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Five Tips for the Ultimate Family Road Trip June 3, 2017

My husband and I are frequent flyers, but Delta’s recent major malfunction with their computers hasn’t made me excited to travel by airplane these days. Say what you will about driving long distances with young children, but I still prefer to be somewhat in control of my travel plans. Whenever possible, we choose to drive to our destinations in our SUV.

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After literally dozens of vacations, I’ve come up with these 5 tips for making the most of a family road trip.

1) Ditch the Routine:  Routine is critical for raising young children. At home, my kids’ morning and evening routines are flawlessly executed so that I can tell exactly who is brushing their teeth and who has not completed their homework. Routine is a comfort for them and it keeps the machinery of the family well oiled. BUT, a road trip is no time to force a routine. No matter how noble your efforts, something will delay dinner or bedtime. Your kids may spend an entire morning watching television in the hotel room. They may sleep through lunch or drink milkshakes for breakfast (more on healthier eating in tip #2). Trust me when I say you need to GO WITH IT. Try as hard as you can to ignore the clock altogether (especially if you’re traveling through multiple time zones). Stressing about routine will only make your trip less enjoyable. I promise you that even several weeks on the road will not permanently disrupt your family routine. As soon as you are back at home, your kids will fall into their familiar patterns.

2) Don’t Get Hungry: We’ve all been there—it’s dinnertime on a road trip and everyone is cranky and hungry and there isn’t a restaurant in sight. The kids are fighting in the backseat and my husband and I are starting to turn on each other. After what feels like forever we find a gas station and load up on processed junk and sugar. Then we continue on, comatose and exhausted, no less annoyed with each other. To avoid this, buy a cooler or two and stock up on sandwiches, fruit, nuts, cheeses, and other healthy hand-held snacks. Purchase milk in single-serve cartons for the kids and invest in a large coffee thermos for the adults. Whenever you find yourself in a town with a grocery store, spend a little extra time buying food and getting it separated out into single servings before you get back on the road again. This seems like a lot of planning but it soon becomes second nature—and it’s so worth it!

3) It’s About the Journey: Sure, you probably have a goal in mind—whether it’s to visit the grandparents or see the Grand Canyon—but try to be open to possibility. I can’t tell you how many “detours” turned out to be more memorable or exciting trips that the planned destination. Tell you kids to be on the lookout for billboards offering interesting tourist stops and make sure to check out the pamphlets in any hotel lobby you might be staying in.

4) Talk the Talk: We sometimes forget that driving is a perfect opportunity to talk to our loved ones, and not only about the surroundings we happen to be traveling through. Rather that playing “I spy” or trying to keep my kids entertained every single second with the iPad or coloring books, I like to talk to them about their lives. Hypothetical situations are also fun or funny (you can play the “Would you Rather” game, i.e., “Would you rather eat a worm or touch a tarantula?”) especially with younger players. One of the thrills of my life as a mom is listening to my sons talk to each other. Older kids will naturally talk about their interests or their goals and it’s a great opportunity for parents to listen to them.

5) Carry the Closeness With You: Not to get too sappy, but family road trips definitely happen during a limited window of time. Try as much as you can to appreciate being in close quarters with your kids and attempt to maintain that connection long after the trip is over. Taking photos is very important, but to keep it even simpler you can have every family member talk about their favorite and least favorite parts of each day. Look for patterns in the trip (for example, one summer it seemed the radio was constantly playing “Staying Alive” no matter where we went) and encourage kids to collect keepsakes. Don’t fall into the trap of buying expensive souvenirs—a pretty rock or seashell work just as well. Once you’re back at home, that song or silly joke or seashell takes on the symbolism of the entire trip. Treasure it.


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Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published June 3rd, 2017
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20 Medicinal Herbs That I Have in My Prepper Garden May 27, 2017

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” –  Hippocrates

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So, many of you may be asking my I want to go to all the trouble and grow herbs and roots for natural healing. You can read about seven reasons why I started a medicinal garden, but in short, I wanted options at my disposal. From a preparedness standpoint, I know that infection and illness could be very prevalent in the aftermath of a disaster and accessibility to medical care will be difficult to find. As well, with the massive over-prescribing of antibiotics in our modern healthcare industry, today’s crop of antibiotics has become less effective. Let’s be honest, bacteria has a 4 billion year head start in the evolution and has been adapting to environmental changes since the beginning of time. The time will come when antibiotics will be moot in terms of its effectiveness.

I love natural remedies solely for their simplicity and worry-free use. It is difficult to overuse natural remedies, but more importantly, they have been used for centuries. While researching which medicinal plants I wanted in my garden, I made sure that many of them were hardy perennials that could perform multiple medicinal duties. I don’t have a lot of space where my herbal garden is, so the plants had to be exceptional. These 20 herbs made the cut and I couldn’t be more pleased with my choices.

Ready Nutrition writer and herbalist, Jeremiah Johnson has written extensively on how to cultivate a medicinal garden to use in a long-term emergency. His favorite medicinals are what he refers to as the 3 G’s: garlic, ginger, and ginseng. You can read his article on the subject.

  1. Angelica – This herb is one that everyone should be growing in their garden. It’s great for children, adults and the elderly. It has antibacterial properties, astringent properties can be used externally as a medicinal gargle for sore throats and mouths and as a medicinal poultice for broken bones, swellings, itching, and rheumatism. It is also known for strengthening the heart. A powder made from the dried root can be used for athlete’s foot, as well as an insecticide and pesticide.
  2. Calendula – Also known as pot marigold, this pretty yellow flower is believed to be one of “the greatest healing agent for all wounds.” It naturally cleanses wounds and promotes rapid healing. It slows bleeding in some cases. Marigold was also used as a toothache and headache preventative in the 1500’s in England. It is an excellent herb to have on hand for skin issues such as eczema, skin inflammations, soothing varicose veins, soothing chapped hands and can be used to reduce body scars. Commonly made into oil by soaking fresh or slightly dried plant parts in one’s choice of base oil, it can be applied topically to relieve all sorts of fungal infections.
  3. Catnip – Your cats may be drawn to this herb, but it has plenty of medicinal uses and a wonderful herb to have in the herbal medical cabinet. Most notably, it has sedative effects and helps calm the nervous system. Making a tea from this herb before bedtime will help settle the body. It also has anti-fever properties, as well as antibacterial effects. The compound can also be used to repel common insect pests such as mosquitoes and cockroaches. When nepetalactone is distilled, it is more effective than DEET than repelling mosquitoes. As a matter of fact, it is up to 10 times more effective in accordance with laboratory experiments conducted by isolating the compound via steam distillation. Read more about using this herb here.
  4. Chamomile – This herb is also most recognized by its sedative effects, but has more to offer than just that.  The flowers can be strained out of the tea and placed into a warm compress to use on ear infections. Tea compresses and tea rinses can be used to gently treat eye problems. It also has the power to assist in comforting the effects of indigestion, morning sickness, nervousness, neuralgia, painful periods and assists as a sleeping agent.
  5. Comfrey – I just added comfrey to my garden this year. Not only does it have medicinal values, but can be used as a nutritional supplement to livestock and used as a fertilizer because it is high in potassium. To make a liquid fertilizer: chop off the top of a comfrey plant and throw the leaves in a bucket. Cover with water and let them rot into green liquid… then water whatever needs a boost. Medicinally speaking, comfrey is also known as “one of nature’s greatest medicinal herbs.” It helps heal wounds and mend broken bones, and even helps to bring fevers down. Nutritionally, it is a good source of vitamin C and calcium.
  6. Echinacea – Although the root is most widely used for its medicinal purposes, truly the entire plant can be used. This herb strengthens the body’s ability to resist infection and stimulates the production of white blood cells.  Echinacea stimulates the body in non-chronic illness such as colds, bronchitis, sore throats, abscesses and for recurrences of yeast infections. Echinacea can also be taken as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis. A gargling solution can also be made with the tea to use with a sore throat.  For cases that are not strep throat related: add 10-16 drops of water or to sage or ginger tea and use as a gargling agent.  If a person is fighting strep throat: every two hours, gargle with the above-mentioned teas to which add a drop full of echinacea extract.
  7. Garlic – This is simply a must-have in your garden. Its medicinal uses are too extensive to list but can be read in more detail here. In short, it is effective in preventing the common cold, reducing recovery time, and reducing symptom duration. An infused oil can be made from garlic to treat wounds and ear infections. And, I need not mention all of its culinary uses.
  8. Ginger – the medicinal value of this root is amazing. In fact, recent studies have revealed that ginger may be stronger than chemo in fighting cancer. It’s truly a remarkable medicinal to have in your garden. Here are 8 more benefits of ginger.
  9. Ginseng – This herbal powerhouse assists with nervous disorders, helps alleviate symptoms related to cardiovascular and blood disorders, is beneficial for diabetics as it reduces the amount of blood sugar in patients with mild to moderate diabetes, inhibits the formation of tumors and helps as a cancer preventative, and helps to minimize the effects of X-rays and radiation produced by radiation therapy as well as negative effects caused by free radicals are minimized and reduced by the adaptogens in ginseng.  Read more here.
  10. Lemon balm – This is one of my favorite herbs. This herb is great for adding a light lemon flavor to dishes, but I love it for its sedative qualities. If you have problems sleeping, this is a great herb to take before bedtime. The aromatic properties help with alertness and can sharpen memory. It is also a good herb for diabetics to use as it helps regulate blood sugar. The antioxidant properties present in this herb are also beneficial.
  11. Lavender – This is a great multipurpose herb to grow. Not only is it a calming aromatic, but it has antiseptic properties, assists with burns, can be used as a stress reliever, good for depression, aids skin health and beauty. Here are 15 more ways to use lavender medicinally.
  12. Peppermint – This aromatic herb is great for digestive aid, and dispels headaches. Peppermint tea will also assist in overcoming muscle spasms and cramps. Due to the camphor present in peppermint, if peppermint is applied to a wet washcloth it can externally relieve pain. This herb also hep clear sinus infections.  Apply a large, warm peppermint pack to the sinus area.
  13. Onion – Onions might not be at the top of your healthy snack list, but you should make efforts to include them regularly in your diet nonetheless. They help to fight insulin resistance, have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial uses, and are powerful antioxidants. They even help to relieve congestions. A time-tested effective cough syrup can also be made from onions. Read more about onion’s health benefits.
  14. Oregano – This little herb works as a savory culinary herb and a potent medicinal herb, as well. Most importantly, it is a powerful antibiotic and has been proven to be more effective in neutralizing germs than some chemical antibiotics. It has been effective against germs like Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Yersinia enterocolitis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. An extract of its essential oil can be made to treat fungal infections and skin issues like dandruff, dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema. Carvacrol and thymol, the powerful enzymes in oregano, help to combat fungal and bacterial infections.
  15. Rose hip – Not only are roses beautiful, but they can assist in boosting our immunity, as well. Rose hips are high in vitamin C and if rosehips are made into a syrup it also”provides a welcome boost of vitamin D, something that should be welcomed when our exposure to sunlight is minimal and our vitamin D manufacture is at its lowest. Vitamin A is naturally present in the rose hips so pregnant women should seek medical advice before taking rose hip syrup.”
  16. Rosemary – This highly aromatic plant is used today in any number of organic products to help alleviate bone and muscle soreness, reduce anxiety and promote well-being.
  17. Sage – It’s anti-inflammatory properties also make this an effective herb. This herb can also be used in aiding anxiety, nervous disorders, used as an astringent. There are aromatherapy qualities to this herb and have been known to lift depression. Rubbing the sage leaves across the teeth can be used to effectively clean the teeth and assist in bad breath. American Indians used this herb as a fever reducer.  Sage has antiseptic properties and the leaves can be chewed to cleanse the system of impurities or made into a tea. Sage has also been known to assist with hot flashes associated with menopause. If a person has stomach troubles, cold sage tea can be used to alleviate the symptoms. Sage can also be used to treat the flu.  Using the tea before and during any type of epidemics and to hasten healing during a flu attack. Sage leaves can be wrapped around a wound like a band-aid to help heal the wound faster.
  18. Thyme – I have multiple thyme plants in my garden and allow them to creep over rocks in my garden. Thyme can help alleviate gastric problems such as wind, colic and bad breath, helps with bronchial disorders, shortness of breath and symptoms related to colds. If it also effective in fighting sore throat and post nasal drip. If a person has whooping cough, make a syrup of thyme tea and honey to help treat the disease. Thyme can also be used to treat a fever.
  19. Toothache plant – My medicinal garden wouldn’t be complete without some dental aides too. The toothache plant has a powerful numbing effect and works great for inflammation of the gums, lips, and mucous membranes of the mouth, and it can be used as toothpaste. It can also be used to alleviate those with asthma and allergies. It also is a powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. The toothache plant also contains B-Sitostenone it also lowers blood sugar. Other notable qualities are that it lowers blood pressure, chronic fatigue and is a natural pain reliever to all parts of the body.
  20. Yarrow – This plant was a favorite among Native American tribes who would use it to control bleeding, heal wounds and infections. It can also be effective in cleaning wounds and to control bleeding caused by puncture wounds, lacerations, and abrasions.

Don’t feel handcuffed to using only these herbs in your garden. Think about what future health issues you may have to deal with and plan(t) for them. Even tobacco has its medicinal uses. There are also medicinal weeds that you may want to locate in your yard and cultivate for the future.

Once you get your medicinal garden going, start experimenting with making your own medicinal pantry. Here are some ideas:

In the future, I plan on adding mullein, plantain, marshmallow and some cayenne peppers. What medicinals are you growing in your garden? Share them in the comments section to help our community!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published May 27th, 2017
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7 Improvised Defense Weapons That Could Save Your Life May 25, 2017

This piece is designed to provide you with a few ideas to stimulate your creative thought processes.  We’re all Constitution-loving, survival-oriented preppers who are always preparing for every emergency.  The problem is that emergencies are not able to be “compressed” into a format: they arise.  You plan the best you can, but there’s an age-old military adage that summarizes the whole situation, in a nutshell, “No battle plan ever survives the first five minutes of combat completely intact.”

This is true, and places emphasis on the quality that made man the dominant species on this planet and enabled him to survive as long as he has: adaptability.  In this light, there will be a time when you will need to defend yourself and do not have a weapon readily available.  When such a situation presents itself, you must follow the advice of “Gunny Highway”/Clint Eastwood in the movie “Heartbreak Ridge,” advice that holds brevity and clarity:           

“You improvise, you adapt, you overcome.”

That is eloquence swathed in simplicity.  Yes.  Two hoodlums, for example, are coming over to you at night in the parking lot after work.  You can’t avoid them and get into your car before they’re on you.  One clicks open a knife.  It’s time to act.  The action has to take place in a split second.  Let’s say you’re unarmed – no firearms or blades, and you can’t escape.  What now?

7 Improvised Defense Weapons That Could Save Your Life

Common objects on your person may either be utilized or prepared beforehand and then utilized.  Let’s go through some of them you may have, and what to do with them:

  1. Keys: (this will take practice) – take three of them and slip them between your fingers with the keyed end (“blade”) facing out. Grip the rest in your fist and prepare to punch. An effective way to plan ahead for this encounter is if you attach a kubaton to your keychain.
  2. Pens: A good sturdy one made from metal is preferred; a plastic one may work, but you better strike effectively. Hold the pen one of two ways: gripped within your fist with the pen extruding from the bottom of your fist/hand, or with the pen between your middle and ring finger, the base on your palm and the point out from between the fingers.  “Method 1” is preferable because you can stab (a backhanded type of stab) with the pen, and still punch with the fist that holds it.  “Method 2” will take more precision as you strike for the vulnerable points.
  3. Belt: Use only if your pants won’t just fall down and they can stay on without the belt. Strip that belt off, and wrap it around your dominant hand and make a fist.  If you really know what you’re doing, you can wrap the knife hand of the attacker and disarm him.  You had better have practiced this unless you’re a really good athlete.
  4. Credit card/ATM card (handy): By “handy,” there’s no time to take it out of your wallet. You may keep a very rigid plastic card in your shirt pocket.  Hold the card tightly and the edge can be knife-like when striking an opponent…for a very effective strike.
  5. Jacket/windbreaker: Take it off and use it to shield you (in one hand as a shield) from the blade as you strike with the opposite hand. You can (if you’ve practiced) wrap up that blade-carrying hand of the opponent while you’re striking.
  6. Leatherman on that belt? Pull it out quickly, and in the manner of the pen (described in #2) hold it in the manner of “Method 1” where the pliers are extended past the bottom of your hand…to stab/strike in a backhanded method.
  7. Purse: Ladies, that handbag can be a lifesaver for you. Prep this beforehand: keep a 1-pound or ½ pound weight or little dumbbell in it.  Then no cop can get you for a concealed weapon.  You’ll even have a light workout during your day!  But when you swing that bag down and put a three-inch dent in your attacker’s head, you’ll be glad you put the weight in there.  Make sure your purse strap is strong enough to handle this action without losing your purse or snapping.

Now, of course, you should also look around (use your peripheral vision!  Don’t take your eyes off of or away from your attackers!) for boards, bricks, rocks, or anything else within your reach.  Do you have a car alarm?  Push that button and raise a ruckus.  I knew a woman once who was going to get jumped in this manner in the parking lot.  She didn’t have a car alarm, but she threw rocks at a couple of other cars before they closed on her and set off those car alarms.  Then she threw rocks at them and screamed, and others came to her aid.

The eyes and the face are your primary targets with the keys and pen.  Secondary are the sides of the neck and the throat: where the carotid and jugular are, and the airway respectively.  The face of the credit card: a slash maneuver. You’ll be surprised at how deeply into the flesh that card will slice.  Your objective is not to engage with them.  Your objective is to inflict the maximum amount of damage and pain on them and then break contact…get away…at the soonest possible moment.

Don’t let a pair “flank” you: if you must face one, try and step to his side so the other one is behind him…so your primary attacker is in between you and his buddy.  With these methods, you need to practice them to enable you to execute them.  It is different when the adrenaline is pumping and you’re faced with the threat.  Don’t be afraid to experiment; however, make sure your experiments and the “main event” are not the same thing.  The more practice, the more you will build your confidence and increase your chances for success should such a situation arise.  Hope it won’t, but if it does?  Go for the win.  JJ out.

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published May 25th, 2017
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