Monday, December 31, 2012

52 weeks of prep supplies


      The New Year is upon us and we are still prepping to live.  Money is tight and there is no cure for that except careful planning and waste cutting.  I sound like a politician!  I couldn't really be one as I actually plan and spend carefully!  I have put a number on what I have to devote to prep supplies this year.  

      This number is in addition to maintaining what I have and replacing anything that needs rotating out due to use by dates.  I have bills and I need tires for the car, like anyone else   I have set $15 a week as a goal to spend on prepping supplies.  Also, there is to be a big purchase savings of $20 a week.  The $20 is to be saved until needed and spent on a big ticket item like vehicle repair or a replacement.  When you do the math, the housekeeper who has nothing but foresight will have $1040 to spend on the big ticket item and I will have $780 to spend on weekly items to store.  Unlike the big ticket item money, the $15 a week will be spent weekly.

      I have a friend who complains she has no money for prepping and after the talk about cutting the coffee and soda, even she has more money to devote to supplies than the people we work for.  I have employers who have every convenience and their children have every conceivable electronic pod, or pad available who have no money to devote to preparing for the next storm or disaster.  They shop at the nearest grocer, not the best or the least expensive, it is all convenience and name brands, all the time.  I will have $780 to spend a bit at a time.
       I know how to squeeze the life out of a dollar and today I spent my first 'extra' $15.  I went to Save-A-Lot, a discount grocery store, and bought three one pound canned hams ($2.99 each dated 2015), 2 pounds of beans (.99 each), two pounds of salt (.50 each), and a gallon of vinegar ($2.29). The change went into a special change can that will be cashed in when it is full and spent on more supplies at the end of the year.

       In 52 weeks I will have a year's supply of stored food.  I will buy flats of canned vegetables and fruits, boxes of pancake mix that I will vacuum seal, dehydrated milk, dehydrated soup and pasta mixes, canned meats, spices and canning and preserving pectin, vinegar and salt, medical and first aid supplies, gadgets that get the job done, tanks of propane, tools and buckets to store it all in.  

      Each year I have an opportunity to do a side job that will this year be dedicated to gapping more of the supply holes.  This year all this 'spare cash' will be devoted to supplies I don't have yet, or acquiring a skill I need.  I have a wish list.  I am going to replace the leather belt on my treadle sewing machine.  I need a dedicated storage unit away from home closer to the safe house, among other things.  The list is long and each small item crossed off will give me great satisfaction.

     You can give up a cup of coffee with extra shots of flavor, or stop shopping at the easiest store and really shop bargains.  There is money every where and some of it is waiting to be freed up for prep supplies, tools, and skill building.
     In 52 weeks what will you have in your Prep closet?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolutions for preppers

     I just want to drive home the thought that as we are surrounded by the media urging us to make resolutions for the New Year that we temper the thought with the questions we should ask ourselves everyday; Do I have enough food, any kind of food to support myself and loved ones for a month?, a year? longer?  Do I need designer jeans or another pair of good boots?  Do I need to promise a health club membership or can I build strength by adding a mile to my walk and an hour to my weight training?  Am I as strong mentally and physically as I need to be?  If I don't prepare for my future, who will?
     I, personally have given up caffeine for my own health and stability.  I have saved the dollars spent on a green tea-to-go and put them into canned ham.  I have cut back on Sunday drives and invested the gas money in paper goods that I use regularly.  I am currently training with my crossbow for accuracy first, and later speed of reloading with accuracy.  
     I am not making New Year's resolutions.  I am continuing to commit to my decision to prepare for hard times.  I cook on an open fire regularly as a training for the skill.  It is very different than nuking a hot dog in 10 seconds! My grandmother knew how to manage time, by golly.  I need to work on the concept of a low flame!

     I want to post out the same warning for New Year's revelry as I did for the December 21st.  Quit your prepping for a day and reflect on the things you have and the things that are important to you.  Reflect, then plan on how you are going to keep these things.  How are you going to feed and clothe and protect these things in uncertain times?  

     I am going to go to work tomorrow, take my mom grocery shopping then go home and watch the drunks celebrate in Time's Square, if I stay up that late.  I am certainly going to wake up when the neighbor's set off their fireworks, without permits, a bucket of water or a sober mind nearby.  I lucked out last year because it rained on New Year's Eve and got to sleep undisturbed.  
     Resolutions=big fat zero, none, don't need them
     Commitments to a future= you betcha!
      Just for those who view in regularly, here are some links to cost and price increases on daily need items over the past ten years.     This one covers gas, eggs, milk, peanut butter and more.

     And for laughs, here is an article that shows lower prices on items such as designer jeans, music CDs, wine and Hummel figurines and more

Inflation, ammo and prepping

      Today one of my son's took me for a Sunday outing to a new movie.  We are sci-fi lovers, also action adventure and any fantasy that does not have anything to do with vampires.  We joined 'Team NO vampires" years ago!  We went to see The Hobbit.  We liked it.  I am not here to review the movie, just to say there we were, travelling to the theater and the conversation was a prepper's note.  

     We talked about the sudden inflation of ammo prices and the dis-appearance of some calibers from their regular sources.  We are very well aware of this past year's mass killings.  We had younglings nearby one and were worried.  We are also well aware of the politics and the opinions of people who don't vote but spout political rhetoric as if they wrote it.  Yes, we know all kinds of people.  

     This is not a forum for those conversations, this chat was about the price. WE are watching the inflation rate of everyday items as well.  We used the reference point of ten years ago.  The price of milk is about $2 more a gallon than it was 10 years ago.  The price of ammo is 15%-45% higher than it was a month ago.  Milk has suffered gas prices, drought and the gradual inflation of the dollar.  Ammo has suffered from fear and bad press.  Fear motivates.

     Panic motivates faster.  There is a fear of having guns and ammo disappear altogether and a bit of hoarding is going on.  He saw one man purchase all 17 boxes of one caliber at a price of 35% more than the price  in November.  This store had 17 boxes come in on their weekly order and 17 boxes went out with the first customer.  My son wasn't there for that caliber, but imagine the next customer to come to the clerk that morning.  We have noted and without patting anyone on the back, we are glad we participate in a lifestyle of prepping and not panic purchasing.  

     We have seen stores cleaned out of items from bottled water to toilet paper to entire food stores, in a day, when a hurricane that had been on the radar for over a week had finally been called a day away from us.  It's a hurricane.  It's been on the nightly news for over a week.  It was pointed right at us.  Waiting until the warning flags were up on the beach was just stupid.  This is Florida.  It was on the news.  Panic purchasing may have seemed like the thing to do at the time for some.  Not us.

     Now we are seeing gun purchases by people who never owned one before.  I hope they are buying range practice time, too.  We are seeing stores inflate the prices to make a dollar.  Manufacture's claim they have no stock and so must charge more to deliver.  We are watching.  

     We are also going to continue to prep with more emphasis this year on food and supplies for making and storing food.  The last minute, or the minute after the news announces a threat will cause panic and we want to be no part of that.  Get ready for canning, jarring, and growing food posts.

     I suggest if you are not storing food and medical supplies, that you do so now, while they are still on the shelf.  Also, the movie was great and there is no reason to give up living, ever.  So, go to work, to the theater, church or family fun night.  Just go prepared. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cold Framing

    A cold frame is a garden device built low to the ground with a transparent roof used to protect tender seedlings and plants from cold weather.  It is a miniature greenhouse. 

     For the Florida resident (until the earth shifts!) a cold frame is a cheap, easy, temporary tool in the garden, usually made of plastic and PVC piping or any upright stake.
     For the gardener who starts out early or has more than a few cold snaps, the next step up in the cold frame/ instant greenhouse device is the PVC pipe and plastic greenhouse.  Visqueen is the common name of the 4 mil thick plastic used to make this type cold frame.  You need PVC pipe 1 to 2 inch diameter and one and a half times the width of the garden spot you want to cover, two upright posts, 2" x 2" or 2" by 4" pieces about a foot long, longer if you have very sandy soil or very windy nights, and two metal brackets (the metal wall mount brackets plumbers use to keep the pipes from vibrating fit the pipe and allow you to screw to the posts).

    This blog has a very nice step by step and does not include a picture of me screwing bracket to my thumb!

     For the favored plant in the garden that is well established, there are umbrella greenhouses and bell jars to protect them.  You can also use a tomato cage as the upright support and a wrap of Visqueen as the protecting sheet.  With all these methods, the greenhouse effect is in effect.  You must tend to temperature and moisture under the cover.  If it gets too warm in the afternoon, you will cook your plants alive!
 Protect your plants from damaging frost 

     You could even call the last minute blanket toss a cold frame.  As I travel to work I see a lot of last minute thinkers trying to preserve their tender landscape plants from a sudden frost warning.
     I have seen sheets with every super hero ever featured in a comic, sci-fi characters, and some very bold prints!  It doesn't matter what the color, it does the job, but because these covers are not transparent and some blankets are too insulating, I have also seen more damage done with the blanket toss than the frost because the plants can't breathe and need light.  If you can't get to your local garden center, Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, and Target carry breathable, lightweight reusable covers.  I also found this pic from Bed, Bath and Beyond!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Planting in January

     When I chose seeds in the past years, I made the same mistake many disappointed gardeners make.  I read the back of the package as if the back of the package knew something about me.  

     I could see the packet read time to maturity, 90 days (or more, depending on the seed).  What it should have said is, Hey, Carol!  These seeds will start and grow and you can transplant them in 6 to seven weeks, so why wait until the ground is warm when you can start them indoors and place them in a cold frame in a month then, transplant them into the garden or container two to three weeks later? huh? Why wait, Carol?  Also, since you live in Florida, why wait until it's too hot to grow anything anyway?

     Last summer, I was in a battle between sunlight and enough heat to cook an egg on the driveway when it dawned on me, it doesn't snow in Florida often enough to fret over it.  I could start plants from seed much sooner!  I could adjust the plants to get the proper sun, while they are still lightweight enough to move around and then place them in their harvest home when others are just buying their seeds.

     Of course the farther north you live, the longer your tender plants may be in cold frame or the later you might start the seeds, say in February.  Still, why wait until spring?  
examiner.comJanuary garden guide for Central Florida
     I have been to my local agriculture extension website and I find they too sug-gest the planting of seeds in the ground.  For a farmer, direct sewing makes sense, but for me, it is not necessary.  I have limited space and nosy neighbors.  I want the most bang for my buck and to be sure I don't lose tender plants to a sudden cold snap, I will start seeds indoors.  

     I have a window in a room that gets the afternoon sun through the bare branches of the trees that block the sun all summer.  This will give me a six to eight week window of sun.  It is not in the main traffic area and there is room to build a simple shelf or two to hold the seed starter trays.  I will use "L" brackets and two 1' x 10" planks.  I could start enough seeds to get into trouble with the H.O.A. when they go outdoors!  I can move the seedlings to a cold frame in a month, pull down the drapes and use the shelves for other projects till next year.
  Meanwhile, I have a potato and tomato project already started.  So, stay tuned, Potato and Tomato experiments to be posted soon and more information on the 'cold frame'.  Until then, look at this post from another blogspot, it's a well established blog on gardening. Mine will be smaller, but the experience and knowledge gained this year will be enormous!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Full Moon

December 27th 2012

     Planting on the full of the moon is, as I have been told, an old wives' tale.  Maybe so, but believers of moon planting believe in the effects as they believed in Santa as a child.   

     The theory is called geotropism- the growth of a living organism in response to gravity, as the downward growth of plant roots, according to 
The planting on the full moon takes into account the gravity on the plants and it is believed to be greater during the full of the moon.  I am a believer.
    This is a picture of 16" long zucchini I planted last year. Corn, pole beans, and sweet peas grow taller if planted in the full moon phase.  The plants that fruit below the ground should be planted on the waning moon, plants like rutabaga, carrots, beets. But 14 days after the full moon, nothing grows well planted on the dark of the moon or the new moon phase.  

     Of course this is considered mythology to the scientific crowd, and I am okay with that.  They get coal in their stocking at Christmas!.  The truth is I know what I've been told and I tried other ways, but the old ways work and I like them.  I don't need proof.  I need a good garden crop.  

     Another myth I don't care to debunk is: never plant on a Sunday regardless of the moon.  God is watching always, but he'll take it out on your garden! I'm on the fence with this one. I think Dad's potato crop of '69 was so small because he didn't wait long enough and dug it up too soon.  I also believe God was watching and Sunday is not for planting!    

Whatever you believe, if it works, stick with it.  I still put tea bags on the Datura and in the compost heap. I still pour coffee grounds if the leaves on roses yellow up even when they have the right amount of water.  I don't plant on Sunday, and I am germinating seeds in the kitchen right now because that picture at the top is the moon outside my front door!  They will go into the ground in a month when the moon is full again.

Gardening is prepping.  Preparing for hard times means making the most of every dollar and every day.  I plant so I don't have to buy and I enjoy the rewards of the skills I hone against the day when gardening is the only way to feed your family. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Starting Your Garden
     I know it's winter everywhere on the Northern American Continent.  I have seen the news, snow in the northeast as if storms only head toward NYC!  It has been snowing in the Dakotas for weeks.  It is winter.
     I know there is little growing in the garden, but there is still much to do.  A garden is more than the green stuff growing on top of it and it starts way before the seeds and starters go into the ground.  It starts now.  It starts with prepping for the green stuff to come.  I have posted a blog on the kitchen composters and the act of composting in the kitchen.  You can click on it for some tips for composting in the kitchen.  No matter if you start in the kitchen or if you live far south enough to start your compost in the yard, the important thing is to start now.  While the earth rests, the gardener goes to work!  Start your garden, start composting, next week, we start seeds!
     A good mix for compost is one part green to two parts brown.  Green are green lawn clippings, once they dry, they are then classified as brown.  Greens and waste from the kitchen, these are still fresh green vegetables even the red peppers are green.  Brown is dried material like dried cornstalks, the hay bales left from Halloween decor in the yard, the dried vines in the garden that need cutting back!  Start with a layer of brown material.  Make it about 3" deep, then layer on the green material about the same depth, and alter the green and brown with a bit of soil on top of the green layers.  Keep the pile covered with a tarp or other cover to keep the heat in until the summer sun comes to warm the mix.  This cover also helps you to regulate the moisture in your heap.  Too much cold water that turns to ice in the coming freezes brings the decaying process to a halt.

     Use your compost in the weeks to come the same as you would use fertilizer and potting soil or mulch.  Using compost as a mulch gives the plants a boost of fertilizer all year long.  As a soil amendment, work the compost into the soil.  Dig down a few inches, fill with compost, cover with soil, till before planting.  As a fertilizer, use compost by making a tea.  Put compost into a five gallon bucket, fill halfway with water, let set a week, then sift and pour onto plants as a liquid fertilizer.
Start your compost heap, bin or barrel and you have started your garden. We start seeds next week!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What Did You Get?

     Children comparing gifts= love from family are not the only conversations going on as the wrapping and boxes head for the trash can, today.  I have seen a neighborhood kid squabble over my bike is newer than your bike!  The fact that they were both given this very morning aside, how can you tell how "fresh" your bike is?  I was glad they weren't mine.  
      I did try to be careful not to crush my son's voices as they grew up as long as they knew I had the final say.  I did occasionally ask their opinions but still, they knew my word was final, like it or not.  I would have choked that conversation about the bikes.  I don't approve.  It sounded like bullying or at the least, domination, and why do you need to crush someone to feel better?  
     Without any desire to count my blessings being bigger or better than anyone, I would like to share some of the finest moments of this Christmas celebration.  No one arrived to the home where we had dinner at what you would call, on time.  We staggered in as we could get there safely.  
     We are for the most part, preppers.  90% of us have and the conversation and 65% of us are on board to stock up supplies and stores for at least two years against whatever hard times may come our way.  10% of those gathered have yet to commit to that goal.  The rest expect to be taken care of or don't believe anything bad will happen to change their life in any way.   They were the ones surprised by the grown up gifts.  They didn't understand.
     Even though we posted a one store bought gift per child and any made gift for an adult online, the few who believe nothing will ever change, didn't understand the hand making of gifts or the exchange of food.  It was posted on Facebook.  We talked about it.  If you had zero skills and no time to make something, bring a covered dish or some ammo for the host family.  When the ammo came out, eyes popped.  When the children had ripped open their toys and were happy to play with them, the grown people exchanged gift baskets with marmalade, salsa and jelly and two handmade Christmas ornaments.  These were followed with hand sewn apron sets for each couple, homemade extracts of vanilla, lemon and orange.  There was vanilla sugar and cinnamon sugar and collages of grandchildren's year in review   The hand crafted tabletop decorations and the bottle trees and fire spits were a big hit, too.  It was GREAT!  
      We had a dinner of homemade foods and home baked bread, cookies and vegetables grown on sight.  The heavy garlic pesto on fresh beer bread was so good, I had to stop myself and one of the grand boys from making that the main course!  There were no sports games blaring on the television, there were no old wounds reopened and re-argued.  It was a lovely day with lots of good spirit and long talks.  The kiddies provided the most comedy.  
     I saw bewildered looks on a couple faces and the awkward pause when someone wanted to ask about the crafts but didn't.  We let it go quietly.  By doing we show who we are, not by preaching.  The little ones got their age appropriate toys. The grown ups got what they asked for.  They got a piece of someone's heart.  They got the time it takes to think of a loved one and be thought about while choosing a gift.  they got the time it took to make it.  
     You can not imagine how pleased I was to see one die hard prepper give his on-the-fence little brother a beginner bug out bag, stocked with items catered to his family.  To see the grateful look on the recipients face as he told his brother a recent trip to a theme park ended with two flat tires and two cranky kids and two frustrated parents trying to cope.  He told him half the things in that bag would have helped them greatly even in that short term 'disaster'!  He will never want for those things or a place to put them, again.  
     It was the greatest gift for me today, family, fun, food, family, family, family.  What did you get?

What Is In a Prepper's Library?


     Since reading Patriots and Survivors by James Wesley Rawles, I had a good look at the book cases that hold both the books and the movies. Rawles never suggested I do any such a thing.  I took it upon myself to have what I like, have what I need and acquire what I may need.  I thinned out to make room to store better books suited to my needs.

     I have always had craft books and how-to books that represent the things I like to do or want to learn to do.  I have a number of tips and techniques for keeping house and organizing.  I have NO exercise books although I do have a couple exercising and tightening for dummies videos.  I have always had an  array of tips & techniques  books as well as two good cookbooks and a few of the classics I mean to read this year coming up.  I have a Bible and a Book of Common Prayer. 

      I have sorted out a lot of things in the house toward my prepping lifestyle goal.  Books are just one place I found it made sense to let go of unused items.  The books I let go of had not been opened in years and it was easy to wipe off the dust before I donated them.  Our county library allows that donated books needed for their collection to go into the collection and those they have or have enough of are sold to raise money for more new titles. 

     I thinned out some of my craft book collection by being perfectly honest with myself.  I am never going to learn to knit.  I crochet and that will have to be good enough.  I freed up about four inches of space on the shelf with the subtraction of knitting for dummies and the like.  I gained another few inches when I pulled out the books I bought from some infomercial that were a total waste of time and money.  They were all good books in mint condition and were taken to the library for donation. 

     Since I have been prepping for a time when I may be on my own without modern convenience, I have been thinking what I should have on hand.  I have acquired two new  books on herbal remedies and disease prevention through herbal teas and supplements.  The best way to get well is to stay well, I think.  I bought a set of The American Medical Association Home Medical Encyclopedia for $3 at a yard sale.  The Red Cross First Aid manual has been there for years.  

     I have added other titles from yard sales for an average price between 50 cents and a dollar, titles like; Produce your own Power, The Reader’s Digest Treasury of Humor, The Reader’s Digest Book of Facts,  The Reader’s Digest Complete Book of The Garden, Solar Cooking.  Notice the pattern emerging here?  Lots of information is in a condensed version when the author is not paid by the word. I may not be ready to produce my own power, but that book was full of money saving tips that work to reduce power consumption.  I got the book of humor because everyone needs a laugh. 

     I have the Betty Crocker Complete Encyclopedia of Cooking ( the 1940 edition).  Maybe you are lucky enough to know how to clean a deer and scale a fish, I do know these things, but it’s nice to have the diagrams in the cooking encyclopedia for the removal of the scent glands of every animal edible including bear and squirrel.  Oh, yeah! Squirrel!  This book is a total coup de gras.  My mother has her mother’s cookbook and there have been a few discussions among sisters about it.  Thanks to a lucky yard sale find, I am out of the conversation!  I have my own!!  

     Some of these books have a lot of general information that I know but the bits I don’t are invaluable.  I have a book for the repair of small engines and one for my specific model car.  No one knows it all and a good reference book is gold to me.  

SO, what’s in your library?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Last Minute Gifts for the Prepper.

     With one day of shopping to go and the snow falling across the country and relatives coming here are a few ideas of gifts to make for the prepper.
FIRE STARTERS      1.)  cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly and stored in a plastic bowl with snap off  lid.
                           2.)  saw dust and wax--take saw dust or wood chips from the wood pile, dryer lint, and an old candle, a cardboard egg carton and a plastic storage bag..melt wax, put wood chips or sawdust in egg carton sections and a few with dryer lint or cotton balls and pour wax over each section.  Let wax cool and cut apart the sections.  Stack and store in zippered bag or give as gift.

                           3.)  terry cloth towel cut into three inch squares, stacked and set in a plastic soap travel case with a magnesium fire striker.
                           4.) a pack of waterproof matches, some terry cloth squares and/or some cotton balls.

     FIRST AID KIT:  Make a first aid kit.   Find a plastic box, small pouch or a small metal can and fill with alcohol wipes, band-aids, antibacterial hand cleaner, aspirin, gauze bandage, adhesive tape.

SURVIVAL KIT:   Make a first aid kit and add, wire saw, compass, snake bite kit, fire starters, whistle and a multi tool, water purifier tabs.

FLEECE CAP:  Cut fleece the circumference of a head plus a half inch and twice as long as from the center of the head to the crown..  Fold in half long ways.  Stitch from bottom up about half way.  Turn right side out, fold up bottom to make a cuff, tack inn place at seam.  Cut top fleece into fringes one inch wide and tie together to close the top with fringed top.  or go to this web site and take a basic course.  All can be done by hand on the spot!

How to Sew a Fleece Cap |

FLAVORED OIL:  In a nice jar with a tight lid, place jalapeno peppers, sprigs of herbs, and fill with oil.  Place lid on top, tie ribbon with tag instructions to let set till January 31st.
FLAVORED VINEGAR:  Same as above.

Flavored VODKA: Same as above but with citrus peel or vanilla extract!
for more ideas and ingredients, go to
Remember there is always time for a bow!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Composting in the Kitchen

     I saw a kitchen composter on the PBS program, America’s Test Kitchen.  At a price from $20 to $45, the lid is tight and there is a scent container to keep the decomposing matter smell in the composter.  One design has a filter that keeps the smell in but the shiny fancy filtered pail did not have a locking lid and posed a threat of spilling out if tipped accidentally.  That’s a smell I don’t want in the kitchen!  There are many models to choose from and I just saw a pic of a composter from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

     So, off to the discount stores I went to find a tightly locking plastic pail along the lines of a diaper pail.  I knew there would not be a diaper pail on the market like the ones I used in the 70s so I set out to design my own pail for a composting system.  I found a small garbage pail with a lid that snapped on tight.  When I picked up the pail by the lid, the pail stayed attached.  I also bought a $1 mouse pad to use as a gasket and a small basket.  The basket I bought might have been intended to organize drawers.  It wasn't much different than a strawberry basket from the grocers.  The cost was a total of $7.

     I cut a hole by removing three of the struts from one end of the basket, so I can put moth balls in.  I glued the basket to the inner lid of the pail.  I used a plastic safe two part epoxy because I wanted it to stay forever.  I also cut the mouse pad in curved strips and glued it to the lip of the pail.

     That’s it!  I now have a kitchen composter under the sink that I can use to catch the rinds, skins, peels, and shell from eggs as well as any other organic material that is NOT meat!  For more information on composting, go to  This is a great time of year to get started with all the extra kitchen rubbish we go through for the holiday dinners!  Then the compost will be there when we put in the spring starter plants in the garden.

     I can compost a bit every day.  The process of decay has begun and I didn’t have to take the material out to the yard every day after preparing food.  When I have time to garden after work or weekends, I can take out the pail and dump it or work it in the compost heap outside.  There is no smell in the kitchen and the mothballs are a pleasant relief when lifting the lid outside in the hot Florida sun!  Just dump, rinse and return to the kitchen.  No bugs either!

     I am sure there are a thousand ways to improve on this design and there are thousands of patents pending somewhere.  I am not in the business of creating kitchen compost pails.  I just wanted one.  I might want to make a diaper pail as a gift for a neighbor who wants to go cloth diapers on the next baby due.  But this is an idea I hope can help you compost to improve the soil of your garden without having to trek out into the yard every day after dinner and without spending more than needed. I also want you to stop leaving peels and eggshells on the counter to tempt the eight legged wildlife to move in and take over! 

     You could also use one of your expensive gamma lids on a five gallon bucket, but, I see those as a storage device for valuable supplies.  We are talking rotten veggies, here.  Go cheap!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Warming up your Wardrobe

     Even in Florida there are days when the whole theory of global warming is in doubt!  I don’t doubt we are warming our planet and scraping away the ozone.  I am just saying freezing wet cold days happen even in Florida!  We have days and even weeks in the winter when days warm to eighty degrees that can then be followed by days in the thirties.  The growing season slows to a halt and we have nothing important to do if we prepared properly.  Cold and wet days are not the time to think about prepping!  These are the days when we have a moment to appreciate the hard prepping we did in the summer heat.

     I don’t really need a ski or snow suit.  Still, I am prepared if it ever snows in Florida again, with knowledge and the ability to adapt.  My winter coat is a fleece lined denim coat in a size at least one size larger than I normally wear.   

     Air is trapped in the loose layers to insulate and keep me warmer than someone wearing a tight fitting jacket of the same style.  I also have room to add a sweater and/or a sweatshirt.  My jacket has a hood but with the added space from the larger size, I can comfortably add a ski cap or polar fleece hat and still flip up the hood and pull the drawstrings taut against any cold wind.  The cuffs have elastic that brings the extra fabric close to protect against drafts and still allows room for the cuffs of my glove to tuck in.  I have ease of movement and never feel as if I am stifled or strangling.  As the sun rises and the day warms, I can remove layers as needed.  You can't do all that in a snow suit! 

     For the fall and spring I have a long sweater coat and a collection of lightweight pullovers, sweater sets and heavy denim shirts.  All of these items can and do end up as insulating layers when the polar winds blow.  I know a lot of people from the northern cold country who think they know how to stay warm.  They know how to look good and they know what they should do but they go for the fashion and will have cold nights to regret they don’t have enough of what they need or the skills to make it if the grid goes down. 

     Tight fitting synthetic fibers do not insulate.  They do not breathe and when you sweat it drips but it doesn't dry.  So, now you are cold and wet and headed to hypothermia.  There is nothing wrong with 35% to 45% polyester blended with cotton, but a pure cotton, wool, or silk garment in multiple layers is the best way to go.
     If you have a few minutes and a few dollars you can warm up your wardrobe at the thrift store or a local yard sale.  
     I have a plastic shoe box with silk scarves that cost someone hundreds of dollars when they were brand new.  They are almost new except for the fact that I know for a fact I washed them all before using them.  They cost about $7 for ten scarves. Keeping your head covered is important in the cold.  I also found a few desert head scarves like the Arab men wear at one sale and one was a gift.  They keep you warm in winter and protected from the sun in the garden.  The sensible earth tone colors gave me pause to think and rethink my personal collection.  I have stored a bottle of dark brown silk dye in a plastic bag in the scarf shoe box if I need to tone down the bright colors later.

     Every fall the Dollar General Stores stock in the annual stretch knit gloves for the back to school crowd.  They are great for driving but that’s about it.  They have too high a synthetic fiber count to keep warm and dry.  They may never biodegrade so I know they will last a long while.  Try to get natural fiber wool or a cotton blend.  Although, there is no harm in a few dollar pairs of one size fits all gloves.  Some gloves are better than none at all.  I also purchased a pair of rabbit fur lined leather gloves years ago and they may last a lifetime under everyday conditions.
     My work boots and combat boots are also a half size larger than I could get away with in a sneaker.  I like that they are not so tight that they wear on the skin and not so loose that the foot is swimming in them, but, that half size allows for an extra pair of thick cotton socks in the fall and a pair of thick wool socks in the winter.  To maintain socks you need to keep toenails trimmed and stock some wool and cotton thread and darning needles to repair any holes.
     Don’t overlook the little accessories that keep you alive and warm; gloves, hats, scarves, and socks.  Good quality can be had for less when you buy second hand.  Good quality is important.  Keeping warm in winter is imperative.