vividly.

This negative bias causes us to pay more attention to the bad things that happen than the good. This cultivates stress and causes us to make our decisions based on the bad as opposed to basing them off of the good. Our tendency to pay more attention to bad things and overlook good things is likely a result of evolution. Early in human history, paying attention to bad, dangerous, and negative threats in the world was literally a matter of life and death. Those who were more attuned to danger and who paid more attention to the bad things around them were more likely to survive.

But how do we overcome this inherent negative bias that can kill relationships, stress us out, and make everyday life more worrisome? It isn’t easy.  But it begins with stopping all negative self-talk. Start paying attention to the type of thoughts that run through your mind. After an event takes place, you might find yourself thinking things like “I shouldn’t have done that.” This negative self-talk shapes how you think about yourself and others. It’s best to just shut off that thought process as soon as it happens. Try to think of happier memories when you start to think negatively,  Focus more on what you can learn from the mistake you made rather than the mistake itself.

When you find yourself interpreting something in a negative way or only focusing on the bad aspect of the situation, look for ways to reframe the events in a more positive light. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the fact that it’s a bad situation, it just means that from the bad, good can also come.

Once something good does happen, savor the moment!  Since we have a negative bias, focusing on the positive things that have happened to us will help us become happier and end the cycle of negative thinking. Stay in the moment for as long as you can when you’re happy and don’t let anything bring you down.

Happiness: What It Is, Why It Is Important, and How to Cultivate More of It

Being aware of the fact that we are all programmed to be negative will help as well. Taking a more mindful approach that involves being aware of your own tendency toward negativity and consciously elevating happier thoughts to the forefront of awareness.  Just this one small step can boost your mental awareness and health and make everything around you better.

 

 

Frugal Living: Save Money With These Food Storage Tips

Mon, 08/05/2019 - 07:33

Most of us can benefit from learning to live a more simple and frugal life. And there is no reason to bust your budget on food waste or storage! You can take the beginning steps toward frugality and save a lot of money by using these food storage tips we’ve put together for you!

I know just how much money it costs to feed a family.  With a seven and an eight-year-old, the grocery bill doesn’t ever decrease. Because of that, food has become a much more precious commodity, and not to be wasted.  So it’s important to figure out how to frugally save your food to make sure it ALL gets consumed!

EGGS

Some recipes, especially those delicious baked goods, call for an egg white only.  But you shouldn’t waste the yolks. Instead, freeze them.  I like the ice cube trays for this.  Once they have frozen in the tray, I simply pop them out and put them in a plastic storage container. I used them to make scrambled eggs, and the kids actually like them this way!  The flavor is richer than using a whole egg, but preventing waste is the ultimate goal. You will want to use the egg yolks right after they have thawed.  I just put the ones I will need in the refrigerator overnight. And…you can do this with egg whites too! If you’ve only used the yolks of some eggs, freeze the whites with the same process and make yourself an omelet one morning!

BREAD

Bread, like eggs, can also be frozen.  If you make your own, like I do, and bake three loaves all at once (I don’t like to waste sourdough starter) you can freeze two loaves and keep one out to eat.  I just use the same large gallon-size plastic bags to freeze several loaves.  When you decide it’s time to thaw your bread, put a paper towel in with the loaf when it’s defrosting.  That paper towel will absorb the moisture as it thaws out. This prevents some waste, as you can use the bags until they get a hole in them.  Even if the zip part doesn’t stay closed, I will find a rubber band and close the bag in order to prevent from wasting one.

But still, sometimes, bread goes stale.  We’ve all been there. But instead of throwing it away or giving it to the birds, I coat it in olive oil, basil, oregano, and thyme, then add a dash of garlic salt. I cut the bread into bite-sized pieces and then put it on a cookie sheet.  It only takes about 15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit to get some perfect salad croutons!

BERRIES

Every summer we buy a flat of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. As soon as we get them home, I clean the strawberries and wash all the berries.  Then they go in plastic gallon bags in the freezer and I usually have bags I can reuse. The important thing is to let the berries dry a little before freezing them so they separate more easily with less thawing.  You should also make sure to get as much air as possible out of the bags to help prevent freezer burn.

Another way to make the most of a surplus of berries is to dehydrate them for adding them to baked goods and cereals. Dehydrating maintains its nutritional content up to a year or longer if properly stored and is an excellent way to make use of the food you have around you, but there are some rules you should follow before starting out. This also holds true for vegetables. Dehydrated vegetables can make delicious soups and even seasonings.

ROOT VEGETABLES

Basements are most often the most temperature-stable places in a home and would be ideal for root vegetable storage. Use a dark and cool corner of the basement to store root vegetables bought on sale. Store produce in mesh bags to allow air circulate and reduce the risk of unwanted pests. A basement stays cool without any electricity adding to your bill!

COMPOSTING

Any time you discard the peel or an eggshell, remember to compost it! Crumbling eggshells in the garden will add nutrients like calcium to the garden and your bank account will appreciate that you are buying less soil and creating less waste. For composting tips, click on the following articles:

5 Simple Solutions For Composting

Composting Methods Made Easy

Turn Trash Into Treasure: The Easy Way To Make A Compost Pile Or Bin

Being frugal and saving money where you can stretch the family budget, as well as, teach essential tips on frugality and zero waste. While these sustainable ideals are a beginning point, they can make a big difference down the line. In what ways do you practice frugality in your home?

 

Garden-Fresh Late Summer Minestrone Soup

Sat, 08/03/2019 - 07:39

Our vegetable gardens are off to a great start thanks to the heirloom seeds we started this spring. One of the advantages of having a growing garden is the from scratch recipes we can make to utilize our garden harvests. And right now,  it’s got me dreaming of all the delicious recipes we will be making.

Clean eating is so easy in the summer because of all the vegetables we grow and one of my favorite late summer recipes is making homemade minestrone soup. Made from garden favorites like vine-ripened tomatoes, ears of corn, zucchini, green beans, and fresh herbs, this soup celebrates summer!

This is also a great soup you can freeze for later. My family loves this soup in the winter with crusty bread. The only change to the recipe is not adding the pasta to the recipe. To freeze for later, allow the freshly made soup to cool and ladle into freezer-safe containers. We like these.

Late Summer Minestrone Soup

(Yields 6-8 servings)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 1 cup celery, thinly chopped
  • 2 spring fresh rosemary springs
  • 2 small zucchini or squash, diced 1/2 inch
  • 2 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut off the cob
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1-quart chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 large vine ripe tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves, loosely packed
  • small pasta noodles
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

 

  1. Over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot and add onion, carrots, celery, rosemary, and zucchini. Cook mixture until they soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add fresh corn and beans and stir for 3 minutes. Add broth, water, and chopped tomatoes. Allow mixture to come to a boil, then lower heat so soup comes to an active simmer. Cook for an additional 10 minutes until vegetables soften and tomatoes are broken up.
  3. Add 1/2 cup basil and pasta. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan, if desired.

 

Cilantro: How This Versatile Herb Could Be a Lifesaver in an Emergency

Wed, 07/31/2019 - 05:31

Ready Nutrition Guys and Gals, if you aren’t already including the herb Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) in your diet (and your garden), it is time to start thinking about it for a number of reasons we’ll go into now. Cilantro is a member of the mint family, and it has a taste that you either love it or hate it the first time. It is a principal herb to flavor Mexican and Hispanic dishes. Indeed, fajitas are replete with it, and incomplete without it.

From an herbal perspective, it has been used with many ailments, such as nausea, diarrhea, problems with excessive flatulence, and toothache. It is an annual, originally found in Southern Europe (Spain, Italy, and Greece), as well as in North Africa (Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco). The essential oil is effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Enterococcus faecalis, to name a few that are associated with fecal-oral transmission and the kinds of conditions in a grid-down emergency

Cilantro (3.5 ounces, or 100 g) has a tremendous amount of nutritional value: Calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamins are found in abundance. Indeed, this amount of cilantro holds 27 mg of Vitamin C, or 1/3 of the RDA.

The biggie: Cilantro removes toxic metals from the human body. Aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury are among such metals. The herb also protects against the uptake of lead in the human body. Now, with all that metallic garbage floating around in our ground and municipal water systems, we can use all of the help we can find! Even if you have a well, that is no guarantee that such metals will not leach into the well at a later date…after the well water has tested negative for them.

Cilantro is best consumed when it is fresh and uncooked, as the heat lowers its abilities and breaks it down. It can be tinctured, but if you do, tincture it using the fresh herb and not the dried, as the best phytochemical (plant-based substances that fight infection and illness) substances are found in the fresh leaves. As I mentioned before in other articles, tincturing lasts longer and the alcohol (using grain alcohol is best) preserves it and keeps it from freezing at low temperatures, as well. For exact freezing temperatures, refer to our article on freezing points for ethyl alcohol.

Cilantro is inexpensive and easily obtained, as well as simple to grow. You can use it for many different things, and many of you will think it tastes fantastic on foods. We look forward to hearing from you and any good recipes you may have with it, as well as herbal remedies you’ve experimented with. Stay in that good fight, and fight it to win!  JJ out!

 

Tackle Inflammation Naturally With Blackcurrant Herbal Tinctures

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 05:58

Inflammation is becoming increasingly common among Americans.  But there is a natural and herbal way to help relieve the pain and swelling often associated with inflammation, and that is with blackcurrant.

Blackcurrant has been called “the forbidden fruit” in the United States. Farmers thought that the tart berries, native to Europe and Asia, helped spread a fungus that killed pine trees. Because of this, many Americans have, unfortunately, missed out on these nutritious berries. Blackcurrants have a high concentration of anthocyanins, polyphenolic substances, antioxidants, vitamin C, and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). In fact,  blackcurrants carry four times the amount of vitamin C as oranges and twice the amount of antioxidants as blueberries! The benefits of vitamin C are many. The body uses vitamin C to metabolize protein and form collagen, which is essential for skin care and anti-aging.

But perhaps the greatest net benefit from blackcurrant is the anti-inflammatory properties. Blackcurrants have a direct effect on your body’s inflammatory response. Blackcurrant seed oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a type of omega-6 fatty acid that’s been said to help ease inflammation in the body. The high GLA and anthocyanin content can help reduce joint or muscle pain. In some studies, GLA supplements were so effective that participants with rheumatoid arthritis could reduce their usual pain medications.  That is great news for those with joint pain due to inflammation.

Inflammation is the body’s vital response to injury or infection. It is the body’s way of signaling the immune system it’s time to heal and repair damaged tissue, as well as defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria.  Without inflammation as a physiological response, wounds would fester, and infections could become deadly.  However, if the inflammatory process goes on for too long or if the inflammatory response occurs in places where it is not needed, it can become incredibly problematic. Chronic inflammation has been linked to certain diseases such as heart disease or stroke, and may also lead to autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, according to Live Science.  But a healthy diet and lifestyle can help keep inflammation under control.

A great way to incorporate more blackcurrant into your diet is through herbal medicines, like a tincture. Herbal tinctures are becoming more widely used and therefore, more readily available. If you are looking for an easy way to reap the benefits of medicinal plants, take a look at herbal tinctures.

Tinctures are typically made by soaking herbs in alcohol for several weeks to extract the active components (phytochemicals) of the plants. After a few weeks, the herbal mixture is strained and the herb parts are removed, leaving behind the concentrated liquid. Alcohol is used because it is an excellent food-grade solvent and can extract herbal constituents (such as resins and alkaloids) that are poorly soluble in water. Another benefit of using alcohol as a solvent is that it is an excellent preservative that retains the freshness and potency of medicinal plants and greatly increases the shelf life of the tincture. Don’t worry – you won’t get intoxicated from the alcohol in tinctures.

Fresh or dried leaves, roots, bark, flowers, and berries may be used to make tinctures. They can be made from a single plant or a combination of plants. -Ready Nutrition

Since tinctures come in a liquid form, the body won’t need to digest leaves or herbs in order to be effective. Herbal tinctures can be added to water or teas as well as a means to obtain the healing properties.

Ready Nutrition’s Black Currant Organic Herbal Tincture for Joint Inflammation & Joint Pain activates the body’s own natural defenses to help reduce inflammation in the body. This tincture will relieve inflammation that causes painful, swollen joints and promote greater joint health and joint mobility.

It’s an easy way to get the support from the blackcurrant with the added bonus of not having to swallow a pill. Because they are concentrated, dosages can be very small and can be diluted further in your favorite beverage. You control how much natural medicine you might need!

Tinctures also have a milder, more subtle effect than pharmaceutical drugs, so it is important to have realistic expectations if you are using them for a chronic condition. Some tinctures DO provide rapid relief of symptoms, but most do not offer a quick fix.

SIDE EFFECTS

As with any supplement, it’s important to be aware of the side effects, however, blackcurrant is relatively safe. Both blackcurrant berries and seed oil are considered safe when taking the recommended doses, however, the supplements have been known to cause some side effects such as soft stools, mild diarrhea, and intestinal gas. Because blackcurrant can slow blood clotting, blackcurrant supplements are not recommended for people with bleeding disorders or those about to have surgery. Currently, not enough information is available about dried blackcurrant leaves, so it’s difficult to rate their safety. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before taking any supplements, including blackcurrant and other herbal tinctures.

*This article is for informational purposes only.  Please contact a medical professional if you have any questions are supplements, herbal or otherwise.

 

Resilience: What It Is, Why It Is Important, and How To Stay Mentally Strong

Fri, 07/26/2019 - 07:07

How do you deal with challenging experiences? Do you allow failures to interfere with the pursuit of your goals? Or, do you see adversity as an opportunity for growth and positive change?

Do you bounce back? Or do you fall apart?

In other words, are you resilient?

In this article, we’ll explore resilience: what it is, why it is important, and how to develop it. As you will see, developing resilience will help you have the strength and fortitude to overcome adversity, and to keep on moving forward towards your dreams and goals.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

People who are resilient tend to maintain a positive outlook and cope with stress effectively. They typically come back stronger after experiencing challenges, problems, and setbacks.

Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience. While it is true that some people are more resilient than others, we all demonstrate it throughout our lives.

“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Think about times you have faced difficulties and overcome them. It is the rare person who makes it this far in life without conquering some kind of adversity. Resilience is not necessarily about overcoming huge challenges. Each of us faces plenty of challenges on a regular basis.

Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. In fact, developing resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress. It is what gives people the ability to come back from disappointment and failure stronger and more determined than ever.

Resilience is not a trait or characteristic that you either have or don’t have. It is a learned ability, one that can be learned and built and developed by anyone. Resilience relies on different skills and draws on various sources of help, including rational thinking skills, physical and mental health, and your relationships with those around you.

Resilient people not only survive and bounce back after a setback, but they also come back stronger and wiser. People who are highly resilient are excellent at finding the silver lining in any situation. They excel in finding the lesson each negative experience has taught them and applying what they learned in future endeavors.

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” ― Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Resilience is an important skill to develop.

Resilience can help protect you from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Resilience can also help offset factors that increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as being bullied or previous trauma. If you have an existing mental health condition, being resilient can improve your ability to cope.

It won’t make your problems disappear, but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life, and better manage stress. This is important because chronic stress is associated with harmful health consequences such as high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, insomnia, heartburn, indigestion, and heart disease.

Here are some of the traits of resilient people.

According to the research of psychologist Suzanne Kobasa, there are three elements that are essential to resilience:

Resilient people view difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don’t view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.

Resilient people are committed to their lives and their goals, and they have a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning. Commitment isn’t just restricted to their work – they commit to their relationships, their friendships, the causes they care about, and their religious or spiritual beliefs.

Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.

The American Psychological Association says there are several factors that contribute to resilience:

Many studies show that the primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. Relationships that create love and trust, provide role models and offer encouragement and reassurance help bolster a person’s resilience.

Several additional factors are associated with resilience, including:

  • The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out.
  • A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities.
  • Skills in communication and problem-solving.
  • The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses.

All of these are factors that people can develop in themselves.

How can you develop resilience?

Whether you’re going through a tough time now or you want to be prepared for the next one, here are 11 techniques you can implement in order to foster your own resilience.

Make connections. Good relationships with family members, friends, and co-workers are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper. Create and maintain a strong social network of people you can trust.

Cultivate positive thinking. When you are stressed, it is easy to focus on everything that is wrong. Try to see the positive in every situation – change the narrative if you can. This doesn’t mean you should deny reality, but try to move forward and avoid getting trapped in a cycle of negative rumination. The practice of Expressive Writing can help you gain new insights into the challenges in your life. “It involves free writing continuously for 20 minutes about an issue, exploring your deepest thoughts and feelings around it. The goal is to get something down on paper, not to create a memoir-like masterpiece,” explains Greater Good Magazine. That website offers another technique for exploring upsides of a challenging event: “Finding Silver Linings invites you to call to mind an upsetting experience and try to list three positive things about it. For example, you might reflect on how fighting with a friend brought some important issues out into the open and allowed you to learn something about their point of view.”

Build self-confidence. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience. Resilient people are confident that they’re going to succeed eventually, despite the setbacks or stresses that they might be facing. This belief in themselves also enables them to take risks: when you develop confidence and a strong sense of self, you have the strength to keep moving forward, and to take the risks you need to get ahead. When you hear negative comments in your head, practice immediately replacing them with positive ones. Becoming more confident in your own abilities, including your ability to respond to and deal with a crisis, is a great way to build resilience for the future.

Learn from experience. Think of how you’ve managed with hardships in the past. Which skills and strategies helped you through rough times? Every mistake has the power to teach you something important; so don’t stop searching until you’ve found the lesson in every situation.

“On the occasion of every accident that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use.” ― Epictetus, The Discourses 

Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try to look beyond the present to imagine how future circumstances may be better.

Be adaptable. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter. Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. By learning how to be more adaptable, you’ll be better equipped to respond when faced with a life crisis.

Maintain perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Resilient people understand that, although a situation or crisis may seem overwhelming at the moment, it may not make that much of an impact over the long-term. Try to avoid blowing events out of proportion.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery. Adversity can teach you a lot about yourself. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, a greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, an increased sense of self-worth, more developed spirituality, and an enhanced appreciation for life.

Be optimistic. Staying optimistic during tough times can be difficult, but maintaining a hopeful outlook is an important part of resiliency. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the problem and live in denial – it means understanding that this crisis or challenge will eventually pass, and brighter days are ahead.

Find a sense of purpose or a cause to support. After dealing with a crisis or tragedy, finding a sense of purpose can play an important role in your journey. This might mean becoming involved in your community, cultivating your spirituality, or participating in activities that are meaningful to you. Create your own meaning.

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Take care of yourself. When we are faced with challenges, self-care can feel overwhelming. It is important to make your health a priority, though – especially during times of crisis. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Eat a healthful diet, exercise, get some fresh air, and get enough sleep. Participate in hobbies you enjoy, and make time for relaxation. Meditation can help you relax and bring your attention to the present, enabling you to work through negative thoughts and feelings in a calm and mindful way.

What do you think?

Do you consider yourself a resilient person? Are there things you do to improve your resilience? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Be well!

 

Grow Pinto Beans From Seed: A Complete Growing Guide

Wed, 07/24/2019 - 05:55

If there’s one type of bean the entire family loves, it’s the pinto bean.  In Spanish, the word “pinto” means painted and these beans are appropriately named because their outer skin is a spotted, swirling, red-dotted masterpiece of color. But inside is what counts, and they have a rich creamy texture perfect for soups and stews on those upcoming cold winter nights.

Pinto beans also have nutritional benefits that help boost heart health and could help the body fight off cancer. Pinto beans contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which may prevent some forms of cancer, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Pinto beans also contain kaempferol, which is a flavonoid known to help reduce inflammation. These beneficial antioxidants may slow the growth of tumors while increasing the survival rate of much-needed healthy cells. Not only that, but other studies have found there are benefits to eating foods that contain kaempferol. These foods help reduce the risk of developing cancer. This is the result of the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties making the pinto bean a great food for possibly preventing and even treating, some diseases; possibly even cancer.

Just one cup of pinto beans contains 41 grams of protein! Although high in carbohydrates, pinto beans are jam-packed with other nutrients! (Click here for the full list of nutritional content.) So why not try to grow some healthy and delicious pinto beans in your garden? The added bonus is that most kids love pinto beans and it usually isn’t too hard to get them to eat these beans!

Helpful Tip: pinto beans take about 90-150 days to grow as a dry bean but can be harvested earlier and eaten as a green snap bean.

BEFORE PLANTING
  • Pintos need long, warm summers with full sun exposure of at least 6 hours per day.
  • Do not plant pinto beans where other beans have been growing for at least 3 years, as they may be susceptible to disease.
  • Beans, in general, do not do well when transplanted so it’s best to direct sow the seeds. Do not plant them too early or they will rot in cool, damp soil.
  • Pinto beans do well as companion plants with cucumbers, celery, and strawberries. Although they taste great when combined, avoid companion plantings alongside onion, garlic, and fennel.
  • Before planting, soak the beans overnight.
PLANTING
  • Beans take a long time to mature. Speed up the process by laying down black plastic to keep the soil warm. You can also grow pinto beans in containers indoors to be moved outside once temperatures warm up enough.
  • Grow in well-draining, fairly fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0.
  • Work in compost prior to planting to reduce the need to fertilizer.
  • The eye of the bean should be facing downward, planted at a depth of 1-½ inch, 4-6 inches apart with at least 2 feet between rows when growing pinto beans.
  • Water the seeds in well and keep moist.
  • Germination should occur between 8-14 days provided temperatures are between 70-80 degrees F. (21-26 C.)
  • Thin the seedlings to 6 inches apart.
  • Keep the area around the beans free of weeds but do so carefully lest you disturb the roots.
  • Feed the beans with some compost tea halfway through the growing season. Other than that, it is generally unnecessary to fertilize pinto beans.
TROUBLESHOOTING

Seedlings are deformed or have no growing tips or leaves when they emerge: Seedcorn maggots are the small yellowish-white larvae of small gray flies and could be the culprit. Cultivate to expose the larvae and disturb the life cycle. Replant when the weather is warmer and keep the garden clean.

Seedlings are stunted and never recover: Cold soil and weather can weaken seedlings that do emerge too early. The soil temperature is likely below 60°F. Pull up the seedlings, warm the soil with black or clear plastic, and sow new seed.

Seedlings and plants stunted; leaves yellowed and distorted: Thrips are tan to black bugs that look like slivers of wood; Thrips feed on plants, rasping plant tissue. Seedlings are the most affected. Plants will outgrow and recover thrip attack.

HARVESTING

It will take about 90-150 days (depending on the weather) to harvest. Pintos can be harvested when they are still green and immature, but most people choose to leave them on the vine until they dry out. At this point, they will be firm and the thickness of a pencil. You can try to bite the bean, and if your teeth barely leave a dent, it’s hard enough to pick.

When mature, the pods will be green, plump looking and approximately 4 to 6 inches long. Bush pinto beans mature all at once, but pole beans are harvested on a continuous basis which encourages additional production for a month or two. To harvest pinto beans, gently pull or snap off the vine. If you are growing for dry beans, be sure the plants have plenty of space between them to allow the pods to dry completely. If you get a late rain and the pods are mature, pull the entire plant from the ground and hang it in a dry place to continue to desiccate.

Withhold water from the pinto bean plants for two weeks before the time you plan to harvest. The pods should start to turn yellow. Withholding water will quicken the drying process.

STORAGE

Shell the fresh pinto beans as soon as possible after they are harvested. To shell, open the bean pod by pulling the string located on the top of the pod. The pod should open, revealing two to five beans. If you cook the beans fresh, store them in a plastic bag and place in the freezer. Store the dried beans in an airtight container, jar, or plastic bag. Place the beans in a cool, dry area until they are ready for use.

Now that you’ve got some delicious pinto beans ready to use, get creative! Create some soul-warming soups and stews to help stave off the cold this winter!

 

 

4 Things You SHOULDN’T Do & 2 Things You SHOULD Do With Your Pet In Summer

Mon, 07/22/2019 - 06:33

More than half of Americans have a pet, and those of us who do are often almost as concerned with their well being as we are with our own.  Because of that, there are 4 things you should NEVER do with your pet (although this refers more to dogs than anything else) in the summer and 2 things you SHOULD do to help prevent heat stress.

Sixty-eight percent of households in the United States, or about 85 million families, own a pet, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). We all know the joy that can come from pet ownership.  Even cat owners are blissfully aware of just how calming and relaxing it is to have a ball of fur curled up on your lap and purring. But wanting to spend time with our furry friends in the summer often causes us to unknowingly put our pet in a possibly dangerous situation. While it’s understood that most of the 4 things on the “do not do” list are common sense, it never hurts to have a reminder!

  1. Never Leave a Pet in a Car

This one is pretty obvious, but considering 37 kids a year die of heatstroke because their parents leave them in cars, it seems likely they do it to their dogs too. It doesn’t matter if you’ll “only be in the grocery store for a minute” or are just running into the bank.  Never leave your dog (or your kid) in your car.  Even with the window cracked, the car can heat up very quickly and if you happen to run into a long line at the grocery store, your dog is suffering stuck in your vehicle. See the chart below for just how quickly the temperature rises in a car. A cracked window may not be enough!

Unless you live in a cooler climate your dog is going to be overwhelmingly hot in your vehicle. Think about his safety and health and just leave him at home if it’s sweltering.

That brings us to our next point:

2. Never Leave Without Checking Your Pet’s Water Level

Make sure your dog has an adequate supply of clean water. If you’re leaving him outside, you should consider putting the water in a spot that is often shady to keep it cooler for longer. Just like people, when it’s hot, dogs need more water to stay hydrated. If you have more than one dog, or a cat will be sharing the water, consider a bigger bowl than you think you’ll need or even better, get a second bowl altogether.  Dogs can get to playing and accidentally knock over their dish and leave themselves without water.  To prevent this, we use a 5-gallon bucket.  It’s too heavy to tip over when the two dogs are messing around, and it holds more than enough ice-cold well water to keep them hydrated for a few hours. Here is an actual image of exactly how we ensure our two dogs and three cats always have an adequate water supply:

*NOTE: The bucket’s handle is over the well tap so the dogs cannot knock it over and it’s always filled to the top with water.  Also, the bucket is in the shade for most of the day thanks to the proximity to the covered porch and the bushes. This may not be possible for you in your situation, but it’s what we have found works very well. The cats can access this easily too!

3. NEVER Leave Pets Outside Without Shade

Take a quick note of your yard and make sure your dog has adequate shade. If you don’t have trees or the shade from your house doesn’t cover your yard, you may need to get some kind of temporary easy to set up canopy that will create a large patch of shade to keep your dog cool and out of the direct sun. Just give them some reprieve from the heat!

4.NEVER Walk Your Dog On Hot Pavement

Make sure you avoid walking your dog on the pavement on hot days. Not only can the easily become overheated with the exercise, but the hot pavement can also burn their feet! Take walks in the cooler part of the day to avoid this, such as in the early morning and evening. And try to carry enough water for both of you! If the sun has been on the pavement for even a few hours, make sure you check it to ensure it won’t burn your dog’s feet.  If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paw pads. Walk on the grass and stay off the asphalt. You also might want to try booties for your dog so his paws don’t burn, but my dogs refuse to wear these. So keep that in mind!

There are 2 things you should do with your dog in summer though!

1. Make Your Pet Ice Treats

To help cool your dog off, you can make some simple ice treats that will also keep him happy! This recipe from Wide Open Pets is a great one to try!

This frozen dog treat is perfect for those pet owners whose culinary skills may be lacking. It’s only four ingredients and all you need is a pan and a freezer.

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup chopped fruit
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds

Directions

  1. Combine peanut butter and water and pour into a bundt pan (or any other kind of pan).
  2. Add the fruit and flax seeds.
  3. Put in the freezer and leave it there for four to six hours.

Finally, take it out of the freezer and watch with satisfaction as your pup goes to town on your tasty creation.

2. Know The Signs of Heat Stroke In Dogs and Cats

Cats and dogs cannot respond to heat in the same way that we humans do. Because they can’t cool off as easily as humans, it is important to recognize the signs of heat stroke in your pets. Heatstroke, also known as heat stress, is a state of hyperthermia (elevated core body temperature above the normal range) resulting in heat injury to bodily tissues. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and will require immediate action if you suspect your pet has succumbed to it.

The most common symptoms of heat stroke in a dog or cat are:

  • Panting which increases as heatstroke progresses
  • Drooling, salivating
  • Agitation, restlessness
  • Very red or pale gums
  • Bright red tongue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathing distress
  • Delirium or confusion
  • Dizziness, staggering
  • Lethargy, weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Collapsing and lying down
  • Little to no urine production
  • Coma

If you think your dog or cat has heat stroke, immediately take action to prevent serious life-threatening conditions. Remove your pet from the hot environment immediately and apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal’s fur and skin. Then apply a fan/fanning to maximize heat loss. Don’t use ice-cold water or ice as this may worsen the problem! Wet the area around your pet too. Putting them on a wet dog bed may help. Call your veterinarian and make plans to take your pet to them immediately. Ask them for the best way to keep your furry friend cool in the drive over.

Hopefully, these helpful tricks will help us remember that there are things we can do to make the summer a more comfortable season for our beloved animals.

St. John’s Wort Herbal Tincture: For Mood Balance and a More Positive Outlook

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 17:11

Known for its exhaustive medicinal value, St. John’s Wort is one of the best herbs to add to your herbal medicine cabinet. In addition to its medicinal properties, an herbal tincture can have the powerful effect of balancing your mood and helping you achieve a more positive outlook naturally.

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a flowering plant named because the bright yellow flowers were said to bloom for the first time around St. John the Baptist’s birthday. The word “wort” means “plant” in Old English.

And evidence suggests that the plant might be better at handling mild to moderate depression than a placebo. A 2015 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, for instance, examined whether antidepressants were more effective than a placebo in a primary care setting. For the analysis, scientists examined 66 previously published studies (with a total of 15,161 participants) and found that antidepressant medication and St. John’s wort extracts were more effective than a placebo. But the real positive aspect of this herb was that it was associated with fewer dropouts because of adverse effects compared to tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (NRI), a serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI; venlafaxine), and noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant agents (NaSSAs).  Meaning more people continued to take St. John’s wort than other medications because they were not experiencing devastating side effects.

St. John’s is a wound-healer with antimicrobial effects, the latter against organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus.  St. John’s is also one of the herbs that are highly effective in combatting hemorrhagic flu viruses.  It relieves a host of different symptoms and problems that women may find useful. It also aids in dulling nerve pain and pain caused by arthritis.

Depression and anxiety, so common during menopause have been found to be reduced with the use of St. John’s Wort.  It also reduces the symptoms found with PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) in a study performed with the administration of just one 300 mg (milligram) tablet per day with standardized 900 mcg (micrograms) of Hypericum, the chemical lending its name to the scientific name for St. John’s Wort, or Hypericumperforatum.  The herb has anti-inflammatory effects as well as being useful as a sleep aid.

When used topically, as an essential oil, it assists in minimizing muscular pain and swelling, helps to heal minor burns, sprains, bruising and is great in treating wounds that have punctures in the skin. -Ready Nutrition

Ready Nutrition’s St. John’s Wort herbal tincture is an organic tincture for mood balance and positive outlook support. The St. John’s Wort in the tincture is a neurotransmitter modulator that increases Serotonin levels in the brain through a process called natural reuptake inhibition. It will help boost your mood, promote a positive mood balance, improve day-to-day outlook, and increase daytime energy levels.

To use it, take one or two dropperfuls every six to eight hours. Drop desired amount into water, tea, or your favorite beverage!

 

Possible Side Effects

St. John’s wort (both oral or topical) can increase the sensitivity of your skin and eyes to sunlight. If you have a condition or are taking medication that increases your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, talk with your doctor to weigh the risks. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to conceive, or you are taking oral contraceptives, it’s important to talk with your doctor before taking St. John’s wort. The herb can decrease the effectiveness of medication but it can also make the effects of a medication stronger, so it’s important to speak to a medical health professional if you’re taking other drugs before considering St. John’s Wort.

While the research on St. John’s wort is promising, it’s crucial that you work with your health care provider and discuss whether the supplement is appropriate for you, rather than trying it on your own, as with all medications.

St. John’s wort herbal tinctures are increasing in popularity thanks to the turn toward a more natural and holistic lifestyle. If you want to balance your mood and increase your positive outlook toward life, consider trying an herbal tincture! They really are nature’s medicines.

 

 

The Family Bucket List: 10 Fun Things To Do BEFORE Summer Ends

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 06:33

Spending time with your family is an important part of mental health.  So this summer, why not make a family bucket list complete with fun and the physically active things you can all do as entertainment and bond a little in the process?

While family time is fun, it also comes with some amazing benefits for your mental well being.  Giving our kids a chunk of our time is more important than giving them the newest iPhone or the most trendy clothes on the market.  Children who spend more positive quality time with their parents and siblings build up a healthy level of self-esteem. When children feel that they are valued by their parents, they feel more positive about themselves

Spending quality time with your family also creates more positive behaviors in children and gives them happy childhood memories. Much like eating dinner together creates a positive family-oriented environment in which children thrive, but it helps them develop “good” behaviors.  According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.

It isn’t just children that benefit from the increased family time either! Being with your family can be a mental break for those who are overworked or continually stressed out adults. Preppers can get burned out too just thinking about where the world is headed, and taking a few days away from it all to spend some quality time with family will help one feel recharged and reactivated!

Give your mind a hiatus by having days where you’re not focused on anything but having a good time and enjoying each other’s company, whether out to dinner, or having a dinner/movie night at home, or activities with your church or any organization you may belong to. Having “normal” (a better word is unstressed) family time is just as important as preparing them for the next disaster to come up. –Ready Nutrition

Family adventures don’t always have to cost a lot of money.  Instead of that expensive trip to the aquarium, plant some starts for a garden indoors in March so you’ll get a jumpstart when summer rolls around. This has the added benefit of getting kids interested in eating a more healthy diet and learning how to grow food. A garden will also give you a great opportunity to get the kids out helping you weed and water and you’ll notice just how fast that time will fly when you’re just spending time together!

You could also head to your closest lake or beach and look for unique rocks or walk along the shore. If you have hiking trails around, you can trek on a path that’s already been made! Just be mindful that snakes may be around the area.

The options are endless, and even families with a lower budget can do several of the ideas on the list we have provided:

*Make sure you keep the age of your children in mind when considering family fun activities. For example, paintball may not be appropriate if your kids are under 10.

  1. Paintball
  2. Go to the lake or beach
  3. Family bike ride on the local trail
  4. Go hiking
  5. Backyard movie night
  6. Create a butterfly garden
  7. Visit a cave or cavern
  8. Take a class as a family (learn about photography, cooking, sewing, or first aid/CPR)
  9. Water balloon fight
  10. Plant a garden

In all reality, the options are endless! But if you’ve got kids that are having a difficult time dropping electronic devices for the great outdoors, consider doing a “backyard movie night!”  It’s fairly easy and won’t break the bank! You really only need a white sheet and projector.  While you can spend $1,000 easily on a projector, you don’t have to.  Amazon offers quite a few decent quality projectors for under $100. And if you use it more often, you’ll be getting your money’s worth out of it!

The list above is far from an extensive one too.  Many other ideas can be added to it. Do you have a budget-friendly activity you love doing with your family;y in the summer? If so, share it with our Ready Nutrition readers below and let’s build up a long list of ideas!

 

 

4 Sustainable Practices That Will Make Big Changes!

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 06:23

Whether we are climate change activists or skeptics, we can all agree that we should all be doing our part to leave our Earth in the best condition possible. Sustainability isn’t always the easiest thing to accomplish considering our consumerist lifestyle in the U.S., but we’ve come up with four things that can really have an impressive impact and make big changes!

  1. COMPOSTING

Composting allows you to literally turn your trash into treasure! It may be tough to make the decision and get started, but it’s worth it! Your garden will also thank you (see  #2). Soil is one of the most important ingredients you need for a productive garden. In order to have a lush garden that grows big, juicy vegetables, you need lots of nutrients in the soil. And this is where composting comes in. Compost doesn’t replace your soil but instead acts as a natural fertilizer for it, making it worth the planning and effort!

The first thing you will want to figure out is the location of your bin.  Placing the bin adjacent to or actually in your garden will save some time and labor when it’s time to apply your finished product. One cubic yard of compost can weigh up to a ton! Make sure you put the compost pile on the actual soil as well!  You’ll want the bugs and earthworms to work their way into the composting material.  If you put the compost pile on a concrete pad, it’ll be much more difficult because the compost will be cut off from the ecosystem.

Begin by adding equal parts of “brown” waste and “green” waste to your compost bin. “Green” waste includes fruits and vegetables and “brown” waste can be items like wood shavings, dry leaves, or even old newspapers. Maintaining a balance between the two is important is because “brown” materials are rich in carbon, feeding the organisms that break down the scraps and “green” materials supply nitrogen, which is the key for building the cell structure of your new soil. Keep in mind your compost will also need to “breathe”. It will need oxygen and some air flow to break down the waste into usable compost. –Ready Nutriton

Follow our quick composting guide here

Once the compost looks like soil, it is ready to use! Work it into your garden beds, or sprinkle it on top of your garden! Your garden will thrive! Speaking of gardening…

2. GROW A GARDEN

America was founded upon an agrarian lifestyle, and farmers were the driving force behind America. Currently, people are trying to find ways to move back to farming in order to grow their own food, be more self-sufficient, and less dependent on the highly-unstable government. In fact, by growing your own food, you cut down on trips to the grocery, thus cutting down on gasoline, carbon emissions and save some money in the process. All around, it’s a wonderful adventure.

Not only do you get to enjoy the delicious vegetables you grow, but taking care of a garden keeps you in shape! With nearly 75% of men and more than 60% of women who are obese or overweight, it’s important to consider our health in the sustainability equation too. The burden obesity is putting on our already strained healthcare system is not sustainable, and these little changes could end up being big ones in the end!  Not only will your garden produce healthy options, weeding it and doing the work to maintain it will help keep you fit.

3.REUSE YOUR TRASH

When we started our garden this year, we planted organic heirloom seeds indoors because we live in a colder climate. Starting them in February in a small town also meant planters weren’t available, so we used what we had – empty bean cans, plastic containers, and empty aluminum cans were our go-to. And, as an added benefit, all of these things can still be recycled after you transplant your seedlings!  My husband simply drilled holes in the bottom of the trash (obviously glass wasn’t an option) and we planted away!  All of those “pots” saved us a bunch of money, did double duty, and have already been recycled.

Here are some other ways you can re-purpose your trash and have zero waste in your kitchen:

Another trick for those clothes your kids ruin beyond repair or stain so bad a thrift store won’t even take them is to make them into rags or reusable shopping bags.

Get inventive with your trash, especially if you’re on a budget! Your wallet and the Earth will thank you!

 4. CONSERVE WATER

Did you know that if a household started conserving water, you can reduce your in-home water use by 35%? This means the average household, which uses 130,000 gallons per year, could save 44,000 gallons of water per year. Learning ways to practice the art of conserving water now, will help you make the most of your water sources.

A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons. Check for leaks in hoses as well as this also wastes large amounts of water.

Another simple way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water!

With these simple sustainable changes, you could make a big impact on the Earth and on your bank account! What are your ideas for reusing trash or conserving water? Let us know in the comments!

 

Garden-Fresh Marinara Sauce (Crockpot Recipe)

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 05:15

The vegetable garden we started is beginning to put out lots of veggies. While I love to give out fresh vegetables to friends during the summer, I like to keep some for myself to make this rich and oh-so-delicious marinara sauce. Made from fresh-grown garden favorites like tomatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic, this versatile sauce is a family favorite.

7 Delicious Ways to Use Up Your Marinara

The great thing about marinara sauce is that it’s so darn versatile! If the following ideas don’t work for you, freeze it and use it another time. We use these freezer-friendly storage containers for our soups and broths.

  • use with your favorite pasta
  • vegetables
  • layered between lasagna
  • with meatballs
  • on top of chicken or eggplant parmesan
  • served as a dipping sauce for garlic knots or pizza rolls [LINK]
  • as a soup base
Chunky or Smooth Sauce?

We all have our preferences, so I leave it up to you. If you don’t like a chunky sauce, use a hand blender to puree the sauce. You can also transfer the sauce to a blender if you don’t have a hand blender. Just be careful if the sauce is hot.

While slow cooking on the stove is always an option, I prefer to use my crock pot. While the sauce is simmering away in the crockpot, this frees up time for me and doesn’t heat my kitchen up in the summer. The crockpot will slow cook and create a thick and hearty sauce to enjoy.

Garden-Fresh Marinara Sauce Recipe
  • 10-12 organic garden-ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh sweet basil, loosely packed
  • 1 tablespoon dried garden oregano
  • 1 grown chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 onions, chopped and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of crushed red peppers, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Take a knife and cut a small “x” into the tops (not too deep, just below the skin). Place tomatoes in a metal colander and lower it into the simmering water for 1-2 minutes. Remove as soon as skins begin to split. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove skins by gently peeling them off. (They should remove easily, but if they do not, re-emerge into hot water for another minute)
  2. Run peeled tomatoes through a food mill, or if you do not have access to one, quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds.
  3. In a crock pot, add all ingredients and stir together. Salt and pepper to taste and add bay leaves. Heat on low for 8 hours.
  4. Spice the recipe up by adding a dash of crushed red peppers

 

Why You Should Consider Growing Peppermint This Summer

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 07:53

As the summer season ramps up and the “fun in the sun” commences, our time spent outside increases.  Since we are outside more anyway, why not consider growing a peppermint plant this year? The benefits are numerous!

Originally from Europe, peppermint is now cultivated worldwide for its therapeutic benefits and its flavor. The aromatic plant was created from the blending of watermint and spearmint and is used to add flavor or fragrance to foods, cosmetics, soaps, toothpaste, mouthwashes, and other products, and it may have some medicinal uses. Not to mention it helps keep those pesky mosquitoes away!

Medicinal Properties 

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) leaves can be used dried or fresh in teas and it has shown to have some health benefits for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, skin conditions, headaches, cold, and flu. Peppermint teas have been a go-to for some time to treat an upset stomach. In fact, loose tea blends, such as Ready Nutrition’s Tummy Tamer Organic Tea Blend is excellent relief for nausea and an upset stomach. Finding a tea with peppermint in it can help you feel better fast, whether you have overindulged, are overwhelmed with stress, or just have a sour stomach.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), peppermint works to soothe stomach distress by calming the stomach muscles and improving the flow of bile. A 2008 study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concluded that peppermint was helpful as an antispasmodic in treating IBS. Antispasmodic properties are those that reduce the intensity and frequency of spasms or involuntary movement.

A team from the University of Adelaide in Australia concluded that peppermint activates an anti-pain channel in the colon, resulting in reduced inflammatory pain in the gut.

Peppermint can also relieve that itchy soreness of a sunburn, Inevitably, no matter how hard I try to avoid it, one member of my family will get a mild to moderate sunburn every summer.  Because the menthol in peppermint is naturally cooling, it can be used to take some of the burning and warm sensation out of the sunburn. I like to mix lavender and peppermint into a thin lotion with some aloe vera gel.  Not only will your burn feel cooler because of the peppermint, but the lavender will also calm down the redness and the aloe vera gel will help the skin heal and repair itself from the damages done. Be careful with how much peppermint you use.  Start small and add more drops to get the desired cooling effect.  Sometimes, that cool sensation can be too much, especially for children.

Mosquito Repellent

Because mosquitoes dislike mint in general, peppermint is great at keeping the bloodsuckers away! You can make a simple and natural spray (DEET free!) by filling a small spray bottle almost full with water and add a few drops of peppermint and/or spearmint essential oil, then put in just a little bit of alcohol. You can use vodka or Everclear, but just keep in mind this will separate and you’ll need to shake the bottle before spraying it. The alcohol is used to help the oil and water mix together and will evaporate pretty quickly. Using vinegar or witch hazel in place of the water and alcohol also work if you prefer. Rubbing alcohol is also a good substitute.

And, if you grow your own peppermint, you can make your own essential oil to put in your bug spray!

How To Grow Peppermint

In addition to being an excellent herbal medicine, peppermint is beautiful as and the plants are foolproof to grow! They thrive in both the sun and shade all over North America and can even be grown indoors. In fact, mint can be vigorous spreaders, so be careful where you plant it. To grow the herb outdoors, plant one or two purchased plants (or one or two cuttings from a friend) about 2 feet apart in moist soil. One or two plants will easily cover the ground. Mint should grow to be 1 or 2 feet tall. For the best growth in confined areas such as containers, topdress plants with a thin layer of compost or organic fertilizer every few months. Aboveground pots will need winter protection in cold climates. In the garden, plant mint near cabbage and tomatoes.

Peppermint grows like a weed, so you’ll be able to experiment with making teas, tinctures, lotions, and bug sprays if you do decide to add this useful herb to your garden. I think it’s a must for summer!

 

How To Make A Call On Your Cell Phone WITHOUT Cell Service

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 06:24

Being in a situation that’s an emergency could be made worse by also being in an area that doesn’t get cell service. But there’s a way to make a call on your cell phone even without a signal.

All phones are required to support 911 calls whether they are on a cell phone plan or not. That means that 911 services will always work as long as you have to use the stock dialer.  All phones are required to support 911 services—even without a SIM card—so you’ll never have to worry during an emergency. Your phone will still have your back.

The truth is, all of the options below will use WiFi calling. They are apps that are common and most of us have used at least one of these at some point making them an option if you don’t need 911 and are trying to contact someone else.

SKYPE

Most of us are probably familiar with Skype, which is a video chat app. But you can also send text messages in real time and use the call function without video enabled. If you’re calling someone else with Skype the call is free. If you’re calling a landline or someone who doesn’t have Skype then the call goes toward your minutes. But, if you’re a Microsoft Office user you’re most likely sitting on free Skype minutes every month that you’re not using. Skype calls may be a good option for making a phone call without a cell signal.

FaceTime Audio

This a feature only Apple users will get to employ. As an Android user, I’ve never actually owned an iPhone, so I had to look this up. According to German Pearls, to make a Facetime audio call open the Facetime app, find the contact you want to call and click on the blue “i” in the circle to the right of their name. When their contact information appears scroll down until you see the word Facetime, then click on the phone icon to the right of Facetime. If you cannot find the word Facetime in the contact’s information they are either not on an Apple device or don’t have Facetime enabled. Another way to do this is to open your contacts app, find the contact you want to call, then click on the phone icon to the right of the word Facetime on that contact. This will only work if you are also calling another Apple user.

Facebook Messanger

So many people use the Facebook messenger app that this one seems universal. If you have the app, you can call anyone else who also uses it. To make a phone call from the Facebook Messenger app, simply open it up and click on the name of the Facebook friend you’d like to call. In the next screen, you will see any conversations you’ve had with this friend through Facebook Messenger. In the upper right corner, click the phone icon to place a voice call to this friend. If the phone symbol is gray, you will not be able to use it to call that person as they are unable to get phone calls through messenger. This will place the call through the internet signal you are currently using. If you have no cell service the phone call will be placed through WiFi.

WiFi Calling

I use this at home because we live in a very remote location and cell service is incredibly spotty here. I have my cell phone set up to automatically switch to WiFi calling when I’m near my network, but this might work when you are away from home too.  You’ll notice a difference in the sound quality (not better or worse, my best description is that calls sound more “metallic”) when you use WiFi calling, at least I do anyway. But not all devices are set up to use WiFi calling. To verify, follow the links provided by German Pearls:

  • If you use Verizon Wireless head over to this page to see if your plan is eligible and your phone is compatible.
  • If you’re on AT&T check out this link. Scroll to the bottom of the page to check if your device is compatible.
  • If you have service through Sprint, this page will help you determine if you’ll be able to make calls over WiFi.
  • If you have T-Mobile this page will provide more details on if you’re eligible for WiFi calls.

So those are just a few of the dozens of apps that support WiFi calling and can be used if you don’t have cell phone service. These are not by any means the only apps that you can use, but again, they are some of the more popular ones and most of us have heard of or used at least one at some point. Other options for apps include Google Hangouts and Ooma.

If you aren’t in an area where you have a WiFi connection, consider a mobile hotspot. My husband and I have used his phone as ‘hotspot’ so we could use my phone to get a phone call and an email out before.  It used up a lot of our data, but in a pinch, it’s definitely a workaround to consider. It’s an awesome option for those with an unlimited data plan! There are also mobile hotspot devices and plans that many who frequently travel swear by.

It never hurts to be aware of how to contact a person just in case and understanding how WiFi calling works will help you out greatly!

 

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