Category Archives: Book Reviews

National Preparedness Month

Did you know September is National Preparedness Month? Now, you may know that I am denial about my Prepper tendencies. In fact, I’ve been known to poke fun at the bunker building types in the past. Today I’m going to confess a few things you may have already guessed if you’ve read my blog for any length of time.

I’ve watched 8 seasons of the Walking Dead and was thoroughly disappointed with season 8. Michone hardly had any action at all although Carol is still there battling both the dead and undead!

My favorite Game of Thrones character is Arya, because she’s a survivor. Her direwolf Nymeria is also AMAZING leading her own pack now that winter has come.

My favorite historical figure in Mexican history is Malinche. Although slandered with slurs of traitor and whore, the fact is she rose above her position as a slave and used her intelligence to survive the turbulent conquest years.

And I’ve written a Prepper book about Mexico (which is free for the next few days in honor of my coming out as a Prepper).

Just to feed my hysterical Prepper side a little bit more, I’ve been watching the award-winning 2014 series Years of Living Dangerously. Each episode is sort of the Hollywood version of the dangers of climate change (which existence the current U.S. president denies emphatically). Harrison Ford, Jessica Alba, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera, Michael Hall, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Munn, Thomas Friedman, Ian Somerhalder, Lesley Stahl, Chris Hayes, M. Sanjayan and Mark Bittman are the commentators in the first season 9-episode documentary which was awarded an Emmy for outstanding nonfiction series–take that alternative fact Mr. President. World-renown journalists, not from Fox news, share the events, scientific causes and human toll of drought, hurricanes, global warming, deforestation and more. Let me tell you, each episode moves me just a little further on down the lane towards my secret Prepper alter-ego and bunker building inclinations.

It’s shameful to be an American these days. Not only do I adamantly oppose government-sponsored child abductions, but the fact that the United States is a knowing contributor towards global climate change and has gone so far as to repeal the several key environmental protection laws and encourage more fossil fuel exploitation makes me glad that I am living in exile.

Of course, I am well aware that what happens in the U.S. and other nations will ultimately affect my life and my child’s life and my grandchildren’s lives (when and if they make an appearance). My hope is that I will have Prepared enough and Prepared my son enough so that at least this branch of the Flores family won’t become extinct. To that end, I still have my eye on the lot next door. We need a larger garden if we expect to make it through the apocalypse and beyond.

So Happy Preparedness Month everyone! Although it might be more in line with the event to caution–Be Prepared! I encourage you to check out Years of Living Dangerously if you haven’t already and download my free book if Mexico is starting to seem like a better alternative to where you currently live.

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Review of Beat Self-Sabotage: How to overcome the emotions that are holding you back by J. Byrne

Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle 2018Today I’d like to feature yet another gem I discovered in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!

Self Sabotage 2

Are you letting emotional baggage keep you from becoming the person you want to be? Consider taking a look at J. Byrne’s workbook Beat Self-Sabotage: How to overcome the emotions that are holding you back.

Each page focuses on one emotion or behavior that might be holding you back and includes information on the psychology about that emotion or behavior, an inspirational quote, a link to a short video, recommended readings, a link to online support resources, and blank areas to record your reflections as you work through the book.

Emphasis is given to procrastination, self-doubt, overcoming being overwhelmed or indecisive, stress, depression, anxiety, anger, vengefulness, and tips to finding a more peaceful existence.

Lately, a number of personal and business ventures have fallen from the sky and I’ve been naturally feeling a bit overwhelmed. Therefore, I thought it would be best for me to begin this workbook with the Overwhelm or Indecisive unit.

First was a reference from an article entitled “Overwhelmed much?” published by Psychology Today which highlights 9 reasons most of us are more overwhelmed than we should be.

A nice quote from Paulo Coelho is the next resource for the topic.

paulo.jpgThen there is this short video made by John Tayles discussing Cures for Indecisiveness.

For further reading try Eat the Elephant, Overcoming Overwhelm by Karolyn Blume where the author shares time-tested tools for eliminating overwhelm and perfectionism. eat elephant

If a book seems too overwhelming, there’s a blog resource which breaks it down into bite-size bits. Here’s the link for Steve Andreas’s NLP Blog and the post Overcoming Overwhelm.

As if these resources weren’t enough, there’s also a link to Stop feeling overwhelmed and get things done printable planner available at Etsy.

Life over Laundry comp & phone.jpegAs wonderful as this personal development workbook is, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. J. Byrne also hosts a micro-mentoring course to help you define what you want from life and carve out the time to create it.

See why I’m enjoying the latest Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle? Make sure to get yours before it’s too late!

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Book Review– Creating Your Off-Grid Homestead: Radical Inspiration and Practical Advice by Terri Page

This is just one of the amazing reads found in this year’s Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!  Here’s what I thought about Terri Page’s book, Creating Your Off-Grid Homestead: Radical Inspiration and Practical Advice.

Creating Your Off-Grid Homestead by Teri Page of Homestead-Honey.com

If you’ve read my book La Yacata Revolution, you may already know that being off-grid homesteaders was not our plan. Things just worked out that way and I can’t say that we’ve had many regrets because of it.

Mostly we didn’t want to be off-grid homesteaders because of our preconceived notions of the hardships, cost, and feasibility. Reading articles, watching DIY videos, and researching options made it seem incredibly overwhelming.

That’s why I loved Terri Page’s off-grid homesteading story. She made homesteading seem accessible to everyone without mincing words about the hard parts. As you’ll see, some of her story mirrors ours!

She and her husband built a tiny house in Missouri. (My husband built ours and Mexico has a far better climate). They use rainwater for most drinking, cooking and personal hygiene needs but also have access to a pond. (Water is our biggest challenge living in La Yacata.) They cook using a combination of woodstove, propane burners and solar cookers. (We cook in a very similar manner.) and have no refrigerator (just like us). They do have a root cellar to keep food longer and in in Missouri this is a great option. No so much for Mexico. After living without any electricity for a year and a half, they set up a solar electricity system for their house. (We lived 11 years without any electricity and have recently installed a small solar system ourselves.) Laundry is sometimes hand scrubbed and wrung out, sometimes is done at a laundromat 12 miles away. I can’t imagine scrubbing in the midst of a Missouri winter, so that’s understandable. (We have hand washed for years and not so long ago purchased our first washer in Mexico.) And they have animals! Terri and her family raise chickens, ducks, bees, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs. (You can read about our animal homesteading efforts in Wascally Wabbits and Zombie Babies. We’ve never kept bees.)

In addition to creating this off-grid lifestyle, which sometimes meant living in tents and hauling buckets of poo, they are raising two children, (We only have one.), running an Etsy shop, teaching homesteading ecourses (I teach English) and blogs at Homestead Honey. (Obviously, I blog too!)

At the end of each section, Terri has a list of questions for you to think about when considering off-grid living. To give you a better idea what I mean, here are the questions after the electricity chapter:

  • Is solar electricity the best option for your homestead?
  • Have you considered other alternative energy sources such as wind power or micro-hydro?
  • Do you have adequate southern exposure for solar electricity?
  • Do you plan to be grid-tied or completely off-grid?
  • What is your budget?
  • Can you purchase a small system now and add to it later?
  • Are rebates or credits available in your area to help you with the initial investment?
  • Who will do the installation?

Of course, each off-grid life will be as unique as the individuals creating it, so there’s not a lot of explicit how-to sections in this book. Rather, Terri highlights the things that have worked for them and talks about the things that didn’t work out so well so that you can learn from her family’s efforts, much like I try to do.

So, if you are at all considering an off-grid homestead, you ought to check out Homestead Honey and see what useful tips you can learn as you make the transition.

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Book Review–The Mexico Diaries by Daniel Theodore Gair

A few months ago I was privileged enough to be a Beta reader for The Mexico Diaries: A Sustainable Adventure South of the Border. What a read!

The adventure for empty-nesters Dan and his wife Holly begins in 2005 when they began their search for that little bit of heaven everyone hopes to find in Mexico. Making a real estate purchase on the strength of a handshake and a scrap of paper from a less than emotionally stable guy named Steven, Dan and Holly struggle with completing the purchase long-distance, wading through the quagmire of ejido land grants, and the agonizing slow legal process Mexico is famous for.

These aren’t the only challenges. There are language and communication issues, both locally and further afield. The internet being what it is in Mexico has Dan climbing trees looking for a strong enough signal to complete important financial transactions. Then there is the constant battle with the local wildlife, snakes, iguanas, lizards, and tarantulas, that just don’t agree with the new rule that their place is OUTSIDE the house. Repairs and new construction projects are stubbornly done the Mexican way, much to the new owners’ bafflement while baby goats dance merrily on the top of vehicles.

Four years, a heart attack that nearly ends the deal for the would-be eco-warriors (spoiler alert–neither Dan nor Holly had the heart attack), and a few headaches later, 40 hectares of Mexican paradise is theirs and the real work begins. A whole slew of unimaginable characters, both human and animal, make their entrance (and sometimes spectacular exits) into Dan and Holly’s lives as they endeavor to create the self-sustainable lifestyle they envisioned.

Over the next few years, Holly becomes a goat-wrangler and Dan becomes the mascot for the yearly Mayto Calbalgata horseback pilgrimages. There’s no doubt in my mind that when the time finally comes for their Mexican adventure to end they’ll be able to say that they took to heart Hunter S. Thompson’s concept of life.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and lou.jpg

So if you are looking for a whirlwind Mexican journey to sustainability and beyond I’m positive you’ll enjoy the stranger than fiction story found in The Mexico Diaries: A Sustainable Adventure by Daniel Theodore Gair. Available free for a limited time at Amazon!

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