"Three Sisters" Companion Planting for Your Spring Garden

by John Bush

Spring is upon us and that means it’s time to get your hands in the dirt again!  We are starting some seeds and will be expanding the container garden we have in front of our apartment.  We love to use the companion planting method which encourages the placement of beneficial plants next to one another and discourages plants that are antagonists to one another from being planted close.

Check out this Sovereign Living Tip of the Week video about the popular and productive “Three Sisters” companion planting combo. The “Three Sisters” vegetables are corn, beans, and squash. Watch the video to learn why they work so well together.

Pro tip: Be sure to plant your corn first because squash grows fast and can hinder the corn plants from growing.

Share with us in the comments your favorite companion planting combination!

Five Simple Survival Tips that Could Save Your Life

by John Bush

You never know when the next natural disaster, grid failure, or major weather event is going to occur.  It’s important to be prepared.  Especially when living in a society with a food supply chain and critical infrastructure that is incredibly vulnerable.  Follow the five tips below while conditions are calm so when disaster strikes, you and your family are prepared for the worst.

1. Save Plastic Bottles and Fill them with Water 

After your family finishes a juice bottle or milk jug, clean out the bottle, fill it with water, and place it in a cool dark area like a closet or storage room.  Cycle through the water as plastic tends to break down over time.  It helps to have a high quality water filter if you plan to be drinking or cooking with the water and it has been sitting for a few months.  My family has used this method of water storage and it has come in handy on several occasions as the municipal water supply we were once connected to failed several times.  Without the stored water, we wouldn’t have been able to flush our toilet and we would not have had any water for food preparation.

2. Maintain Supplies and Tools for Lighting in a Power Outage 

Power outages occur regularly, especially if you are in a part of the country with an antiquated electric grid.  Keep a plentiful supply of candles and matches around.  Kerosene lamps are good to have on hand as well, but be sure to stock enough kerosene to get you through a lengthy blackout.  Keep several flashlights around along with a solid supply of batteries.  Flashlights are good to use when you need to navigate a dark hallway or check on your property.

3. Own Firearms and Know How to Use them Safely and Proficiently 

When disaster strikes and civil unrest occurs, people tend to do things they may not be capable of when everything is fine and dandy.  This includes looting, sabotaging, and even killing.  It is of the upmost importance that you and your family are equipped to hold your own should a neighbor or a band of thieves attack.  Purchase a shotgun and handgun and learn to use them in defense of your home.  Acquire a rifle and learn to shoot with accuracy in defense of your family and property.  It helps to learn from a friend or family member or to take a course in self-defense and firearms safety.

Firearms are a very serious tool as they have the ability to take a person’s life.  Always practices the four firearms safety rules:

– Always act as if your weapon is loaded
– Be aware of your target and what lies behind your target
– Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire
– Only point your firearm at something you are willing to destroy

Learn to use firearms to defend yourself, your family, and your community, and do so while following the four firearms rules and you will greatly increase your chances of surviving civil unrest.

4. Make a bug-out bag

A bug-out bag is a bag or back-pack which contains the bare essentials that you would need should you have to bug out for whatever reason.  Some people call this a 72-hour bag as it should contain enough supplies to keep you alive for 72 hours.  Included in the bag should be first-aid supplies, non-perishable foods and eating utensils, tools to start a fire kept in a water-proof bag, ammo for your firearm, a flashlight with spare batteries, spare clothing, cash, and anything else you may need to stay alive and somewhat comfortable for three days.  Keep the bag in a quickly accessible place in your home or keep it in your automobile.  Each member of the family should have their own bug-out bag.

5. Have a bug-out plan

You never know when a crisis could occur.  Some disasters could be so severe that you and your family need to leave your home immediately.  It is important that you have a plan as to where you are going to go should you need to vacate your home.  Also, if your family or bug-out group members are not in the same place when your crew decides it’s time to get the heck out of dodge, it is important to have a pre-determined meeting place so everyone is on the same page and knows where to go.  Make sure your plan takes in to account what the environment might be like in a disaster or civl rest scenario.  What will major roads be like?  Could bridges be down?  Could checkpoints be setup?  Pre-stock your bug-out location with enough supplies to last you and your crew a month or longer should you need to hunker down for the long haul.  Finally, keep your bug out plan on a need to know basis.  You don’t want the authorities or your neighbor Bob showing up unexpectedly.

The world is a dangerous and unpredictable place.  There is no better time to get prepared than now.  Your life may depend on it!

 

Did You Know that USDA Organic Labeled Products are Non-GMO?

by: John Bush

For several years now, my family has been conscious of the risks associated with Genetically Modified Foods.  Research has recently shown a link between vaccines and GMOs converging to fuel autism and neurodegenerative conditions.  With all of the potential problems GMOs could contribute to, we are conscious of avoiding GMOs when we go grocery shopping.  This is why I was so pleased to find out recently that the USDA Organic label now expressly prohibits the use of GMO products throughout any process of production of a Organically labeled food.

According to the USDA, “The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.”  (Source: http://blogs.usda.gov/2013/05/17/organic-101-can-gmos-be-used-in-organic-products/)

This is a huge step in the right direction as to the best of my knowledge, the only other well known and trusted non-GMO label comes from the Non-GMO Project. While the Non-GMO Project label is becoming more widely adopted and recognized, it’s nowhere near as popular as the USDA Organic label.

So rest assured my health conscious friends, if you are purchasing a food product labeled USDA Organic, according the the US Government, the product is GMO free!

 

 

Rethinking Everything Days Three and Four – Playing, Learning and Growing

I am so far behind updating about my experience about Rethinking Everything, that I decided to post the final two days in one post.

Our third day was great, we opened with a family intention circle, something I learned about from Nova, a road schooler who I have a lot of respect for. The intention model we utilized was sitting in a circle, each person saying what they are grateful for, then saying what we want or hope for the day.  After each person has gone, you take 3 deep breathes as a group, then do 3 “oms” as a group. This is something we have tried to do on a daily basis since discovering the process.  It helps you to set your day off right, so you can support each other’s goals.

This day we had ZERO presentations, so we took a slow relaxing day.  There was a really fun bizarre bizarre where kids and adults sold items they had created. I got some knit wrist warmers (gloves with no fingers) and got Aliana an awesome green tape bag with a painted Rock Lobster inside.  Watching the kids create art so they could run a micro business was adorable and really exciting to see.

The kids raced through the hall, cruising around on the riding toys from Kids’ Village. When Aliana got rug burn on her tow, some kind mothers helped supply her with bandaids.  She completely forgot about the boo-boo when she heard the teen dance taking place in the cafeteria.  Of course, we busted in and danced our little hearts out.  Bill had a blow out all over our friend, Ellen, which I felt bad about but still found funny :p

It was a great day!  John attended the dad’s circle (SUDs – Society of Unschooling Dads).  He said it was great connecting to the group of dad’s on a similar journey.

The last full day we had two presentations – one was Bitcoin and Unschooling, John presented that and the crowd LOVED it.  We introduced the idea of the “uncoin”, a crypto currency for unschoolers, build on top of the Bitcoin Blockchain.  The second presentation was DIY Advocacy, I presented this one.  It wasn’t as well attended as the other 3 presentations we did, but it was dynamic none-the-less.  See a pic of my marker board in the gallery below.

We went swimming as a family and watched the boat making competition from the pool.  Check out the pics of kiddos making cardboard boats!  Several actually floated with kids in them!!!!

 

That evening was the family dance.  Aliana was the first one on the dance floor, cutting it up.  She exhausted herself and was asleep by 9pm.  Something that is rare in this family!!!  Before the dance she hung out in the sewing room with some pre-teen girls who made her a fancy skirt.  There is a pic of her getting “measured” by her dress maker, Ruby.

We woke up sad to leave – others were staying for a retreat, but we had to get home.  This Rethinking Everything was yet again life changing.  We came home with a new practice (morning Intention Circles), new and closer friendships, and my daughter learned to beat box.  How cool 😀

Enjoy the photos, we are already excited for next year.

 

 

 

Rethinking Everything, Day Two: Presentations and Reflections

Today our family had two presentations. The first was about unschooling and anarchism. John presented this one solo as miss Aliana was sleeping in after several days of travel. He said the 2 hour talk and interactive conversation went really well, I will post a link to the audio once it is online.

After the first talk we got set up for our Sovereign Living speech and show screening (sovereignliving.tv). Since we had screened episodes 1 and 2 last year, we decided to screen episode 3, all about homebirth and conflict resolution. We are saving episode 4 about alternative currencies for our talk tomorrow, all about Bitcoin.

The Sovereign Living speech went great. We discussed our goal of getting out of all centralized grids, be they food systems, government systems, the electric grids, etc…  The show was recieved very well, and the conversation after was very deep. We talked about taxation and government documents such as Birth Certificates and Drivers Licenses.

After our presentation we took a trip to town for a much needed bite to eat. That resulted in a tired bunch so we retired to our room for a break from all of the RE comotion. Our good friend Antonio was here as aker and he joined us for a few hours of awesome conversation.

The best part of the day was again the last part of the day; A candle lit hike through the woods to a labryinth.  We walked as a family, me holding Aliana and John holding Bill. On our way toward the center Aliana and I talked about some things we both wanted to let go. We discussed the stresses our family has experienced since losing the farm.

Here are the picutres from the day, including the dead bug board! A collection of dead bugs found by kiddos at the event! I love the random jam sessions (yellow submarine was awesome!) And the agorist ventures of hair wraps and massages set up in the lobby!

Rethinking Everything, Day One: Crisis on the Way, Peace Upon Arrival

Yesterday we woke in Little Rock, Arkansas and hit the road for the final two hours of our trip to the Rethinking Everything Conference.  Just ten minutes from the 4H Conference facility, our final destination, we drove past a woman laying in a parking lot receiving CPR from a teenage girl. I had John turn around and I ran over to see how we could help.

The teen giving her CPR was pumping on her diaphram, not her chest and I suggested she stop. The womans heart was beating and she was breathing. The woman had tingling in her hands and feet, pressure in her chest and was having trouble breathing. I knew instantly she was likely having a panic attack as I had recently experienced my first stress induced anxiety attack and recognized the symptoms.  I helped her to regulate her breathing while we waited for help to arrive. Sure enough, we later found out she had taken 5 hour energy with redbull and and her body was exhausted from overwork and she had fallen victim to a panic attack.

What a dramatic arrival.

We checked into RE and ran into many familar faces. We played in the always-epic children’s village, enjoyed swords made of balloons, went swimming, devoured delicious grub, watched giant bubbles be made next to the lake, then participated in a letting go and setting new intentions ceremony at the evening bonfire.

Honestly, we didn’t know what we were walking up to when we arrived at the bonfire. We were told we could walk down this beautifully candle lit path to a note writing station where we would write down the things causing us greif. These are things we have not let go of, stressors, things causing us anxiety. We were to then drop them in the second fire at the end of the path and return via the candle lit path to the lakeside bon fire. Once returned we were to set a new intention with candles in floating votives, and send them out onto the lake.

The walk was amzing. John and I talked about our pasts while our children drifted to sleep (Ali in my arms, Bill in the stroller). We burned our anxieties and returned to set new intentions on the lake.

When we got back to our bunk I took a long hot bath and enjoyed reading an issue of Home Education Magazine. We drifted to sleep and woke feeling anew. John is currently presenting our Unschooling and Anarchism talk so I could let our kids sleep in. I am excited to see what Day 2 will bring!

Here are some pics from the day!

 

 

The Blessings of Blenders

Since moving into an apartment we have no longer had access to our former roommate’s blender. Just days after telling John how badly I wanted one, his mom gifted us an awesome vintage blender.

 

So far we have made hemp milk, almond butter / bananna smootie, and rocket fuel coffee.

 

Here are the recipes…

 

Homemade hemp milk

Half cup raw shelled hemp seeds (we buy in bulk on Amazon)

3 cups of filtered water

1 tbs of raw honey

Blend until smooth? Strain in cheese cloth if desired. I leave particles if making a smoothie, strain if it is going in a sippy cup or bottle!

Bananna Almond Butter Smoothie

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1 cup almond butter

1 large bananna

2 cups homemade hemp milk

1 tbs raw honey

2 handfuls of iceblend u til smooth and creamy! Enjoy!

*warning, lots of almond butters were just recalled, I cluding the one in the attached photo! Read more here: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm410533.htm

Bulletproof Coffee (also known as rocket fuel)

2 cups organic coffee (hot)

Quarter cup organic coconut oil

Quarter cup Gee (clarified butter)

Blend until creamy. YUM!

 

Creating a Sanctuary at Home

My midwife taught me one of the most important things I have learned in my life as a mother.  Create a sanctuary at home. This means a place that is safe for you to be yourself, to experience emotions, to engage in art, to follow your dreams.  A place that is yours and functions in line with what brings you joy and peace.  A place where you are comfortable, where you can wear what you want when you want and as you please when you need. Protect your sanctuary with vengeance, if you fail to do so it can most certainly result in emotional angst and unnecessary stress.

Immediately after having a baby our midwife suggests holing up at home with the family so the baby can bond as deeply as possible.  She suggests 4 weeks of bed rest for momma to heal her uterus in the proper position (she thinks this is why the hysterectomy rate is so high these days, because women are on their feet immediately after childbirth). This means no commotion in the home and keeping guests to minimum.  No one at all the first 3 days if possible.  House guests should bring food, do a chore and quietly leave.  This means it is probably not a good idea to have anyone come stay with you during this time, even if they are there to help.  Our midwife suggests simply asking people to come for short time periods and leaving you to bond in total peace for the first month of life.

As you recover and move forward into your new daily routines, it is important to create an ongoing sanctuary for yourself that continues through time.  A new child adds new dimensions and what makes your home a sanctuary will change, so notice what works for you and what doesn’t and be willing to make changes.

For John and I this means a few things.  As a pair we decided our sanctuary needed to be tidy and everything needed a place.  We needed (and need) fewer possessions because we often find we have more things than we have places to put them.  We needed our own spaces to do our own things.  My space tends to be the kitchen, I stand at the counter and work on my computer while I work or clean.  The kids have a play room. John has an office, it is now around the corner form our apartment, but in the farmhouse it was a room in our home. We share a family bed, which reduces stress for the whole family at night.  Our daughter loves art so we have lots of art for her.  I love to write, so I keep access to notebooks and a clear area for my computer.  Our son loves to run and dance through the house, so an open space for him. Our sanctuary ebbs and flows and changes.

Do not be afraid to rearrange your home.  I move furniture when things aren’t working.  I love to create a fresh space and I refuse to try to control my kids if our spaces isn’t working.  For example, when our son kept climbing into the window sill behind the couch, I simply moved the couch.  When my daughter kept getting in to my nail polish box, I simply moved it higher.

One thing we have found in our nearly five years together is that we operate best when we have our own space.  I have always loved being surrounded by people, always.  We have opened our home to short and long term housegests or roommates repeatedly.  We have found that when we live alone as a family we are happier as a family.  Every time we have had a roommate our relationship changes, I believe this is because we lose our personal time together.  Our kids go to sleep and the evening is no longer for the two of us, it is for us plus a roommate(s).

Suddenly we lose our privacy and personal time, meaning we have an audience for every conversation.  That changes a relationship in ways you may not understand until you are experiencing it. This is irrelevant to what type of roommate you have, by the way, it could be the worlds most perfect roommate, but you still have an audience.

The people who have stayed with us have varied from families, to single friends, pet owners, people in urgent transition, or people we ask to live there for long periods.  We have found that opening your home makes you vulnerable to energetic frequencies that you may not tolerate in your home otherwise.  From an aggressive dog, to a passive aggressive roomate to a house full of chaos, we have had some very rough experiences with housing others.  Protect your space, protect your sanctuary.  No matter how strong and happy you are, adding others in to the mix can create disharmony that you do not need.

I am eternally grateful to those who put me up during my times of need.  But I have learned as a protectorate of my children and our sanctuary, that we can no longer pay that favor forward.  Emotional stability is so important for your children, bringing in third parties can shake the foundation of that!

For us, a sanctuary involves a place just for us.  What a blessing we have figured this out and can act accordingly moving forward.

John is reading some Buddhist texts right now that suggest creating a peace room, a breathing room, or a quiet space where family members can go to unwind.  Mine is the giant bathtub we have right now, but I don’t think the other members of our family have a peace room.  I hope he creates it, I think it is an excellent idea.

To create a sanctuary for yourself and your family you must create a space that is conducive to love, to community, to quiet, to celebration, to intimacy, to bonding, to autonomy and freedom.  If you can find the elements you need to have this, I know you can create a space that allows your soul to sing.

To be clear, I am not advocating isolating yourself in your home, I am simply saying that John and I opened ours too often, and at times against our better judgement.  Follow your heart.  I know that I want to live on the same property with folks of a like mind, but I want a private space for our family that we can open or close to others as we see fit. I am also not advocating that you home must me mess-free, just clean enough for you to thrive, the threshold of mess you can tolerate will be unique to you!

One last tip is to get rid of anything in your space that isn’t working for you.  I use a 3 point criteria for items in my home.  I must use them, love them, and they must not be broken.  If any of the 3 are not true, I get rid of them. Love it, but broken?  Gone.  Use it but hate the way it looks?  Gone.  Take a picture if you are afraid to let go.

How do you make your home a sanctuary?

Here is a podcast I did on this topic:
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Happy sanctuary!

Our First Kombucha – Continuous Brew

A friend of ours gave me some scoobys to start our own kombucha!!!

Kombucha is a fermented tea that is loaded with beneficial probiotics.  Our children LOVE it and we are spending too much of our food budget on large jugs and single serving bottles.  We decided to add a new skill set to our Sovereign Living Journey – the home brew!

We used the WellnesMama’s How-To guide to start our own Continuous Brew Kombucha.

First we made a gallon of tea and mixed in 1 cup of sugar.

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We let it cool to room temperature.

We added it to our large glass jug with a spiggot and mixed in 2 cups of sotre bought kombucha (For acid).

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We then dropped in our first scooby!

Now, we wait 😀

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I will update as we progress!