The Survival Mom » Preparedness http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Wed, 01 Oct 2014 21:03:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Stomach “Bugs”: An Herbal Back-Up Plan http://thesurvivalmom.com/stomach-bugs-herbal-back-plan/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/stomach-bugs-herbal-back-plan/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 06:00:27 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17779 These tips may come in handy someday soon! Click here to pin! So perhaps it’s that time of year, and stomach “bugs” are starting to make the rounds at school and work. Or, perhaps you’ve had a run in with Read More

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stomach bugs

These tips may come in handy someday soon! Click here to pin!

So perhaps it’s that time of year, and stomach “bugs” are starting to make the rounds at school and work. Or, perhaps you’ve had a run in with a mild bout of food poisoning. There are plenty of OTC drugs available (Imodium, Pepto and the like), but let’s take a look at some alternatives in the event that OTC meds aren’t available for whatever reason.

Basic Care for Stomach Bugs

There are many other herbs with a history of use for digestive support, but these five are especially easy to grow and identify, so I think they are particularly well suited for emergency preparedness scenarios where OTCs might be in short supply or unavailable. Combined with a commonsense care approach focusing on food and fluid intake, they should provide a decent family or community back-up plan.

First, regardless of what else is available, food and fluid are going to be key in keeping the situation from getting out of hand. Fluid loss from diarrhea and vomiting are especially dangerous for children and the elderly, so pay close attention to what is going in, not just what’s coming out.

Bland, soft foods are important so that the digestive system isn’t stressed further, so stay away from offering spicy or greasy foods. Make sure the foods still have nutritional value. Sugary gelatin and pudding really aren’t the best idea here. Some nutrient dense but bland foods include oatmeal and other whole grain porridge, meat and veggie broths, yogurt, and plain fruit and vegetables that are cooked until soft.

Maintaining electrolyte and fluid balance is even more important.  Make sure they drink plenty of water, diluted fruit juice, and herbal teas. Stay away from sugary drinks and anything with caffeine. An electrolyte formula can be used if the fluid loss is especially severe, and is a good idea for children and the elderly.

If you don’t have access to Pedialyte, the World Health Organization recommends ORS (Oral Rehydrating Solution) which is 5 liters of water, 6 level teaspoons of sugar, and ½ level tsp of salt. The solution is good for 24hrs, after that you will need to make a fresh batch. It can be used by alternating with other fluids.

Beyond that, these five herbs have a tradition of use for digestive upset. I’ve included some information on the growth habits of the plants as well as how they are used, and hope that will be useful for my readers interested in growing their own herbs and being less reliant on outsourcing their dried herbs.

Herbs for Vomiting

Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)

This plant is soothing for the stomach and the throat when there is a lot of vomiting and the stomach acid leaves the throat feeling raw. Marshmallow has a high level of mucilage, which makes the tea take on a distinctive “slippery” texture.

The best way to use marshmallow as a tea is actually by allowing the dried root to soak in room temperature or cool water- not brewing it with hot water as is common with most herbs. Leave it overnight for best results, but it can be used anytime after it has soaked for thirty minutes.

Marshmallow is traditionally understood to coat and soothe inflamed tissues of the digestive tract. It is one of my go-to herbs for the aftermath of food poisoning. Marshmallow is native to Africa but it is not a fussy plant and is usually happy to grow in rich garden soil as long as it gets enough water. It is a perennial that is hardy across most zones and prefers consistently moist soil.

Ginger (zingiber oficinale)

The root of this herb can help settle a stomach, and is traditionally used for nausea and improving digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Tea from fresh ginger root is best, but dried will also help. Some health food stores carry candied ginger root, which is convenient and palatable to most people. I enjoy adding it to trail mix, too, so I usually keep plenty on hand.

Ginger is a tropical plant, so for most parts of the US it will do best if grown in pots that can be brought inside during winter and placed in a sunny window.

Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

The bark of slippery elm is traditionally used as a thin porridge – a gruel – or added to porridge such as oatmeal. Like marshmallow, slippery elm is helpful for coating the stomach. The main difference between the two is that slippery elm is considered to be more nutritive and was used during convalescence as a food. It was often turned to when the sick person couldn’t seem to keep any food down.

Some good flavorings for a gruel that uses slippery elm are ginger or cinnamon, for an extra boost of stomach settling goodness, and honey as a sweetener. To make a slippery elm porridge, start with a bowl of oatmeal or other whole grains, and stir in a tablespoon of slippery elm powder.

To make a slippery elm gruel, place a tablespoon of slippery elm powder into a bowl, and add one cup of hot water. Add cinnamon or ginger, if desired, and allow to cool to a safe temperature for drinking.  It will thicken as it stands, so if it becomes thicker than you want, add more water.

Sometimes, herbalists mix honey and slippery elm powder to form a dough, and then roll the dough into bite sized pieces This can be eaten a few pieces at a time, rather than making a gruel.

Native to central, eastern and southern US and parts of Canada, this tree is an excellent addition to the landscape as a shade tree. Harvesting is a little trickier for trees than for other herbs. It is usually done in the spring, when the rising sap makes the bark easier to peel from the tree. It’s best to learn how to do this from someone who has had experience. “Girdling”, or stripping the bark all the way around the tree, can kill it.

These herbs are especially good if there is vomiting. But what if the problem is at the, ahem, other end?

Diarrhea

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)

Blackberry is the old-timey standby for diarrhea. The leaves were favored by traditional European herbalists, while the Native tribes in the US favored the roots. In the US, blackberry plants are grown domestically and it is also a common wild plant.

The leaf is easier to harvest, and usually easier to find commercially than the root.  Leaves from raspberry (a close relative of blackberry) can be used as well, and both are best prepared as a hot tea. If you are making use of blackberry leaves from your own plants, harvest them as the plant is beginning to bloom and arrange them on screens or hang in bunches to dry until you need them.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

The go to herb for end-of-meal digestive support, peppermint is also excellent for stomach bugs that leave you feeling gassy and bloated. Try hot peppermint tea with a little honey for best results.

In the garden, I always recommend planting peppermint in containers; if you plant it directly in the ground be aware that it spreads by runners and rootlets and is vigorous enough to kill other, more mild mannered, plants by crowding them out. I have also commonly found peppermint growing wild around old home sites and damp fields. It’s quite hardy and spreads freely.

As always, be aware that although many herbs have a long record of safe use, they can interact with prescription and OTC medications, so be sure to check with your doctor for potential problems before you use an herb for the first time.

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5 Steps in Packing an Emergency Kit with Flying Circle Bags http://thesurvivalmom.com/packing-an-emergency-kit/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/packing-an-emergency-kit/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:15:28 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18555 Pin this how-to for later. Click here. Coming up with a list of items for packing an emergency kit is the easy part. Books, websites, blogs, and YouTube videos abound with that information. My own lists can be found here Read More

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packing emergency kit

Pin this how-to for later. Click here.

Coming up with a list of items for packing an emergency kit is the easy part. Books, websites, blogs, and YouTube videos abound with that information. My own lists can be found here and in Chapter11 of my book.

What’s a little trickier is packing all that stuff in a way that makes sense, so that each item can be found when needed.

My daughter and I packed her emergency kit a couple of weeks ago using an excellent bag by Flying Circle Bags. They sent us their Presidio bag in Coyote Brown, and we have really enjoyed getting to know and use this bag. I also appreciated its affordable price.

Many folks grab the first available backpack they see, which is often a school backpack. These typically have a single large compartment and one or two zippered pouches on the exterior of the bag. In a pinch, this is better than nothing, but in a real emergency, you want a bag that is high quality and comes with many, many!, different pockets, slots, and pouches. Having multiple places to store things helps a great deal with organizing your supplies.

The Presidio bag met and exceeded our expectations. It’s definitely large enough to carry school books, supplies, and a laptop. It even has a clear vinyl touchscreen pocket for tablets. Access your iPad or other tablet while it’s safe inside this pocket! That was a nice, innovative feature that I didn’t expect. The large center section has 4 interior pockets and there are other small storage areas galore.

Bonus Discount! 20% off all Flying Circle bags with code SURVIVALMOM20

One nice accessory for this bag, if you find yourself with multiple small items that all seem to find their way to the bottom of a pocket, is this Cocoon organizer. This could easily be slipped into any one of several pouches in the Presidio to hold things like a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer, a pen, or an inhaler. I’ve also been known to use Ziploc bags and small coin/cosmetic cases for additional organization.

We’ve found the pack to be comfortable with its padded shoulder straps, adjustable sternum and waist straps, and the padded back. It’s on the smaller size, when compared with other, similar packs that are designed for men. Its size brings up the one potential issue that some may find with the Presidio. If your pile of things to pack is enormous, you may want to find smaller versions of some items in order to have enough room. We give this bag 2 thumbs up!

Now, here are 5 tips for getting that pack organized and packed properly.

Step 1: Assemble all your supplies

No matter what list(s) you use, remember to pause and first, look around to see what you might already have. One reason some moms never finish packing their emergency kits is because the have a long list of things to buy and the budget is tight and who knows when the money will be there…

If you start looking through cabinets, drawers, the garage, the trunk of your car, etc., you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you have far more items for your kit than you thought. Anything that is still on your To Buy list, might be found on Craigslist, Freecycle, eBay, in garage and estate sales, dollar stores, and thrift stores.

Step 2: Make sure your bag is the proper size and high quality

When you see that pile of supplies before you, you may panic and head for the largest possible backpack on the market. Jim Cobb weighs in on this here.

If you need to cut back on contents, look for products that serve multiple purposes and for smaller versions of what you have in the pile. Personally, I make good use of my Food Saver to vacuum pack items like toilet paper (remove the inner cardboard tube before vacuum sealing) and medications.

Step 3: Categorize your contents for better organization

Whenever I’ve been in a true panic, everything is confused — my thoughts, my words, my world. The last thing a mom needs in the moment of crisis is to dig through a dozen pockets looking for a pair of scissors or Quick Clot or some other item. This is why Step 3, is so necessary.

Go through everything in your pile of emergency stuff and sort it into my favorite 5 categories:

Sanitation

Security

Survival

Sustenance

Sanity

You can read more about these in detail, as well as emergency kit items in each category. As you begin to sort, your kit will begin to take shape. You may have all your sanitation items together, only to discover that you’ve somehow left out a small bottle of hand sanitizer or vacuum packed tissues. With each category, consider what your particular family needs, such as medications, dietary requirements, or small distractions for young children.

Step 4: Put most important items in outside pockets

The groupings with the most or largest items will necessarily be placed in the largest pouches or pockets. However, items such as a flashlight or first aid kit should be kept in outside pockets or wherever they can be quickly accessed.

Step 5: Each person should pack their own kit, so they know where to find each item

Before you know it, your kit will be fully packed. You’ll be tempted to move on and prepare everyone in the family, and that’s a good thing, but it really is best if each person packs their own kit.

If you’ve ever had someone make a grocery list for you, you know how disconcerting it is to arrive at the store and have to figure out, from scratch, what you’re supposed to buy. It’s when you write the list or pack the kit that it makes sense. Even young children should go through this step themselves, with your supervision.

There are many, many events that might require a quick grab of an emergency kit, such as a house fire, flood, earthquake, or other natural disaster. It’s worth taking some time now, on this side of those events, to get a high quality pack and begin making your own, customized kit.

 

 

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4 Children’s Organizations that Introduce Survival Basics http://thesurvivalmom.com/4-childrens-organizations-introduce-survival-basics/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/4-childrens-organizations-introduce-survival-basics/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:45:34 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17763 Along with the back to school season comes the gamut of fall sports, organized youth activities and club sign-ups. Summer vacations, lazy days at the pool and barbecues are replaced with Crockpot meals, homework, and the frantic race to the Read More

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Children's Organization the Introduce Survival BasicsAlong with the back to school season comes the gamut of fall sports, organized youth activities and club sign-ups. Summer vacations, lazy days at the pool and barbecues are replaced with Crockpot meals, homework, and the frantic race to the next football practice or cross country meet.

Some opportunities presented to your child could be more involved than teaching team work and how to win/lose gracefully. Many youth organizations are excellent introductions to basic survival and homesteading techniques.

Below are brief summaries of four (4) children’s organizations that can teach your child important skills while having fun, making friends and developing a sense of accomplishment.

Scouting

Whether it be Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, organized Scouting programs teach many survivalist skills.

Through a reward system of badges, pins, and patches that show others his or her accomplishments, Scouting can teach your child:

  • Camping
  • Personal fitness
  • Fishing
  • First Aid
  • Swimming
  • Archery / Rifle Shooting
  • Cooking
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Environmental Science
  • Pioneering
  • Gardening
  • Trailblazing/Hiking
  • Textiles / Sewing

Scouting organizations generally start accepting members as young as going into kindergarten (Girl Scouts) or finishing kindergarten (Cub Scouts) and continue on through adulthood. The typical Scouting program follows the fall through spring school year with additional outdoor and camping programs over the summer.

Sources: (Boy Scouts of America, 2014), (Girl Scouts of the United States of America, 2014)

4-H

4-H (Head, Heart, Hands, Health) is a youth organization which encourages children to develop skills through taking specialized projects over the course of the 4-H year. Typically, projects are showcased at local fairs in recognition of the child’s hard work and accomplishment. Animal projects are rewarded with the sale of raised livestock by local supporting businesses and individuals.

Some examples of projects that teach several homesteading skills include:

  • Fishing
  • Canning & Freezing
  • Exploring the Outdoors
  • Archery/Guns
  • Gardening
  • Numerous Baking & Cooking projects
  • Tractor Operations
  • Sewing
  • First Aid
  • Staying Healthy

Detailed projects on breeding and raising livestock include:

  • Cattle
  • Goats
  • Hogs
  • Poultry
  • Rabbits
  • Lambs
  • Horses

Children going into the third grade and above can join 4-H, show their projects, and sell their livestock at local fairs. Younger children can join as a Cloverbud member depending on the group but have limitations on what they can present during fair season.

The typical 4-H year follows the calendar year beginning in January or February depending on the area and generally ends after their county fair the end of summer or early fall. Other summer programs and camps are generally offered.

Source: (4-H, 2014)

Boys & Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Club originally began to provide a safe and positive environment to get boys off the streets. Today, the club still provides a place for both boys and girls to be safe and supervised away from home. Although the program may not go as far as to teach in-depth survivalist skills, the club does offer many activities to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle.

Participating in a program that is open to all personalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds requires adaptation on all those involved.  The club is generally open to school-age children but some locations may offer programs for younger children as well. Most facilities are open year-round and hours of operation may vary.

Source: (Boys & Girls Club, 2014)

National FFA Organization

Future Farmers of America or FFA is an agricultural education program typically available to high school students either during school or as an after school program. Many children even in small-town and rural areas are unaware of the skills needed and traditional methods of successful farming. FFA goes above and beyond teaching kids how to grow their own food.

The program teaches students the science beyond farming, the importance and value of agriculture, and its role in feeding the world. The program provides a foundation for many types of careers including biologists, chemists, veterinarians, engineers, and more. There are many conferences, camps, and other events for furthering agricultural education. Many different awards and incentives are in place for achieving goals, including scholarships.

Source: (National FFA Organization, 2014)

Introducing Survival Basics

Not all children’s activities will result in a room full of trophies and shiny medals. The skills learned in the programs above provide a foundation of both basic and detailed survivalist intelligence. Many other programs exist that can assist in furthering your child’s homesteading dexterity. Some organizations may be localized so be sure to check with area schools, daycares, and other well-known children facilities for programs that introduce survival basics in your area.

Babbling bonus: Parents learn a lot as well when helping their children with projects, badges, etc. Scouts honor!


Bibliography

4-H. (2014). Retrieved August 25, 2014, from 4-H: http://www.4-h.org/

Boy Scouts of America. (2014). Retrieved August 25, 2014, from Boy Scouts of America: http://www.scouting.org/

Boys & Girls Club. (2014). Retrieved August 25, 2014, from Boys & Girls Club: http://www.bgca.org/Pages/index.aspx

Girl Scouts. (2014). Retrieved August 25, 2014, from Girl Scouts: https://www.girlscouts.org/

National FFA Organization. (2014). Retrieved August 25, 2014, from National FFA Organization: https://www.ffa.org/Pages/default.aspx

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Fast, Free Survival Mom Maintenance http://thesurvivalmom.com/fast-free-survival-mom-maintenance/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/fast-free-survival-mom-maintenance/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 06:00:47 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18145  Pin this —> Taking care of the mom who takes care of everyone else! The most important thing you can do for your children? Take care of their mother! You’ve heard that if the momma isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.  You Read More

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mom maintenance

 Pin this —> Taking care of the mom who takes care of everyone else!

The most important thing you can do for your children? Take care of their mother!

You’ve heard that if the momma isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.  You need to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually to be at the top of your game so you can be the mom your kids deserve every day—including in times of crisis.

But with both time and money in short supply, what’s a survival mom to do? It’s surprising what fast, free actions can help you be better prepared.

Take care of your body

Eat in the morning

If you’re still having aspirin and coffee for breakfast, you need to rethink your routine! You’d never send your kids to face a full day on an empty stomach. You shouldn’t, either. Even if you mix up a quick protein shake the night before and down it in the car, you’re less likely to experience low blood sugar and that irritable, panicky, I’m-late-again tantrum. (‘Cause that’s not just me, right?) You’ve prepared for having to make it home without your car, deal with ugly weather conditions, and countless other unpredictable emergencies. Will you really be able to do it on an empty stomach?

Drink water

Years ago I read a book called You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty.  It makes for pretty dry reading, no pun intended, but you can glean much from just the summary.  While recent research indicates that forcing gallons of water down your gullet isn’t necessarily beneficial, Mother Nature never intended you to drink a 2-liter of soda a day, either.

Staying hydrated boosts your energy and helps fill your tummy, too. If you’re one of the handful of women who doesn’t have to diligently watch her waistline, well, I’ll keep my snarky comments to myself. But for the rest of us, water may be our diet’s best friend.

Stretch 

You know you’re supposed to exercise at least 3 times a week; it’s not news.  But I promised free and QUICK strategies, so try this one! Find 30 seconds in your day—especially when you feel a bit sluggish—to stretch your back, arms, and legs. Touch your toes. Take a deep breath. You’ll feel energized instantly.

Floss 

Statistically, most of us don’t floss our teeth regularly. Your oral health provides a window to your overall health, according to the Mayo Clinic.  You probably have imagined a scenario where dental care could be unavailable or unaffordable.  A 2-minute date each day with some dollar-store floss seems like a pretty cheap insurance policy.

Stop smoking, already!

This is beyond free, because you’re actually saving money. And your health, and your kids’ health. If it hits the fan, you’ll have to go cold turkey, anyway, so you might as well get ahead of the game and put that money to better use now.

I know, I know, it’s easy for me to say because I’ve never been addicted. So I’ll tell you what I tell my kids: If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way.  If not, you’ll find an excuse. Breathing is kind of essential to survival—more than any food stores or silver stash. Give your lungs the priority they deserve.

Get some sleep!

Seriously—your mind and body need rest.  Limit your late nights to just a couple a week.  The laundry will still be there in the morning, I promise. But if you drive to school groggy, snap at your kids unnecessarily, or slog through your day doing everything at half speed, you’d be better off getting that extra hour of zzz’s.

Keep your mind sharp

Read!

Download a free kindle app. Then, download some free kindle books. Even without a kindle, you can find enough to keep your brain engaged. Read short articles while you’re at the doctor’s office. Read The Survival Mom on your lunch break. Read to your kids before bed! Keep that tradition going even when your kids can read on their own. Current research indicates that it’s even good for teenagers! Read a book together (or at least talk about it when you’re both done).

Journal

Neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Nussbaum has laid out a prescription for keeping the brain so healthy that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease can be delayed until death—even when physiological changes consistent with the disease are already present. His recommendations include reading and writing just a little bit every day. Don’t bog yourself down wallowing in only survivalist reading. A cheesy romance novel can be good for the brain and spirit, too.  Still no time? Read on your treadmill. Surely multitasking can help you justify 30 minutes to yourself. (I like to read the kindle and walk the track while the kids play at the playground.)

Nurture your spirit

Develop an attitude of gratitude

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your lists of things to do/buy/learn before everything hits the fan, make a mental list of all the things you have to celebrate. It’s impossible to wallow in the doom and gloom of internet news when you ‘re picturing the faces of your smiling kiddos or grandkids! Even in the midst of divorce, illness, financial difficulty, or multiple loads of unfolded laundry, you have lots to be thankful for. If you’re not dealing with any of those issues, you know where to start your list.

Pray or meditate daily

Even if you’re not religious per se, Dr. Nussbaum says daily time in quiet contemplation (maybe making that gratitude list?) has powerful effects on the brain and body. I know it’s tough to find quiet time.  Might I suggest the minutes between “snooze” hits on your morning alarm? Works for me.  I find I can be very contemplative on Monday mornings.

Ask for help

It’s not against the rules.  It doesn’t make you a bad mom. It just means you’re human, and you’ve accepted it. That can be really powerful! Showing your kids how to take care of simple chores, meal prep, and organization can be empowering for them and liberating for you. And if we’re being honest, go ahead and admit that you don’t ask your husband for help because you hate admitting you need it, not because he won’t do it. Mine started snapping beans with the ballgame on and worked his way up to slap-chopping vegetables with the kids (it’s hilarious to see them all lined up and pounding their way toward homemade salsa!). Now he’s an expert tomato skinner, pear peeler, and taste-tester. Plus we get to spend time together instead of me busy in the kitchen while he does…well, whatever he does out in the workshop.  I have found he’ll help with pretty much anything if I ask. But expecting him to notice a sticky hand print and attack it without prompting is unrealistic. I don’t get too worked up about it—especially now that I feel like I’m not doing it all on my own. (Again, that’s not just me, right?) Asking for help will also allow you to make time to exercise, read, and get enough sleep.  I bet your husband will agree that you deserve those things! Give yourself permission.

You’re too important to your family to neglect yourself. They need your “A” game every day. And because you never know when emergencies—major or minor—could require peak physical, mental, and emotional performance, taking care of the mom who takes care of everyone else may be the most important preparation you’ll ever make.

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A Life Skills Test For Kids: Does Your Child Pass? http://thesurvivalmom.com/life-skills-test-kids-child-pass/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/life-skills-test-kids-child-pass/#comments Sat, 27 Sep 2014 06:00:39 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16906 With kids back in school their focus is often on passing their math final, or English test – but what about a test for everyday life skills? In the past, Home Economic classes where the norm, but the quality and existence Read More

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life skills test for kids

With kids back in school their focus is often on passing their math final, or English test – but what about a test for everyday life skills?

In the past, Home Economic classes where the norm, but the quality and existence of them are dwindling with time. These classes taught many of the skills needed to live a self-sustaining lifestyle.

Over the past few decades many of us have lost touch with those basic skills and principles that were once taught in high school home economics programs around the country, says Karen Leonas

Leonas has seen students who don’t know the essentials—like balancing a check book or sewing on a button. Recovering home economics skills may be valuable in surviving the current economic situation, says Leonas. (Whatever Happened to Home Economics?)

The Importance of Life Skills

So is it important to teach home economics (or life skills) to students, or is it a thing of the past?

I know many of my friends are choosing the homeschooling route, primarily because they believe teaching their children practical life skills is a critical part of education. They are not alone in this thinking either; other countries are recognizing the importance of such classes…

The Japanese—along with other countries such as Finland and South Korea where children are excelling in math, science and language arts—understand that in addition to teaching children math, reading and science, they also need to teach home economics and other practical life skills. (Who Says Home-ec Isn’t a Core Subject?)

Children are absolutely brilliant these days, and can do things far beyond what I did at their age, but are we doing them a favor by skipping teaching them the fundamental basics of everyday living? They may be a master at arithmetic and art, but can they change a tire, or sew on a button?

Can we really consider ourselves prepared for life beyond Hockaday when many of us cannot even cook an adequate meal for ourselves?

But a “Life Skills” or “Independent Living” course would in no way perpetuate this stereotype; it would fill in a major gap in the Hockaday education; it would go beyond cooking and cleaning to paying taxes, balancing checkbooks, basic car maintenance, skills that every woman—as well as every man—requires to live a self-sufficient lifestyle.  (Home Economics vs Feminis – An Uneasy Union)

I think it’s extremely important to teach our children life skills – not only does it give them confidence to eventually be on their own, but it teaches them to be more self-reliant.

Think about it. If you don’t teach these skills to your kids, or find someone else to do the teaching, then who will?

A Life Skills Test for Kids

Here’s a basic life skills test to see how much your kids know about everyday living. In no way is this a complete list of all the things they need to know or should know, that is up to you – the parent!

See which of the following your child can do…

Cooking Skills

  • create a shopping list
  • select groceries
  • find the best deals
  • use a microwave
  • read nutrition labels and know what’s good and what’s not
  • prepare, serve and store food to avoid spoilage
  • cook a well-balanced meal
  • know which kitchen tools and equipment to use for which tasks

Money Skills

  • make a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it
  • use an ATM
  • open, use and balance a checking account
  • apply for a credit card and use it responsibly
  • save up to buy a desired item
  • set aside money for charity
  • keep track of important papers
  • how to use a debit card
  • track purchases
  • pay monthly bills, including utilities

Clothing Skills

  • complete simple repairs when needed
  • sew on a button
  • mend a seam
  • iron garments
  • fold and put away clothing
  • follow fabric-care labels
  • do laundry, including treating simple stains
  • wash and dry items by hand
  • fold clothes
  • pack a suitcase

At-Home Skills

  • able to clean the house
  • clean toilets
  • find the circuit breaker and use it
  • locate and use water and furnace shutoffs
  • use a fire extinguisher
  • perform basic first aid
  • fix a running toilet
  • do laundry, including treating simple stains
  • use all household appliances, like loading the dishwasher the right way

Car Skills

  • basic auto maintenance
  • check tire pressure
  • pump gas
  • check oil level and add oil if needed
  • check washer fluid and add more if necessary
  • arrange routine maintenance
  • jump-start car
  • change tire
  • add air to tires
  • produce documents if stopped by police
  • know what to look for in buying their first car

Other Life Skills

  • change a mailing address
  • register to vote
  • how to vote
  • who to call and what to do in emergency situations
  • basic first aid or CPR
  • how to apply for a job
  • interview skills
  • how to select proper clothing for an interview
  • what to look for in a first apartment
  • who to contact to turn on utilities
  • where to have a document notarized
  • how to use public transportation

And the most important Life Skill of all (at least if you don’t want your kids still living at home when they are 30) is…

  • Can they handle their own problems when they arise and work things out on their own?

How did your child do?

Here is a great resource with numerous ways you can teach your kids the life skills they probably are not learning at school – Teach Your Kids About… Home Ec

What are some of the life skills that you consider essential for your children to know before they leave home?

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Common-Sense Strategies for Teaching Gun Safety: A Gun is No Big Deal http://thesurvivalmom.com/teaching-gun-safety-part-1/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/teaching-gun-safety-part-1/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 18:00:51 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18373 I don’t know if the anti-gun trend is still fashionable or not, but when I was raising my young children, it certainly was. I decided that my two year-old son would not be playing with a Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster Read More

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I don’t know if the anti-gun trend is still fashionable or not, but when I was raising my young children, it certainly was. I decided that my two year-old son would not be playing with a Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster or, for that matter, any gun. I have to admit it made me feel a little superior to take that stand, but one day my son turned a pizza crust into a small handgun, started shooting at the waitress, and I knew this was not a hill I cared to die on. I bought the Astro Blaster the next day.

Over the years, my son’s collection of toy guns accumulated and, as a family, we began making frequent trips to the shooting range when he was seven years old. Incorporating shooting sports in our everyday, ordinary lives has become, well, ordinary.

Our approach from the beginning is matter-of-fact, focused on the fundamentals of gun safety and skills, and age appropriate. I have 7 common-sense strategies for teaching gun safety that I’m going to pass along to you over the next 7 weeks.

#1   A gun is no big deal.

(Remember, this is the first of seven tips.)

One of the first lessons I wanted my kids to learn is that a gun is no big deal. It’s a tool, much like a hammer. I didn’t want them to become so attracted to the gun as a forbidden fruit that they would someday give in to temptation and endanger themselves and others.

Remember the scene in The Sixth Sense when a young teen boy says to the main character, Cole, “Wanna see my dad’s gun?”  He turns toward the bedroom and we see a huge gunshot wound in the side of his head. I never wanted that scene played out in our home, with one of our children, eager to impress a friend, shows off by handling a loaded firearm.

In fact, what we wanted was the exact opposite. We don’t want guns to be so fascinating that safety rules are quickly forgotten. After all, what is more alluring to a child? Something they’re not allowed to see and touch or something so ordinary that it’s no big deal? So, both kids have gone to shooting ranges many, many times. They have both participated in an Appleseed weekend and a summer camp held at an indoor range.

I am not precluding the possibility of either of our children doing something stupid someday while around a firearm, but if they do, it certainly won’t be because they view a gun as something exciting and glamorous. The last thing I want my kids to do is wait until we are gone from home and then seek out a hidden gun to “play with.”

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“Outage” by Ellisa Barr: Book Review http://thesurvivalmom.com/outage-ellisa-barr-book-review/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/outage-ellisa-barr-book-review/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 06:00:46 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18067 As you turn the opening pages of Outage, the parents of 15 year old Dee, our self-absorbed and somewhat reluctant teenage heroine from the city, are leaving her with her grandfather. He runs a veterinary service on a small farm Read More

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Outage by Ellisa BarrAs you turn the opening pages of Outage, the parents of 15 year old Dee, our self-absorbed and somewhat reluctant teenage heroine from the city, are leaving her with her grandfather. He runs a veterinary service on a small farm near the town of Lookout Falls in Washington State.

After Dee’s mom and dad depart for a vacation cruise to Alaska, she is hit with the realization that there is no cell phone or internet service, let alone a mall or nearby shopping center to hang out at, meet boys and socialize. This is completely untenable and unacceptable to her. Dee is determined to run at the earliest opportunity, by any means possible.

This beginning sets the stage for what turns into an action-packed, non-stop apocalyptic novel for young adults. First time author Ellisa Barr created an exciting story centered on an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event which grips the nation, Dee’s family, and her newly made friends.

While interviewing Ms. Barr for this book review, she shared with me a bit of her personal history and experiences growing up in a small town in rural Idaho. It quickly became apparent that Barr pulled from her life experiences, faith, and wonderful imagination to create highly engaging prose and dialog that draws readers into the story and the main character’s life. Dee’s trials and triumphs unfold as the post EMP world churns.

I felt like I was right in the midst of events as Dee soon finds her high tech world of texting, tweeting, and Facebook gone, replaced by her struggle to keep the family farm going with her ailing grandfather. A rapidly maturing Dee helps family, friends and neighbors as they band together to survive and create community not experienced in the United States since the 1800’s, and deal with a ruthless local sheriff.

This 233 page book has all the hallmarks of an engaging Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery set to a modern day apocalyptic theme. There is action, adventure and even a bit of romance to entice the reader as you delve into the pages of this entertaining work.

I unintentionally read late into the night engrossed in Outage, book one of the Powerless Nation series. And I will happily burn the midnight oil reading Ms. Barr’s upcoming tome, Voyage, book two in the series.

I highly recommend Outage to anyone interested in an engaging and fast-paced apocalyptic read. It’s great!

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House Hunting for Preppers http://thesurvivalmom.com/house-hunting-for-preppers/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/house-hunting-for-preppers/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 07:04:37 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17841 Moving from one home to another can be both stressful and exciting. My family just moved from Northern Alabama to Central Florida in August. We made a list of “must haves” to give to our realtor… open floor plan with Read More

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 House Hunting for Preppers

House hunting for preppers — helpful tips!

Moving from one home to another can be both stressful and exciting. My family just moved from Northern Alabama to Central Florida in August. We made a list of “must haves” to give to our realtor… open floor plan with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a fenced in yard and an easy commute to work for my husband. But we had a separate list of questions to ask about each property that related directly to preparedness. These are questions you should ponder when moving into a new home and, especially, when you’re house hunting as preppers.

The “perfect” house

Where will we put our stuff? One of the most important prepping considerations to make when searching for a new house is storage space. Our stock of food, water, and supplies takes up a lot of room. Where will we put it?

Food storage needs to be inside to regulate temperature – and not inside an uninsulated garage or storage shed, either. Is there an extra closet big enough to accommodate all our #10 cans of dehydrated foods?

How does the home receive it’s power? Gas? Electric? Solar? A combination? Gas for heat, hot water, and stove is preferable because these will run even when the power is out. Solar will also work without power and would potentially allow you to run a refrigerator, cooling fans and heaters, and recharge batteries.

Does the home have protections (shutters, reinforced glass, roof and foundation straps) against hurricanes? This question is specific for us living close to a coast in Florida, but you should think about natural disasters that occur in your location. Earthquakes? Tornadoes? Flood? Wild Fire? Arctic cold? Does the house have the preventive or protective components needed to keep your family and property as safe as possible?

Is there a “safe place” in my home? Where would I take cover from a tornado? Is there a basement, shelter, or interior space that would make a good spot to protect myself and my family? What about a “hidden” spot to hide from intruders or to hide firearms and supplies?

One home we looked at had an odd crawl space storage with the only entry on the inside of a bedroom closet. It was big enough for the whole family to sit inside along with room for some storage and could be easily hidden with hanging clothes.

Location, Location, Location

Realtors will tell you location is everything and they are right! Of course they are speaking more about property values than preparedness, but location is critical for preppers.

Is there an alternative water source (lake, pond, well, river or stream) on or near the property? What if your city or county water supply is shut off for an extended period of time? Having a water source that can provide drinkable water (after you treat it properly to make it safe) will reduce the amount of water you have to store in case of an emergency.

Storing drinking water but being able to use water from a pond to flush your toilets would be a great benefit. Having a source of drinking water once your stock runs out will provide some peace of mind. Keep in mind that a gallon of water weighs eight pounds, so if your water source is too far away, it will be hard work to collect and carry water back to your home.

Learn the depth of the water table in a desired area or neighborhood. Digging a well on your property might be an option.

Is the home in a flood zone? A nearby water source is great, but too much water too close may not be. Rising water with every heavy rain storm can cause undue stress. It will also increase your home owners or renter’s’ insurance rates. You can find out if a home is in a flood plain by going to the Flood Smart website.

Many people still choose to live in flood zone areas. If you do, be sure to take it into consideration when storing your preparedness items and making your emergency plan.

Are there fruit or nut trees in the area? Is their room to plant fruit bearing trees, berry bushes, or a vegetable garden? 

What’s the population density of the area you are moving into? High populations could present a problem in a grid down situation, but being miles from neighbors could result in not getting help quickly enough if needed.

If you are in a hurricane area, where are you on the evacuation route? If you’re close to the coast, you’ll potentially be “last in line” to move to safer ground. Further inland will result in fewer miles to drive with the evacuating hoards of people. Millions of people live in hurricane zones. If you choose to move into a home in a hurricane zone, make a plan for evacuation well in advance, practice driving the recommended evacuation route, and know some alternate routes you can take.

AVR House Hunting for PreppersEvacuation routes aren’t just for escaping hurricanes. Look at a map and determine routes you might take to leave your area. Are there bridges you must cross? Shortcuts out of or around metropolitan areas?

What “targets” are nearby? Terrorism is a concern in our world. Living right next to military bases, bridges, tourist attractions, malls or universities, downstream from a dam, or near a chemical plant might increase your risk. It doesn’t necessarily preclude living in a home near these locations, but it might alter the way you prep.

Are there hazmat risks near your home? Trains transport hazardous materials near or through neighborhoods every day. Check to see how far away train tracks are from your potential home. Think about the refineries, nuclear power plants, chemical plants, and other factories discussed earlier. Accidents can happen at these locations as well and could result in evacuation or sheltering in place.

What about cell service? Be sure to check your cell phone at every house you visit. If your cell is your only phone, this is more critical, but think about when the power is out and your cell is the only option. You don’t want your house to be in a dead zone.

Neighbors and Neighborhood

Do you want to live in a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) controlled community? There are many good reasons to live in an HOA neighborhood. Property values tend to be more protected, the neighborhoods often have a neater appearance, background checks may keep out some criminal elements, and they could be gated communities that offer more security.

As a prepper, there are other things to consider. Will the HOA allow you to have rain barrels on your property? How about chickens? Or a garden? Or solar panels? If living a more self-reliant lifestyle is important to you, consider staying away from HOAs that are not accepting of your lifestyle.

When considering a particular house, drive around the neighborhood and recon the neighbors. You can learn a lot about a neighborhood just by observing the other people and properties. When driving to look at one home, we saw a state trooper vehicle parked in a driveway a couple houses down. Turns out it wasn’t a drug bust, just a cop’s home. I saw that as a potential deterrent for bad guys in the neighborhood. Learn more about what to look for while walking through a neighborhood by reading this article: “Walking Your Dog Can Help You Prep.”

It Won’t be Perfect

One final question to ask: If this location doesn’t have everything I want or need in a home, do I have the ability to add it on later? There are many things you cannot change about a home to make it work for you, but there might be some things you can do. Adding protection from the elements, solar panels, and finishing a basement or attic are just a few things that you could change to make your home “prepper friendly.”

Here’s the bottom line. The chances of finding the perfect prepper house and location are slim to none. If it already exists or can be built, it’s likely out of the price range for many people, or out of the question because we can’t move away from our source of income. Think about all the issues presented here and answer them honestly about each house considered. You’ll have to determine what you’re willing to compromise or risk, and then take steps to mitigate and reduce the risk as much as possible. Happy house hunting!

What would you want in your perfect prepper home? Click here for a checklist from The Survival Mom & Sentry Safe.

*** Author’s note: Interested in buying a “Prepper Property?” Check out this website that offers nothing but real estate (land and homes) that are perfect for preppers: Survival Realty

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My Story: Lessons we learned from hurricane evacuations http://thesurvivalmom.com/hurricane-evacuations/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/hurricane-evacuations/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 06:00:44 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18008   These evacuations tips are excellent, even if you don’t live in hurricane country. Pin this for later! On August 28. 2005, My family did something we had never even considered doing before. We evacuated for a hurricane. After seeing Read More

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hurricane evacuations

 

These evacuations tips are excellent, even if you don’t live in hurricane country.

Pin this for later!

On August 28. 2005, My family did something we had never even considered doing before. We evacuated for a hurricane. After seeing the path of devastation Hurricane Katrina did to our beloved city of New Orleans and in particular our home, we know we made the right choice.

Hurricane evacuations are different from many other types of evacuations. If you live near the coast, every year you should make a plan to evacuate at the beginning of hurricane season. We are preppers. This should be on your list of preparations.

Most people are safe to shelter in place for most hurricanes, but you need to have a plan in place if you are facing an above average storm.

What we did right in both hurricane evacuations

  1. If you are going to evacuate, DO NOT just go to Aunt Betty’s house an hour or two down the coast. These areas are going to take some damage as well, and the cities do not have the infrastructure to care for evacuees in addition to their own citizens. Go inland. Not just an hour inland either. Go at least a 4-5 hour drive inland. And that’s a normal-traffic 4-5 hour drive, not 4-5 hours in painfully slow evacuation traffic. (See #8, below.)
  2. Honestly, I suggest you plan it as a forced vacation. Go to a city that you have never been. Explore the town. See the sites. It will give the everyone something to do besides worry about their home. For Hurricane Katrina, we evacuated to the home of family in North Louisiana. We explored Ruston and Monroe. The kids considered it a grand adventure and enjoyed hanging out with their cousins. For Hurricane Gustav in 2008, our family no longer lived in north Louisiana, so instead we headed to Memphis and had a great family vacation there.
  3. Of course, grab your BOB, important papers, and family photos, but assume you will be gone for a few weeks. Don’t reach for those pretty suitcases. Grab a laundry basket or two. Pack your clothes in there. Why? If you are stuck somewhere for more than a day or two, you are going to have to do laundry. It is so much more convenient to do laundry with a hamper than a suitcase. A laundry hamper will also provide easy cushion for any breakables that you decide to take with you. While we are talking clothes, grab your favorite expensive perfume and a nice outfit. After a while, you will want to go to a nice dinner or church.
  4. If you have kids, take their school work with you. If you are homeschoolers, you can keep them busy during the long hours of waiting by getting school done. If you aren’t homeschoolers, you can always use it as an opportunity to do some review with your kids or study something they find interesting that school doesn’t cover.
  5. Grab everyone’s favorite blankets, pillows and loveys. When we are scared and worried, even the adults want the comforts of home.
  6. With the exception of fish, take your pets with you. If it isn’t safe enough for you, it isn’t safe enough for them. Your snake may only eat once every week or so, but your grandma doesn’t want to find it crawling around the house when she helps you clean up (This happened to a family I know). Our tropical fish did fine.
  7. Grab your prescription medications. Don’t just grab a couple out of the bottle. Take the prescription bottle from the pharmacy with you. There were people who didn’t even know why they were taking medications, and doctors were left matching pills to a PDR.
  8. Leave either very early or late at night. Very few people are ready to leave quickly. Even less want to drive at night. We left our home early in the contra flow process, but left around 11 p.m. We had no traffic the whole time on the road. Being prepared to begin with will reduce the amount of time needed to leave your home.

What we did wrong

  1. When you are grabbing the family photo albums, do NOT ignore the family photos hanging on the wall. They may be too big to take with you, but take them off the wall, put them in trash bags and put them somewhere high and safe. While our home did not have flooding (we had a 2nd and 3rd floor condo), we had significant roof damage. Pictures were knocked off walls and sat in moldy puddles.
  2. Empty your refrigerator. Do not assume you will be back in a day or two. The ketchup and pickles in the door may be fine. They shouldn’t leak. Everything else? Either take it with you when you evacuate, freeze it, or throw it out.
  3. Do you have a separate chest freezer? Great! Empty out your refrigerator’s freezer and squeeze everything into your chest freezer, and lower the temperature as far as possible. There is no way to get the smell out of a rotten refrigerator. We tried everything for a year while we rebuilt our home. We finally gave up and just bought a new one. The rotten food juices drip into the insulation. The chest freezer is worth the risk. If the power is out too long, tape it up and wheel it to the curb, still full, for trash pick-up. If the power isn’t out too long, you might still be in luck. It’s pretty much a break even point for most of us. Quick Check to know if the freezer contents are a loss or not: Put a bag of ice cubes in the chest freezer before you leave. When you return, if the ice cubes are still separate, your freezer is fine. If they have formed a solid block, consider the freezer a loss.
  4. If you have multiple reliable cars, do not take the best one. Take the most valuable, roadworthy one that has the least insurance coverage. We took our best vehicle, which was fully insured and left our vehicle that was in good condition, but was paid off and had liability only insurance. Liability insurance doesn’t pay for flood damage.

Both of our evacuations were major growth points for our family. Our family grew closer and stronger, knowing that we were in this mess together. Thorough preps were a big bonus, and made our evacuations more comfortable. I hope that you never suffer the major damages that we did, but I hope that this will help you.

Guest post by Suzi Champagne.

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A Breast Lump Led Me to Homemade Deodorant http://thesurvivalmom.com/breast-lump-led-homemade-deodorant/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/breast-lump-led-homemade-deodorant/#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 06:00:02 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17874 Timing is everything, and I found this particular lump in my armpit the same month a friend died of breast cancer. So, I visited my doctor. One of the questions my doctor had asked was if I changed to a Read More

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deodorantTiming is everything, and I found this particular lump in my armpit the same month a friend died of breast cancer. So, I visited my doctor.

One of the questions my doctor had asked was if I changed to a new deodorant, and I had recently started using the Famous Brand SUPER STRONG deodorant. It worked really well, but…. Not worth the risk if it was giving me who-knows-what in my armpits.

Naturally, I had a mammogram and an ultrasound to check. The result: benign / nothing. Now, I don’t know about you, but those are two different results. Nothing means nothing, as in, not a thing. Benign means nothing to worry about, as in, something is there, but don’t worry. But I digress. (In case you are wondering, I ultimately had it removed and it was breast tissue in the “wrong place”, truly nothing to worry about.)

I changed to Amazon-bought natural deodorants. We finally found one with colloidial silver in it that works well, but I still wasn’t 100% sold. This is something I will use daily, potentially for decades. I don’t want to turn blue!

My Lucky Discovery

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for “spa products” on sale, especially a nice sugar or salt scrub. I often even use them before they dry out completely. At some point in the summer when my pits were particularly stinky, I decided to try a sugar scrub on them. Miraculous! So much less stinky!

When I ran out of my purchased sugar and salt scrubs, I decided to try making them with my son, who loves mucking about mixing things together. While we were at it, I figured we might as well try homemade deodorant. I used the emptied containers from my store-bought spa products, and also an empty vaseline container for some leftovers.

Both were as easy as can be to make! I needed coconut oil (solid at room temp), which I found at a local grocery store. The deodorant also calls for Arrowroot Powder, which we had on hand courtesy of a recent attempt to eat healthier.

After I started using these, I stopped having problems with stinky pits, even on super-hot days when sweat was pouring off me. Woo hoo! It’s really a blessing for the whole family.

There were a few days when I wasn’t as hot that I did notice a bit of stinkyness at the end of the day. I realized that on those days, I hadn’t used the sugar scrub at the end of my shower.

So, from my experiences, I recommend using a sugar or salt scrub on your pits in the shower, then using homemade deodorant. Both are so simple to make that  I do it with my 8 yr old for fun. He gets to choose the essential oils and put them in, with supervision. We have fun together.

I was able to buy all the ingredients from my local health-conscious grocery store, no special orders required.

Deodorant:

This recipe originally came from the website Passionate Homemaking.

Mix dry ingredients. Add coconut oil gradually until it is smooth and well blended. The texture should be similar to commercial deodorant, soft enough to go on easily but firm enough to hold its shape.

You can put it into an old, empty deodorant container or any other sealable container.

I recommend making sure the container has a good seal because this does have a low melting point. Left in a tent at Scout camp, it liquified when the temp was “only” in the low 90s. If it hadn’t had a good seal, that would have been quite the mess to clean up.

Vanilla / Brown Sugar Scrub:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Mix the sugars together until there are no lumps. Add sunflower oil and vanilla. (Sunflower oil does not carry the strong scent that Olive Oil does.) Store in a sealed glass container until ready to use.

Salt scrubs will work as well, they just might sting if you nick yourself while shaving.

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