January 19, 2017

B2B Book Reviews 3: Preparedness

It seems that more and more people are becoming aware of the need to be prepared. Not only because of economic and political uncertainties, but for times of joblessness or natural disaster when resources are slim to none. Being prepared for hard times only makes sense, and the Back To Basics Living Bundle has some good offerings on this subject.

There are several really good preparedness plans in the bundle, but for those just getting started I especially like Melissa K. Norris's 30 Days to Preparedness: Old-Fashioned Skills to increase self-sufficiency. It starts with a preparedness checklist, and is divided into weekly sections. Week 1 discusses things to keep in your car, alternative light sources, keeping warm without electricity, and an introduction to bulk food storage. Week 2 addresses food storage mistakes to avoid, storing and purifying water at home, growing and foraging for food, seed saving, and introduces raising backyard chickens and other animals for meat. Week 3 discusses home butchering of meat, dehydration, canning, choosing a grain mill, and sourdough starter. Week 4 gets into cooking without power, starting a fire without a lighter or matches, bartering, herbs, and old-time natural remedies that work. This book doesn't claim to take you to full preparedness, but between it and the rest of the B2B Living Bundle, you will have the tools and information you need to get there.

Food Storage Made Easy: a three-part program by Jodi Moore and Julie Weiss obviously focuses on food preparedness. It can help the beginner get started, as well as help the rest of us evaluate, organize, and fill in the gaps. Part one includes weekly checklists for goal setting. The checklists give you things to do, things to buy, and recipes to try (included in the recipe section). Part two is an encyclopedia which covers emergency preparedness, shelves (where to put it all is something one doesn't usually think about at first), water, the 3-month supply, and long term planning. It goes on to cover grains, legumes and meats, baking ingredients, fruits and veggies, comfort foods, and non-food items. Part three is a huge selection of recipes utilizing the foods you've stored in your pantry.

While the two eBooks above are good examples of general preparedness, One Second After the Lights Go Out: How to Survive in a Post-EMP World by Lisa Bedford addresses preparedness for the extreme. Most of us would like to think that an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP), coronal mass ejection (CME), or cyberterrorism are simply the stuff of books and movies and therefore highly unlikely. The author begins by explaining what our power grid is, how it functions, and what experts say about the actual likelihood of extensive damage to it. By assuming a worst case scenario she takes you through the consequences of such an event and actions you can implement to be better prepared. Such a catastrophe may seem sensationalistic, but the information in this book is very common sense and practical. If you're prepared for this, you'll be prepared for almost anything.

The Back To Basics Bundle will be available through January 22 and includes 73 homesteading, self-reliance, DIY, and preparedness eBooks, courses, plus about a dozen bonus offers. You can choose online access to download the bundle for $29.97, the flash (aka thumb or USB) drive option for $54.97, or both for $59.97 (one for you and the other as a gift).


BONUS: If you buy the bundle through my blog, I'll gift you with your choice of one eVolume from my The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos. After you place your order simply email me at 5acresandadream @ mail. com, and let me know which one you'd like. I'll send you a link to download a free copy.

Tomorrow I'll review two books on low tech and off-grid living.

January 18, 2017

B2B Book Reviews 2: Food Preservation & Storage

This year's Back To Basics Living Bundle is truly a gold mine of information on food preservation and food storage. It's a comprehensive collection of information covering canning, dehydrating, fermenting, freezing, and pickling, as well as planning and pantry organization. You'll find forms, checklists, and recipes included. It was hard to pick just a few to review for this post.

Jennifer Osuch's Dehydrating–Charts and Basic Methods caught my eye because I've pretty much fallen away from dehydrating. However, I've recently learned a technique which has renewed my hope for drying more foods. (I'll tell you about that technique in an upcoming post.) Jennifer does an excellent job covering the basics in this book, including foods like watermelon, berries, corn, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and odorless onions; how to make powders including pumpkin flour, how to make "quick cook" dried beans, plus an introduction to meals in a jar.

The charts include conversion charts which give pre-dehydrated weight and volume, method of preparation, and dehydrated weight and volume for an extensive list of vegetables. The time chart includes temperatures and drying times based on humidity. Humidity makes a difference! As a bonus you get a printable page to create your own Dehydrating Journal plus printable labels.

Many of you know Patrice Lewis from Rural Revolution. This year's B2B Bundle includes her Introduction to Canning, which is actually three booklets in one: Introduction to Water-Bath Canning, Introduction to Pressure Canning, and Canning FAQs: 100 Basic Questions About Canning. Includes a thorough discussion of safety and equipment, altitude charts, tips, and how-to basics for canning fruits, vegetables, and meats. The FAQ section discusses alternative heat sources, what not to can, and trouble shooting.

There are quite a few other food preservation and storage offerings, but the last one I'd like to mention is Oh Lardy’s Guide to Fermenting Fruits & Vegetables by Kelly Liston and Tamara Mannelly. Regular readers of my blog know that I am a fan of fermenting, and for me this guide is a next step into more fermenting adventures. It covers basics for vegetables and fruits, equipment, health benefits, how to use, and answers common questions. The recipe section includes a nice variety of recipes for fermented veggies, sauerkrauts, fruits, drinks, dips, condiments, salsas, and salad dressings. It also includes a nice list of resources.

The Back To Basics Living Bundle will be available through January 22 and includes 73 homesteading, self-reliance, DIY, and preparedness resources plus about a dozen bonus offers. You can choose online access to download the bundle for $29.97, the flash (thumb aka USB) drive option for $54.97, or both for $59.97 (one for you and the other as a gift).


BONUS: If you buy the bundle through my blog, I'll gift you with your choice of one eVolume from my The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos. After you place your order simply email me at 5acresandadream @ mail. com, and let me know which one you'd like. I'll send you a link to download a free copy.

Tomorrow I'll review three of the bundle offerings on preparedness.

© Jan 2017 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

January 17, 2017

B2B Book Reviews 1: Homesteading, Herbal Medicine, and Homeschooling

When I was a senior in high school I took an aptitude test. I scored highest in music and home economics, lowest in police work and sales! As you can imagine, that means that trying to promote anything (most especially my own books) is truly difficult for me. The Back To Basics Living Bundle folks put together a really nice marketing package for their affiliates, but instead of presenting you with a more typical sales appeal, I'm going to do what feels comfortable for me, i.e. a series of book reviews from this year's bundle. So from one book lover to another, here are some of the B2B books that I really enjoyed.

Homesteading

There are many homesteading resources in the bundle, and for those who are looking to get started, this one by Carmen Nuland is a really great little book. 8 Steps to Homestead Beginnings: How to defeat overwhelm when starting a homestead talks about the reasons for homesteading and then helps you develop a vision for your future homestead. It takes you through evaluating your resources, planning, goal setting, getting started, identifying obstacles, tracking expenses and income, and review. It includes all the things that need to be thought through in order to create a plan and take the first steps toward success.

Herbal Medicine

For those of you interested herbs and natural healing, Kami McBride's How To Make Healing Herbal Oils is a really nice addition to the bundle. In it she introduces the benefits of using herbal oils, and then teaches you how to make your own. It starts with the basics of making infused oils with either fresh or dried herbs, then shows you how to make two useful oils from lavender and comfrey. She details her seven favorite herbs for infused oils, plus gives recipes for making a variety of healing blends: Aches and Pains, Bumps and Bruises, Relaxation, Scrapes and Scratches, Headache Oil, Healing Bath Oil Blend, Luxury and Massage Oil Blend. She also includes a chapter on preserving your oils, plus a list of resources.

Homeschooling

One of the homeschooling resources is a set of five unit studies from Carol J. Alexander's Lessons from the Homestead series. She has included:
  • Lessons from the Bee Hive
  • Lessons from the Garden
  • Lessons from the Hen House
  • Lessons from the Seed Catalog
  • Lessons from the Tree House

These parent guides help you adapt your own homestead resources to a variety of grade levels and subjects: math, science, geography, language arts, art, home economics. Each booklet includes a vocabulary list and resources.

My favorite in the series is Lessons from the Tree House. It uses the unschooling approach which is such a natural fit with homesteading. In her introduction, Carol cites a work which states that American children typically only get 30 minutes per week in unstructured outdoor time, whereas they spend over 30 hours each week in front of some kind of electronic screen. She writes, "Those sobering statistics compelled me to go outside and take pictures of their fort for future scrapbooks. While out admiring their work, I couldn't help but think of all they learned while working on this project."

Divided into The Design Phase, The Building Phase, and The Enjoyment Phase, this little eBook helps parents develop both academic as well as life skills in their children. I only wish it was available when I was homeschooling my kids!

The Back To Basics Living Bundle will be available through January 22 and includes 73 homesteading, self-reliance, natural living, and preparedness resources for $29.97.


BONUS: If you buy the bundle through my blog, I'll gift you with your choice of one eVolume from my The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos. After you place your order simply email me at 5acresandadream @ mail. com, and let me know which one you'd like. I'll send you a link to download a free copy.

Tomorrow I'll review three really good books from the bundle that deal with food preservation and storage.

© Jan 2017 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

January 16, 2017

It's Here! The Back To Basics Living Bundle


The 2017 edition of the Back To Basics Living Bundle is up, running, and on sale now through January 22nd! If you're ready to jump to it, click here. If you'd like more information, read on.

What's included?
  • An entire homestead library of 73 eBooks, eCourses, memberships, and videos by 70 authors. Topics include:
    • Cooking From Scratch
    • Do It Yourself 
    • Food Storage 
    • Frugal Living 
    • Gardening
    • Homesteading 
    • Natural Parenting & Homeschooling
    • Natural Remedies 
    • Preparedness 
    • Simple Living
    • Click here and scroll down for a complete list of titles and authors.
  • 12 bonus offers for a variety of products and services of interest to homesteaders, gardeners, and preppers. Click here (and scroll down) for a complete list of bonus offers.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee, in case you absolutely hate it (although I cannot imagine anyone not appreciating all the information it contains.)

How much does it cost?
  • $29.97 price for $814.94 worth of books, courses, and memberships. (Online access to printable PDF downloads).
  • $54.97  for the complete collection on a thumb (flash) drive. This makes it a great way to give it as a gift.

Of course, no one would buy every single book individually, so the question becomes - is there enough in the bundle of interest to me personally to make it worth it? The answer to that question will vary, but I think there's enough for you to at least consider it. Over the next week I'm going to do a series of book reviews to give you a better idea of what's included in the bundle. That way you can decide for yourself whether the cost is worth it to you. I'll start tomorrow with a sampling of books on homesteading, herbal medicine, and homeschooling.

Also, as a participant I'm authorized to offer my own bonus. If you purchase the bundle through my blog, I'll gift you with your choice of one e-volume from my The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos collection. After you place your order simply email me at 5acresandadream @ mail. com, let me know which one you'd like, and I'll send you a link to download a free copy. (Since my How To Make Amish Whitewash is already included in the bundle, you'll want to choose something else.☺).

Do go check the bundle out here. You are likely familiar with a number of the authors. And please come back tomorrow for the beginning of my book review series.

© Jan 2017 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

January 13, 2017

Next on the House: Front Gable Ends

This time of year is good for working on some of our big, one-time-and-then-they're-done projects. The results from getting the front bedroom window replaced and getting up the new siding on the front porch were pretty motivating, so Dan was immediately ready to move on to the next house project on the list - the front gable ends.

I'm not sure why there are two gables except as a decorative feature.

Dan and I differed on how to treat these. He likes the contrasting shake look, but for our house, I didn't agree. I do like that look, but from a design point of view, too much variety in color and texture can result in a cluttered or incongruous look. Our house is small, and as part of the whole the front porch is only a small piece of the visual picture. A good visual design has a primary color and texture, with smaller contrasts to add interest. I felt that the porch and gable ends should work as a unit, not compete for the viewer's attention.


Dan and I have some simple "rules" for decision making in our house upgrading and remodeling. If we both like the same idea, we go with that. If one really likes an idea but the other has no strong opinion, we go with the preferred idea no matter whose it is. If we strongly disagree, we continue to explore options. In this case, we researched materials and cost for both ideas. When it worked out to $250  for shakes versus $50 for the siding, the question was settled. That doesn't include labor, for which installing shakes would be more labor intensive.

One thing we've noticed during the creative process is how easy it is to get elaborate with our ideas. We try to analyze projects the way I described in my "The Time To Benefit Ratio" post, but sometimes we indulge in a splurge, like the tin ceiling for the kitchen dining nook. Other times, practicality wins out, especially when we put it in perspective; we have a long list of projects and don't want to get so involved with any of them as to drain all our time and resources.

To add a bit of decorative interest I bought this octagonal gable vent. I found it on eBay.


It's handcrafted of western red cedar, and was less expensive than the smaller plastic job available at Lowes. Extra bonus was free shipping. It will compliment the octagon stained glass window in the master bath. I'll paint it white before it's installed.

No repairs are apparent for this project, so it should be a straightforward installation of siding and the new vent. The trickiest part will be negotiating the roof angles and those roof struts. Weather permitting, I hope to have the finished results to show you soon.