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Sandy Hovatter

Essential Oils_Depositphotos_44493511_originalWhat will you do when medicine isn’t readily available? That question is one of the things that got me interested in Essential Oils. Medical preps are one of the most overlooked areas of prepping. Synthetic-based (i.e., man-made) medicines expire in a relatively short period of time. When SHTF happens, you won’t be able to go to the corner drug store, hand them your insurance card and pick up your needed medications. Most essential oils, on the other hand, have a very long shelf-life. (Some that have been found in archeological digs still hold their medicinal properties.) So I started looking into essential oils a little over a year ago. (See part 1 of my 2-part blog here.) After a year of dabbling, it’s time for me to get more serious about it. Enter the Healthy Oil Summit…

Oops…I’m a bit late in publicizing the free upcoming The Essential Oils Revolution Healthy Oil Summit. It starts tomorrow – Saturday, May 11 – and continues through Friday May 17.

First things First – you can register for the free event by clicking below:

The Essential Oils Revolution Summit

 

 

 

Free Gifts You’ll Receive
When you register, you’ll receive a number of free gifts, including advance access to two of the presentations. One of these presentations, “Essential Oils for Gut, Thyroid and Adrenals” by Josh Axe, is the absolute best presentation on Essential Oils I have ever seen, live or recorded. The three free ebooks are also very well done.

How the Summit Works
Beginning on May 11 and continuing through May 17, four or five videos will be posted each day for you to view. You’ll receive an email each day with info on the videos available that day. Topics are as wide ranging as:

  • Antibiotic Resistance — How Essential Oils Can Help
  • Cancer and Essential Oil Research
  • Using Essential Oils for Beauty and High Performance Health
  • Culinary Uses for Essential Oils
  • Empowering Emotions with Essential Oils
  • Essential Oils  for Animals

And of course, there’s much more.

If you want to buy a copy of all the presentations for viewing again later, you will be able to purchase all 31 presentations for $47.  Register for the free event and you’ll have the opportunity to purchase your own copy of the presentations.

It’s Time for Me to Take the Next Step — How About You?
I’ve been “playing with” essential oils for about a year. What I mean by that is I’m using them sporadically (when I remember) for just a few things — to help me sleep, as a pick-me-up in the afternoon, to ease sinus congestion. Over the past few months as I’ve read more articles and talked to more users, I’ve been developing an awareness that essential oils could do so much more for me. It’s time for me to begin to use them as part of a healthy living regimen.

You can join me by registering below:
The Essential Oils Revolution Summit

Hey folks! Just a quick reminder to check out the Home Grown Food Summit.

It’s online.

It’s Free.

And it starts next week.

Sponsored by Marjory Wildcraft, the queen of Grow Your Own Groceries, you know it’ll be good.

Lest you are anticipating a Summit that is all about gardening, let me correct your thinking – it’s not! There will be webinars on raising chickens, canning, deer hunting, aquaponics and more. With more than 30 presentations, you know they’re going to cover lots. There’s a complete list of speakers here.

We’ll be there! Hope you can join us.

You’ll also receive four bonus ebooks when you register.

EV001408Traditional thinking about OpSec (Operational Security) is that we should keep quiet about our preps. In a catastrophic event, the thinking goes, civil unrest immediately follows and those who don’t have food will steal – by force, if necessary – from people who do. Everyone who has talked to many people about their prepping activities — that they store food, water, medicine, and supplies — has been told by someone, “If anything ever happens, I’m coming to your house!” Being interpreted, that means they have no intention of spending their time and money to prep. Why bother? You’ve already done it all for them. And when times do go bad, they’ll remember that you have what they need. And they’ll tell their friends and family about you, too. And all of them will tell their friends and family. So good OpSec dictates that if you want to keep what you’ve stored, you keep your mouth shut and not reveal to anyone what you’re doing.

I agree with that…to a point. But I’ll get to that.

We have purposefully gone against traditional OpSec with this website because we think that it’s important to get the word out to others about the need to prep. And we want to inform you and encourage you to prepare your family for the time when life continues, but with some major changes from how we know it today.

About a month ago we attended PrepperFest in Columbus, OH. It was our first prepper conference and we found it to be well worthwhile. One of the workshops was by Black Dog Survival School. I found the instructor’s take on OpSec to be surprising and so much more realistic than the traditional perspective. He asked a question that went something like this:

“How long after SHTF do you think it will take for those around you to figure out that you have food, shelter, heat, fire, and water?”

His answer – about two days after they run out, which will probably be about three days after the catastrophic event. I think he’s probably right. That means that by Day Five, unless you live in a really remote location, your OpSec will be shot, too, and you will have to make some critical and difficult decisions:

Will you share what you have and, if so, with whom?

In the cozy security of life-as-we-know-it, you may be able to take a hard line and answer that question very narrowly – you’ll share only with those you’ve prepped for or with. In other words, anyone else who comes knocking at your door will be turned away, probably at gunpoint. Or maybe you’re more generous and think you’ll share with your extended family and neighbors. But how far does that extend?

Will you really be able to say “no” to your children and their spouses and children? What about your in-laws and their families, including that brother-in-law who drives you nuts? What about your children’s in-laws?

As I recall, the speaker said when they honestly looked at their family tree, they decided that they would be prepping for fourteen people. Yep, fourteen. Because to do otherwise meant that they would be saying to people they love (and/or have an obligation to), “No, I can’t give you food – you will have to go hungry.”

Phil and I don’t have children, so we don’t have to deal with the heart-wrenching decisions of giving our rapidly decreasing food to our children and their in-laws. Sadly, we also don’t live near our siblings, so we don’t face sharing with them and their families either. (I wish we did.) But the question extends to our friends. Would we really tell our closest friends, “Sorry, we can’t share our water with you”? I can tell you the answer to that is “no” because we’ve already said, “Brother /sister, if you are in need and we can help, please come to us.” Just because life has changed doesn’t negate that promise we’ve made.

Of course, the problem is exacerbated when we know that some of the dear friends we’ve said that to have grown children and grandchildren. Despite our best efforts to convince them of the need, they are not preppers. How far does our grace extend? In all honesty, we struggle with that question, because supplies will disappear rapidly in a truly catastrophic event.

And then there is the neighbor who sees that we have food and water when they have none. Will we really say “no”? And will that honor God?

The conference speaker encouraged three actions that I totally agree with:

  • Think through this discussion with your spouse honestly. Lose the bravado and macho attitude. Pray about it. What would God have you to do?
  • Prep more food and water. More than you need for your family. More than you need for your extended family. More.
  • Break OpSec with those you care about. Talk about prepping with your family, friends, and neighbors. Don’t be the crazy doomsday relative or neighbor, but plan get-togethers and get to know one anothers’ skills and assets. Encourage prepping in whatever way makes sense for each person. Challenge each person to go a bit beyond what they think they can or should do.

So what do you say the person who simply says, “If that happens, I’m coming to your house”? I’ve developed a new response to that. It’s something like, “OK. What are you bringing to the party? What are you prepared to contribute to the group?” And if there is an opening, I continue, “You see, you are welcome at my house and I will share what I can with you, but understand that if I share my year’s supply of food with you, we then only have a six months’ supply. And if you bring your husband, we now have only a four months’ supply of food. And four months isn’t long enough to grow enough food for all of us to continue to live on. So what will you contribute?”

Overwhelmed by this? Thinking, “Hey, I’m still trying to get enough food for me and my family set aside and now you want me to do more?” Then step away from this article and revisit it in a few months. We’re all at different places in our preps. Over the past few months I’ve just come to realize that more really is better. And that our goal of having enough food and water for “Phil and I and some to share” needs to be modified to “Phil and I and LOTS to share.”

Prepping for Holidays in a CanWe want to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas. We pray that you will find the joy in the season – knowing Christ and being known by Him.

Being in the holiday spirit reminds me how important celebrations and traditions can be. Even those who adamantly declare that they avoid traditions are, in effect, implementing them – that is, their avoidance of tradition is, in fact, their tradition. I know, it sounds strange, but it’s true.

Traditions ground us they define who we are and connect us to community. The community may be present or may be miles away, and it may be large or small. Growing up, we always baked Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving. Now as an adult, when I bake cookies on that day – even if I am baking alone – I feel connected to those I baked with, and even the people  they baked with before I was born.

Traditions can be reassuring and calming. When the world changes dramatically, I can’t think of anything we’ll need more! What a better way to prepare for such a time, than to create “Holidays in a Can.” Or a six-gallon pail. Phil describes the contents of holiday cans as “the saved of the saved.” In other words, we’re prepping for the holidays, not just for survival. We’re purposefully storing special food and other items with our preps that we won’t touch until the holiday comes around so that our holiday will be special even when times are tough.

What holidays should you plan for? Any days that are special to you – birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve or Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Independence Day come to mind. In our house, only a few of those are important days – you identify the ones that are important to you. (Phil is a peculiar fan of Groundhog Day. Go figure.)

What should be in the holiday cans? Now there’s a question that will have a unique answer for each of us. Ask yourself this:

What makes the holiday special to me and my family? Is it smells or activities or sights or sounds?

Your answer to that question will help you identify what should go into your can. Here are some ideas.

  • A card (birthday, anniversary, etc.)
  • A decoration or two
  • Ingredients for a prepper version of a favorite or special food (or just include a fruitcake!)
  • A gift – something special to share with others
  • Something frivolous or fancy
  • Something that evokes memories of the holiday – perhaps a picture or ornament or piece of clothing (an ugly Christmas sweater comes to mind)
  • Candles. Fancy ones since you might be using candles more in TEOTWAWKI and we want the can to hold special things. Don’t forget birthday candles if it’s a birthday can – and if you’re one of those people who always puts trick candles on the cake, be sure to include them.)
  • Spray scent (I hate it, but if I was desperate, I might really enjoy the Christmas feel of it – or it might just remind me of why I always hated it – which is a part of Christmas, too!)
  • Photos
  • A game
  • A special drink (every year at Christmas I have a glass of Crown Royale because it’s what my dad gave me for Christmas every year)

The key is to pare the items down to just a few that will bring the essence of your holiday into a time of crisis.

The Alternative Holiday Can

Having written all that I just did about the importance of traditions – and believing every word of it – I’ve also experienced times when it was important to break with tradition to make the holiday livable. For example, the year Phil’s mom died I specifically planned a non-traditional Christmas for us. I knew that the holiday memories would be too difficult the first year, so instead of focusing on the holiday, we remodeled our living room and dining room over Christmas week. Yes, we took a short break to join family for dinner, but then we returned home to finish painting.

So another approach to your holiday cans (or perhaps just some of them) is an alternative holiday can. Instead of filling it with things that remind you of former holidays, use it as a starting place for igniting new traditions or simply having a fun day. Here are some ideas:

  • A new game
  • Supplies to make a new scrapbook or cards
  • Treat food that isn’t reminiscent of your holidays. I’m loving Auguson Farms Blueberry Muffins these days. A couple batches of that in my birthday can would be a new tradition I’d enjoy!
  • An IOU for a day of rest and pampering – in whatever form that would take in TEOTWAWKI. Massage oils would probably have a very long shelf life.
  • A letter that you write now that would still be applicable then
  • One thing that reminds you of and connects you with the traditional holiday. Just a small thing. Don’t make it the centerpiece of the can.

Remember, your holidays in cans are the “saved of the saved.” They’re in the secret vault not to be opened until the holiday arrives. That’s what holiday prepping is all about.

What are your ideas? How are you including the holidays in your prepping? Comment below or add your comments on Facebook.

And again, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year.

Pantry packed with canned goodsOf all the articles that we’ve written, the one that is the most enduring favorite of our readers has been Grocery Store Prepping. It only makes sense. Most people make two or more trips to the grocery store every week. If the grocery store sells the stuff that we need and use the most, we should probably be thinking of it as our first resource for beginner preps. Once we get the basics covered, we can venture to a wilderness outdoor equipment store for the more exotic preps.

Besides grocery stores, there are other vendors in our neighborhoods that can also serve up some pretty good preps, and many of them at discounted prices. Today we’re going to focus our attention on dollar store prepping, but don’t ignore other options such as Goodwill or resale shops and the good old yard sale.

We are blessed to live in a rural area that is well serviced by a number of the large chain dollar stores, such as Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree. These stores have become our go-to places for certain items that we regularly use, and we’ve discovered that dollar store prepping can be a thrifty prepper’s best resource. These stores tend to be cut-rate general stores that stock a lot of what you need to get you through routine emergencies, such as a power outage or storm.

The impetus for this article was a one-day sale we found at our local Dollar Tree store that’s happening tomorrow. While you can save money prepping at Dollar Tree or any of the dollar stores any day of the week, you can save more money (or buy more preps for the same money) on Sunday, November 23 (2014). It’s Customer Appreciation Day at Dollar Tree and they are offering 10% off all purchases that total more than $10. That makes every item you would normally purchase for a dollar only…wait for it… 90 cents! (Yep, we can do basic math here at The Approaching Day Prepper.) To get the 10% discount, you need to print this voucher from their website and present it to the cashier.

We’ve found that the products sold at Dollar Tree are often off-brand, but off-brand doesn’t always mean inferior. Sometimes you’ll find a product by a little unknown brand that beats what you’ve been paying much more for elsewhere. Be adventurous! What the heck — it’s just a buck. But don’t be a careless shopper. Take a minute or two to read labels, making sure you’re getting what you expect. Packaging can be deceiving, so read the label to determine how many feet, ounces, or items you’re getting for your buck. Check expiration dates as well.

Here are some ideas of what you can buy at your local Dollar Tree store. (You can buy them online, too, but Customer Appreciation Day applies only to in-store purchases.)

Storage

  • Bins & baskets – You’ll find a wide variety of sizes and types. You may not have an immediate use for them, but you’ll sure find one soon.
  • Baggies – It’s always good to have a supply of baggies in various sizes – sandwich, freezer, snack, etc.
  • Plastic wrap, aluminum foil – Watch package sizes to be sure you’re getting a good deal.
  • Canning jars and lids

Food

  • Canned vegetables – Watch for expiration dates. If the dates are soon, perhaps you can use them immediately in lieu of pulling from your pantry. You’re extending the life of your pantry which is, in effect, extending your food storage.
  • Boxed foods (or as we call them, “cardboard food”) – Brands may not be those you’re accustomed to, but you can find some interesting items to try, including some imported items that you’ll never find in your grocery store.
  • Canned meats – We list these separately because many people forget about canned meats. They’re great prepper food. Think tuna, chicken, sardines, Vienna sausages, etc.
  • Candies – This is often an overlooked item in prepping, but let’s plan for a life with treats!

Emergency Items

  • Cords, twine, rope, clothes line — I can guarantee you that in a longer-term emergency you or someone close to you won’t begin to have enough of this stuff on hand.
  • Tarps, ponchos, vinyl table cloths, and shower curtains – Anything that you can use to keep things covered and dry outside.
  • Glow sticks
  • Clamps
  • Duct tape

Kitchen Utensils & Supplies

  • Pick up that extra can opener you should have. Look for utensils that can be used in outdoor cooking. Look for small items that can be put in your bug-out bag.
  • Baking tins for making your own cleaning products. I make some of my own cleaning and health products. They often require pans and utensils and I don’t want to use the same as those I use for baking. Cupcake pans, small loaf pans and cookie sheets all come in handy.
  • Grater – Both for food prep (you may not be able to use your electric food processor) and for making cleaning products.
  • Wooden spoons – Can you ever have enough?
  • Paper plates and plastic ware

Cleaning & Sanitation

  • Soap and laundry detergent, for less than what you pay elsewhere
  • Chlorine bleach (but beware that chlorine bleach doesn’t store for very long)
  • Cleaning wipes / wet wipes — especially if you have young kids
  • Towels & rags – I recently bought four good quality dish towels to replace the towels I put on my counter under my tea station and by our plant area. The old ones are permanently stained. I figured I could spend $4 to quit looking at the stains. If I had waited for this 10% off sale, I could have gotten them for $3.60. I might go buy more!
  • Sponges
  • Latex gloves – Both disposable and longer-use gloves.

Health

  • Bandages
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lip balm
  • First aid tape
  • Toothpaste, toothbrushes, toothpicks

Holiday Items & Decorations – While not a prepper item, per se, I think it’s important to remember to plan for the fun events in life when setting aside items for a time when life is less comfortable than we know it.

Happy shopping!

Augason Farms One-Month Food KitDuring National Survival Month, we encouraged readers to identify a task they hoped to accomplish. We were slammed with work that month and getting ready for vacation, so I picked an easy task that had been on my list – create a menu to be used during the first month of a serious emergency and gather the needed recipes.

As I began the menu project, Phil reminded me that we had purchased a one-month food supply kit from Augason Farms. This kit contained 48 small cans of dehydrated and freeze dried ingredients and came with a recipe booklet with more than 50 recipes. Wow! Menu task accomplished! Well, not quite. But close.

From that easily accomplished goal we decided that after returning from vacation we’d set aside a week during which we would make some of the recipes and get a more realistic idea of what it would be like to live off of our long-term storage food supply.

Our original plan was to eat nothing but food from our long-term food storage, with a focus on the Augason Farms kit. After putting off our one week of survival food experiment several times, we realized that our original plan needed some tweaking. We realized that maintaining our normal schedule of work and ministry activities meant that it wasn’t practical for us to only eat survival food for that week. In an emergency, these commitments would be radically altered. We weren’t willing to make those adjustments for our experiment. Still, we were able to accomplish our goals by eating most meals from our long-term food storage while allowing the restaurant or fast food option when our schedule demanded.

Yes, we know that we’re not practicing true survival. We’re not forcing ourselves into simulated hardship. Instead, we’re practicing with and sampling our survival food. I’m OK with that for this experiment. So what were our goals?

Our goals for the week are to:

  • Taste the food. Do you remember the line from the movie Crocodile Dundee – “It tastes like crap, but you can live on it.” Were we going to be miserable eating what we’d bought? The Augason Farms kit has a wide variety of their staple products and recipes that could be made from them, so we’d be able to sample much of it. (And we’d have an idea of which foods we might want to purchase in larger quantities…and which we wouldn’t.)
  • Practice preparing the food. It’s never a good idea to wait until five minutes before you really need something to start learning how to use it. We want to practice preparing the food before we absolutely need to use it. Our one-month food kit is not a case of prepared entrees. It’s an ingredient-based kit that allows you to mix and match items to make a lot of recipes. There’s a big difference between reading the contents on the box and figuring out what you could make with it.
  • Evaluate what’s missing from our food storage plan. When we start living on survival food, what will we be craving that we don’t have? It might be fresh fruits and vegetables, or meat, or desserts, or salty snacks. But until we start using what we have stored, we won’t know what is lacking. We need to fill in the gaps now.
  • Evaluate how much water we’d be using when cooking primarily dehydrated and freeze-dried food. (As it turns out, the kit clearly specifies that it takes 23 gallons of water to prepare all of the included food. That’s 23 gallons of water for one person for one month for just food preparation. What does that do to your estimate of how much water you want for every person to include drinking and washing?)
  • Evaluate portion sizes. Would their claimed “makes 2 servings” really make 2 real world servings?
  • Share our findings with you.

With all that as a backdrop, we finally picked a week to start – last week as a matter of fact. Here are our first lessons and impressions from our week of survival food testing:

  • We have more food in our fridge at any given point than we realize. We were scheduled to begin sampling the survival food last week and immediately realized that we had enough food in our fridge that we needed to use before it spoiled to last us nearly a week. So the first five days were spent eating from our fridge with a little supplement from our pantry shelves. I was actually surprised at this because I don’t think of us having that much ready food on hand. I know we have a healthy-sized pantry, but didn’t realize that we had so much that needed to be eaten. I was really encouraged by this. I know that if an emergency takes out our fridge and freezer (which it likely would), that week would turn into “eat as much as you can in the next few days”. I’ll have more to share with others than I thought I would. (And no, we didn’t go out and do big shopping shortly before our survival food experiment was to begin. Quite the opposite. We had abstained from grocery shopping for about a week before that.)
  • With our on-hand “need to eat” food, our one week of survival food experiment has turned into two weeks of survival food. We’re five days into it and we tasted our first survival food today. (Yes, we’ve tasted many other products in the past, but today was the first in this experiment.)
  • There is a lot of variety in the Augason Farms one-month pack. You can do a lot with it. In addition to their recipe booklet, there are also recipes printed on each can’s label. Being who I am, I put them all into a spreadsheet and created a weeks’ worth of menus.
  • Along with the variety, there’s also a lot of repetition in the Augason Farms recipes. Chicken noodle soup, chicken noodle casserole, and chicken noodle vegetable casserole sound a lot alike to me! Still, having just tasted my first variation of potato soup (creamy potato soup with corn and chicken), I’m embracing the variations. (More on that in our next blog.)
  • I’m really looking forward to this!

Without trying to sound like a commercial, it seems like I should give more info about the Augason Farms one-month pack. This pack is advertised as providing almost 2,100 calories per day for one person for one month. Nutritional information is provided on each can. The only absolutely necessary ingredient that isn’t provided is water. Some of the recipes in the included recipe book include ingredients that you may not have available (sour cream or hard cheese, for example), but most do not.

The kit includes 21 different items in a total of 48 cans:

  • Beef, Chicken, and Bacon TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • Cheesy broccoli soup mix
  • Creamy potato soup mix
  • Chicken noodle soup mix
  • Southwest chili mix
  • Broccoli (freeze dried)
  • Corn (freeze dried)
  • Potato dices (dehydrated)
  • Potato gems (for mashed potatoes)
  • Onions (chopped dehydrated)
  • White rice
  • Whole eggs (powdered)
  • Creamy wheat cereal
  • Buttermilk pancake mix
  • Strawberries (freeze dried slices)
  • Banana slices
  • Milk (powdered)
  • Chocolate milk (powdered)
  • Orange delight drink mix

Have you ever seen the cooking competition show called Chopped on the Food Network? Chefs are given a basket with four ingredients. Some of them are normal ingredients, some are very abnormal. The challenge is to make a tasty meal using all four ingredients, plus whatever else they have available. This kit is like playing Chopped. What kind of culinary wonders can you create with these ingredients and what’s in your pantry?

These aren’t the jumbo #10 cans that you normally see for long-term storage food. Those big boys hold almost a gallon each. The food in this kit all comes in the smaller #2.5 cans which only hold about a quart. The smaller size makes it practical and affordable to sample a lot of products. Besides, the big #10 cans aren’t always your best choice for every type of food storage, as blogger The Survival Mom points out in this excellent article.

The regular price of the kit is $256.99 (with free shipping as of this writing), but it is occasionally on sale. We paid at least $60 less for each of the packs we’ve purchased. (We purchased three kits at different times, so the price of each pack varied.) If you’re just getting started with prepping, or you’ve looked at the huge one-year food kits that many food storage vendors offer and found them to be way out of your budget or your prep plans, this one-month kit might be just the ticket for you. It’s way more affordable, takes up way less space, lets you sample a lot of products, and could be good as a starter pack for you or as a gift for someone else whom you wish was better prepared.

At the regular price, assuming 3 meals/day for 30 days, the price per meal is less than $2.63. That seems pretty darn reasonable. At the prices we paid for our one-month packs, our cost went down to $2.18. And when the meals are stretched with rice or pasta, the price goes even lower. Of course one of our purposes in this experiment is to find the things we like most and purchase those items in larger cans at a better price. But considering the convenience of the smaller cans with menus provided, I’m a happy camper.

Assuming the food is good. Assuming it truly is 30 days’ worth of food. That story comes next…

Emergency ChecklistIn my previous National Preparedness Month blog, I encouraged you to review what preps you’ve made in the past year and consider strategic purchases to improve your preparedness position. Some of you know off the top of the head what your highest prepping priorities are, but for most of us, I’m guessing a more directed approach to evaluating your preps would be helpful. We’re here to help. Use the Preparedness Check and Challenge checklist below to evaluate where you are now and where you want to be.

There are more areas in which we need to prepare – communications, transportation, and medical, to name just a few. But our readers tend to be beginners in prepping, so we’ll stick with these basic topics for today’s blog.

We’re still working on every area (of course), but we’re making progress. My personal challenge for September is to complete a 3-day and a 1-month food plan with recipes. As I was writing this blog and explaining my alternate approach to evaluating my stored food, I realized that I can easily look at my pantry and evaluate if I have the necessary food to meet my immediate and short-term needs. Today, that is. That wouldn’t be the case in an emergency. You see, cooking is a weakness for me. Phil can grab ingredients and make good food. I can’t. I used to become paralyzed in video rental stores – there were just too many options. I also become paralyzed when faced with an immediate need to make food if I don’t have a plan.

So, by the end of September, I hope to have several written menus for the first three day s and first month of an emergency, and make sure that we keep all the ingredients on hand to make those meals. If we don’t have the ingredients in stock, the menu plan isn’t worth anything.

Let me urge you – spend a few minutes reading this brief checklist, then challenge yourself in one area. Set a specific goal of what you want to accomplish before the end of September (National Preparedness Month). That’s only two weeks away, so be reasonable about what you might be able to do, but don’t be too easy on yourself. The harder you work now, the easier you’ll have it when you need it.

Water

  • Recommendation: The government recommends 1 gallon per person (and pet) per day for drinking and cooking. We say more is better, but 1 gallon is a minimum place to start. Oh, and if you want to keep yourself and your things clean, plan on needing more water.
  • How much water do you need/want to store:
    ____ (Number of people/pets) x ____ (number of days) x 1 gallon
  • How much water do you have stored: ________
  • What are you going to do to upgrade your water storage and/or purification capabilities?

Food

  • Recommendation: The average adult intake is about 2000 calories/day under normal conditions. In an emergency, you’re likely to be burning more calories than that, so if you can plan for 3000 calories/day, that’s a good thing.
  • How much food do you want/need to store:
    ____ (Number of people) x ____ (number of days) x _____ (number of calories)
  • How much food do you have stored: ________
  • Don’t forget pets. If you have pets, how much do they eat each day? Multiply that by the number of days and you know how much pet food you need to have stored.

An Alternate Approach — Having just given you the formula, let me tell you that I don’t use the formula any more. I did at first, as I was developing my plan and understanding of long-term food storage. Now I take a different approach. I consider my preps in three stages: immediate, short-term and long-term. I approach my evaluation according to these three stages:

  • Immediate: How many meals can I make with little or no preparation in the first 72 hours? My goal is 3 meals per day for 6 people. I can easily look at my pantry and determine if I am at that goal.
  • Short-Term: How many meals can I make from my pantry with minimal dipping into my long-term storage food during the first month? My goal is 3 meals per day for 8 people, with some desserts added to help keep up morale. Again, I’m going to visually inspect my pantry to determine if my goal is met.
  • Long-Term: How much long-term food do I have? Phil and I met our one-year plan for the two of us last year, so now we look at how many other people can we help.

Cooking

  • If the power grid is down, do you have the capability to cook the food you have? What key purchase would allow you to say “yes” in response to that question? Consider a propane camping stove (don’t forget to store some propane), an outdoor fire pit with grill, a rocket stove and/or a solar oven. (I have plans for a DIY solar oven that I can’t wait to try. Oh if there were just enough hours in the day!)
  • Do you know how to cook the food you have with the cooking method(s) available?

Shelter/Heat

  • If for any reason your current shelter is no longer available, do you have a backup plan? Where will you go and how will you get there? What kind of challenges are you likely to face in getting there? What will you take with you? What do you need to be able to make the trip? How quickly can you be on the road?
  • In a no-power-grid situation (whether it’s from a snow storm, a tornado, a hurricane, or a power-grid failure) do you have a plan to keep you family warm? Start with buying extra clothes and blankets. Add to it by developing an alternate heat source.

Security

  • Is your home an easy target for being broken into? What can you do to “harden” your home? (Think about things like upgrading your entry doors or planting thorny bushes under first floor windows.)
  • Are you prepared to protect your family? What do you need to do to become more prepared and better trained?

Documentation

  • How’s your prepper notebook coming? Read more about it here. People tend to put off gathering important documents and creating a prepper notebook. If this is the one thing you do during National Preparedness Month, you will have done a good thing.

What’s your Preparedness Check and Challenge goal for this National Preparedness Month?

In case you haven’t seen the emails or heard the news, allow me to let you in on a secret — September is National Preparedness Month. That brings several questions to my mind:

  • Am I more prepared today than I was at this time last year? In the light of the very long list of things I could (and want to) be doing to be better prepared, it’s often easy for me to be discouraged by this question. That’s when I say “STOP! Take a deep breath and let’s get specific.” When I made a specific list of things I have done this year to become more prepared, it turned my discouragement around. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Stop. Take a deep breath and encourage yourself before you move on. (Having trouble identifying what you’ve done to improve your preps this year? Maybe reading our list will help. It’s at the end of this article. We’re providing it just to help you jumpstart your list of things you’ve done.)
  • How can I take advantage of National Preparedness Month? One obvious answer is to take advantage of the sales that most preparedness vendors are having this month. It’s a great time to make some very strategic purchases. The definition of “strategic purchases” will be different for everyone, so before you make those purchases, now is a great time to evaluate your preparedness – otherwise, how can the purchases you make be strategic? While we generally have the perspective that buying more food is always a good thing, our cash available for purchases isn’t unlimited (not even close to it). That means that we have to balance our spending and fill in some of the gaps in our preparedness plan. So, as good as the food sales might be, perhaps the most strategic purchase would be a sun oven or a rocket stove to help you cook some of that food if your normal energy sources aren’t available. Maybe it will be a solar energy kit. We can’t know that until we take a step back and evaluate where we are. Don’t let your “wants” leave you with a long list of “needs.”
  • How can we help our readers take advantage of National Preparedness Month? We are all at different places in our preparedness. Those of you who have been prepping for a while undoubtedly have a list of “next steps” or “wish list” items, many of which will require making some purchases. Later in this article we’re including a list of some of our favorite vendors. You’ll also find ads from some of them in the sidebars of the various pages of our site. Let me offer a bit of help to those who are new to prepping. The question we get asked most often is “How do I get started?” If you’re in that category, stick around! In a month or two, we’ll be starting a “Prepper 101 Club” (or something like that). It will help you get started in prepping with a logical and easy to follow approach. In the meantime, what can you do this month? A great place to start is by reading our article, Getting Started with Prepping. After that, start with the most basic stuff – water and food. Below you’ll find some links to other articles that will help you get started.

Water comes first. How adequate is your water supply? (Hint: You need more than you think.) How do you go about collecting and storing water? Check out these blogs:

Storing Water – How Much is Enough?

Water Storage – a Primer

Our Three-Layered Approach to Prepping – This blog is a good intro about to our approach to prepping in general (short term, medium term, and longer term), and we use water storage as our example, so it gives you an idea about how to plan for your water storage needs.

Food is next. We recommend starting with our two-part Food Storage 101 series:

Food Storage 101: What Types of Food Can I Store for an Emergency?

Food Storage 101: What Types of Food Should I Store for an Emergency?

Once you’re past that pre-school stage, browse our site for other articles on food storage, preservation, gardening, and more.

Now food and water are just the beginning, but everyone has to start somewhere and we don’t want to overwhelm anyone. Wandering around our site will help you understand prepping more and will help you identify where you should spend your money and time this month.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite vendors:

Emergency Essentials
TheReadyStore.com
Both of these vendors are preparedness superstores. They’re best known for their food products, but they both offer a wide range of preparedness products. Both of them have frequent sales.

AugasonFarms.com
Augason Farms is almost exclusively a food vendor. They also run great sales, especially on their large pails of staples. When they put stuff on sale, their prices generally can’t be beat.

Amazon.com
We buy a lot of stuff from Amazon. So much so that we have a membership to Amazon Prime, which gives us free 2nd-day shipping on most items.

SpicesForLess.com
One of the most overlooked area of food storage is spices. All of those buckets of beans, rice, and wheat are going to taste pretty bland without a good supply of spices. Spices For Less sells a wide range of spices and seasonings in any quantity you want, with good discounts applied to larger quantities.

Biblica.com
It’s no secret that The Approaching Day Prepper is a site that has Christian beliefs and values at its core. We believe that God sometimes gives warnings of approaching calamities and that when He does, He expects people to prepare themselves for those events. We also believe that if a prolong period of hardship were to come upon our nation, people who have never given much thought to spiritual matters will seek God. Part of our preps is a stockpile of inexpensive Bibles and New Testaments that we’ve purchased from Biblica.com. We want to be ready to lead a network of home Bible studies and we recognize that in today’s culture, not every home has a Bible. Ours now has dozens of very affordable Bibles that can be given out freely to anyone who will use one.

Here’s what we’ve done to improve our preparedness this year. We still have LOTS more to do. But perhaps reading our list will help you identify your own progress since last September.

  • We’ve started making and storing meals in jars. (Watch for a future blog on this topic!).
  • We expanded our garden by 50% this year and we learned tons more about gardening that we didn’t have time to implement this year. That’s OK. Learning comes before doing, then doing enhances the learning. We’re making plans for next year’s garden right now, applying some of our “lessons learned” during this growing season, so that we’ll be able to increase the size of our garden next year.
  • We rotated our water and increased our water reserves. This included buying a food-grade water barrel, a rain barrel for the garden, and a Katadyn water filter that can process thousands of gallons of water.
  • We’ve bought an ammo reloading press, dies, components, and supplies.
  • Bought a new rifle that could be used for both hunting and home defense.
  • We’ve picked out a pellet stove that we’ll be buying next week. Watch for an article on that purchase decision to come soon. We know buying a pellet stove doesn’t make sense to many people from a true preparedness point of view, but we decided that it was our best option.
  • We’ve added storage racks and begun to reorganize our long-term food storage.
  • We increased our inventory of long shelf-life food.
  • We’ve purchased many non-food survival items – paper products (at last count we have about 300 rolls of toilet paper, enough facial tissue to last a year, and plenty of paper towels) and miscellaneous supplies like tarps and tape.
  • I learned a lot about essential oils and use them regularly.

We’re making progress. It’s a continual process – one that sometimes gets interrupted by the necessities of work and family, but is never abandoned. We hope that you will take advantage of the sales offered by some of the vendors represented on this site during National Preparedness Month, and that you will become more prepared tomorrow than you are today. Also, watch our Facebook page as we’ll put notices there about sales we find interesting.

Stopwatch showing 15 minutesWe’re sorry that you haven’t seen many blogs from us over the past couple of months. Well, any blogs actually. That’s because work and life has exploded for us and we’ve had to put The Approaching Day Prepper on the back shelf for a short time. But that doesn’t mean that our personal prepping efforts have stopped. We didn’t do all we would have liked, but we did more than nothing.

Perhaps your life gets crazy sometimes, too. During those times, your prepping efforts don’t need to come to a standstill. Here are some ideas for moving your prepping efforts forward when time is at a premium.

Build Prepping Into Your Everyday Shopping

  • Find a sale on something that you use a lot of? Stock up. It doesn’t take any longer to buy ten of them than it does two.
  • Perhaps it’s not on sale, but you can still buy two of some of the things on your shopping list – one for now and one for your storage shelves.
  • Add a case of bottled water to your cart.

Shop Online – Especially for Bulk Supplies

  • When placing an office supply order for our business, I add cases of toilet paper, facial tissues, and paper towels. We’ve been getting our stuff from Quill.com. (Watch for sales.) We get free shipping with two-day delivery. One day our whole front porch was filled with big boxes that weighed almost nothing! They packed one 20-pack of toilet paper in each carton. The shipping cartons are worth almost as much as their contents.

Do a Quick Project

  • Rotate the batteries in your battery charger. (You are using rechargeable batteries, aren’t you?)
  • Plan or prep a new storage area. We bought three new 5-shelf storage racks online a couple of months ago. We put them in a spare room on the second floor and started to move some of our food from the basement (which could flood if our sump pump failed) to the storage racks upstairs.
  • Write down some “lessons learned” from this year’s gardening season. What should you do better or differently? What would you like to try next year?

Learn Something

  • Stay up to date with a good prepper blog. www.SHTFblog.com is one of our favorites, but there are gobs of others. (Note to self: Post a blog about our favorite prepper websites.)
  • Spend some time researching your next major purchase. We’re looking at wood stoves and learning more about solar energy.
  • Find a new recipe for your long-term storage food and add it to your personal long-term food storage recipe book. (If you don’t have such a book, start one.)
  • Squeeze in some handgun dry-fire training time.
  • Practice some skills. How are you at tying knots? Or building a fire?

We all get pinched for time, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t cram some prepping tasks into a few minutes of down time. What ideas do you have? Drop us a note in the Comments section below.

Essential Oils_Depositphotos_44493511_originalIn my previous article, I shared my journey into essential oils by presenting a series of questions and answers. As promised, in this blog I’ll share the contents of my starter kit, my experience thus far, some of my personal recipes, and you’ll be able to download some helpful EO cards or information sheet. Enjoy!

I’m afraid I have to add a medical disclaimer to this blog. The information provided in this blog is not offerred or intended as medical advice. Consult your doctor before using essential oils.I am simply sharing my experience and research. I am not a doctor. I’m a desktop publisher, preacher, blogger and prepper (not necessarily in that order).

My Starter Kit and Experience

The components of my starter kit were determined by two factors – the oils most often recommended as good, general-purpose oils (because I knew my starter kit would be limited and I wanted to get the most bang for my buck) and the conditions we were most likely to use the oils to combat. I’ve already mentioned that I sometimes have difficulty sleeping. Phil and I both suffer from sinus congestion, especially in the winter. While I was doing my shopping, I had an upper respiratory variety of the crud that was going around last winter, so I’m sure that impacted my decisions. I occasionally suffer from asthma and headaches, and both Phil and I sometimes experience anxiety, stress, and a bit of the blues. Phil also has a touch of arthritis.

I’m sharing my experience using the oils in my starter kit, but keep in mind that it’s only been a few months. While my experience has been generally positive, it’s also been somewhat limited.

My starter kit included the following oils:

  • Eucalyptus With antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antiseptic properties, this oil has tons of uses. I was most interested in its effectiveness against congestion and inflammation. We use the eucalyptus in a diffuser most evenings and Phil and I both notice that about half an hour after starting the diffuser we are breathing better and our sinuses are more open. They don’t just feel “minty” —our sinuses are actually open more than they were before. Phil hasn’t been able to breathe through his right nostril for years, but it is opening up since we started diffusing eucalyptus. We’ve also used it in a massage oil to ease chronic muscle inflammation. We didn’t notice any relief from this.
  • Lavender As a “balancer” this oil would help my sleeplessness and could be used to perk me up on those afternoons when a nap after lunch is appealing. I have in fact found it to be very effective in encouraging restful sleep as well as helping one remain alert during the day. Yeah, I know – how can that be possible? Read about it in my previous blog. Shortly after buying my lavender oil, I started to get a cold sore. Lavender is also supposed to be good for skin rashes and it was one of the few oils I had at the time, so I put lavender on the cold sore. Surprisingly (to me) it really helped – the cold sore developed, but it was significantly smaller than when it started and it was short-lived.
  • Frankincense This oil helps strengthen the immune system, and who doesn’t need that? It can also be used to combat depression and stress, as well as upper respiratory infections. We use it in our night-time blend and sometimes in the office.
  • Lemon Lemon has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It stimulates the digestive system and can be safely used to add flavor in small quantities. Its clean citrus aroma makes it a nice addition in blends. And in our household it doesn’t hurt that lemon is one of Phil’s favorite scents. Happy, happy, happy.
  • Peppermint Said to be effective against headaches and nausea – two conditions I suffer from. I dabbed some on my temples when I had a headache recently, and the headache was gone in fifteen or twenty minutes. I’ve suffered from nausea regularly throughout my life. I don’t actually get sick, I just feel “yucky” frequently. I haven’t had a chance to test the peppermint oil for this condition yet, which is unusual. Could it be because of my regular use of eucalyptus and lemon each evening? Or maybe the peppermint that is in a common blend I diffuse in the office? I don’t know, but my frequent “yuckiness” hasn’t been so frequent.
  • Tea Tree (also known as Melaleuca) Great for small cuts and scratches. In all honesty, I haven’t noticed that mine consistently heal faster with tea tree oil, but everyone recommends it. I probably don’t have the discipline to use it frequently enough.
  • Four Thieves (sold by Edens Garden)/Thieves® (sold by Young Living) – This blend is sold under various similar names. It’s based on a legend that during the bubonic plague four men would rob those who had died from the plague. To everyone’s surprise they didn’t catch the disease. They were reported to use a blend of spices that protected them. The most common ingredients in today’s version of the blend are clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. This blend has very strong antibiotic and antiseptic properties. It was one of the last oils I bought and I haven’t used it, except as an occasional alternative in my night-time blend.
  • Patchouli This isn’t in your typical starter kit, but my husband loves the smell of it. It’s very musky. Some people love it, some people hate it. It has antibiotic, antiseptic, and antifungal properties. It also combats depression and congestion. It promotes the regrowth of skin cells. I use this primarily in my night-time blend (see below), but I want to try it in place of tea tree oil on scratches and cuts.
  • Jojoba Carrier oils (also called base oils or vegetable oils) such as jojoba are used to dilute highly concentrated essential oils so they can be safely applied to the skin. I didn’t do as much research into carrier oils as essential oils, but chose jojoba because it has a long shelf life and is easily absorbed into the skin. It’s been nicknamed by some as the “king of oils.” Kinda like the Budweiser of the carrier oil world. Seemed like a good place to start and I’ve been happy with the blends I’ve created using it.

Since then I’ve added the following oils. I chose these largely because others say they’re essential to a starter kit. I haven’t used any of them yet.

  • Rosemary Antimicrobial and antiseptic, balancing and calming, this oil is also used to ease respiratory issues and skin conditions. I haven’t used it yet but bought it for those times when my asthma is bothering me. It also seems like it would be a great starting oil for a relaxation blend. I’ll have to work on that! Be careful with this one, though – it should not be used if you have high blood pressure.
  • Clary Sage Its unique feature is that it’s good for PMS and menopause relief. Hmmm. I think it would be good to combine with that Rosemary blend. It is a sedative with slight narcotic properties and shouldn’t be used before driving or doing other things that you need your full attention for. I’m thinking that a rosemary and clary sage blend is the perfect thing to diffuse in the bathroom while taking a warm bath before bed. But it’s new to my arsenal and I haven’t tried it.

Reputable Essential Oils Companies

Wow, what a hot topic! People seem to have strong opinions about the best companies from which to buy essential oils. I found reading people’s opinions helpful, but try to stay out of the fray. After spending quite a few hours reading reviews (and rants and raves) on a variety of blogs and shopping sites, then spending more time reading about various companies and how they handle their essential oils (from harvesting to storing), I created a spreadsheet listing the oils I wanted to buy and the various companies that sold them. I added prices to that spreadsheet and made my purchasing decisions. I ended up buying my oils from a couple of different companies.

With that background, I am comfortable recommending the following companies. If you recommend others, please share them with us. If you’ve had negative experiences with any of these companies, share that, too. But I truly don’t want this to become a forum for ranting against companies simply because you sell essential oils for a competing company.

Before long you’ll also need supplies – dark bottles with lids and droppers (don’t store your droppers in your oils). I’ve bought from a couple of sources, but be careful to read what you’re getting. My first purchase was half a dozen teeny-tiny bottles. They work great except they really are small. So I’ve found that they’re good for giving a sample of an EO to a friend, but not very good for my intended purpose – mixing my own blends. A second purchase of larger bottles was required.

Using Your Oils

There are a number of ways to use your essential oils. Typically you’ll blend them with a carrier oil, but they can also be used “neat” (that is, undiluted). We use them three different ways:

  • Direct inhalation – When I’m traveling I put a couple of drops on a cloth (I use a wash cloth) and wave it in front of my face periodically. I’ve done this with peppermint to stay alert on long car trips and with eucalyptus or peppermint to relieve allergies or congestion.
  • Apply topically – I’ve applied a variety of undiluted oils on scratches or cold sores. I also apply a small amount of lavender to my feet many evenings for a more restful night’s sleep. I’ve also applied peppermint to my temples and back of the neck to relieve headaches. Phil and I use a blend we’ve created for massaging away sore muscles and stress.
  • Diffuse – Diffusers disperse oils into the air, much like a humidifier puts out steam. The best diffusers use ultrasonic technology. You should not use heat to diffuse most oils. We purchased this medium priced diffuser for our bedroom and were happy enough with it that we purchased a second one for our office. I’d like something more decorative for the main floor of the house but haven’t been willing to shell out the extra bucks for it yet.

Some oils can be taken internally, but be careful that they are safe for that purpose. You can also place some in a bath to relax or detox.

Resources:

The Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook by Rashelle Johnson – This book is comprehensive and an excellent resource. It lists more essential oils that I could use in several lifetimes. For each one it provides an average price, identifies the plant source of the oil, recommends other oils that it blends well with, defines the therapeutic properties and gives a paragraph or two about its general uses. If there are warnings associated with the oil, you’ll find that front and center. What a treasure trove of info! I got the Kindle edition last week when it was free for a short time, but am seriously considering the print version because it’s so helpful. [Note: We occasionally post notices about free Kindle books on our Facebook page. We use Facebook for these kinds of things because it’s more timely than a blog posting. Find us on Facebook by clicking here.]

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-toxic & Fragrant Recipes to Create Health • Beauty • A Safe Home Environment by Valerie Ann Worwood – This book is recommended by many sites. Available at Amazon, this book is excellent because of its breadth. Not only does it offer over 600 EO recipes, it also organizes oils by how they can help you. It includes chapters covering EOs for the office, for sports enthusiasts, for beauty (to replace skin and hair care products), for babies, for women and men, for “help in the maturing years”, for cooking, gardening, and cleaning. It also addresses using EOs on pets. What I don’t like about this book is that it doesn’t list the oils and define their properties. You’ll have to get the first resource for that.

My Recipes

I’ve developed a few blends that I use regularly. I make them in large batches (usually at least double the recipes below), and store them in dark, one-ounce bottles.

First, here are some helpful measurements. All are approximate because drops.

1 ounce equals approximately 30 milliliters
1 ounce equals approximately 600 drops
1 ounce equals approximately 6 teaspoons

Allergy Blend #1 – Equal parts Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Peppermint

  • Lavender for balance and aroma – I find that the lavender makes the scent of the eucalyptus a bit less prominent. Sometimes I get tired of the eucalyptus smell.
  • Eucalyptus for decongestant, sinus issues, and aroma – Having just said that I get tired of the smell, let me also say that when my allergies are bad, I find that strong scents help a great deal. And eucalyptus does a great job of clearing your sinuses.
  • Peppermint for alertness, headaches, and aroma – When my allergies are bad, my sinuses are full and my head feels like a balloon. Anything that makes me more alert and inhibits headaches is wonderful.

Office Blend #1 – 20 drops Frankincense, 6 drops Eucalyptus, 6 drops Peppermint

  • Frankincense for fighting infections, general good health – Don’t you want to breath in something that makes you healthier instead of the just smelling the equipment you’re using all day long?
  • Eucalyptus for decongestant
  • Peppermint for alertness, headaches

Night Time Blend #1 – 50 drops Eucalyptus, 30 drops Lavender, 5 drops Patchouli (optional) – Phil and I notice a significant difference when we diffuse this blend at night.

  • Eucalyptus for decongestant, anti-mucus
  • Lavender for good night’s sleep
  • Patchouli for woodsy smell, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac – if you don’t like the smell of patchouli, you might substitute frankincense (see recipe below).

Night Time Blend #2 – 50 drops Eucalyptus, 30 drops Lavender, 15 drops Frankincense

  • Eucalyptus for decongestant, anti-mucus
  • Lavender for good night’s sleep
  • Frankincense for fighting infections, general good health

Massage Blend #1 – I use a 2-5% dilution (i.e., 2-5 drops of EO to 5 ml of carrier oil) – so my recipe varies but here’s a good starting place: 200 drops Jojoba oil (2 teaspoons), 2-3 drops Frankincense, 2-3 drops Lavender, 1-2 drops Patchouli

  • Jojoba oil (or other carrier oil – sweet almond makes a nice choice)
  • Frankincense for cell regeneration and arthritis relief
  • Lavender for stress relief and good night’s sleep
  • Patchouli for aroma, anti-depressant, and aphrodisiac affects

Travel package: When I travel, I take small bottles of at least eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint. Sometimes I throw in frankincense and patchouli.

EO Info Cards

I’ve created two sets of EO info cards. The first set helps me remember what the various oils I have can be used for. The second set helps me find the oil I need to meet a specific ailment.

You can download the cards and/or the information sheets below.

After you enter your email address, you will be taken back to the top of this blog.Scroll down to this point and a button to download the files will appear in both boxes below. Click on the button(s) to open either (or both) PDF(s). When the file is opened, save it to your system and then print the file(s). After printing the cards, simply cut them along the dashed lines.

Enter your email address to download Essential Oils 101 Info Cards

Enter your email address to download Essential Oils 101 Information Sheets