Thursday, January 29, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - Luck Be the Laborer

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It's no secret that Benjamin Franklin is one of my heros. He was random, fun, wise, creative and loved life. He was also no stranger to work. In 1729 he published "A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of Paper Currency" in which he explains that without labor, money, gold or any other currency has absolutely no value. During this time, there were many people who were love-struck with the possibility of digging up a pirate's booty (not the hind end...his loot). They would spend money, time and labor to dig holes in "hopes" of finding the stolen goods. So...basically stealing from a thief. What a waste! Not to mention having to make conscious efforts to avoid these rather large gopher holes! It kind of reminds me of what happened to so many people as they blazed the country to get to California during the Gold Rush. So many lost everything and gained nothing, returning home empty handed.

My buddy Ben said:

"The riches of a country are to be valued by the quantity of labour its inhabitants are able to purchase, and not by the quantity of silver and gold they possess...Trade in general being nothing else but the exchange of labour for labour, the value of things is...most justly measured by labour."

He had a friend in Agricola of Chester County who gave his son a good plantation. The father told the son, "My son, I give thee now a valuable parcel of land; I assure thee I have found a considerable quantity of gold by digging there; thee may'st do the same. But thee must carefully observe this: Never to dig more than plough-deep."
(Benjamin Franklin by Carl Van Doven, pgs 98, 102)

That my friends, is excellent advice. 

The April 1978 General Conference has a little more to add to this topic. The then, Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

The Welfare handbook instructs: “[We must] earnestly teach and urge Church members to be self-sustaining to the full extent of their powers. No true Latter-day Saint will … voluntarily shift from himself the burden of his own support. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Almighty and with his own labors, he will supply himself with the necessities of life.” (1952, p. 2.)

If a member is unable to sustain himself, then he is to call upon his own family, and then upon the Church, in that order, and not upon the government at all.

This brings me to today. We have people who have saved for college educations to find out that that savings may be in vain because government overreach wants to make everything free. Many people put savings aside thinking they will get their necessities later and put off becoming self-reliant because there is a lot of time for that later. Currency can be a very fragile thing. Especially for the consumer hungry, production starving USA.

President Brigham Young said during the time of the Gold Rush, " Never let anything go to waste. Be prudent, save everything, and what you get more than you can take care of yourselves, ask your neighbors to help you... But pause for a moment, and suppose you had millions of bushels [of wheat] to sell, and could sell it for twenty dollars per bushel, or for a million dollars per bushel, no matter what amount, so that you sell all your wheat, and transport it out of the country, and you are left with nothing more than a pile of gold, what good would it do you?You could not eat it, drink it, wear it, or carry it off where you could have something to eat. The time will come that gold will hold no comparison in value to a bushel of wheat. Gold is not to be compared with it in value."
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses

Even though I seem to be a bit quote happy today, there is still so much to be gained from all of these wise men. Saving money is a wise thing to do; however, according to President Young, gold (or cash or bit coin) will hold no comparison to wheat (or anything else that people work for). What if I won the lottery or happened upon a pirate stash? All of my problems wouldn't vanish. Some of them would, but what would I gain from not working for it? Notta whole hecka. Adam was able to eat bread because he had a sweaty face (I know, sounds weird) - but it was a blessing to him. And so it will also be to us. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - Cayenne...It Does A Body Good...Pass It On

Who knew this little "hottie" was so amazing!?

If you say the word "cayenne" to my older kids, they will likely run away screaming "Nooooo!" I am an advocate for experimenting, but sometimes...they backfire. Then it becomes experience and you know better next time....hopefully. 

My oldest son had an ingrown toenail for a long time. We did the surgery which helped for a few months until it grew back again. I tried to wrap all kinds of herbs around it and nothing seemed to help. I read an article that recommended using cayenne pepper. I thought, "Well, it might be hot, but we can sure try." So, we did it and he danced around and screamed and hollered. I felt bad so I did my best to fix it. I thought that it was yet another failure. A few weeks passed and it healed. We haven't had a problem with it since. So maybe it wasn't a "backfire" just felt like fire. 

I have since learned a few things to make cayenne less scary for my kids - now my husband LOVES it. I made a pain relieving salve with it that he loves to have rubbed on his shoulders after a long hard day. 

Did I say "pain relieving?"


Cayenne has a component called "capsaicin" that is a pain reliever. Many peppers have it actually. It stimulates blood flow and can give temporary pain relief from: 

  • minor muscle aches
  • long term arthritis joint pain
  • backache
  • strains and sprains

Here is the recipe for the Cayenne salve:

8 oz olive oil
1 oz powdered cayenne
1 oz powdered ginger
1 oz beeswax

Gently warm together oil, cayenne and ginger over LOW heat for 1 hour. D not boil. Strain the mixture with cheese cloth or kitchen towel (it will stain). Squeeze as much oil as possible out . Over a double boiler, heat beeswax to liquid and add cayenne oil mix well. Pour into a container and allow to cool. 

When you're ready to use it, a little bit goes a long way. With that much cayenne it sounds like it will burn like crazy, but it gently warms. Keep in mind, do NOT rub your eyes after using a pain relieving salve...or open cuts because it will feel like you need a large dose from a firehose.

I read this story recently regarding another use for cayenne:

One person told how he had cut deeply with a sharp instrument the inside of his hand, fingers and palm.  The blood spurted out in streams.  He poured a large amount of cayenne pepper into the wound, and within seconds the blood flow slowed down to congealed dripping and the bleeding stopped entirely before many seconds had passed.  With a goodly amount of cayenne covering the wound, he then wrapped it.  He was so excited about the rapid results he could hardly wait for the regular herb meeting.  But, as he said, the "punch line" was lost, because instead of a nasty ragged scar to show how severely he had been hurt, the area was healed and there was no scar.
Dang it! It healed the scar so he couldn't show it off. However, it did stop the bleeding immediately. That is worth having cayenne in your first aid kit. 

Cayenne when used as a nutritional supplement and a spice might have a few more tricks up its sleeve. 

Now that list, is amazing! 

There are few things that are as controversial these days as what is "healthy to eat". Some avoid gluten, some avoid animal proteins, some avoid milk products, and the list goes on and on. Cayenne is something you can add to any diet and know you're doing the right thing (unless you have a rare allergy, then not so good). So pass this on to your friends and family because there can never be too much. 

For previous Tips of the Week visit:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - Ode to the Outhouse

Does this look like a permanent solution?

One of my favorite movies from the 80's is "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." It is kind of cheesy because you come away saying, "dude!" "excellent!" and "bogus" for the next week. In this movie you are taken on a time-travel ride (not completely historically accurate of course, but entertaining anyway). Their mode of transportation is a phone booth. When they land in the Wild Wild West to pick up Mr. The Kid (i.e. Billy), they land next to an outhouse. It is funny how primitive this idea is. "That is so like two centuries ago...f'r real!" Aren't we so glad that we have running water and inside plumbing? Except...will it always be there? Think earthquakes in diverse places and the like. How much sewer backed up during Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy? Backed up sewage is a breeding ground for serious disease.

This brings me to the idea of portable or stationary, electricity free, minimal water "sanitation" needs if you ever must evacuate or loose utilities for any period of time. Many classes I've been to or seen on Youtube or read about, they have these five gallon buckets with these little plastic lids lined with a trash bag. After you're finished filling up the bag, you are supposed to dig a hole and bury it. With all due respect...that idea is a load of craznox. In my opinion, is worse than a chamber pot. Taking out the "trash" would be a COMPLETELY different fight if ya know what I mean! Trash bags take WAY longer to decompose than the "stuff" itself. Why would you keep it contained like that? What do you do if you find someone elses less-than-sacred "burial" ground? 

For a better portable toilet, a friend of mine uses one like this when she goes camping:

The biggest problem is that it uses precious water that might be in short supply.

The "Homer Pot" (i.e. Home Depot bucket) would be fine for emergency use, but if there was an extended period of time without running water, there are a few other alternatives to look into.

The Good 'Ol Fashioned Outhouse

"Excellent" This little diddy has been used for 500 (give or take) years. It is one of the best ways to:

  1. Keep the smell down and away from the house
  2. Let nature take its course and decompose naturally
  3. Keep bacteria contained
  4. Have some alone time...not even the kids will bug you out there :)
This little blog has a cool history about outhouses and why they are a do-able solution. It also explains where the "crescent moon" symbol came from. 

This one was my favorite :)...

Composting Toilets

Composting what? "Dude...gnarrrly"

Commercial composting toilets are very expensive, and are not legal in some places. However, where they are legal, and when made by hand, are also an affordable solution because the waste can be used to grow food...I know...sounds gross, but work with me here. 

Because we eat different things than...lets say steers (because we use their manure all the time for gardens etc) ...the process is a little different to break it down to be usable.

For the break down (not break dance - and no leg warmers here), human waste needs:

  • Nitrogen
  • Carbon
  • Oxygen
  • Ideal temperature
  • Ideal moisture

This site has a lot of "bodacious" information on regulations and building ideas and food production because of their extra time and effort made for research.

If there is ever a time that we are taken back in history ...say the mid 1800's because our modern electrical world changes for one reason or another, remember that people lived without running water and they never used it for flushing toilets. They lived and were happy. What they DIDN'T have was the working knowledge that we have that if you keep your hands washed and keep things clean and sanitized, it prevents the spread of many diseases.  Bill and Ted, thank you for your excellent adventure that lead us to this most triumphant discussion on potty alternatives. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - My Stomach HATES Me!

I bet most of you can rhyme this poem with me - without me finishing it...

"Beans, beans the musical fruit...."

... and then it ends with "Let's have beans for EVERY meal!"

Other than cute poems that kids love to say but moms might put them in the "penalty box" for, what's the big deal about beans? We know that they have been suggested to us to store...but why?

  • When properly stored, they will be waiting for your beckoning call FOR 30 PLUS YEARS!! Now that's a faithful friend!
  • Their precious fiber helps to lower cholesterol
  • They are loaded with protein
  • They are loaded with magnesium, folate and potassium (all are amazing and necessary for heart health)
  • The insoluable fiber helps to prevent digestive disorders like colitis and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) [that might sound surprising...considering...]
  • ...and so much more!!! 

Why We Hardly Eat Them

So, if beans are so awesome...why don't we eat them for every meal? Reason number one might be because we would get tired of them. 

Many people avoid beans for the very reason I hinted at in our funny/not so funny poem. When many people eat beans that have not been soaked before cooking, the enzyme inhibitors (Woah...what a word!) that are naturally in that bean seed (it is a legume, but also a seed), haven't been broken down. Enzymes are essential for happy and healthy digestion. Without them, the body builds up uncomfortable gasses and husbands get slapped with newspapers the rest of the evening. I hear that's the number one reason for divorces Tennessee...or something. 

The easy way to remedy this is to soak them overnight, drain the water, rinse them good and the add new fresh water - then boil for three hours. Easy...except who the heck has time for that? I found this cute tutorial for canning your own beans. The author of this site is super cute and I learned a lot from this post. I enjoyed it so much that I bottled 15 quarts of beans this week! Yee haw!

Bottling / canning your own beans might seem like a huge deal if you've never done it before. After you do it once, easy squeezy lemon bars (oh, that didn't rhyme...lemon bars do sound good though). 

Now What Do I Do?

Ok, so now that we've made life so much easier with canning these beans... what do we do with them? The possibilities...endless. 

  • Mexican Lasagna (invented by a Mexican-Italian? probably)
  • Bean Burritos
  • Stews
  • Bean Dip ( including 7 layer dip...aye, I'm getting hungry)
  • Chili Beans
  • Mexican Corn Bread Salad
  • Beef and Bean Burritos
  • Taco Salad
  • ... I think you get the picture...

Hey Chancho! I tol you there was loss to choose from - jus don feed me tripe ! :)

Here is one you may not have heard of should probably be sitting down for this one. 

Pinto Bean Fudge

1 C cooked (unsalted/ seasoned) pinto beans [you could season it, but if there is chili powder in it, your fudge will have a funny tang...just sayin']
3/4 C Cocoa
1/2 C melted butter
1 Tbl. Vanilla
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 C chopped pecans

Mash beans, mix with butter, cocoa and vanilla. Add the sugar and pecans. Grease 9 x 13 pan and spread bean mixture into the pan. Chill thoroughly- cut into squares and serve. 

I got this recipe from: 

Now that I've made myself hungry, I'm gonna go make some refried beans with cheese on top and some fresh salsa. Hopefully I've given you a few reasons to add beans to your storage. They are great for you and so flexible when it comes to how you can prepare them. So, let's have beans for...every other meal :).

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - Powerful Peroxide

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It was a dark and stormy night....(ok, maybe not stormy, but it was night time), I was doing my thing as a young teen downstairs in my family's home. Then I heard a "THUD THUD.... (door slam)"

"Marsha! Call an ambulance!" I heard my mother call with some panic in her voice.

"What the?" thought I.

"Oh, I don't need an ambulance! We'll drive there faster than they could send someone." my dad said. "Lets go."

When I got upstairs my dad's ankle was bleeding. Apparently the chain had broken off the chainsaw he was using to cut wood for the wood burning stove. It whipped around like a viper and bit him on the leg smack dab on that ankle bone. So they went to the hospital and several hours he came back with some stitches. He spent some time several times a day pouring peroxide on his wound to prevent infection.  It would fizz and bubble as it did its job. It was nearly a unique way.

The point of me telling you this story is not to share my family drama (which is much less than you'd find on General Hospital and the like - though I'd rather clean my toe lint than watch them - just me). Before I knew about using honey for skin injuries, I would have used peroxide. Even though peroxide does a GREAT job killing germs, it is really harsh on skin, especially if it is damaged. But, it does have many amazing uses. Honey isn't the best thing to actually clean makes things rather...sticky. 

Amazing Uses for Peroxide 

Because peroxide is so awesome for killing germs, it has several applications:

Clean Your Wooden Cutting Board. An improperly cleaned cutting board is a breeding ground for bacteria. Clean it thoroughly, without harsh chemicals, with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar.
Make Sure Your Veggies are Safe. Nobody wants bacteria-filled vegetables. Place 3% hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and mist over your produce, letting it soak for about five minutes before rinsing off and drying.

Clean Sponges. Just can’t seem to get that funky smell out of your sponges? Combine equal parts hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a shallow bowl, and let the sponge soak for about 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
Use as a Mouthwash. Dilute in water (the mixture should be about half water-half hydrogen peroxide) and use as a mouthwash, being very careful not to swallow any of the stuff. It’ll kill germs & whiten your teeth. Some experts even think it helps alleviate toothaches and canker sores!

Clean up Mold. Hydrogen peroxide works wonders on pesky mold — even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agrees!

It also has great cleaning capabilities:

Disinfect Countertops. Hydrogen peroxide is great for keeping your countertops clean and safe. Spray onto counters, let it sit, and wipe clean.

Clean Toilet Bowls. Easy: just pour the stuff into the bowl and let it soak for about 20-30 minutes before scrubbing clean.

Clean Out the Fridge. Non-toxic hydrogen peroxide is an ideal cleaning tool for your fridge. Apply, let it soak, and wipe clean. You can also do this with dishwashers.
Armpits. Sweaty? Get rid of embarrassing armpit stains by placing a mixture of 1 part dishwashing liquid and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide on the affected area. Let it sit for about an hour before rinsing away in cold water.

Blood. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleach, so it’ll help get rid of pesky blood stains. Pour it directly onto the stain and let it sit for about five minutes. Blot and rinse in cold water. You may need to repeat this once or twice to fully lift the stain. Word of warning: as a (albeit mild) bleach, it can also whiten your clothes — use caution!

Stained Tiles & Stone Countertops. No matter what the culprit was, hydrogen peroxide works wonders on removing stains from stone and tile. Combine it with flour to create a thick paste and apply to the stain. Let it sit overnight covered in plastic wrap. Carefully remove in the morning.

I got these ideas from :

Keep in mind with peroxide that if it can come into direct contact with skin without being rinsed, it can burn. To share this example, my friend couldn't understand why her little guy had a burn/rash on his hiney. When speaking to her friend who had watched him the day before, her friend was complaining her kids had the same thing. They finally realized that when the toilet seats are sprayed with peroxide for "disinfecting" , they must also be rinsed to remove the peroxide and prevent "bum burn". :)

Peroxide has many wonderful uses. It is a good idea to have several bottles in your storage. Peroxide is an inexpensive cleaning agent that doesn't have strong smells that can irritate lungs and cause headaches. In a pinch, if you have to disinfect a wound, it still does a good job. So, go on. Gotta getcha some.