Saturday, August 1, 2015

August 2015 Goals 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Thoughts - Week of July 24


The Friday Thoughts might give you the impression I am obsessed with certain things, but then again maybe not. Many people ask what I think about things and I am not a very good talker. I will start trying to put my thoughts here every week and see what happens. I am going to keep it to five things that have been on my mind or heart, but I am not making any promises. 

1. Well, there is certainly something going on in the air financially in this country. All signs are not pointed to the good either. If you are not paying attention to the financial news in other countries, you might want to be. If a recession or depression happens in this country (again), this will be hard on everyone. So many people depend on the government or other services to stay alive and that may not be possible if something happens. 

For the frugally minded, this might not be such a hurt for you. For those that are not frugally minded, you might want to jump on the spend less, save more train. Having cash reserves at home and tucked away at other places will be a saving grace during this time. Learning to do for yourself will be too. Get your food storage in a better shape and always be adding to it. 

2. I am continually amazed by people who do not take advantage of when the price is low on certain things (maybe all things). I can understand just not having the money to pay for it. However, the price of propane is the lowest it has been in ten or more years. People say they do not have the money to fill their tank at this price, but have the money for a vacation or to send their kids to every camp they can. I would think having a warm home and saving money would take precedence, but some people are really hung up on living the good life before all else. 

3. On a positive note, I love Summer! I wish it was warm all year round in Iowa, but it isn't. 

4. I am getting ready to put in the fall garden. I didn't plant as much this Spring due to the busyness of the season. I let that section of garden go to weeds. I just mowed it off last night and will rent a tiller to till it up again. I want to plant green beans, carrots, radishes, potatoes, and maybe a few other things (I haven't decided yet). 

5. I just about bought two feeder pigs the other day. I want to try raising a couple of pigs so badly just so we can raise own our meat. However, my family is not on board. At all. And I need a good area built for them first. I have a tendency to jump first and think later so I am trying the opposite. Hopefully, in the next year, we will be adding a feeder pig or two to the homestead. 

This week's posts are: 9 Things I Have Learned As A Single Mom Prepper/Homesteader

My favorite Amazon item this week: 

Have a good week and let me know what has been on your mind!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


(This does contain affiliate links, but I only share my favorites with you!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

9 Things I Have Learned As A Single Mom Prepper/Homesteader

(Circa 2007 when this journey began)

I am the only one who can do for myself and my kids. Of course I have a great support group of family and friends who help, but at the end of the day I am still the only one for for my kids. I have to do the work required to keep up the home, bring in the money, and to do for ourselves. I have to do the canning, be worried about security, working to stay of debt, keep buying groceries to eat and to store, and be creative.

I learned really fast that being a single mom, after being married for eleven years, came with a steep learning curve. Suddenly I had to do two parents' worth of work as one person. I had to figure out a lot of things for myself. I had to change my ways, look further down the road, and prepare for it. Preparedness became extremely important to me because I never knew when the child support would or would not come. I might have $700 in child support one month and none the next month. 

Now cchild support isn't an issue, but then it was. Having food storage and extras have literally saved us some months before I had to apply for food assistance. I only had that for a year and used it to my advantage. I built up my food storage even more.  Having a garden has fed us in the leaner summer months. Being willing to work harder at home made a huge difference.

These are some of the things I have learned from being a single mom prepper/homesteader:

1. Self-reliance is not an issue most of the time. It is so necessary that it becomes ingrained into you. I am not one of those who is going to cry on social media that I need help and money and how I have nothing. I actually have trouble understanding people like that. I like knowing that I have done what I did with my own two hands. I have trouble asking for help on the best of days, but I know I am the one who can do the work at home. However...

2. Make your kids help around the house and homestead! They aren't helpless. They can do chores. They can make supper. They can tidy up after themselves. They do not have to become a burden and more work for you. Start working with them when they are young and they will be great when they are older. 

3. You will raise better adults because you will have taught your kids how to run a house, do chores, do laundry, and raise livestock. You will teach your kids how to be responsible. Society needs you to do this. Please do if you don't already! My older two daughters are in college, self-supporting for the most part, maintain their own apartment, and decent grades. Teaching them young to work has benefits down the road.

4. Creativity is a must. An absolute must. Whether it is making supper, fixing broken things again, trying to get everything accomplished in a day, or whatever, you need to be creative. Learning skills helps you to become more creative. 

5. Having a fully stocked pantry and lots of food storage will literally save you. When you don't have enough money for groceries, you can eat from the pantry. You might have to get creative, but you won't go hungry.

6. Staying out of debt is so, so crucial. I have learned this lesson over and over again. I still get into pickles once in a while, but for the most part I avoid debt.

7. Having a reliable vehicle is a necessity and not just for bugging out. Vehicle maintenance is a must and should be a line item in your budget. I drive the wheels off my vehicles. I try to make sure all preventative maintenance is done within reason. I usually get at 200,000 miles plus on each vehicle before they become totalled by a teenager or become unfixable. 

8. You still have to push through the fatigue and get the stuff done. The garden needs to be planted, weeded, and harvested. Canning will still need to be done. Some nights, midnight is an early bed time. You still have the kids to help while doing all that. In some ways it is lucky that I have insomnia and take advantage of that, but I also struggle with fatigue and have to really push through it. I figure winter is for resting and getting caught up. 

9. You will accomplish more than you can ever imagine. You are the only one, remember? You have to get it accomplished. I thought I would never be able to raise chickens, but I did. I never thought I could have the satisfying life I do now, but I do. Life gets better and you stop surprising yourself because you know you can tackle whatever life throws at you!

Life is what you make of it, but I have learned so much about self-reliance by being a prepper, homesteader, and single parent. For those of you who think you can't do all of this, now is the time to find out if you can or not. But I bet you can.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, July 13, 2015

Using Amazon Subscribe and Save for Prepping and Stockpiling


I actually hate shopping. I rarely buy more than what is on my list and do not really want to go into any store. I also don't like that people give you weird looks when you buy 4-5 items when you should only need one. I also don't like to explain myself when they ask questions. 

So I am an online shopper. I know some preppers don't like to buy online because it is easier to track what is purchased, but I also live in rural area and don't have big box stores near me to pay cash for my preps. With the advent of security spy cameras, they know who is buying what and where at anyway.

One of my favorite ways to save money and continually add to my preps is to use Amazon's Subscribe and Save. I like that I can set it and forget about it. Around the 20th of every month, they send me an email asking to make sure this is what I want to be delivered or give me a chance to change my mind. 

Using Amazon's Subscribe and Save is easy!
1  If an item is available for Subscribe and Save, it will say on the same side as the "Add to Cart" option. Just click "Subscribe and Save". 
2. Select how often you want delivery, and click on "Review Subscription". 
3. You will go to another page where you can click "Subscribe Now" and you will be set. You will also get an email from Amazon letting you know what you did. 

You can always go into your account and edit your Subscribe and Save. I will go in and change how often they are delivered, the quantity of the delivery, or delete the subscription if I no longer want that item. If the budget dictates I need to skip a month, I can do that too.

What do I order? My orders change from month to month and I continually add items or change delivery months. Here is a idea of what I am getting for the next four months:

August 5th: AA Batteries, AAA Batteries, Larabars, Vitamins, Raw Honey, Sanitary Pads, and Tea
September 5th: Powerade (kids and sports), Toliet Paper, Tea, Toothpaste, 
October 5th: Rolled Oats (pack of four), Coconut Oil, Tea, Deodorant, Vitamins, Sanitary Pads, Raw Honey
November 5th: Powerade (kids and sports), Toliet Paper, Tea, Larabars, Face Wash, Sanitary Pads

I watch a few blogs that let the readers know of some great deals on Subscribe and Save and I add according to what we need. I will probably add a lot more to these in the next week or two when I go through what I need at home. I always add more than five items to get the 15% discount. Less than five items gets only a 5% discount. 

I have actually compared prices from Amazon and my local stores. I find that I save more money doing this than store shopping. Since I don't like store shopping and I am still saving money, I am a pretty happy girl!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

(This post contains affiliate links, but I was not paid by Amazon for writing this. You are just a witness to my love affair with Amazon!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

12 Safety Tips For College Students


This August I will be sending my second child to college. I have sat through two college orientations and my favorite session is the personal safety session for parents. I have learned a lot about how to help my college age kids safe while at college. I have a lot of confidence in my girls being able to protect themselves and being aware of their surroundings while at college. 

However, let's be real here. There are some potential situations that girls or any kids can face at college (or even high school). Some situations may be unavoidable, bad decisions may be made, or small problems can become big problems. Drinking, drugs, sexual assaults, bad roommates, thefts, and fights can be situations they could face.

In light of this, here are twelve safety tips for college students and young adults. These are tips that have been given by safety officers, campus police officers, and some common sense tips from myself. These are tips that can be used to avoid or prevent a bad situation from happening.

1. Have your college student put the phone number of the campus police department in their phones. They will then have it in case of emergencies. Yes, they can still call 911, but they might get a faster response calling the campus police directly. Most campus police departments are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At the college my daughters go to, they will also provide a safe escort home at any time during the day. 

2. Write down all serial numbers to any electronics they will be taking with them. Keep a copy in their dorm and at home. In case of theft or damage, you will be able to provide that information to the police and the insurance company.

3. If your kids are taking a bicycle or moped to college, write down the serial number to them. Also, you should take a picture of the bicycle or moped and keep the information in the dorm room as well as at home. I was surprised to learn how many bicycles they said were stolen every year and never recovered. They also recommended using a U-shaped bike lock to keep the bicycles safe.

4. Talk to your kids about issues and situations they may face while at college. You should sit down and talk to your kids about dealing with other people in non-confrontational way, not engaging in fights unless they need to defend themselves, drinking and drugs, protecting themselves from date rape/sexual assaults, and protecting their things. I know you might have had these conversations with them already, but a refresher would not hurt.

5. Enroll your kids, especially your daughters, in self-defense classes. Most colleges offer these classes, either as a class or through the gym/wellness center. Make sure your daughters especially take this as it could save their lives. 

6. Teach your kids about staying safe, the college edition. Teach them to walk with another person when they go out at night. Teach them about going out in groups. Talk to them about getting a safe ride if they need a ride home instead of walking by themselves. Talk to them about letting a roommate or a friend know if they are going out on a date or out with other friends so someone knows where they are at. 

7. Teach your kids about situational awareness. If an area or place does not look safe, they should avoid it. If something seems off about a person or persons, teach them to trust their instincts and get away as soon as possible. Teach them that saying no is okay and they need to do it if they don't want to be in a potentially bad situation.

8. Give your kids the tools to protect themselves. Provide them with pepper spray or mace. Teach them about using a small knife to defend themselves and get away. Teach them to use a tactical pen. Enroll them in self-defense class or show them yourself where to hit an attacker to disable them enough to get away. If they are about to be attacked in any way, teach them to yell or scream for help. 

9. Teach your kids to not engage someone on social media in a negative way. Social media can be a great thing, but bullying and harrassment are very, very common on social media. Teach your kids to not engage someone who may be trying to engage them in negative ways. Teach them to also not start anything negative on social media. If someone is doing this to them and it does not cease, they should tell their resident assistant or the campus police. These situations can escalate out of control quickly. Harrassment is a tough thing to prove, but the charges are very serious. 

10. Find out the chain on command for their dorm or apartment and make sure your kids know it. Find out who your kid should go to if they are having problems with roommates or fellow college students. While I believe in kids settling problems directly with the person they are having trouble with, we all know that sometimes a peaceful solution may not be had. Then your kid needs to talk to someone to get a situation resolved.

11. Teach your kids to keep their rooms or apartments and vehicles locked at all times, but especially when they are gone from them. You would not believe how many kids do not lock up behind them. They believe they are invincible and no one would want their things. They would be so very wrong. They need to keep their rooms and vehicles locked up unless they are there. The campus police or regular police have less sympathy when they find out things have been stolen from unlocked places. The insurance company has even less sympathy.

12. Teach your kids to become friendly to their neighbors, roommates, and others. The friendlier your kids is to others, the less likely they will be a target for anything. People watch out for people they like and are nice to them. Proven fact. Kids should be cautious, but being friendly can pay off in big dividends too. 

College is not a scary place, but scary things can happen if college kids are not careful. They are out on their own for the first time and feel invincible. Parents, it is your job to help them understand they aren't and what they can do to protect themselves. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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

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