Annual Handwashing Flats Challenge (Diapers!)

(originally posted on Blogger on May 22, 2013)

I’ve been handwashing diapers all week, with the diaper challenge here.

No washer, no dryer, only flat diapers allowed.I’ve learned a bit, like flannel diapers are great for longer periods of time (shopping days, nap & nights) but take a lot longer to dry than the flats I normally use.  My everyday flats are from Target, their Room Essentials flour sack dish towels.Do NOT get the Gerber flats from the diaper aisle.  They are less than half as big and thinner than even dish drying towels.  They are ok for newborns, but my dd outgrew them within 3 weeks of her birth.  I only use them now to add a bit of extra absorbency when we need it, as a ‘booster’.

Its been raining all week, so that has been challenging in terms of drying.  I had planned to line dry all week, but Monday and Tuesday that was a no.  I’ve learned that if drying indoors, it’s best to put a small fan in the room for airflow.  It helps the diapers dry faster.  If hung on the line, they’re dry in hours (when I lived in Arizona, in the heat of the summer the first ones would be dry by the time I got the last ones hung.  How’s that for fast?)

I use a “breather” hand washer, which is just a plunger looking thing.

I bought if from Lehman’s last year, and I love it for doing my handwashing.  I’m getting a blister on one hand, but it will callous soon.

What I’ve been using for supplies — Target flat flour sack dish towels, some flannel recieiving blankets that we no longer use, strips of fleece about 10×6 as liners (to make the poo easy to get off the diapers.  With a low-flow toilet, it’s harder to dunk the diapers than it used to be), diaper covers that I made from Babyville Boutiques patterns, diaper pins, and yesterday I just went to Ikea and bought 3 packages of burp cloths to use as diapers.  They are slightly smaller than the Target dishtowels, but more soft and, I think, more absorbent.

I use my diaper pail to soak and wash them in, with Dreft detergent and baking soda to keep the smell down during the day.

I currently have diapers hanging on the line, trying to take advantage of the wind before it rains again.

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Medical Prepping Month 2: Pain

Buy a Book:  

general family medical books


**American Medical Association Family Medical Guide  — an excellent book, and one I feel every household should have.  I found my copy at Goodwill, marked at $1.50 and in the half price bin, for a total of 75c.  This is the best dollar I think I’ve ever spent.  Do make the effort to find this book.  My copy was written in 1982, but the current edition is 4th edition.  An older one is fine — mine is wonderful, though I very well may pick up a used, newer copy for my 16 yo to have for her own.

The Prepared Family Guide to Uncommon Diseases

Again, get what you can from the library first.

After this month, we will get a bit more specific.


cloves (make a tea/decoction to relax muscles and relieve pain, as indicated in Be Your Own “Doctor”)
lavender essential oil
peppermint essential oil
bottles and droppers for tinctures
ashwaghanda (immune booster)
To Buy: 
acetaminophen (Tylenol)
ibuprofen (Motrin)
naproxen sodium (Aleve)
Percogesic — original formulation — if you are lucky enough to find it
Alcohol for tincture making (Everclear, rum, brandy, not rubbing alcohol)
Take a First Aid course or CPR course if you aren’t certified
Learn the Heimlich maneuver (useful for choking and drowning)
For the Fish —  (we mustn’t forget to keep our beloved tropical fish healthy)
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Blessed Assurance Weeks 2 & 3

Back!  That went a much longer time between Blessed Assurance posts than I had planned!

In my defense — I am homeschooling a high school student and also have a toddler, and we are trying to find and buy a house.We’ve actually done quite a bit more than 2 weeks of BA, but I haven’t been here writing about it.  We get through about 1 week of BA every 2-3 weeks of real time, since we’re using it as a fun add-on and not as our sole curriculum.

Now to the good stuff — Blessed Assurance Chapter 2

Discussion questions:
# 8 we added information from Be Your Own “Doctor” by Rachel Weaver, p 140-142.

We also read the corresponding pages from Where There Is No Doctor (Hesperian foundation) and The Doom and Bloom Guide to Survival Medicine.

#10  First Aid for Drowning, this is actually the Heimlich maneuver on an unconscious patient.  Dr. Heimlich has advocated for this use of the maneuver for years, but it has never been officially adopted that I know of.

#11  Again, added info from Be Your Own Doctor, pages 102 and 107.

Chapter 3

#5 Practice Proper Stalking — do an internet search for foxwalking and wide angle vision.  Some links (that may outdate)

#7 Uses of cattail:  We supplemented this info with that from Forager’s Harvest.

When we did these chapters, it was still quite cold out — plenty of snow on the ground — so it was book learning for the most part.

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How Medical Prepping Month 1 played out in my home

I have $80/month to prep medical supplies with.  A bit less than $20 per week, and sometimes it’s less.  We’re saving right now to buy a house, so I do what I can.

Since I already have a good supply of things on hand, Month 1 (wound care) didn’t require a lot from me.
Here’s how it played out –Month 1:  WoundsBooks:  I own Where There Is No Doctor and and Wilderness Medicine, and I think I have the Special Operations Medical Guide packed up in a box somewhere, so instead I ordered a book that’s on my list for a much later month (The Male Herbal)[this post was originally written last month, for my other blog.  When I changed hosts, I also changed the book sequence by putting Where There Is No Doctor and Be Your Own “Doctor” as recommended to buy before even beginning other preps.  I just bought Village Medical Manual, starting the beginning of Month 2. ]

I have a good supply of bandaids and other first aid products, so didn’t add there.

People’s Paste ingredients were ordered and the powder made up.  I found that powdering in my food processor didn’t work well, so off to the internet I went.  There I found an idea for using a flour (grain) mill.  Since I have one, I put the ingredients through it and sifted out those that didn’t powder.  I did this a few times, and it worked well.  I’ve since used the technique with other herbs to powder them.

I scheduled a well baby visit for the toddler and will schedule a dentist appointment for me today.  We are new to the area so we haven’t established either dentists or doctors yet.  If I like these two, I will schedule for the rest of the family.
I bought the gel capsules from my co-op (Azure Standard) and ordered the capsule machine from Mountain Rose Herbs along with the people’s paste ingredients.  I *love* this thing!  A few things — make sure you use the tamper to really tamp down those herbs in the capsules.
And when you put the top bit on and press down to combine the top & bottom of the capsules, don’t force it.  It should slide fairly easily.  If you’re having to apply a lot of force to the capsules to connect, shift the top a bit — don’t really jiggle, just shift it a bit while still applying some pressure — to get those capsules positioned right.  If you force it, some of those capsules won’t join and will just crush.  A sad end to your hard work.

I have a good amount of first aid supplies, so didn’t buy any there.  Same as Vet Wrap.  I bought a package of menstrual pads at Aldi’s.  We use cloth, so I don’t generally keep disposables on hand.

I bought 3 4″  Israeli combat dressing from Amazon, and as soon as dd is back from Grandma’s we will open it and play around with it as a family.  Two will go in the cars, one will stay in the house.

For the Fish — (we mustn’t forget to keep our beloved tropical fish healthy)  I shop at

Cephalexin  Look here for info

Got it, and put it in my “root cellar” — my under-the-stairs-closet that is semi-cool.

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Month One:  Focus on Wound Care

Buy a Book: 

Survival medicine book.

At the beginning of the month, check out from your library or reserve through interlibrary loan:

Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook (beginner)

**101 Ways to Save on Health Care (Beginner)  If you have none of these books, this is my top choice, not because it’s more comprehensive than Doom and Bloom but because so much of it applies to NOW, rather than an emergency situation.  About half the book concerns self-care — or what to do *before* going to the doctor, and at what point you should if your home care hasn’t worked.  It’s written by a primary care doctor, so you know the information is sound.  And for $10, it’s a great price.  My library system carries it.

When There Is No Doctor (Beginner — not to be confused with WHERE There Is No Doctor)

Improvised Medicine (intermediate)  This is a fabulous book, and one I think every person who is preparing for an austere medical situation should have.  There is information suitable for the beginner to advanced practitioner.  However, if you are a beginner, I wouldn’t buy this on the first go through.  It is expensive compared to the other books ($45), and only about 15-20% would be applicable to someone with no or little medical training.  Because of this, I would buy 101 Ways or Doom and Bloom as my first choice, and this one later.

Village Medical Manual (2 volume set)  This is written to the educated lay person who has little medical training.  Thorough and comprehensive, buy it from here   I hesitate to label this beginner or intermediate.  It is written for the lay person, but it assumes a well-educated lay person.  If you struggled with high school, then this may not be the book for you.

From the website:

  With Village Medical Manual, Dr. Vanderkooi has targeted a frequently neglected category of medical caregivers: people who are well-educated in disciplines other than medicine living in rural areas of developing countries. These reluctant healers are frustrated by the unfamiliar jargon of books written for physicians and the lack of depth of health guides written for indigenous people. Through thorough research, extensive experience, common sense, logical arguments of contents, well-defined procedural plans and the use of everyday words, Dr. Vanderkooi has hit her mark very well.”
Neva Abbott, M.D., M.P.H.
Former Director of International Health
Wycliffe Bible Translators

Special Operations Medical Manual (intermediate/advanced)  Great book, but definitely not for a beginner.  You need medical training for this to be useful.

Another one to research is Armageddon Medicine (approx $80 from but I don’t see it on WorldCat (Beginner)  It is written by the same doctor who wrote 101 Ways.

After reviewing the books, decide which would be most useful to you and purchase.  Check prices through Amazon, Alabris, ABEbooks,  BetterWorldBooks, and Barnes and Noble.

After reviewing what you can, purchase the one that most applies to you and your current knowledge



herbs to make an antiseptic/closing wound powder (People’s Paste from Be Your Own “Doctor” recommended in Month 2)

comfrey root
slippery elm
bayberry root

cayenne  or turmeric (read about cayenne here and turmeric here)
astragalus (immune support)

Buy in powdered form, or buy whole herb and powder at home (it lasts longer, but you will need a grain mill to grind it easily).
To do: 

schedule doctor and dental checkups for each member

Make People’s Paste (recipe modified from Be Your Own “Doctor”, recommended in Month 2 — this is not the recipe generally found online)

1 part comfrey root powder
1 part slippery elm powder
1 part myrrh powder
1/2 part bayberry root powder
1/4 part juniper powder  (all parts of the plant are antiseptic.  Use the berries or needles)

Per Herbal Antibiotics (Buhner, 2012), garlic is not an effective antibiotic in clinical practice, but juniper is.  Because of this, I’ve replaced the garlic in the original recipe with juniper.


Non-mercury thermometer

optional: empty 0 or 00 gel capsules, and capsule machine.  Available from MountainRoseHerbs if you can’t find it elsewhere.  Easily make your own herbal capsules with this.

Basic (everyone should have these).  Bandaids, gauze, medical tape, telfa (non-stick) pads, dressings, Coban.

Coban is a stretchy “tape” that won’t stick to skin but does to itself.  It can be expensive to buy for humans, but Vet Wrap is easily available and inexpensive from farm supply stores.  And it comes in pretty colors 😀  It is especially useful for securing dressings to areas that tape doesn’t like to hold, like arms, elbows, etc.  Be careful not to stretch it so tight that circulation is cut off (easy to do).

Ace bandages.  Also good for securing dressings to difficult areas, like road rash on the arms when a child falls off a bike.  For homemade version, see here

Menstrual pads for large wounds (try to get unscented); Sam’s Club sells urinary incontinence pads in bulk and I’ve wondered if they would be as good.  Or a stock of lint-free, white cotton fabric/towels, such as flour sack dish towels.  I currently use these for diapers — they wash and dry easily, are very absorbent when folded, and can withstand boiling to disinfect if need be.  You could also watch for plain white muslin to go on sale at the fabric store and pick up a good amount.  Normal price is about $2/yard where I am; with a 40% or 50% off coupon, it’s an excellent deal.

Steri-strips or butterfly closures (or use a thin strip of duct tape.  Snip an area in the middle, not all the way through, to fold over to make a thinner area mid-strip so the adhesive isn’t on the wound.  Apply like butterfly strips)

Sutures, surgical staples

Wound cleansing supplies — antibacterial soap, hibiclens, clean water

Israeli combat dressing, QuikClot

For the Fish — (we mustn’t forget to keep our beloved tropical fish healthy)  I shop at

Cephalexin  Look here for info

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Medical Prepping in 12 Months

(Please excuse the periods between paragraphs.  For some reason, it is posting without spaces between paragraphs)

There are plenty of lists for prepping for food storage, but I’ve found few for medical prepping.


I’m not going to go too much into WHY to prep — reasons are as varied as I-Don’t-Trust-the-Medical-Establishment to Aliens-Are-Taking-Over-the-World to economic collapse, civil war, pandemic, natural disasters, job loss, or any SHTF (stuff hits the fan) scenario of your choice.   I’m an RN (disclaimer: nothing here should be construed as medical advice) and I’m making this plan for my family, so it is suitable for intermediate/advanced practitioners.  I’m also taking into consideration that my husband and teen daughter don’t have any formal medical training, and I want to make our preps useful for them, too.  I include both western medical model and herbal medicine in my preps, so my plan reflects that.
The idea for the basic plan came from Medical Prepping in 13 Weeks at  (first post here)  I highly recommend you read that series, as well, since it has a slightly different focus than mine and the more knowledge you have, the better for everyone. Decide on a monthly budget for medical prepping, look over the recommendations for that month, prioritize according to your personal family situation, and buy until your money is done for the month.
 If you can’t buy everything, don’t worry about it.  Most of us can’t on the first run through.  Just get what you can, and next month move onto Month 2.  Don’t hang out in Month 1 for 3 months until you’ve gotten everything.  It’s better to be able to treat a variety of issues than be fully stocked on wound care but not have a single pain killer.
I am not an expert.
Before we begin, there are two books that I already have that I highly recommend everyone get.  I am beginning the months assuming that you already have them, and so won’t include them in my monthly lists.  These books are Where There Is No Doctor by the Hesperian Foundation (they are coming out with a new version, just so you’re aware) and Be Your Own “Doctor” by Rachel Weaver.
Be Your Own “Doctor” is a book of herbal remedies told anecdotally.  It also includes first aid and when to go to the doctor.  I use it frequently
One more note:  when I designate a book Beginner, that means it is suitable for a beginner’s level of understanding, not that it is beneath someone with more knowledge.   Use Amazon’s lovely “Look Inside” feature, check out books from the library, etc, to decide what is most appropriate for your current level of understanding.
At the beginning of each month, I will post a list of suggested books, herbs, otc remedies, and supplies to procure.  Also included will be antibiotics that all of us tropical fish lovers may want to have on hand, and education or things to do.
Here’s the plan:
Month 1: Focus on Wound Care
Month 2: Focus on Pain
Month 3: Focus on Infection
Month 4: Focus on Nervines, Muscles, & Eyecare
Month 5: Focus on Colds & Flu
Month 6:  Focus on Dental
Month 7:  Focus on Bones
Month 8: Focus on Respiratory and Allergy
Month 9: Focus on GI
Month 10: Focus on Reproductive Health and Perishables
Month 11: Focus on Nutrition, Radiation, and Urinary Issues
Month 12:  Focus on Mental Health and “Stock for a Doc”
We begin on Monday.
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Blessed Assurance

I’ve had this curriculum called Blessed Assurance for several years, and about 4 years ago tried to make a go of it.

At the time, it didn’t work well for us, but 16 yo dd (Starlit) has requested to have more primitive skills & nature study in our daily lives, so I’ve pulled it out again.

Going through it, it is quite Christian.  That is easy enough to ignore or skip over, because most of the other information is excellent.

However, there are some problems with the curriculum.  As we work through it, I will post here what books we are using with it and where I feel the information provided is either wrong or could be improved upon.

Blessed Assurance is a personal preparedness curriculum incorporating an intensive living-with-nature study.  It is available at  It is *not* an independent homeschool curriculum in that you can hand it to your kids and they complete it themselves.  It is meant to be done as a family.

So, first up:  Week 1

We’ve added Be Your Own “Doctor” by Rachel Weaver for our herbal and first aid studies.  I’m an RN in my alternate life, and I like this book.

Projects & Activities #7)  I would add that soaking (cooling) a burn may take much longer than 2-5 minutes, depending on the severity of the burn.  Cool aloe (keep some in the fridge) works well to help with cooling and pain.  P 279+ in Be Your Own “Doctor” discusses burn care, as does the chapter on comfrey earlier in the book.  Raw honey works well as a burn salve — wait until the burn has completely cooled before applying it.

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