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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It’s All Flower Power: Use Your Favorite Plants To Repel Mosquitoes

Spraying smelly bug repellents on  the skin to keep mosquitoes away is the worst, and can be dangerous to children and pets.  The thought of chemicals seeping into the skin literally make my skin crawl.  But no one wants to be stalked by a swarm of mosquitoes either.  Not to mention they carry diseases with them that all of us would like to avoid.  There are plants that can do double duty in the garden by being aesthetic and pleasing to the eye as well as a repellent from mosquitoes and flying insects.
Despite what many believe, mosquitoes are not after your blood.  They can smell you from 100 feet away!  The deodorants, lotions, perfumes and smelly shampoos confuse the mosquito into thinking you are a flower, and they believe your blood to be flower nectar.
 There are some easy solutions to remedy this nuisance.  Plant herbs and flowers that give off a scent.  These plants release a smell into the air that mosquitoes cannot stand to be around.  Truly any herb that is pungent, or gives off a distinct smell will deter mosquitoes from coming around it.  These herbs and flowers can be made into a tea or natural repellent, and then sprayed around the yard before a person has a party or BBQ.  Another method of creating a all-natural repellent is to crush the leaves of the herbs or flowers to bring out the oils from the plant and put them in a quantity of alcohol or vodka.  Once the oils have infused with the alcohol begin spraying it outside as one would do with a regular store bought repellent.
Here is a list of some flowers and herbs that repel mosquitoes and flying insects.
  • Geraniums
  • Hibiscus
  • Mosquito Plant
  • Catnip
  • Rosemary
  • Citronella Grass
  • Lemon Grass
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
Summer is just around the corner.  It is not too late to begin growing some herbs and flowers that can serve mulitple purposes.  All of your guests will be thanking you for your thoughtfulness and forethought of keeping the nagging mosquitoes away during their visit!

Let’s Talk About Powdered Milk!

Powdered Milk … AAAAAHHH and EEEEEEEWWW!!! If one of those reactions just went through your mind keep reading and hopefully we can change your mind. Powdered milk is not scary, and it is not gross … we promise! There we said it out loud. It seems like people have a lot of questions about powdered milk so we have put together this little FAQ to guide you through one component of food storage that you don’t HAVE to be intimidated by.

Powdered Milk FAQ

Why should I store powdered milk?
Food storage calculators generally recommend storing either 16 pounds or powdered milk per person or 75 pounds per person. The 16 pound recommendation accounts for one glass of milk per day. However, if you were to be living off of food storage and wanted to cook a variety of foods, you would definitely want to have more milk for baking, etc. Also if you have small children or a nursing mother it is important to have even more powdered milk. Because of the high nutrient levels in powdered milk, if you were unable to find ways to cook your food, you can actually sustain life by ONLY drinking powdered milk for quite some time. So storing more is never a bad thing!
What is the difference between instant and non-instant powdered milk?
Instant powdered milk is similar to instant rice in that it is faster and easier to reconstitute than non-instant formulas. Typically instant powdered milk takes about twice as much powder per gallon as non-instant, but it depends on which brand you are purchasing.
What is a milk alternative?
A milk alternative is NOT 100% milk. It contains a lot of ingredients to make it taste better including whey, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and high fructose corn syrup. As a result, it taste yummier, but has way less protein and includes some ingredients which are NOT great for you. If you want to use your stored milk in recipes or to make cheese, etc., they would turn out differently than if you used 100% milk. If you just want to drink the milk alternative as a milk flavored yummy drink, it’s ok. However you will be missing out on important nutrients which are even more critical in a time of emergency.
Which brand of powdered milk tastes the best?
The Utah Preppers blog posted an in depth taste test on the most common brands of powdered milk out there. We are so glad they did this because we’ve only personally tried a few brands ourselves. According to their study, the best-tasting milks were:
  • Milk alternative: Morning Moos
  • Instant powdered milk: Provident Pantry
  • Non-instant powdered milk: Rainy Day
Are there any options besides “nonfat” powdered milk?
Yes! Dry whole milk is available although it’s much more difficult to find, especially in bulk. If you just cannot stomach nonfat milk (like Jodi’s dear sweet husband) there is still hope. One brand that we have heard about a lot but haven’t tried yet is Nido. You can often find it in the Hispanic foods section at your local grocery store. Or I found it available online at Amazon.com (don’t you just love Amazon?) It’s pricier than nonfat milk and the storage life will be much shorter due to the fat content of the milk so make sure to watch out for that.
How can I improve the taste of powdered milk?
One trick we learned from Crystal at Everyday Food Storage is to mix a little bit of sugar and vanilla in to your powdered milk and then make sure to serve it cold. This will significantly improve the taste of your milk!
Where can I purchase powdered milk for the best price?
The LDS cannery is the least expensive place to get powdered milk. To find a cannery (home storage center) in your area click here. (Please note that a lot of canneries do not require you to be a member of the LDS church to purchase from them, so contact your local cannery and find out their policies). However, since milk from the cannery is not the best tasting powdered milk, here are some other options. Provident Pantry instant milk is available at Emergency Essentials stores or online. Rainy Day non-instant milk (made by Walton Wheat) is available from Alison’s Pantry online or via a local rep.
What is the shelf life of powdered milk?
While different sources claim the shelf life on powdered milk can be up to 20-25 years, we have also read that the nutrient level significantly drops within that time. So we would definitely recommend incorporating a habit of rotating your powdered milk to keep your supplies as fresh as possible.
What’s the best way to rotate my powdered milk?
Since most people don’t particularly enjoy drinking powdered milk as a replacement to regular milk, we highly recommend using it in RECIPES where it won’t be as noticeable. You can view our food storage recipes to see where we have substituted powdered milk successfully. Or you can also check out our sister site Everyday Food Storage for more great ideas on cooking with your food storage!
p.s. Check back on Wednesday for a recap of our fun at the Utah Valley Women’s Expo and a preview of the event we will be speaking at in Ogden this Saturday!


Dearest Cozette gave me this amazing white bread recipe from the New York Times, November 8th 2006 and adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery author of My Bread. Crazy crusty on the outside and light as a feather on the inside, this bread is a total kick to make.
18 hour bread 026_500
Storage Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cups cool water (55 to 65 degrees)
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/3 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky.
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Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
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2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
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3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal.
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Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours.
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When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lide and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned.
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Cool on a rack.
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I can’t wait to show this trick to my daughters! Who knew you could make restaurant quality bread without any oil? The only, and I mean the ONLY hard part, was remembering to start the bread almost a day ahead of time. The schedule that worked for me was to mix together the flour, yeast, salt, and water at 7:00 p.m. The next day, (18 hours later) at 1:00 p.m. I added a bit of flour, rolled it into a ball, and let it rise for another 2 hours. At 3:00 I put into into the hot pan and preheated oven. One hour later we had a beautiful freshly baked hubcap ready to serve with some homemade ham and bean soup.
I can’t even remember the last time I had something baked (other than my trusty Seven Minute Whole Wheat Bread) actually turn out. The directions scared me at first but honestly this recipe was silly-simple to prepare and took maybe a total of 10 minutes of actual work. I just LOVE big results with little effort. Bad that way.

How Poison Ivy Works

A pretty good "How Stuff Works" Article:

How Poison Ivy Works

by Stephanie Wilson


Citation: Wilson, Stephanie. "How Poison Ivy Works." 23 September 2005. HowStuffWorks.com. 24 April 2010.

Photo courtesy National Park Service

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated 10 to 50 million people in this countr­y ­have an allergic reaction to poison ivy each year. Poison ivy is often very difficult to spot. It closely resembles several other common garden plants, and can also blend in with other plants and weeds. But if you come into contact with it, you'll soon know by the itchy, blistery rash that forms on your skin.

In this article, you'll discover how poison ivy causes that rash, learn where it grows, how to get rid of it and how to spot it before you get too close.

Poison Ivy Basics

Photo courtesy Jon Sachs, poison-ivy.org
A blistered poison ivy rash
­Poison ivy is a red, itchy rash caused by the plant that bears its name. Many people get it when they are hiking or working in their garden and ­accidentally come into direct contact with the plant's leaves, roots, or stems. The poison ivy rash often looks like red lines, and sometimes it forms blisters.
The culprit behind the rash is a chemical in the sap of poison ivy plants called urushiol (oo-roo-shee-ohl). Its name comes from the Japanese word "urushi," meaning lacquer. Urushiol is the same substance that triggers an allergic reaction when people touch poison oak and poison sumac plants. Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radican), Eastern poison oak (Toxicodendron quercifolium), Western poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum), and poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) are all members of the same family -- Anacardiaceae.

Photo courtesy Jon Sachs, poison-ivy.org
Poison ivy plants creeping along the ground.

About 85 percent of people are allergic to the urushiol in poison ivy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Only a tiny amount of this chemical -- 1 billionth of a gram -- is enough to cause a rash in many people. Some people may boast that they've been exposed to poison ivy many times and have never gotten the rash, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're not allergic. Sometimes the allergy doesn't emerge until you've been exposed several times, and some people develop a rash after their very first exposure. It may take up to ten days for the rash to emerge the first time.

TEOTWAWKI Simplified, by Jim S.

Most people find themselves looking at TEOTWAWKI as some sort of extended outdoorsy jaunt. Some people think of it as hard times. Me, I think it could be both, and then again it could be near mass extinction. But to make any type of sensible decision as to disaster preparation, you have to determine what is truly important. So let me simplify things for those of you all wadded up in bugout vehicles and plans for where to go and what ammo and guns are best to "protect yourself".
First, if you are dead, then you will no longer care. Game over, "DNF" and end of the line. So item one is your life. If you have family, then there is more reason to stay alive, as they will likely need you. Simple first question: do you want to get in a firefight over your home with someone? Frankly, I can live without my home, so easy decision. [JWR Adds: That might be the case in the cities and the suburbs, where a house is just a glorified box. But for many of us that have already relocated to the boonies, our homes represent our self-sufficient livelihood, since we've painstakingly built up stored firewood, gardens, orchards, vineyards, and flocks. In some situations giving that up would be akin to giving up your clothes in a blizzard.] What about my vehicle? Ditto - can live and survive without it. Pride? Pecking order? All ego-baloney that can get you in bad situations and get you killed. Avoiding confrontation is the key to not getting injured or shot. There is always someone with a bigger gun or a sharper knife or younger and faster than you.
The single best thing you can have as a survival tool is knowledge. Skills come from knowledge and can be taught and learned. But your best tool is your noggin and what you have packed away inside it. Read - test - trial - learn - practice - experiment. Use your brain to make yourself capable of surviving.
Guns? Honestly, you will be able to trade a copy of ‘How to reload cartridges without a reloading press’ for a gun if serious SHTF. Likewise, you can probably think of other things you know how to do that are essentials which are easily worth a gun or just a meal or a stay in someone’s camp. Can you make a mold from river clay and cast bullets? Can you fix a generator? Do you know how to get casing head drip from an oil well Christmas tree and use it for fuel? Do you even know if there are oil wells or gas wells near you? Do you know how to make pine tar? How can you make a simple pump to pull water from a well without electricity? Can you cure and store meat without refrigeration? The historical knowledge lists is long, but go back to the 1800s and do some research. If TSHTF, electricity is likely the first casualty, whether it is from catastrophe or switched off by runaway government whackos. Hurricane Ike was a nice practice run for us here in Texas, where many of us were without juice for over a week during the summer.
If TSHTF, the first thing to collapse will be corporations, as they are all about one thing - money. And money isn't worth anything when survival is at stake. During Hurricane Ike, people skipped work to leave town or rig up for the storm. If it is something much worse, then work will be "out of the window" for most corporate critters. We are much more worried about our families and our "stuff".
Realize that if you know where to look and how your little neck of the woods is set up, you can find resources to survive well rather than trying to tote all you need on your back. Take a drive and look around at what will be there when nobody gives a d**n about going in to work. Excess gear makes you a slow moving and appealing target for anti-social urban whackadoos with a 9mm and a couple of magazines. People only rob from those that have something they covet, so keep your goodies minimal, versatile and simple.
Think like a sailor - minimize material resources you consider absolute essentials and get what you need between your ears where you can live off whatever is at hand. Simplify - simplify - and then simplify again. I hate to get all twisted up in trying to outline all the possibilities - there are far too many. Know that whatever it is will likely be in some form or other we were not expecting in all our planning. Lower your expectations as much as you can - imagine it very uncomfortable, because if it comes to a choice between living or retaining some comfort, I am all about living.
Remember - Murphy's Law rules when TSHTF. The best capital for barter is knowledge - it weighs nothing, sells high and is viable currency when you have customers who need it. Skills run a very close second, but which ones are most valuable depend on what happens. Growing veggies will not matter if we nuke each other or California slides into the Pacific or Yellowstone erupts. Besides - if you can't grow beans you are likely doomed anyway, unless you are a doctor or nurse with practical field knowledge. But again, this is knowledge - and it will trade anywhere it is needed.
That's about as detailed as I think I need to dig into this. If you cannot wrap your mind around what I am saying, then you are unaware of the world you are living in and you honestly have not been reading your history enough. Read - learn - use your imagination. Know your own history and learn things that are practical, valuable and important to survival alone and in a group.

Lone wolves have lots of trouble surviving - that's why they naturally form into packs. The reason we are top species on this ball of dirt is our brains. That is what may make it possible for us humans to survive cataclysm where dinosaurs could not: think!
[JWR Adds: In my estimation, a large quantity of gear and consumables will be an asset, rather than a hindrance. As long as it is kept hidden and left unmentioned except to your most trusted friends, a deep larder can be a tremendous asset. It will carry your family through hard times, and also give you the opportunity to be covertly charitable. I also believe that it is naive to expect to be able to trade a book for a gun,--or even a huge pile of books for a gun. In a societal collapse, guns will be a precious commodity. It would take massive depopulation before they'd ever become "cheap."