Archive

Uncategorized


Do you have money left over at the end of your month or month left over at the end of your money?

Have an end-of-the-month budget balance evaluation that works for you.

In every area of your life, it is a good idea to evaluate how you did during the previous month and to plan for the next. Your financial situation is no exception.

The first question you must ask yourself is, did you have money left over at the end of your month or did you have month left over at the end of your money?

I hope you took a percentage of around ten percent off the top of your income for savings. You want at least $1000 (or equivalent in your area) in easily accessible savings that you can use in case of an emergency.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you still have money in your bank account at the beginning of the month. You are doing better than 64% of people living in the United States. If you find yourself short however and your bank account is empty at the end of the month, now is a great time to evaluate what happened that made you short. If you cut into the 10% that you took off the top for savings, you’re still not where you need to be, so if you come up short, ask yourself these questions. Was there an illness, or was there some other emergency that came up? Did you have a major unexpected car repair? Did you go on a shopping spree or out with friends on an unplanned event? Look at all possibilities and then strategize how you might be able to avoid that next month.  If you had an emergency, then be sure to put money back into your savings account next month.

Look at how it is that you have money left over at the end of the month. Did you work overtime? Did you make an unexpected windfall from your business? Did you do that well in saving money? By determining how you were able to have money left over at the end of the month will help you determine if you can continue doing that or if you might want to change things so that you don’t have to work so hard.

If you paid off one of your credit cards or loans, celebrate in some way. You have increased your financial situation considerably and have more money each month to invest in yourself instead of someone else. It’s like money that you no longer have to work so hard to get because that bill is no longer part of your financial equation.

If you find that you’ll have more money next month, designate as much as possible to your emergency fund as necessary. If you already have a solid $1000 in your emergency fund, I suggest that you consider investing your savings into food, especially in the autumn months.

Take Advantage of Fall Harvests

Food is one of those expenses that each of us needs to invest in every day and you’ll get the biggest return on the money you invest when you invest in food in the fall.

During the fall months, especially this year, it will be important to make certain that you have a sizable amount of food to last several months. Farm and garden harvests come in during the late summer and early fall so getting food in bulk during this time and preserving it to last for the next several months is an excellent way to make your savings work for you—big time.

Many kinds of fruit and vegetables can be bought during this time. I remember when my eldest son was a baby I went to an auction and bought a bushel of pears for about $4. I canned it and had it for several months. Around here there are a number of these auctions that occur every year. If canning is your thing, this might be a good way to invest any money you can spare during the next few months.

Also, a lot of ranchers are cutting back on stock right now and meat is apt to cost less in the autumn than it will be in late winter and into the spring so if you have freezer space, invest in meat if possible. We talked to someone this week who has beef for sale for $4 per pound and we’re buying 20 pounds.

The same is true for grains. Grains have also been recently harvested and are more likely now to be more available than they will be later in the winter and in the spring. Grains can be bought in bulk which can then be used for making bread and breakfasts. A fifty-pound bag of oatmeal at half a cup per meal and be used for 571 meals for one person. A fifty-pound bulk bag of oatmeal costs me about $30 dollars where I live.

Six Months’ Worth of Food

I like to keep six months’ worth of food available in my home at any one time. I would suggest to anyone that getting extra food to last for six months should be the next step after having established an emergency fund.

And Beyond

If you have six months’ worth of food, then you can go ahead and either work to pay off debt, invest in your business, or increase your savings so that you have six months of relatively liquid assets to use to pay expenses for that long.


Having Trouble Hanging onto these because of food costs?

With the price of food cutting into our purchasing power, here are some ways that I am not only able to make ends meet but can store some food away for this winter.

  1. Shop using Sales flyers, Coupons, and grocery-saving apps, but buy only what you normally eat.
  2. Use a Weekly Menu Plan-Even a simple meal plan helps. A simple meal plan that I used was one where I decided that I determined that I would eat beef one day, pork the next, and chicken the next and continue that rotation. If I had leftovers of specific meat, incorporate the leftovers into a casserole or pasta dish.
  3. Buy in Bulk (a pound of flour equals 3 ½ cups of bread flour, 3 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour, 4 cups of cake flour, or 4 ¼ cups of pastry flour. A fifty-pound bag of all-purpose flour equals 183 cups of flour.)
  4. Avoid eating out-Think about it. For the cost of a single meal that your family eats out, you can buy a bag of rice and other food items that will last you a month. With the money that you save by not buying your coffee at Starbucks, and instead making your coffee and taking it with you every morning you can purchase all the bulk foods you will need this winter.
  5. Making food from Scratch-Bread that I make myself costs me (using bulk ingredients) about fifty cents per loaf of whole wheat bread and is much more flavorful than the bread that I purchase at the store for two dollars or more per loaf.
  6. Utilize Leftovers-Get creative with leftovers. Plan what you’ll do with your leftovers when you make the original meal. Leftover rice from today’s meal can be used in a casserole for tomorrow’s meal.
  7. Grow at least some of your vegetables in a fall garden-plant leafy greens and root crops like carrots, turnips, parsnips, and beets this fall for vegetables that you can eat well into the winter months and in some cases use in the spring.
  8. Use season extenders in your garden-drag out the cold frames and row covers to help conserve heat when temperatures drop to below freezing. If nothing else, use old sheets and blankets when the danger of frost threatens your garden.
  9. Make meals with fewer meat-discover casseroles and pasta dishes that your family enjoys.
  10. Use what you purchase- food that rots in the refrigerator costs you money, even if you purchased it on sale. Forty percent of what Americans purchase for groceries end up in landfills. Don’t play into this statistic. If you find something that your family has never eaten, but you’d like to try, purchase one and try it.  

We had to buy a new fridge and bought an 18.3 inch Frigidare

Unplanned problems usually occur at the worst times. Last week my refrigerator gave out during some of the hottest weather of the season, but it was a whole week before the new one was delivered. Monday, the new refrigerator arrived.

It all started on Friday night over a week ago after I had baked the cookies for the farmers’ market when my husband commented that the light in the refrigerator wasn’t working. We soon realized that it wasn’t just the refrigerator light, but the refrigerator wasn’t cooling either.

Because we were going to the farmers’ market, I made sure to take all the vegetables that we had grown to the market because we wouldn’t have any place to store them where it would be cool. Fortunately, all the vegetables we had to sell were sold.

Cleaning Out the Old Refrigerator

After the farmers’ market, we picked up a bag of ice and some individual drinks from the store as well as a half-gallon of milk instead of our usual gallon. We put the ice in the coolers and then I sorted out all of the food in the refrigerator. I stored certain condiments on the counter that really didn’t need to be refrigerated, but we preferred to keep it cold when we used them. These were things like catsup and mustard. I had just used up the last of the mayonnaise so I didn’t have any of that to put in the cooler, but I did put Miracle Whip salad dressing and the ranch dressing in the cooler.

I threw out the stuff that I thought wasn’t worth keeping like old salsa, pizza sauce, pickles that no one was going to eat anyway, and old applesauce. I put it all in the compost bucket and emptied the compost bucket in the flower garden where the chickens had a feast.

The Freezer

The refrigerator freezer was another challenge that I had to overcome. It was packed with food that I had to do something with and our chest freezer was already filled with meat and berries that we had just obtained. I took a few minutes and determined what I didn’t need in there. There were some frozen, freezer-burned vegetables that I donated to the chickens. I had two pounds of butter that I decided to store in the cooler rather. We ate the frozen potato wedges and hamburgers that night to make room for some of the other foods that were in the refrigerator freezer. There were some things that I had kept in the refrigerator freezer that I decided didn’t need to be frozen at all. For instance, I had just bought two pounds of granulated yeast that was still in mylar bags that I just stored in a container in the freezer. I also had been storing the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in there. I decided they could stay on a shelf in a cupboard rather than let them get waterlogged in the cooler. It was easier to feed the bread scraps that I stored in the freezer to the chickens rather than trying to dry them in the dehydrator during this hot weather. Sometimes you just got to do what you’ve got to do.

Buying the New Refrigerator

Last Tuesday we bought our new refrigerator. We called several places before we ever left home and with that information in hand, we went shopping.

We started out by going to one of those 90-day same as cash places, where we found a refrigerator that was not only the size we wanted but was also on clearance. It looked like quite the deal, however, when we talked to the salesperson, he expected us to pay a one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar delivery fee and since the only available refrigerator of that model was the floor model, we would have to purchase a three-year extended warranty too for another one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar price tag. We decided we would look elsewhere.

The second place we went was a place that was locally-family owned and had been in business for more than fifty years. They were known for their customer service. The refrigerator that they had for sale was $150 more than the one we saw before, but we didn’t have to purchase an extended warranty and they required only an additional thirty dollars for delivery. That’s $120 less than the other place. We purchased that refrigerator. The only problem was that we would need to wait a week for delivery.

The Waiting Week

Since we knew that we had to wait a week, we devised a plan to pick up ice every day along with anything that we might need for that day. We purchased our milk in half-gallon jugs rather than whole gallons and ate a lot of lunch meat because the weather was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day. When we did cook, we cooked meals outside.

A Lot of Canning

Since I didn’t have refrigerator space and my garden is in harvest mode, I have done a lot of canning during the past week and because it was so hot, I limited this activity to the morning hours. We pulled up our bush green beans and canned the green beans that the plants had produced. I canned tomato products every time I had enough tomatoes to make anything. I canned tomato sauce, whole tomatoes, tomato juice, and salsa. Because I had the peppers, I also made hot pepper jelly. Because I didn’t want to store too much in the refrigerator at any time, I decided to can foods in jars of specific sizes to my husband’s and my needs. For instance, I canned tomato juice and canned tomatoes in quart jars because that is how we are likely to use them. I canned tomato sauce in jars in pints because I believe that is how much sauce we are likely to need for a single meal. I canned the salsa and jelly in ½ pint jars because that’s the size we’re likely to use for them. If I had a bigger family to feed, I would use larger jars, but since it’s just my husband and me, these smaller sizes are perfect for us.

Final Preparations for the New Refrigerator

The refrigerator arrived Monday afternoon, but before it arrived, we had to move the old refrigerator so that I could clean behind it before the new one arrived. I had stuff stored on top of it that I decided needed a new home. I rearranged my canning lids and rings so that I only had to get into a small number of them at a time. The bulk of it I put away so that it wasn’t in the way. The casserole dishes I had stored there I moved to another location in the kitchen so that I had better access to them when I needed them. The massive number of paper plates that I had stored up there I decided would go back on the new refrigerator. Once the old refrigerator was moved forward, I swept out the cobwebs and washed the walls, and then swept and mopped the floor. The refrigerator arrived when they said it would, they put it in place, and they hauled off the old model.

Lessons Learned

  • I learned long ago that it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan for potential disasters. The worst always seems to happen at the worst possible times. Therefore, it makes sense to be prepared for whatever may come.
  • Refrigerators (and freezers) seem to break down at the worst possible times, therefore, canning as much as possible makes sense. (For more on this subject, here are another article that I wrote Using a Deep Freezer Shouldn’t Be the Only Home Preserving Method https://hubpages.com/food/What-I-did-When-My-Freezer-Failed
  • Because we have an emergency fund, we were able to purchase the refrigerator with cash
  • We decided to purchase a new refrigerator because it is likely to last longer than another used unit would. (The old one had been used and lasted us about two years.)
  • Shop around for the right deal and don’t take what looks like the cheapest price. Pay attention to the price of add-ons.
  • Customer service is often worth more than you realize until you see what poor customer service looks like.

What could you do in our situation?


The Sergeant Floyd Monument commemorates Charles Floyd, the only member of the Corps of Discovery to die during the expedition.

My most recent book, the one that I am currently working on I am calling Two Rivers. It is about Isaac Thorton, a young man who leaves behind his family and the girl everyone expected he would marry and goes up the Missouri River with the Lewis and Clark expedition.

This book has led me to research the Lewis and Clark expedition including specific members of the expedition. One of them was Sergeant Charles Floyd.

Sergeant Charles Floyd’s Life

He was the son of Robert Clark Floyd and born in Kentucky in 1782. He was the nephew of James John Floyd, a cousin of Virginia governor John Floyd. His middle name indicates that he was possibly a relative of William Clark.

He was one of the first men to join the expedition. He was a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, and the quartermaster of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He was the only member of the expedition to die during the expedition.

The Circumstances of His Death

Floyd probably died of a ruptured appendix and consequent peritonitis. The ailment was not even recognized by medical science until twenty years after the expedition, and the first successful surgical treatment came in 1884. Probably no physician of the time could have done much more for Floyd than the captains did. A purgative like Rush’s pills, their usual remedy for digestive disorders, could only have hastened Floyd’s death, but this is probably what Dr. Benjamin Rush himself would have prescribed if he had been present—along with bleeding, which would have accomplished nothing. 

Floyd was buried near Sergeant Bluff on the Iowa side of the river, near the present town of Sergeant Bluff, Woodbury County, Iowa.

Floyd’s Legacy

Later travelers often remarked about the site, and George Catlin painted it in 1832. By 1857 the Missouri had undercut the bluff and the grave was opened and some of the bones lost. Citizens of Sioux City moved the bones to a new burial site., and a concrete slab and a one-hundred-foot monument was erected in 1901.

After Floyd’s expedition journal was published in 1894, new interest was taken in his life. In 1895 thieves stole his grave marker and the bones were examined. He was re-buried on August 20, 1895, with a monument. A marble cornerstone three feet wide and seven feet long was placed in 1900. When the obelisk of white sandstone was completed on May 30, 1901, Floyd’s grave was moved for the fourth time to rest nearby.

The Sergeant Floyd Monument was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark on June 30, 1960. This monument is now located in a 23-acre park that offers visitors a view of the Missouri River valley. Floyd’s final resting place is located on old U.S. Highway 75, in the southern part of Sioux City, Iowa, in the United States.

The Floyd River still bears his name. He is the namesake of Floyd County, Iowa. The Interstate 129 bridge between Sioux City and South Sioux City, Nebraska is named the Sergeant Floyd Memorial Bridge in his honor.

I Read His Journal

In reading his journal, my main thoughts throughout were that I knew he was going to die early in the book and that I felt sad because I knew that he wouldn’t see the expedition beyond the first few months of the expedition.

 I read his while I was also reading the journal entries of the other members of the expedition and I will be sharing from those journal entries as I continue writing their stories not only in my book but here on my blog as well.

If you would like to read his journal and the journals of other members of the expedition, here’s a link https://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/journals.

Two Rivers will be the seventh book in The Locket Saga. If you would like to read the first six books of The Locket Saga, here’s a link to my Amazon Author Page. https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B007SM23IK


Not the end of The Locket Saga series, just the most recent.

For the entire month of June, I am sharing my books in the first annual Cygnet Brown Book Club Month! All throughout the month, I will be featuring not one, but all the books that I have written to date. I am continuing book club with my most recent published book in the Locket Saga Series: The Anvil

Book Six of the Locket Saga finally takes us full circle in 1800, not back to Boston, but to the wilds of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Robert McCray, the eldest son of Phillip and Elizabeth McCray is a young blacksmith who is missing one of the most important tools of his trade after his employer cheated him. At the same time, the girl of his affection shuns him for another man. He builds a house on his mother’s land and hopes to get his own property only to discover that the land that he desires was purchased by the Campbells.

Robert McCray makes the best of a bad situation and allows the Campbell family to live in the cabin that he built on his mother’s land next to the land that he had wanted and where the Campbell’s land was.

Though he thinks that he has lost everything, over the upcoming months he learns that everything he needs and wants is right in front of him.

Writing The Anvil had been on my mind from the day that I wrote the first line of Soldiers Don’t Cry. I had wanted to bring the family back to northwestern Pennsylvania because that was where the story began between Elizabeth and Phillip. It was also where I grew up and where most of my ancestors live. The Anvil does that. It brings them back to the land where, well, if you haven’t read any of the series, I won’t give a spoiler here. You’ll have to read the book.

I hope you take this opportunity to read the free sample of The Anvil on Amazon and the rest of the Locket Saga. Remember also to follow Cygnet Brown on my Amazon Author Page so you don’t miss the next book in the series: Two Rivers and other subsequent books when they come out.  

When you love it, you can purchase a kindle copy or get it (at no extra charge) on KindleUnlimited

If you prefer paperback, you can purchase your copy on Lulu.com

When God Turned His Head

Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues

A Coward’s Solace

Sailing Under the Black Flag

In the Shadow of the Mill Pond

The Anvil


These microscopic diatoms are the descendants of the animals that created the fossils that become diatomaceous earth.

Have you ever heard of diatomaceous earth? If you haven’t heard of it, I’m about to share with you some amazing facts about this substance that can help you avoid the use of pesticides around your house and yard.

Several years ago, I was working at Shearers, a potato chip factory. Some of the varieties of chips that they made were considered organic which meant that they couldn’t be made using pesticides even inside the factory. Therefore, the management kept everything as clean as possible. We not only had to wear shoe covers and hair nets, but as we entered the factory, we walked onto the floor by walking over a mat containing diatomaceous earth because it used a physical rather than chemical means of controlling insect infestation.

Diatomaceous Earth, also referred to as “DE”, a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that can be crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder formed from the fossil remains of diatoms. This dried sediment is also very high in silica and its deposits are found all around the world.

Can Use as An Insecticide

Diatomaceous earth is thought to kill insects by dehydrating them or drying them out. If applied carefully, it can be used as an insecticide for fleas and ticks on pets without harmful chemicals. It can be used for the same purpose in the garden or orchard.

Though it isn’t a chemical poisoning that causes diatomaceous earth to control insects, you need to take precautions when using this substance.

First, use only use food-grade diatomaceous earth if using this substance internally or externally on humans and pets. (Nonfood grade DE is used for other applications that do not involve direct use with humans and animals.)

Also, avoid breathing in diatomaceous earth because it is composed of small silica (glass!) particles and though it doesn’t cause skin problems, it can harm the delicate tissues within the lungs.

This is explained more in-depth in my book Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard.

It Can Be Taken Internally

In addition to being used as an insecticide, it can also be used for other purposes including taking internally.

When taken by mouth, diatomaceous earth is for treating high cholesterol, and constipation. It is also thought to remove heavy metals from the body through the digestive tract. Ingesting DE improves skin, nails, teeth, bones, and hair health.

Can be Used Externally

When applied to the skin or teeth, diatomaceous earth is used to brush teeth or remove unwanted dead skin cells. And more!

My book Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard gives much more details on how DE can be used to reduce the number of toxic chemicals you use around the house.

Now it’s your turn? Do you use DE? How do you use it?


One of my projects this week was to add more summer crops to my garden.

Last week, I showed you how I use the acronym SOFF to seize every moment possible from each day. I start it with a plan and organize my time and material to make the most of that day. I then focus on the planned project so that I can move forward in that area that day. Finally, I finish what I started and have focused on and determine where I will start the next day.

Not only can I SOFF projects and my days, but I can also SOFF for longer periods. This week I am going to share how I SOFF my weeks toward making the most of them.

What Do I Want to Accomplish This Week?

At the beginning of the week, I plan three big projects that I want to do that week that relate to my larger goals. I am going to use this week as an example. One of my big goals is self-sufficiency or in other words, being as prepared as possible for the worst possible situations. One of the key elements of that goal is a perpetually self-sufficient garden and this past week my goal was to get the main summer crops planted. Another big goal that I had was to finish the research from the Lewis and Clark journals for Book VII of The Locket Saga: Two Rivers. (Check out the first six books in the series Here) This next week I plan to get more into developing the plot lines from the standpoint of the characters, but for last week, my plan was to get the research finished.  The third project that I want to do this week is to get my house more cleaned and organized. This is a repeated project that if I don’t do it, life becomes less functional.

Of course, this isn’t all that is being done this week, for instance, the yard needs mowed, and grass clippings added to the garden, and perhaps the plants will need to be watered as well, particularly the seedlings. The dishes need to be washed a couple of times per day, and the laundry and grocery shopping needs to be done once per week. Also, I needed to write my two blog posts this week this one and the one for The Perpetual Homesteader.  However, by starting with these goal-oriented projects in my schedule, I am more likely to get them done by the week’s end.

Breaking Down the Larger Projects

As part of organizing my week, I break down the larger projects that I want to accomplish. Sometimes I have already broken down a project which was the case of Two Rivers. I had determined that every week I would research one week of the journals. This past week was the last month of the journals that were to be covered in the story, so I knew exactly what I was already doing. I have determined that I will accomplish this on

The second project that I am working on this week, involved planting the summer crops in the garden. This is a big project that also takes more than one week to accomplish, and this week I had determined that I would plant sunflowers, okra, cucumbers, zucchini, and other squashes. To get these planted, because I dig my gardens by hand, I needed to weed the areas where I was going to plant them. Monday I would plant the okra and zucchini. Tuesday I would plant the cucumbers, and Wednesday and Thursday I would plant the other squashes.

The third project, organizing the house was mostly planned for later in the week. I planned to deep clean the bathroom, reorganize my desk, and clean out a couple of cupboards in the kitchen. I determined that I would work on these projects on Wednesday and Thursday as well. Fridays were already taken by getting ready for Farmers Market on Saturday.

Focusing or Gittin ‘er Done!

The next important aspect of SOFFing is Focus and that means that I must take action on what I want to do if I want to actually accomplish what I planned.

On Sunday I cleaned the bathroom and finished researching the Lewis and Clark journals. I also planted the sunflowers, okra, and zucchini.  On Monday because I do all the garden work by hand, I spent the day working the soil with my broad fork. On Tuesday I planted the cucumbers. On Wednesday I planted the other squashes and cleaned out my desk where I found the outline that I would use to continue Two Rivers. On Thursday I organized the kitchen so that it would be ready for Friday.

Finishing the Week

Because I was able to get those projects accomplished earlier in the week, I was able to focus all of Friday on the baking and Saturday on the farmers market. On Saturday afternoon, I was able to take the time off to relax. I had finished the week strong.

The Ultimate Keystone Habit

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll love my book The Ultimate Keystone Habit, available on Amazon.


Who owns your electrical power? Where I live, I do (and so do a lot of other people)

A few days ago, my husband and I were talking with a man about how inexpensive electricity is where we live. I asked him if he knew why our electricity was so inexpensive and he said he did not so I told him that it was because we had an electric cooperative rather than being run by a for-profit corporation. I knew it was true, but I didn’t know the story behind it until I looked it up.

The Birth of the Electric Cooperative

In 1935, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an executive order creating the Rural Electrification Administration. A year later Congress gave the agency the money and power needed to promote rural electrification by providing low-cost loans to build transmission and generation facilities.

Boone Electric Cooperative was incorporated on June 11, 1936 – the first rural electric cooperative to form in the state of Missouri. By the end of 1937, Boone Electric served just more than 140 members in rural Boone County.

Rural cooperatives formed rapidly to take advantage of the favorable financing. Farm by farm, village by village, the lights went on across rural Missouri and rural America. And as electrical needs grew, the REA continued to provide low-cost financing. Eventually, major generation facilities, built primarily during the 1960s and 1970s, were financed with help from the REA.

The Advantages Continue

Today, numerous advantages exist for homes that utilize electricity from a cooperative over for-profit utility companies.

  • Upon joining an electrical cooperative, I was considered a member and owner rather than a customer.
  • Electric cooperatives are service focused. My coop provides electricity to rural areas while commercial utility companies are looking at their bottom line for their stockholders.
  • My cooperative follows democratic processes, allowing each member to vote in board member elections, participate in policy making, and influence the company in sharing their ideas and concerns.
  • My cooperative is community focused and work to improve the sustainability and well-being of their local and surrounding communities.
  • My electric cooperatives returns its revenues or margins to cooperative members in the form of capital credits.
  • One of the biggest advantages of being a member of an electric cooperative is that my service is constantly getting better at a lower cost per kilowatt hour than it would cost me for if I were with a for profit company.

Could Cooperatives Be the Answer in Other Areas?

Other areas could benefit from utilizing cooperative power over the for-profit interests of a few people. California electric companies have already been thinking of creating electric cooperatives and in order to lower prices, other areas could do the same.

However, what if the idea of community cooperatives didn’t end with providing inexpensive renewable energy? What if cooperatives were used in other forms of utilities? What if cooperatives were created to deal with waste management? What if the waste management cooperative was also involved in recycling? What if they worked toward reselling recycled materials to other companies or even managed to create recycled products from those items. What if the members voted to have more of it done at a community level as part of the cooperative and those items could be sold or even used within the community? Imagine how everyone could benefit because they all own the company that recycles garbage into usable items.

Imagine a Different Type of Insurance Program

Imagine that same cooperative spirit being extended toward insurance where instead of stockholders benefiting from your insurance premiums, the benefits of the premiums go to the cooperative. Imagine fire insurance paying for all the damages instead of there being a deductible and at a lower cost than what you’re paying now.

When I was a kid in the 1970s there were companies that had this type of insurance that offered fire and wind insurance. This insurance was called Patrons Mutual where you paid a small membership fee and then a small insurance premium. Even with the membership fee, the cost was lower than other insurance companies were charging. However, the other insurance companies lobbied the government and demanded that these companies that demanded membership could not sell insurance and that insurance had to be a for-profit business.

Imagine, however, if we could lobby the government to change these laws and allow cooperatives to exist in insurance and not just fire insurance, but in all types of insurance. Imagine health insurance at reasonable costs to everyone. Imagine insurance companies where the recipients could decide if they wanted their insurance to include preventative measures, to include the ability to pay for experimental procedures so that others could live. They could more likely have all these things because they didn’t have to pay for dividends to stockholders and all of the money is being spent by the contributors who are also the recipients of the healthcare insurance who voted for how their insurance money would be spent through a democratic process.  

So, what do you think? Do you think that cooperatives might be the answer to many financial problems we currently face? If not, what problems do you see with this idea? If yes, what do you think is our next move to make cooperatives more of a reality in our communities? Also, what other possible ways do you think that we could develop cooperatives in our communities?

If you have enjoyed this blog post, consider following this blog. If you’re into gardening and homesteading check out my other blog The Perpetual Homesteader too.


Everything on this earth is connected through the water cycle. The most important issues related to the survival of planet earth are the issues related to the ocean. The ocean covers 70 percent of our planet surface. Issues related to our abuse of our natural resources have led to problems in the ocean including the extinction of many ocean fish, dead zones, red tides, and negative changes in sea plants and animals.

As you can see, I actually use these products.

Like the earth’s surface, as adults, we too are 70 percent water and how we treat the earth ultimately is how we treat ourselves. Did you know that more toxins are absorbed through your skin than through the digestive tract? Think about that the next time you put chemicals on your skin.

As I mentioned before, a few months ago. I signed up for The Advanced Permaculture Student Online, facilitated by Matt Powers (former member of “The Cringe” rock group). When I signed up for The Advanced Permaculture Student Online, I received as part of a goodie bag products put out by AMA Sea Beauty.

As I learned more about these products, I have realized that I need to start paying more attention to my skincare and what I put on my skin. If I can’t put a product in my mouth, why am I putting it on my skin?

The Products

AMA Sea Beauty sent me six full size products for me to try. The DeepSea Macroalgae serum, The SeaGlo Microalgae oil, VitaSea Thalassotherapy Treatment, SeaMist Marine Mineral Toner, SeaScrub, and SeaTea Beauty Bath Ritual.

I started using the SeaMist Marine Mineral Toner and the VitaSea Thalassotherapy treatment in the morning. I put on the thalassotherapy onto my dry face and then spritzed on the SeaMist Marine Mineral Toner. At night I gently work the SeaGlo Microalgae Oil into the skin on my face and on my neck and then finish my nightly routine with DeepSea Macroalgae serum. My skin seems to be getting healthier and more youthful every time I use it.

I have to admit, that the first time I used the SeaScrub, I thought it was a little too drying BUT after I used the other products for a week , I found that it did a wonderful job scrubbing away the dead skin cells on my face leaving it shiny clean.

Since it is winter, I decided to use organic coconut oil as a moisturizer on my face. The skin on my face is soft and smooth.

The SeaTea Beauty Bath Ritual

The sixth product, (not shown in the photo) the SeaTea Beauty Bath Ritual was perfect for a home spa day! I started filling the tub with bath water (not too hot, not too cold) and hung the bag over the spigot as per the instructions. At first the water came out clear, but as the bag became soaked, the water turned a beautiful aqua marine blue. No artificial color did that! It was all natural!

I soaked in the tub for about 20 minutes. It felt wonderful. The aroma was light and smelled slightly like some sort of flower blossom. I towel dried and applied the organic coconut oil that I keep in my bathroom. My skin was soft and healthy looking. the dry skin I usually feel this time of year has been nonexistent. My skin felt rejuvenated and clean. I highly recommend this high-end quality beauty products.

The AMA Sea Beauty’s Mission

On the AMA Sea Beauty’s website, https://www.amaseabeauty.com  they say that they are a team of ocean lovers who are dedicated to natural beauty practices. Their beauty promise is built on regenerative practices of water, plants, light, and their belief in the healing powers of the sea. They are vegan, cruelty free, sustainable, recyclable and clean.

They use bioactive compounds from the sea that deliver potent unparalleled restorative and regenerative nutrients which feed us at the cellular level. Not only are the products superb, but they help protect the sea environment. Every purchase of AMA Sea Beauty products goes to their mission. I feel that this is a company worth supporting. Their 25-acre ocean farm Pharmersea is off the coast of Santa Barbara and is dedicated into supporting blue economies while addressing climate stability.

I don’t receive any compensation for my recommendation, but I definitely recommend them to anyone who, like me, wants to use natural products on their skin. The fact that they also help preserve the environment in the process is an added bonus!

I have written a related book!

If you haven’t read it, get your copy today at 60% off at http://www.lulu.com/shop/cygnet-brown/help-from-kelp/paperback/product-22518936.html

Here are the first of the sweet potato slips that I recently transplanted from the ice cream bucket in the same photo. So far I have four plants and they are growing.

As many of you know, I am moving out into the country to my homestead this spring. I talked to my son Jeremy the other day. We discussed moving my trailer onto my land. Unfortunately, the ground there is still too wet to move the building, but it is not too wet for me to start planting  garden transplants indoors here in Springfield.

Sweet Potatoes

I actually started the weekend after Thanksgiving when I planted a single sweet potato in a container in my kitchen. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure that it would grow because the sweet potato had been scrubbed so much that some of the outer skin had been scrubbed off. However, the sweet potatoes did grow. It grew so well that last week I separated some of the first of the slips (the green leaves, stems and attached roots) from the sweet potato tuber and planted them in soil. Some gardeners place slips in water, but I believe that the slips will transplant into the garden better if they are planted in soil rather than allowed to root in water. I left one green leaf on the tuber so that more slips can grow from the tuber.

I just started these last Wednesday (2/5/2020 and I already have Winter thyme, cabbages and onions starting to sprout!

Onions– This year I have two kinds of onions that I am starting from seed. One is yellow Spanish sweet onion and the other is a Red Florence which is an heirloom variety. I planted about four seeds in each cell. The reason I did this is so that when the time comes to plant the cell, I’ll simply pop the cell in the ground and I’ll have four onion plants to work with rather than one. This means that I will be able to plant much more quickly and I won’t have to deal with one single skinny little plant.

Chives– I only had a few chive seeds left so I planted them in a couple little cells. When the chives reach size, I will either transplant them into a larger pot or directly into the garden.

Asparagus-Though not usually as successful at starting from seeds as they are from crowns, I have started some plants from seed. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that once established in three years should give me at least 20 years of production. I’ll probably be picking up a couple of crowns too. This way I’ll be able to get harvest a year earlier than I would with just the seeds.

Lavender-Lavender is another plant that is easier to grow from a plant than it is from seed, but again I am going to give it a try. If it doesn’t get started by the time spring comes, I’ll pick up a plant or two from the plant nursery.

Parsley is also an herb that I am growing that can be difficult at times to get started. To assist me at getting this plant started, I put the seed packet into the freezer and then stored it in the refrigerator until I was ready to plant. From what I understand, deep chilling the parsley before planting encourages the plant to sprout.

Basil-This is sweet basil that is specifically designed to grow in a container. I planted a few plants now, but I think I might plant more when I plant my tomato seeds for transplants. This herb is considered annual in temperate climates is actually a tropical perennial. If I can grow a couple plants of this herb in a container, I may be able to maintain this herb fresh all winter.

 Oregano-Oregano is a very common herb used in Italian cooking. It is not just a common herb, but it is also perennial.

Winter Thyme– This plant is also a common perennial herb that grows like a low growing ground cover. It can be grown between rocks in a walkway or patio and will give off a pleasant scent if stepped on.

Lemon Mint-This lemony member of the mint family is often grown for drying to make a tea. It also is a perennial.

Cayenne Peppers-I’ll probably get a few other hot pepper plants as plants, but I am going to try to grow cayenne from seed this year. I will be able to dry the seeds and dry the flesh separately. The flesh I’ll dry and grind for cayenne powder. The seeds I’ll dry and use whenever I want to add a little more heat when I’m cooking and to save for seed to keep the variety going every year in my garden.

Sweet Peppers-I’m starting my peppers a little earlier than my tomatoes this year so that perhaps I may be able to get peppers and tomatoes ripening at the same time. Sweet peppers are one of the key components (along with tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano, thyme, and basil) in my home canned tomato sauce. They are also a key ingredient in pickle relish and my homemade salsa. I’ll also enjoy eating them fresh and freezing them in various forms in the freezer to enjoy next winter.

Newly germinated cabbages

Copenhagen Market Cabbage-Since I will be able to put out cabbage about the same time that I put out the onions, I planted a few cells of cabbage. I have other members of the cabbage family that I will put out as the season progresses, but I thought that a few cabbages grown early would be a nice to have in the garden.

Potatoes

I have a few small potatoes that I have been over wintering in my refrigerator with the sole intention of saving as seed potatoes that I will be planting this coming spring. They are of red, white and blue varieties. Back in the fall I wrapped each individual potato in brown paper and put them into a paper sack in the refrigerator. I pulled them out and looked at them a few days ago and not one of them was rotten. About two weeks before I intend to plant them, I will be taking them out and sprouting out the cherts at room temperature.

There you have it. The start to my garden, especially my herb garden. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be starting other plants for transplanting including my tomato plants. More on those and my garden’s progress later.

Are you thinking about starting a garden this year? My book Simply Vegetable Gardening is full of tips to help you have the best one possible!

(Makes a Great Gift for any gardener in your life too!)

%d bloggers like this: