Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas on a Budget Can Still Be Great

Many people have so little money to spend on just the basics that when Christmas comes along it's often a real struggle to buy presents, get a tree, decorate the house or all the other things during the Christmas season that you really want to do. In this article which comes from Christmas Joy When You're Broke from the wonderful blog: All in All, are a few suggestions for having a great Christmas on a budget.

How do those of us without a money tree make Christmas special, memorable, and fun for our families

Simply Amazing Christmas means slowing down, being still and enjoying the moment, holding our children tightly, speaking kind words, being thankful, and remembering the love that makes Christmas peace possible. 

Now, let's enjoy a simply amazing holiday. Here are some ways to celebrate Christmas without breaking the bank:

Set a budget for Christmas presents and stick with it. Let your family members know what the budget will be so they can adjust their expectations accordingly.

Be sure to budget all of the other things that go along with the holidays such as cookie baking, travel, Christmas pictures, Christmas cards and postage, pet boarding if traveling, decorations, holiday meals, holiday parties, extra gifts for gift office/school exchanges and teachers, holiday tips, etc.

Save all year long! Check with your bank to see what kind of savings club accounts they offer. You can deposit a small amount from each pay check into your Christmas club savings account and then you'll receive a payout plus interest when you're ready to begin Christmas shopping. So smart!

Volunteer. Do some research to see what homeless shelters, food banks, animal shelters, and ministries need donations and volunteers during the Christmas season. Make volunteering a part of your family Christmas tradition!

Attend a Christmas church service. If you belong to a church that will be holding a special Christmas service, be there! If you do not, then find one! If you love Christmas Eve services and your church isn't having one, don't write your pastor a complaint letter (like, seriously don't) just find another church to visit on that night. Christmas services are a wonderful way to reflect and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Go Christmas caroling! This is so much fun and is a wonderful way to bring joy to others. Invite friends to meet at your house and ask them to bring a few dozen cookies to share. Split them up onto paper Christmas plates, wrap them well, then head out to a few location to sing and deliver cookies! Check with nursing homes and hospitals to see about caroling there and treating the staff to Christmas cookies. After the caroling, head back to your house to relax with your friends. Play Christmas music, eat cookies, and drink hot chocolate. Fun!

Shop consignment sales for gently used toys that your kids will love.

Give homemade gifts. Are you crafty? Make special gifts for friends, family, and teachers! Do you like to bake? Then make some awesome goodies, pack them in recycles cookie tins, tie them up with pretty ribbon, and deliver the yummy Christmas treats!

Play Christmas music. This may sound silly simple, but playing Christmas music costs nothing and adds a wonderful feeling to your home around the holidays.

Buy Christmas decorations... on December 26th! I have always made it a tradition to buy Christmas decorations and wrapping paper the day after Christmas at 50-75% off. Then I store the items until the next Christmas. By then I've forgotten what I purchased an opening the bags up is super exciting!

Do an Advent Calendar. Again, so simple, but really fun! You can make an Advent Calendar with your kids or buy one at the store. It is something simple and sweet to celebrate each day of December leading up to Christmas.

Have a Christmas movie night each week in December. Pull out some Christmas treats, get into your Christmas pjs, and have fun with Christmas classics like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and even Elf!

Wrap up 24 Christmas books in Christmas wrapping paper and read one each night of December. On Christmas morning read the Christmas story from the Bible before opening presents and say a prayer together as a family.

Cash in lose change. Do you have jars of change sitting around the house? Cash them in! It's surprising how coins can add up. Use the cash for presents or other items needed during the holidays.

Deliver some smiles! On Christmas morning after opening presents, visit a few places where people have to work that day and deliver some cookies and thank them for their service. Think about gas station attendants, nurses and doctors in hospitals, nursing home staff, etc.

Have a family game night. Pop some popcorn and enjoy some fun interaction with your family over some games. Be sure to play some Christmas music in the background!

Start a giant jigsaw puzzle on December 1st. Everyone in the family can work on the puzzle throughout the month.

Go for a drive and enjoy the Christmas lights around your town.

Use cash. Don't mortgage next year for this years shopping.

Being Kind During This Holiday Season

During this Christmas season perhaps we can all be a little kinder to one another.
Just being kind to others may not seem like much but even the smallest act of kindness is like a stone thrown into water with beautiful ripples flowing out from it that you may never see or know about.

Being kind to the earth and every creature living upon it is the ultimate in kindness.
If everyone did that there would be no war, no hunger or homelessness, no deforested lands, no polluted skies or poisoned waters.

So today perhaps we can all be a little kinder to one another, to our planet, and to the waters, the skies, the forests, and all the living creatures upon our beautiful Mother Earth.

Planning to be kind and caring.

Sometimes we imagine that a kind and caring person was born that way, but nothing could be further from the truth.
For most a conscious decision was made at some point in their lifetime to be a kind and caring person.
Then they set kindness goals and ideals to live by and  made plans and preparations to carry out that decision.

Kindness builds on itself. If you decide to do one kind act a day, for example, you will soon find that you are doing far more than that.
I don't know exactly why this is so but I've seen it happen over and over.

The acts don't have to be big either.
Opening a door for an elderly person is easy, takes just a second, and is a kind act that won't be forgotten. Other small acts of kindness that you can regularly incorporate into your day include letting people go ahead of you in lines, or letting a car into the stream of traffic, or commenting positively on the service in a store or a restaurant.

Then there are the little kindness's that are often forgotten or ignored in the home like truly listening to your spouse or to your children, or speaking with respect and affection rather than impatience or using discouraging or critical words or looks.

"Kindness is like snow-it beautifies everything it touches." -anonymous

"If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again."
-William Penn

"Three things in human life are important.
The first is to be kind.
The second is to be kind.
The third is to be kind."
-Henry James

And be kind to yourself this holiday season too. Get out and have some fun like these ice skaters in Edinburgh Scotland are doing.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Detoxifying Your Pineal Gland/Third Eye

Article to be found at The Healers Journal Web Site 


I mentioned earlier in my post about Pre-Cleansing and Intent Setting, one of my goals is to detoxify and decalcify my Pineal Gland. I want to share this information because it is something that has completely inspired me. Here’s a little bit of background first!
The Pineal Gland
(from wikipedia): “The pineal gland (also called the pineal bodyepiphysis cerebriepiphysisconarium or the third eye) is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. It produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions. Its shape resembles a tiny pine cone (hence its name), and it is located near the centre of the brain, between the two hemispheres, tucked in a groove where the two rounded thalamic bodies join.”
This pineal gland is activated by light, and it controls the various bio-rhythms of the body. It works in harmony with the hypothalamus gland which directs the body’s thirst, hunger, sexual desire and the biological clock that determines our aging process. When it awakens, one feels a pressure at the base of the brain. To activate the ‘third eye’ is to raise one’s frequency and moving into higher consciousness – all is a consciousness experience perceived through the Eye of Time or Third Eye.
While the physiological function of the pineal gland has been unknown until recent times, mystical traditions and esoteric schools have long known this area in the middle of the brain to be the connecting link between the physical and spiritual worlds. Considered the most powerful and highest source of ethereal energy available to humans, the pineal gland has been seen as a gateway that leads within to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. Awakening the third eye acts as a “stargate.”
Meditation, Visualization Yoga, and all forms of Out of Body travel, open the Third Eye and allow you to ‘see’ beyond the physical.
Calcification of the Pineal Gland
Most people’s pineal glands are heavily calcified by the time they are 17 years old, so much so that they show up as a lump of calcium during an MRI. Calcification is the build up of calcium phosphate crystals in various parts of the body.
The pineal gland begins to calcify due to the harmful effects of artificial substances such as flouride chemicals found in public water systems and toothpaste, hormones and additives put into processed foods and sugars and artificial sweeteners dumped into soft drinks. Cell phones are also being pinpointed as being harmful to the pineal gland due to high concentrations of radiation.
Benefits of Detoxifying and Activating Your Pineal Gland
Detoxification and Activation of the third eye can bring vast improvements of our life. An open third eye brings clarity, concentration, perspicuity, bliss, intuition, decisiveness and insight as well as:
-  Vivid dreams.
-  Lucid dreams.
-  Easier to astral project.
-  Better sleep.
-  Enhanced imagination.
-  Enabling Aura viewing, seeing energy, seeing beings, and seeing with eyes closed.
-  Clear channels and ablitly to feel energy.
A closed third eye or “Ajna Chakra” in Hindu tradition brings with it confusion, uncertainty, cynicism, pessimism, jealousy, envy and one sidedness.
How To Decalcify Your Pineal Gland
The idea of having a calcified pineal gland can be likened to a door being glued shut. Although the pathway is unable to be used while it is glued shut, it is still a doorway never the less! With constant pushing the door will eventually break open. Below you’ll find what are said to be some of the best ways to decalcify your third eye (The * indicates that they should be taken with at least one of the other things mentioned for full effect.):
Avoid all things fluoride: Tap water, cooking with tap water, fluoridated toothpaste, inorganic fruits and vegetables, showers with out filter, red meat, and any sodas and artificial food and drinks. I know how difficult it can be to stick to only organic fruit and vegetable but it is important to start where you are and begin to make those changes where it is possible.
Pineal gland detoxifiers and stimulants: Chlorella Spirulina, blue-green algae, Iodine, Zeolite, ginseng, borax, D3, Bentonite clay, chlorophyll, blue skate liver oil.
Foods: raw cacao, goji berries, cilantro, watermelon, bananas, Honey, Coconut Oil, hemp seeds, seaweed, and noni juice.
Essentials oils can be used to help stimulate the Pineal Gland and facilitate states of spiritual awareness, meditation, astral projection, etc. Good essential oils for Pineal Gland purposes include: Lavender, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Parsley, Davana, Pine, Pink Lotus, and Mugwort (excess use of Mugwort has a neurotoxin effect if inhaled directly, so be careful!). Essential oils can be inhaled directly, burned in a diffuser or nebulizer, and added to bath water.
Citric acid (LOTS of lemons* will work.)
Garlic* (Take about half a bulb a day or more for a while, if you crush it and soak in raw apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice it will deodorize it. Use the leftover vinegar or lemon juice on a salad. Personally, I drink it all down.)
Raw apple cider vinegar* (Contains malic acid. Take a lot of it. Make sure it’s raw, as that is very important. Braggs is the best brand) Everyday I fill a 1 Quart Mason jar with Ionized Alkaline water, 8 tablespoons of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 tablespoons of raw, local honey. This has so many benefits aside from the pineal gland!
Sungazing (Gazing at the sun during the first 15 minutes of sunrise and last 15 minutes of sunset will do wonders for your pineal gland)
-Regular Meditation and Chanting. Chanting causes the tetrahedron bone in the nose to resonate and this resonance causes the Pineal Gland to be stimulated and when it is stimulated it secretes more beneficial hormones, and remember: these beneficial hormones keep your appearance youthful. The sound “OM” resonates with the Fourth Chakra, known as the Heart Center, the seat of Unconditional Love. Chanting OM opens you up to Universal and cosmic awareness. You can chant up to 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or however long you desire to.
Crystals that benefit the Pineal Gland include: Amethyst (wand), Laser Quartz (wand), Moonstone, Pietersite, Purple Sapphire, Purple Violet Tourmaline, Rhodonite, Rose Aura, and Sodalite. However, any indigo, violet, or dark purple gemstone or crystal can be used to stimulate the Pineal Gland and open/balance/align the 6th and 7th Chakras. Placed directly on the 3rd eye or brow chakra for 15-30 minutes a day or every other day will help to open/balance/align the 3rd Eye (Brow) chakra and prevent/remove calcification of the gland. The best exercise for Pineal Gland stimulation and health is to take an amethyst obelisk crystal or an amethyst wand, point it at the 3rd eye (point of the wand should touch your skin) and look up directly at the Sun with your eyes closed. Do this everyday or whenever you feel like it for about 5-10 minutes. The Sun’s rays will penetrate through the base part of the obelisk or the end part of an amethyst wand and beam directly into the Pineal Gland stimulating it. You can also use the Laser Quartz (wand) as well. Quartz crystal benefits every single chakra.
Magnets. Attaching a magnet (that sticks by adhesive) to the part of your skin above your 3rd eye (located between your two physical eyes but slightly higher or slightly above the eyes) for a few hours throughout the day will also stimulate the Pineal Gland and help to decalcify it. Magnets cause the body to become alkaline, especially the part of the body where the magnet is attached. Any strength (gauss) magnet will work, but only use magnets on the head area during waking hours. The energy from Ra (Sun) will magnify the strength of the magnet’s effect on the Pineal Gland.
Natural Entheogens (not for everyone): Ayahuasca, Psilocybin Mushooms, peyote, changa, cannabis, salvia, DMT and more.
Like with most things, finding a “remedy” for  something that is not quite so straight forward isn’t the answer. The search for a “remedy” in itself is a train of thought that is lazy, mechanistic, and not one in line with the specific goal here. However, what is required is dedication, time, and work. I will be implementing some of these proposed remedies as part of my upcoming fast along with beginning a regular practice of meditation and chanting… not specifically as a “cure-all,” but rather as an opportunity to take the energy my body normally uses for digestion and redirect it toward healing and development in order to reaffirm my intent for the future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Maximize Your Pantry from My Family Prepared

The following article is one of the best I've found for fitting a lot of food storage into a small space.The article comes from the web site: My Family Prepared, and was written by Michelle.

Maximize Your Pantry

After a discussion with some neighbors about 'where I put all of my food storage' I have had quiet a few requests for friends to come and view my pantry.  It is apparently hard to believe that I can really fit that much in there.
So... this post is all about
how to maximize the space in your pantry
(according to me).
This is my kitchen:

I would say my corner pantry is the average size for those in their first home.
As you can see, cabinet space is limited, so I squeeze as much into my pantry as possible.

First, there are 3 major rules that I keep in mind:
1) Same Sized Containers
2) Everything in Boxes
3) Hidden, but accessible

Having things in the same sized containers allows you to store more.  You can easily stack up/down, side/side, front/back better if everything is the same shape and size.

When everything is kept in boxes you are able to maneuver a large amount of items at one time.  It also helps to prevent dents/damage, and keeps everything tidy and uniform, which makes proper rotation easier.

Hidden but accessible refers to the fact that not everything has to be at a fingertips grasp.  There are things in my pantry that I only use every 6 months - so I make sure those items are put in the very back, and on the bottom, if possible.

This will all make more sense as you read on.
We will be moving from the bottom up.
Most pantry floors are seriously overlooked.

I like to use poly buckets on the bottom - they are sturdy enough to allow me to stack things on top of them, and I can fit enough to have a large variety of different foods.  Everything I have in a poly bucket I have in a smaller container that is easily accessible for everyday use.  That way, the only time I have to access them is to refill my container.
Be sure to put the items you use the LEAST amount in the back.

I can fit a total of 12 poly buckets in my pantry, but I have a 3 drawer unit that takes up the space of 2.
Remember to fill  in all of the gaps if possible.  I have a gallon of vinegar in the very back corner, with an extra tub of shortening on top.

Tall skinny items can be placed in between the buckets (pictured: cooking spray, 5 lbs. honey).

I also have 2 gallons of oil that can fit on the floor as well.

And I can still access everything at this point.

The other thing to note is that my poly buckets are all the same height.  Buckets can be 2" taller and 2" shorter than the ones I have.  Like I said before, the same size allows me to stack more things on top.

On all of my poly buckets I store my bottled goods.  Leaving them in the box prevents breakage, and allows easy maneuvering.

 There is the perfect amount of space to fit 7 dozen quarts.
 That gallon of vinegar is stacked on top of the oil.  Behind that, Parmesan cheese is stacked on top of the cooking spray.

**If you don't can or don't have bottles, use this space for other heavy objects like bottled water, appliances  or canned goods (stacked 3 high).

On top of my quart jars I stack my 1/2 pint jars and other small canned goods.

Again, everything is in a box so I can easily move it around or pull it out to restock.

In front of all of those, I can fit a dozen pint sized jars, as well as a basket of onions and a basket of potatoes (I'll get to that picture later).

So just to recap.  On the floor alone I can fit:
- 10 poly buckets = 250+ lbs. of food
- 2 gallons of vinegar
- 2 gallons of oil
- 20 lbs. of honey
- 5 lbs. shortening
- 5 cans of cooking spray
- 5 cans Parmesan cheese
- 7 dozen quart jars (84 bottles)
- up to 3 dozen 1/2 pint jars (36 bottles)
- 3 dozen smaller canned goods (36 cans)
- 1 dozen pint jars
- 25 lbs. of potatoes
- 10 lbs. onions
- 3 drawer unit that stores all of my: jello and pudding mixes, seasoning packets, bags, drink mixes, towels/aprons, and any other miscellaneous items.

And if it seems like it is impossible to get to anything you are totally wrong.  Because everything is in a box, it takes be around 10 seconds to get to everything - unless it is the very back corner bucket, and in that case it takes me 1 minute.  The time is well worth the amount of food you can put in there.

Now on to the bottom shelf: Canned goods.
I use a plethora of boxes to keep them organized.  Leaving the front lip in place ensures that they don't get knocked off the shelf, but I remove the back lip so I can stack them all the way to the wall.

You can easily fit 7 boxes, which leaves exactly enough space in 2 different locations to fit 1 row of cans:

This will allow you to have one row for every type of canned good (25 rows).

This also helps rotate through properly.  Every time I need something, I take it from the front.  Whenever I am restocking, I put it in the back.

With a single layer, you can fit about 11 dozen cans (132), depending on the size of cans you purchase.

However, each time I restock I will double layer, so realistically I always have about 150 cans.  I don't dare to double stack everything for fear of the shelf breaking, but there are always a couple rows that are.  (And my shelves are not bowing at all).

Now that those are in I can fit those pint jars, potatoes and onions I was talking about earlier:

On to the next shelf: PASTA and SNACKS.
I love Barilla pasta, and it just so happens to come in a box, which is convenient for stacking and also refrains the noodles from breaking.
Same idea with the canned goods, I keep them in a box with rows (easy rotation), and each row is a different variety:

I can accommodate 9 rows of pasta (various sizes) on one side of the shelf this way.
Without stacking anything on top of the rows, I fit about 65 boxes/bags of noodles.  When I have Raman I usually stack those in their box on top of the other varieties.

**Egg noodles don't come in boxes, so I have those bags lined up inside of a shoebox (in the back corner).  Shoe boxes are the perfect size for bagged pasta.   

On the other half of that shelf I keep all of our snack items:
 Crackers (and other boxed items) are stacked straight against the wall and then side to side in front.
I have storage containers that stack for various types of nuts, candy, and cookies.
Multivitamins line up against the wall.  Everything is placed this way to make for better rotation - the oldest stuff goes in front so we end up eating it first.

The shelf above that is for Breakfast Items:
If you line the back wall and stack on top (not shown in pic, but just like the crackers), I can fit 12 boxes of cereal.  I also have 2 one gallon containers that fit other cereals like granola.
On the other side I can stack 6 boxes of instant oatmeal, with syrup and dehydrated hash browns in front of them.

In the back corner of that shelf I stack from floor to ceiling my cake boxes(7-8) and stuffing mixes (5).  Take from the top, restock from the bottom - again, it is all about rotating.
In front of those I stack boxes of hot chocolate mixes, hard taco shells, and any other boxed item.
To the side; spaghetti sauce.

The other half of that shelf is for spices.
I like to use the big Costco sized containers.  You can fit 20 of them into an old Raman noodle box.
I write the contents' name on the top of the lid so I can easily find what I am looking for.
 I also put things like Panko, Bread crumbs, cornflake crumbs, dehydrated onions and bell peppers in older containers to keep everything the same size.  I can fit about 36 of these of the shelf.

The top shelf is where I keep all of my #10 cans.
I reuse my old cans for things like chocolate chips, marshmallows, brown and powdered sugars, popcorn kernels, misc. grains, etc.

I have two rows that are double stacked, which means I can fit 20 #10 cans.

In the top back corner I have a box that I keep all of my 'backup' and replacement items.

This consists mostly of condiments:

Next to that are more containers of things like oats, specialty rice, and pretty much anything else that doesn't have a home:

As well as my crock pot and popcorn maker, which are hidden by garbage bags and chips most of the time.

And thats it!
Most shelves have plenty of room in front for various items like potato chips, peanut butter, honey, and other things that we go through.
Point being, having a small home is no excuse for not having food storage.
With your pantry alone, I believe you can store a 1-3 month supply of everything, with some items even up to a year supply.

With that said, here is everything I can fit into my pantry:

- 10 poly buckets = 250+ lbs. of food
- 2 gallons of vinegar
- 2 gallons of oil
- 20 lbs. of honey
- 5 lbs. shortening
- 5 cans of cooking spray
- 5 cans Parmesan cheese
- 7 dozen quart jars (84 bottles)
- 1 dozen pint jars
- up to 3 dozen 1/2 pint jars (36 bottles)
- 3 dozen smaller canned goods (36 cans)
- 12 dozen regular canned goods (144 cans)
- 25 lbs. of potatoes
- 10 lbs. onions
- 65 bags/pounds of pasta
- 12 boxes snack items (crackers/fruit snacks)
- around 10 lbs. nuts/raisins/craisins
- potato chips
- 5 lbs. peanut butter/nutella
- 5 lbs. candy
- 12 boxes cereal
- 2 gallons granola
- 6 boxes instant oatmeal
- 1 gallon dehydrated hashbrowns
- 1/2 gallon maple syrup
- 10 lbs. spaghetti sauce
- 5 boxes stuffing mix
- 7 cake/brownie mixes
- ~10 misc. boxes (taco shells)
- 36 large spice containers
- 20 count of #10 cans
- Miscellaneous condiments
- 10 lbs. of misc. grains/food
- Appliances (crockpot and popcorn maker)
- Garbage bags, other random items

Monday, October 31, 2016

Good News From Around the World

Anyone who watches or reads the news has got to be aware of the almost universal trend of over reporting the bad news and under reporting the good news.

Good news is everywhere in spite of what the mass media would have you believe.

If, like me, you are weary of this barrage of bad news and eager to discover where all the good news stories have been hiding, then check out the links by the photos below to these web sites and blogs that focus solely on reporting good news from around the world..

We need to let the people who force feed bad news to us daily that we are tired of it, and want to see the good news reported just as often. Let the networks, radio stations, magazines, and so on, know your thoughts about this issue please. Things won't change unless the people 

demand change.

Follow this link to good news:
Global Good News

More good news:
Huffpost Good News

Good news link:
Gimundo Good News Served Daily

Some more good news here:
Good News Network

Happy Good News:
Happy News

Good news link:
Daily Good

Check out even more good news here:
Good News Daily