Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Survival Savvy Family: A Book Review



I just got done reading The Survival Savvy Family by Julie Sczerbinski. Julie is a fellow blogger that asked for others, including me, to review her book. I love her blog, Home Ready Home, and thought she would write a pretty good book.

I was wrong. This book isn't just pretty good. This book is fantastic! If you want to get your family prepared and ready for survival, this book is it! 

Julie covers critical survival and preparedness topics such as:
  • Having a family emergency plan
  • Getting an emergency kit together
  • Getting your pantry in order and getting your food storage built up
  • Being medically ready
  • Being financially ready
  • What to do away from home
  • How to deal with power outages
  • Whether to bug in or bug out
  • Dealing with natural disasters
  • Preparing for house fires
  • What to do if your home is broken in
  • Personal safety
  • Getting the kids prepared and teaching them to be safe
Julie also has worksheets and comprehensive checklists in her book that will help you and your family to make sure you have everything you need to be prepared. She has a checklist for what to have on hand for your pets in an emergency situation, what and how much to pack in your child's to-go bag, and more.

She tells her story about why they started preparing and also gives a lot of personal examples throughout the book. I like when an author can help the reader by personally relating to the reader. It helps the author be more credible in their subject matter. 

Even though I was provided a copy of this book for review, I would have bought it anyway. Julie is a great blogger and author and she really proves it with The Survival Savvy Family. I think this book should be in your preparedness library as well as given as a gift for those families you know are struggling with being prepared. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

10 Most Important Items A Female Prepper Should Have


This post is a part of the 30 Days of Preparedness Round Robin with Prepared Bloggers! Thank you for visiting!

Today, let us focus on the ladies. Women have certain needs and your preps should reflect those needs. I am writing this list with the thought in mind that you might not have a man around to help you. Women need to be as well rounded as possible in their preps. You should be able to handle yourself no matter what!

However...guys, you may think you don't have to read this, but that would not be the case. You are either a female or have a mother, wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, niece, or girlfriend. So this article applies to you either way.

I am not including food and water in this list. They should be a given in any preps. You should always be buying and storing food and water. And toilet paper, but that is a whole other post!

10 Most Important Items A Female Prepper Should Have: 

1. Sanitary pads, tampons, and personal items. This is at the top of the list for a good reason. Unless you are past this time in life, this is going to be a monthly occurrence. Whether you buy reusable or disposable products, make sure you have plenty on hand. These also can serve an useful purpose in first aid too. 

2. Good fitting, practical clothes and shoes. Let's face it: women's fashion can be so impracticable. Invest in good, sturdy shoes that fit you well. I also invest in shoe inserts to stretch the life of the shoes. Also, have a good supply of practical clothes: short and long sleeve tee shirts, sweatshirts, fleece jackets, jeans, shorts, socks, and underclothes. When you are worrying about an emergency, you need clothes you don't have to be uncomfortable in. 

3. Sewing kit. Having a good sewing kit can help you keep clothes in good repair. You can also use it to fix a tent, backpacks, and other items. The old saying "a stitch in time saves nine" applies very well here. Having the ability to fix small rips with a good sewing kit will save you from having to make major repairs or costly replacements later on. If you can invest in a non-electric sewing machine too, you are set. 

4. Good cooking utensils. Don't you hate it when your favorite stirring spoon breaks in the middle of making stew? Me too! I switched to stainless steel cooking utensils and haven't looked back. They are sturdy, can handle heat, and can be used for inside and outside cooking. I do have some silicone spatulas and wooden spoons, but I rely on my stainless steel utensils the most.

5. Multiple means of protection and self-defense. Every woman should own a hand gun and know how to use it. I carry pepper spray, a knife, a stun gun, a tactical pen, and/or a hand gun with me almost everywhere I go. I also believe women should know self-defense and learn how to fight with your body or a weapon. You aren't very valuable to your family and friends if you are injured or dead. And ladies? Do not be afraid to fight dirty!

6. Cast iron skillet and dutch oven. Along with good cooking tools, you need good pots and pans. I believe you can do almost everything you need to with a cast iron skillet and dutch oven. You can cook with both inside and outside the house. Both stand up well to direct flame. The only other pot I would add to this would be a 2 or 3 quart pot. I use mine a lot, but could live without it.

7. Canning equipment. If the stuff really does hit the fan for you, you have a plan to raise your own food. Right? If you aren't already canning your own food! You need a good pressure canner, a water bath canner (that can double for a stock pot), jars, lids, rings, and canning equipment kit. This may prove vital to your survival later on!

8. Well rounded tool box. I couldn't tell you how important having your own tool box filled with good quality tools is. Get yourself a good tool box, hammer, multi-tip screwdriver, pliers, socket set, wrench set, hand saw, level, pry bar, and whatever else you find you will need. While you are at it, pick up screw and nail variety packs to have what you need to fix most things or build small things.

9. Reliable transportation. A well running vehicle will give you the peace of mind of not breaking down in the middle of the highway. If you have an emergency and need to leave, the last thing you need to worry about is your vehicle. Just a side tip: keep a few gas cans full of non-ethanol gas in your garage just in case you can't get to a gas station. They will come in handy. Trust me on this.

10. Water filtering devices and water storage. I can't understate this. Clean drinking water is crucial. I would get a larger water filter system, such as a Berkey, as well as smaller straw type water filters like LifeStraw. I also make sure to have several filters as well as spare parts in case you need to fix anything. There is also plans out there to make your own filters. Bleach and water purification pills are also a must to have on hand to purify water. 

I know some of this list seems a bit gender biased, but when an emergency happens, most people fall back to traditional gender roles. However, if you are a single female prepper, you will need items that fulfill both roles. This list is geared to be well rounded because I think it is important for guys to have all this on hand too.


September is National Preparedness Month and The Prepared Bloggers are at it again!

September is National Preparedness Month #30DaysofPrep 2015


It's safe to say that our ultimate goal is to help you have an emergency kit, a family plan, and the knowledge to garden, preserve your harvest and use useful herbs every day – without spending a ton of money to do it. Luckily that’s obtainable for every family and a journey we would love to help you with. This year we have posts about food storage, 72-hour Kits & Bug Out Bags, and every aspect of preparedness, from water storage to cooking off grid. You’ll also find many ideas to help you be more self-reliant. Look for information on the big giveaway we've put together for later in the month. Be sure to visit our sites and learn as much as you can about being prepared. We'll be using the hashtag #30DaysOfPrep for these and many other ideas throughout the month of September, so join in the conversation and make 2015 the year you become prepared.

Food Storage

Self-Reliance

72-Hour Kits or Bug Out Bags

Preparedness


Thanks for reading,
Erica

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


Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Thoughts - Week of August 14


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. I am really looking forward to this weekend. I will be kid-free for the weekend. As much as I love them, as a single mom, I need this once in a while. I need the mental break. Maybe I can get organized again too with my planner and my calendar!

2. If you are inclined, please say a little prayer or send some good vibes for Shali. She is having an MRI on Sunday for her ankle and will probably end up with surgery. We will know more after her follow up appointment on Thursday. She injured it playing sports in high school and, at 20, is in constant pain. Too young for that!

3. Wow, did you all see that explosion in the port of Tianjin, China? Holy moly. I am impressed! However, I think the implications of this will be felt worldwide. It was a major port for China and the exporting of desirable goods across the planet. And as much as we don't want to think about how much of our own goods come from China, a large majority of them are manufactured or are refined by China. This might impact us more than we know.

4. What are you interested in this week? Some times I feel like this changes from week to week depending on my week. As I have confessed before, I am not a super organized person. I am a barely organized person. I have learned the value of having a huge family calendar to keep track of everything. I have learned the value of having that same calendar in my phone and setting up reminders for myself. I am now using an app that has my to-do list and my grocery list on it.

This week has been all about being even more organized. Setting up systems, having more extensive menu plans, and just knowing where everything is because everything has a place. I have been learning more than doing, but I have some ideas about what I want to do. However, the thought in my mind is that some times people try to become more organized in direct relation to the stress in their lives. They are so stressed out that they seek control in their lives by being more organized. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how extreme you are being. (Yes, I read that somewhere. I just can't remember where.)

I am trying not to be extreme. However, I do understand that I do want more control in my life.

5. #4 was several thoughts rolled into one segment. That is enough for this week.

This week's blog post: Preppers and Homesteaders Need To Eat Healthy Too!

What I bought on Amazon this week: The Ultimate Self-Sufficiency Handbook by Abigail R. Gehring (this has been on my wish list for quite some time.)


I have also become an affiliate for the Molly Green Magazine and Website. This site and magazine has some of the best homesteading articles I have ever read. I am a subscriber myself and totally love what they are doing! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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

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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parents, Life Is Meant To Be Simpler (And Not So BUSY!)


Life gets so crazy sometimes. We run and run and run. The kids are involved in several things at once, we can't say no to the latest commitment, and home is only a place to rest your head. Does this sound familiar?

Life shouldn't be like that. Yes, I know. I can hear y'all now. Kids are only young once. They need to experience all these things. They need to find out their potential. We need to be involved in their things. We need to be active in everything. The kids need to know what it is like to be involved and learn to get along with others.

Stop it.

Life is meant to be simpler.

Kids need to know that their family is also their best companions. Kids also need to know what it is like to hang out at home and be a contributor to the household. Kids need to learn how to keep a home, be content with what they have, be content being home with family, and live a simpler life. Kids need to learn how to work and develop a work ethic. Kids need to learn to entertain themselves instead of their parents doing it for them. We have to model that for them.

Does it hurt them to be involved in activities? No, but kids are in so many things that their activities become the universe in which the family spins around. That is crazy! We have lived this life. It makes every one exhausted, frustrated, and discontented. This isn't healthy for the parents and for the kids.

At one point in time, Shali was in four sports plus the dance squad, speech, theater, and choir for almost four years. In the fall of Jordan's junior year of high school, she was in volleyball, football cheerleading, and dance squad. She ended up being a very sick kid by November from the stress and lack of sleep as well her grades suffered a bit. Shali has two injuries that will haunt her the rest of her life because she couldn't rest them like she should have. The pressure to play was too great for her. The kids went to a small school that needed people just to have teams and my kids did what they could. The stress on our family was very great.

I have learned this lesson the hard way and am very happy we are now in a school district that only allows one sport at a time. However, that rule does not stop the endless weekend tournaments, open gyms, weightlifting, and camps. Parents wonder why their kids get burned out or, as they find out later in life, the kids kept playing to make their parents happy.

What are you really teaching them? To over-commit? To live for a sport that may have no meaning to them after high school? That home is only a place to lay their head at night and not a place to live?

This summer, my son decided he no longer wants to play little league baseball. I am perfectly content with his decision. We have a busy summer the way it is. I did ask him a few times to make sure he was certain. He is. However, I have family who thought I should have made him. Why? He clearly did not enjoy baseball by the end of the season last year. He plays basketball on a traveling team in the winter so he is active in something and he loves it.

We actually like to be home at night. I look forward to having a summer without nightly ball games. Next summer, Paige will be playing junior varsity softball and those games will be at night.We have one summer to rest and relax.  I want to rest and relax and so does my family. We want to have a summer of projects and fun. We don't want to be so tired that all we do is veg out in front of the television.

We as parents can stop the crazy train. We can say no. I didn't think I could, but I found out that saying no to being over-committed, stressed-out, and frustrated is very easy to do. Will other people be mad at you? You bet. Should other people's opinions matter where your family is concerned? No it should not.

You as parents are in charge of your family and the decisions that your family makes. You should decide how your family spends its time outside of the house. If you want your child in a sport or an activity, that is your choice. We still have sports and activities going on in our house, but I will not make my kids do something that they have already tried. I do want them to try sports when they are in junior high before deciding they like it or if it is worth sticking with. I also want them to be in either band or chorus in high school because I feel a music education is important.

Other than that, I don't expect my kids to be in anything. If they want to be and I don't feel like they are overextended, then they will be. I made some mistakes early on with my older two children that I won't make again. I feel that other things like being home and having a part time job to be more important for my kids and their futures.

We can make life simpler for our families. We can say no to the busyness, the constant running, and tiredness. We can do this and make life better for ourselves and our families.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Savings On The Homestead: 10 Frugal Ideas To Get Outside and Have Fun!

Every Tuesday I will be posting a Tuesday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!


The weather is beautiful this week in Iowa! I feel like Spring is actually here and I want to play outside! 

Homesteading, no matter where you are and how you do it, is a lot of work. Homesteading is a lot of work especially in the Spring! However, Spring is a time to lighten up and soak in the sunlight we have been missing all Winter (or at least I have!). 

This week's challenge? Get outside and have some fun! Get yourself outside, drag your family and/or friends outside with you, and do something fun!

1. Go for a walk, a hike, or ride bikes.
2. Shoot some hoops or pretend to play basketball.
3. Play a game of kickball or softball.
4. Blow bubbles.
5. Draw on the sidewalks with chalk.
6. Practice target shooting with guns or bows and arrows.
7. Have an outdoor scavenger hunt.
8. Have an outdoor picnic/grill out/block party.
9. Have a bonfire or regular fire with all the sticks that fell this last Winter.
10. Play a game of tag or hide and seek. 

Getting fresh air and some exercise is great medicine for the body! After Winter, we all need regular doses of sunlight. We have more energy during the day and sleep better at night. 

Go outside and have fun!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"We Just Did"


My Grandma Rene is 94 years old. She has lived through The Depression, World War II, six sons (no daughters), lost two husbands, and still is going strong. She is starting to show some effects of her age, but she still lives by herself, plays cards, and sometimes dances.

We have been probing her for more stories of her growing up and she tells what she remembers. She will tell you that was so long ago that she has forgot some things. I am 38 and I have forgot some things too!

When we have asked her how they got through the tough times, one of the phrases that sticks out in my mind the most is "We just did".

What does that phrase mean? It means that things had to be done and you had to do them. Farm chores had to be done because that was food, income, and nobody else was going to do them. She worked as a hired girl in high school and afterwards because she needed a place to live while going to school in town and the extra money was needed. They used flour sacks to make clothes. They canned their food. They did without because the money needed to be spent on necessities.

The Depression was a little easier for them to bear because they had a farm in Iowa, but her father died when she was 17. That meant she had to start working while still in school. She did graduate high school in 1938. She also did what she could to help out at home.

"We just did" meant that they did what they had to survive and thrive. If they had to earn more money, they did. If they had to do more chores, they did. When she married my grandfather during WWII, she followed him around from base to base. She helped other base families move and take care of their children. The need was there and they just did. Everyone helped everyone else.

That same theme continued throughout her life and that has made a huge impact on me. She overcame some difficult circumstances that many people could not handle. When we ask her how she did it, she will credit family, neighbors, friends, and that attitude. "We just did" because she had other things that she had to focus on and other people who needed her attention. She didn't dwell on how bad things were because she had other things to think about. Life still went on and had to be lived.

We need that same attitude. 

Too many of us find it too easy to play victim, be lazy, feel entitled, and expect everyone else to take care of things for us. We don't have the determination, will power, and duty to just get done what needs to be done. I am guilty of this too. I could get a whole lot more done in a day than what I do, but I don't because of various excuses.

We also need to pass this onto the next generations. Too many kids think that life will be handed to them on a silver-lined platter and they will never have to really work for it. Too many parents forget to teach kids to work and forget to raise them to be responsible adults. Some kids will never understand the phrase "We just did" until too late when life throws them a crippling curve ball.

We can learn a lot from our older generations in terms of not just skills, but in terms of attitudes.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Homemade Apple Fritters


Homemade apple fritters are a family tradition. And no wonder! They are so good! My mom makes these every Christmas morning. She loves to tell the story about who used to make them and where the recipe came from. In fact, when I emailed her to ask her if I could share this recipe, she sent me this:

"Your Great-Grandma Marie Jebsen Kopp made that recipe a family tradition using either apples or raisins. Your dad prefers the apple one so that has become our tradition. I heard the recipe came from her mother, so your Great-Great Grandmother Amanda Wohlert Jebsen. They would use dried apples and reconstitute them by boiling in water a little while. Raisins were also treated to a hot bath. Raisins were a treat for those living in the Midwest back in those days, they usually only bought them at Christmas or Easter time. They were not readily available in this part of the country most of the year or if they were they didn't spend money on them until the holidays."

I love the history behind this recipe. All these ingredients would have been pantry staples except the raisins. The apples would have been preserved in the fall for use year round. I know raisins were a delicacy. I never have had this recipe with raisins in the fritters.


Homemade Apple Fritters

Makes 12-15 fritters. (I often double the recipe when making for my own family.)

1 cup flour
1 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix these together very well in a large bowl.

1 egg
1/4 cup milk

Beat together, then add to the dry ingredients. This dough comes together well and you should have a ball of dough when you are done.

2 pared, diced apples

Stir or use your hands to mix the apples in. I prefer to use my hands.

Heat oil or shortening to 375 degrees. I use an electric skillet and use about 1-1/2 inches of oil. My mom uses an electric dutch oven and uses 3 inches of oil. If you have a fryer, that works too.

When the oil is hot, drop in the batter by spoonfuls.

If they don't turn over themselves, you must flip them over when they are brown on the bottom. If you are using an electric skillet, you will have to flip them yourself. For everything else, they should flip themselves over.

When golden brown and the oil is bubbling lightly around the fritter, remove from oil. Drain on paper towels.

You can dip the fritters in sugar to eat (what my family does) or you can roll them in powdered sugar. I have gone to eating them plain, but still sometimes dip them in a little sugar!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Shared on The HomeAcre Hop


Friday, February 20, 2015

Life For Women During Wartime: Life Without Men


(The history geek in me has arisen again. And probably will many more times.)

During wartime (WWI and WWII), many men were gone. Men ages 18-42 were either drafted or volunteered to fight. Some were pressed into service in other ways. Some were given reprieve if the government thought their talents lie elsewhere like farming. By the end of WWII, 16 million men had or were serving in some capacity. Some of the men returned home early, but usually with injuries.

That left a lot of women to pick up where the men left off. They didn't have a choice. Many women felt it was their patriotic duty to do what they could for the war effort. While many older gentlemen did what they could to help out and work, the loss of service age men was felt across the country in every sector. Women were left to do what they could.

I am sure that many women had doubts, struggled a bit, and felt a lot of weight on their shoulders. However, they knew whatever they were going through was nothing compared to what their menfolk were going through on the battlefields and behind the lines.

Women had to step up and do what they could. Many went to work in factories, ran business and farms in place of their men, and/or moved closer to family or moved in with family. Many women did all that while still tending children, maintaining a home, working gardens, and/or tending small livestock.

What comes to my mind is this: What if that were to happen again?

Do you think you can handle being away from the men in your life for 4-5 years?

 Average length of service was 33 months so some men were gone longer and some gone shorter lengths of time. Still, that is a long time to be away from your partner. I know several military wives can attest that 1-2 years of being gone is a long, hard time. Being everything while your partner is away and keeping all the balls in the air is hard.

Could you handle living with others? Could you handle living with your parents and family again? 

Several women moved their families to live with or very near their parents. Sometimes, women would live with other women and their kids to save on expenses and help with kids. Women recognized they needed help with kids while they worked long hours at factories or on farms. Nowadays, some women would struggle to do this. Even though we have day cares now, women on their own still need the help of others to manage it all and stay sane. Family sometimes can make this easier.

Could you manage the sheer amount of work that would come with managing work, home, kids, gardening, and whatever else would be on your plate? 

Women worked harder that ever during WWI and WWII. Granted, a lot was being asked of them and many of them stepped up and did it. I am sure they still had a little fun because sometimes you have to keep sane somehow. Laziness was not encouraged. People helped each other if they could, but at the end of the day women still had work to do.

One of the things that would make life easier now to handle this is the technology available. Communication is easier. Certain household tasks are easier and take less time such as laundry and dishes. More reliable, fuel-efficient vehicles make getting around easier and cheaper.

However, they also had rationing which included food, clothing, gas, and tires. You wouldn't be able to just fill up your vehicle with gas whenever you feel like it. You would make sure your clothes were kept in good condition to wear them longer. Many countries practiced and enforced blackouts at night so lights and computers would be kept to a minimum. Conservation of resources would be even more encouraged than it is now.

Life would be harder. Quite frankly, I think women are made of some pretty tough stuff and we could handle it. I know, for some women, this would be a very tough and very harsh life adjustment for them. The time is to make this less so is now.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, November 28, 2014

Yes, Your Kids Do See What You Do!

This week's weather in northern Iowa has been less than ideal. We never really appreciate a day before Thanksgiving snowstorm. Those have a tendency to make travel a bit difficult.


School was cancelled on Wednesday due to several inches of snow being on the ground already and more coming down. The kids were to go down to their dad's house to have Thanksgiving with him on Wednesday. We already had the day planned, had moved Dane's doctor appointment earlier in the day so they could leave earlier, and Shali had some food made and ready to go.

My kids do not let weather stop them unless it is really bad. I think they get that from their mother. Shali is 19 and Jordan is 18. While they are young drivers yet, they are very experienced in winter weather driving. They both have been through some difficult driving conditions and made it home in one piece.

They decided to leave a bit later than planned and their dad knew they were coming. They as well as him and I kept a close eye on the weather and road conditions.

Here is where I know my kids have been watching what I do and did accordingly.

Jordan made sure everyone had a set of clothes packed in case they needed to spend the night (which they did). She also grabbed water, food, and a gallon of Sunny Delight (why that I don't know, but it is liquids!). She made sure boots and snow gear was packed for everyone. She also made sure everyone grabbed a blanket in case of an accident or car troubles. The two drivers always have a blanket in the car. but more is always welcome.

I do all these same things when I plan to go anywhere farther than 30 miles from home. Most of the time, these things are already in my car except fluids. We have been very cold lately and those things freeze so I grab them when I leave the house.

The drive was not bad due to them sticking to main roads even though that added miles to the trip. They made the drive in daylight. They stayed in touch with both of us parents to make sure they were safe. I texted Paige who was the non-driver in the car to make they were fine. Which they were.

They ended up spending the night to spend more time with their dad as well as the temperatures and wind chill dropping below zero. They filled up with gas before they left their dad's house next morning to get to the next Thanksgiving which was at my parents.

They did all the same things I would have done. I know many parents may not have let their kids go at all, but I think sometimes we let our fear rule our decisions.

And it was just snow.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Ways To Enjoy A Frugal Hallowe'en


Hallowe'en is so much fun! I love seeing all the kiddos dressed up in costumes, pumpkin carving, pumpkin flavored everything, and the creativity that is part of it all. I think I even like Hallowe'en a little more than Christmas, but that may be because I don't like all the commercialism that goes with Christmas!

Hallowe'en can be done frugally, very frugally. For several years, we have not bought many costumes nor spent a lot for decorations. I am not one to put out many (if any) holiday decorations, but my kids do put out a few as does my mother. That decorating gene skipped a generation in me.

10 Ways To Enjoy A Frugal Hallowe'en

Paige's costume was a cat. Grandma made the headband and tail. The rest we had!

1. Make your own costumes. This may be a "duh" thing, but so many people find it easier to buy the costumes (including me). However, my girls would use their play clothes as costumes and love it. My mom made them costumes a couple times. We also passed costumes down from kid to kid and borrowed costumes from others. We also bought two non-gender specific costumes when they were babies and toddlers that all my kids wore. The first year they were Pooh and the second year they were Tigger.

Dane decided to be many different superheroes in one. Paige was a ladybug. Part of her costume was purchased and part of it was things we had.

2. If you have to buy a Hallowe'en costume, wait until they are 40-50% off or raid your local thrift shop. Also, buy the costume a size or two too big. That way you can get two years or more out of the costume. My kids would also add their costumes to the dress up box and wear them all year round. You might as well get your money's worth out of them.

3. Make your own masks for Hallowe'en. In Iowa, the weather is rather unpredictable at Hallowe'en time. We could have warm, mild weather and we could have a very cold, breezy weather. Sometimes the kids are so bundled up that it isn't worth dressing up in a costume. Just wearing a mask makes sense. You can use flexible cardboard, brown paper bags, some elastic to hold it on, and let the kids decorate it however they want.

4. Use cloth grocery bags for trick and treat bags. Seriously, these bags are the bomb! They don't rip easily. They can handle being dragged by your kids walking down the sidewalk. They can hold a lot of weight. If you are concerned about the colors of the bags not being right, use black, orange, or purple ones. However, I am not worried about such things.

5. Make your own treats. I know this might not work in a big city, but in our small community we can get away with this. Make popcorn balls, trail mix, cookies, or something small to give as treats. Give out apples or oranges if you are thinking healthy. You can also make a small treat that is non-food or a tag for a pencil. Use your imagination, but you do not have to buy bags of candy. (Yes I know there is a stigma about homemade treats, but you should only be trick and treating at homes of people you trust anyway.)

6. Have a truck and treat. If you don't want to spend long hours walking or driving around, gather a group of friends into a big driveway or parking lot. Most people decorate their car trunks and have the kids go around getting treats. Sometimes they also play games, have some drinks like apple cider or punch, and maybe even a potluck. You only have to have a certain amount of treats and you save money on fuel. To me, this sounds like a lot of fun!

7. Carve and/or decorate pumpkins. This is one of those things that can be incredibly messy, but fun! You don't need to have carving kits to do this. You can find patterns online for free if you want to go that direction. You can use paint or markers. I would wait to do this though until the week of Hallowe'en. The pumpkins can deteriorate quickly if done earlier. If the pumpkins are still in good shape after Hallowe'en, you can cut them in half and roast them for them. The pumpkin seeds can be roasted and eaten. The pumpkin pulp can be used in cookies, pies, muffins, etc.

8. Choose an area that you can walk to all the house you want to go to for trick and treating. Driving around and stopping a lot wastes a lot of gas. We live in the country and usually head to the closest small community. Very few of my neighbors have treats for trick and treating so this works well for us.

9. Have supper ready to go when you get home from trick and treating. I usually have something in the oven or in the slow cooker. This will help you avoid going out for supper because you are tired. It will also help the kids absorb the sugar better instead of bouncing off the walls all night. Better yet, they will eat less candy because they ate a filling meal.

10. Decorate with items that can be used longer than Hallowe'en. I have a tendency to decorate for fall rather than Hallowe'en. I use pumpkins, candles, runners, and maybe corn stalks. I like to decorate for several months at once and use things that can be reused or made into food later. I don't use gourds as I find them a waste (what do you do with them afterwards?). Most of my decorations are either given to me or I get for free. Just ask around for pumpkins or let your kids go on 4-H trips to the local pumpkin patch. They also come home with one or two.

That is how we celebrate Hallowe'en frugally! What ideas do you have?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Will You Entertain Your Older Kids When The Power Goes Out?


Let's face a fact: most kids are very happy playing with something that is electronic. They would play them all the time if they could. I know the pain of that statement because I have a ten year son who is the same way.

I worried about how he would entertain himself if the power went out and the batteries on his Nintendo 3DS died. I worried about how my two daughters at home would entertain themselves without cell phones, computers, Kindles, and Netflix. I worried about all of us dealing without Wi-Fi.

However, we have had a few times of dealing with this now and they dealt just fine. Why? How?

1. The batteries on various electronic things take a while to die. We also have a few solar chargers.

2. I had the foresight to give them a love of reading. With a flashlight or candle, they can read forever.

3. I never wanted to be the parent that had to constantly entertain her kids. I had them entertain themselves and play with each other (the joys of living on the farm with a homebody mother). They learned to play together. We have disagreements, but they get them worked out quickly without too much parental interference.

What can kids do to entertain themselves without using electricity or power? Realize that I have a 10, 13.5, and 18 year old at home. This list is geared for older kids. When my kids were little, entertaining themselves was much, much easier.


Things To Do When You Have No Power!

1. Books and magazines (Start a library with a variety of books that might spark their interest)
2. Board and card games
3. Legos (My son is quite the fan! He has books and several sets.)
4. Drawing paper and pencils/chalks
5. Painting supplies
6. Crafts
7. Clean their bedrooms - a good lantern or oil lamp carefully used will provide enough light.
8. Clean out school bags
9. Tell stories or read out loud
10. Scrapbooking or organizing pictures - we get a lot of trips down memory lane doing this!
11. Set up the ultimate car track and race the little Matchbox cars
12. Set up a Rube Goldberg contraption
13. Perform some science experiments
14. Teach them to cook without power
15. Play outside if the weather is not bad.
16. Play flashlight tag indoors
17. Put together a puzzle or puzzles. 
18. Play with the pets
19. Take a nap
20. Put on a family play and/or puppet show

Just in case you were all wondering, these ideas were supplemented by my children. They came up with most of them!

What does your kids like to do when the power is out or the batteries have died in their various electronic devices?

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Raising Your Kids To Be The Opposite Of Society's Expectations

Some beliefs I have encountered:

Many people believe that kids need a gentle, coddling introduction to being a grown up.

Many people believe that kids cannot function on their own until they are 22-25 years old.

Many people believe kids do not need to have a job while in junior high, high school, or college. They should just concentrate on their studies and being involved. They have the rest of their life to work.

If the kids have jobs, they still don't need to pay any of their own expenses. They should save their money or just blow the money on junk.

Many people believe that kids need to go to college in order to be successful. As long as they graduate with a degree, they will be successful.

Many people believe that it is okay for kids to move back home after being gone for a few years and not have to contribute to the home or pay bills. They need to concentrate on finding a job and saving money to buy a car or a home.

All of these beliefs? They are the reason why we have a generation or two of adults who can not function in our society. They can not work or don't know how to work. They believe that someone else will always take care of them.

I don't know about you, but I want my kids to be independent, respectful, functioning members of society. I love them too much to be anything else. I want to see them succeed. I want to watch and love where life is taking them. That requires me as a parent to help them get to that point.

How do I do that?

1. Teach kids skills while they are young. All my kids learn how to cook and know basic cooking skills. I want to know they can feed themselves. They learn how to do laundry. They mow the lawn. They are in charge of animal chores and taking care of the animals. They also help around the house and do whatever chores I assign them.

2. Teach kids to work. My kids do all the things in #1 to learn skills, but to also work. I don't pay an allowance, but I want them to understand that to get anything you have to work for it.

3. Teach kids to pay for their own things. This is a tough one. When my kids turn 16, I don't buy a lot of things for them anymore. I buy their food, basic necessities, car registration, car insurance, and first vehicle. Other than that, they buy their own stuff. They want to dye or perm their hair? They pay for it. They want clothes, jewerly, and shoes? They pay for it. Their grandparents buy them a fair amount of things, but they refuse to buy everything the kids want too.

4. Encourage kids to get a job. Let me rephrase that: Strongly encourage them to get a job. By telling them they have to pay for the things they want, they will want a job anyway. But I still encourage them to get a job. My girls' jobs (so far) have included babysitter, cook, waitress, bartender, cleaner, camp counselor, teaching assistant, and the list will continue to grow. Has it hurt them? No, not at all. In fact, those jobs have helped them decide what they don't want to do in life.

One of the things that stuck with me at Shali's college orientation was in a parents' session, they encouraged the kids to be busy and to have a job while in college. Why? Because kids that are busy going to classes, working, studying, and being involved with college activities were more productive and had better time management skills. Those kids are also better students and more successful in life.

5. Do not coddle kids. I teach mine from an early age to work out their problems and deal with people themselves. I will always be there to help, advise, and defend them if need be. However, I teach my kids to be responsible for themselves. They have had to explain that they lost homework and library books, were late for school, and/or missed a lesson. If those things were my fault, I wrote a letter of explanation and apology. Otherwise, my kids have to explain themselves.

I also do not take my kids everywhere with me. They stay home by themselves at age 10 or older depending on maturity level. By age 12, they are watching their siblings while I am gone. I do not have daycare in the summer and the older ones are now responsible for the ones that can't drive. They do have wonderful grandparents that help out, but the responsibility is on their shoulders. I do "pay" for them doing this by providing gas money, but I feel kids should have to help out at home.

6. Teach kids that education is important. This one comes with a twist. I do not believe that all kids should go to college. I tell my kids that they should go to college if the career they are going into requires it. However, if they are interested in a trade, then go to a trade school or go to work right away. Military service will always be a possibility. College is not for everyone and they should not waste their time by getting a soft degree that will get them nowhere afterwards.


Kids will appreciate this when they get older. Sometimes they will argue with you on it, but the goal is for them to be functioning members of society that will not want to freeload off of you or the government.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, September 1, 2014

30 Days of Preparedness: Personal Protection and Awareness - What Will You Do To Protect Yourself?

30-days-prep2

When you go out for the day, do you know where you are going? Are you aware of potential situations that may impact you? How do you plan to protect yourself (and loved ones) if danger threatens you?

Those are questions I think about everyday. They are not easy questions, but they need to asked just the same. Many people think the officers of the law will protect or they will depend of the kindness of strangers to protect them, but that is not good enough for my family and I. Many people also think that having just a gun will protect them, but without the right skills and smarts you may be in just as much trouble.

Personal protection and awareness is just that: being aware of yourself in your surroundings. You should have the skills to be aware of the dangers of almost any situation and the smarts to understand how to deal with that situation.

You need to ask yourself these questions:

1. Where are you?

2. Who is around you? Is someone causing trouble, acting foolish, or look like a danger in any way?

3. Who is around you that will need protection besides yourself? Is your family or friends with you? Does someone look vulnerable or look like they would not be able to potentially deal with danger?

4. Where are the nearest exits in the building or any place you are at? Where are good areas to hide if need be? Where do you need to go if a natural disaster happens (i.e. tornado, hurricane)?

5. What are the dangers? Are there large trees or heavy pillars that can fall? Is there a large body of water nearby? Does the building appear to unstable?

Being smart and recognizing who and what is around can already save your life. Then you need to move onto how you will protect yourself if you are threatened.

I believe in multiple levels of defense. You should be ready to practice self-defense at any time. You should be ready to physically extract yourself from a dangerous situation. Taking self-defense classes is one of the best things you can do.


You should also carry items to help defend yourself. You should carry one or more of these items:
Whistle
Pepper spray
Mace
Knife
Stun gun
Taser
Pistol or revolver that is comfortable and legal to carry

I have multiples of these items on my person or in my EDC at almost all times. My college daughter carries pepper spray and a knife which does not violate her college's weapons policy. My teenage daughter carries a knife with her that does not ever go into her school. The key to carrying any of these things is to keep them concealed as to have the advantage and to know the weapons policy of the places you frequent.

Another key is to have the skills and smarts to use these items. Practice with them. Learn to use them correctly. Learn what situation they should be used in and why. Understand the pros and cons of everything you carry to protect yourself. Teach others about using them or to not touch those things.

When you are aware of the situation around you and have the tools to deal with the potential dangers, you will be better able to protect yourself.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

30-days-prep2

Thanks for joining the Prepared Bloggers as we work our way through 30 Days of Preparedness. September is National Preparedness Month so you will find everything you need to get your preparedness knowledge and skills into shape. Take one post each day, learn as much as you can about the topic and make it a part of your preparedness plan.

Day 1 - Ready, Set, Get Prepared! Welcome to 30 Days of Preparedness from PreparednessMama 
Day 2 - The Family Meeting Place and Escape from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 3 - I'm Safe! How to Communicate with Family in an Emergency from PreparednessMama
Day 4 - Does Your Family Have a Fire Escape Plan? from Home Ready Home
Day 5 - Preparedness For Pets from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 6 - The Escape Exercise from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 7 - It all Falls Apart Without Mental Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 8 - It's a Matter of Emergency Kits from A Matter of Preparedness
Day 9 - Nine Great Emergency Light Sources Other Than Flashlights from Food Storage & Survival
Day 10 - Cooking Without Power from Mama Kautz
Day 11 - The Importance of a Shelter & Staying Warm and Dry from Trayer Wilderness
Day 12 - The Importance of Having The Right Tools In Your Pack from Trayer Wilderness
Day 13 - Practice Living Without Electricity from Food Storage Made Easy
Day 14 - How We Choose The Right Gear - (including the MultiFlame Tool) from Trayer Wilderness
Day 15 - Water Storage & Purification from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 16 - Food and Water for a 72 Hour "Go Bag" from Homestead Dreamer
Day 17 - 8 Foods You Should Be Storing and How from Melissa K Norris
Day 18 - Planning Your Pantry from The Organic Prepper
Day 19 - Stocking Up on Non-Food Items from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 20 - Dutch Oven Cooking: Off-Grid Before Off-Grid Was Cool from The Backyard Pioneer
Day 21 - Pressure Canning the Harvest from Timber Creek Farm
Day 22 - Personal Protection & Awareness from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 23 - KISS First Aid from Herbal Prepper
Day 24 - Mommy, I have to go Potty! from Mom With a Prep
Day 25 - Fire Starting 101: The Why and How of Lighting a Fire for Survival from Food Storage & Survival
Day 26 - How to Filter and Purify Water from Prepared Housewives
Day 27 - How To Make A Shelter from Trayer Wilderness
Day 28 - Put Your Preps to the Test with 24 Hours Unplugged from The Organic Prepper
Day 29 - What Is Char and Why You Should Have It To Start A Fire from Trayer Wilderness
Day 30 - How To Utilize Bushcraft Skills and Forage From The Wild from Trayer Wilderness

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