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31 May, 2013

Stone: Possibly the Best Green Building Material?

Natural stone has been used for home exteriors for thousands of years
Being mindful of the surrounding environment results in benefits that positively impact the individual, his or her family, the surrounding community, and the world. When it comes to building a new home or structure, or adding on to an existing one, there are a variety of green building materials to consider.

One such building material that’s growing in popularity is natural stone. This durable, attractive natural resource can be used in many different ways inside and outside the home. Those who value nature and want to do their best to decrease the size of their carbon footprint can consider stone for several uses as an effective green building material.

Benefits of Using Stone Building Materials

Durability. Most types of stone, whether purchased or collected from an individual’s property, will last a lifetime and stand up to a variety of weather conditions. Additionally, stone is fireproof, doesn’t rot, and protects the home from vermin.
A Readily Available Natural Resource. There are specific stone suppliers, but those who prefer to gather their own supplies can find natural stone resources on or around their own property.
Low to No Maintenance. Natural stone generally needs little to no maintenance. The surface can benefit from a semi-annual or quarterly cleaning, especially if it’s outdoors, but is otherwise maintenance-free.
Natural Insulation in Temperate Climates. People who live in climates without extreme hot or cold temperatures can enjoy the natural insulation of stone. This natural resource helps maintain a mild temperature in the home, especially when temperatures get warmer.

Uses of Stone as a Green Building Material

Interior Uses

Flooring. Stone makes for an attractive flooring material, whether the home décor is rustic or contemporary. Types of stone commonly used for flooring are slate, travertine, marble, and granite.
Walls. Whether an individual chooses to create one focal point wall to accent a room’s décor or decides to use stone on all four walls, the texture and natural colors found in stone can enhance a home’s attractiveness.
Fireplace. Fireplaces are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing when a person lives out in the back country. Building a stone fireplace can be a rewarding experience, resulting in a beautiful heating and cooking source for the home.

Exterior Uses

Outdoor Cooking. Extending the living space to the outdoors is a natural thing to do when surrounded by nature’s beauty. Stones gathered on the property or purchased can be used to build an attractive, sturdy outdoor fireplace or cooking area to use all year.
Patio. A wooden patio or deck will eventually deteriorate, but stone pavers will last a lifetime. Flagstone and limestone are two types of stone often used for outdoor surfaces and walkways.
Stone Walkway. It’s only natural to extend green building materials to the walkways leading to and from a wilderness home. Similar to other stone surfaces, the stones used for a walkway can be collected from an individual’s property or obtained from a local retailer.
The benefits of using green building materials, such as stone, go ‘round and ‘round.

Finding a Reliable Supplier

An individual with an eye on environmental friendliness should seek to do business with a natural stone supplier who shares their mission to preserve and protect natural resources.

Knowing a supplier’s reputation can help consumers choose the best natural stone company to work with. Likewise, those who are incorporating natural stone as a structural component or stock item should also take steps toward reputation protection. Doing so will help consumers who want to do business with companies that are eco-friendly know which businesses are making the effort to do so as compared to those who are only giving the topic lip service.

About the Author:
Mary Ylisela is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about green living and home improvement.

3 Tips on Garden Storage

It can take hours to structure the right garden for you and with unnecessary clutter, the job is even tougher. Whenever you’re using a handful of garden tools, it can be a pain to put them back in a storage place when you know you’ll be using them again soon. These following three tips should help ease your burden.

1) Buy a Potting Station
Don’t worry, this isn’t the type that requires you to make pottery but it is a stand which usefully sections everyday garden items. I have always put some tool away somewhere I couldn’t remember and looking for it the next time I needed it was a pain. Having someplace you know you’ll be able to locate it easily is a load off my mind.

A potting station has high shelves to put more dangerous tools to keep out of reach for children as well as suitable hooks to hang trowels, spades and hand forks.

No longer will you have to frantically explore the whole garden in search of handy tools when they’re right there at your convenience. This will save you a lot of time as well as patience.

2) Have a Spacious Shed
I cannot stress the importance of having an open-spaced, strong shed; one which you can walk into without feeling crushed. Too often time is wasted hunting around the confined space of a shed for something that can be easily found in a more spacious environment.

It is vital you have a garden shed which you can proudly call a ‘second home’; somewhere you can go to relax outside the house. You can keep motor-powered tools here and all big equipment such as shovels, drills and lawn mowers. Make sure you have a lock on the door, however, as to keep children and unwanted visitors at bay.

3) Invest in a Bench Box
These handy pieces of furniture are more than just regular benches. As well as being able to sit back and relax on a nice sunny day, you can store your items away underneath the bench itself. The seat lifts up and allows you to put anything in the way out of sight.

As it also just looks like ordinary garden furniture, neighbors and visiting friends will have no idea what you have stored away, making it ideal for quick clear-ups.

There are more options available to help store your items away and if you have a look at Wickes garden storage items, you’ll be sure to find the perfect compartment for your garden.

30 May, 2013

How to Make Your Own Lotion

There are lots of reasons to make your own lotions at home. One of the most obvious is cost savings, and the other is the simple fact that if you make the lotion yourself, you can control what goes into it. In other words, there won’t be a long list of strange ingredients or chemicals added to your lotion.

Experimentation Is the Key to the Perfect Recipe
Make your own lotion – it’s fun and it’s cost-effective.
One basic tip about making lotions is this: You should begin with a basic recipe and be willing to experiment. Always write down the measurements you use for each batch of lotion you make. You may find it necessary to increase or decrease the amounts of fragrance or other ingredients in order to create the ideal lotion. As you continue making lotions, you are sure to have favorite consistencies as well as favorite fragrances. And if you give lotions as gifts, you will probably find that other people have their own preferences. You will definitely appreciate having detailed records of your lotion recipes.

Hobby, Gifts, and More
You can use all-natural ingredients and your lotion can be made in your kitchen. The process is fun; in fact, many people consider it a relaxing hobby. Another advantage of learning to make lotions is that you can give them as gifts.

Of course, in that case, you will probably want to dress things up a bit. That is, you can purchase nicer bottles and add fragrances to the lotion base.

Keep reading for complete instructions.

Keeping it Simple
Getting started making lotion is easy. You probably already have the basic ingredients on hand. Below is a list of the things you will need:

• Olive or mineral oil (1 cup)
• Beeswax or honey (1 tablespoon)
• Fragrant essential oils – sweet pea, peppermint, rose, lemon, tea tree, chamomile, and sweet almond are suggested

Add the mineral or olive oil to a microwavable safe dish. Add the beeswax; heat until ingredients are melted. Remember, you may need to add more beeswax or honey to adjust the consistency.

Essential oils can be added for fragrance. Add just a few drops at a time. Vegetable-based food coloring can be added to give the lotion a more attractive appearance.

It is suggested that you add colors that coordinate with the fragrance. For instance, yellow with lemon essential oil, pink with rose essential oil, and green with sweet pea.

If the lotion is too thick, it can be thinned with a few drops of water. A capsule of grape seed extract can act as a preservative for your lotion. Crush the extract and pour it into the mixture; blend well before you pour the lotion into your bottles. This will give your lotion a shelf life of three months or more.

Lotion Makes a Great Gift
The Container Store sells a wide range of bottles and dispensers that are ideal for lotions. If you will be giving your lotion as a gift, you can tie a ribbon around the bottle. If you want to make your lotion really special, you might want to consider ordering peel-and-stick labels for your bottles.

A few accessory items can turn your lotion into a very nice gift.
Most dollar stores sell small wicker baskets that are perfect for use as gift baskets. Just line the basket with a pretty washcloth or even with some tissue paper and add the bottle of lotion. You could also add a loofah sponge and other bath accessory items. This makes a nice gift for almost any occasion.

Making your own lotion is a fun hobby, and it’s a great way to save money on something you can use every day. Plus, you can use the lotion to create great-looking gift baskets that friends and family members will appreciate. Why not experiment with a lotion recipe today?

About the Author:
Debbie Allen is a freelance writer, online marketer, and blogger who writes on a wide variety of topics, including home and garden topics, like how to choose various gutter styles and window designs.

29 May, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Road" (2008)

In this week's Doomer Fiction film review, we are taking the time to examine "The Road" (2008) Blu-ray (DVD version), which is probably one of the better post-apocalyptic films I have ever had the pleasure of watching. It is something of a masterpiece that is, at turns, heart-warming, terrifying, shocking, sad, and appalling. What more could one ask of a single piece of fiction?

True to the Cormac McCarthy novel it is based upon, we never learn very much about the background or identities of the father and son upon which the story is centered. Not do we gain any insight into the nature of the world ending catastrophe that has befallen the Earth. All of those are ancillary details, not important in this respect, because we are meant to concentrate -- not on the minutiae -- but, rather, on the relationship between the man and his son. That is what makes this film so unique and ensures that it is so much more than your typical disaster film, post-apocalyptic horror, or science-fiction: in its bones, it is all about these two characters and their struggle. Everything else is irrelevant.

That said, whatever the event that essentially ended the world was actually meant to be, it did a great job. There is very little remaining of the world we know and take for granted, which the viewer is shown through the eyes of man and boy. There seems to be no true sunlight; every day is overcast and cold, the man and the boy mostly forced to huddle together for warmth, and they spend basically the entire film in heavy winter clothing. As one might expect, they also spend most of the film scrounging for supplies left-over from the now-dying world. That is, what time they aren't scurrying around, hiding from marauding cannibal gangs.

In the end, watching this flawlessly-acted film will leave you feeling as though your emotions have just come off a roller coaster. It is truly about survival, in every sense of the word. And it is all the more poignant when one realizes that the goal the characters are striving toward is no sure thing. Survival is never, in any way, guaranteed, even if they are successful. Rather, it is about a father's love and sacrifice for his son, and, in that, there is a warmth and joy amid all the heartache that sneaks up on you and is very touching.

5 Ways to Repurpose Wooden Pallets

Wooden pallets are typically used in the shipping process of various products. After receiving these products and unpacking them, the businesses have no use for the wooden pallets, and many times, the pallets end up being tossed out. That’s where you can come in.

Wooden pallets can be repurposed into many different things. They actually have many uses just as they are. But if you are a bit crafty, you can certainly create something unique. There are lots of examples of everything from staircases to room dividers and sofa frames available online that have been made from wooden pallets.

Rough wood has character
The Appeal of Wooden Pallets
Wooden pallets are to adults what Lincoln logs are to kids. They are simply fun to work with. All you need is a little imagination and creativity to build something wonderful.

You can be as innovative as you like. Some people have built full-size shelters, and others have created simple and decorative wall shelves. You are only limited by your imagination – and the number of wooden pallets you are able to acquire.

Special Notes and Considerations
When working with wooden pallets, you should look for markings that indicate if the wood has been heat treated (HT) or chemically treated (MB). In some cases, the pallets may be pressure treated with the use of preservatives.

Obviously, it is best to avoid pallets that have been chemically or pressure treated, especially if the projects will be used for gardening or interior projects. However, you may opt to treat the wood yourself to protect it from the elements if you will be using it outdoors.

Also keep in mind that wooden pallets are made from low-grade wood that is usually very rough. In many instances, you may have to deal with broken slats, and dismantling a pallet can be difficult work. To make the job easier, you might want to invest in a saws-all. Use a battery-powered design for convenience purposes and a nail-cutting blade to ensure you won’t run into any problems.

Creative Pallet Ideas
As mentioned, you can find countless ideas about ways to repurpose wooden pallets online. Just do a Google search and you will be rewarded with a list of great images. Below are five simple ideas that might get your creative juices flowing.

1. Room Divider

Make two stacks of three pallets. Pallets are stacked end on end and screwed together. Each stack is then hinged together. This creates an awesome room divider that can be painted or left with the rustic look and charm of rough wood.

2. Wall Shelves

Cut the pallets down as desired to create wall shelves. The units can be finished with stains or paint, or they can be left unfinished.

3. Outdoor Table

Simply stack the pallets to desired height. That’s it – you have created a table you can use. To add stability, the pallets can be screwed together.

4. Walking Path

Wooden pallets can be used as the foundation for a walking path or, if they are sturdy enough, they can be the walking path. If the pallets are not sturdy, you may opt to add other boards or pathway material on top of the pallets.

5. Compost Bins

Wooden pallets can be attached together to form a container that is ideal for use as a compost bin. This can be as large or as small as you like.

When it comes to creating with wooden pallets, you’re really only limited by your imagination.
If you’ve never thought about using wooden pallets for a project, maybe it’s time you should. After all, you can usually get them for free, and there are lots of great things you can do with them.

If none of these ideas inspired you, then try a quick Google search for wooden pallet projects.

Get motivated and try something new – there are so many ways to repurpose wooden pallets!

About the Author:
Debbie Allen is a content writer, online marketer, and blogger who writes on a wide range of topics, including home and garden and lifestyle issues. For example, one of her recent articles explores how to choose a title service company.

27 May, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: "Prepper Millionaire - Barter Your Way Through a Disaster" by Jack Rider

I have to apologize. I skipped out on doing last week's review. I intended to do it later in the week, but then life happened. And, now this week's review is actually centered on a short ebook entitled "Prepper Millionaire - Barter Your Way Through a Disaster" by Jack Rider.

As you can probably glean from the title, this work represents a different take on the typical Prepper habit of stockpiling supplies against a possible impending apocalypse and turns it toward a more capitalist, opportunistic idea. Despite the title, however, it isn't about getting rich off of one's preps, but rather turning one's foresight to prepare for the unforeseen into a pathway to a higher standard of living during such a disaster than that which the typical unprepared person will be able to achieve.

In the simplest terms possible, the author lays out certain items that will be worth far more during a disaster than it will cost us to stockpile them now; then describes techniques and body language that will help each of us to come out on top of the inevitable barter situations with which we will be faced.

I gotta say, I enjoyed the book more than I expected I would. The price point is low (which is good, since it's a very short read by most standards); and the author provides some very useful information, regarding negotiation techniques. Plus, there is something to be said for anything that breaks the mold we are so accustomed to and stretches the boundaries of the way that we think.

Hemp as a Building Material? Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It!

Hemp is truly one of nature’s miracle plants. It can be eaten, woven into fiber, and made into paper and even oil. It is hardy and durable, easy to grow, and — believe it or not — it can be made into a variety of construction materials — from pipes to insulation to a concrete substitute called Hemcrete — that rival their industrial counterparts in cost and functionality.

Contrary to popular belief, hemp does not contain THC — the active ingredient in its cousin, marijuana — and can’t get you high.

Brief History of Hemp as a Building Material

Lumber and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst used his media empire to associate hemp with marijuana because it makes more paper for less money than wood.

Until 1883, between 75 and 90 percent of all the paper made in America — including the paper on which the Declaration of Independence was written — was made with hemp. Between 70 and 90 percent of all rope and twine was made with hemp until 1937. A bridge in the South of France dated to the 7th Century AD was reinforced with hemp. In 1941, Henry Ford made a car built from a plastic that was made with hemp and wheat straw.


Hemp insulation is a composite material, meaning the plant's fibers are integrated with another substance.

Hemp insulation has a low U-value — a measurement that gauges how much heat move can through a particular material. The lower the U-value, the better the insulation. The U-value of hemp insulation is .04, which is comparable to the U-value rate of eight inches of fiberglass insulation.


Hempcrete is a concrete substitute made mostly of hemp. It combines dried hemp stems with lime into slurry. The wet combination is then poured into wall forms or brick molds. The slurry hardens, creating a thick concrete-like wall with a high insulation value.

It should be noted, however, that hemp-based concrete is expensive — about twice as costly as traditional concrete. This has much to do with the fact that it is still illegal to cultivate hemp, so it must be imported.


Hemp can be made into strong, durable cloth. The first Levi Strauss jeans were made of hemp.
Because of hemp’s semi-legal status in the U.S., hemp plastic is not mass-produced in America. It is, however, a plastic that scientists think may be stronger than steel. It uses hemp instead of petroleum and can be made to be — unlike traditional plastic — fully biodegradable.

Largely because of a smear campaign in the beginning of the 20th century by William Randolph Hearst (with competing interests in the lumber and paper industries) and the DuPont family (with competing interests in the chemical and plastic industries) to associate hemp with marijuana, its legal status in the U.S. is confusing and inconsistent.

What is clear, however, is that hemp is a green, natural, renewable resource that is a blessing and boon to builders of all kinds.

Photo credits: Flickr users Roadduck99, Niarae

About the Author:
Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles who writes on a wide range of survivalist topics from MREs to stockpiling. He also writes on construction and home building topics like roofing repair.

26 May, 2013

The Coming Barter Economy and the Utility of Gold and Silver in Your Preparations

Photo courtesy of hoto courtesy of Inter. Political Econ. Zone
If there is one thing that those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist community understand, it is the concept of a barter economy. In fact, there are many of us who already participate in such, even now. As an example, I can personally attest to once trading two buckets of oatmeal, meant for long-term storage, for some work on my computer. Luckily, the friend who has done all of my work and built all of my systems, going back two decades, is also a Prepper, though I would wager he has never thought of himself as such. He is just a husband and a father, who recognizes that life is unpredictable at times and some extra food and other supplies stocked in the basement could conceivably be what would get his wife and kids through to the other side if anything unexpected were to suddenly befall him. Smart guy, needless to say.

A barter economy is a wholly foreign concept to most people, however. The majority of society is so deeply invested in the largely-false, unstable, and somewhat imaginary economic system built around modern money that they are unable to wrap their heads around the idea that the cash in their wallets and bank accounts is basically worthless. Actually, to be more accurate, one should say it is worth precisely what other people say it is worth and no more. It is inflated and deflated in value on a regular basis by Master of the Universe-types with little regard for how such shenanigans affect regular everyday folks.

Photo Courtesy of Green Step Cooperative
Currency is a mode of exchange, not money in and of itself. It was born of the olden days when all actual money was in the form of gold and silver coins, and it was deemed that certificates of exchange would be much more convenient and safe to carry on the often unpatrolled and lawless roadways. It wasn't until far later that we, as a society, were duped into believing that a paper certificate was actually money in and of itself.

Even under the current false system, however, the fiat currency that we trade still remains a mode of exchange. Put simply, you trade it in return for goods and services. This seems to work out perfectly well, other than the fact that it has lost nearly 100% of its value in the past century, and you can't even buy a car these days for the same amount that would have once bought you a very nice family home just a few decades ago. None of that changes the fact, however, that it's worth is only that which others have assigned to it. When the day comes that the local butcher is no longer able to use it to pay his bills, then he will cease to accept it in payment from you, and it will return to its true worth: none at all.

That is the day that we as Preppers / Survivalists envision in the future, and it is one of the many eventualities for which we prepare. This is the point where bartering will become important. In fact, we believe that it will one day form the backbone of the entire economy. In the simplest of terms, if you grow a big garden and your neighbor has a milk cow, you will trade your excess produce for his excess milk; that way, both of you prosper. If you produce nothing that is of value in trade, then you will be forced to trade your labor for what you need. You will quickly find yourself working for the man who owns the milk cow. That is the way our world once was and how it will be again.

One mode of exchange that will always retain a certain value, though, is the old mainstays of gold, silver, and other precious metals. You will often hear me refer to such as "real" money, because that is exactly what it is. The value of such metals (and gems also) will be dictated only by their availability and purity, rather than backroom deals made by men in inexpensive suits. Considering that they are in finite supply and cost prohibitively in terms of labor in order to mine them, their value will remain comparatively high, even once the current economic system has completely collapsed. To put things in simple terms, once again, when money is no longer of value, you will still be able to trade precious metals and gems the way you do money now with a value that will, most assuredly, differ from community to community, based wholly on supply and demand. Other than that, things will be reduced to bartering supplies and labor in return for what you need.

It is for this reason that I and others in the Prepper / Survivalist subculture consistently advocate the acquisition of gold and -- even more so -- silver in the form of physical coins in your possession as a part of a wise person's preparations for a rocky future.

Guest Post: 10 Smart Ideas My Redneck Neighbor Taught Me

Most neighborhoods have “those neighbors” that you can’t really avoid. Part of living in suburbia, however, is learning how to deal with them, ignore them, or learn to like them. These could be the neighbors with the obnoxious children, the dog that barks all night long, the guy with 846 piercings, the annoying 93’ Civic hatchback, or in my case: Eddy.

Eddy is one of those guys that the other neighbors have categorized as “the doomsday guy.” He has a large beard, is always working out in the yard, talks to the neighbors about the end days of America and how you won’t be supported if you’re not ready, and we can’t rely on the Government for anything. Although I have mixed views on the approaches he takes with his life, I have learned 10 things from him that could be very helpful for the success of a suburban family, should some catastrophic event occur.

Get a Decent Pocket Knife

Any young boy most likely had that moment around the age of 7 when he wanted a pocket knife. What would be done with this knife? That was usually the question that finished the discussion with a “no” from mom or dad. There are a few very general uses that a pocket knife can bring a normal suburban person. For instance you may find yourself in a situation where you need to cut something very strong, screw something tighter, open a package, need a paperweight, or even protect yourself. If you are not up for carrying it around, just keep it in the glove compartment of your vehicle for emergencies.

At the end of the day, there is no reason anybody should not have a pocket knife on hand just like they would have a screwdriver in their tool box. Here are two of the top rated pocket knives on the market today that even the knife experts drool over:

* Sunset Bone Moon Pie Trapper - $85

* Kershaw Leek 1660CKT Knife -$80

Buy Land

Lucky for Eddy, he has a 1-acre lot that gives him plenty of space to do everything. He has plenty of space to do everything that he desires with his land: have a chicken coup, a couple dogs, a large shed, a garden, and space to have the grandkids play. He is never short on space for the things that he wants to do. The land enables him to succeed in becoming more prepared for the future. Eddy suggests that if you do not own land to purchase some, even if it is somewhat of a drive away from your home. Many towns outside large cities sell 1-acre plots of land for fairly cheap. “If you do not want or decide you don’t need the land later on,” he says, “you can just sell it as if it were an investment.”

Plant a Garden

Eddy loves his garden. He doesn’t just garden in the ground, but he has even started a system of above-ground small-farming called hydroponics. Although a section of his yard looks a bit like an eighth grade science experiment, the fruits and vegetables he produces are unbelievably fresh. The salad he prepares almost tastes different than a salad I would make at home because of the textures and taste. Instead of going to the store to buy spices and herbs, he uses his own for flavoring in the meals he cooks. If you are interested in some modern ways to perform small farming at home, check out aquaponics (which involves fish farming) and hydroponics.

Store Food

When I think of doomsday preppers, I usually think of a guy in a bunker underground eating packages of MREs (meals ready to eat). Eddy suggests that humans can easily live off rice and beans, so he has sealable 5 Gallon containers that he pours rice and beans into. Since Eddy is on an average budget, he simply picks up a large bag of rice and a large bag of beans when he shops for general groceries. By slowly accumulating food each week, he has developed an enormous supply in just a few years! Between the fruits, vegetables, rice and beans, Eddy can sustain himself for a long period of time.

Buy a Truck

Growing up in the city, I have had no interest in buying a truck, but Eddy makes a good point: you can transport nearly anything. He suggests that a car does great on gas mileage in most cases, but you pay for it when you need to transport a lot of material or something large. SUVs limit your overhead space, so he argues against these as well. Buying a truck that has a trailer hitch on it sets the average person up to succeed. Two top trucks you can get your hands on today are:

* Ford F-150 – Best all around truck purchase of 2013 due to its wide range of engine choices, long-lasting durability, and well-designed interior.

* GMC Sierra 1500 – Best truck in its class for its range of powerful engines and strong towing and hauling capacity. Although it falls short with its interior design, it compensates with its drivability.

Get out of Debt

Eddy studies about the US debt crisis and banking system a lot, and he believes it is going to crash and burn. “They can spend all the money they want, but I’m not going skydiving without a parachute with them,” he suggests. By paying off your debt, it not only frees you from the debt that you have accrued, but it enables you to save more money for later on in life when you might really need it. Here are three techniques he applies to conserve money on a monthly basis that has saved him thousands of dollars:

* Get rid of the cable bill – By eliminating the cable bill, Eddy saves $50 per month. He still has his internet bill but does any work or information gathering from his computer.

* Pay an extra payment on the mortgage and pay the payment biweekly – Eddy will have his 15 year mortgage paid off in 12 years, 6 months because of the interest he saves by paying half of his payment twice per month and by adding an extra payment onto his mortgage every year. His mortgage is about $2,000.00 a month, but by paying $1,100.00 twice a month, he will save a ton of money and be debt free quicker.

* Keep your vehicle for 10 years. Eddy has savings for his next truck. Every month, he puts away $250.00 for his next truck. Instead of getting a loan and paying the extra interest he spends that money he could save elsewhere. He also avoids higher insurance premiums due to not having a lien on the car. By taking this approach, he is able to keep his “car payment” lower than if he financed a $30,000 vehicle every 5 years.

Store Water

“Does water expire?” That is usually the first question most inexperienced water savers ask when trying to decide if they’ll start. The answer is yes, but there is a way to keep it fresh. By putting a teaspoon of bleach in the water for every 7 gallons of water every year, you can keep water fresh. It is suggested that you store a gallon of water for every person in your household each day and that you always have a week’s supply in case of emergency. Eddy has purchased 55 gallon water barrels and stores them in his garage with fresh water. 55 gallons of water would sustain a family of four for 2 weeks! Online, these cost just around $60, and it is a purchase you can forget about and have peace of mind.

Buy Bullets

You can imagine that Eddy has a gun, or many, but I am going to twist this suggestion up a bit. Buy bullets, and lots of them. The bullet market has become increasingly popular because of a tight grip from the US government around the firearms market. Since this is the case, I see an investment opportunity. Bullets are becoming more expensive because there is a current increase in demand and decrease in supply, and the price is not expected to go down. If you can get your hands on bullets, your return of investment will only increase as more people want to purchase bullets and the government does not allow more bullets to be produced or brought within US borders. You might just be able to get a 400% return! Now that’s a great source of retirement income, and it doesn’t matter if you can shoot a gun.

Buy a Survival Kit for Your Friends

Imagine yourself in my neighborhood, sipping on lemonade, listening to the neighbors ridiculing Eddy for his lifestyle choice, and all of a sudden a serious earthquake destroys the town. Transportation to and from the area is limited, and food is scarce. You are stuck waiting for help for two weeks. Eddy has over 20 survival kits, not for himself, but for the people that come running to him now that are all of a sudden in need of his help. Instead of saying that he cannot help, he has these survival kits to keep his neighbors sustained until help can reach them.

Trade Knowledge

Eddy agrees that if we do not share knowledge with each other, then others will be left behind. By teaching yourself, your family and your friends how to take care of themselves if the comforts of daily life were stripped away due to lack of electricity, gas, food or water, you are empowering them to succeed. Just by spending time with Eddy, I have learned about a handful of techniques such as these that I will now be able to put in my brain’s library. Let’s just hope I never have to test this information out!

About the Author:
Chase Russell is your everyday blogger that loves to share his voice. You can visit Bargain Survival, his preparedness website focused on providing the world with a peace of mind that they are prepared for everything. In his free time, he enjoys building infographics for websites.

25 May, 2013

Learning About Small Farmers 101

Before the corporate homogenization of agriculture immediately following World War II, the overwhelming majority of crops and animals raised in the United States came from small farms.

Today, fewer than three percent of Americans work in agriculture, compared with about 80 percent a century ago.

Although the definition of a small farm has changed over time, it’s generally accepted that a small farm is 179 acres or less in size, or earns $50,000 or less in gross income per year. Small farms can generally be broken up into five distinct categories.

Small farms used to dominate the American landscape.
Limited-Resources Farms

Limited-resources farmers are classified as being socially disadvantaged by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and have been targeted for entry into special government programs.

They generally have limited farm sales and low incomes. The overwhelming majority of limited-resources farmers are over the age of 65.

Retirement Farms

Retirement farms are owned and operated by people who are retired. Either for subsistence, volunteer, or for profit, retirement farms give an outlet to older Americans who want to remain active, contribute to the growing of crops or raising of animals, serve as teachers to younger apprentice farmers, or give away what they produce to struggling Americans.

Lifestyle or Residential Farms

Also called “hobby farms,” these small operations are maintained by people who don’t expect farming to be their primary income. Often the income is used simply to break even on the land or animals, provide the acreage for the family’s enjoyment, or to provide horses or other animals for the operators and their children.

Although historically, lifestyle farmers have been frowned upon by “legitimate” farmers, they are often among the best educated and most resourceful farmers in the industry.

The locally grown movement is helping small farmers.
Occupation Farmers

Occupation farmers are small farmers who — either along with their families or a handful of seasonal or permanent employees — own or lease small farms as their main source of income.

Raising either crops, animals, or cash crops like cotton or tobacco, these small farmers represent the backbone of the small-farming community. Many have found new opportunities in the burgeoning movement to provide local and organic fare in restaurants, stores, and markets.

Although they don’t hold nearly the proportion of the market as they did in years past, small farmers are often more productive than the large, corporate farms that dominate the industry. In recent years, the trend toward local and organic fare has been a boon to small farmers unlike any since factory farming exploded in the 1950s.

About the Author:

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles who writes on a wide range of survivalist topics from MREs to stockpiling. He also writes on business and financial issues like car insurance.

Live Debt Free by Beating Credit Card Firms at Their Own Game

People who find themselves drowning up to their eyeballs in credit card debt often take serious and solid measures to prevent their balance from creeping higher. Their strategies often include transferring large balances to other cards with lower introductory interest rate, taking out a new debt consolidation loan, or signing up with a debt consolidation program. There are different debt relief options when it comes to getting out of debt, but, if you don’t have the mentality to save money and keep boosting your emergency fund, you won’t ever be able to lead a debt free life. Shifting the debt load to pay off the majority of the balance is certainly a wise idea, but you should always try your best to win at beating the credit card companies at their own game. Have a look at the different steps to take in order to help yourself live a debt free life.

Stick to using a maximum of 2 cards: It is best not to fall into the trap of using credit cards at all, but, unless you are ready to disconnect from most of society, one finds themselves needing to maintain a limited amount of revolving credit in order to court a decent credit score.  It is wise to limit yourself to only two accounts at a time, however. If you want to raise your credit score, it is necessary for you to keep your credit cards active; inactive credit accounts won’t help you boost your score. Use them on a regular basis by paying subscription fees and other smaller expenses/purchases. Don’t max out your cards as this will hurt your credit score in a bad way.

Pay off the entire balance: If you have the habit of carrying over your balance to the next month, you will soon be either penalized due to outrageously high interest rates or penalty fees. You should take the required money management steps to repay the entire balance so that you don’t have to endure the stress of making the payments late.

Don’t pay only the minimums: Another way in which you can avoid falling in debt is by avoiding to habit of paying only the minimums. The bank or the credit card company will always tell you to pay the minimum amount, but this is a trap and you shouldn’t fall into it. All that you need to do is to make more than the scheduled monthly minimums, so that the total principal balance and the interest rates don’t keep accumulating with time.

Set automated payments: Many of us forget the due dates and simply delay in paying the bills. You should always take steps to set up automated payment so that even if you forget to make payments, the credit card companies are still paid. Set a particular date and let the company deduct a fixed amount from your checking account.

Thus, when you’re spending sleepless nights wondering about the different ways in which you can rein in your ballooning debt level, you may follow the steps mentioned above. Manage your finances in the best way possible and live a debt free life in the near future.

24 May, 2013

Guest Post: Keeping the Fires Lit -- Easy Ways to Stay Warm and Cook Food

Nearly every survival gear has some kind of fire-making material in order to keep you warm and the food cooked. These can take a variety of forms and could mean the difference between freezing and staying alive. You should never underestimate the need for lighting a fire as it's one of the basic components to surviving should things go horribly wrong. It's always a good idea to have several methods in case others fail and added to every backpack of family and team members. If separation occurs, then your family member at least has the capability to light a fire.

1. Waterproof Matches - Although any box of matches could be beneficial, those that are waterproof may save your life in the event of torrential downpours or slipping into a river. Accidents happen and it doesn't take much moisture to ruin most other kinds of matches which could leave you in an awkward predicament. As these are usually inexpensive to purchase, making room in everyone's bag for even a single box could keep the home fires burning.

2. Magnifying Glass - Contrary to your kid's belief, magnifying glasses can be used for more than cooking ants on a sidewalk. They can be used to light a fire using the power of the Sun and some kindling. Don't exhaust your survival fire-making methods if you are a smoker - the magnifying glass can light your cigarette for you. Although you need to start your fire prior to dusk, it is a useful method if you don't have any other available materials. As these "glasses" are usually made out of plastic these days, they're quite resilient and can easily fit in your pocket or bag without making much of an impact in weight or space requirements.

3. Battery Powered Lighter - It's possible to get a fire started using battery powered lighters as they use a heating element to burn anything that touches it. As the batteries may eventually die off, you can get quite inventive. There are many areas on the internet that can show you how to make a solar powered battery charger. The principal and adaptation for a couple of AAA batteries for your lighter can easily be accommodated. In fact, it may not be a bad idea to develop a solar charging pack for your bug-out bag. There could be all kinds of uses for a battery powered device especially if you can charge it on a daily basis.

4. Flick my Bic - Shelf life for lighters is usually quite long. As long as the flint doesn't experience a lot of moisture, you can have lighters that will literally last several years. Unfortunately, these disposable lighters will eventually die out. However, it may still be a good idea to load a couple in each bag in order to be prepared. Placing them in a small plastic container or tin could keep the flints from experiencing moisture or extensive oxidation possibly prolonging their lifespan. It will also reduce the chance that something will hold down the plunger releasing all of its gas. Zippos can be exceptionally useful as theoretically you can use nearly any combustible fluid in them if you had nothing else available.

A fire can keep you warm, cook your food, and signal others that you are alive simultaneously. It's in integral part in your survival and shouldn't be overlooked. This basic element has kept humankind alive for hundreds of thousands of years. You don't need to rub two sticks together to make a fire if you're smart about what gear to pack.

Author Bio:
Jason Miner an expert freelance writer loves writing articles on different categories. He is approaching different bloggers to recognize each other's efforts through “www.blogcarnival.com”. He can be contacted through e-mail at jasonminer8@gmail.com.

22 May, 2013

Guest Post: Ensuring Your Family Has the Skills to Survive Out of Doors

We’ve all seen the movies and television shows. Zombie apocalypses, alien invasions, natural disasters and world wars shatter the insulated bubble that people of the twentieth century have forged for themselves. When the grocery stores are no longer able to stock mass quantities of food and the infrastructure that ensures our personal safety collapses, a lot of people will lack the skills that will be required to survive. Prepper’s believe that we should be prepared for that possibility. By learning the skills now, we ensure that our families will have a better chance of survival.

Skills That Need to Be Learned

There are a few skills that every true Prepper should know or plan on learning. Not all of the skills that should be learned are located below, but they are a solid starting point for anyone just getting started in outdoor survival preparation.

Food Acquisition Skills: Fishing, Hunting with a gun or bow & Foraging.

Clothes Making Skills: Tanning Hides and Sewing.

Physical Skills: Rock Climbing & Swimming.

Self-Defense: Various styles of self-defense are taught. You and your family should at least know a good hand-to-hand combat style.

Outdoor Survival: Fire Making, Making a Shelter, Basic First Aid, Locating Water, & Plant Identification.

How to Train Children in the Skills

We cannot always be there without children, so we must ensure that they have the necessary skills to survive. There are various means to teach necessary survival skills to family members. I will list some possible ideas below.

Boy Scouts: If your family member qualifies to join the Boy Scouts, they are a good starter organization. They teach basic survival skills, engage in hikes, and yearly camping trips. Although the amount of true knowledge and quality of skills taught depends on the individual’s determination to learn and the camp leader’s knowledge. I know an Eagle Scout that proclaimed that he could cut a cake because he was a Boy Scout. He ended that proclamation by cutting himself with the knife. Do not expect signing your child up for the Boy Scouts to solve all your problems.

Girl Scouts: The Girl Scouts are a fine organization, but they do not focus on the level of outdoor survival that we would expect from a scout. They teach very basic outdoor safety and survival, but the quality of outdoor training is not Boy Scout quality. Supplement that knowledge with your own lessons.

Sign Up for Classes: Many survival skills are taught by professionals. Local and state organizations teach people to engage in various skills. Most of these classes will cost money, but people spend money on various other useless activities. If you are unsure what is available check your local rec center, any colleges, and search the internet.

Take Children on Yearly Camping, Hunting, and Fishing Trips: Regular trips to the wild will allow them to hone their skills. It also allows them time to grow a taste for the outdoors. If you are wary about taking your nine-year-old hunting, you can teach him to fish first, and then, teach him how to fish once he reaches an age that you are comfortable with.

As parents and members of a family, we should do our best to ensure that every member has the skills necessary to survive if they find themselves in a situation that strips them of modern conveniences. With a few basic skills acquired through of variety of methods, family members can be well on their way to being able to survive outdoors on their own or with family.

Naomi Broderick was raised by a hard core survival preparation expert. Now that she has a family of her own, she has begun passing on all of the survival knowledge to her children. She writes for ProtectYourHome.com, a leader in home security.

21 May, 2013

Guest Post: The Importance of Planning - Part 6

Previous articles in this series by author Allen Currie:

The Importance of Planning - Part 1
The Importance of Planning - Part 2
The Importance of Planning - Part 3
The Importance of Planning - Part 4
The Importance of Planning - Part 5

Editor's Note: Mr. Currie returned to his remote retreat and his cozy little shipping container cabin several weeks ago.  He actually sent me the balance of these articles in one large email before, once again, saying goodby to civilization for months.  I, for one, look forward to hearing from him again when he comes back out of the Bush, and, until then, wish him all the luck and good fortune in the world.

I cannot stress enough that when planning, knowing what you are planning for is paramount. It is remarkable how little attention North Americans pay to the consequences of our thoughts and actions. If you drop a large stone on somebody's toe, you can predict 1) He/she will likely try to avoid the rock, or 2) Will yelp and try to remove toe from under stone. Where all too many fail is in the next probable reaction, possibly a punch in the nose. Many people won’t react further until the punch is on the way.

Mankind, even when he is being irrational en masse is quite predictable. If there is a panic over available food, and the shelves are getting stripped of food, humans will buy or steal all sorts of items that they have never used and never will again for fear of missing out. In a tense situation, logic circuits seem to be over-ridden by emotional caveman circuits. The army has learned this lesson well, and trains and trains so the training becomes the instinct, or tends to, at least. Getting shot at is usually a tense situation.

Let’s deal with the massively complex situation of the US dollar becoming worthless, which I, with a lot of broad financial/economic experience, believe will happen. When I don’t know. You cannot print money to infinity without consequence. Lenders only lend under the assumption that they will get paid back.

The first thing that will happen is that international trade will stop, completely. The US, and much of the world has become totally dependent on other parts of the world for special parts for the final product. For example, the only factory in the world manufacturing an essential component for the steering for the cruise missile is in China. In a totally chaotic atmosphere, how long would it take to build a factory in the US to produce this part? It ain’t gonna happen in a chaotic situation.

The US imports two thirds of its hydrocarbon requirements. If the rest of the world decides the US dollar is worthless, who is going to sell hydrocarbons to the US? With no hydrocarbons, there will be no invasions. With no hydrocarbons, there will be no food transported into the cities. With no hydrocarbons, there will be no building of new factories. Even the money printing presses will shut down. With no food, some will wait for ‘gummint’ to do something, most will get out to agitate and riot, but some will try to fill their bellies in any way they can. Or any combination of the above.

What most people refuse to look at is the domino effect. If the cruise missile part is not available, the whole cruise missile industry goes down. If the computer in a store goes out, everything shuts down. If the electricity goes off, you won’t even be able to buy gas. The pumps are all electric. More insidiously, much of society operates on a “perceived entitlement”, a sense that what we have today is a birthright. If we don’t get it we have a “right” to get even with “the man”, usually by rioting, looting, or whatever.

In a word, we are looking at chaos. And we built it ourselves. It was easier to jump into the SUV to run down to the corner store than to walk a block. We grasshoppers fiddled the good times away by refusing to consider the longer term consequences. So, what do we do now?

Right now, very few people are open to the idea of discussing this, let alone preparing for it. Let’s say you are a good little Prepper and have laid-by a stock of food, water, guns and ammo. Sooner or later you are going to run out, but more likely you are going to be out in your front yard to get some sunshine (you can’t stay inside your prison fortress forever), and an unfriendly gets the drop on you. I leave the rest to your imagination.

We need to examine carefully the now cast-in-stone assumptions we have, as a result of having spent our lives thus far in a consumer society. We will have to find ways of sustaining ourselves in the long haul. We will have to change, and people naturally resist change, especially if it means less of what we have become accustomed to.

We will individually have to become nearer to self-sufficiency for when we run out of food. Survivors will have more callused hands from producing food. One does not go out into the back yard, throw out a handful of seeds, and, two weeks later, be living in the land of plenty. All living things are fussy about their living conditions. Do you know what ALL those conditions are for all your food supplies?

Secondly, we have to get rid of this “I’m not involved” attitude. We must become a community, willing to fight and even die for each other personally. This won’t work with a “community” as large as America, or even New York city (even if you can define its limits). It has to be a small community, maximum 200-300 people, where everyone is familiar with everyone else, enough so that they can rely on that person in a difficult situation. They have to know that Janet/Joe is terrified of spiders or heights and can’t be relied on for logical reactions when faced with such, but is very good at other things. Long-term survival in the aftermath of systemic collapse will require community. A community which considers longer term consequences more than the current world does.

My novel, “Operation Phoenix” ”, works toward this goal in the chaotic 30 days after an economic collapse. The sequel, if I can ever get it written, will show among other things, the difficulties of actually achieving such a goal. It is available in download, free sample read, and hard copy at www.AllenCurrie.ca.

Allen Currie

20 May, 2013

SURVIVAL GEAR REVIEW: Rothco 36 Bulb LED Solar/Handcrank Lantern

Today I'm taking the opportunity to review the Rothco 36 Bulb LED Solar/Handcrank Lantern sold by our sponsor Camping Survival. Basically, what I did was to field test the unit here in my home; essentially, I just performed the handcrank motion for the one minute that is prescribed in the specs and then timed how long the lighting lasted on each of the two available brightness settings. Then, I tested the small solar panel on top of the unit by leaving it out in the sun for an entire day, and then timing the lighting in the same way I did during the first set of tests.

First, let's talk about the specs. The unit has a built-in Ni-MH rechargeable battery. As advertised, you are supposed to be able to get 20 minutes of light at the lower 18 LED setting or 10 minutes at the higher 36 LED setting after operating the handcrank for one minute. There are also specs as to what you will get out of a solar charge, but I will touch on that a bit later.

Let me start off by saying that this lantern exceeded my expectations. It doesn't put out a huge amount of light when you are depending on the handcrank, but it is more than enough for you to be able to see your way around in a darkened home during a grid-down situation. From a design standpoint, I also really like the little metal cage that encases the breakable parts of the unit, in case it should get knocked off of a table or something.

The first test that I ran was on the lower 18 LED setting that was supposed to provide 20 minutes of light. To be succinct, it provided *WAY* more than that. In an effort not to take up my entire night, I ended the test after 50 minutes, fully 2 1/2 times longer than what the specs said to expect. And, there was still light to spare. The unit was still running with only a very minimal fading in the amount of light it was putting out.

Next, I turned the handcrank for another full minute to get it back to a full charge and placed the unit on the higher 36 LED setting. As stated above, this was slated to provide 10 minutes of light. Again, the unit over-performed. I halted this test at fully three times what the specs told me to expect: 30 minutes. And, again, the unit was still working with only a minimal loss in brightness.

My first thought as to why it would be over-performing so much is that there might have been a residual charge on the battery from the factory. The only problem with that theory is that, when I took the unit out of the box, pressing the button to turn it on did absolutely nothing, until after I had turned the handcrank. Still, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and just allow it to run on my desk on the highest setting and see roundabout how long it would last before finally going dead.  The answer to that question comes in two parts: A.) I would say that the last useably significant light-output is at the 3 hour mark, give or take 30 minutes -- at that point, the unit was still throwing-off enough illumination for me to see well enough to walk around the room without bumping into things and I could see objects in the dark, but I wouldn't have tried reading by it; and, B.) The unit actually continued to put out at least some light for quite a while after that point.

Not bad for one minute of turning a handcrank.

And, finally, the last test involved an assessment of what kind of performance one might expect from a charge via the onboard solar panel on top of the unit. The specs claimed one would get 2 hours of "normal" light after 8.5 hours charging in the sun. Let me say I don't know what "normal" light is, but, as with the handcrank, I definitely got more than the proscribed 2 hours.

I actually did not have a high hopes for this test. I set the unit in a south-facing window all day, but the weather was not cooperative. It was cloudy and overcast all day and even rained up in these hills for a little while. After dark, I set the unit on my desk and switched it on to the lower 18 LED setting, and I was immediately surprised by how bright it was. It may actually have started out brighter than it did when I was testing the handcrank.

Two hours later, I still had light; three hours later, four hours later, five hours later, I still had light -- it had only decreased to the point where it wasn't as intense. In fact, as I write this a full 8 hours later, the LEDs are still lit, but I wouldn't go so far as to call what it's putting-out now useable light, much less "normal."  It far exceeded the 2 hours the specs told me to expect, though, by a long shot.

My final impressions are that this lantern is a nice little unit that anyone should feel happy to have as a part of their survival preparations. I'll be adding a second one myself (Two is one and one is none!)  It doesn't necessarily put out the kind of light that you might get from a more expensive kerosene or propane lantern (I wouldn't necessarily want to try to read by it or perform intricate tasks, though you could probably do so if you held it very close); but, then again, you also don't have any need to store extra wicks, kerosene, propane, or any other fuel to keep the unit ticking. What it will do is allow you to trade a very modest amount of your rapidly-depreciating, overly-inflated fiat currency for a piece of preparedness gear that will give you a modest amount of light to ensure that you and yours can see your way around in a grid-down or blackout scenario.

17 May, 2013

How to Keep Dogs and Other Household Pets Out of Your Garden

You spend all season hoeing, planting seeds, and keeping weeds out of your garden. You finally see your peas start to grow and your tomatoes start to climb -- and then your dog goes running through your rows and tramples it all to the ground. All your hard work is lost. Or maybe your dog's more of a muncher than a runner. Instead, he prefers to belly up to the salad bar that is your garden and to enjoy all-day grazing on your budding crops.

While you certainly love your dog, you also love having healthy and delicious food that you grew yourself. Here are a few tips for how you can keep your dogs or other household pets out of your garden so you can protect all the hard work you have put in:

Put Up a Fence

The easiest way to keep any pests out of your garden is to put a fence around it. If you like a more decorative look, you can choose a small wooden fence that is high enough to keep your dogs from running through. If you want something that looks more natural, opt for chicken wire. It will blend in with the plants and will be unobtrusive.

Of course, unless you put in a fence that comes up to your torso -- or unless you have very small dogs -- your dogs are likely to be able to jump over whatever fence you put in. However, it will keep them from mindlessly wandering through and trampling tender plants.

Sprinkle Red Pepper Flakes

Dogs have a keen sense of smell. By sprinkling red pepper flakes around your garden, you will make the area an unpleasant place to visit. Purchase the flakes in bulk and then sprinkle them around the bed and between the rows. Make sure to re-apply after it has rained as the water will wash them away.

Spray Apple Bitter

You can also make your plants taste unpleasant. Spraying apple bitter or even white vinegar will make the plants taste very bitter to your dog, but it won't harm the plant. Of course, if you are spraying plants that are almost ready for harvest, you will want to wash them well once you bring them inside to get rid of the residue (and the bad taste for you).

Put Down Stone Chips

Instead of spreading mulch around your garden, spread decorative stone chips. They'll make the area look nice, but they'll also make it unpleasant for your dog to walk through the area. You can create a path around the garden to form a protective barrier. Make sure the path is wide enough that your dog can't simply leap over it to get into your garden.

Plant Thorny Bushes

Spiky, thorny bushes can also provide a natural barrier for your garden. Your dogs and other pests won't like trying to squeeze through and being pricked by the thorns. Plant holly bushes or thorny rose bushes to not only keep them out, but also to provide a decorative border for your garden.

You don't have to chose between your garden or your dogs. They can both peacefully co-exist if you use some of these strategies to keep your dog out of your garden and to protect your crops. Your dog can still have the run of the yard, but you won't have to worry about your beds being trampled.

How do you keep your dog and other pets out of your garden? Share your tips in the comments!

Amber Satka writes on financial topics, and much of her research can be found at her app site: carloancalculator.org. Amber is a former office manager and current mother and writer.