Thursday, January 30, 2014

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - New Cooking Bag: EXCITING NEWS! January 30, 2014

So, I have been keeping this a secret for a while 3 months or so. I can't contain it anymore!! I have to share it!

Just about everyone knows I LOVE my Wonder Oven. I love it so much I made a video on Youtube to share with others how to make one. For anyone interested -that video can be found here:

I want to tell you about this AMAZING lady in Ghana West Africa named Ellen. She is originally from the Netherlands. She is working with poverty stricken communities in and around the area of Tamale. She found my video and wanted to try it. If she could make it work, she could teach the women there how to use it and help them in several ways. 

Sometimes it is hard for us to understand what it would be like to live there. They wash their clothes by hand, cook with briquettes or right over a fire, they easily contract malaria...kind of what we would consider emergency living. Crazy huh? She is doing an important work! If you want to find out what she does to help these beautiful people, go to (the website is in Dutch, so you will probably need Google to translate it).

So I sent her a pattern, she made one and they experimented with it and with another version called a "Wonder Bag", which is the same concept, but a different shape. The Wonder Bag worked the best for their pot shape and size. 

At first the people were skeptical, they didn't think it would work. 

She said, "But what was really exciting is that the most traditional food, T-Z was also well cooked in the New Cooking bag... It is a cornflour meal that you have to cook and stir normally for about 30 to 45 minutes and it is a special way. Nobody wanted to believe that it would work but stubborn as I am I pushed everybody to try it and on the picture you can see everybody standing around it and screaming and applauding... That was a wonderful moment and the taste.... Delicious!"

Something we might not understand, is that if you cook over direct fire (I am talking real fire...not over a gas stove :) ), before food is done most of the time, it begins to burn. Most of their food has a burnt taste to it, so for their traditional food to not have that slight off flavor of "yeah, that is slightly burned" was so exciting to them! It think we can learn so much from their experience!

How does the New Cooking Bag help them? 
  • It makes cooking safer for them (less time near open flame)
  • It makes the food taste better
  • It saves money
  • It conserves their fuel
  • It makes the food healthier for them

I am going to attach some pictures and the handout she has made to help them help themselves with this new way of cooking. SHAZAAM! This is so exciting!

Have you made a Wonder Oven? Are you skeptical that it will work for you? Give it a try, you too might end up screaming and applauding!
Isn't she BEAUTIFUL???

Using a hand crank sewing machine to make New Cooking Bags

Cooking with briquettes

All the ways the New Cooking Bag helps them!

They put a towel inside to keep the oven clean

Screaming and Applauding - They love the taste!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Self Reliance Tip of the Week - Yes, I Am A Soap Nut! January 23, 2014

I always love it when I get questions about Self-Reliance issues. If I don't have the answer, it encourages me to look and figure it out. 

I received this question this week: 

Is there a soap product that you can wash your dishes, wash laundry or even bathe your kids in that the water can then be re-used to water garden plants and fruit trees?  I want to stock up on the right stuff so I can get the most out of my water supply.

This was my answer:
I would stock up on soap nuts. They last forever (in an airtight container) and the water is safe to reuse. The best price I have found them for is here - but you have to get a nut cracker to get the pits big deal, but I bought mine here:

For many of our readers, this might be the first time they have heard of soap nuts. Soap nuts are actually a fruit from a tree grown in Nepal. The dried fruit has a pit inside that needs to be removed. I have used soap nuts for everything. In my experience it works best for laundry, other cleaning and shampoo.. For dishes, you might have to get something a little stronger because it doesn't cut meat grease very well. 

Here is a brief "How To" video. If you have more questions on how to use them for shampoo and other uses, there are TONS of videos on YouTube.

The video above says "use the bag provided" -  I use a sock with a rubber band. Just make sure your little bag doesn't make it in the dryer, because the heated soap nuts leave a funny smell on clothes. 

The BEST thing about soap nuts, is you can use the same bag 3 to 5 times!!! That is a CHEAP detergent! 

Self Reliance Tip of the Week - Wacky Water, Who Needs It? Jan 16, 2014

When we are trotting along doing our song, it is so easy to toss the important but life sustaining emergency items to the curb because we don't need to worry about them now..."I will do it later"...I believe that is the catch phrase of the Super Bumb (as opposed to Super Hero) Perry the Procrastinator...I am sure he has muscles somewhere...but we don't want to be anything like him. 

I have recently been listening to the goings on in West Virginia. For those who are not up to date with the events there, their water supply was contaminated with a chemical. The water was undrinkable. Period. It was safe to flush toilets, but that's about it. No laundry could be done. No showers could be taken. Pretty crazy!

How important is water...really? Restaurants closed, schools closed, hospitals couldn't function properly. Even though it was a freak accident, it still happened. What would happen in our valley if something happened to the Gila River? How would our economy be effected? 

I encourage you to have at least 100 gallons (or a two week supply for your family). Stored water should be rotated once a year. My family uses a Burkey Water filter every day for yummy chlorine free water. We love it! This is what it looks like :

They are pricey, but we were lucky enough to find one at a Thrift Store in Mesa for $15!! SCORE!

Water is something that you do not want to procrastinate on. It might be a little disappointing to our favorite Super Bumb, but you will have peace of mind in the event of any type of emergency. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - PIP...More Than a Fish Hiccup Jan 9, 2014

(In Case of Emergency)

So, I know you're DYING to hear this week's tip :) - so let's get started!

I was chatting with sister Susan last night and she told me that when she lived in California, they learned from two fires that ripped through their area a few years apart. She said in one ward they had a plan in place BEFORE the FHTF (Fire Hit the Fan), in another ward, they didn't have a plan. The difference between the two experiences was HUMUNGO! 

With a PIP (Plan In Place), it was much easier to find people and make sure they were safe. Without a plan, it was mass chaos and it was much more stressful.

Do you have a PIP for your family?

This reminds me of a few years ago when some of my family in southern Arizona were hit with raging fires. My mother-in-law was responsible to make sure the women in the ward were accounted for. Do you know what made her task so much easier?....wait for it...visiting teachers.

Here are some things she learned:
  • Communication is vital! What would be your plan B if cell phones didn't work?
  • Priorities can change in an instant...
  • More batteries !
  • Make sure the 72 hour kit has a radio (not a cheapy $5 radio either)!
  • Make sure you check to make sure the radio works frequently! If it doesn't work when you need it, it has no value.
  • What a relief when others are prepared and ready to help others!
  • When families don't take evacuation and threat of fire (or other emergencies) seriously, and you pack like you're going to Grandma's house, what happens when all that is left is the foundation when you return?
  • Have a plan to stay with someone out of town if possible, you do not want to be evacuated twice...or three times.
  • Hotels fill up quick with a huge influx of people...
  • If you need to leave your home, don't forget your medications or animals, because you may not be allowed back home for a while.
  • If there is no electricity, how can water be pumped from the well?
  • Media/ community communication isn't so can get the same information for days... - get licensed in HAM radio.
  • Visiting Teachers and Home Teachers are a heaven send! Return and report is AWESOME!
  • Watching the gospel in action is a huge blessing and a miracle!
On her way out the door when they  evacuated, her priorities changed a little bit. She said, "Suddenly what was important changed." They took their 72 hour kits, genealogy, the computer hard drive, both of their fathers WWII flags encased in wooden triangles, and some cross stitched things she had made for her sons when they got their Eagle. That was about it. 

I STRONGLY encourage you to get together with your family for a Family Home Evening, talk about what you would do or where you would go  in case of emergency. Put together a PIP, then when a POP and POW might happen your way, you know what to do. last you know who your visiting/ home  teachers are? If we do our visiting teaching, we can make sure we are all accounted for in record time in case the need arises.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Self Reliance Tip of the Week - Waterproof Fire Starters & Obedience Matters 1/2/14


A year or so ago I found these Do It Yourself water proof fire starters. I made some and they turned out AWESOME! We even tested them out on the mountain in snow (when nothing else would stay lit because of the moist air) - they were a toe-saver (literally) for some of the 11 year old scouts! They saved a lot of time to start fires on their camp out.  Want to make some? Here is a link!!

Note: I used smelled lovely! I did them slightly different, only experience will tell you which way works best for you. I kept the egg carton intact and cut them after I filled the wax on top of the lint...I tried them separated before and they tipped on me (dipping can be really messy) - give it a try! Tell me what works best for you!


Our family has been reading in 3 Nephi chapter 3 - I have found a story I am sure I've read before, but it jumped out at me this time and is quickly becoming one of my FAVORITE stories! I will give you the short version, and if you want more info, you can take a peek in your scriptures :).

The Gadianton Robbers (very bad dudes) have become so numerous and strong that the Nephites and Lamanites unite to fight against them. The Governer of the people (Lachoneus) receives a letter from the Governer of the Robbers (Giddianhi) saying that they want everyone to surrender themselves and everything they own...because he is concerned for their "welfare" (you know...for their own protection) - ahhh, isn't that special? (yeah right). 

So Lachoneus tells his people to gather their families, flocks, grain, etc. and gather into one place. The people appoint a chief captain (who has the spirit of revelation) - and they tell him they want to attack the Robbers on their turf. Gidgiddoni (this new chief captain, who is also the chief judge) said, "The Lord says no... We would fall into their hands...therefore we will prepare ourselves..."

So they leave to gather in one place. When the Robbers make the choice to attack, they think it will be easy peasy. They discover that all the food they were going to pillage had left with the people. They were going to survive on the food someone else had prepared. The only food they could get was wild beast in the wilderness. So, when they came to attack, the Robbers weren't strong enough to fight and win. 

In verse in verse 25 : "And they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words which had been spoken by Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord their God that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle."

Sometimes we don't see when we give up our will to obey the Lord, that the blessings come in unexpected and sometimes in unseen ways. This is a perfect example of spiritual and physical preparedness working together to preserve a righteous people (it helped that they had righteous leaders...but I'm not gonna go there right now :) ).