Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 2015 Goals Update


Dear June, where did you go?

Time for the June update! 

My Goals For 2015

1. Clean, de-clutter, paint, re-carpet, fix ceiling,  and organize Paige's room. This room is an unorganized disaster that needs some serious help. Plus she is at that age where she is growing out of everything: clothes, toys, books, etc.

We are doing a lot more decluttering than I planned. Which is great! She has gotten rid of a lot of clothes, shoes, and toys. We have a little bit more to do, then we can find the carpet completely and clean it to see if we can make it work. We also picked up another headboard and bed frame (for free) to replace the bed we are moving to her room. 

2. Clean, organize, paint, and re-carpet the office. This is where I work at home (most of the time). It doesn't work for me. It doesn't really work for anyone.

I have been doing some serious reorganization in the office. A lot has left the office including all my personal books which are in my room now on shelves. I am working on going through everything to see if it needs to stay or go. 

3. Purchase a hand gun and learn to use it well.

4. To blog much more consistently and to learn to use social media to my advantage. To me consistently is at least 3-5 times a week. That doesn't happen right now.

I am learning a lot about everything blogging and I am really excited to implement what I can. You might have seen some of the changes like the pop-up to subscribe to emails from me and larger writing which is easier to read. I am learning more and more about social media and using it. I am also learning about quality over quantity which means I would rather put out one great post a week over three mediocre ones. 

5. To make a homemade gift for each birthday. I have lots of ideas that I am not using right now so this should be easy to do.

I have Dane's 11th birthday coming up and I am seriously stumped. Ideas?

6. Add 1-2 beehives to the homestead. I would love, love, love to produce our own honey. Not happening this year. 

7. Lose 20 pounds over the year. Unbelievably, I love 20 pounds last year and would love to lose 20 more this year. 

Still working on that too! I am staying active, but working on some dietary changes. I am working on being more conscious of the sugar carbs I consume. 

8. Finish six unfinished projects. I will introduce you all to my needlework pile in the future. You might not be laughing after you see it.

One project is done (curtains) and we have the other just about done. We redid and restrengthened the bunk beds that were at my house for Rob's house for the kids to sleep on. They will be done by Friday! Yeah!

9. Live as frugally as possible by making more my own things and using what I have first before buying more. This really needs to happen this year and working up a realistic budget will be the first step.

I have the budget and it has been ridiculously easy to stick to so far. Summer is always hard on my budget so this should be interesting to see how easy this is. I am also putting aside $20 cash from each paycheck and all my egg money for a rainy day cash fund. So far, so good!

10. Write a book or an e-book. Because I have always wanted to.

11. Go to a self-reliance/preparedness expo and/or Mother Earth News Fair. I have never been to one and always say I want to go one and never do. This year is the year for this!

12. Get a new-to-me double recliner and love seat for the living room. The ones I have have been blessing my home for at least 16-19 years and they blessed some one else's home before that. The kids have made sure they are worn out and broken down. I have fixed over and over again. Enough. Time for new to me stuff!

Still looking for these too. I need to start going to auctions!

That is where I am at for the progress. I know I don't get a lot done every month, but progress is progress. July is a lot more calmer for us even though the kids are going to church camps and have 4-H fair coming up. I hope to get a lot more done!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, June 26, 2015

10 Preparedness Items You Should Be Buying Every Month


As crazy as it seems, some people make prepping harder than it has to be. Learning skills can be hard, but the end rewards are so worth it. The work can be hard, but the pay off is that jobs get done and you have accomplished something for the future.

However...preppers still need stuff. We can produce a lot of our own things and survive just fine. We still need the items that will make survival easier now and, heaven forbid, if anything bad happens. We need things to keep our lifestyle simpler and easier if something happens.

Over the eight years or so that I have been prepping, I have some things that I buy almost every month. Some months when the budget is tight, I might not purchase any of these. Then I appreciate having these things on hand!

Below is my list of things I buy every month. I don't make one big trip and buy all these things in one trip. I add them to my cart at the grocery store, department store, online shopping, and whatnot. I spend a little bit every shopping trip or online order to spread out the cost over the month. 

10 Preparedness Items You Should Be Buying Every Month

1. Canning lids, rings, and jars. I buy canning lids every month. Without fail. At least 3-4 packs of them. I pick up canning rings and jars when I have more room in the budget. I don't really think you can have too many of these things. 

2. Soap in any form: bar soap, body wash, dish soap, laundry detergent, castile soap, all purpose soap, disinfectant soap, etc. I usually buy at least 2-3 things of soap every month. Castile soap is probably my favorite soap, but I keep a good variety at home. I really don't think one can have too much soap when you have kids, have a garden, and have livestock. Staying clean is a good thing.

3. Toliet paper. Enough said. I really don't want to be without it. 

4. Paper, pens, and pencils. Especially paper. I write a lot down just to remember it. My kids use a fair amount of paper, pens, and pencils for school even though they have computers. We use paper and pencils to draw and to entertain. Paper is important. 

5. Ammo - whether ammo for guns, arrows for bows, refill cartridges for anything else. Really, this can not understated. I also think if you buy a little every month, you might not draw as much attention to yourself. 

6. Food that will store well: salt, rice, beans, honey, spices, etc. Again, enough said. Food is more than important. It is necessary. Learning how to cook long storing food is a necessary skill. We need food and water.

7. First aid items and medicine. I buy ibuprofen and/or naproxen every month as well as 2-3 first aid items every month without fail. I don't want to be without it even though I have plenty of natural remedies on hand too. Something you just need the little pill to take the aches away. 

8. Seeds. I realize you might not be able to find these every month. As soon as they come into the stores, I start buying. I look for seeds that will actually produce food like squash, beans, peas, carrots, etc. I do not buy flower seeds unless they are edible. During the winter, I buy packages of heirloom seeds already packaged in mylar and oxygen absorbers. I have a garden already, but if you don't, please get one started. Gardening is a skill you can't be without.

9. Water. As important as life itself. You need water and liquids to stay hydrated. You and I will not live long without fliuds. Enough said. 

10. Reading materials and reference materials. I think this is underestimated by a lot of people, but a good reference library is necessary. As much as I have learned about everything, I still look up things. IN BOOKS. Whoa. I also keep books for enjoyment and to relieve stress. Maybe someday, the internet might be not as reliable or may be heavily censured. You might just want to have a paper copy of things you want to remember. 

This is my list of things I find necessary to stock up on every month. I find other things necessary to have too, but this list is my buy every month list. Your list might look different and that is okay! 

What do you stock up on every month? 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Preppers, Stop Bashing Each Other's Food Stockpiles Because No One Is Right or Wrong



Over the last month at home, we have been talking about how we need to increase our food storage for more people and for a longer period of time. As much as I want to believe I would have enough for three months and longer, reality tells me that might not be the case. 

In researching what I need to keep increasing my food stockpile, I have come across some severe prepper bashing in blog posts and in the comments. Mainly preppers bashing other preppers. As much as I agree with some of the viewpoints, there are some really misguided people too. Some don't believe anyone else has stocked up on food as well as they have. Some believe in just a one-prong approach is best whether that be prepackaged food, MREs, canned food, or raising their own food.

Why do we need to bash each other and make each other feel incompetent? That just is not necessary! Preppers are doing what they can now to make the future better in times of trouble. We all may be wrong or we all may be right, but for me, these truths are what keep me happy:

1. I am just happy that they are stocking food in any form. At least they are trying! Many aren't trying at all!  

2. They will be able to feed themselves for awhile and not want to knock on my door for food. That makes me a very happy camper. 

3. As misguided (in my opinion) as it is that they are just stocking on one kind of food source, they are stocking up on food. I do believe in a multi-pronged approach with having a garden and livestock, prepackaged foods, canned foods, etc. Some don't and I don't agree, but that is what is great about opinions. We each have our own.

4. As long as they have the means to prepare that food with or without power, I am still happy that they are stocking up. They can feed themselves no matter what.

5. If they are stocking up on beans, wheat, oats, and other bulk items, I hope again they have the means to prepare them. I hope they have some way to process the wheat, cook the beans, make oatmeal, and make bread. Otherwise, they were not thinking all the way ahead. If they did, great! That means they will be eating at home and not be knocking at my door. 

Along with bashing what other preppers stockpile, many are critical about how they stockpile. Why so much criticism?!?! There really is no right or wrong way to stockpile, only how you take care of that stockpile. Take me for example. I use these methods to stock up:

* Grocery Stores, mainly Aldi's, but wherever I can find a good deal
* Online mainly through Emergency Essentials, Auguson Farms, and Thrive Life
* Amazon using Subscribe and Save, Prime Pantry, and just shopping the deals
* Mass Merchandisers like Target, Dollar General, and KMart
* Gardening, eating straight from the garden, preserving and canning the harvest
* Raising chickens for eggs and, in the future, for meat
* Gleaning and Foraging, eating what I find or preserving for future use

I make sure everything is stored properly and taken care of. I don't put everything in one place in the house, but have a little stashed everywhere with a main storage room for a most of it. 

I don't believe in putting all my eggs in one basket because I have learned a few hard lessons about that. Some people do believe in putting all their eggs in one basket and that is okay. It may or may not work out for them, but we shouldn't criticize them for it. 

Unless they show up at my door for food. Then I will be a little critical. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday Savings on the Homestead: Time for a Summer Makeover Project!

This week's Tuesday Savings on the Homestead is brought to you by this blogger! The same blogger who hates shopping, especially furniture shopping! 


I really have a problem paying new furniture prices. How can they charge so much for a bed frame and whatnot? It should be criminal! I also don't always dig paying used furniture prices because of the wide variety of conditions and prices. 

I look for a lot of free items and I look at what I have at home. As I have mentioned before, I am switching up beds at our house. We are going to build Paige a platform bed that will hold a full size mattress. She will get Shali's old mattress. 

Shali's room will still be her place to come home to, but I want to put a queen size bed in her room. I want a bigger bed for company. The bed frame in her bed is pretty much beyond repair, but we will take another look after we take it apart. 

I had already picked up a bed frame to use for her bed originally (purchased for $30 off Craigslist), but yesterday we picked this up for free:

 Sorry the picture is on its side and not that great, but you get the idea!

This headboard/bed frame was not exactly what I was looking for, but Paige and I are going to sand it down, paint it ivory, and probably put a layer of clear protective coat over it. I already have paint that will work for this project. This will work very well in the place it will be going. 

It came with a complete bed frame which is handy because my bed frame needs to be replaced too. I will just use the one I got earlier for my bed. Now I just need to find a queen size mattress and box spring! 

This is just one of the two summer makeover projects we have on tap. The other is a desk for Dane's room. I have a desk in the office I am no longer using (I have two desks in there). Dane has been really wanting a desk so this will work out perfectly. We will need to sand the desk a little bit, paint it blue (Dane's choice), and put a clear protective coat on it. I don't have a picture of the desk, but it is still covered with papers that need a new home!

For the cost of the blue paint and clear protective coat, these will both cost me very little money. I will be saving a lot of money in not buying new or used furniture. I am still shopping around for a mattress to make the bed in Shali's room a finished reality. I would also like to carpet it or put down a room-sized area rug, but again I will be patient and shop around for awhile. 

What will you be making over this summer? Will you be spending very little for your makeover project too?

Thanks for reading, 
Erica

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Joys and Concerns of Living in a Rural Area


This weekend is a prime example of why I usually try to make do with what I have. I did more running this weekend than I ever like to do, just to find three rolls of the kind of fencing I wanted. I was not a happy camper, but I have accepted this part of life.

Living in a rural area has its joys. I love the quiet, the openness, the lack of city regulations, the lack of noisy neighbors who can see every thing you do, and the space to do what I want to do. 

Living in a rural area also has its concerns. You have to drive to get what you need, often needing to go farther to get it, and you have to plan everything out to make sure you don't make a wasted trip. This last weekend was one of those weekends. 

Let me get started at the beginning. 

I have to get a fence put up around my garden. I have rabbits running wild on the farm, the chickens are pretty sick of being cooped up, and the dog thinks nothing of running through the garden, destroying whatever happens to be in her path. My onions are up and doing well. The tomatoes, squash, and peppers are planted and thriving well. I have broccoli and potatoes ready to be planted and seeds that want to be planted. None of those things will be surviving without protection.

I already have a fifty foot roll of 28" rabbit wire fence. I needed three more rolls and stakes to attach the fence to so I can surround the garden. Saturday we went to Spencer to see my grandma in the hospital (broken hip) and stopped at Menards. Normally, I love Menards. However, they did not have what I was looking for. I still bought the wooden stakes, two elderberry bushes (on the garden bucket list), a bag of composted manure (for the rhubarb), and a packet of sunflower seeds that my kids felt needed to be planted in the garden. 

Sunday morning, I went to Bomgaars in Algona. They had one roll of fence for a price I didn't remember paying for the last roll. In fact, I think I had sticker shock. I didn't buy the one roll left because I needed three rolls and didn't want to be stuck with having to find an alternative. However, I bought four more tomato plants and some flower plants for the planters in front of the house. And a packet of jelly beans because I was getting a bit stressed. I eat when I am stressed. 

I knew I needed to get this fence put up pronto. I made the executive decision to go to Fleet Farm in Mason City which I should have done in the first place or second place. I got to Fleet Farm, walked around the garden center inside the store, picked up a new trowel, and found the fencing. I was able to buy their last three rolls of exactly what I was looking for. The cost of those three would have been the same as two rolls at Bomgaars. While I was at Fleet Farm, I got wire to secure the fence, four tomato cages, eight broccoli plants, one lemon balm plant, and one mint plant. 

The three trips were all fruitful in what I purchased, but a waste of gas for at least the trip to Algona which I live closest to. I tried to make do with whatever I had, but I just did not have enough of anything on hand. I drove over an hour one direction, fifteen minutes in another direction, and fifty minutes in yet another direction.

When I got home, the rain started to fall. Doesn't that about figure?

This isn't the first time this has happened to me. The driving to get what I need, not finding it, and driving to another place. A lot of the local places are not open on Sunday which I respect. I didn't plan far enough ahead which is key for living in a rural area. 

I will get the fence up after work this week. Tonight I am spraying for mosquitoes because they are becoming quite annoying and Paige is allergic to their bites. Maybe if I have time after that, I will get the fence going. 

The joys of a homesteader!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tuesday Savings on the Homestead: Check Your Tires!


The tires on your vehicles are extremely important and they help you save money!

Properly inflated tires give you good gas mileage which means you save more at the gas pumps. Properly inflated tires also last longer and will show less wear and tear. You will also have better handling to help avoid accidents.

How to check your tires

You need a tire pressure gauge to check your tires. Some gas stations have an air compressor hose with a gauge on them to use. Otherwise, get yourself a tire pressure gauge. Make sure you are on a level surface to get an accurate reading.

Unscrew the cap off the valve stem and apply the tire pressure gauge firmly to the top of the valve stem. You need to have good contact in order to have a correct reading. The gauge will either light with a number or the white stick will shoot out to the number of the tire pressure in your tire.

Using the recommendations of your car manufacturer, check your tire pressure to see if it meets the requirement. I also use the tire pressure recommendation on the side of the tire. I usually make the tire pressure is between the car manufacturer and the tire manufacturers' recommendations. I find the ride to be better when the tires are inflated to there.

If your tires need air, simply add air until the tires show the right amount of pressure. Check with your tire pressure gauge frequently to make sure you have enough and don't over-inflate. Replace the valve stem caps when you are done.

You should check your tires at least once a month and more frequently in the winter. After checking your tire pressure, check your tires for any punctures, holes, gashes, weather checking, or general signs of wear. You will want to have them fixed or just keep an eye on them to make sure they are not getting worse.

If your tires are looking worn out or losing tread, you will want to have them replaced. A good method to deciding if they need to be replaced is to use a penny. Stick the penny head side down in the tire tread. If you can see all of the head, it is time to replace your tires.

I hope this information helps you to save money on your vehicle!

Have a great day!
Erica

Monday, June 1, 2015

June 2015 Goals Update (Updated and Edited)


May was a busy, busy month. First of all, this one graduated! 


Jordan graduated from high school on the 17th with a big party on the 16th. We were pretty busy with that. And when we weren't busy with that, we were busy with Dane's big school project. His school has the fourth graders do a wax museum every year complete with a board, essay, and presentation as well as a walk through for the public. Dane was George Lucas this year which was perfect because he loves Star Wars!


Paige had concerts, track meets, track being over, and softball starting. She is always busy! She is looking forward to becoming a high school student next fall. I am just sure her momma is!

Otherwise, here is the update for the goals!

My Goals For 2015

1. Clean, de-clutter, paint, re-carpet, fix ceiling,  and organize Paige's room. This room is an unorganized disaster that needs some serious help. Plus she is at that age where she is growing out of everything: clothes, toys, books, etc.

I didn't touch it. That is on tap to be done when school gets out (which is today!).

2. Clean, organize, paint, and re-carpet the office. This is where I work at home (most of the time). It doesn't work for me. It doesn't really work for anyone.

I have been cleaning out and reorganizing. I am getting rid of a fair amount of books, moved most of my library down to shelves in my room, and got rid of a set of shelves that were holding binders. I tossed most of the binders' contents. I am getting rid of a desk in the office which will go to Dane's room since he does not have a desk.

3. Purchase a hand gun and learn to use it well.

4. To blog much more consistently and to learn to use social media to my advantage. To me consistently is at least 3-5 times a week. That doesn't happen right now.

Getting better! Three posts published last week!

5. To make a homemade gift for each birthday. I have lots of ideas that I am not using right now so this should be easy to do.

6. Add 1-2 beehives to the homestead. I would love, love, love to produce our own honey.

7. Lose 20 pounds over the year. Unbelievably, I love 20 pounds last year and would love to lose 20 more this year.

8. Finish six unfinished projects. I will introduce you all to my needlework pile in the future. You might not be laughing after you see it.

Project one finished. I set up my sewing machine, learned how to use it again, and bought new needles and bobbins for it. Then I hemmed the curtains I bought for Rob's house. The curtains and the hemming was a project that had been weighing on me for awhile. Now if we can get the bunk beds done...

9. Live as frugally as possible by making more my own things and using what I have first before buying more. This really needs to happen this year and working up a realistic budget will be the first step.

We have gone back to once a month shopping and menu plans for the entire month. I did the shopping trip two weeks ago with a small trip last week to pick up what Aldi's did not have. So far, so good! I save so much money this way. 

10. Write a book or an e-book. Because I have always wanted to.

11. Go to a self-reliance/preparedness expo and/or Mother Earth News Fair. I have never been to one and always say I want to go one and never do. This year is the year for this!

12. Get a new-to-me double recliner and love seat for the living room. The ones I have have been blessing my home for at least 16-19 years and they blessed some one else's home before that. The kids have made sure they are worn out and broken down. I have fixed over and over again. Enough. Time for new to me stuff!

The garden is going in this week. I planted onions and asparagus last week. I will also be weeding and putting up rhubarb this week. I bought some older bananas last week which are perfect for dried bananas. The kids love them!

That is all, folks!
Erica

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