Tinctures, Syrups, and Bone broth

I’ve been on a tincture kick lately. Part of prepping to me is maintaining ones strength and health.

A tincture is an herb where it’s medicinal properties have been extracted by alcohol. There are also tinctures that can be made with glycerin, apple cider vinegar, or honey.
For alcohol tincture it’s best to use a clear alcohol like Everclear, Vodka, or Gin that is at LEAST 80proof.

Mixed race woman holding bottle of essential oil : Stock Photo

In the farmers almanac and among many folk-medicine circles they say the best time to put your tincture together is during a New Moon. In 4-6wks your tincture will be ready. I  make my tinctures on a new moon and then go by the 2nd full moon I see to know when the extraction is complete.

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Here I put together what I call my “Dragon Vitality Tincture,” It has ginsengschizandra, and astragalus .  All three of these herbs work synergistically together as adaptogens to help combat stress, decrease inflammation, increase sex drive, and increase focus.

The other one I made is with Ashwaganda. I’ve been taking Ashwaganda tinctures for several months and decided it would be much cheaper to just make my own!  I put these together on the New Moon back in February.  The next Full Moon this March I will strain the herbs and bottle them.

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To fight Cold and Flu season I made an Elderberry Echinacea syrup with local raw honey.  So far this whole season I’ve not caught the Flu or a cold—and I work in the human services sector where I’m around people that tend to pass the virus around. Knock on wood thus far.

Another thing I’ve been really into lately is bone broth. There’s nothing quite like sipping a mug of hot savory broth on a cold winters evening.  You can pick up soup bones at your local butcher shop where it is much cheaper, or if you make a roast chicken/turkey be sure to save the bones!  You can make several batches of broth with a set of bones–you can use them until they disintegrate.  I love to roast my bones with onion, carrot, and garlic with salt and pepper first then I let it simmer in my crockpot for 24hours.  Sometimes I’ll throw in some raw ginger. You can season it however you want. Make your broth your own! There are also plenty of recipes and recipe books out there too. I saw this book and thought it was pretty funny….however, damn, those recipes look delicious.

I’ll follow up sometime about how my tinctures turn out.  I hope this inspires you to give it a try yourself. It can feel very empowering to take matters into your own hands and defend yourself against cold/flu/stress.

Until next time,

Ravn Thor
The Transgender Prepper

“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we will not be able to keep our minds strong and clear.” – Buddha

 

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Starting Over, What’s Ravn up to?

Greetings from my hideaway.

I am such an asshole. My sincerest apologies for dropping off the face of the earth once again.  I keep getting ‘likes’ on this page and I notice that there is traffic here.  I miss blogging so much, and I didn’t realize that my little prepper blog got so much attention. I suppose there are not many prepper blogs that come from a transgender perspective.

I had a realization today that for me I’m not prepping for when SHTF, because shit has hit the fan for me in the present. I need to get my ass in gear now.

A few updates on what has been going on in my life without getting into too much detail:

  • June, moved back to my college town, worked full time at a homeless shelter
  • July, went through a painful break-up (relationship of 6yrs)
  • Fall, started EMDR for my complex PTSD–it’s going well, healing and growth however is painful.
  • Fall, issues at work, interpersonal issues with coworkers,
  • Winter, quit full time job due to too much passive aggression among co-workers
  • January, I turned the big 30!
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  • January, got hired on the spot at the same Foundation I worked at in the town before at the branch here.
  • February, working only part-time, hours are not being met, learning frugality.

I reached some fitness goals too. I can dead-lift 225lbs, and I weigh only 132lbs. I reached my cut goals and my lifting goals.

I’m lifting heavier than I ever thought possible. I go to the gym 5-7 days a week. I’m now working more on endurance and flexibility—what good is strength if you can’t have agility, dexterity, and stamina?  My goal for this year is to be able to touch my toes. (Damn short hammies!)


I lost my health insurance when I quit my full-time position, but I did qualify for MNcare insurance.  However, I was in an insurance purgatory for a bit where I needed to pay for my scripts out of pocket. My health insurance starts next month and I will get reimbursed from the pharmacy.  I am hopeful that within the year I will get bumped up to a full-time position and have more hourly stability on the job. Meanwhile, my finances took a huge dive. It made me really learn how to manage my money and where it goes.  It’s these sorts of things that people don’t seem to understand that prepping is all about—-preparedness for anything–that includes job loss, illness, job change, etc.  I had plenty of food stored away this month and managed to only spend about $70 for food (You can do so much with potatoes).

In 4 months my lease is up and I well be venturing forth into finding a place of my own—no roommates. I need my own place.

I’ve been doing a lot when it comes to taking care of myself.  I feel like a loner most of the time now, but it’s given me time for deep introspection and reflection.  Along with counseling, I’m putting the pieces together of my fragmented sense of self. When it comes to prepping, I want to take a holistic approach and have all bases covered. It’s not just about stock-piling a bunch of stuff and doing bug-out drills. To me, Prepping is becoming self-reliant and learning to truly depend on yourself when you can’t depend on anybody else.

It’s so hard to trust anyone in this world, but I can trust myself to get my needs met and survive.  I do long for community someday. But right now, I need to get my shit together.

Thanks for reading,

Ravn Thor

The Transgender Prepper

 

Hard Tack to Pack a Punch in the Apocalypse

Sea Biscuits, Sheet Iron, Molar Breakers, or just Tack; Hard Tack goes by many different names and has quite the history.  Used as sustenance by sailors at sea and food rations for soldiers in the revolutionary and civil wars, it is a versatile food with a long shelf life making it ideal for prepping and survival.

The basic recipe is as follows:

3 cups of white flour
1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of salt

And that’s it!  Mix it up into a dough, roll it out, cut into squares or circles. Poke some holes. Preheat the oven at 375 degees, bake each side for 30 minutes. And boom! there you have it.

However, this recipe isn’t the most nutrient dense. I decided to tweak it a bit to make a hard tack that packs a punch.

Ravn’s Hard Tack for the End of Days

(Or for camping…)

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2 Cups whole wheat flour
1 cup of ground quinoa flour (Quinoa is full of protein, and has a complete amino acid profile, making it a complete protein)
1 cup of rolled oats (Also full of protein and other essential nutrients)
1/2 cup chia
1/2 cup flax
(Flax and chia both are full of protein, omega 3s, and other vitamins and minerals)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 and 1/2 cups of water

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Before baking

When they come out they definitely live up to their name of being hard.  If you’re not careful you will chip a tooth.  Breaking off a piece and holding it in your mouth for a minute or two allows the enzymes in your saliva break it down to make it chew-able.  It’s also pretty good soaked in soup for a few minutes.  You can dunk it in coffee or just hot water.  It tastes kind of like Wheaties.  It’s very flexible in that it can be eaten with a hearty flavor (like with a bone broth) or something sweet (drizzle on some honey or jam).

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While Hard Tack is known for it’s long term shelf life, I wanted to ensure it lasts for years.  I ordered some Mylar bags to store them in. I will also be using these bags to store more food in the future.

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If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, one way to go about it is by submerging it in water until all the air is out.  Then use an iron (I used a flat iron) to seal it up.

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And there you have it!
Until Next Time,
Ravn Thor

Checking in, herbs, potions, surplus, and more

Hello,

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks. I just returned from the Twin Cities a couple days ago.  Here’s a little update of what I’ve been up to:

Herbs are sprouting!

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Things are starting to really spring up and my goji berry plant has rooted and is standing tall and strong. I’m really relieved that it worked out. For the first couple days the poor plant had transplant trauma and was very wilty.  I gave it a few drinks of sugar water and it perked right up. Now it’s almost as tall as the bamboo stick!

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I stopped at a Herb shop and picked up a few ounces of adaptogen herbs for focus, energy, and virility.  Really decent prices. I spent under 10bucks.  Buying loose-leaf herbs is so cheap.
Ravn’s Virility Tonic
2 tsp Schizandra berry
2 tsp Horny Goat Weed
2 tsp Ginseng
Ravn’s Focus Potion
2 tsp Ginko
2 tsp Ginseng
2 tsp Schizandra berry
(For more of a focus kick use some green tea also)

Add more of each for a stronger potion. Pour the herbs into boiling water and turn off the heat. Let set for 5-10 minutes.

Or you can make this into a decoction. Put herbs into a boiling pot, turn heat down to a simmer, and let simmer for 30-45minutes.

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I made a stop in Fargo at Mills Fleet Farm because they have a really huge selection of military surplus gear.  Military Surplus is a great resource for prepper gear because it’s high quality and affordable.  I have been wanting a good durable bug-out bag that I can double use for camping and backpacking.  I got an “Italian San Marco Backpack” for around 20$.  I plan on saving up for an A.L.I.C.E Pack Frame to use as well.

Fitness Update

So a month or so ago I weighed in at 129lbs. Yesterday I weighed myself and landed at 141lbs! I am 3lbs away from my bulking goal.  Once I reach that goal I start on cutting.
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I’m looking forward to spring rolling around so I can put myself to the test on a long hike.

In the next couple months I will be moving back to my college town.  When I move I will start planning my garden.

That’s all for now,

Ravn

 

 

DIY Deodorant

Transitioning really opened my eyes to how powerful hormones are and how the body reacts to whatever chemical combination is put into  it or is exposed to.  Transpeople, however, aren’t the only ones who (if they choose to medically transition) are exposed to different hormones.  Everyday, people are unknowingly being exposed to endocrine disruptors that effect the hormone levels and cause a wide variety of health problems.

A few chemicals that are found in our everyday items include:

BPA

BPS

Phthytates

Parabens

and the list goes on.

Endocrine disruptors “mimic or partly mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body like estrogens (the female sex hormone), androgens (the male sex hormone), and thyroid hormones, potentially producing overstimulation.” source  This can lead to hormonal imbalances, obesity, reproductive problems, neurological and behavior problems, early puberty, and cancers.  Check out this entry in Wikipedia, skim through it and be sure to look at the bottom list of sources cited.

Endocrine disruptors can be found in cleaning products, plastics, cans, hygiene products and more.  While it’s difficult to completely eliminate these disruptors, you can limit your exposure to it.

One way of doing that is by making your own hygiene products.

Tonight I made my own deodorant using coconut oil, corn starch, baking soda, witch hazel, vitamin e oil, essential oils and some shea butter.  I followed a simple template at this website.

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I made a mixture of cedarwood, tea tree, patchouli, bergamont, lavender, sage, and rosemary essential oils to scent it.  It’s really fun to make your own signature scents.  I added witch hazel as a way to wick moisture away.

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I was really impressed with how it mixed!

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I recycled my recently emptied deodorant stick and it fit right in.  I tried it on and it felt kind of wet at first, but it surprisingly dried within a minute or two.

In the future I may experiment with more recipes.

Learning Folk Medicine

*Disclaimer: This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness. I am not a health care practitioner. Please discuss your personal health with a qualified doctor before making changes to your diet or health regimen.

In a previous post I noted that in the first couple days of office, Dictator Cheeto signed an executive order to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Through my 20s I’ve been very interested in mind/body holistic health. I’ve studied up on nutrition and looked through what’s fact and what’s fad, and the same with alternative remedies.  In my arsenal of prepping I believe learning basic first aid and preventative medicine are vital tools. Keeping my immune system strong so it’s not susceptible to diseases is very important, because if I get sick I won’t be able to afford to see the doctor. And if I do go see the doctor, there is a good chance that doctor could cite “deeply held religious beliefs” and refuse to treat me. So it’s in my best interest to protect and empower myself to understand my body and keep it healthy.

Honey for a cough. The tried and true chicken noodle soup. Tea tree oil for a skin blemish. For a brighter smile brush with baking soda. What these things all have in common is that they can be considered folk medicine!

According to the World Health Organization, Folk Medicine is:

“the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.”

It’s very important to learn how to weed through all the snake oil. Just because blood-letting was once a practiced ‘traditional’remedy doesn’t mean it was ever a good idea.

“A man may esteem himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine.” -Henry David Thoreau

My kitchen in a lot of ways is a mini apothecary.

A few staples that I keep in my kitchen are:

  • Garlic
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Green Tea
  • Ginger Root
  • Lemons
  • Raw Honey

Garlic

Garlic is one of the worlds most researched and important medicinal plants (and it adds amazing flavor to most anything!).

Best taken raw, the key actions of this plant is that it’s an antibiotic, anti fungal, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, supports beneficial intestinal flora, and is an amazing antioxidant keeping free radicals at bay. It’s excellent at preventing the common cold or shortening the length of time if you catch one.   It’s a real immune system booster!

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It also gives you an edge when dealing with not so nice vampires.

I eat about 3-4 cloves a day. I put it on most everything. Potatoes, rice, noodles, pasta, pizza, bread, salad, nachos, tacos, steak, soups, etc.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is an amazing spice to add to any meal if you need a kick but it also has some pretty nifty health benefits too.

Cayenne pepper helps fight inflammation and can give your metabolism a much needed boost as well as stimulate the circulatory system. It’s key component, capsaicin, is what makes this pepper spicy. High in vitamins A and C this pepper helps support the immune system.  The heat of this pepper also gives you a nice endorphin rush.
Since cayenne stimulates blood flow, it can be a useful spice to add more spice to your sex drive.

I love to use cayenne in many different dishes and I even like to put cayenne in my ginger lemon honey tea or even make a spicy hot chocolate.

Green Tea

Legend has it that in 3rd century China, Emperor Shen Nung was sitting under a tree boiling water and leaves fell from the tree into his kettle.  He took a sip and found it to be quite delightful, so resulting in the timeless tradition of drinking tea!

Tea is a stimulant with a moderate amount of caffeine which offers a nice pick-me-up(not as much as a cup of coffee though).  It contains high levels of polyphenols, which is an antioxidant that has been found to help weight loss,  and hinder inflammation.

Green tea is also good for focus and helping alleviate depression.  This is because green tea contains the amino acid L-Theanine:

“L-theanine is an amino acid responsible for increasing alpha brain wave activity, which promotes relaxation. In concert with the stimulant caffeine, this allows tea to induce a feeling of increased concentration over a longer period of time, compared to caffeine alone. Some tea merchants will tell you that tea “releases” its caffeine into the body more slowly than coffee, but in actuality, the effects of caffeine are being moderated by L-theanine.”

So besides getting really good focus and antioxidants out of green tea, there are even more benefits to your health:

“Studies have also shown that there are added benefits to tea, besides alertness. In a paper by Eschenauer and Sweet, it was concluded that “increased alpha activity in the brain induced by L-theanine has been associated with increased creativity, increased performance under stress, and improved learning and concentration as well as decreased anxiety.” [2] A 2001 study suggests that the combination of L-theanine and caffeine “improves the ability to multi-task and reduces task-induced fatigue,” [3]

I have around 2 to 3 cups of green tea a day. Matcha green tea contains even higher amounts of L-Theanine. I like to add matcha to my smoothies.

Ginger Root

There’s nothing quite like the zing of fresh raw ginger root! Ginger is anti-inflammatory and may even be used in place of aspirin to treat arthritic pain for those that can’t have aspririn. Personally, I can’t have OTC pain relievers because it flares up severe stomach acid distress.  Ginger has been a life savor for nausea and my aches and pains.

Ginger is also an antioxidant and can improve resistance during a flu or cold.

I like to add raw garlic and raw ginger root to my chicken soup when I feel a hint of a cold coming on.

Lemon

Lemons! An excellent source of vitamin C!  I use lemon almost as much as I use garlic! I like to use it in cooking or have tea with a squeeze of lemon, pinch of cayenne, chunks of ginger, and a spoonful of raw honey.  It’s my nightly ritual.

Raw Honey

Honey. Sweet ambrosia and nectar of the goddess!  Honey is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and chock full of amino acids and vitamins and minerals.  It’s by far my favorite sweetener. Raw honey in particular is minimally processed thereby keeping all of the enzymes and amino acids.

Honey gives the libido a boost and increases stamina. There are also studies that have found honey to be a great anticancer food.

I prefer to buy local raw honey.  Please note that while there are many benefits to raw honey, there are also potential dangers or drawbacks.  For example, honey is full of fructose (hence it being a sweetener) and so adding spoonful after spoonful is extra added calories. Raw honey should never be given to infants because of it’s potential although rare cases of endospores of Clostridium botulinum (the bacteria that can cause botulism) have been found.  The adult digestive system can filter that out but infants systems are not strong enough.

I daydream of having my own self sufficient farm and being a keeper of bees.

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For about a month I’ve been dealing with an infection that has made the  lymph nodes in my neck go into overdrive.  I went to the doctor and got everything all checked out. It’s nothing to be worried about thankfully, however, feeling really worn out all the time while my body is battling this infection has really gotten me down. I decided to ‘level up’ my beginner herbalism skills and make my very first decoction.

In Rosemary Gladstar’s book on medicinal herbs, a decoction is made of woody plant parts, roots and bark, twiggy bits, and other hard parts. It takes a slow simmer for about 45minutes to extract the medicinal properties of these herbs.

In my handy-dandy Herbal Remedies Visual Reference Guide by Andrew Chevallier, I looked up some herbs that would help with lymph draining and fighting infections.

So my first medicinal potion I made:

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Astragalus, Cleavers, Echinacea, Dandelion RootJuniper berries, Raw Ginger, Garlic, Raw honey, dash of cayenne.

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I let it simmer for around 45 minutes.  I put a quart of water in and after simmering it made about 2 cups totals.  I added the honey and cayenne pepper after the finished product.  It didn’t taste bad, but it did taste strange. Like a weird mix of coffee and rootbeer.

I’ve also been taking a hot bath with epsom salts and drops of eucalyptus, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils. I sometimes take an epsom salt soak after a particularly hard day of weight training or long hike.  The science behind whether or not epsom salts work the way other natural holistic health websites say they do is pretty iffy.  I take it with a grain of salt (no pun intended) when it comes to what it may or may not do. I just know that it feels really good and dissipates my stress.  Prolonged stress can lead to susceptibility to disease and the body being unable to regulate inflammation.  So for the most part I use Epsom Salt baths as a way to manage stress.

relax

 

So these are just a few things that I do to take care of myself to prevent getting sick or to take care of myself if I do ever get sick. When I lose access to my health care, I like to believe I stand a good chance of surviving.  However, if the access to my Testosterone is cut that will be another story.  It’s a medicine that can’t be stocked becuase it’s a controlled substance. Things are very uncertain at this period of time.

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

Please comment!

What are some of your favorite Folk Medicines or Remedies?

“Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.”  -William Shakespeare

 

Cat Food Can Stove

Hey everyone,

I showed a colleague of mine the blog about my camping stove and he told me about how you could make one with a cat food can!

All you need is a cat food can (or even a tuna can will suffice) and a hole puncher to get started.

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Use the hole punch to get two sets of about 16 holes all around.

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You can use HEET which is available at any gas-station or hardware store.  While the fumes HEET gives off is pretty toxic, it’s inexpensive for when you’re pinching pennies.

According to the website, Adventures In Stoving,

The best choices for fuel for an alcohol stove are:
1.  Lab grade absolute ethanol (200 proof) or high proof liquor (190 proof).  High heat content per gram (relative to methanol), relatively clean burning, and generally non toxic, but check the MSDS on lab grade absolute ethanol which may contain benzene which is toxic.  A good choice for warmer weather.
2.  “Green” denatured alcohol in the US or methylated spirits (ethanol with methanol used as a denaturing agent) outside the US.  Methylated spirits is often called “meths” or “metho”.  Good heat content, relatively clean burning, fairly non-toxic depending on the amount and type of the denaturing agent.  In the US, always check the MSDS.  A good choice for warmer weather.
3.  Methanol, for example yellow HEET.  Decent heat content, very clean burning, but definitely toxic in terms of fumes and skin absorption.  Reasonably safe if used with care.  A good choice for colder weather.
4.  You can use Isopropanol, for example red HEET (Iso-HEET), but it is not really suitable as a stove fuel because it’s generally a sooty mess when it burns.  Highest heat content, but dirty burning, and definitely toxic.

A bottle of Everclear would be ideal.

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I had a nice hot cup of evening tea the other night using this.

It’s really light weight and it heats up water pretty quickly.  The con about it is that you can run out of fuel.

“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

Terry Pratchett