New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another Year of New Year’s Traditions & Resolutions

New Year's is the closest thing to being the world's only truly global public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts.

In waves of celebrations travel across the globe; whether it is the glittering ball in Times Square or a giant cheese wedge in Plymouth, Wisconsin, champagne flutes clink and kisses are exchanged as countless people toast the New Year.

New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome. With most countries using the Gregorian calendar as their main calendar. January 1 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 14 on the Gregorian calendar, and it is on that date that followers of some of the Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the New Year.

So where did all these traditions and resolutions start?

The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible cresent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring) around what is now March 23, although they themselves had no written calendar.

The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops and of blossoming. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.

The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.

The Romans tradition of the New Year's goes all the way back to Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar, via their solar calendar which put it in late March.

As their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors it soon became out of synchronization with the sun. So in order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the new year.

But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, (who developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had) established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It established January 1 as the new year. However, in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.

In the Middle Ages, Christians changed New Year's Day to December 25, the birth of Jesus. Then they changed it to March 25, a holiday called the Annunciation. In the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar, and the celebration of the New Year was returned to January 1.

The Julian and Gregorian calendars are solar calendars. Some cultures have lunar calendars, however. A year in a lunar calendar is less than 365 days because the months are based on the phases of the moon.

The Chinese use a lunar calendar. Their new year begins at the time of the first full moon (over the Far East) after the sun enters Aquarius- sometime between January 19 and February 21.

It is believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year's resolutions and people all over the world have been breaking them ever since. The early Christians believed the first day of the new year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in the new year.

Popular modern resolutions might include the promise to lose weight or quit smoking. The early Babylonian's most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.

Noisemaking and fireworks on New Year's eve is believed to have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.

Legend has it that the Chinese made the first fireworks in the 800s, filling bamboo shoots with gunpowder and exploding them at the New Year with the hope that the sound would scare away evil spirits. According to tradition, Marco Polo brought this technology back to Europe.

It's fair to say, however, that the origins of fireworks are shrouded in smoke; the China story is widespread, and possibly true, but fireworks may in fact have developed in India or the Arab world. Fireworks became known in Europe during the 1300s, probably after returning Crusaders brought them from the East.

Although the date for New Year's Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year.

“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.
Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."

Mark Twain commenting on New Year's Day

In an effort to make this next year better than the last, millions vow to kick bad habits and improve themselves .

Unfortunately, most people make resolutions with the best intention of following through on them. However they usually do not get through March before they either forget the resolutions or put them off for “lack of time”. It's hard to change old habits, most people make resolutions and set goals either to start doing something on a daily basis or to stop doing something as long as they can.

A University of Washington study in 1997 found 47 percent of the 100 million adult Americans who make resolutions give up on their goals after two months. This figure has grown to 80 percent in the past decade, according to recent research completed at the University of Minnesota.

There are quite a few different sources claim to know what the top New Year's resolutions are that people make each year and the United States government is no exception!

According to the U.S. Government these are Popular New Year's Resolutions

  • Lose Weight/Get Fit/Eat Right
  • Manage Debt/Save Money
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get a Better Education
  • Drink Less Alcohol
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce Stress
  • Take a Trip
  • Volunteer to Help Others

If those ‘government‘ resolutions aren't creative enough, or you like to think outside of the box, here are some other ideas for New Year's resolutions that are not included on the U.S. Government's list.

  • Get Prepared – Write a plan, make a kit, stay informed and aware, practice
  • Be responsible for yourself
  • Become as self-reliant as possible
  • Think for yourself
  • Organize your living space or just Get Organized
  • Stop procrastinating and wasting time
  • Relieve the stress in your life
  • Improve your relationships with your family and other people
  • Enjoy Life
  • Spend Time with Family
  • Learn Something New
  • Go Environmentally Conservative
  • Improve Community

Tips for Achieving New Year's Goals

While the statistics are grim, our intentions to make 2012 the best year yet aren't doomed. Experts agree that writing down resolutions, sharing goals with others and tracking your progress; can help you achieve success.

  • No matter which resolution is chosen, following through with achieving it can be a life changing experience for the better. Each year we are given an opportunity to start fresh with a new goal, and new inspiration of attaining it.
  • While some have the best of intentions, and try to make a genuine effort to change whatever needs to be improved in order to enhance their quality of life, others often give up shortly after determining their goals.
  • The percentage of those who actually reach their goals is quite low. Setting goals that are attainable is the best way to achieve success no matter what the resolution is. It is better to take small steps toward a goal than to set too big of a goal and give up altogether. Some change is better than none.
  • Decide on what is attainable and then take actions to achieve it. For example, instead of making a goal to lose 30 pounds, make a goal to lose 5 pounds. Once that is achieved, set another goal of losing 5 more pounds, that way success can be achieved and continued.

LinkRead on for more history on the traditions, celebrations and resolutions of old and new!!!

Prep On ;-}


PS - Here are my resolutions:

Think for myself
Blaze my own path
Treat others as I wish to be treated
Get even more self-reliant
Be even more prepared for the unexpected
Don't settle for 'the lesser of evils' - Don't 'settle' period!

Today is the Tomorrow that you worried about Yesterday

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tis the Season

Ah December, that month between giving thanks for the abundance of the harvest to shore us up through the “twilight” time of the year and the marking of the hope and promise of the new year ahead. Yep traditionally human-kind has had a good portion of our “holidays” between the seasons of fall and spring. This tells me that we were closely monitoring and relying on the cycles of the seasons.

“Thank you Creator for all the opportunities you have provided me with this year. I ask only for patience, tolerance and understanding toward all that You have created and the wisdom to grow and live with it in harmony and peace.”

Throughout history humans have created rituals to emphasize important transitional times in our lives. We mark and record these transitions on a regular basis based on the skies above our heads, to our own human designed calendars and create traditions. There is one common theme to our rituals, festivals and holy days throughout the ages, especially during winter – to be humble as we remind ourselves that humans are but a very miniscule part of the universe around us.

The Holiday Season in the month of December is not just about all the various spiritual observances. No instead we should remember that winter is celebrated all over the world with various celebrations, holidays and festivals that are linked to the solstice, in addition to religions and traditions.

My heritage and grandparents have given me a unique blend of Scotch/Irish Winter Solstice with a Yule log and the Roman Saturnalia, all mixed with “modern” Christianity.

Although neither set of grandparents had a tree in the house, they both decorated an outdoor “tree of green” with gifts from the harvest for our wild friends (seeds in cakes of lard, cranberries, popcorn, etc).

Small gifts of thanks and good will were exchanged between family members and close friends. Midnight mass or “prayer of thanks(depending on the weather) was a ritual common to both sides of the family. Above all was the hope of spring, better times ahead, saving grace and thanks for making it through the current year.

Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.

Frank Borman, Apollo 8 space mission, 1968


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Make Your Own Reusable & Washable ‘Swifter’ Replacements

I don’t know about the rest of you but my city charges us by weight for our trash pickup. I also just hate having to keep using and tossing when I dust or mop, even though I love the convenience of not having to drag out a big mop and bucket or duster. Not only that, but thinking ahead to when I complete my move to the country, where there is NO weekly trash pick-up – well you can see my dilemma. My solution was to make my own ‘Swifter’ replacements that I can reuse and wash, instead of use and toss.

I usually purchase my micro fiber and ‘Sham-Wow’ type cloths at the dollar store. However, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, CVS, Eckerd, Target, K-Mart and Wal-Mart all carry them. I have found that the micro fiber that are for electronics and are anti-static, work the best for durability and dusting.

Micro Fiber ‘Swifter’ Duster


  • Microfiber cloth – at least 2 rectangles of cloth 7 ½ x 4 ½ and 2 rectangles of cloth 8” x 5”
  • Pinking Shears
  • Sewing machine & thread

1. Center a small and large rectangle then - Double stitch the middle of the layers of cloth together down the middle. Then zig-zag stitch over this. Do this for each ‘set’ rectangles.

2. Put at least 2 ‘sets’ of stitched cloth together, with the larger rectangles to the outside - ie: the larger pieces to the top and bottom, smaller pieces to the center.

3. Double stitch the middle of the ‘sets’ of cloth together down the middle. Then zig-zag stitch over this.

4. 1 1/2 inches from the center seam, on both sides of the center seam, sew another double seam. Just to the outside of these two new seams, zig-zag another seam. These may overlap. This will hold the “prongs” of your Swifter Duster.

5. Use pinking shears to cut strips of cloth. Stagger the cuts for each layer of cloth. Be careful NOT to cut your stitching that is for the handle prongs to the duster.

You now have a washable, reusable swifter duster and no longer have to keep purchasing and throwing out the disposable dusters.

For the Floor ‘Swifter’ Duster


  • Microfiber cloth – enough for at least 2 8 ½ x 11 ½ cloths
  • Pinking Shears
  • Sewing machine & thread

1. Use the pinking shears to cut as many 8 ½ x 11 ½ micro fiber cloths as you feel you may need.

2. Optional: Zig-zag stitch ½ inside the entire outer edge to prevent fraying.

These are your floor washable, reusable floor swifter cloths.

For your Wet ‘Swifter’


  • Sham-wow cloth – enough for at least two 8 ½ x 11 ½ cloths
  • Pinking Shears
  • Sewing machine & thread

1. Use the pinking shears to cut as many 8 ½ x 11 ½ ‘Sham-wow’ cloths as you feel you may need.

2. Optional: Zig-zag stitch ½ inside the entire outer edge to prevent fraying.

Use these for your washable, reusable wet swifter floor cloths.

For Floor Mops

Utilize a mop that has a washable, reusable mop head. They are made out of micro fiber or a material very similar to a Sham-wow. The following are the most well known:

  • Libman Microfiber Wonder Mop
  • O Ceder Microfiber Mop
  • Swobbit Aquazorber Mop (Sham-wow type mop)

So spend a little, invest a little 'craft' time and you can reap the money savings for a lifetime.

Prep On ;-}