Winter Solstice/Yule

Item # 1:

Home Preparedness – How To Prepare Your Home For Winter

Gathering non-electric sources for lighting, cooking and for warmth.

Power outages tend to be a common occurrence in our area during the winter. By being prepared, these outages, instead of being stressful and worrisome times, have created some fond memories for our family…sitting around the kitchen table playing games by candlelight, munching on cheese and crackers and sipping cups of hot cocoa that was heated on top of  our wood stove which is radiating warmth throughout the room…

Some of those power outages continued for 5 days! Since most of our homes need electricity to function, being prepared for a power outage is important and can help alleviate the fear and stress that these situations can create.

A) Non-electric sources for lighting.

The following are excellent sources for non-electric lighting. Put these items in an easy to get to place, one that you will

remember and be able to find safely in the dark.

*A box of matchbooks.

*Tapered candles – This type puts out alot of light.

*Candle holders

*Flash light

*Batteries for the flashlight

*Kerosene lamps or Oil lamps

*Spare kerosene or lamp oil

B) Non-electric sources for cooking

Cooking without electricity can be just like cooking while camping. A Coleman camp stove is a good investment. They are fairly inexpensive and most use the disposable propane canisters which make them convenient and less messy. One will fit on the kitchen counters nicely.

When using camp stoves in the house be sure to have a window partially open for some ventilation. When done cooking put the stove outside right away as most tend to leak propane when not in use.

DO NOT use charcoal briquettes indoors – very toxic and dangerous!

If you have a wood stove that a pot will sit safely on, then you can use it to heat pots of food and kettles of water. keep a pot of water on top of it to use for warming up washing (body or dishes) water.

*Coleman type table top cook stove

*Several spare Propane canisters, the one liter size. Or a 5 gallon size if your stove can be hooked up to it.

C) Non-electric sources for heating

If you have a wood stove installed in your home chances are you have a cord or more stacked and ready for use. Wood stoves are an excellent source of non-electric heat.

If a wood stove is not applicable to you, there are other ways to keep warm when the electricity goes out. Some ways are:

*Portable alcohol heaters

*Kerosene heaters

*Wool blankets

*Warm clothing – long johns under clothes, stocking caps, wool

socks, slippers, etc.

Lehman’s is a popular resource for all survival type needs. They have many different types of nonelectric appliances, solar powered items, food and water storage supplies and more. You can see their website at:

With all the candles and open flames you will have operating during a power outage it is vital that you have a fire extinguisher. Mount one in a visible easy to reach place.

Let us take a hint from nature and take the time now to prepare our homes for winter.

(c)2001-2002, Kelly Frohnauer You can read more of her simple living and homeschooling

articles in the Family Homesteading Advocate at:


Item # 2:

Rx for Holiday Blues: Coping with the Ups and Downs of the Holiday Season


Gregg Krech

Ideally, the holiday season should be a time for good cheer. But for many, they are also a time for loneliness, sadness, anxiety, depression, and family conflict. Frequently people feel a profound sense of relief once the holidays are over. It’s a bit ironic that we should look forward to the end of this season, when it could be a time for celebration, thanksgiving, and family reunion. Here are seven things you can do to make this a better holiday season for you and those around you:

1. De-commercialize your Holidays

For many families the “real” meaning of the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc…) gets buried in hi-tech presents, credit card debt, shopping at malls, football games and parties with lots of unhealthy food. Five years ago my wife and are read an article by environmentalist Bill McKibben called The $100 Christmas. The theme of the article was to de-commercialize the holidays by taking the emphasis off of buying lots of gifts and redirecting energy towards family, spending time with friends and rediscovering the meaning of the holidays. McKibben suggested spending no more than $100 on gifts. So we started making apple sauce and wreaths from wild grapevines. We spent more time walking on quiet, snowy roads and less time navigating crowded malls. I learned to play a few Christmas Carols on the piano and we sang them while being warmed by the fire in our wood stove. My wife baked cookies sweetened with Vermont maple syrup. We’ve continued this for the past few holiday seasons, making slight adaptations each year. Each Christmas Day we walk around the woods and leave bird seed for the birds. The money we save on gifts is given to charity and we don’t have any horrifying credit card statements to review in January (what a terrible way to start the New Year). Try rethinking your holidays this year. Throw out some of your old traditions and start some new ones that give more meaning and spirit to your celebration.

2. Keep your sugar intake low

Don’t underestimate the role of two essential holiday villians when it comes to depression, fatigue and irritability _ alcohol and sugar. Both are drug and according to Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. (author of Potatoes Not Prozac); they wreak havoc with your blood sugar system. You might get a quick “lift” from some Christmas cookies with green icing. But it may not be long before you find yourself craving a cup of coffee or a piece of pie just to help you feel a bit more alert. Whatever goes up must come down _ and that’s particularly true of your blood sugar. And as your blood sugar levels crash so does your energy level and your spirits. Psychiatrist William Philpott, M.D. tells of a woman who was hospitalized because she was depressed and suicidal. He did a six-hour glucose tolerance test for hypoglycemia. “One hour after giving her glucose, I checked on her. Her blood sugar was high – 180 – and her mood had drastically changed to euphoria. Two hours later, her blood sugar had dropped to 40, and her mood had dropped right down with it. There she was in the depths of depression again.” If you struggle with depression and fatigue during the holidays, this is the time to just say no to holiday treats and champagne refills.

3. Get outside and exercise

Exercise can play an important role in lifting your spirits and fighting off depression; in fact, it can be as effective as medication with fewer side effects. As an extra bonus, you can get some natural sunlight while your outside (which also helps to fight depression during winter months). The holidays can be a busy time for many of us. Make sure you continue to set aside some time to get your body and mind moving in a healthy direction.

4. Stop trying to control your family members

Many of us use the holidays as a time for reconnecting with our families including those family members who would be doing so much better if they would just take our advice about how to fix their lives. Of course they haven’t in the past, but this might just be the time they’re ready to listen to us and “see the light.” As an alternative, why not leave our teacher/counselor hat in the closet and just concentrate on being a loving son/sister/cousin/parent. We can play this role quite well without ever giving advice. And if someone else is trying to fix our life, well, just listen, thank them for their concern, and perhaps ask them if they’d like to go outside and help feed the birds.

5. Do something for others – not just your own family

Some of the most memorable and rewarding holiday experiences were when I stepped outside my own needs and problems and did something helpful for others. On several Thanksgivings I served meals at a homeless shelter. And I spent many Christmas mornings helping kids in a Children’s hospital open gifts. Last year I spent Christmas day with my about-to-be-adopted daughter in Vietnam. In retrospect, I got much more from these experiences than I gave. They were often the high point of my holidays and helped me get some perspective on my own difficulties and struggles. What could be more in line with the holiday spirit than to help a neighbor, or friend, or even a perfect stranger?

6. Reflect on your Good Fortune

For the past nine years I have used the time around Thanksgiving as a way of reflecting on my life, particularly my good fortune. I participate in a 30 day self-reflection program sponsored by the ToDo Institute that establishes a daily exercise in self-reflection for the entire month of November. Generally, on Thanksgiving or the day before, I make a list of 100 things for which I am most grateful at this point in my life. The list changes each year. Self-reflection helps me shift my attention to the practical ways the world is supporting me so I don’t just take these things for granted (for example, hot water for a shower). It also inspires me to want to give something back in return.

7. Focus on the present

Much of our emotional suffering occurs because our attention either jumps to the future (worries about what will happen) or drifts to the past (sadness about what already happened). If we can develop more skill at keeping our attention present we are more likely to become fully absorbed in what we are doing in the present moment. We may be helping to cook some squash for dinner, or playing with our niece in the snow. The present moment is our real life. If we fail to pay attention we are more likely to struggle with psychological problems while our real life passes us by. Finally, don’t expect to feel happy, grateful and joyful throughout the holidays. It’s not natural. What is natural is the ebb and flow of feelings from one moment to the next. When those inevitable moments of depression, fatigue or anxiety present themselves, don’t let them paralyze you or throw you off course. Just take them along on your walk or let them accompany you while you bake some bread. They’ll move on, just as sure as winter will turn into spring.

Gregg Krech is a leading authority on Japanese methods of psychology (Morita and Naikan) and author of the award-winning book, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection (Stone Bridge Press, 2002) He is the the Director of the ToDo Institute near Middlebury, Vermont and conducts workshops and retreats for businesses, churches, and non-profit organizations. His work has been featured on National Public Radio and in popular magazines.

For additional information alternative holiday celebrations contact the Center for the New American Dream at


Item # 3:

Yule/Christmas Tree Fire Safety

Every year many dreams result in tragedy as a result of Christmas trees catching on fire.

Traditionally, we take a dead tree (usually a spruce or fir, which is highly flammable when dry) not properly prepared, set it in our homes and wrap it with electric wires.

What an invitation for a fire! Provided you follow the directions carefully, this remedy should make your Christmas tree fireproof.


Two cups of Karo syrup

Two ounces of liquid chlorine bleach

Two pinches of Epsom salt

One-half teaspoon of Borax

One teaspoon of chelated iron

Hot water

You can purchase the Karo syrup, Borax and liquid chlorine bleach from your supermarket. The Epsom salt can be purchased from the drug store and the chelated iron (pronounced key-lated) can be purchased from a garden shop or plant store.


1. Mix your fireproofing ingredients listed above. Fill a two-gallon bucket with hot water to within one inch of the top and add the ingredients. Stir thoroughly, dissolving ingredients. Put to side.

2. With a saw, take your recently-purchased Christmas tree and make a fresh cut at the base on the tree trunk. Cut an inch off the base of the tree. Try to make a level cut.

3. Immediately stand the trunk of the tree in the solution and leave for 24 hours.

4. Keep the remaining solution. Place your tree in a tree stand that contains a well where liquids can be poured.

5. When the tree is in its final resting place, use a plastic cup to pour solution from the bucket into the tree well. Fill the well.

6. Every day without exception, the well of the tree stand must be “topped up” with the solution from the two-gallon bucket.

Follow these simple directions and your tree should be fireproofed. It may save your home and family from those fire tragedies we hear about around the holidays.

If you’re curious, after Christmas when you remove your tree, snap off a branch and try to set it on fire, OUTDOORS.

How does the solution work?

In a nutshell, the Karo syrup provides the sugar necessary to allow the base of the tree to take up water. Up to 1.5 gallons of water can be taken up by the tree over a two-week period. Boron in the Borax allows the tree to move the water and sugar out to every branch and needle in your tree. Magnesium compounds in the Epsom salt and iron from the chelated iron provide essential components for the production of chlorophyll which will keep the tree green. The bleach prevents mold from forming in your solution.

Some of the other beneficial side effects of this procedure are that the needles will not drop and you will notice an increase in natural pine fragrance. Have a safe and happy holiday!


Item # 4:


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