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  • 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways! (Winners Announced!)

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    It's time for the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways for 2014! Our theme this year is the Christmas song "The 12 Days of Christmas," and features original artwork by our in-house illustrator, Nate!

    Check back every day for the announcement of a new prize and a chance to get extra entries—you can do some of the entry methods (like tweeting and sharing on Pinterest) every day of the contest to increase your chances of winning. You can also refer friends through social links for bonus entries! The contest runs from today until 11:59 p.m. on December 18th. We'll announce all 12 winners on the December 19th.

    Good luck! I hope you win!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... a partridge in a pear tree.

    12 Days of Christmas - A Partridge in a Pear Tree

    Win a case of MRE Pears ($180 value)! Eat them now (they're actually really tasty and a great snack or side dish) or hang on to them as part of your food storage.

    If you're new to preparedness or food storage, you can learn more about MREs right here (scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the grey bar that says "Everything You Need to Know About MREs").

    MRE Diced Pears


    On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... two turtle doves.

    12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day Two - 2 Turtle Doves

    Two large cans of Freeze-Dried Turkey ($119 value)! Freeze-dried meat is a breeze to work with. Just add hot or boiling water to the amount of turkey you need, and in minutes it's ready to eat or use in a recipe. Trust me, you'll love it.

    We have a handful of turkey recipes you can try out—and, of course, you can always substitute turkey into any of our chicken recipes. Have fun exploring the possibilities and testing recipes to see what you and your family love.

    Freeze-dried turkey breast strips


    On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... three French hens.

    day 3 small

    What better way to enjoy three French hens than in Chicken à la King? Yum! (Sorry, hens!)

    If you're the lucky winner of today's prize, you'll get three large cans of Mountain House Chicken à la King ($113 value) shipped right to your door. Bon appétit!

    Chicken a la King entree in a white bowl at a table setting



    On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... four calling birds.

    12 Days of Christmas Giveaways - Day 4 - Four Calling Birds

    Win a four-piece communications pack, which includes a mini radio, a Fox 40 whistle, an emergency signal mirror, and a Charger Emergency Hand Crank Flashlight. ($48 value)

    Mini Emergency RadioEmergency Signal Mirror with lanyard cordThe Charger Handcrank Emergency FlashlightFox 40 Classic Emergency Whistle


    On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Fiiiiiiive Golden Riiiiiiiiiings!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day 5 - Five Golden Rings

    Win an Emergency Cooking Combo with "five golden rings" of fuel starting disks ($57 value). (Combo normally includes three fuel disks.)


    Emergency Cooking Combo


    On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Six Geese a-Laying.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day 6 - Six Geese a-Laying

    Win a 6-piece food storage eggs pack (a $144 value)! You'll get one small can each of egg white powder, whole egg powder, and scrambled egg mix, plus one large can each of Emergency Essentials Scrambled Eggs with Sausage and Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Ham and Red and Green Peppers. And to top it off, you'll get a copy of Peggy Layton's book Cookin' with Dried Eggs so you can become an emergency egg-cooking prodigy.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day 6 - Six-piece cooking with eggs pack

    On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Seven Swans a-Swimming.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Seven - 7 Swans a-Swimming

    Win a 7-piece water storage combo (a $242 value)! You'll get a 55-gallon water barrel, an emergency siphon hose, a barrel buddy bung wrench, a pack of Aquamira water treatment, a Barrel Bag, a 5-gallon water jug, and an Aqua Pod! That gets you started on your stationary (barrel), portable (jug), and temporary water storage (Aqua Pod). Talk about "just add water!"

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Seven - 7-Piece water storage pack


    On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Eight Maids a-Milking.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Eight - 8 Maids a-Milking

    Win eight small cans of our popular Nonfat Dry Milk! You choose: fortified, regular, or any combination of the two. ($52-54 Value!)

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Eight - 8-can pack of dry milk (small cans)

    On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Nine Ladies Dancing!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day  Nine - 9 Ladies Dancing

    Because Christmas dancing can also lead to Christmas injuries, our day 9 prize is a Medics First Aid kit ($111 value)—in case one of those dancing ladies sprains an ankle. This kit has over 175 items inside, including a copy of Wilderness & Travel Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide so you can handle unexpected sickness or injury when you can't get to a hospital.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Nine - Medics First Aid Kit

    On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Ten Lords a-Leaping!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day  en - 10 Lords a-Leaping

    Win a Fire Escape Ladder! Because neither you nor your Ten Lords should have to leap out the window of a burning building.

    Use this instead to climb down from a second story window when other exits are blocked.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Ten - 10 Lords a-Leaping

    On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Eleven Pipers Piping!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day  11 - 11 Pipers Piping

    Win a two-piece communications and music pack featuring a Kaito Voyager Pro radio and Goal Zero Rockout Speakers ($159 value). Stay connected in a crisis, and party like it's 1999 the rest of the year!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Eleven - 11 Pipers Piping

    And the last and final Day!

    On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Twelve Drummers Drumming!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day  12 - 12 Drummers Drumming

    Win our best prize of all! A 320-gallon Water Reserve combo! Instead of musical drums, we thought you might enjoy some huge water "drums" to store your family's water supply! The combo includes two 160-gallon water reserves (barrels, drums, tanks... whatever you call them, they're huge—and hugely awesome), 6 Aquamira water treatment packs, and a 50-foot  high-pressure drinking water hose.



    Learn more about the water reserve in this video:

    And be sure to do your daily entries! The giveaway closes tonight (12/18/14) at 11:59 p.m.—we'll announce the winners tomorrow, so check back near the end of the day to see if you won!

  • Predators on Primetime: Shark Week!

    Predators on Primetime: Shark Week

    It’s Shark Week! Also known in my house as “The Week Mom Won’t Go Near the Ocean or a Pool and Becomes Leery of Bathtubs.”

    I hate sharks. I hate them with a phobic intensity that makes me shudder when I walk by the trout aquarium at Cabela’s. I didn’t see Jaws until I was an adult, and even then I spent most of the movie looking down into my lap until the scary music stopped. So you can imagine how much I love headlines like this one:

    “Shark photo prompts closure of access to ocean off San Clemente.”

    While fishermen regularly report shark sightings (the predators are attracted by large amounts of fish), the photographic evidence spurred officials to action in this case. Though the beach was completely off limits for a couple of hours after the incident, caution signs remained posted—signs, one official noted, that did little to divert beachgoers.

    It’s true that shark attacks are relatively rare (check out this hilarious but accurate comparison chart of shark attacks to other potential catastrophes from the Florida Museum of Natural History). However, they’re a real enough threat that the governments of Cape Town, South Africa; Western Australia; and Hawaii all publish their own shark safety pages.

    Whether Shark Week has you glued to the TV or locked in your second-story bedroom, if you’re planning on spending any time in the ocean, it’s smart to know your “enemy.” National Geographic has a thorough article on “Shark Attack Tips,” that includes strategies for avoidance, what to do in case of an attack, and tips for helping a victim.

    It also de-bunks some shark myths (for example, if you see a group of dolphins it doesn’t mean there are no sharks in the area. Dolphins and sharks not only eat the same types of food, but some sharks even eat dolphins!), and helps us understand things from the big fish’s perspective (sharks see contrast well and interpret thrashing around as injured and easy prey).

    Of course, the best course of action is always to stay aware, stay educated, and stay within the boundaries set by those responsible for your safety (like local authorities and lifeguards). But it never hurts to practice a hard punch to the gills once in a while.


    Any shark stories out there? Come on, scare me!


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: shark week, shark, Survival

  • The Bouquet You Can Eat: Foraging for Flowers

    The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    Have you ever seen a package of flowers in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and wondered why on earth they were mixed in with the food?

    Well, aside from making a meal look more aesthetically appealing, flowers can be yet another way to gather food from your garden. Or for those with an adventurous streak, flowers can be a special prize while foraging for wild food, either for fun or as a necessity during an emergency.

    In this article, we’ll give you some basic tips on foraging for edible flowers. To learn more about foraging in general, visit the Insight article Survival 101: Foraging for Edible Plants.


    6 Dos and Don’ts of Flower Foraging

    Before your first flower foraging expedition, you should obtain reliable resources to be your guide and provide accurate images of edible flowers in your area. Try Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants or a regional field guide specific to your area.

    Having a field guide can go a long way in helping you know which flowers are safe to eat, and which you should leave alone.

    Along with doing your own research, here are some specific dos and don’ts when it comes to foraging and eating the pretty companions to wild greenery:

    1.Do: Only eat flowers you are100% certain are edible; it’s not worth the risk

    2. Do: Perform the Universal Edibility Test if you’re not sure a flower is edible. This test requires you to separate the parts of a plant, test it on your skin, cook if possible, and hold it on your tongue, waiting for adverse reactions. Always look for plants growing in abundance. If a plant is growing in large abundance, it's more likely to not be poisonous.

    3.Do: Avoid flowers that may have been treated with pesticides, or that grow on the side of the road, come from nurseries (unless guaranteed organic) or are near any other contaminated areas.

    4.Do: Watch out for bees, hives, and other animals

    5.Don’t: Eat the flowers before removing the pistils and stamens (the middle portion of the flower, along with any parts sticking out of the center, as pictured below). These are the central ovule and pollen producing parts of the flower that can make the taste bitter or undesirable.

    The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    The Stamen and Pistils of a flower


    It’s ok to eat the stems, petals, and leaves of most flowers, but consult a guidebook for how to properly cook and eat each part of the flower.

    6.Don’t: Eat flowers if you have severe allergies.


    6 Edible Flowers you should know when foraging

    Here are some common edible flowers to memorize if you’re ever in an emergency that requires you to eat edible plants:

    1) Dandelions: This one is obvious, but begs to be included because the yellow flowers are easily recognizable. Most people have them in abundance, and treat them like pests when they creep up on the lawn, but the leaves, roots and flowers are edible, and you can use the unopened buds to make Appalachian Style Fried Dandelions, on

    The Bouquet you can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    2) Japanese Honeysuckle: Honeysuckles in general can be tricky, since there are many species of honeysuckle, and some are poisonous. Some have edible and poisonous parts on the same plant, so in this case it is very important to know your stuff. The Japanese Honeysuckle stores a sweet nectar in its base that can be accessed after proper identification of the distinct white and yellow flowers. For a tutorial on extracting the nectar, follow this link:


    The Bouquet you can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    3) Fireweed: This plant also has many edible parts, but the flowers, stems, and leaves are best in the spring when they are fresh. They can be found in woods, along hills, and beside fresh water or oceans in cold climates. An interesting fact about fireweed is that it grows in areas that have been burned. The seeds are not destroyed in the fire, but can germinate after the fact.


    The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers


    4) Garlic grass: The alliums have many great, wild varieties, and most carry that lovely garlic smell. For garlic grass specifically the thin stems give way to light, purplish blossoms, resembling the bloom of a chive flower in shape. Much like the grocery store variety, they can be used on many savory items you wish to spice up, such as a salad or meat dish. They are a great wild replacement for chives or scallions.

    5) Red Clover: round, purple, tube-like flower petals can be eaten raw or steeped for tea. Pull the petals off and sprinkle them over a salad, or try this Mixed Berry Pie recipe and serve with a sprinkling of clover to top it off.

     The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers


    6) Trillium: The Trillium is a single-flowered branch plant that has three white petals that turn pink as the plant ages. You can find Trillium around stream banks or also on the forest floor in open or deep woods.

     The Bouquet you can Eat: Foraging for Flowers

    If you want to cultivate your own edible flowers in your garden there are many choices you could plant to explore the culinary possibilities. These options include, but are not limited to

    • Squash and zucchini flowers
    • Pansies
    • Lavender
    • The flowers of many herbs, such as chives
    • Flowering thyme and basil
    • Violets
    • Roses
    • Water Lillies


    Each flower has its own benefits and rules for planting and harvesting, so be sure to be as careful and knowledgeable in your own garden as you would be in the wild.


    Happy hunting!

    - Lesley








    The Sense of Survival by Alan J. South

    Posted In: Insight, Skills, Uncategorized

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