Picking Muscadine Grapes

It’s August and I have the canning bug. I’ve wanted to can for a long time but considering my old kitchen had a useable counter space of about 30 inches (yep, 30 inches) I literally had no where TO can. Well, those days are gone and I now have a beautiful, spacious kitchen. Yes, we remodeled it and it is 80% complete!

Back to canning.

We’re not gardening at the moment so I went on a hunt to find local, cheap, in-season produce to can. My search lead me to a u-pick grape orchard with 17 varieties of muscadine grapes that were ready to harvest. I dragged the family out (even my muscadine-hating hubby) and we made a great morning of it (before it got too hot).

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These grapes are organic and grown with zero pesticides.

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My girls had a great time.

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How do people DO this? I can’t even grow a tomato.

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My daughter thought this looked like a marble.

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The owner was once a game warden in South Africa.

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And it’s pretty obvious.

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We spotted chickens at the farm. We miss our girls a lot. They were eaten by a bear many months ago.

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We picked about 18 lbs. and at $2 a pound it wasn’t exactly cheap endeavor. But, I plan to make jelly with them and give them as Christmas presents.

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Stay tuned for a canning video with these puppies.

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My 2013 Reading List

I’m always fascinated by other people’s reading lists, and hopefully you won’t find mine too boring.

That said, this post should be titled “My 2013 Reading List That I Won’t Read.”  I love the idea of reading but I hardly do it enough. Pretty sad, right?

Anyway, here is my list of books that I’m determined to read this year:

The Modern Survival Manual By Fernando Aguirre

I’m excited to read this book. It’s written by a man who survived the collapse of his country, Argentina, and he has a great YouTube channel called The Modern Survivalist that I love watching. I appreciate his practical advice and most of all, his experience.

Surviving Off Off-Grid By Micheal Bunker

I heard this book is not the “how” of living off-grid, but the “why you need to” live off-grid. Micheal Bunker is an interesting fellow and this book received a lot of great reviews.

Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

As I’ve said before, Joel Salatin is da man and I’ve been meaning to read his books for some time. I love his mission and his perspective. I hope to visit his farm sometime soon.

How to Feel Better and Live Longer by Linus Pauling

Do you want to live longer and feel better? That’s what I thought. I don’t know if this book recommends a plant-based diet, or an extensive vitamin regime, but I’m about to find out.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Trip

I was looking for a solid, Christian parenting book and came across this one. If you have any recommendations, let me know, I’d love to read more in this category.

Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider

My heart flutters when think about simplicity and organization. This book got a ton of rave reviews and Tsh Oxenreider is a cool lady.

Create: Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuff by Stephen Altrogge

This is a short book on how to harness your creativity. Yes, I’m talking to you. 😉 I’m excited to read it because it is biblical-based as opposed to some new age, pie-in-the-sky type of read.

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacey McDonald

What can I say? I’m a passionate housewife desperate for God so I thought I’d check out this book.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I don’t know a lot about this book besides that it’s a classic and the title intrigues me. Nothing wrong with a heavier read every now and then.

1984 by George Orwell

Written in the 40’s, this book seems to have eerily prophesied the culture you and I are living in today. It’s the last book on this list but the first one I’ll be reading.

So, that’s my list. Will you be doing any reading this year? Have any book recommendations? Share in the comments below and thank you for visiting The Wannabe Homesteader.

This post was featured at the Homestead Barn Hop!

What to Do When Your Garden Isn’t Producing (Or You Don’t Have One)

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Are you still learning how to garden and can’t quite grow enough veggies to feed your family yet? Would you like to start eating organic, local food but don’t know where to find it?

Well, I have good news for you.

I know of a place where you can find farmer’s markets, CSA’s, butchers, and more all local to you.

It’s a website called LocalHarvest.org and if you haven’t heard of it, you are missing out on some delicious grub.

Using the site is easy. You can query the results by a specific business or product you are looking for, or by your location.

I typed in my city and BAM! a ton of results came up of producers and local services near me.

This is how I found my beloved CSA, Sugar Tree Farms.

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Here’s Ava feeding the alpacas, Gwen and Angie, at Sugar Tree Farms (don’t tell my sister or my best friend- their names are Gwen and Angie too! Bahahaha!).

But seriously, I LOVE my CSA. The vegetables are so fresh and delicious and the owners are the sweetest people I have ever met. But what exactly is a CSA, you ask?

According to Local Harvest:

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

I save a lot of money from getting my veggies through a CSA.

If I were to buy all the organic vegetables I get in my CSA box from the grocery store, I couldn’t afford it. The produce is often triple in price compared to the price I pay for my CSA share. Plus, the CSA veggies are fresher because it is picked the day before I pick it up. Grocery store produce travels a lot of miles before it actually gets to your table and this is a strain on the environment.

Not into veggies? Looking for grass-fed beef instead? How about raw milk? Local Harvest can still help you!

I found a farm near me that produces pastured turkeys around Thanksgiving time. You know where I’ll be getting my turkey this year.

There’s no question about it. If you want fresh food, you either grow it yourself or get it from Local Harvest.

Besides, it’s nice knowing I’m supporting my local economy and small businesses.

Here’s another farm-to-consumer locating service you can check out:

www.FarmMatch.com

 

This post was featured at the Homestead Barn Hop!

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7 Lessons From My Hungarian Great-Grandparents

simple kitchenWhen my mom comes over to visit, she often reminisces about her Hungarian grandparents, especially her grandmother, Elizabeth.

It never was a bother to me- I loved hearing their distant stories. But before long, polite listening turned into intense brain-picking. I began asking more questions about my great-grandparents than my mom could answer; I had become infatuated with their old way of life.

I have never met them nor seen a picture, but here I attempt to document the lessons they have taught me through my mom’s stories.

Both of my great-grandparents were born in Hungary. Elizabeth’s family was well to-do and owned quite a bit of land. My great-grandfather, William, was more of the gypsy-type who loved his drink.

They immigrated to America after the Russians invaded their land, and took their homes and livestock. They entered the port at New York by boat. Elizabeth brought one trunk which held her belongings.

Lesson no. 1 Bad stuff happens. When it does, pick up and keep going.

They settled in Ohio and raised four children. My mom tells me Elizabeth was an amazing cook. Before coming to America, she worked in a bakery in France. My mom all but drools when she tells me of the food my great-grandmother would prepare.

Lesson no. 2  Be an amazing cook and you’ll be remembered forever.

She’d make kolaches, stuffed cabbage, nut rolls, apple pies, and large sheet cakes topped with home-grown apples and finely diced walnuts.

My mom swears she will never eat chicken noodle soup like the way my great-grandmother used to make it. She’d prepare her own broth and noodles. She’d make the noodles by rolling out the dough and using only a knife to cut each one. She’d then let them dry a little before adding it to the broth.

Mom fondly recounts the vegetarian sandwiches my great-grandmother used to make for her. She would slice bell peppers and onions, pack them in olive oil and can it. She’d add this canned mixture to eggs and gently cook it on low heat. She’d serve the peppers and eggs on soft bread.

My great-grandparents had a plum tree in their backyard which was used to make lacvar, a thick plum jam. The lacvar was used in making kiflis, a traditional Hungarian pastry. My mom talks about these kiflis with a longing in her eyes, while I can only imagine how delicious they must have tasted.

Lesson no. 3 There’s an immeasurable difference between slow-cooked traditional foods and the processed fast foods of today.

They NEVER ate at restaurants or fast-food joints. Apparently, Elizabeth was very finicky about people handling her food. She would pack lunches for her and her husband whenever they traveled or went fishing.

Lesson no. 4  There’s a lot to be said for knowing who prepares your food.

Both Elizabeth and William were avid fishermen and regularly took their small boat out to Lake Pymatuning. My great-grandfather would cheat and throw corn in specific spots to make sure they always caught a fair amount of pike and catfish. Thanks to fishing and their Hungarian heritage, they always sported gorgeous tans.

Lesson no. 5  Sometimes, it’s okay to cheat.

While Elizabeth ruled the kitchen, William tended their garden. My mom recalled them having a large, bountiful garden. My great-grandfather grew plum trees, strawberries, bell peppers, carrots, apples and more.

When they returned from fishing trips, William would water his plants with the lake water he brought home in 5 gallon buckets. He would give the cleaned fish to Elizabeth and she would cook it their favorite way- fried. William buried the fish heads and tails deep in the ground (as not to attract cats) and use it for rich soil. Their luscious garden was attributed to the lake water and fish heads and tails.

Lesson no. 6  There’s a fine line between purposeless waste and miraculous nourishment.

I asked mom what Elizabeth’s kitchen was like and she laughs as she explains how bare and simple it was. “It was nothing fancy at all,” mom says. There was a fridge, small pantry, a single sink, and a simple 4-burner gas stove. But the jewel of the kitchen was a square wooden table where she prepared all of her pastas and pastries. It was at that wooden table- and with the help of a rolling pin- where the magic happened. One time, one of my mother’s cousins jumped up on the table and sat on it. Elizabeth went ballistic. My mom says that day was a very bad day at the Toth residence.

Lesson no. 7  Less is more and don’t mess with an immigrant woman’s prized possession. Even if it is just a wooden table.

This post was featured at the Homestead Barn Hop!

Photo Credit: Corey Leopold

 

 

 

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Nothin’ Fancy Vegetable Juice Recipe

We have been juicing on and off for a few years now, but since our CSA offered a “juicing” box, we’ve been getting more serious with it.

The CSA provides us with…well… whatever is on the menu.  Usually it’s plenty of fresh kale, lemons, beets, cucumbers, carrots, etc.  And to be honest we can’t keep up- our fridge is overflowing with raw veggies!.  I guess we need to get even more serious 🙂

Here’s a video of my favorite things to juice. Like I said, it’s nothin’ fancy.

Nothin’ Fancy Juice Recipe:

2-3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 apple
1 inch ginger
1 small golden beet
1 small cucumber
half lemon with rind

Some fruits and veggies are essential to buy organic and some are not. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List to find out which veggies you must get organic.

The juicer we use is the Black & Decker 400-Watt Fruit and Vegetable Juice Extractor.  It’s like the Little Engine That Could.

If you’re just starting out with juicing, we recommend it. Another great advantage is it’s very portable.  Brian takes it to work from time to time and it’s not a huge deal to carry around. Click here to read reviews.

And some food for thought regarding the Green Smoothie Debate…

How Green Smoothies Can Devastate Your Health
http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/how-green-smoothies-can-devastate-your-health/

Whatever you decide to juice, it’s gotta be healthier than a McRib! Have fun with it!

I’m looking for some tried and true juicing recipes- what are your favorite veggies to juice? Share in the comments below.

Thanks for visiting The Wannabe Homesteader!

This post was featured at the Homestead Barn Hop!

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What Guns are Good for Girls?

I’m thinking about making the jump to carrying a concealed weapon for protection at night and when I out and about alone. The only problem is, I’m a complete newbie to guns. And I’m scared of them. What type of gun would you recommend for a girl to carry on her person? How does a person get comfortable around guns, and most importantly, how do you keep your children safe around them?

And advice would help. Leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts.

 

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Our Homesteading Goals For 2013

I like using the term goals better than resolutions.  “Resolutions” sound nice but have no meaning or structure. The word seems to have been reduced to mean “things you wanna do better, but probably wont.”

In my opinion, resolutions will not take me from point A to point B, and that’s the way I view things in life.  If I want to get somewhere I make a decision and I move in that direction.  Sure, sometimes you get off path, but you reset, gain your bearing, and start again.  Just like our debt-free goals, it may take awhile to get there, but we’re still moving in the right direction.  A —->B

So, enough with the rambling- here are our homesteading goals for 2013:

1. 6-8 Chickens with a Chicken Tractor

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We’ve wanted chickens for a long time, probably 2-3 years now.  We want chickens for their eggs and their meat.  The plan is not to harvest the meat until a hen stops laying, or if we have an extra rooster.  We eat a lot of eggs, probably a half dozen a day or more and we’re tired of spending $3-4 a dozen for good eggs. We may add a few more in a fixed pen so we can turn the chickens into little composting machines.  We hope to have this goal complete by March.

 2. Build a Compost Bin

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After a brief stretch of gardening this past year, I have come to realize that composting is necessary for a self-sustaining garden.  We want to get to a point where we’re not dependent on any outside products  (fertilizer, organic pesticides, etc) to keep our gardens going year after year.  In fact, we just built this.  One goal complete for 2013…yippee. By the way, I hope you didn’t think I was smart enough to figure all this composting stuff out on my own- I got the bin idea from SamPrep here, and I ‘ve been reading up on composting from this book.

3. Save $15,000 by 12/31/13

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As part of our ongoing financial plan, we want to save $15k this year. $10k of it will be our emergency fund which will complete the first part of Baby Step 3 of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover Plan (more info on that here).  But there are a few catches to this…

  • First Catch –  We live on one income, and I do not make 6 figures.  Far from it actually.  So, saving that much money and still paying the bills, plus recreational activities, and new homesteading activities will be tough.
  • Second Catch – We only budgeted to save $450 every paycheck,  and if you do the math that comes out to $11,700 at the end of the year, not $15k.  Somehow we have to come up with the other $3,300.

This $15k will go towards a piece of property that we plan on paying cash for to homestead on.

4.  Rabbits and a Rabbit Tractor

(I refrained from adding a picture of a rabbit because all the ones I found were too…cute)

It’s not rocket science as to why we want these furry little guys- we want to piss-off as many animal lovers as possible…lol….JUST KIDDING.  I’m actually gonna have a hard time killing them.  I thought about buying a couple of rabbits locally and dressing them myself, but after I do, I may never want to do it again.  If I can build the whole set-up (tractor, breeding pin, nesting box ect)  and commit myself a little deeper, maybe I can desensitize myself to the slaughtering part. As horrible as it sounds, this is the cycle of life, and I will be completely grateful to these creatures for supplying my family with wholesome food.

5. Build 2 – 3′ x 12′ Raised Garden Beds

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Building raised garden beds is not that hard, BUT filling them all of your own compost and growing a large amount of kick ass produce is. At least for us because we’re newbies. We’ve tried adding amendments and growing in our sandy, lifeless Florida soil and it wasn’t too pleasant. We don’t want to go there again.

So there you have it, 5 goals for 2013 that I think will be tough, but definitely obtainable.

Please let us know in the comments below what kind of homesteading goals you have for the year. If they’re good, we might steal ’em. 🙂

Thank you for visiting The Wannabe Homesteader. Let’s connect on YouTube and Facebook!

This post was featured at the Homestead Barn Hop!

Photo Credits: LadyDragonFlyCC,  Images of Money, Linda N

How To Build an Easy Compost Bin With No Power Tools

This bin actually cost us $100 total in supplies.  We were going to build it from pallets but I wanted something a little nicer aesthetically, one I could take with us since we rent, and one that would last a few years.

We bought pressure-treated wood knowing there would be some risk of chemicals leaching into the compost, but we thought the risk was minimal at most.

You can drop the screw gun and screws, and go with hammer and nails and build this completely power free…that is if you don’t count your blood, sweat, and tears.

That being said it was very easy to make especially for a novice carpenter like myself.  We hope this video will help you get your compost on!

a semi-accurate description of what I felt like.a semi-accurate description of what I felt like.

How to Get Over that Mid-Afternoon Slump (the Natural Way)

I used to work in a gray cubicle surrounded by other gray cubicles identical to mine in a building with no windows.  Eight hours a day, everyday. You had to go through three locked doors just to get outside. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part came around 3 o’clock pm- everyday.

The dreaded 3 pm. Lunch was now pleasantly settled somewhere in your gastrointestinal tract, the computer screen had started blurring 10 minutes ago, and your eyelids felt like a 1000 lbs, inching their way down for a few minutes of “rest.”

Here’s an accurate description of how I felt…

a semi-accurate description of what I felt like.

Rough times my friends, rough times.

Thank goodness I don’t spend my days in cubicle land anymore. I’m a stay-at-home mom now and I can go outside for more than 15 minutes if I want to. But even though my schedule is free to do what I want when I want (give or take), I still find myself battling that mid-afternoon slump.

That is, until I discovered this magical trio:

 

 

At 2:00 pm, I eat a snack and take 200 mg. of magnesium citrate, 500 mg. of pantothentic acid, and 1000 mg. of vitamin C with bioflavonoids.

With these three unassuming supplements I bounce right on through 3 o’clock, past 5 o’clock, and I’m jammin’ all the way to 9 pm. No Red Bull, no coffee, no jumping jacks.

I kid you not. This is how it works:

Magnesium Citrate 200 mg.

Magnesium acts like a spark plug for your adrenal glands and for the energy portion of every cell in your body. 400 mg. of magnesium citrate is recommended for average person and is best absorbed when taken at night before bed. I take 200 mg. of magnesium (with vitamin C and pantothenic acid) at 2:00 pm to help me get over the 3:00-4:00 pm low and then at bedtime I take another 200 mg. I’ve also noticed magnesium helps me sleep better.

Because I have a moderate case of adrenal fatigue as well as digestive problems, I’m going to supplement this regime with Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil. It’s transdermal so it’s absorbed right through the skin. While I can feel the affect of taking magnesium orally, I can’t get away from all the positive remarks about this product. I have to try it out.

Think you might be deficient in magnesium?

I am and chances are you are, too. Read Cheeseslave’s article for more details on magnesium deficiency and check out Kelly’s experience with magnesium oil. You know what? Why not go ahead and get The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean while you’re at it. Magnesium is an essential nutrient your body cannot afford to lack.

Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids 1000 mg.

I’m sure you’re aware of the benefits of vitamin C, but did you know vitamin C is much more than just ascorbic acid? In Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. James Wilson explains:

Vitamin C, as it occurs in nature, always appears as a composite of ascorbic acid and bioflavinoids. It is this vitamin C complex that is so beneficial, not just ascorbic acid by itself. Bioflavonoids are essential if ascorbic acid is to be fully metabolized and utilized by your body. The ratio of bioflavonoids to ascorbic acid should be approximately 1:2, that is 1 mg. of bioflavinoids for every 2 mg. of ascorbic acid. Bioflavonoids double the effectiveness of ascorbic acid in your body and allow its action to be more complete.

This requirement is why I take the Vital Nutrients brand of Vitamin C. It has the correct ratio of ascorbic acid and bioflavonoids. It’s a little pricey but worth it.

Pantothenic Acid 500 mg.

Pantothentic acid (Vitamin B5) is one of the B-complex vitamins, and like magnesium, is a vital component for energy production.

It is this combination of pantothenic acid, magnesium, and vitamin C that increases energy and fights fatigue without over stimulating your body. I learned about this from Dr. James Wilson’s book and while he never explains exactly why it works, I can tell you from first hand experience that is does.

What About You?

So, now that I’ve shared how I fight that nasty mid-afternoon slump, what about you? Do you use stimulants or employ a more natural approach? Tell us in the comments below (we won’t judge you, I promise;).

Thank you for visiting The Wannabe Homesteader. Let’s connect on YouTube and Facebook!

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something from the links, we will receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this blog.

December’s Giveaway: Winners Announced

December’s Giveaway: Winners

10 winners of the Dave Ramsey books are:

1. Meghan Finley
2. the1grapeape
3. cmurdocknm
4. dave3029
5. channynn
6. Barbara Doughtery
7. CJButch
8. Travis Smith
9. Gwen Balleras
10. notorius2tall

1 winner of the grand prize is:  gunterco1

Congratulations everyone!!  We will be messaging you in the next few days ON YOUTUBE to get your shipping information.  So be sure to check your messages in your youtube inbox.

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December’s Giveaway:

Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover & Starter Bundle!

 

This month, we have reached a goal we never thought would happen- WE’RE DEBT FREEEEE! We have paid off over $60,000 in debt and to celebrate we want to help YOU do the same!  

Dave Ramsey’s books gave us the structure and knowledge we needed to get ‘er done and considering financial stability is one of the first steps to self-sufficiency, it’s vital you have this knowledge as well!

10 winners will receive Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover

and

1 winner will receive the Grand Prize of Dave Ramsey’s Starter Bundle!

Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover is the main resource we had to help us get on a debt-free plan. This book debunks myths about debt, walks you through the “Baby Steps” to financial freedom and includes budgeting forms.

The Starter Bundle is the creme de la creme of personal finance tools! It includes 2 Dave Ramsey books (including The Total Money Makeover), a 13 Lesson Audio CD Library, a Starter Envelope System, and Dave’s Budgeting Software. Holy Toledo, I wish we had this starting out!

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 Here’s how to win:

Step 1: Subscribe to The Wannabe Homesteader on Youtube.  Click here to do that.

Step 2: Visit our laundry detergent video and leave a comment on the video. Tell us your opinion on the detergent (ie. you love it, hate it, already use it, haven’t tried it, why you would like to try it, etc). Thumbs Up the video (this is not required to win but we’d sure appreciate it).

Okay, to review: You must be subscribed to our Youtube channel, you must leave a comment on the Youtube detergent video (we will check both when the winners are picked)…:-)

This giveaway will run until 12 am December 24th and the winners will be announced December 26th.

This is not a sponsored giveaway. We purchase these prizes ourselves as a way to thank our readers. So, thank you for reading and good luck!