Thursday, October 19, 2017

Coming To My House When SHTF Happens? We Need To Talk...


We occasionally have people say that they are coming to my house when stuff hits the fan. While that may sound like a good idea, we may have different ideas about what a good idea is.

When people tell us are coming to our place, I pause a bit. Some people get a quick "sure" and some people just get a laugh. If you get a laugh, we more than likely don't want you to come here. We have our reasons. Most people are not capable of working hard or doing what they are told. Some people crack under pressure instead of just getting things done. We have family and close friends to think about first.

If you are planning to come here and you think we might be okay with that, you need to keep reading. We have criteria for you staying here. We will make exceptions for the elderly and disabled, but usually they want to be more of a help than able bodied people do.

1. Be prepared to work. If SHTF does happen, life will not be easier for you or me. The animals will still need to be tended and possibly even more food will need to be grown for them. The already good-sized garden will need to be bigger and will still need to be tended and weeded. Depending on the circumstances, there will be a lot of work to do inside and outside the house. You will be expected to contribute and work for your supper just like the rest of us.

2. Please bring your own living quarters. If you have a camper that can be heated, you will need to bring it. Have a generator? Bring that too. We have limited space and I have a feeling you will be happier with your own space. Now would be a good time to make sure you can live long term in your camper. I would also make sure you can survive in your camper without electricity too.

3. Bring your food storage with you. In your mind, I may have a lot of food storage. In my mind, I will never have enough. If you are planning to come here, you better pack all the food you can safely bring in your vehicle and your camper. I don't care if it is perishable or not because you will need all the food you can bring. This food is for your benefit so bring it. With that line of thought, bring your portable water too. You will also probably need that too.

4. You will be coming to OUR place. While I regularly seek out other's opinions and wisdom, I (we) will be calling most of the shots. This is OUR place and I (we) will ask for the respect that we deserve. You are coming here and you will be here because of my permission. Don't like it? Too bad.

5. If you have skills, you will be using them. I believe in having people use their talents in the best way possible. I also believe in learning new skills and you will be teaching other people your skills. Either way, your skills will be a benefit to the group.

6. You might not be welcome. We might turn you away. I don't do other people's drama very well. I have no desire to live in commune like conditions. I have family and close friends to think about first. I don't have that much room. You get it.

Trust me, I understand desperation and I understand having no other place to go. Life throws curve balls like that sometimes. However, if you aren't planning ahead and/or do not have a plan in place about where to go if stuff does hit the fan, I might not feel that bad for you.

7. If you are bringing your kids, they need to understand that they will be contributors too. Kids as young as 3 can be put to work doing simple tasks. Start training them now to do simple things. Also, your teenagers' attitudes will not be welcomed. Start teaching them now to do what they are told. I understand that mistakes might be made and sometimes teenagers do not understand time tables, but they will be doing what they are told to do.

8. A good attitude will go a long ways for you to being able to stay here. We are not work all the time people, but we are not play all the time people either. I know some tasks will not be what you want to do, but I do things all the time I don't want to do. That doesn't mean I get to be grumpy about that. I also understand that if you are coming here, something traumatic has happened and you might not be a good mindset. However, you are responsible for your attitude, your emotions, and your reactions. I will only put up with a bad attitude for so long...

These may seem pretty harsh, but that is the way it is. We are preparing for worse case scenarios and can't afford to think that something might not be as bad as it could be. I know more people means more work, more food, and more planning. I can't really afford to be relaxed about preparing for the worse case or for more people.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What This Prepper Buys: The $36 Dollar Tree Spree

Dollar Tree is possibly one of my favorite places to purchase prepping supplies for stockpiling. Everything's a dollar or less and we usually find good generic replacements for high dollar goods. While cheap goods is not always a good thing for prepping, sometimes it is a good way to build up your stockpile. If you are conscious about what you are buying and try it out before SHTF happens, you will know if it is a good deal or not.



Everything shown in the picture was $1 each. I spent more than $36 on this trip, but some of the items were for everyday use. I didn't buy anything spectacular. I have a decent basic stockpile and I am adding to it. I am also starting to plug holes in my stockpile and shore up some weak areas.

Let me explain what I purchased this time. I will start with the food items. I bought egg noodles because they figure in my food storage meals like Tuna Noodle Casserole. Lasagna is a popular birthday meal here and I always try to keep those noodles on hand. I bought eight containers of spices and herbs because I never want to run out of seasonings. Coconut oil cooking spray is a necessity in my mind. Seasoned bread crumbs also figure into some of my food storage meals as well as my garden fresh meals. Canned chicken is also considered a necessity in my food storage.

I always pick up those four packs of emergency candles when I can. Candles are not a great source of light, but they will light up a room enough to see and provide comfort.

I am also adding to my first aid stock too from Dollar Tree. I like the smaller packages because they are easier to pack for vehicles and bags. This time I got a couple of bandage wraps for sprains and other injuries. I also got 2x2 gauze pads after using some when I had nose surgery. By the way, they are a perfect size for drip pads under your nose! I also got a pack of 8 mini-size facial tissues for bags and bug-out bags. They are the perfect size in my opinion and light to carry.

I have started buying more of the hand soap refills rather than hand soap dispensers. I got two this time. I have plenty of hand soap dispensers already and I think refilling them is a better answer than keep buying them.

I also bought a fair amount of cleaning supplies this time. I needed more dusting spray and glass cleaner. I try to keep plenty of bathroom cleaner to keep the bathrooms sanitized. I wanted to buy more spray cleaners, but I didn't like their selection today. I have also started to keep more air freshening items on hand too so the house doesn't stink when things are starting too.

I also bought more Krazy glue because I also needed more of it. And really, can you have too much Krazy glue? It can fix and hold together a lot of stuff!

You can build up your stockpile cheaply. You don't have to spend $36 like I did, but $5-10 a week would be doing more than doing nothing. Look at what you need and start stockpiling!

By the way, you can check out my "What This Prepper Buys" here and here

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Thoughts - October 15

Happy Sunday, everyone!

What has been going on around here? We have been dodging more raindrops which hasn't been very good for getting things done again this week. The garden and the chicken coop are a muddy messes. We have some good weather coming this week and hopefully the ground dries up a bit.

We are still harvesting from the garden which is awesome. The grape tomatoes, a scant few tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers are all that is left. I pulled the peas along with the weeds today. I was a little disappointed with the second planting of peas, but the weather conditions have not been ideal. I did get a small bowlful that will work with a meal this week. I pulled one of the two grape tomato plants which was done. I also pulled the cucumber plants because they were done producing too.

The chickens are doing great. They are still eating their way through our yard and the feed. We are getting 14-16 large eggs a day. I do have a few new regular egg customers which is great. Now I am doing some research on meat layers and which breed I want to have. We will probably start with 25 meat chickens unless my coworker wants to have some too. Then we will be doing at least 50 birds.

Now, more than ever, am I glad we are learning these skills. I am very happy to have a well producing garden and chickens for eggs. I am thrilled that we are talking about expanding next Spring with meat birds and possibly a couple of feeder pigs to raise for the freezer. Even though homesteading and self-sufficiency is gaining popularity, I want to be ahead of the trend. I want these skills because you never know what is coming down the tracks.

Yes, my Spidey senses are tingling. We live in a very uncertain world which is getting more uncertain by the day.While there are some very good people out there, there are some people who aren't good. They are people who are willing to make the best out of a bad situation. And then there are people who would rather steal your hard work rather than do their own work. These are the people that worry me.

I am worried about a lot of things right now. World events, our bickering government, and more potential threats is making me want to close up the holes in our prepping. Homesteading and self-sufficiency is part of my prepping. I have been adding to our food storage, Rob has been searching the sale sites for things we need, and we are just trying to get organized and get stuff done. I hope you all are too.

Thank you for the emails after last week's post! I plan on getting back to each of you, but my online time was fairly limited this last week. It seemed like if I wanted to return emails or messages, I got interrupted!

In case you missed it, I posted one of my family's favorite meals last week. We eat this Easy Skillet Spaghetti almost every other week.

Please keep the people in California in your prayers. Losing your home to a fire is devastating and I can't even imagine trying to put your life back together after that.

What have you been up to this week? What is worrying you?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Easy Skillet Spaghetti: A Great Dinner for a Busy Night!


We are a busy household. A lot of nights we do not eat supper until 7:30 - 8:00 at night. Sometimes we need to make supper on the fly and have something on the table quickly. Sometimes we just want to make something quick and easy because we are tired. This Skillet Spaghetti fits the bill.

This recipe is easy. Very easy! It is a cheap meal to make. It is also made in one large skillet or dutch oven. One pot meals are my favorite meals. So just about anything made in one pot will get a chance at this household. I based this recipe off of one that I first made 12-15 years ago. I have since changed this recipe and completely lost the original recipe. 

Easy Skillet Spaghetti

Serves 4-6 people

1 pound ground beef
1 - 24 ounce jar of pasta (spaghetti) sauce
24 ounces water
12 ounces spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds
Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese for garnish



1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet or dutch oven until done. You can drain the grease if you feel there is too much, but I generally do not drain the grease.



2. Add the spaghetti sauce to the ground beef. 



Fill the jar back up to the sauce level with water. Add the water to the skillet and stir. 



Bring to just a boil over medium high heat. 



3. Add the broken spaghetti noodles to the skillet and stir. You want the noodles covered with sauce. 



Cover the skillet and turn the temperature down to medium low heat. 



4. Let cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The skillet spaghetti will be done when the noodles are cooked and most of the sauce is soaked up. 

5. You can sprinkle with mozzarella cheese to make this cheesy. The cheese will melt rather quickly on its own. I usually let people sprinkle their own parmesan cheese.

Serve with garlic bread and a salad if you so desire.

Notes:
* If the noodles do not seem cooked enough and the sauce is mostly soaked up, you can add 1/2 cup water at a time until the noodles are soft.
* If you use whole wheat spaghetti noodles, most of those boxes are 13-13.5 ounce boxes. You can add an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce to use the whole box. 

I know it is so simple, but I believe in giving all busy families the same tools to getting a filling dinner on the table. I hope you enjoy!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Thoughts - October 8, 2017

Sunday greetings, everyone!

What happened this week? Rain. It rained, drizzled, and poured everyday except Wednesday this last week. Really, it was depressing. We have so much to do and that rain put a serious stop to it all.

I have a garden that needs to be weeded and cleared for next Spring. I want to get garlic planted pretty soon. I think I have almost all the tomatoes picked. Any tomatoes that are left will be for eating or fresh marinara. We still have zucchini and summer squash growing. The bell peppers are finally turning and I have been picking them for supper. I will probably freeze some peppers too. The potatoes are still not dug, but when the ground dries up a bit I will get those dug.

I am canning the last of the tomatoes as we speak. I have canned mild salsa, pizza sauce, chopped tomatoes, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and (today) pasta sauce. That is pretty good and should get us through most of the year except for the pasta sauce. We go through a lot of pasta sauce!

We are also getting 15-16 eggs a day. We have too many eggs, but I feel that is a good problem. I have been trying to sell the excess without a lot of luck. I was trying to sell a dozen eggs for $2.00 and 18 count for $2.50. Do you think that is too much for free range eggs? What would you pay for them?

We also still have a rooster to get rid of. Any takers?

We have been working on the kids' bedrooms in the meantime. We have purged a lot of clothes and sent a bag to Thred Up for consignment. We also have been making regular trips to the thrift store to get rid of more. We are working on cleaning and organizing now. Unfortunately, their rooms have gotten out of hand and this has been a long road. Frankly, they have too much stuff and we are working on that too.

Healthwise, I am feeling pretty good. My nose is healing and is still a little sore. I am starting to smell again which is weird. I have been working on developing some healthier habits like increasing my water intake and being more active. As of right now, I have lost 16 pounds. My clothes are starting to feel loose which I love!

What happened in Las Vegas this week has been weighing heavily on my mind. While I am concerned about the investigation and the actual facts, there is something that bothers me more. How can someone do that? Shoot into a crowd of people who were having a great time and just terrorize them like that? I don't get what twists someone's mind into thinking that shooting people like that is justifiable.

The blame game from this tragedy also bothers me. Instead of holding the individuals responsible for this shooting, people in general want to blame all gun owners or a political party or conservatives. Whatever. The problem with our country and society is the lack of personal responsibility. Granted, it is easier to blame a group of people rather than the individual. However, it is not right.

What have you been up to this last week? What are you planning for this week?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In October


October is here and so is fall. This is a great time to work outside, take care of any projects you wanted to get done during the summer, and wrap up any loose ends before winter arrives. October is usually pretty mild in Iowa with an occasional snow storm thrown in the last part of the month. I try to get as much done as I can in October because November is fairly unpredictable here.

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In October

1. Get the outside of the house, garage, and other outbuildings winterized. Home maintenance is an important part of prepping. Trim bushes away from the buildings. Compost and mulch any garden areas that need it. Seal up any cracks or holes. Get plastic over the windows that leak. Take care of any loose boards. Make sure the doors and windows seal up tight. You know what you need to do. October is a good time to get these things taken care of.

2. Stock up on pasta, rice, and potatoes. I know these are carbs, but they also provide calories and energy when you need it. I like to keep all forms of pasta on hand. I generally only keep brown rice on hand, but white rice does store longer if stored properly. I keep instant mashed potatoes and canned potatoes on hand as well as fresh potatoes. I also keep freeze dried potatoes on hand as well. Just store pasta, rice, and potatoes that yourself and your family will eat. I would like to remind you to keep extra water or broth on hand for cooking pasta and rice.

3. In light of recent events, I urge to add at least three more gallons of water per person in your household this month. If you have pets, add at least three more gallons of water for dogs, one more gallon of water for cats, and one more gallon of water for any other creatures besides livestock. One thing I have read from the recent natural disasters is that people did not have enough water and other liquids stored. Please add to your water storage this month!

4. Time to clean out your vehicles and switch over your emergency kits to winter supplies. Time to take out the sunscreen, insect repellent, and anything that can freeze. Time to add gloves, hats, scarves, and extra coats and blankets. There are several good lists about what to keep in your car during the winter, but this list is probably my favorite by The Homesteading Hippy.

5. Take stock of your own home winter emergency supplies and fill in the holes. We don't always realize how much stuff gets used throughout the year and what may need to be replaced. How is your unscented long lasting candle situation? I would check them to make sure you have enough and they didn't melt last summer. How are your C and D cell batteries? Most radios and heavy duty flashlights take them. How is your ready to eat food situation? Can you make it a week on just that food alone? How is your water storage? Do you have enough to drink, flush the toilets, and do any emergency washing?  There is a lot more things to think about, but these things would be at the top of my list in an emergency!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday Thoughts - October 1, 2017

Sunday greetings, everyone!

In talking to some of my readers and good friends, I found out that while they liked my blog posts (thanks!) they wanted me to go back to doing something of a regular update about what we do around here. They also liked when I talked about what I thought of things and what I am interested in. I was a little surprised to tell you the truth. I was pretty sure no one really wanted to know what goes on inside my brain!

Well, this last week was more than just unproductive. I didn't get hardly anything done except run some errands on Friday, ship books, and go to some of the kids things Friday and Saturday. I finally had nose surgery on Monday morning and that knocked me out for a few days. Quite frankly, I am still not sure what I am going to get done to today because I don't want to jeopardize the surgery. I had bilateral inferior turbinate reduction surgery so I could breath through my nose again for the first time in 20+ years. The surgeon took a fair amount of tissue and membranes out so I have two clear nasal passages.

Let me tell you this, healing is not fun. I had the best care from Rob who has been wanting me to get this surgery done for a while. I am not a good patient because I am too used to doing stuff. I constantly got told "no, you aren't doing that". However, I got caught up on a few documentaries, some reading, a lot of sleep, and my DVR. I was allowed to put supper in the slow cooker two nights and to make bread because I used the bread maker to do the mixing and kneading.

This all goes back to something I have talked about before. Now is the time to take care of your health and any issues you may have. Tomorrow may be too late. I am working at losing weight (lost 15 pounds so far!), getting healthier, and having a better quality of life. Not being able to breath well or right was significantly impacting it. I am sleeping so much better now. I don't run out of breath because I can breath through my nose. I wasn't a natural mouth breather so this has been huge!

I will be canning tomatoes today and starting to wrap up the garden. Fall is definitely here in Iowa. While I expect we will have a warm-up again, the tomatoes are done. I have been letting them just ripen in the garden since I couldn't do anything with them. The potatoes need to be dug, but I need to get a new pitchfork. I broke the last one beyond repair. The peppers are still ripening and I will leave them alone a little while longer. The garden needs a good weeding and then putting to rest.

I doubt that will all happen this week, but the canning of tomatoes will happen this week if not today. I will probably turn them into crushed tomatoes because I can turn crushed tomatoes into chili or another sauce if I want to. Otherwise I can chunk them up and can them that way too. I try to keep the canning simple most of the time.

Chickens were moved to their new coop about six weeks ago and they are doing great. We have been letting them free range when we are home on the weekends and after work. We lost two hens to coyotes and I am not very happy about that. We have a young pack of coyotes around us right now, but I think they must be moving southward. I don't hear them at night as much. We still have a rooster though and I am looking for a home for him. I might have one for him, but if you are interested, please let me know!

We also have eggs taking over the fridge and back-up fridge so it is time to start selling! Additional income is always good!

I have been trying to find new ways to save money and have been going back to some of my old ways to save money. I have been trying to be more cognizant of the way money is being spent, but it is just being spent. I have gone back to couponing a little and using money savings I already possess in terms of value cards I have bought through the school. Some days, it seems like we live as frugal as we can, but it will never be enough. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I am some bigger purchases I have to make.

I really need to buy two sets of tires this fall and have been looking for a good deal on barely used or new tires. Tires are just expensive though! So are car parts since Paige got into an accident last month. Most of that damage is cosmetic, but the whole drivers side panels and doors need to be replaced. Hopefully, the other driver's insurance will pay for it, but there is no guarantee since the claim is now in arbitration. (Long story for another day).

We are trying to get stuff done before winter comes or when we can't do anything after work because there is no daylight left. We really need to address the well room and get the top of that sealed. Our well room is attached to the basement of our house and has its own cement ceiling and cover. They are both cracked and water is leaking in. I have had a tarp over it for years, but the tarp is no longer doing the job. I just need to borrow the pressure washer from work, clean it, and get it sealed so the cracks are no longer a problem. I want to be able to store potatoes and other vegetables in the well room again without them spoiling.

You might notice the lack of discussion on prepping, but to me this is all prepping. Gardening, chickens, vehicles, health, and property maintenance/projects are all prepping. Almost everything we do is prepping. Every day, we just do what we can do and put the rest on tomorrow's list.

How has your week been going? What have you been up to? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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