Yay!! I'm so excited to start participating again in the Homestead Revival's Preparedness Challenge!  It's the perfect timing too... We have moved into another rental house with no basement and we need to re-think our tornado preparedness plan.

So let's just get down to business shall we?  The following lays out our family's plan in case of a tornado warning.

Emergency Kit (to be kept in the bathroom):
3 gallons of water
First Aid Kit
Helmet for our son
Jar of Peanut butter

If there is a tornado WATCH prepare bathroom with:
Weather radio
Large couch cushion
Line bathtub with a blanket and pillows
Bag of building blocks for our son
Additional Snacks, water bottle for our son
Take helmet out of emergency kit and place into the bathtub
Put cats in crate and into the bathroom

If there is a tornado WARNING we will:
Gather in the bathroom 
Put helmet on our son
Our son can play with blocks in the bathtub
If it's nighttime we can lay our son in the bathtub with blankets and pillows
TRY and bring our pup into the bathroom with us

If a tornado TOUCHES DOWN:
All of us into the bathtub
Mommy shelters boy
Daddy shelters mommy
Daddy pulls large couch cushion over all three of us

My husband and I are very happy with this plan and hope that it won't need to be utilized too much.  We live in a large county where if there is a tornado warning and sirens are going off it still may be several miles away from us... hence the building blocks for our son.  I remember last year having to be down in our basement for a while as sirens were going off but nothing of course ever came near us.  Now that our son is older I know he will be bored during those times and I figure building blocks will keep his mind off the fact that he has to be sitting in a tub with no water just waiting. 

As of right now we only have one helmet for our son that we found for $2 at the thrift store... Our plan is to keep an eye out for more for my husband and I.  This is our son's helmet...
I hope our plan could help some of you think about what your plans are... especially if you do not have basements.  Feel free to make any suggestions as we are new to tornadoes and easily may have missed something. 

Also make sure to check out Homestead Revival for other preparedness challenge posts. 
Okay folks... things have not been too fun for me lately.  Remember my five day headache last week... well it turns out it might not have been related to dehydration after all (although I still stand by my post regarding dehydration).  Wednesday morning a rash turned up out of nowhere... it was fairly itchy at first and then the itch transformed into pain... it began to grow and has now turned into a very painful rash covering most of my torso.  I went to my doctor and turns out it's more than likely Shingles! :( The doctor couldn't confirm the diagnosis because I don't fit the perfect description of Shingles (only on "one" side), however my research tells me that's exactly what it is.  I don't like assuming anything so on Monday I'm going to try and schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to get tested so I can know for sure that it is in fact Shingles.  In the mean time I'm getting a jump start on herbal education in hopes that I can ease the pain I am feeling and I have already learned so much.
Chamomile is helps with blisters and has anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties.  It is also specifically recommended to aide in the recovery of Shingles... 1 cup of oatmeal and 1/4 pound of dried Chamomile in a cool bath and soak. 
Plantain is an anti-inflammatory (thank goodness!)
And Comfrey speeds up the natural replacement of body cells so it will help prevent scarring.
So... I'm about to embark in my first attempt at using herbs to heal.  This made me think about the Preparedness Challenge over at Homestead Revival.  I truly believe it's incredibly important to know what herbs have certain powers to help heal and reduce pain.  So many herbs that have these qualities grow wild right in our own backyards... and to be able to recognize these and use them to heal is a great gift to have.  I can't wait to learn more and frankly I can't wait to reap the benefits as soon as possible! 
So because of the way I was feeling this week I didn't go to the farm so I don't have any pictures to show you this week... BUT I did buy a dehydrator!!  I was doing so much research on canning and I kept thinking about how much I needed to buy in order to can and then I came across drying certain foods!  Well... What REALLY led me to it was the fact that I still have beets from the farm and I would like to make beet powder to add to my homemade skincare projects.  Well in order to get beet root powder I need to dehydrate my beets!  I looked for about a week on Craigslist and found one for $15!!!  I'm going to try it out probably tonight so my beets can dry overnight... I'm so excited!!! Hope everyone is having a fabulous week!

So my husband really wants to make his own root beer... so here was his first attempt.  It unfortunately was a fail.  We opened it and it smelled awful!! The taste was not as bad as the smell but it certainly didn't taste like root beer.  This was the recipe he used...

Recipe from Dave B. Fankhauser
1 cup table sugar
1 tablespoon McCormick Root Beer extract
1/4 teaspoon baking yeast
Fresh cool water

He added the sugar and yeast into the bottle with a funnel and shook it around to distribute the two together.  He then added the extract and filled the bottle halfway with cool fresh water, swirled it to dissolve all ingredients, then he filled it the rest of the way leaving an inch of head space.  He then inverted it a couple times to make sure all ingredients had dissolved.  Afterwards he put the bottle in a dark cool place (the basement) for three or four days until it the bottle became very hard.  Once it was hard he refrigerate overnight and the next day he cracked it open just a bit to release a bit of the gas and then it's ready to drink. 

We're trying to figure out where we went wrong and we're thinking it might have been the sugar... we didn't have any table sugar (white refined sugar) so we used Sugar in the Raw... which personally I'm not quite sure why that would make such a drastic difference in anything... But we're going to try it again with plain 'ol sugar and see if that helps.  If not then we may search out a different recipe... But either way this was a blast and I think my husband found a new passion!!!

My homemade lotion was a bit more successful... I followed a recipe from A Sonoma Garden which was extremely simple!  It turned out great and my mother LOVES it! 

1 1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup emulsifying wax
1/4 cup olive oil
24-36 drops of essential oil

I omitted the essential oil for now as I practice different recipes to make sure I have the consistency that I want so I don't waste my essential oils since I don't have that much.  Well let me tell you this one is definitely a winner!  I'm still going to try out different recipes just to see and compare... and I think it would be even better if it was a bit more creamier so I have a few books coming from the library that I'm very excited to get... all about homemade skincare!  But I highly recommend you give this one a try if you've been thinking about making your own lotion! Oh yeah... and in my next batch I'm considering adding a few drops of Vitamin E oil.

So it's been an interesting past couple of days.  In the area where I live, which is a very populated suburb close to a metropolitan area, had a water main break and the due to this the entire county was under a boil alert and we still are until 5pm today!  We have been advised to boil our water for two minutes before consumption and use for cooking or to just use bottled water.  I've never experienced anything like this! 

Well luckily... we have never been a family who drinks tap water.  It's just the way I was raised.  Its always been bottled water for us.  So going to the store for bottled water is something we do fairly often and we really don't give it a second thought.  Well when we went yesterday for our water.... THE STORES WERE EMPTY!!  People were complaining, managers were stressed and on the phone figuring out when they would get another shipment.  It was a little scary to see a tiny hint of what it would be like if a major catastrophe would happen leaving us with either contaminated or no water supply.  This DEFINITELY got me thinking.

I started doing research on water filters and came across the Berkey Water Filters... I still have to do some more research but this may definitely go on our wish list and we won't be waiting for our mini farm and homestead to get it either.  We also started researching digging our own well when we do get our land.  I would love to have a spring nearby but I don't think that is going to happen in the area we are living in.  There is a lot of detailed information out there about digging your own well and I need to sit down and really study my findings.  Either way... well water would need to be filtered as well so back to the Berkey we come. 

My point is... I think we've trained our minds into thinking we need to be prepared for catastrophic events... a complete meltdown.  When really... it could be a small occurrence that when you hear about it you don't even give it a second thought. A water main break, miles away from us... big deal right?  That's what I thought too... until the boil alerts started coming through our phones and on the news.  It was incredible the impact it had.... such a small event clearing out the local stores of their water.  Oh and by the way...  we went sightseeing in a nearby town yesterday and we ended up stocking up on our water there... and guess what.... they had just restocked their shelves after being cleared out as well!  It even effected nearby towns!

Do what you can, when you can.... we have our basement stocked with a few cases of water now.  Because you just never know.
So our power went out the other day right before lunch time and we had family visiting.  It of course was back on within a couple of hours but it got me thinking of how we could be prepared for a more serious power outage.  Then I started to get nervous about how we would cope if it happened during the winter time. 

The first thing that came to mind was a wood stove... the simple ones that are for heating your home.  And as I was doing some more research I came across wood burning cooks stoves... PERFECT!  We of course can't have one of these till we have our homestead but it's definitely going under my Front Porch Dreams wishlist.

Imagine having power out for days but still being able put warm supper on the table including freshly baked bread!  It also has the added benefit of warming the room in which you are cooking in during the colder months.  I must admit I didn't know much about cook stoves or wood stoves prior to a few days ago but now that I know a little more... I feel it's a necessary item for our homestead.  After all... what's more important than feeding and keeping your family warm. 

I must admit though for the immediate future I need to do some more research of how we can be more prepared for power outages while living in rentals with no wood burning stoves.  We could always fire up my husband's charcoal grill!  I'll get back to you on that one!

Other Magickal Happenings
Front Porch Dreams
Magick From the Farm

Along with learning to homestead we are also learning more about being "Prepared" for emergency type situations that could leave us without the use of electricity, communication, etc.  Food, water, First Aid and clothing are normally the main checklist items, but there a tons of other ways to be prepared.  I've been wanting to participate in the Homestead Revival's Preparedness Challenge and since something happened to me yesterday that made me think of another way to be prepared, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to jump in.

Yesterday I discovered that I had accidentally thrown something away of great importance to my mother.  It was in a bag that I mistook for garbage in our garage.  My mother has a way of putting things in certain types of bags because it's easier for her and it works for her.  My mother is a very successful and smart woman and raised four children all on her own... so I have never and will never question her methods.  I simply feel as though I don't have any right to.  But the fact that this happened has made me think long and hard about how unorganized I am and how it's very possible the same thing could've happened to me.  I further thought, what if we were hit with a natural disaster?  Sure we'd have food, water, first aid etc... but If I had to go through a damaged home like they are having to do in Joplin, MO... I would have no idea what was where and what I lost because I am no where near as organized as I should be.  I have absolutely no excuse either... I have a filing cabinet for documents, I have containers, label makers, etc... the means to be 100% organized.  So today I begin.

I do not expect to be done by this weekend but I am very motivated to make it happen.  Little by little I will get rid of piles of paperwork that aren't necessary to keep and file what is important away and I will have a place for everything.  Something else I'm going to do that I saw on the news last night is make a video of your home documenting your belongings.  I thought this was a great idea!  They went as far as telling us to document the types of floors you had and any upgrades you made to your home inside and out... even something like a concrete driveway.  They advised that taking any type of video... even if it was on your smartphone is good enough and to make sure and store it somewhere online or at another location preferably out of town so it can always be accessible.

So I think after I am able to check "Being Organized" off my list, I will feel a lot more "Prepared".  Think about some of your important documents or valued belongings... do you know where they are?  If you needed anything like that tomorrow could you go straight to where it's at and grab it?  Or would you spend hours or even days looking for it.  You don't have to do it all in one day... just take those first things that pop into your head, create a place for them and keep them there.  Don't forget... taking a video documentary of your home is a great idea for anyone!
~ Be Magickal!