The Art Of Self Reliance In 5 Steps


The journey toward self reliance has many paths. For some, you are beginning to distrust the food supply and want to grow our own food. Or, perhaps, you live in an area prone to many types of disasters and have seen how desperate people become when their needs aren’t met. Or, perhaps you grew up in a family in which self reliance and certain skill sets were ingrained into you at a young age. Wherever your path started, the end result is the same – to be self reliant.

Frustration is a Part of the Journey

I’m going to be honest, when it comes to my own road towards self reliance, I get frustrated on a continual basis. My plan lately has been to increase my skills set and I’ve had some epic failures the past few months. The frustration has been enough to make me question myself and give up. But I know that I am my own worst enemy and those obstacles and mistakes are a part of the path that will help me in the long run.

Sometimes I begin wondering if self reliance is a magical, unattainable myth. It’s such a simple concept but once you start on this path you realize how long the trek in front of you really is. After being on the self reliant road for five years, I am here to say that I still have a ways to go, but I’m enjoying the view along the way.

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.

– John Quincy Adams

Silence the Doubts

  • Don’t fear mistakes -As a whole, we fear making mistakes. That fear prevents us from taking action towards our goals. Mistakes can create learning opportunities that are needed if we truly want to advance in our lives.
  • Avoid doubters – Stay away from people who reinforce the doubting voice in your head. Finding people who encourage and support your goals can help quiet the voice of doubt.
  • When in doubt, do – Self doubt prevents decisive actions. Action is the key to success. If you come across a situation where you begin to doubt your ability, take action.

5 Steps to Perservere

When you are in the midst of doubt, you have two choices: 1. Give up, and find an easier path, or, 2. Dig in and keep going. The glistening prize of self reliance is far too great for me to give up on. I made the choice to dig in and keep going and found some steps to help you reach this destination.

Like all things, you have to start with a goal in mind and develop a plan around it. Self reliance is the end result where smaller goals must be met in order to achieve it. These smaller achievements also help moving you forward.

  1. Set a goal -This may be to have enough supplies to live for 3 months, or 6 months or indefinitely. But set it and stick with it.
  2. Plan a course of action– Break your plan down into smaller plans. I have had a lot of success by breaking down my preparedness plans into short term needs and long term needs. Look into the 52 Weeks to Preparedness to see how achievable these short term plans can be.
  3. Prepare – It’s time to prepare and know what to expect along the way. Here are four steps you can take to get you moving toward self reliant living.
  4. Take a step – The path of self-reliance starts with only a single step and then another and another. Once we begin taking those first steps, we begin to see change and as a result, begin to adopt these new found changes and our lifestyle will transition into one that better supports our new way of life.
  5. Don’t give up – We all will fail from time to time – it’s just a part of the learning process. But if your goal is important to you, when you do fail – you’ll try again and again. We learn from these failures and become better through the learning curve.

I’ve realized that in order to be successful at something we have to stay the course. To live a self reliant lifestyle takes time, effort and certain amount of sacrifice to get to the level of preparedness that we want. When doubt takes over, I look back and see how far I’ve come and simply take a step and keep going.

By Tess Pennington

How To Make Your Own Root Beer, Cream Soda And Ginger Ale


The process of natural carbonating has always interested me and this project would be an easy segue into making other homemade brews. After mentioning to my 10-year old son that I wanted to make homemade soda, he immediately threw his arms around me thanking me for being such a wonderful mother (Who knew that’s all it took?)

Mother Earth News states, “When soda is made with all natural ingredients, you get all the flavor and healthful properties of the herbs and spices in the recipe, which might include ginger, anise, hops or licorice root. Natural sodas also contain yeast, which is a great source of B-complex vitamins. The most important health benefit of making your own soda, however, is that you can control the amount of sugar. Most commercial colas contain the equivalent of 7 to 9 teaspoons of sugar for a 12 ounce soda. When you make your own, you can add sweeteners to taste, and it’s easy to brew great-tasting soda with one third less sugar than commercial brands.”

The Brewing Process

With homemade soda, the process is similar to making homemade beer:

1. You add filtered water and sugar together in a pitcher.
2. Add your herbs or extracts and then add yeast.
3. To encourage the carbonation process, the mixture is then added to a bottle and allowed to sit at room temperature for a few days.
4. The yeast will begin eating the sugar and will naturally create the carbon dioxide. Similar to making homemade beer, you should check your bottles of soda daily to ensure the carbonation process is starting.
5. Once the carbonation bubbles appear, move your bottled soda to the refrigerator to slow the carbonation process down. When there is a lot of carbonation present, the carbonation has nowhere to go but out! Tip: Those of you who have had exploding soda bottles, the over-carbonation was probably the culprit.
6. Further, if you are concerned about the alcohol content of homemade soda, rest assured, because of short the fermentation cycle, one glass of homemade soda usually contains less than 1 percent alcohol.

Equipment Needed

Plastic liter soda bottles, washed and sterilized or 16 ounce flip-cap bottles
Measuring cups and spoons
1 gallon pitcher
Large spoon
Labels and a pen

The Preparation Process

The first step to making soda is to sanitize your equipment you plan to use including the vessel(s) the soda will be sitting in during the fermentation process.

An easy way to sanitize your equipment is to soak everything in 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach to I gallon of water for at least 20 minutes. Then, wash and rinse thoroughly because any leftover bleach particles can kill the yeast. Further, putting your equipment in the dishwasher and set it to the sanitation cycle also helps

Now that the sanitation process is complete, it’s time to start making your own brew!


Many of the ingredients used can easily be found in your kitchen pantry. There are many home brewing stores that will carry specialty herb blends, extracts, different yeasts, etc. I wanted to keep things simple for my first try at making soda, so I used brewer’s yeast (ale and champagne yeast are also great) and ordered some soda extracts found on However, I have seen many soda recipes calling for regular baking yeast. Next time I make homemade soda, I plan on trying a batch out using baking yeast as well as making my own extracts to get the full process down – I just wanted to start small at first.

A note on yeast: Most yeast is fine to use, with the exception of nutritional yeast. Mother Earth News indications that nutritional yeast will not work because the yeast cells are no longer active, and lager yeast is best avoided for the opposite reason: It can over-carbonate your soda.

One of best aspects of homemade soda is you can decide what type of sweetener and how much of it should go into your mixture. You can use sugar, honey or even no-calorie sweeteners such as stevia.


When using plastic bottles, replace the caps after a few uses because the seals will begin to wear out.
Never use plastic bottles from your recycling outlet because there’s no way to know what the bottles previously held, and plastic can absorb toxic substances.
Always open soda bottles slowly, and if in doubt, open them outside.
If you plan to let your soda carbonate in an especially warm room, consider reducing the amount of yeast in the recipe by half because yeast goes crazy in a warm environment.
If your soda isn’t carbonating, wait an extra few days to see if carbonation occurs. If it does not, as a last ditch effort, add an additional pinch of yeast to a liter bottle and wait a few days to see if carbonation occurs (My batch took 3-4 days see carbonation).

Home Brew Recipes

Root Beer
1/4 tsp. brewer’s yeast
6 oz. warm water
½ gallon water
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon extract


1. In a small bowl, mix 6 ounces warm water with brewer’s yeast and gently stir until mixed.
2. In a large pitcher, add remaining ingredients and stir well.
3. Add yeast mixture into pitcher and stir.
4. Using a funnel, gently pour soda mixture into sterilized bottles or container.
5. Add and secure cap.

Cream Soda

1/4 tsp. brewer’s yeast
6 oz. warm water
1/2 gallon water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon extract
2 teaspoon vanilla (for cream soda)


1. In a small bowl, mix 6 ounces warm water with brewer’s yeast and gently stir until mixed.
2. In a large pitcher, add remaining ingredients and stir well.
3. Add yeast mixture into pitcher and stir.
4. Using a funnel, gently pour soda mixture into sterilized bottles or container.
5. Add and secure cap.

Ginger Ale

1/4 tsp. brewer’s yeast
6 oz. warm water
½ gallon water
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons extract


1. In a small bowl, mix 6 ounces warm water with brewer’s yeast and gently stir until mixed.
2. In a large pitcher, add remaining ingredients and stir well.
3. Add yeast mixture into pitcher and stir.
4. Using a funnel, gently pour soda mixture into sterilized bottles or container.
5. Add and secure cap.

What soda recipes do you use with your home brews?

By Tess Pennington

Nukes and Fallout: How to Survive When Others Won’t

Nukes and Fallout - How to Survive When Others Won’t

Are You Ready Series: Nuclear Disaster Preparedness

Since the dawn of nuclear weapons, we have always been weary of a trigger happy world leader hastily pushing a nuke detonator. However, according to history the two worst nuclear events that have occurred were accidental. Chernobyl, being the first event, had a fire and explosion that released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, and spread over much of Western USSR and Europe. The second largest nuclear event is the infamous Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that occurred in 2011.

Each day we are exposed to nuclear radiation, some naturally and some through un-natural means. Those of us who live close to nuclear power plants are exposed more than others.

Are You At-Risk?

Those that live near nuclear power plants should be especially concerned with nuclear disaster preparedness; especially individuals who live in areas where natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes) could damage the nuclear facilities. The map below shows all of the nuclear power plants in the U.S.  Many states are areas where natural disasters could quite possibly take out or damage a power plant. Are you ready for this?

We Are Affected Globally by Radiation

No matter where radiation leaks or disasters occur, they will affect us globally one way or another and we should be ready for them. Due to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, our food supplies, water sources, and even our health have become affected from the radiation dispersed. Radiation tests conducted since the nuclear disaster in Japan have detected radioactive iodine and cesium in milk, beef and vegetables produced in California (Source). This video is a great source that explains how radiation gets into our food supply.

According to “Health Ranger” Mike Adams, even growing your own organic produce is no longer enough to guarantee food safety. “Only those who grow food in greenhouses will be largely protected from the fallout.”

How to Limit Our Exposure to Radiation 

  1. One of the easiest ways to minimize the effects of radiation is knowing where our food comes from and limiting our exposure to radioactive foods and water sources. Keep in mind that foods, especially seafood from the West coast will be the most effected by radiation.
  2. Having an  electroscope that gauges how much radiation you are receiving daily can be a useful tool. A Kearny Fallout Meter can give daily readings of radiation levels in your area.[ad code=1 align=center]
  3. Thoroughly wash your produce. Despite arguments to the contrary, you can wash radioactive particles off of produce. Clearly if the plant has taken in the radiation through the roots, it is irrevocably tainted. Fallout, however, can be dealt with. Washing your food in baking soda or peeling the skin off is a way to avoid ingesting radiation. Calcium bentonite clay is another natural substance that actually absorbs radiation. Interestingly, calcium bentonite clay has a uniquely strong negative ionic charge. When activated with water it works like a strong magnet, absorbing anything with a positive ionic charge (i.e., toxins, pesticides, radiation). The clay captures these substances and removes them as it is eliminated or washed off.” To wash produce with Bentonite Clay: Mix 1 part Calcium Bentonite Clay to 8 parts of purified water in a large non-metallic bowl. Toss your produce in this clay water, making certain the produce is completely covered, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse well with more purified water.
  4. Also, by adopting an anti-radiation diet can provide natural alternatives to assist the body in ridding itself from exposure. Foods such as kelp, rosemary, spirulina, miso soup and niacin all assist the body in fighting radiation damage.  Other foods that may help in combating radiation sickness are foods that naturally detoxify the body. Foods that are high in potassium such as apples, oranges, pineapples and pomegranates are foods that are also good cancer fighters. Mushrooms are also a food source to add to your anti-radiation diet. Any mushrooms brown or black in color, and especially reishi mushrooms. Foods that are high in antioxidants will also assist your body in ridding itself of radioactive particles. Foods such as green and black teas (make sure that your tea is not from Japan), garlic, cumin, nettles, dandelions, ginseng, lentils, collards and mustard greens are also suggested.
  5. Any food or water stored in sealed containers that have any fallout dust is safe to consume as long as the fallout dust is brushed or rinsed off the outside of the container. Take caution not to allow the fallout dust to get inside the container.
  6. If you are concerned about your water sources, use filtered water in everything, including brushing your teeth and sponge bathing. Purchase a reverse osmosis water filter with extra filtration cartridges. Remember, it is important to replace your filters after multiple uses. Drinking apple cider vinegar can also assist in flushing toxins and  radiation from the body. Baking soda and water is another option as it also flushes radiation and cleans the stomach lining. You can also put baking soda in dish soap, body soap, laundry detergent as the radiation will bind to the baking soda thus  neutralizes it.
  7. Did you know that the Spiderwort plant is Nature’s gieger counter? This plant naturally has very dark purple flowers and when they are exposed to radiation or near an area where radiation is high, the flowers turn pink. Planting these in your yard will be a great way to know if you are taking in excess radiation.
  8. Knowing in advance how much radiation you are  exposed to radiation through natural and un-natural means can help you calculate your annual radiation dose. To find this out, click on the Annual Radiation Calculator.

What if You Are Exposed to Radioactive Particles?

Radioactive ionic particles attach themselves to dust floating in the air. Therefore, it can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. If you are told to evacuate or bug in due to a nuclear disaster, keep the following points in mind:

  1. If you are driving, keep the car windows and vents closed, and use recirculating air.
  2. Due to the fear of panic and gridlock that will ensue from mass evacuations, most governments will delay mandatory evacuations until the last minute. This will only cause mass confusion and chaos at gas stations, grocery stores and on the streets. The best way to prevent this, is to stay ahead of the crowd and prepare ahead of time.
  3. If told to stay indoors, turn off the air conditioner and other air intakes and go to a basement. Seal basement windows and entrances to prevent fallout from getting inside. If you go outside, you will need to remove your outer clothing before coming inside the shelter.
  4. Likewise, creating a sealed area near the entrance of the shelter will prevent fallout dust from entering. Seal the entryway with blankets, bubble wrap or plastic sheeting to prevent the dust from coming in. Have water and baby shampoo near the entrance to wash and thoroughly rinse any exposed skin and hair. Exposure to fallout radiation does not make you radioactive, but you need to assure that you don’t bring any inside. Some experts suggest having a rain poncho to take on and off when you go outside.
  5. To go a step further, covering the windows wood, then sandbags followed by masonry bricks will create a multi-layered protection against you and radioactive particles.
  6. If you find yourself outdoors when a nuclear blast occurs, duck and cover for 2 minutes. You will first see a blinding light followed by tornado force winds and dangerous. When all danger is gone, seek shelter immediately. Remove your clothing at the door and place in a sealed plastic bag. You can remove 80% of the particles by removing your clothing. Showering immediately following exposure is another way to remove the remaining particles.
  7. If you have signs of radiation on skin soak in a tub of equal parts baking soda, apple cider vinegar and epsom salt. Skin brushing can be very beneficial, because the skin is a primary avenue for detoxification – scrub along with the lungs, kidneys, liver, and colon. An unused vegetable brush would be very helpful with this process.
  8. Getting caught out in the rain can also cause you to have more exposure to radioactive particles. If you do have to go out in the rain, completely cover yourself. Experts are suggesting that if your clothes get wet to take them off and seal them in a plastic bag, immediately shower and change clothing. (The detox bath solution and skin brushing would be good here. If radioactive materials get on your skin, burns and blistering can occur.Note: If you are exposed to radioactive particles, you will also need to get your urine tested for traces of cessium at your local medical center.
  9. When fallout is first anticipated, but has not yet arrived, anyone not already sheltered should begin using their N95 particulate respirator masks and hooded rain ponchos. Everyone should begin taking Potassium Iodide (KI) or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) tablets for thyroid protection against cancer causing radioactive iodine, a major product of nuclear weapons explosions. If no tablets are available, you can topically (on the skin) apply an iodine solution, such as a tincture of iodine or Betadine, for a similar protective effect. (WARNING: Iodine solutions are NEVER to be ingested or swallowed.) Absorption through the skin is not as reliable a dosing method as using the tablets, but tests show that it will still be very effective for most. Do not use if allergic to iodine. If at all possible, inquire of your doctor NOW if there is any reason why anybody in your household should not use KI or KIO3 tablets, or iodine solutions on their skin, in a future nuclear emergency, just to be sure.
    • For adults, paint 8 ml of a 2 percent tincture of Iodine on the abdomen or forearm each day, ideally at least 2 hours prior to possible exposure.
    • For children 3 to 18, but under 150 pounds, only half that amount painted on daily, or 4 ml. For children under 3 but older than a month, half again, or 2 ml.
    • For newborns to 1 month old, half it again, or just 1 ml. (One measuring teaspoon is about 5 ml, if you don’t have a medicine dropper graduated in ml.) If your iodine is stronger than 2%, reduce the dosage accordingly.[ad code=2 align=center]
  10. When you know that the time to take protective action is approaching, turn off all the utilities into the house, check that everything is sealed up and locked down, and head for the shelter. You should also have near your shelter fire extinguishers and additional tools, building supplies, sheet plastic, staple guns, etc. for sealing any holes from damage. Your basement should already be very well sealed against fallout drifting inside. Now, you’ll need to seal around the last door you use to enter with duct tape all around the edges, especially if it’s a direct to the outside door.
  11. Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary. Staying on the phone will congest phone lines making it impossible for others in your area to make or receive calls.

Symptoms of Radiation Sickness Include:

  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums, and rectum
  • Bloody stool
  • Bruising
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation of exposed areas (redness, tenderness, swelling, bleeding)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Open sores on the skin
  • Skin burns (redness, blistering)
  • Sloughing of skin
  • Ulcers in the esophagus, stomach or intestines
  • Vomiting blood
  • Weakness

Preparing for an Imminent Nuke Attack

If you are told to evacuate or bug in place due to nuclear attack or nuclear leak disaster, keep in mind that this type of disaster is survivable.  Even though it is difficult preparing for this sort of disaster, you can put some preparations in place. Many of the preparedness items are similar to the ones needed for other disasters.

You will of course need:

  • Two week supply of food and water
  • Medical supplies
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Emergency lighting sources
  • Heat sources
  • Emergency communications (at least a hand-crank or short-wave radio)
Refer to the 52-Weeks to Preparedness List for emergency list suggestions.

However, you will need additional supplies pertinent to a nuclear disaster. Some of these items include:

  • Geiger counter
  • Kearny fallout meter
  • Potassium Iodate (KI03) tablets for all family or group members
  • Apple cider vinegar flushes radiation out of the body
  • Baking soda
  • Ingestible bentonite clay
  • Nuke suit
  • Duct tape
  • N95 particulate respirator masks
  • Hooded rain ponchos for all family or group members
  • Home air filter
  • Soap, sponges and/or bristled brush (vegetable scrubbing brush)
  • Gas masks with extra filters
  • Filtered ventilation system, powered with manually-powered back up
  • A nuclear shelter that has an entrance designed to reduce fallout exposure.

The thought of nuclear disasters is not something we like to think about. However, in order to be ready for these types of disasters means you have to believe that the possibility of a threat is there. It is possible to survive a nuclear disaster and fallout, but you must be prepared. Having all of your items prepared and in place before the disaster will keep your family or group safe and ready to bunker in more quickly.

This article has been contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition. Subscribe to Tess’ Get Prepped Weekly Newsletter for more emergency preparedness tips, homesteading ideas, and insights. As a subscriber to her free newsletter you’ll receive the latest updates from her 52 Weeks to Preparedness Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Planning Series. It’s well worth your time, and oh, did we mention it’s totally free?

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