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

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Birth Control, Sex, and SHTF: What Should You Do?


One of those areas that most people think will go away in the end times or SHTF is sex. Many people think that they will be too stressed out, too worried, too hungry, and too desperate to worry about sex.

I happen to think they are wrong.

Sex has some benefits that most people do not consider:
  • Sex is a natural stress reliever. 
  • Sex helps people feel closer and more attached when the chips are down. 
  • Sex helps people to relax. 
  • Sex can be a coping agent. 
  • Sex can be used as a way to escape reality for just a little while. 
In other words, sex can and will be a factor when a SHTF happens. People will still have sex. Desperation will drive people to do many things. Many people may turn to sex for financial reasons. Sex can and will be used as a bartering tool or to buy food. Many people will use to just to comfort themselves.

Along with sex though comes some other issues. Many, many people are on birth control or practice some method of birth control for preventing pregnancy as well as addressing medical issues. Unless you stock up on condoms and/or sponge and spermicide, you could lose access to birth control for sex.

Most methods of birth control only last a certain amount of time:
  • The pill, ring, and patch are prescribed for only 30-90 days.
  • The shot only lasts three months.
  • The IUD lasts five years. 
  • The implants last three years.
Many of these will stay in your system for up to six months or possibly a year after ending their use. However, after the time frame for this birth control is over, what happens next? Pregnancy can happen although most women do not get pregnant immediately after stopping birth control. Sexually transmitted diseases can happen and will still happen, but birth control does not prevent most of those. 

Birth control is widely prescribed to control female medical issues. If birth control is used to control female medical issues, those issues will come back in a hurry after discontinuing the use of the birth control. Then what?

Other options must be explored to prevent unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and to control painful female issues like primary dysmenorrhea, severe cramping, excessive bleeding, and more. 

The best idea for preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs would be to practice abstinence. However, most couples and good deal of people will not consider abstinence purely because they don't want to consider it. As mentioned before, sex will be used to make people feel better, for financial gain, and for bartering purposes. As much as abstinence should be considered and is always an option, many people just won't. 

The Family Planning Method or the Natural Rhythm Method is always good and requires some record keeping on the female's part. However, these still comes with some risk. Unwanted pregnancies may still occur due to inaccurate record keeping and/or stress on a woman's body due to the circumstances they are in. Neither prevents STDs. However, the record keeping that is needed with this method may help women in detecting female health issues and give an accurate idea of when female problems are occurring.

Having a good supply of condoms, sponges, spermicides, and diaphragm on hand would be ideal. Those many run out though eventually or be too expensive to afford. They also will not be any use to anyone in cases of rape or sexual assault where they are not likely to be found. As a preventative measure, if you are done having children, now may be the time to consider having a tubal ligation and/or vasectomy. You would not have to worry about using non-hormonal forms of birth control, but I would still keep a good supply on hand. 

The only surefire way to prevent STDs is to not have sex with someone you do not know. If you do, be sure to have both parties thoroughly clean themselves before and after sex. Also, you should avoid sex with anyone who looks to be infected. You should look for signs such as genital bumps, rashes, and open sores. In cases of rape or sexual assault, you should thoroughly clean yourself afterwards scrubbing with a disinfectant. If medical care is available, you should get checked out and follow the same procedure as above. 

If you are using hormonal birth control for prevention of pregnancy, you need to figure out which options of non-hormonal birth control will work for you and stock up. If you are using it to prevent female issues, you should first ask your doctor if there are other ways to treat your condition or the symptoms of your condition. If there is other options of treatment, especially over the counter treatments, you need to stock up on them and start using them. I would also have a good supply of items like Midol or Pamprin to help with the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. 

You should also look into alternative treatments for your female issues. Cutting out the processed foods would help greatly, but after a SHTF you might have to eat whatever you have on hand or can find. I would look into essential oils, herbs, tinctures, teas (raspberry leaf), and other holistic treatments that may benefit you greatly. Now would be the time to experiment and seek the advice of an expert to see what will work for you. 

When the SHTF happens, none of this will really go away. If fact, sex will still happen. People will still need ways of preventing pregnancy. Women will still need to deal with their menstrual cycles and female issues. Not being prepared for it is simply sticking your head in the sand to avoid dealing with it. Although this is an unpopular topic, it is one that needs to be addressed by you for yourself and your family.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday Monthly Update From The Homestead - August/September Edition


I love this time of year! We are so busy trying to keep up with the yard, the garden, and the projects. So this will be a monthly update for now and in the future. 

In August, you realize that summer is winding down fast. You may have at least two months left to get everything done outside that you can get done. Canning is full speed ahead trying to keep up with the produce. While I love dehydrating, I am finding myself doing a lot of canning this year.

Then September comes and you realize you may be running out of time! 

Canned green beans

We canned several quarts and four pints of green beans. We also canned summer squash pickles and zucchini relish. I froze eight quart size bags of vegetable pasta sauce. I have canned some salsa and need to do A LOT MORE! I froze a lot of the small onions from the garden to be used with roasts and in stews. 

After waiting patiently, oh so patiently, on the tomatoes, they are finally starting to come along. We have picked more grape tomatoes than we can keep up on eating. I still have lots and lots of green tomatoes though. I did give the tomatoes a good trimming as recommended by several gardeners. This has helped tremendously! I keep cutting back vines about once a week with great results. The tomatoes have been growing faster and turning red faster. Yeah!

I seem to have a lot of green peppers in the garden too. They are suppose to turn to red, orange, and yellow peppers, but nothing yet. If they stay green, I will still use them and freeze them for future use. I also have some mild banana peppers coming along too. I am not sure what I will do with them yet, but I will figure it out!

I also have a lot of zucchini which I have been using for a lot of zucchini bread. I have also been adding it to other dishes too as well as grilling it. I also grew some yellow crookneck squash. I will probably not be doing that again. I wanted yellow smooth neck squash, but I didn't read the package close enough. Oh well, the chickens love them! I did pull one hill of yellow squash plants out yesterday and will probably do the rest 


 Pumpkin blossoms

The potatoes have tasted great and I need to get the rest of them dug up. The pumpkins are coming along great too. The beets need to be dug up also. I actually have carrots! They germinated really late, but they are there and growing!

The chickens are still alive. That is saying a lot. We lost one chicken for reasons we couldn't figure out. We have one chicken who will be on the chopping block soon because she is not laying anymore and is becoming very mean to the other hens. The rest of the ladies will need to find new homes or become stew meat. We are only getting 4-6 eggs a day which we still enjoy. However, we have a rodent problem in the barn where their coop is and in the walls. The food and the water is attracting the problem and we need to get rid of the problem. 

So the chickens need to go for now. We will start over in the late winter - early spring with a new crop of chicks. I know I said previously that I wanted to add to the flock, but this problem really needs to be addressed before the rodents find a way into the shop.

Back of the barn

The shop in the barn is coming along great! The walls that are going to be painted are done. Rob stuffed more insulation down the walls before painting them to help keep the shop warmer. The floors in the shop and back half of the barn have been power washed too. It was amazing to see the difference after doing that! Rob wants to finish the ceiling and paint that. He also wants to finish insulating around the windows and get those trimmed out. 

We have enough rain for quite awhile. I am sooooo tired of mowing! Unfortunately, the forecast says rain again this week through the weekend. Oh well, it keeps the garden growing!

Otherwise, school has started! Woo hoo! We started on August 23rd and it has been pretty smooth sailing. The kids have been taking their lunches every day which has been an awesome savings on my pocketbook! Paige has been busy with cross counry, marching band, and choir (All-state, jazz, chamber, and concert). Dane is thankfully not really involved in anything yet! Dane turned 12 in August and we took him to Arnold's Park! It was a lot of fun!

We are still doing a lot of cleaning out, decluttering, selling stuff we don't need anymore, and donating other things. I keep thinking I am done for awhile, but then I reconsider things I don't need anymore!

What have you been up to this last month?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Friday, September 16, 2016

Water is a Vital to Your Survival! What is Your Plan for Your Water Needs?


We can't live without water! Whether it is to drink, brush teeth, shower, cook, clean, or provide water to growing things, we can't live without it. An average person cannot live for more than three days without water. 

Water is critical to your survival needs.

Unfortunately, most people do not place water very high in their emergency preparations. They focus on shelter, food, security, and safety before they even began to think about water. Yes, shelter and food are important. However, without water, those things will not matter. 

So...what is your plan for your water needs? 

This will vary from household to household. The experts say to have, at a minimum, one gallon a day per person. One gallon of water multiplied by the number of people you plan to care for times the number of days you plan to be without water. One gallon of water is the minimum you should have, but I think you should have more. 

Why?

Bathing will take at least 3-5 gallons of water per person. I know in a crisis situation, bathing might be the last thing on your mind. However, if you have the potential for unsafe and unsanitary conditions, bathing in some way or form is a must. You can invest in one of these solar showers or whole body disposable wash cloths. Keeping clean will be a top priority to ward off sickness.

Washing clothes using a couple of five gallon buckets and a washer plunger will take at least 10-20 gallons of water for the bare minimum of clothes to be washed. You might have enough clean clothes to last two weeks. That is all well and good until someone gets sick. 

Washing dishes will take 3-6 gallons of water to clean the dishes properly. While it is recommended to have paper plates and plastic utensils on hand, there will always be some dishes dirty. Then you need to add in the water you might need for cooking purposes. 

Safely, you will need at least 3-5 gallons a day per person! How do you plan to store that much water? You can:

  • Store 55 gallon drums of water in a cool, dark place. 
  • Have a rain catchment system with at least 150 gallons of storage.
  • Store one-gallon jugs of water and cases of water bottles for cooking and drinking.
  • Install a hand pump for your well water.
  • Drain the water heater.
  • Fill five-gallon buckets and containers for water needs like flushing toilets and washing clothes. 

I also would recommend having a good filtration system in case you need to use unpurified water. A LifeStraw works great for one person to drink water safely. A Berkey filter system works well for a family. When you are going through an emergency situation, the last thing you need is a sick person or people due to unsafe drinking water. 

I would also be aware of the water sources surrounding your land. Is there a creek or river nearby? Is there an abandoned farm place with a working hand pump and well? Is there a lake that you can pump water from? I keep topographical maps of my area in a file for this information. It may save your life to have this information on hand. 

For more ideas and motivation for storing water for emergency needs, I asked my fellow bloggers for their water articles. Here is some really great information!


How to Can Water for Emergencies by Everything Home With Carol 

Whatever the emergency or crisis is, you cannot live without water. You need to have some on hand, a way to get more, a way to filter for drinking, and be able to do as much as possible to conserve water. Make storing water at the top of your to-do list for prepping!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, September 9, 2016

4 Reasons Why It Is Time To Talk To Your Friends and Neighbors About Prepping!

It's 5:30 in the afternoon. The power has been out since 6:30 that morning. You are contemplating what to have for supper on the grill since you can still get to the grill. Thank goodness you moved it to the garage yesterday when the weather started getting bad!

Otherwise, everything else is going well. The kids have been playing card games and coloring. The first floor of the house is warm enough from the portable gas heater you bought a year ago. You have good light coming from the windows yet, but the LED lanterns are ready to go. You could fire up the generator if you need to, but all is well yet.

You hear a knock on the door. It is your next door neighbor whom you have been pretty friendly with. He's a good guy who is always willing to lend a hand. However, you know he has almost nothing for emergencies. In fact, he has laughed at you numerous times for your prepping purchases. You wonder what he wants.

You are not very keen on answering the door, but if you don't, one of the kids will. You go out of the garage door to talk to him outside. You know if you let him know that you have a portable gas heater going right now and have started using lanterns, he will be over with his whole family. You could probably handle that if you knew how long the power was going to be out. But you don't.


You know this conversation isn't going to go well, but you will talk to him anyway. You both exchange pleasantries and talk about the power outage. He asks how you all are managing. They are getting cold, but his wife had the good idea to close off a room and get the kids bundled up a bit against the cold. She moved the kids into that room and is keeping it as warm as they can. He saw you move your grill into the garage and had done the same.

However, the kids are afraid of the dark. They only have one flashlight that has dead batteries. They have no practical candles or lanterns. They have no way to heat the room because he didn't listen to you about putting in a gas fireplace and put in an electric one instead. They have some food to get by for a day or two longer. You know the grocery store and gas station is closed due to no power.

What do you do?

This scenario can be all too real and does happen in almost every emergency or disaster. Many people would have a definite answer until faced with that decision. It is hard to watch anyone in need and not want to help. I know I would want to help especially if it is someone I am on good terms with. I do not like to see people suffer.

This is why you need to start talking to your friends and neighbors about prepping for emergencies and disasters. By encouraging others to be prepared, you can hopefully avoid the above scenario. Here are four reasons why you should take the time to talk to your friends and neighbors about prepping:

1. You may be able to help them this time, but next time you might not be available for help. You need to make them realize they need to have their own emergency supplies. The weather could be so bad they can't make it over to your house. You might not have enough to help them and provide for your own family. You should offer to go to the store with them to start an emergency kit. You should also show them how to use it and store it.

2. They need to become more self-reliant. They might move to a new neighborhood where no one cares about them. They might experience something where they can not reach out to friends or neighbors. The weather might be bad enough they can't leave home. They might be caught on the road somewhere. The scenarios are endless, but they need to learn to rely on themselves instead of expecting everyone to save them.

3. The government says so. FEMA celebrates National Preparedness Month and has things for people to do all year round. Red Cross recommends having 3-14 days worth of supplies on hand for emergencies and disasters. While some of you may scoff at this, you may have to use these agencies to help convince people to prepare. Some people like to be told what to do by the government or big powerful agencies. This may work in your favor to convince others to prepare.

4. They can safely protect and care for their families. Being unprepared is the equivalent of neglecting their family's potential needs. They get everything they need to take care of daily life and they need to get everything they need to take care of any emergencies. This is just like having Advil on hand for a headache or a fever. You keep flashlights, batteries, and candles on hand for a power outage.

We as preppers have a duty to encourage others to prepare. Now is the time to start. Some of your friends and neighbors may want to already and don't know where to start! By having them prepared, you can become a true community of preppers who can help yourselves and others too.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Back To School Routine - How To Set Up Your Family For Success This School Year!


School has started for us! (Excuse me while I do a happy dance!)

Starting school is an excellent time to start new routines in your household. I find being organized in the morning starts our day off well. We are on time for work and school. The kids are rarely rushing around to get their things together. 

This school year we have had some additional changes from last school year. We are taking cold lunches to school almost every day. We are no longer eating breakfast at school. (The school raised the rates and we no longer qualify for free or reduced lunches.) We are no longer allowing electronics and phones to be in their rooms overnight. 

We also had some changes to make from last school year. We needed to get more organized at night. We were not getting clothes picked out the night before which caused some chaos in the morning looking for a certain shirt. Bags were not ready to go in the mornings. Things were scattered everywhere and certainly lost by the time we were ready to leave. We needed one place for electronics and phones so we can grab and go. 

All this? Just about drove me bonkers!

I realized being organized is not just a kid thing, it is a parent thing too. I couldn't remember everything that needed to be done by my kids. How were my kids going to remember? Simple habits that were second nature to me were habits they are still learning. 

So I made up a list of what they need to do every morning and evening. This list helps me and them to remember what they need to do. And guess what? I wanted to pass it on to you! 

This is a pretty simple list. I am not a fancy person although I enjoy others' efforts to be fancy! (Yes, I love printables!) And just a disclaimer: we are public school goers. We fully respect other families' choices in schooling, but this is what works for us. This may mean your morning and evening routines will look a little different. That is okay! 

Here is our routines:

Morning Routine:
Wake up, shower if needed, and get dressed
Morning chores
Finish packing lunch for school
Get laptops packed into backpacks
Put bags into the car
Eat breakfast
Night Routine:
Evening chores
Get school lunch ready for the next day
Pick out clothes for next day
Get backpacks and gym bags ready the next day
Homework!
Shower
Plug in electronics and phones at charging station
Put backpacks and gym bags by your bedroom door

Because I try to make life easier for all of you, I also have it available to print here: Kids Routines!

Like I said, this is nothing fancy. Just a good list of reminders about what we need to do every morning and evening. I have it hanging on the refrigerator door for every one to see.


And you know what? This is already worked with success. The kids appreciate having a list to refer to. They know what is expected of them. That alone will reduce every one's stress levels.


What do you do for back to school success?


Thanks for reading,

Erica


Thursday, August 11, 2016

What Does Your College Student Really Need?


I have had two kids in college for over three years now. I know there are things they need and don't need. We have experienced dorm life and apartment life. While both are very different, the college student needs are very similar in dorm life and apartment life. 

Basically, this is home away from home! Your student needs to feel at home where he is at while being very independent. 

While I had a pretty good idea on what a college needs, I polled some of my favorite college students, mainly my daughters and their roommates/best friends. They had some great insight on what a college student really needs and what makes life easier. Three of them have been in college for three years now so they have a pretty good handle on things that are needed. 

You might read some of this list and think "My kid doesn't need that". Some of these things are more comfort items than needs, but your kid needs to feel comfortable at college or you are going to get some really sad phone calls. Your college student also needs to be independent and not running home every weekend for you to do their laundry!

What Does Your College Student Really Need?

1. Food, water, kitchen supplies, dorm fridge, and a toaster oven/microwave.

2. A tool kit with a small selection of screws and fasteners. Teach them how to use it too. 

3. School Supplies and Tape. Just like high school, they will need notebooks, binders, pens, pencils, paper clips, a calculator, etc. They will also need tape like scotch, masking, packaging, and duct tape.

4. Paper products - toliet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels. This should go without saying. 

5. Cleaners - dusting spray, all-purpose spray cleaner or wipes, glass cleaner, dish soap. Depending on your college student, you might need to show them how to use them. You may also need to remind them to use the cleaning supplies. In addition, for apartment living - toliet bowl cleaner, floor cleaner or a good all-purpose cleaner. Also, they may need a vacuum, broom, or a floor sweeper.

6. Laundry supplies. Most dorms have laundry facilities that will let you use a debit card or your student account card. However, the college student might still need quarters as well as laundry detergent, stain remover, and maybe fabric softener. They might also need instructions on how to run the machines and how to wash the clothes. 

7. A vehicle emergency kit - tire pressure gauge, a quart of oil, flares, flashlight, battery jumper cables, rags, tire repair kit, vehicle maintenance manual, small tool kit, and a jack and tire iron. Also teach them how to use this, check their oil, and change their own tires. 

8. Towels and Bedding. Wash cloths, kitchen towels, bath towels, and rags. Whatever they like to sleep on and underneath. They will need them all. You might also want to look into getting a memory foam topper for the uncomfortable mattress. Trust me on this. 

9. Personal items like clothes, personal grooming, etc. For dorm life, a shower caddy and shower shoes or flip flops for the trips to the community showers. Also, a first aid kit would be a very, very good idea too!

10. Organizing items like tubs, cubes, under bed storage, totes, whatever it takes to make the space livable and keep your items from taking over your space.

11. Decorating items. Your college student is going to spend time in his dorm room or apartment. Use banners, wall decorations, posters, and pictures to decorate the room and make the space their own. 

12. Entertainment. Again your college student is going to spend time at college in his dorm room or apartment. They need to be able to entertain themselves and their friends. Think movies, books, card games, board games, video games, etc. These are good things to help manage the stress level, bond with new friends, and spend time with old friends. Also, having these things may keep them out of the kind of trouble that will give you phone calls you don't want. Just saying. 

13. Good time organization tools. They will need a clock, alarm clock, planner, and/or calendar. Being on their own for the first time, they will need things to help them be responsible. Getting up on time, knowing when to be a class and work, and what their assignments are is crucial. They need a good tool to manage it all. I know they all have smartphones, but I liked have things down on paper then and nothing has changed. Having a visual reminder will help them too.

14. A good pair of headphones. Before you think this is crazy, it isn't. It is your college student being considerate. No one wants to listen to what they are listening to, plus it helps them tune out the other people in the dorm, apartment, commons, or library when they are studying. The college students were adamant about this. 

15. A Computer or Laptop. Yes, this is a necessity in college. Yes, the school library also may have them. However, more and more colleges (if not all) are requiring the student to have them. Along with this, they will need a mouse, printer, printer ink, printer paper, and possibly a wireless router.

Most of this list is just the basics. Your college will have rules for their dorms/apartments and you need to look into that. Some do not allow candles. Some do not allow single burners to cook food or even microwaves. Some may not allow you to nail or screw anything into the walls. Some may not have carpet in the room and the student may need a good size area rug. 

Some dorms and apartments do not have air conditioning and your student will need fans. Case in point, my oldest daughter moved into a dorm in August when Iowa had record breaking temperatures. It was 95 degrees F with a heat index of 105 degrees F when we moved her in. She and her roommate had no air conditioning. They had four fans running before we left. 

You might think your student needs a car at college. Again, every college is different. Some colleges do not allow freshman to have vehicles at college. If there is 2-3 kids from the same town at the same college, maybe they can work out a carpool solution. Having a vehicle at college is at the discretion of the parents and the college. 

Parents of college students, what else would you add to this list?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - July 25 & August 1


We are still here, still busy, and still finding more and more projects to do. I think the projects are actually finding us, but we always find things to do! I stay busier than I like and most days I have no idea what I need to do first. That is life though and I try to stay positive no matter what.

I am kind of back to purging and decluttering. I am trying to get Shali's room packed up. I also am trying to do a deep purge of the dining room. We used the room everyday, but it is also become a collect all for the things I don't have a home for. Time for a lot of things to go!

The garden is really starting to produce. The peas are done and I managed to get one quart size bag of shelled peas in the freezer. The green beans are starting to get overwhelming. I need to start canning them. The kale is going to the chickens. The grape tomatoes are starting and they are delicious! We are starting to get zucchini and yellow squash! So good! We could dig potatoes at any time if we want. This is my best garden yet!

I canned eight half-pints of zucchini squash. The little bit I sampled was delicious!

The chickens are doing fine. We are trying to figure out who is laying and who is not. The decision has been made to add some pullets to the flock, just have to get them now. I know someone who has Barred Rocks also ready to lay and that is probably what I will get.

Dane is back home from camp and Paige is busy going to band camp and then all-state choir camp this next weekend. She is done with Driver's Ed and she passed! We took the projects to fair and the kids did very well. We learned some new things for next year and I marveled at the creativity of some of the kids' projects.

We cleaned up more from the storm two weeks ago. We had to have the utility company come out and take care of a branch that had fallen and was pushing down on one of the electricity lines running to the pole. We burned one pile of brush and added to it again the next day. It must have still had a hot spot because it burned again all on its own. We have another pile to burn yet. We have branches still falling out of trees from being hung up in the trees.

We had a pig come visit from two miles away. We were surprised to say the least! His owner came and got him quickly. All was well. If we get pigs, we need a very secure shelter and we were not equipped for that right now!

We are cleaning up the yard some more and making it tidier. We are also fixing a lot of little things like doors and windows. We are also fixing a few things on the wooden play set in order to sell it. The kids have outgrown it and it is time for it to bless another family. We added more fence posts to the garden fence in order to give it more stability.

And, oh yeah...mowing. I am a little tired of mowing.

I think that is it for now. My brain is a bit fried and I can't remember much more.

What did you do this last week or two?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 18


Hello! We are having some very lovely temperatures here! The wind seems to want to blow too, but it feels so good to be outside soaking up the sun.

We got a fair amount of yard work done. The branches are piled up in three piles around the house and will be loaded into a trailer. Some of it will be burned and some of it will become mulch for the garden. The kids did most of that work as well as picking up trash around the yard.

I have my raspberries dug up and will get the replanted as soon as I get a new spot ready. I am excited to have them out of my garden and ready to get a new, bigger patch going. We all love fresh raspberries!

I also found out yesterday that my garden will be tilled in two weeks. I am excited about that too. I want to get my own tiller, but I am shopping around for a decent used one. I bought my seed potatoes, onion sets, and shallot sets yesterday too. I might buy more seed potatoes, but I am waiting to see.

We, mostly Rob, got the garage cleaned out and organized. We still have some more cleaning and organizing to do, but the garden tools and shovels are all hanging up! I have dreamed of that for quite a while! Rob also tore out some shelves that were rotting and falling apart. He also did a lot of sweeping and dusting. The garage was pretty dirty!

Paige went to prom! She is only a freshman, but her date was a junior. Here is the pretty girl in all her finery:



She wore a dress that her older sister, Jordan, wore to her junior prom. This dress was in pretty decent condition, but I had to use my sewing and ironing skills. I fixed and sown back on the beads and larger rhinestones that came loose. The skirt had a couple minor tears that I sewed back up. We spent $26 to get her hair done and grandma bought her a new pair of heels to wear. Jordan applied her make-up and Paige wore jewerly that she already had. A fairly frugal prom!

The chickens are still alive. We have been free ranging them again and so far no hawk. We did find out it was illegal to shoot them. I am looking into other ways to discourage them from eating my chickens!

Other than that, we have been going to track meets, cleaning, and generally keeping up with life. The cats will go to the vet tomorrow and that should be more fun than it sounds. One of the cats is deathly afraid to even leave the house so this is always a fun trip.

I wanted to let you all know about a new site for starting and adding to your current food storage. Preppers Market carries healthy emergency food storage with none of the nasty stuff you don't want! It tastes delicious and offers a great variety for you and yours. It would make a great gift to help jumpstart someone's food storage or add to their existing food storage. Check it out!

Preppers Market LB pasta

What is going on around your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 11


What happened this week?

This week was a little exciting, a little bit frustrating, and has a little bit more work involved for us.

We are down a chicken. One of the full-grown layers was killed by a hawk. In all the problems I thought I would have with keeping my chickens alive, this was not one problem I thought I would have. Hawks are not a big problem, but we had noticed three of them nesting on the property. We weren't sure what kind of hawk they were, but now we know they are the chicken-killing kind of hawks.

Since I like my chickens to free range a bit, the hawks need to go. I would like to do it humanely, but if we have to shoot them then we will. Shooting the hawks is probably illegal, but I have more invested in my chickens and would rather not lose them!



In the frustrating and creating more work for us category, what you see above is the remnants of my clothesline. We had a dead tree fall on Tuesday and take out the clothesline. Both poles will have to be replaced as well as the line. We are extremely fortunate that the tree did not fall on the house or fall the other way on to the power line. This can be cleaned up and replaced fairly easily.

Gardening is still on hold. The ground temperature is a little bit chilly yet to plant anything. A few days of sun might cure that. We are also going to move the raspberry patch out of the garden and into its own spot. I think they will do better and I will have the room back in the garden. If I don't have a tiller (my dream tiller) by the weekend, I will rent one and get the garden tilled hopefully in the next week.

We (mostly Rob) spring-cleaned the first floor of the house Saturday. He would call it normal cleaning, but the floors look fantastic! We also did some decluttering with another load accumulating for the thrift store. I took one load on Thursday last week, but we always have more things to get rid of.

I also did a big grocery run on Saturday. Meat prices are atrocious!!!! Corn and beans for feed is down. Gas prices to transport the meat is down. Why is ground beef still $4.50-5.00 a pound?!?! Crock-pot and arm roasts were $3.99 a pound. I am still in sticker shock!

Everything is on hold this week while we get ready for prom! Paige is going to her first prom on Saturday and, in our true frugal style, is wearing a dress that Jordan wore her junior year. I still need to get a few repairs done on the dress and iron the skirt. With three track meets this week this should be interesting, but we will get it done!

What is happening on your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - March 7


In order to get back to a more consistent posting, we are bringing back the Monday Update From The Homestead. And folks, the homestead has been busy.

As you all know, Rob moved in about six weeks ago. This has been a huge adjustment on everyone's part and we are still working out the kinks. However, he is quite handy and I love that about him. He has fixed the upstairs bathroom sink, is fixing the sump pump in the basement, fixed the other drain in the basement, and the list goes on. He also likes order and consistency which my household is not big on. However, we need it so this has been an interesting experience. 

Dane's room flooded last week. Hence, the sump pump repairs. We have a perfectly good sump pump, but the float kept getting stuck on the side of the pit. So we bought one that does not get stuck on the side of the pit. The new sump pump has a float that goes up and down on a rod. The old one had a float that was on an extended arm and went up and down. 

Dane was moved permanently up to his sister's old bedroom and is currently getting settled in. We are still trying to par down the toys and figure out what to do with the organization of the room. He got moved into a room that is about half the size of his old room. This will involve creative use of room and roaming Pinterest for lots of ideas!

So what is our next project? Fixing the sump pump for starters. Rob is also going to re-caulk the upstairs shower since a chunk of the caulk is missing right now. Then I think we are going to turn Dane's old bedroom into a family room with all the movies, games, and whatnot down there. We are going to paint a waterproof sealer on the floor, put down carpet, replace the door, and replace the paneling in that room. Then we can decorate it and furnish it. We have most of that on hand now. 


One part of the back of the shop. We have a lot of cleaning and fixing to do.

Getting Rob's shop set up is also a priority. He would like his tools and space to make and fix things. I can't blame him on that. Hopefully, we will get that started as soon as possible. 

As for the weather, we had a bit of snow last week, some cold, and now really nice temps. The ground was starting to dry up a bit before the snow and I am waiting for that to happen again. I would like to get out to the garden soon and start cleaning up the garden for spring. I would also like to get a start on building some raised beds and plant a small row of radishes and maybe peas. We have a chance of storms through Tuesday and nice temps the rest of the week.

Speaking of the garden, my garlic is coming up. The onions that I left in the ground last fall are coming up too. I haven't seen any sign of my rhubarb or asparagus yet, but it is really early for those plants. However, no real ground frost/freezing means early start on the crops here. 


She is not normally an inside dog, but loves to be inside any chance she can get!

We have developed a system for the dog and the chickens. The dog likes to hunt the chickens and the chickens like to roam the yard. The dog has a fenced-in outdoor area so that is where she goes during the day so the chickens can roam. At sunset, the chickens go in and the dog comes out so she can be the protector she is not. But she does like to bark a lot!



I also have not decided if I want to add more chickens or not this year. There is a part of me that would like to add about six more layers to the flock, but I am not sure if I have the room. I probably can make the coop work with the addition of another roost. I have wanted to do meat chickens also and I still might on a small scale. I am thinking maybe 10-12 meat birds so I can get the hang of the process. I would have to build a temporary coop or chicken tractor for them though. There is no room for that many birds in the regular coop.

Other than that, we just have been busy. Dane's basketball is wrapping up and Paige's track is just starting. She will also be done with jazz choir in the next month which will be nice. 

How is your homestead today?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, February 12, 2016

Make Valentine's Day Cheap and Easy!


Valentine's Day can be so expensive! Flowers, candy, cards, stuffed animals, expensive night-outs, expensive dinners at equally expensive restaurants, and the list can go on. Guys and gals alike throw away huge amounts of money and for what? A holiday they might remember? 

What a huge waste of money!

I used to work at a florist shop and I just could not believe that guys would spend $150 on two dozen roses, balloons, and the works. I was not as frugal then as I am now, but the cost would just about stagger me. I always really hoped that the wife or girlfriend was really worth it or really appreciated it. 

Don't get me wrong. I love getting flowers or a plant! I think they are beautiful, but not on Valentine's Day! Do you realize how much those items are marked up? Never mind that the flowers are usually out of season, making the flowers even more expensive!

How can you get around this? 

Take a vow to make Valentine's Day cheap and easy!

Here are some ideas for you:

1. Have a nice dinner at home. Even if you buy the steaks at the grocery store, you are saving a ton of money by cooking them yourself and staying home. If you want a romantic dinner for two, find a babysitter or eat after the kids go to bed.

2. Watch a movie at home. Want a new movie to watch? Hit up a Redbox, see what Netflix or Amazon Prime has for free or rent, or borrow one from a friend. 

3. Make cards for each other. Write a heartfelt note on the card.

4. Make your own decorations using ideas from Pinterest or the free printables on the internet. 

5. Make your kids' Valentines for school using free printables from the internet. I found some really cool Star Wars Valentines for my son to give at school. We also taped a pack of 5 Juicy Fruit gum on the back of each one as the favor.

6. Go visit an art gallery or museum. Most places are free or free passes can be obtained to visit. 

7. Play a card or board game at home. We love to play UNO together. It can be vicious with the kids involved, but we didn't teach them to play to lose! 

8. Take a walk or sit together on the couch and spend some time just talking to each other. Communication is important in any relationship and is free!

9. Go on a drive and visit some places that mean a lot to you both. While driving is not always cheap, gas prices are low right now. Plus there is no cost for being sentimental. Visit the places where you first met, had your first date, had a great time at, a favorite spot for both of you, etc.

10. Make breakfast in bed. Who doesn't appreciate having a great breakfast made and served to you in bed? 

11. Make a book of favors to give to your special one. Have coupons for free massages, supper of their choice, clean their vehicle, etc. You can make these as nice or intimate as you want!

12. Make a batch of Valentine's cookies to give to kids or neighbors. 

13. Swap babysitting with another family to have a free night for just the two of you!

14. Make a special dessert for just the two of you or the whole family to share. Cheesecake with cherry or strawberry topping is always a hit in my family!

15. Fill a jar with little love notes to open in the year to come. Just a note saying "I love you" or "Your're the best" can really lift someone's spirit!

I am sure there are more ideas to think of, but this is a good list to get started with. I know some people do not celebrate this holiday and that is fine too. I think you should express your love and appreciation all year round and not just one day. However, some people think it is special day and want to celebrate accordingly. Just do it cheaply!

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, January 25, 2016

Do You Feel Like Prepping Now?


Anytime is a good time to start prepping. Yesterday is always a better time, but starting now is better than waiting until the actual SHTF happens. And a lot of events are going on right now. 

Winter is here. The East really knows winter is here now. I had a few friends post pictures of the almost empty grocery shelves. The snow fall made getting around difficult. And despite warnings to stay home and get ready, many people were caught in Snow Storm Jonas.

Stock markets around the world are really taking a dive. That is even happening in the United States. Please don't fool yourselves. We have big financial problems coming on the horizon that are not fixable. 

We have foreign problems by the loads. Iran is a huge worry. The Middle East is always a worry. Russia doesn't hesitate to let you know how they feel. Our president is not very well adept in dealing with any of this. One wrong move in the next year could send us into a world war. 

We have many potential natural disasters coming into play. Polar ice caps are melting. More earthquakes are happening every month. A couple of places in the US are poised to have the "big one" happen anytime when talking about earthquakes. Tornado season is around the corner. 

We have more people on welfare and government assistance now than at anytime in history. More and more people believe the government will save them if something happens. Unemployment is high (depending on whose numbers you believe) and climbing. What happens when the government money runs out?

I could go on and on, but you get it. The time to prep is now. 

Many people think that they can always start something new tomorrow or next week, but prepping doesn't work like that. You don't know what is going to happen tomorrow or next week. Heck, you don't know always know what is going to happen today. You might have your day planned out and get stuck in a snow drift on the way home. 

You just don't know.

Why wait to prep? Waiting just doesn't make sense! Do you want to be one of those people that has to scramble at the last minute to get what you need? Or worse yet, be helpless until help arrives? Do you want to put yourself and your family in danger because you didn't want to have worry about "that kind of stuff"? 

I am a prepper and I know the urge to prep more and prep smarter has been hitting me hard lately. Enough so that I have been reassessing my preps and getting holes filled. I am building even more food storage and water storage. I am making plans to beef up my gardens and increase my chicken flock this spring. I am figuring out more ways to heat without electricity. I am doing more reading and learning about new skills and practicing them.

I am doing what I can to make sure my family is not helpless. I can't handle seeing them hungry or hurt. There is no reason they should suffer more because of my lack of foresight. You and yours should not have to suffer either. 

What is the harm in having extra food and water in the house? What could it hurt for your family to take self-defense lessons? How cool would it be to grow some of your food? What could be a problem with having a good first-aid kit? 

All of it needs to happen. Today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today.

Do you feel like prepping now?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Saturday, December 5, 2015

Want an Easier Life? Commit to Becoming Debt Free Now!


Life is what you make of it. I want a life away from worry and stress. I want a life that I can control within reason. I can't do that when I am stressing out and worrying.

The single biggest thing that makes me worry and stress out? Debt.

Debt can rule your life. It can make you a slave to your money instead making your money work for you. It can cause your to lose sleep, become anxious, and generally be cranky towards those you love (and not love). Debt can be the factor that breaks up marriages, drives a wedge between family relationships, and can even cause medical issues due to stress and anxiety.

Who needs that?

I don't and you don't either. Do I know what I am talking about? Oh yes. I still struggle with it even today. I was doing well, but our medical bills exceeded what I had set aside in my emergency fund and savings. Ouch. I have insurance, but with deductibles and out of pocket expenses I got socked a bit. I still have a student loan that I was planning on getting rid of in the next year. And I have the dreaded car payment (that should be disappearing soon).

So I commit to becoming debt free. I want these bills gone. I know a lot of this will go away soon with my tax refund and extra income coming in, but in the meantime I am making payments on the medical bills, a student loan, and a car payment.

And I hate it. I am anxious about it. I am already an insomniac so losing sleep is already normal. Having debt doesn't help the insomnia though.

What do I do about this? What should you do about this?

1. I make monthly payments. No matter what. Even if my budget only allows a $25 payment, that is what I do. Making a monthly payment shows that you are making an effort to pay the bill. Making monthly payments will also keep you out of small claims.

2. I make a list of my debts from smallest to largest. Dave Ramsey suggests this in his debt snowball program and I totally agree with it. I tackle the smallest debt first. When that debt is paid off, I continue onto the next debt. If another bill shows up, I readjust my debt list to include that bill. I was still getting new bills from a doctor appointment and tests in August in November yet. I was constantly shaking up the list for three months in a row.

3. I make a plan of attack. I look at my budget and decide what I can do to pay now these extra debts. This month I paid off the $52 bill to one hospital. I have four other medical establishments to deal with yet (labs and radiology reads, MRI at a different hospital, dental, and our usual hospital). I paid $50 to each of the other places. The next bill is $130 and I will tackle that next month. I continue to make the same payments for student loan and car.

I know from working in accounts receivable that companies would rather see an attempt in payment even if the amount is low. If they do not see an attempt in payment, they wonder if you ever intend to pay and will proceed with tougher bill collecting. Most companies understand that people are on tight budgets and tough times happen. You should always talk to the companies and try to pay what you can.

4. I look over every bill before I even begin to think about paying it. I caught a mistake in October when I realized that the company that reads the MRI did not file to the right insurance. While I knew this was probably going to the deductible on the insurance, I also knew I would benefit from having it refiled right. I did benefit from it because the bill was cut in half with the savings from Blue Cross Blue Shield. You need to carefully read over every bill and question everything. Don't be afraid to call either and ask what a certain charge is. You should be able to understand your bills.

5. I commit to avoiding debt in the future. This year I had one daughter injure herself and another daughter who needed treatment for an old injury. These were unavoidable and not within my control. I try to save my money for these situations and avoid the situation I find myself in now. I am going to save money for a vehicle for when I need to purchase another one.

Committing to becoming debt free only works if you pay your debts you have now first. After you have those paid off, take that money and put it in savings for the next crisis or large purchase. Using credit cards or using charge accounts will not help you stay debt free either. Being debt free means not accruing debts and creating more. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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