Friday, November 30, 2012

RICE in bulk

      Statistics can be found on numerous websites tallying the amount of food stuffs consumed by the “Average American Family”. I looked to find the answer to my question on rice consumption.  I quickly became bored by repeated failures.  It is possible that the average American Family does not consume enough rice to be worthy of top billing in my search engine.  

     Also, I thought rice consumption is greater and lesser in families that are not representative of the average American.  I imagine the families of Asian descent consume greater quantities than those of us who were raised on meat and potatoes.  Following that logic, I suppose there must be families that eat no rice at all. 

     I personally like rice for its ability to sit quietly in a storage container for eons waiting for archaeologists to dig up and admire its freshness.  I like the many ways rice can be stored for disaster preppers.   In a worst case scenario, consider the long term storability of rice, A five gallon bucket holds 45 lbs. when packed loose and about 5 lbs. less when stored in original plastic bags. See more on the subject of buckets in a later blog.  Rice can store in plastic bottles according to FEMA, but I am concerned about BPA and use only food safe bottles that have never been heated and i will store them in a cool storage area.

     Rice will be there years later when kept dry and longer when kept cool, dark and dry.   But, how much?  How much is enough?  How much does the average family consume?  How much do I need?  Unable to find a good guide online, I have done my own math for my own needs. 
     I think anyone can use these basic numbers to gauge their own needs.  1 cup rice plus 2 cups water for cooking, serves 4 people at ½ cup serving each as a side dish with a meat and vegetable.  This makes a balanced plate.  In a peaceful world this is the best case serving size.   A worst case scenario for measuring rice multiplies when rice is not a side dish but a staple.  
     1 cup rice can serve two a single meal or serve one person for a day.  1 cup rice for 2 persons three times a week for 52 weeks equals 78 lbs.
     Four people eating 2 cups of rice (raw measure) three times a week for 52 weeks equals 156 lbs., 5 times a week in the same amount is 195 lbs per year.  
    This is my math, or better stated, this is MY math for ME.  You have to do your own math for your own needs.  Trust me any starving person will eat anything you offer.  Any reasonable person will eat what they can acquire.  In troubled times, acquiring any food cannot be guaranteed.  
     1 cup of rice equals 1/2lb.       2cups rice per 1lb. bag 
     Rice is currently $9.99 for a twenty pound bag and $18.99 for a fifty lb. bag at GFS Marketplace, $4.99 for a ten lb. bag at Savealot and $.99 to $1.79 per one pound bag at most grocers in central Florida depending on variety and brand.  As always, do the math.    
     Storing rice while it is fairly inexpensive is a consideration.  Storing rice while it is available is a prepper’s consideration.  Of course, you can grow our own.  I happen to know you can grow rice in containers.  However, a five gallon bucket of rice in the garden will only barely make one meal.  

More on extracts

     Prompted by cowboyfla1's posted comment, I forgot to mention...  Flavoring alcohol can just be plain old fashioned fun!
buy it like this or flavor it
as a gift for the holidays
      When I went to the liquor store to buy the liquor for this year's gifts, one of the cashiers went to school with my niece.   I asked him where they kept the cheapest vodka.  He showed me some peach flavored stuff that was dirt cheap, but I told him, no, I flavor my own and just need plain for the recipes I was making.

     He asked how do you flavor vodka and we got into a crafty conversation.  His partner behind the register was taking notes because she liked orange vodka and it is not cheap there.  
      So, to infuse a liquor follow the same steps as in making extracts. For vanilla, you cut a vanilla bean straight down its"seam" and put it into a bottle of vodka, shake it and store in a cool dry place.  You can serve it three days later at your party as an infused vodka. Take the vanilla bean out of the bottle after serving drinks or add more vodka and let it sit longer to make extract.

     For orange infused vodka, add the zest of one whole orange per fifth of vodka.  Shake, store three days, and serve.  For a fast infusion and a twist on this recipe, slice two whole oranges, tossing the ends cut the slices in half and place in a pitcher with a pour spout.  Cover with a fifth of vodka, stir vigorously then cover with a plastic wrap.  Chill and serve as instant screwdrivers.  Pour vodka into chilled glasses, add some of the orange slices and enjoy! You can infuse tequila with limes the same way.

     Also as an extra note for anyone reading, you can make coconut extract with coconut flakes and you can infuse clear rum or vodka with coconut, but you want to strain the coconut out before serving the infusion or bottling extract as a gift, the little flakes can be a choking hazard and it doesn't look good.

     Yes, you can infuse a clear rum with pineapples and coconut and call it mini colada.  All the flavors without the extra calories or time to mix drinks! 

     I keep saying, Christmas is coming, but New Years is also coming and even in a grid down situation, there will be down time.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Extracts for Cooking and Gift Giving

   All my research through the old cook books in the family and on the internet bring me to state this:  Extracts are essential oils and flavors extracted from fruits, nuts, seeds and plants suspended in alcohol and used to flavor food.  

     They are used for the aromatic flavoring of foods. You can make a sugar cookie without vanilla extract, but without the complementing flavor and aroma, it tastes like a sweet soft pretzel.  I like sugar cookies to taste like sugar and orange cake to taste like oranges.  I like the house to smell like the food cooked here as well.   

     I make vanilla extract with South American vanilla beans.  I bought them at the local Seventh Day Adventist owned and operated organic food store.  I use the cheapest vodka I can buy and jelly and jam jars originally purchased at Wal-Mart.  They have already been used as jam jars.  

     They should be boiled to be reused and new lids need to be purchased. 

     I make a label with clip art from my computer to reflect the taste of the recipient of the gift. The label is pretty much a glorified name tag on the front.  On the back label, I include the ingredients, and a date of production with instructions if needed.
These recipes are no cook, just combine ingredients, store in a cool dark place for three weeks or so and shake the jars every 2 to 3 days.

Here are some basic recipes.  They make great gifts for the prepper and anyone else who cooks at home.  Add a festive holiday ribbon and it's a gift.

3 vanilla beans
½ cup 40% alcohol by volume vodka
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Zest from 1 lemon
½ cup 40% alcohol by volume vodka
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Peel of one orange (navel) remove as much of the pith, white part as you can
½ cup 40% alcohol by volume vodka
Other ingredients that make a good gifting extract are, walnuts, almonds, roses (yes, for baklava), limes, onion, and chili peppers.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Preparedness Outlets

     Emergency essentials is a bulk food, water filtration, emergency gear store.  You can buy online at, in person or by catalog.  They offer deeper discounts on bulk purchases when you and your family, friends or like minded associates combine your purchase to buy as a group.

     They offer a blog here on blog-spot at  They twitter and Facebook too.  They are a very modern LDS store.  I am not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints but I am a customer of Emergency Essentials.

     I started out purchasing a combination pack of heritage seeds for my garden.  The price was good even when NOT on sale and better when it was, so that is when I bought my second pack to store in  the secret cool dark storage in the event that I need a lot of seed later.

     Several of my sons have taken advantage of their Mountain House selections and the Meals Ready to Eat.  The selection is good and the ex-Marine states the MREs are of high quality and he is sure its better than he got last time in Iraq!  That is high praise indeed.
     I also shop  This company also offers some food supplies but is more of a weapons and tactical outlet.

     If you don't need weapons and tactical gear, great, they also have camping survival gear, water filtration, first aid and more.  They too have a catalog and online store.  I was glad to find they are offering a Cheaper Than Dirt Gift card if you don't know what your survivor needs for the holidays or gift giving occasions.
     Their customer service was just great when a complaint did pop up over the quality of a product.  They made it right.  No drama!  That is all I ask.  I must say all sizes are not always available in the catalog so check there site often if you have an need for the extras.

      Because one son is one size upper and much smaller lower, I had to shop two stores for his last outfitting gift.  Not to worry, www.majorsurplus was able to fill in and get me the other half of what I needed!  Major Surplus is pretty similar to Cheaper than Dirt but as I said they had the odd size when I needed it.

 I wanted to share this information if you haven't seen the site, visit soon.  I have no stock in the company, I am not being paid to endorse any product.  

I know there are many other sites and stores locally across the country, but if you need something and these three don't have it, you better make it yourself!  However, if you have found a good site or store, feel free to post it here, thank you!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Prepping in the yard

Prepping in the Yard

     Like most preppers, I want to add to my skills and learn to replace the things I need if and when they are no longer available.  I prep in my yard.  I have a homeowner’s association and a city ordinance that does not allow for farming or farm like gardening.  Seriously, my town thinks the sight of a well tended garden is unbecoming.  Whaaaatever! 

     Still, there are rules and I try to work with them.  The yard guards that stop by and question the broad leaf squash plants in my big flower pot get a response like, “Those? Those are squash blossoms, so come back next week and it will be covered in yellow flowers.”  They smile and wave. 

     If you keep friendly and sympathetic, you can get away with your ‘practice’ farming even under the watchful eye of the desperate housewives! The vegetables are under planted among the flowers.  They peek out of the giant flower pots.  They teach me what I need to know about weather and soil and produce yield by square foot against the time when the yard guards have no say, and I move to better pastures.  

     Sure, backyards are better, but I get no sun in the backyard and I need to practice now.  When I move and I will move, I will garden like a prepper under fire! 

     Until then, I am becoming quite proficient at container gardening and square foot gardening.  The Idea of square foot gardening allows for planting a small area for maximum yield. You set an area let’s say 3’ by 3’ square.  You plant corn at the back, beans in front of that, and tomatoes and plants that vine to the front of that.  It looks full and lush and allows the plants at the bottom to act as mulch in that they take up the space a weed might use if you planted in a farm space.  The amount of water use is less than sprinkling water over a vast area.  It is similar in thinking as container gardening except that it is planned and done in ground.  Look to the website at

     Some tips for close space gardening are; containers require more water.  Harbor Freight sells a 4 pack of watering stakes for about $3 or $4.  They can be sunk into the ground and a bottle of any size can be inserted into it.  The stake has pin holes to leech the water into the root area.  Another method to water through the day is; cut the bottom off a two liter bottle.  Screw on the cap, stab it three times with a filet knife or an ice pick, invert it into the container about three inches and fill with water.  My inverted cut off bottle method allows liquid fertilizers to be added when needed.  Both methods work well to water where it is needed most.

     Containers don’t care if they are in Florida or New York City.  The plants need the required sun and water to survive.  They don’t need a yard with room for a horse.  They need sun, water and some fertilizer.  These zucchini grew over the edge of a ten gallon container and gravity took over, they were 18" and 22"!

     A great arrangement for a large container is to sink a trellis in the center of the pot as you add soil.  Plant an eggplant on one side of the trellis and a squash on the other.  I start my own seeds but plants are available at Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot and your local garden shop.

   Train the veggies to grow up as they grow, gently tying them to the trellis.  Surround your veg with 2 annuals like petunia on each side toward the edge of the pot.  Add a contrasting flower to the sides or a colorful croton.  You will have great color and veg to eat.  You will gain great experience at growing along the way. 

   You can grow corn and squash and potatoes in a single pot.  We call one pot the pizza pot.  I am growing tomatoes (roma and beef steak) basil, oregano and thyme in a medium size container.  Test your skills if you have them, teach yourself new skills if you have none.

Monday, November 26, 2012

In Every Med Kit

     In every med box or med kit you stock and store you naturally want to be sure you have the best supplies you can afford.  I want to make suggestions to make your med box better and give you ideas for multi-use items.

     If you are cut off from your group or are unable to get back to your safe place, you want to have more than just the first aid kit and some gauze bandages.  You could easily add a few items that could keep you going and get you home.  
     Travel size containers of the following are good to have; baby powder or medicated body powder, zinc oxide or baby butt cream (for chafing, waterproofing a wound), Petroleum jelly, sunscreen, aspirin, ibuprophen, Benedryl, one time use Liquid Skin, cough drops, toothbrush, dental floss.

     Petroleum jelly waterproofs skin, lubricates the skin and can be used to oil machine parts and 1000 other uses.
     Dental Floss doubles as a suture and as thread for stitching clothing.
     Feminine napkins make a good bandaging pad.  
     Teething gel for tooth pain contains benzocaine and is a numbing agent.  
     Mouth wash (look at how much alcohol is in it!) is a disinfectant.  
     Provodone/iodine solution is great to have but if bulk is an issue, pour solution into a zippered baggie with some makeup removal pads.  You now have made iodine wipes for on the go!  
     Duct tape can remove splinters, hold a cut closed until you get somewhere safe, or mend a torn bag. 

      Pack an L.E.D. flashlight and extra batteries.  

      A rain poncho, even the Dollar Tree poncho  will keep off the rain.  Try to get a two pack, one for you and one for the next day!  Also, use as a table cloth or cover if you need to make a sterile area.   
     Pack a survival knife.  There are many models available; Harbor Freight at sells a Bowie style knife with a fishing kit, wire saw, waterproof matches, etc. in the handle and a compass on the end.  There are many makers, try to buy quality and not just price. This is from a prep site.  Look for one you like.
     A multi-tool and a good jack knife could be an affordable alternative to the bigger hunting survival knife.
     A sling shot is not only good for taking down small game but can be used to deflect danger.  We've all seen that scene in the movie when a distant sound distracts danger.  Make it happen with a sling shot.  They fold down for easy packing, and ammo is available everywhere! 

     To make room in your bug out bag for more items of a better variety and these additional ideas, take away as much of the store bought packaging as you can.  Take roll bandages out of their boxes; put them all together in a zippered baggie.  Tear open the boxes; pack those paper boxes flat in a baggie for tinder for a fire. 

      Even with these items the basic med box is no more bulky, it is just better prepared.  Pack it all, repack it and pack it again.  That means; Drill!  Test your skill! Oh, yeah and then try to do it wearing a pair of latex gloves!  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Make it yourself in Flannel and Muslin

 Flannel and Muslin

     To purchase now:  Flannel and Flannelette are a loose weave cotton fabric that shrinks when washed.  Flannel is thicker; Flannelette is a thinner lighter weight flannel that is sometimes called baby flannel.  A bolt of the fabric in white is fairly affordable or it can be purchased by the yard and stored in a space saving vacuum bag.
      It makes diaper material when cut to size with one extra inch all around as a seam allowance, stitch a hem all around to make it last through washing and wearing.

      Feminine napkins are made by cutting three pieces 9” by 5”, fold one in half and stitch down one side, turn right side out to make an absorbent center pad.  place tube in center of on piece of the two remaining pieces of fabric ( yes, on top!).  Sew around the edges of the three pieces of fabric on three sides, long side, top ,long side.  Turn right side out or tube channel in! fold under raw edge of bottom of pad and stitch shut.

      Strips cut from the fabric are great absorbent bandaging material. 
      Two squares cut 36" and sewn on three side then turned and stitched shut is a baby quilt.

      Rectangles cut from the fabric at 9” by 5” and hemmed on all four sides and stored flat in bulk can make great toilet paper substitute material.  It is soft, absorbent and washable. 

      Diapers and toilet 'papering' should be rinsed when used to remove any deposits that can be rinsed away.  As in the “olden times” as far away as the 70’s! they should be stored in a tightly lidded container with enough water to cover all the pieces deposited.    We called them “Diaper Pails”.  My mother instructed us to put in a gallon of water and a cap full of Lysol disinfectant to soak the diapers to keep them from mildewing until laundry day.  Never soak the diapers in bleach because it can “eat” the fabric.  Use bleach when washing the diapers to whiten and disinfect them.

     Muslin is the perfect cotton fabric without any flannelling or felted softness it is just plain cotton fabric.  It is used for curtains, quilt backing, summer shirts and shorts, skirts, shifts and dresses, tablecloths, dresser scarves, pillow cases, lining fabric for light to medium weight fabric as a stabilizer.  As you see, I am familiar with the uses as I “cut my teeth” on muslin.

     The first embroidery I did was on a muslin pillowcase I sewed.  The first lace edging I used, my grandmother showed me how to pull the threads at the edge for a frayed edge then pull threads several inches inside the edge to create a lace effect.  Look it up , or Google it as thread pulled lace.
     You can use the pulled threads to sew with on the fabric or sew on buttons or do mending.

     A square of muslin is a tourniquet. 

     Muslin strips were cut and rolled for bandaging as part of the war effort.  Ladies got together to cut the end to make a straight edge, rip in strips and roll the fabric for packing and sending off to the front. 

     A bag can be made by cutting a piece of muslin 24” by 12 “.  Fold the fabric in half to make a 12” by 12” square.  Sew along the two raw edges.  Fold the top over 1/4” then fold again ½”.  Stitch from the seam to about ½” from to center fold.  Turn bag over and stitch the folded hem from the center to about 1/2 “from the seam.  Cut 2 pieces of cording about 24” long.  Put a large safety pin into the end of a length of cordage.  Thread the cord through the tunnel you made from the seam all around back to the seam, and out the space left from not stitching the hem closed. Tie a knot to close the circle of cordage.  Run the second cord from the center opening through the same tunnel all around back to the center opening and knot the end.  Turn right side out, pull the two knots and you have a drawstring bag.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas is coming

     Sooner than we even want to think it, a year has passed and the rush to acquire gifts for giving is upon us again.  With four boys and limited income, I have been in the habit of shopping year round for the ‘perfect’ thoughtful gift for each one, then later came the spouses and children and the year is barely long enough to find the gifts and then we have birthdays.  YIKES! 
     I only have one son who has asked for #10 cans of butter beads or dehydrated milk.  He is an actual doomsday prepper.  One of them has hinted he could use a dehydrator.  One hints about bows and arrows and one is in the early childhood development of his family.  He needs a nap!  
     I would not suggest buying a generator for a family member who thinks the world will go on as is, forever.   You know your family, their likes and dislikes.  If they are in to the prepping life, it is easy to catalog shop for the special occasion and pay a bit here and there.  If they are not, there are several ways to approach downsizing the gift issue. 
    The best suggestion is, talk about the economy far in advance of the occasion and tell your loved ones you are simplifying your life and not willing to go into credit debt for the holidays.  Suggest a new kind of gift swap.  We like the theme we call Make It, Take it or Bake it!  Gifts must be made by hand, or taken from that closet where unused gifts go to die, or baked from scratch.  
     Another theme we like is Thrift and Gift.  All gifts must be purchased at a charity thrift shop, a yard sale or re-gifted.  Some of the fun is in the challenge when you put a ten or fifteen dollar cap on the purchase. 
     Did you notice the re-gift is worked into both themes?  One year, someone gave me a fog machine.  Seriously, someone thought the woman who owns every craft supply available at Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s ETC. needed a fog machine in a frosted glass bowl with little LED lights.  I loved it!  But, I didn't have any place to put it!  I still had the fog machine four Christmases later.  Finally, this year I was able to gift it to a son who was doing a special thing for Halloween.  These things happen even in the closest of families!  You may have something once given to you that would be truly appreciated by someone who can use it.
     My theory is, if someone has a lot of something or collects something, they want more of the same thing.  One son likes Wedgwood.  Yard sales are my main source for high end purchases.  The economy has allowed me to afford Tiffany silver jewelry, authentic military olive drab poncho and liner, tools, Wedgwood, fur collars, 2 dehydrators, lots of costume jewelry and much more.  It matters little that these things are not in the original box as long as they are in mint or like new condition.  This resale shopping allows me to squeeze the life out of a dollar.  It also gives me the thrill of the hunt where no blood is let!  
      If I am giving a gift of jewelry or Wedgwood that is not in a box, I make one.  A simple to assemble decoupaged box is like giving a gift in a gift.  I also make extracts and perfume.  I can't wait to get my Christmas box of homemade cookies from the professional baker in the group!  It's great fun waiting to see what the others can produce.  The dinner and gift exchange is a riot of laughter and good cheer.  Try it this year and enjoy the new year without the fear of credit card bills.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Potatoes in a Pot

    Gardening is part of my prep work.  I want to know how to replace the things I need through my own effort.

     All I wanted was a fresh potato.  I wanted to grow my own this year.  I had some information about container growing and I wanted to try it.  Six weeks after setting aside my potatoes for seeding, they still had not sprouted eyes!  I had bought these potatoes two months before.  I tried setting them in the ground and watering them and after six more weeks, nothing.  Then I went online and discovered yet another hormone I don’t need.  

    When potatoes are harvested they are sent to a processing area to be washed, rinsed and bagged for shipping.  During that process they are sprayed with a hormone that stops the potato from growing.  This is to keep the potato in a state of “good looks” as it prohibits the sprouting of eyes.   My eyes squeeze shut and I say, "great!" with such a deadly tone.  This is just another chemical used to get $$ in pockets at a cost of human health no one has calculated!  

     Yeah, just great!  This hormone also inhibits the sprouting of eyes so well, you can’t grow potatoes from home without buying seed potatoes from a feed store.   To side step yet another hormone you don’t need in your body, I suggest you buy organic or from a farmers market and get the potatoes with dirt on them.

     I went to the feed store and got myself some seed potatoes.  This is Florida; I am three months behind on an experiment that should be near its end.  I pout.

     Here is the experiment.  From a friend I heard a tale of a man who grew all his potatoes in five gallon buckets.  He cut a hole in the side about 7” in diameter just below the half way point.  He used coconut cloth (the stuff in window box planters) to line the bucket on the hole side.  He filled the bucket with soil, nothing bought, just good earth.  He planted his potatoes and when he thought they were ready or he wanted one, he pulled back the cloth, reached in and pulled out potatoes for dinner, leaving the top growth intact to let the smallest potatoes grow in to size.  I thought, cool!

     I prepped three buckets that I had cut a ‘flap’ in.  My flap is a three sided cut in a clean unused five gallon bucket that is cut from bottom to top across the top to bottom.  It measures 9” by 5”.  I have lined the bucket with burlap and added soil.  I am using a spent bungee cord to keep the flap closed.  I plan to cut the burlap down the center when I harvest so I can get my hand in without all the soil falling out.  I think it will work.  I have planted two areas of potatoes, one in an area of my front garden and the other in the containers.  It is now a race to the table to see which produces more per square foot.  I will post the results when harvest happens. 

     I saw a potato planter in the garden department at Wal-Mart near the Topsy Turvy planters.  It cost about $15 and is made of the same plastic as the Topsy Turvy's tomato planters.  It is rectangular and has a pull down Velcro-ed side.  It looks like a mess in the making. I like the use of five gallon buckets.  Buckets have handles.  These buckets will last for years, can be "planted in the ground and stop all chance of weed invasion or potato escape.

     I will get good drainage from the bucket planters from the side flap slits yet, if it gets dry, I can bungee them tight and retain the water.  I have high hopes for this method so I look forward to uploading actual pictures of fresh veggies. 

Note: After weeks of growth, I have added a wrap of chicken wire 18” high and secured with two zip ties.  I built up the base of the plants with a thick layer of hay as mulch.  The plants are OVER sized.  The wire supports the plants and they are blooming madly!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Count you blessings

    Everything you know, every one you have ever spoken to, everything you own, everything you believe, everything you love, every lesson you have learned either good or bad is a blessing. 

     The fact that most preppers believe they will lose the things they like, love, and are used to, doesn't mean they are not blessed.  The blessings they have become the reason for hanging in there just one more day.  Many prisoners of war held on to their sanity or hope for tomorrow by focusing on one or two precious memories to get them through the night.  Everything has a value great or small and is now or will be revealed later as a blessing. 

   I don’t want to play my pain is bigger than your pain, it isn't.  It’s your pain.  I really don’t want to hear how my belief may or may not fit into your religious belief.  That is a nice coincidence.  I simply believe you know a lot, have a lot, love a lot and it is all of value. 

     While prepping, keep your memories close to the front.  Remember the lessons and the stories told by your elders.  There is a great pool of knowledge in their past for you to draw from.

     Recently, my eighty year old mother described to me her grandmother’s “summer kitchen”.  They lived in Pennsylvania in a coal mining town where her uncles made daily rounds of the tracks near the mines picking coal that fell from the coal cars to feed the cook fires at home.  She described the addition at the back of the house that was made to use as a kitchen from Easter to Labor Day.  The windows on the north and east side of the porch were always open.  The stove was smaller than the one not ten feet away in the actual kitchen and the breeze took the heat out the windows.  The summer kitchen was closed with the last canning of the summer garden crop.  All the dishes, flatware and pots and pans moved back into the house as they were washed at the end of the canning day.  The windows were closed and no one went there again until Easter the next year. 

     What a lovely blessing.  The knowledge of the floor plan, the reason for the layout, the fact that it all worked out to keep the house cool enough to sleep in, the rhythm in the timing of the seasons was all a blessing.  Her Grandmother was still clocking her life by seasons, and scheduling the work for the ‘holidays’ when everyone was home to help!  It was brilliant!  Maybe I don’t need to know how and why to build a summer kitchen on the side of the house where a cross breeze occurs today.  But, I am blessed with that knowledge forever, in case I do need to know.   

     I am a middle child.  I have the wealth of knowledge of the siblings that came before and after.  I do pretty well at Jeopardy, too!  I have always liked being told a story and I am able to recall these stories and use the morals or the instructions contained therein, when I need the information.  I am truly blessed.  If you don’t remember the lessons shared with you, try to develop a good library of survival books.  Consider writing things down, maybe compiling your own family history, concentrating on how we once lived.  Take lessons to acquire skills or training you may need.  Read more.  Listen better.  Bless yourself with knowledge.

      Set your mind in a place that lets you enjoy your prepping..  Surround yourself with the like minded. Bless yourself.  Prep yourself.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Prepping in your Kitchen!

     When you made your list of what you have, I hope you made yourself familiar with what you have on hand in your pantry or food cabinets.  You can best see what you use and what you don’t. 

     I hate my mom’s pantry because she likes some strange things.  She has a jar of pearl onions.  These are the kind of onions often served in a mixed drink.  My mom doesn't drink!  She likes the taste of these onions, so she bought them, but the sell by date was seven years ago.  So, let’s say she likes them every ten or twenty years and thinks it’s nice to have them on hand for that rare urge.  They are brown and there is no liquid in the jar.  I tossed them.  We had a lively ‘discussion’ as I did it!  You can’t complain to ME about not having storage space if you fill it with stuff you don’t use within 12 months of purchase.

     Go through your cabinets and separate out everything you haven’t used in the twelve months since you bought it.  Donate it to a food bank.  As long as you have made a mess, take out everything and wipe out the shelves!  You are already half way there, so, wipe it clean!  As you put away your groceries, think.

     Think how much you use in a week of each item you are putting back, how often in a month, how often in a year.  Ask yourself why you are giving space to something you use once a year, are you storing it well enough to last for years, will it last two years?  I hope you know that I know you have food coloring and cookie sprinkles and half a tube of cake icing and some other delicacies like cocktail onions!  Take them out of the weekly grocery area and store them together in a basket or Tupper container that lost its lid in an area not accessed every day.    Make a list of everyday items.  You are almost ready to go shopping. 

     If you eat rice, put a 10 lb. bag on your list instead of a one pound bag.  If you eat a lot of Macaroni & Cheese, look for deals and buy more.   If you only consume soup in the winter, check the sell by dates in the store, use your coupons and buy soups on sale in summer for less and store them for the winter. Stock your kitchen well with the things you really use and you will save money and have more things you really use instead of clutter.

     From your list of things you use, you have accomplished a list of what to buy when prepping for disaster.  You will also have what you know you will use on hand when you need it.  You are saving time and money for gas by stocking well.  One of my sons has a regular kitchen cupboard where he and his wife store the staples for the house.  He has another shelving unit with one flat of each item that is in the cupboard.  This is the shelf where they go if they run out of that one can of corn that wasn't in the cupboard instead of running to the grocery store twenty minutes before dinner.  If a storm threatens, they don’t have to rush to hoard items they may need in the 3-7 days after the hurricane.  It is already in the house.  They replace any item taken from the backup stores when they next do their grocery store shopping.  They have their long term prep foods in another location.

     If you are a hopeless impulse shopper, make a list of things you never want to see in your pantry again.  Take it with you and before you go to the checkout at the store, read the list and remove the items you have forbidden yourself.  Check yourself before you check out.  How much money are you willing to throw away on things you don’t use or use up?  If you want to donate to a food bank, give what you like to eat not just what you forgot you bought.

     Know yourself, know your budget, know what you need.  Then and only then is it safe to go shopping!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Short List for Prep Goods

      In a worst case scenario, there will be limited or no electricity.  Food must be prepared without microwaves, electric ovens or stoves.  Propane or Coleman fuel stoves, and open fires will be the heat source.  MREs can be heated in the bag with the enclosed chemical packs.  MREs are prepared food ready to heat and eat. 

      First, you will be eating what you have in the fridge, just to keep from wasting it.  You will cook all the meat and look for ice to keep the cooked meat stored as long as possible.  You will toss the mayo and look at everything in there with suspicion.  Toss the mayo, but don’t toss everything.  Ketchup, mustard, syrup, honey, peanut butter, jams and jellies, steak sauces, and soy sauce can be brought to room temperature and used over the next few days to two weeks.  Remove the lids from the condiments and wipe them out with a clean paper towel or napkin.  Use a cap full of bleach in a gallon of water to dampen the threads and wipe until all drips are gone.  Wipe the screw threads completely clean.  Recap the containers and store the items in the coolest darkest place you can find. 

     Eggs can be stored at room temperature if handled properly.  Think back to farm days when eggs were taken from the hen, wiped clean and kept in a basket on the side board until needed.  Eggs last longer if wiped with mineral oil to seal their porous surface.  Before refrigeration, food was made fresh and fed to the pigs when it turned.  If you have doubts about food storage, research now while you have internet access and get a good book for your library to refer to later.

     If you are prepared to cook over an open flame, you must have food on hand to prepare.  This does not have to be scratch cooking.  This first grocery shopping list is the easiest food to prep and store for later use.  It is mostly heat and serve or just-add-water then heat and serve.

     Eggs       Pancake mix          Biscuit mix        Dehydrated soup      dehydrated chili and stew mixes with all vegetables and seasoned sauces included          dehydrated noodle mixes        Dehydrated potatoes (mashed or the scalloped or Au Gratin styles)       Macaroni and cheese       canned vegetables         canned meats          canned meals (such as chicken chow mien)      Rice     Beans     Bouillon cubes     Coffee      Tea      Sugar     Salt    spices and flavorings you like.        
     These ingredients can make many meal combinations.  The basics of preparing these meals are printed on the packages and are simple to follow.   They are either heat and eat or add water, heat and eat.  A simple daily menu could be- breakfast-eggs and pancakes   lunch-Hearty soup   dinner-Mac and cheese with spam slices and biscuits     snack- honey and a biscuit.  With the exception of the eggs, you could purchase enough for three days for around $20. 

      Remember as you build your prep pantry, to include cleaning supplies.  If you have water, you will not only need dish detergent but bleach for sanitizing.  Cleanliness will save you in a disaster as surely as the ability to continue to eat.  Eating with dirty hands on dirty dishes with dirty implements is an invitation to illness and even death.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bug out Bag, the basic B.O.B.
   A bug out bag is a group of items in a back pack for ease of transport with items needed during immediate response to a dire situation, or, a pack of gear and equipment that will get you home.  This bag usually contains enough food for a three day walking trip.  There should be self defense items, shelter or weather protection and any gear that could help you survive if that is all you have, for example a fishing line and hooks, or a small crossbow for hunting small game.  In the absolute worst case scenario, this could be all you have.

   In your list of supplies and gear you already have on hand you may have most if not all of the contents of a bug out bag (abbreviated BOB), move items from the list to the bag.  You can purchase a heavy duty military grade Alice pack or ruck sack, or perhaps you bought a child the $75 lifetime warranted backpack for school that he only used one year.  For now, as a starter kit, use what you have. 

   A bug out bag is usually stored where you will need it in an emergency.  If you work away from home and you will need to get home, or if you have a retreat to get to, you may want your bug out bag in your car with the emergency roadside kit.  If you ride in to work on a train or subway, or if you have to park your car in a garage well away from your desk, you may want to store a bag in your desk.  Locks and keys are essential.  You lock your car and trunk against theft.  Lock your desk.  Consideration for company rules and policies may keep you from storing a firearm in your desk.  Small bags in your desk that can get you through the dark time to your car, are hardly noticeable, but lock it up so it is there when you need it.  You might have an emergency kit and flashlight in a desk to get you to your car.  There are good kits that include a wire saw and compass as well as first aid available at

   My BOB has a multi-function tool and a Swiss army knife.  The multi-function knife does have a jack knife blade but I have it in my kit because of the strong pliers which are handy when skinning a catfish and an awl that can be used to make holes in leather.  It also has the screwdrivers and wire cutter that most of these tools have.  One tool with many uses is the ultimate bag item.  The Swiss army knife has may tools but I pack it for the knife.   Space is a premium.

   Provide yourself with some temporary shelter.  Maybe you can carry the weight of a 4’ by 6’ tarp and some paracord.  The tarp can catch water, make shade, or bundle loose or found items to carry along.

   Military MREs (meals ready to eat) are available online.  One source is Emergency Essentials located at .  This company offers both a single meal pack and full daily required calorie packs.  They also have charts and other info posted on site and in their mailer catalog that describes storing conditions and length time an item can be stored.  MREs contain dehydrated or freeze-dried foods that are light weight and easy to pack due to the lack of water.  Pack extra clothes and change out your clothing seasonally.  No one wants to be stuck on a long walk home with a bag full of shorts and flip flops in the middle of winter! 

   Pack what you will need first, on top.  If you have to dress for success and now are faced with a walk in the hood or woods, pack your walking shoes or hiking boots, socks and clothes on top.  If concerned about the weight on your back there are two tips here, 1: don’t count the weight of the clothes and shoes on top as you will be wearing them after discarding the ‘cute’ shoes and suit you wear to work, 2: weigh the bag packed with all your bug out needs, then rearrange them for comfort, 3: Don’t forget to ADD WATER!  Weigh the water and know that the bag gets lighter as you use the disposables.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Break in Florida

     This year we had no school closings due to hurricanes or tropical storms.  That means most of the public schools decided to adjust there calendars by letting the students have a nine day break.  YAAY!  I picked up my grandson from school Friday and he is not to return until a week from the following Monday.    

     The upside of all this time off from the normal routine is, I will have a little helper around the house to learn how to make the holiday gifts I have on my list for this year.  The down side is the little helpers that live in the homes I clean will also be home this week.  Some of them will be “helping” which is always fun!  Still, I have a list of gifts that need making and this looks like a good week to get started.

     This year I am making extracts, perfume, aprons and yard jewelry.  I am making almond, walnut, lemon, vanilla and orange extract.  I am making perfume from plumeria flowers that bloomed in the garden last summer.  The left over oils will be added to melted wax to become scented sand candles.  I am making aprons and a matching oven mitt for the bakers and cooks in the family based on the patterns my grandmother used to make and sell aprons in the Depression of the 1930s.  Also, I am making a batch of fire starters for the campers and outdoors men.  The yard jewelry for our family garden lovers will be inverted wine bottles made into hummingbird feeders gifted with a bottle of nectar to fill them with.   We are also making no sew quilts and fleece hats and scarves. 

     It is going to be a busy week of crafting.  And, what does this have to do with prepping and preparing for hard times?  Everything.  My grandmother made and sold aprons door to door during the Depression to help add a few pennies to the family coffers.  I won’t ask my grandson to cut and sew along with me, but while he is munching on the warm fresh peanut butter cookies we will make together, I will cut and I will sew and he will absorb the memory.

     The fire starters we will make together and he will acquire the ability to make and start fires as they will need to be tested.  There will be marshmallows!  The extracts require cleaning of fruits and nuts and prepping the jars and measuring the ingredients.  The perfume requires measuring ingredients with an eyedropper and carefully mixing them and funneling into fancy little bottles I bought at a yard sale. 

     My grandson will have lessons in measuring liquids and solids which is math and science.  There will be lessons in fire safety and melting points.  More science!  He will learn to bend wires and use epoxy and there will be glitter and glue.  We will talk about the humming birds and where the ingredients to the crafts come from and how they were acquired.  I will tell stories about my grandmother and his recently passed grandmother and we will carry on traditions that keep us out of the mall on Black Friday.  There will be sugar cookies and I promised several dozen deviled eggs for the family feast.  He will be full.  He will smell the sweet smells of baking and learn the lessons of making. 

     Sure, he will watch the holiday specials on the television and I will pick some classics for movie night.  He will not see the inside of a department store or see my credit card.  He will see his family and learn to keep a secret till Christmas.  He will forever have the knowledge and experience of making and making do.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More Storage Space

     I have been looking into in home storage.  I have some ideas from a camper/RV site.  There are thousands online.  Some have virtual tours of the vehicles and those that don’t have great photos. 

RV Virtual Tours, View Motorhome Interiors, RVs for Sale

     Campers have a good storage lesson to teach in their use of cabinets that fit the odd unused space.  They have pull out spice racks hidden in 5” of space next to a sink.  Many modern home DIY stores offer these cabinets.  Lowe’s and Home Depot have cabinet counselors that can help you select new modern cabinetry if you are up to a kitchen upgrade.
     There is space for storage under the mattress in RVs.  The mattress lifts with a hydraulic hinge so you don’t have to support the weight of the mattress while you stack and store.  An average queen size bed measures 80” by 61”.  You could stack the same number of average cans of veggies as a grocer could.  That’s a LOT of cans!  If you haven’t tried to elevate your bed with the lifts I mentioned, the math should convince you of how much room you have and how great it would be to stack and store, stack and store under the bed.   

     Look at the cabinet catalogs and think to yourself, is that hall closet being used to its optimum?  You don’t have to remodel your house to get more storage space.  You could start by remodeling or customizing a closet or a guest bedroom, if you are lucky enough to have one. 

   You could rethink that bathroom sink cabinet.  When it was time to remodel a bathroom, my son and I had a talk and we went with a dresser that fit the room well.  We cut a sink hole in the top, removed the drawer compartment from the first drawer and reapplied the drawer front to the front of the dresser.  It looks like a sink in a dresser with a faux finish, but it is a solid wood storage device with storage no one suspects.  It looks shabby chic.  That’s its job; do the job, keep a secret, look like a fashion statement, be a prepper’s helper.

   If you have the room and need a room divider, purchase three flat packed book cases and two piano hinges.  Assemble the book cases as directed.  Join case one and case two with the hinge facing inward.  Join case two to case three with the hinge facing outward.  Close the cases.  For ease of access you could add casters so you can roll the cases apart when you need access to the inner case.  You can float the cases in the room or up against a wall.  One side might face your living room displaying books and bric-a-brac, the case facing a dining room with extra decorative serving dishes and the center case could store prep goods. 

  I like the above suggestion in the photo.  Replacing a closet door with book shelves that store more and hide things better not seen, behind. If TSHTF you can use the divider to divide private space when the relatives turn your dinette into a bedroom.  A good room divider also keeps the heat in a smaller area should you want to cut back and only heat the area you are using.
  In an open floor plan, the kitchen, living and dining area is all one big space.  Two bookcases create a wall where there is none.  One case can face the living area with books, CD's and such.  The other faces the kitchen and stores big stuff; my dehydrator, vac-n-seal, and other appliances that take up space in a cabinet that is now full of nobody’s business when they come to visit.

   Find your dead space and re-purpose it for your prepping.   Find new ways to use old space.  Look at the possibilities online and in store catalogs. Looking is free.  Planning is prepping.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Storage space, Where do I get some?

     I have cabinets that overhang the sink and stove, the full length of the kitchen wall, that are 30 inches above the counter.  The house came that way.  I have installed a decorative shelf 12 inches below the cabinets.  I moved the spices and the most frequently used tea set to this shelf.  I raised the toaster off the counter onto the shelf and use the old toaster space for the cooking utensils and a steak knife block.  This freed the cabinets above for storing more of my weekly use items.  That in turn freed space in the pantry for long term storage items.  

     There are all kinds of ways to store your prep goods without adding on a room or renting storage.  You too can find unused space in cabinets, over counters, under furniture or behind it in dead space.

    I found space in my cabinets using a lifting shelf to use all of the space in the cabinet.  Lifters can be purchased in the kitchen wares department of your local Walmart, Target, Dollar General, Big Lots or Family Dollar Store.

     To make your own lifter, cut four 1” x 2” x 6” legs for your lift shelf.  Use up scraps from your personal stash or purchase mis-cuts from the bin usually located near the custom cut saw at your local lumber store.  Find a plank not as deep as the cabinet, (8-10 inches) drill holes in the corners and screw through the plank into the ‘legs’ you have cut.  Place the stand over the goods you use most often.  Continue stacking cans to the rafters!
    At your department store or bedding store you can purchase bed lifters.  These are thick high impact plastic inverted conical shapes with an indented spot in the center of the top.  You lift the leg of your bed and slide the lifter under.  They were designed to fashionably update the design line of your existing furniture to the modern look.  They provide you with additional storage area with space you were never using.  You can use a concrete block but they will break down from the rocking of just getting in and out of bed and they can break a toe if you forget one is sticking out just a little too far!  
     Get the lifters!  Big Lots has them for under $20. I have also put lifters under the dressers.   Now there is another place for under the bed storage boxes! Use under bed storage boxes on sale after Christmas every year. 
     For easy access to the items stored under the bed, I made platforms. I had a piece of 4’ by 8’ plywood cut in 20” pieces four feet wide.  I bought a bunch of casters.  I screwed the casters to the bottom corners of each plywood piece about four inches from any edge.  I can roll the plank in and out with great ease.  You can add a rope handle if you want or drill a couple of thumb size holes.  I place under the bed collapsible shoe storage bags on top of the planks and fill them with prep goods.  I roll them under the bed and use a ruffled bed skirt to cover my stores and to keep away dust. 

     If you look around you can see dead space in your home.  I have a big screen television.  Let’s just say, I inherited it.  I hated the space it wasted and it was way off the scale of my furniture.  I had a box built.  My son built a heavily reinforced box of 2” by 4” framing and he sheathed the box with cheap particle board.  It is painted the same dull black as the television.  It lifted up the TV by 20” and since the box is open to the front, it provides a huge amount of storage area that would have gone unused with the TV sitting on the floor.
     I have two bookcases flanking each side of the entertainment area as high as the TV.  So, now with all the furniture balanced I have six and a half feet of added storage for the books and CDs and DVDs that were once in a cabinet.  Now, prep goods live in those cabinets in secret.  They are out of sight but nearby for easy access. 

     Go look for dead space in your home.  It wants to be filled with your prep goods.