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Friday, May 29, 2009

Making Jam with Less Sugar

Thought I'd share this info about a pectin product that is available that will allow you to make your jams and jellies with far less sugar than usual; you can even use sugar substitutes or no sugar at all.

It's called Pomona's Universal Pectin and you can get it at Canning Pantry. A 1 ounce package will allow you to make 2-4 recipes using 4-6 cups of fruit per recipe.

It uses the peel and pulp of lemons, limes and grapefruits as the pectin source in combination with monocalcium phosphate to help your jams/jellies set. You can read more at the links above.

I'll be making some strawberry jam using some the first of next week - the strawberry jam a friend of mine made using this pectin was absolutely delicious - you could taste the strawberries without being overwhelmed by sugar!

Thought this might be helpful since the prices of sugar are supposed to increase; also because it will help you perhaps not have to store quite as much sugar. The Pomona's Pectin is supposed to have an indefinite shelf life.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TN Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan

I thought you all might be interested in having a few links to the State of TN pandemic influenza preparedness plans. Here they are:

Tennessee Department of Health Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan

Here's the State of TN website that updates the number of cases for the state:

TN Department of Health H1N1 Information

TN Department of Health Communicable and Environmental Disease Services

Case count for TN as of 11:00 central today (26 May 2009) was 98 confirmed with 1273 cases submitted for testing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Don't Ignore H1N1 Yet

Most of the mainstream media has dropped much following on the H1N1 (swine) flu, but you need to know that researchers, the CDC and the WHO haven't dropped their following of it. This virus, while not showing itself to be particularly severe here in the US - at least not yet- is still one that demands our attention and respect.

Here are a few updates you should be aware of:

from BBC News/UK: Warning over new threat from MRSA - antibiotic resistant pneumonia

from Recombinomics: Suspect Swine H1N1 in Toddler Death in New York Raises Concerns - this one you should definitely read - here's a partial quote:
The evolution of the H1N1 is being closely monitored by sequencing labs across the world, and most isolates to date are closely related. However, the presence of avian PB2 raises concerns that the frequency of cases will not decline in the summer in the northern hemisphere, because the avian PB2 is optimal at 41 C, which would lead to efficient transmission in the summer. Moreover, the seasonal flu has the mammalian version of PB2, which has optimal activity at 34 C. However, the swine H1N1 transmitting in the summer hemisphere may acquire E627K, leading to a virus efficiently transmitting in the winter also.

Similarly, swine H1N1 in the southern hemisphere may acquire H274Y, leading to Tamflu resistance, which could complicate treatment of the more severe cases, which may involve previously healthy young adults.

from Fox 2 Now: St. Louis Man with Swine Flu Dies

from eKantipur.com - One with Suspected Swine Flu Dies in Thailand

from Fox News: CDC: 100,000 Americans Likely Infected with H1N1 - now think - if each of those 100,000 infect 2-4 others, then they infect 2-4 others - do the math and see why pandemics spread so quickly.

Continue to pay attention, keep your hands washed, stay at home if you or any family members are ill, and have items on hand to make yourself and your family more comfortable if you become ill.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Making a Scent Article

Our local home-school group had a field trip a few weeks ago with a local search and rescue team. They taught the group that having a scent article for each member of the family was a prudent thing to have on hand if going hiking, camping, fishing, etc.

When this information was shared with me, I started thinking about what a good idea it might be to always have a scent article for each family member in each of our vehicles, our 72-hour kits and/or other survival gear/kits as applicable.

Many of us have seen shows on TV where a child comes up missing and mom/dad grab the first article of clothing they can find for the dogs to use to track the child.

This method is not a good way to provide a person's scent however. Whatever article of clothing you have on today also has scents from everyone else you came in contact with, food odors, pollution odors - it is covered up in scents other than yours and would not be the "best" article to use for your scent article.

Here's how the local search and rescue team taught our group to make a scent article:

**If you are assisting someone, such as a child or elderly person, in making a scent article, make sure to use latex gloves when handling the article and the zip bag**

Needed:
~ 1 sealed handkerchief or gauze pad
~ 1 quart-size freezer zip-lock bag
~ 1 sharpie marker
~ 1 pair latex gloves if assisting someone else

Steps for making your scent article:
1. Remove handkerchief or gauze pad from sealed package.
2. Rub the handkerchief or gauze pad all over your body for several minutes.
3. Open zip-lock bag and place handkerchief or gauze pad inside.
4. Seal bag.
5. On the bag, write the person's name, date the article was made and FOR SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM ONLY.
6. For best results, store in the freezer.

**Scent articles should be updated about every 6 months to ensure freshest scent, although some people have had theirs tested up to a year later and found the scent was viable.

**If you go hiking, camping, fishing, etc., leave the scent article on the front seat of your vehicle so that rescue personnel could easily see it.

Think about what a great item this would be for a family with a loved one who has Alzheimer's Disease that might wander off - the possibilities where something like this could come in handy are numerous, so I thought I'd share it with you all.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Great Cooking Implement

Found this little gem over on SurvivalBoards this evening and it was so good I had to share.

It is called a Discada - basically a large (22 inch) wok made out of a plow disk - would be fabulous for campfire cooking - we're definitely ordering one of these!


You can read all about it here: Discada.com

Saturday, May 9, 2009

H1N1 + H5N1 = ????

Most of you have heard of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. In addition to all the research and treatment done yearly on childhood cancers, it is one of the TOP 5 Influenza research centers in the world.

Dr. Robert Webster at St. Jude, often referred to as the "Pope of Influenza" has been studying influenza strains his entire career. When he speak about influenza, people listen - or should.

He is commenting recently that even though we've only seen what has turned out to be a very mild disease in this new strain of H1N1 (swine) flu, it is very important that we diligently watch how this virus begins to interact with other viruses as it travels the globe.

Other reports have indicated that research shows this new strain of H1N1 is particularly adept at grabbing onto genetic material from other flu viruses.

What Dr. Webster is watching carefully is whether the H1N1 virus, at it begins to travel in areas where Bird Flu is endemic (Indonesia, Egypt, and others), will combine with Bird Flu to produce something that could be very nasty indeed.

While many are now acting as though the "boy cried wolf" on this current H1N1 outbreak, I for one, as a prepper, will keep this in my sights for quite some time to watch how it acts throughout the world as it continues to travel.

The Southern Hemisphere is just starting winter. Egypt and Vietnam each had a case of Bird Flu just this week - the person in Egypt survived, the person in Vietnam did not. In the case of these viruses, we cannot be too careful.

Many who have studied pandemics of the past are aware that they often first appeared at the end of a flu season and were mild, but came back for the next couple of years during the winter flu season with a vengeance.

As H1N1 travels through Asia, Africa and 3rd World countries we should keep a close eye on the outcomes and have our preparedness plans already in place for what could happen this fall or winter - or some winter in the near future.

Part of being prepared is keeping an eye and ear open to what is going on and making sure you have the essentials in place to get through whatever might be necessary to keep you and/or your family safe for the duration. One thing we cannot afford to be is lax - we aren't worried or fearful or anxious, but prepared.

Additional Reading:

Fox News: Top Flu Expert Warns of Swine Flu-Bird Flu Mix

Dr. Robert Webster - Influenza, World-Class Expertise

Scott McPherson: Why Egypt Wants To Kill All The Pigs

Friday, May 8, 2009

No Federal Regulation of Firearms in TN??

This is almost to good to be true, but it is. Apparently, Tennessee is considering following the actions of Montana and possibly Texas in telling the Federal Government they can keep their hands off our guns.

Tennessee legislators are considering new legislation that would essentially state that any firearms manufactured and sold within the State of Tennessee would not be subject to Federal gun laws.

In April of this year, Montana passed a law that guns manufactured in Montana and sold in Montana to people who intend to keep their weapons in Montana are exempt from federal gun registration, background checks and dealer-licensing rules because no state lines are crossed.

Tennessee is considering similar legislation called the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act. You can read more of a story about this here: Fox 17/Nashville - Bill Would Prevent Federal Government from Regulating Firearms in TN - by John Dunn

Time to call your legislators and let them know how much you support this bill!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No Presidential Term Limit?

We take a quick break from all the H1N1 (swine) flu reporting to make sure you are aware of this little nugget proposed by Rep. Jose' Serrano [D-NY] - introduced on 06 Jan 2009 and currently without any co-sponsors:

H.J. Res. 5: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.

Read all about it for yourself at GovTrack.us - just click the link.

More new info you might want to browse while you are there - just use the search button:

S:996: National Health Care Quality Act

S: 962: A bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 to promote an enhanced strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, and for other purposes.

H.R. 2205: Education Begins at Home Act of 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Little Ones With Flu

Here are a few tips to help when taking care of young children who might get the flu - this new one or any other one that comes along. This is not an exhaustive list, just a quick posting of things we've found helpful to our family. Be sure to leave a comment if you have a great tip to help the rest of us out!

1. We all hate to change those sheets in the middle of the night or all day long after a little one has gotten sick on them. So, we put a large beach towel or bath towel under them and on their pillows and keep a large stash at the ready. This way, if they get sick and can't make it to the bathroom or even the bag/bucket by their bed, it is so much easier to quickly replace a towel than wash all the sheets and completely remake a bed. We also put towels on the furniture, having learned that lesson the hard way as well!

2. Along the same lines, we line the floor to the bathroom with large towels or washable throws, so those that try to make it to the bathroom but don't quite succeed hit a washable target instead of the carpet.

3. We know that Sprite seems to help settle a stomach. We put a twist of lemon in ours to keep them drinking and going to the potty. Sometimes we add some Emergen-C powder to boost their Vitamin C (not a whole packet for little ones though).

4. We also sometimes freeze a little Sprite in our popsicle molds so they can have something cool on their throats that won't come back to haunt us!

5. For some sore throats, I've found that an immediate gargle with straight colloidal silver does wonders. Nature's antibiotic - but it only works on bacteria, not viruses.

6. We've found that the Bolthouse brand of C-Boost drink does wonders. The girls love the apricot flavor and it is full of vitamins and minerals. They like it much better than those electrolyte drinks.

7. We avoid dairy during fevers at all costs. It seems that anything dairy related just sours instantly on a feverish stomach and you will be seeing it again (ugh!).

8. Instead of paper tissue products which are rough on little noses and cheeks, I give them a cloth diaper, soft washcloth or even soft handtowel for their running noses. When using a washcloth or towel, I can give each one a different color and then there is no confusion over who has which one.

9. For those inevitable chapped little noses and cheeks, I love the Weleda Calendula Oil. Calendula is a very healing herb and this little oil is one of my favorites for many uses.
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