Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What Will You Do When Someone Dies During A SHTF?


One of the things we never like to think about and is a very tough topic to discuss is death. However, death is inevitable. It will happen and you need a plan in place for normal circumstances. When SHTF happens though, you really need a plan in place. 

First of all, you need to be up to date on your state laws and codes. You also need to look into county, township, and city codes on burials. Many states also have rules on who can handle the body, where the body can be placed, and who can bury the body. Many states require that someone files a death certificate within three days of the death or discovery of the death. 

In Iowa, you do not have to use a funeral director. You can keep the body at home. You only need to embalm the body if the deceased had a communicable disease or will not be buried within three days. However, if the body is being held in refrigeration, you can wait six days without embalming. There are no laws requiring a casket for burial or cremation, but the cemetery or crematorium may have their own rules about caskets. You can bury the body in cemetery or private property as long as local zoning laws permit it. If you do bury on private property, keep a detailed map of the burial for future property owners. 

I found two excellent resources about this here:
Iowa Home Funeral Laws
Burial & Cremation Laws In Iowa

They cover other states as well. 

I understand that during a SHTF, these laws may not apply. However, during most disasters, state laws will still prevail and still need to be followed. Only during a collapse of the government or WROL will you need not really worry about the laws. 

How you plan to deal with the death in your own family or people in your group? You will need to address a few things:

  • Where will the body be buried? 
  • Will the body be cremated?
  • How will the hole for the burial be dug?
  • How will you cremate the body?
  • Do you need to purchase a body bag, coffin, and/or embalming kit for your preps?
  • Who will handle the body?
  • Who will make the arrangements and file the death certificate?
  • Who will be in charge of making sure the living wills and wills are kept safe and are honored?

There are very few right and wrong answers here. I would ask the family members over 16 what their wishes are for their death and keep a record of their responses. Parents can decide for their minor children. Knowing everyone's wishes will make answering those questions easier. I would designate 1-2 people to handle the body, make the arrangements, and file the death certificate. If you have a person already designated for handling important papers, I would put them in charge of the wills also. This person or you should have a copy of all important papers. 

Whether you have an SHTF or not, I thoroughly believe you need a will and a living will. You will solve a lot of complications with those two documents. If you have any wishes for your funeral or your death, that needs to be wrote down so it can be honored if possible. A living will is very important because you can include end of life decisions like palliative care and a Do Not Resuscitate order. As with all important legal documents, if it is not done by a lawyer, you need to get it signed and notarized to be considered in court. 

If you are planning to bury on the property or create a private cemetary, I would get that spot established now. As suggested before, you should make a detailed map where people are buried or where they will be buried. I would pick a spot that will be easy to dig, but not obvious to everyone who may enter the property for whatever reason. 

Another thing to consider also is what to do with the bodies in the winter. If you live in a fairly climate with no frost in the ground during the winter, this will not really affect you. However, in the Midwest, this will be a problem unless winter is being kind to us. I would pick a sealed spot away from the home that animals cannot get into. You want the body to stay cold and frozen if possible. Then, as soon as the ground permits, bury the body. 

One of the last things you need to consider when someone dies is who is going to fulfill their role. Who will take care of their things, their pets and/or animals, and possibly their family? If they had a specific role in your prepping group, do you have a replacement for that person? I believe in having back up plans, but sometimes you can not plan for everything. 

This is a morbid topic and some very morbid things need to be considered when death happens. Like I said before, this is a prepping and life topic that needs to be addressed. You may not want to think about it, but keeping your head in the sand isn't going to help when a SHTF happens!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, June 9, 2017

Worried About Climate Change? 11 Ways To Make Your Own Changes!


Climate change (aka global warming) is the new "hot" topic due to recent events. All these countries are "worried" about the planet and want changes to be made. They want the United States to fund all these changes without any real say about where the money goes. All the while, the two main offenders of climate change, China and India, have no plans to decrease emissions from their factories and will increase their emissions for at least the next 5-10 years. Yet, they are criticizing the United States even though we have made great strides in reducing emissions and becoming more environmentally friendly.  However, this does not stop the supporters of climate change and those who do not actually read what the United States would have to do in order to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement.

Environmentalism is a popular thing right now and rightfully so. We should all care about the planet we live on, how we treat it. and what we can do to make it a better place. Climate change, though, is not just an international or national problem. It is a personal problem. We all have to make changes at every level to reduce our impact on the planet. Most of that can be done at home!

Climate change is affected by humans on a world wide scale. We have factories that put out emissions in order to keep up with our growing demand of things. We have a demand for oil that is at very high levels and we keep searching for more oil. We rip through forests without replanting. We deforest areas for more farmland and housing developments. We have huge factory farms to feed our growing population. We have huge landfills that are full and we are running out of room for more. And what fuels all of this: demand and consumerism.

If we make choices to reduce demand and consume less products, we would have a better planet.

11 Ways To Make Your Own Changes:

1. Stop littering! You think this is not a problem any more? I live on a county road and I can tell you this is still a big problem. Use a trash can and recycle! If we put trash were it needs to go and recycle all the cans and bottles that people like to throw out of their vehicles, we would make a big impact.

2. Think about what you buy and how it is packaged. Excess packaging leads to more trash and more resources used by manufacturers. Buy products with less packaging. Buy in bulk if you can and it is feasible for you. If your store has bulk bins for food, ask if they will allow to bring in your own containers and save even more on packaging.


3. Use plastic as little as possible. Bring your own shopping and produce bags when you shop. Choose glass instead of plastic. Creating plastic creates a strain on our resources and uses materials that can be better used for other things. If you need to use plastic, look for plastic that can be recycled.

4. Recycle. Recycle. Recycle. It may take a little more effort on your part, but recycling creates less waste going to the landfill. Less waste at the landfill means less natural resources being impacted. I grew up with recycling and it blows my mind how many people do not recycle simply because it "takes too much time". Recycling takes very little time.

5. Stop buying disposable products and reuse. We are such a disposable society and that needs to stop. Look for products that can used multiple times. Carry your own water bottle and coffee mug with you instead of getting convenience store paper or Styrofoam cups. Put a water filter on your tap, refill your own bottles, and stop using plastic bottles.

6. Fix your things. So many things end up in the trash because we don't have the desire or ability to fix them. Again, being a disposable society, we throw it away and buy new. With the Internet and YouTube, we have no excuse for not being able to figure out how to fix things. Fix your things and use them until they absolutely cannot be used or fixed anymore.

7. Buy used. Not everything needs to be bought new. Thrift stores are packed and overloaded with things that need to be bought and can bless another household. Craigslist, Facebook sale sites, Ebay, and local sale groups are abounding with listings of things that people don't use or need anymore. Buy used things and stop the cycle of consumerism.

8. Stop being a consumer. We buy so much stuff that we don't really need. People often have enough clothes to wear without washing for a month. Kids have more toys than they have time to play with them. Garages are stuffed full of things that we did not need. The cycle of consumerism needs to stop! You need to really think about your purchases, how much you will use them, and what benefit they will bring to your life. Most of the time you can live without it.


9. Rent or borrow things. While I do think you need your own tools and similar things, you don't need to have everything. We rent or borrow tools for our bigger projects because we will only use them once and owning those items will not have any long term benefits for us. Many people buy a tool or an item for a project that they will never use again. That item just sits there, collecting dust, and will not be a benefit to anyone.

10. Drive less and smarter. People are on the go all the time. Yet, they will run to town for just one thing. You should combine your errands. You can try to carpool. You need to question whether you need to drive at all or if you really need the things you are running to town for. You need to question the vehicle you are driving. Do you really need a vehicle of that size? Can you survive with a smaller, more efficient car?


11. Plant your own gardens and trees. One of the ways you can help with climate change is to grow things. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. We need more oxygen. Also, by planting your food, you become less of a consumer and more of a producer. By planting edible producing trees and bushes, you create a reusable food source for your family and your neighborhood.

What other suggestions do you have to reduce climate change on a personal level?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, May 26, 2017

We forget to live life


Today is my kids' last day of school. They will be out at 11:30 am today and will have the whole summer to do what they want without the restrictions of school (for the most part). Yes, they will have daily and weekly chores to do. They will also have camps to go to, swimming to do, life guarding to do, 4-H fair to be apart of, and so much more.

Life is always a little crazy during the summer too, but life during the summer for a kid is mostly about living life. They don't have a strict schedule with many commitments on their plates. They aren't worrying about grades and papers. They can relax with their friends and do nothing if they want to until school starts again on August 23rd.

As adults, I think we forget that. We forget that life is about living. We get caught up in the work at a job, work at home, sleep, eat, and repeat. We forget to experience life and just live life. We don't go for a hike or go camping due to "time restraints". We don't go to a concert of a band from our high school days because we just don't think we have time. We don't go on dates with our significant other because of time and expense.

You want to know something? We do have the time, but we just don't take the time to do those things. Not having time is a pretty rare thing. We often have a million and one excuses about why we can't do things that would help us relax and enjoy life for awhile. We usually do have the time. Sometimes money and babysitting can be a legitimate problems, but there is so much else to do too.

We forget to live life.

It is so easy to caught up with prepping, homesteading, gardening, taking care of the animals, taking care of the kids, saving money, and a myriad of other things. Our to-do lists are mammoth on a normal day and some days are not normal. We work away from home and come home to work more. We can't see the light at the end of the tunnel and we keep working harder and harder to do so.

We forget to have fun.

No, life is not all about having fun. I have understood that for a very long time. However, life is not all about working either. We are meant to relax and have fun once in a while. To have a day that is not structured and filled by the never-ending to-do list. A day to be lazy, watch movies, and hang out with the family. A night to invite friends over for a picnic and a camp fire.

We need to remember what summer vacation time was like for us as kids. Yes, it was busy for some. Most of us though remember what it was like to be kids in the summer. We swam, rode bikes, explored, looked at the sky, looked at the stars, and just enjoyed life as a kid. We slept in tents in the back yard, hung out at the lake for the day, read books in a makeshift fort, and went on adventures. Sometimes we were with our family and sometimes we were with our friends. Sometimes we explored on our own. No matter which way you look at it, we have had fun.

Just because we are adults now doesn't mean we can't keep experiencing this and more. We forget to live life and have fun. Maybe if we started doing more to relax, our lives and health would be better too.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, April 28, 2017

Monthly Update From The Homestead - April Edition


How has your April been for you? Fairly cool and rainy with rare times of sunny and warm? That is what we had, have, and are currently experiencing. They are talking some snow on Sunday at the time of this writing. What the ?!?!?!

I am ready for May and much warmer temperatures to come. I want to get my garden planted and put some pretty flowers in the planters. I want to sit outside with a cold drink and enjoy the evenings on the porch. However, Mother Nature needs to get over herself and soon.

Speaking of the garden, what have you planted or are planting? As of right now, I have nothing planted. The ground temperatures have been a little chilly for me to be comfortable planting much. Last month I said I wanted to get the potatoes planted, but I am glad I didn't. I have a feeling we would be dealing with them rotting in the ground due to all the rain we have had. I have had that happen a few years and that doesn't sit well with me. I hate wasting that effort.

I also did not get the tomatoes or peppers started. This month was pretty busy with some illness and has been slipping right past me. I have a feeling I wouldn't have had a good grow rate anyway unless I purchased artificial lighting.

I do know what I am planting in the garden this year though: tomatoes, bell peppers, anaheim peppers, potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic (may wait until fall?), green beans, peas, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and possibly carrots. I might add to that list, but those are the main things being planted. I also hope to transplant the strawberries soon and add 50 more strawberry plants. We want a good size patch of those.

I am learning a few new gardening things. Wherever I plant onions, I will need to plan on that being a two year spot. All the onions that did not come up last summer are coming up now. I do enjoy having green onions at my disposal. I also learned that some kale varieties are biennial and I could get seed this year. Since I didn't pull all the plants last year, I have kale already growing in my garden this Spring.

The rhubarb is up and ready for its first picking. I will be making a cake and a batch of jam out of this first picking. I can't wait! Our jam coffers are starting to run a little low.

I hope to order and pick up the new chicks in the next week or two. We have decided on 25 layers and 25 meat birds. The coop hasn't been built yet, but Rob has put in some very hard work prepping the cement pad that the coop will be built on. We have decided how we are building it and how the inside will look. It will be nothing fancy, but will be quite serviceable.

I really would like to get some ducks and a few turkeys too. Somehow, I am not sure that will happen this year. I really want to grow more of our own meat, but I am learning that baby steps are a good thing. Meat birds this year and maybe more next year? I wouldn't mind a couple of pigs either!

Otherwise, I have been doing the same things as I have been all winter. Fixing what I can, decluttering and selling what I can, and getting ready for whatever comes. Selling books and other things has been really slow lately. Spring is not usually a good selling time for me, but I usually have hope it will be better next month.

We did do our first mowing of the year. This is not my favorite job, but the grass needed to be leveled off. We also picked up a lot of branches and sticks this year. The winter was not kind to our trees. A good deal of them need to be cut down and hauled away. Of course, I will try to plant new ones or let a sucker continue to grow in its place. The yard clean up seems to be more a job every year.

What have you been up to this April? I hope it was more productive than mine!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, March 31, 2017

Monthly Update From The Homestead - March Edition (It's Spring!)


Why not write the March Update From The Homestead on the last day of the month? At least it is in March! That has been how fast this month has gone and I really haven't had a lot to talk about. 

I put off the writing of this because almost nothing has happened in the month of March on the homestead. The weather has been snow, wet, rain, wet, a few days of sun, and more days of clouds. And that is what I can remember...

I am looking at plans for the chicken coop. We are probably getting twenty layers this Spring. I think I have it narrowed down to what I want to built and still stay simple, but we do have to built it first. We will use what we have on hand, but I know we will have to buy materials. I know the coop will have to be more practical than cute which suits me fine. Do you have a coop design you love? Share a picture or a link to what coop you like!

I have been planning my garden too. I will probably put the garlic in a long planters or along the very edge of the garden next week. I haven't used up all the garlic from last year so I will probably use that to start the new batch. I am also going to start at least my tomatoes next week and bring them to work to grow. Yes, where I work is that relaxed and they have much, much better southern facing windows to grow things. I think I am going to start 30 tomato plants and see how they do. I know not all of them will live, but I kind of hope they do.

I also need to move the strawberries. I don't want to do it right now, but they really need to be moved to the edge of the garden. They were on the edge before we expanded. I know now is not a good time, but they really have to be moved!

I also have my potatoes ready to go to be planted. They are from last year and have sprouted already. They are sitting on the front porch to slow their growing. And maybe, just maybe, I will get them planted on Good Friday. Around here, a lot of people plant their potatoes on Good Friday. You can find a good explanation on why that written a year ago here. I don't usually plant on this date when it is in March, but by the middle of April, hopefully we are past most of the dangers of frost.

I sit on the line of 4B/5A planting zone so I generally use caution and plant according to Zone 4. Most of my garden will not go until May sometime. I am going to try to plant radishes, spinach, and lettuce early. I really want the garden tilled first so we need to wait until that is suitable for tilling first. Rob may have found a tiller for his older lawn tractor. If he can get that working, that will be groovy. Otherwise, we can rent a tiller too.

I know this sounds like a lot of planning and nothing happening, but that is the reality of life right now. I don't really even feel like a homesteader right now. I won't have an active garden for at least a month, don't have chickens or other livestock right now, and anything else that makes a person a homesteader. It just feels weird because I want to be more self-sufficient, but I am not actively doing anything right now except for planning.

On other projects, the bedroom is almost done. We just need to paint and put quarter round along the edges in the room. We also need to rewire a new light switch, switch out the ceiling fan, put new vent covers on, and put on covers for the outlets and light switch. I would like to paint the closets yet, but that is not a high priority job.

With the bedroom almost done upstairs, we moved the bed upstairs that was sitting in my food storage and emergency area taking up a lot of room! My food storage and emergency area is a disaster area right now. I really need to clean and organize it. I would love to add another set of shelves, but we are also moving the deep freeze over there. I also need to move the shelves away from the wall and clean. Fun, fun.

Paige in the white shirt playing in the saxophone quartet

That has been about it. Dane finished up with basketball. Paige is just her usual whirlwind of activity: track, helping with musical, solo/small group ensemble contest, and studying. Rob and I were both down with a cold and a virus. We didn't have them at the same time, but they really killed our energy levels for a few days.

The older two girls are staying busy in their lives. Shali moved to Sioux Falls in January. She moved in with her fiance and is expecting a little girl in June. She transferred from UNI to University of Sioux Falls. Jordan is still at UNI and studying. She works for the Y-Pals program and works a lot of before and after school shifts for them in the local schools.

What have you been up to this March? Let me know below!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Monthly Update From The Homestead - February Edition


February is here! The month of love, the month of cabin fever, the month of boredom...

Actually, we haven't had much in the way of cabin fever. The month started out cold, but today we will be in the 60's for temperatures! In February! I will take it!

Just to have a thunderstorm and snowstorm at the end of the month...February you fickle....

We are just patiently waiting for Spring to come by trying to get stuff done indoors. We are still working on that bedroom that I hope to have the painting done by the end of the weekend. We have the floor done. (YES!) The walls have been given a couple coats of paint to freshen it up, but we decided to go back and do the trim. It needed to be touched up and I couldn't match the original color so I decided to do it again. While I am doing that, the ceiling will need to be done again. And the quarter round will need to be bought, painted, cut and attached. So much fun!



I still want to get the upstairs hallway painted too this winter. That should not take as long, but I am not sure what to do about the trim. The paint on the trim is enamel based which means it will not be painted over well. I might just rip it off and put new trim on. We haven't really talked about it yet.

All the upstairs doors also need to be addressed. A few of them need to be sanded down and stained or repainted. Hinges are the big problem and will probably need to be replaced. Rob has been constantly re-tightening screws and they seem to come loose again.

All those things above? The joys of living in an old house. The reasons I hate tackling remodeling projects. One thing turns into another thing to fix and to do. Plans get bigger and more work becomes involved. Ugh. I love the finished project, but I don't love the mess and constantly changing plans to get there.

Otherwise, I have been still hauling things to the thrift store. I am stunned by how much stuff we have gotten rid of. I have been finding even more things that I really thought I needed, but really don't need or use. However, I am going to start entering the sentimental things area of decluttering and I am not sure what I will do then.

I hope to start tomatoes soon in the seed pods. I might get a grow light to help with the growing since I lack good southern exposure in my house. I really want to start growing my tomatoes from seed. I spend way too much money on tomato plants!

Since I like to save money, Rob and I have been really examining our utility bill. We are both fully committed to seeing that bill drop considerably. We have ideas as to what we want to do and what needs to be focused on. We are both appalled by how much it has gone up. We are also baffled by a few fees on the bill, namely an access charge that costs us $37 a month no matter what. 

We haven't done a lot of prepping lately. This is not because we are comfortable with the state of the world today. We are far from being comfortable. We have been looking at guns and did go to our first and second gun shows in one day. We walked away with empty hands, but it is great to handle the guns and know what feels comfortable in our hands. We have also been exploring off grid options so we aren't screwed if the electricity disappears for awhile. 

Sometimes, prepping isn't about what you purchase. Sometimes, prepping is about the research and the decisions to make the future easier.

What have you been doing in February?

Thanks,
Erica



Friday, January 6, 2017

Monthly Update From The Homestead - January Edition (Goals, Life, Etc.)


Were you ready for the holiday chaos to be over? I was. I love the holidays, but I do not like the craziness of the season. I have scaled back a lot in my celebrating, but the struggle to make the season simple is real. 

December was also Paige's birthday. She turned 16! Yikes! Where has the time gone?!?! She also got one of these: 


Watch out world! 

We are buried in snow and ice right now. That is the reality of living in the Midwest in winter. The wind has been crazy though! If the wind hasn't been crazy, the really cold temperatures have been! We are on our second "cold snap" of the winter. This morning we woke up to -7℉! Brrr....

As I mentioned before, I do not really have any goals or resolutions for the year. Okay, I take that back. I have five things I want to see happen, but they are fairly personal and not really relating to homesteading: 

  1. I want to get $1000 in a savings account for emergencies.
  2. I want to save $1000 for next Christmas.
  3. I want to pay cash for a new to me vehicle.
  4. I want to go on at least two dates a month with Rob - more than just eating out. (He really doesn't know about this one, but he will when he reads this!) 
  5. I want to read a chapter in a book or a magazine almost every day. 

These are very simple, yet personal goals for the year. I do not really have homesteading, prepping, or self-sufficiency goals as of right now. I am going with the flow of these. I have a lot of things I would like to see happen, but I am not setting anything in stone. Truth be told, my mind is kind of scattered right now and I am just letting things happen as they come. We have a lot of projects that need to be done and they will come first. 

I already started the first project. I am remodeling the upstairs master bedroom. We do not use it right now, but would love to move back up there. We sleep in the basement bedroom that I set up for myself about eight years ago. I love this space, but we are going to turn that into badly needed guest bedroom(s). So it is time to create a space that is both of ours and that we love to come to every night. 



We first moved the full size bed that was in there to Paige's room. She had a twin size bed, but the bed was small and the mattress was less than stellar. We threw out the mattress and the broken bunk mate that was under it. 

I have the carpet, padding, and linoleum torn up. Actually, there wasn't much tearing up to do. None of it really reached the edges and none of it was attached to the floor in any way. I cut the carpet up in sections to haul out. The padding was already in easy to handle sections. The linoleum was broken up in easy to handle sections also. The floor now looks like this: 



I will be painting the walls first. The paint needs to be freshened up. Then the floor will be sanded and sealed. Rob wants to match the trim to the floor so we will be replacing at least the floor trim if not all of it. Then we start bed shopping. We are switching from a queen size bed to a king size bed. We both need plenty of space to sleep!

Rob is finishing up the wiring in the shop. He has done so much in there and it looks so nice! He now has plenty of outlets and lighting. He has learned how to wire a three way switch with multiple lights which was a challenge for him. He has also added a lot of insulation to the walls and around the windows which has made a big difference in that room. He has more plans for the shop including adding shelving and cabinets for storage. 

Since it is winter, we have time to get the indoor projects done! When the weather turns nice again (hurry up Spring!), we will be cleaning up the yard and working outdoors again. We will also be building a new chicken coop! 



You can check out my latest YouTube video! That will give you an idea of what I was up to in December. I was mostly trying to clear up some clutter and to clean up my side of the office a bit. 

How is your January going? Let me know in the comments below! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Mind Is Literally Going In A Hundred Directions...


I haven't done a post like this in a long time, but the end of the year is coming. This post may be a little long, but I want to explain where I am at right now, what I am interested in now, and where I am at in life. I haven't even looked at my goals for this year in about six months. I know some have been accomplished, but not all of them. I don't think, as of right now, I will set specific goals for next year.

I am okay with that.

Because my mind is going in a hundred directions. Literally.

My life this year has been crazy. In January, Rob and I started living together and there continues to be a lot of adjustments for both of us as well as the kids. The kids at home are busy and continuing to live the life of a 16 year old and a 12 year old. Although I do have to say having a 12 year old boy after three girls is quite different. Not always in a good way either.

However, my interests are the same and different. This is where my mind is going right now.

I still love and am interested in what this blog is about: prepping, homesteading, and frugality. I struggle to separate the three of them in my mind most days. I wonder how much more I can do and what I should do. I always plan to be more frugal in the next year even though I can't always figure out how to be even more frugal than I already am. However, there is always more to be done.

Our finances are going to change in January a bit and that will be an interesting challenge. As for many people, health insurance rates are going to rise for us too. We are also taking on a couple bills that the landlords had paid for in the past which will need to be added in the budget. We have separate accounts and separate budgets, but we usually discuss and decide how joint bills will be paid.

I am going to try to participate in the Uber Frugal Month Challenge by The Frugalwoods. I adore their blog! I saw their post about this challenge and knew I should participate. I love a good challenge once I have my mind convinced to do it.

We are also looking at ways to lose some, if not all, of our dependence on electricity. We have been talking about and researching solar and wind energy to either power some of our things like the well pump or to be a back-up when the power goes out. We have some ways to heat the house if we lose power. However, the whole house is electric so we need to figure out something different. We are just a little leery about the power grid and its stability...

I am now finding myself passionately interested in minimalism, zero waste lifestyle, living with less, decluttering, and methods of  organization. I have been decluttering a lot more this last year because nothing says you have too much stuff than moving in with someone! The organizing needed to happen because I was, and sometimes still am, the only person who can find things. That does not work when you really do not want the other people in your life dependent upon you!

Why such the interest in these things? I see them as an extension of prepping, homesteading, and frugality. I think they fit hand in hand. Too much stuff and too much waste can clutter up your efforts in prepping and homesteading. Not being organized means you spend precious time finding your stuff and/or buying replacements when you can't find them. Both of those things can thwart your frugal ways by spending your time and money when you didn't need to. Having order can be benefit to every area of your life.

It also can be a vicious circle which is why I spend more time studying more of these things. I want to break the cycle.

Speaking of breaking the cycle, I need to do so on my health too. I thought my yearly doctor's visit would be the wake-up call I needed. It wasn't. My blood tests and my screens all came back nearly perfect. Cholesterol was a little high. The doctor mentioned I should lose weight, but was pleased because my weight had not increased.  She still thinks I need to be on a low carb diet because she thinks everyone should be. I do agree with her on that.

So now I research and try to implement methods, meals, and snacks that are low carb. This is so hard! I have a heck of a sweet tooth when it comes to chocolate, caramel, and a certain company's oatmeal cream pies. None of which are mentioned on the various low carb plans! Right now, my research keeps leading me to the Ketogenic diet and the Trim Healthy Mama diet. I have mostly converted my sugar usage to sugar substitutes like Stevia, Erythritol, and Xylitol or combination of them. The rest of my diet needs work.

This is a switch for me honestly. I am still very interested in natural health and eating naturally. I still think some of the foods I am not suppose to have are still very healthy for me. I have a tough time giving up legumes, some grains, honey, bread, and jams made from scratch. Fruit hasn't been a huge deal for me because I can't digest a lot of it. I like strawberries and blueberries in season so I am fine with those being a treat.

I also still want to grow most of my own food. I miss my garden now that winter is here and I am thinking about getting a greenhouse. It would be nice to keep growing more cold tolerant crops in the winter. I miss having chickens, but they are coming back this Spring. I want fresh eggs again! We are planting more fruit trees next year also. My interest in being self-sustainable will never go away. 

This seems like a lot of directions for the mind to go. I get so interested in so many things! The mind is going crazy with all this information and decisions to be made!

But, as always, I am still interested in writing, blogging, and vlogging. The more I see the connections in everything I am interested in, the more I want to talk about it. This blog will probably expand more into all these areas as I learn more and experience more of what I am interested in. I think prepping, homesteading, and being frugal can and does encompass all these things.

All this has made making goals for next year very difficult. I will probably do monthly goals and make the changes a bit more bite-size. I want to learn more, do more, be more, and have enough to live life.

Where is your mind going? What is your next year going to look like?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, November 20, 2016

What Does Your Prepper Want For Christmas? This Prepper's Top 10 Christmas Wishlist!


Christmas is a hard time for me. People ask me what I want for Christmas and I have a tough time telling them what I want! Of course, I have an Amazon wishlist and a mental wishlist. However, I still am not sure what to tell my loved ones what I want.

Then there is also the small problem of that I tell them some things I want, but they won't buy them anyway! Anyhoo...

The special prepper in your life can be hard to shop for. You know they love gadgets, but they have so many already! You know all about the "two is one and one is none" theory, but how many of one thing do they really need? Is a bucket of emergency storage food really a gift (yes, it is!)?

I am here to help! I have complied a list of things I want or have gotten that I think would make great gifts. I have picked all prices ranges for those with a smaller and bigger holiday budget,

In no particular order or priority is This Prepper's Top 10 Christmas Wishlist:

1. A Generator! I prefer to have smaller generators that I can move around myself (although I wouldn't turn down a big one!). This WEN Gas Powered Generator would be perfect for the prepper in your life. It can be used for camping, home, and emergencies.

2. Books! All preppers need a good reference library. I prefer my reference library to be in print versus electronic. Some good book suggestions would be:


3. Pressure Canner and/or a Water Canner! Actually, I have a water canner because I got that for Christmas just a few years ago! However, I would love another pressure canner! This is the pressure canner that has sitting on my wishlist for awhile. If you are in the market for a water canner, this canner is the one I have and love!

4. Lights. Nothing is more important than good lighting when you are trying to see in the dark. Whether you choose a flashlight, a LED lantern, or an oil lamp, lighting can make a situation a lot less important. A good prepper knows you cannot have too many sources of lights.

5. Solar anything! I would love solar chargers of any sort! Most preppers do because it is a vital source of charging when the power is out or you want to be off-grid even more. Some of the things are:


6. Two Way Radios! Communication will always be important in an emergency or when needing to protect your property. Cell phones are not always reliable or may not work. These Baofeng two-way radios have been on my list for quite a while!

7. A Personal Water Filter! I actually have two Lifestraws, but I couldn't think of a better gift to give or receive! There are other options out there for personal water filters, but I think it is important to have one in the car and in your go-to bag.

8. Alternative forms of cooking! When the power goes out or you want to be off-grid a little more, having non-electrical forms of cooking is the ticket! I have had this Eco-Zoom Rocket Stove on my list for awhile and I love what I have heard about it!

9. An emergency and weather radio! I do have a couple, but my favorite is this Kaito 5 Way Powered Emergency and Weather Radio with Flashlight, Reading Lamp and Charger. This is a great tool to have when the power goes out and you need to know what is going on!

10. A Foodsaver! Yes, a Foodsaver. I use this for storing food in the freezer and for being able to store more in my 72 hour kit and go-to bags. I use this to store my dehydrated goods, seeds, and grains. This Foodsaver has a lot more uses besides storing food!

I didn't include any knives or personal protection items. I think this is a personal choice and I am not the best one to give advice on that. However, if that special prepper in your life gives you a specific idea of what they want, GO FOR IT! 

What would you add to this list? What is on your Christmas prepping wishlist?

(Yes, this post contains a lot of affiliate links. They do not cost you anything if you should decide to buy something. I do receive a small commission that will help my family out greatly! Thanks!)

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, November 18, 2016

Frugal Update for Nov. 17th Vlog - Check it out today!

Last night, I posted a video on what we have been up to. I am giving you all an update on the frugal happenings of my life. I am talking about the deer I hit, the damages, and costs. I am also talking about selling things, cold lunches, and other ways we are saving money!


What have you all been doing to save money? 

Thanks for watching,
Erica

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Want to Make America Great Again? Here Are 12 Ways You Can Do Just That!


A lot of my Facebook news feed this morning has been how the country has been let down by our newly elected President. This is a guy who promised to make America great again. However, he is not who is going to make America great again. You know who is going to make America great again? 

You and I are. 

The American people are what make America great. However, we have forgotten this. We have forgotten that we, the people, are the ones who make this great country what it is. Our elected leaders set the policies and laws for which we live under and follow, but they are not entirely responsible for making America great. We, however, are the representatives of this country and we are the ones responsible for making America great. 

So how can we make America great again?

1. Treat others how you would like to be treated. 

2. Smile at everyone and say hello to all you meet.

3. Be polite to everyone even if they do not deserve it.

4. Offer to help your family, friends, and neighbors. Take care of each other. Take a meal to the sick. Mow the lawn for the injured. Take care of our military families and veterans. Feed the homeless. 

5. Take care of your surroundings. Do not litter. Recycle.

6. Learn to rely on yourself to take care of yourself. Do not depend upon the government or other agencies to save you. While help is great, sometimes you will not get help. 

7. Raise your children to honor and respect our flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing The Star Spangled Banner, and to be proud to be an American. 

8. Remember that no one is better than you and you are not better than anyone else regardless of anything. 

9. Take care of the elderly, learn from them, and treat them like your grandparents. 

10. Honor and respect our traditions, our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, and our history. 

11. Show respect for our military, veterans, and police officers who work diligently every day to protect you. 

12. Follow and obey the laws of our land. If you disagree, then respectfully disagree without causing a riot or massive damage to other peoples' properties and businesses. 

Seems pretty simple, right? Be a good citizen and ambassador of this great country and we will make America great again!

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Saturday, November 5, 2016

20 Common Sense Things You Can Do TODAY To Prepare For Tomorrow


Every day, we all just live to get through the day. Some of us think about tomorrow. Some of us think about "what if?" Some of us are so worried about tomorrow that we forget to live today. No matter what, we should all live for today while thinking about how to make tomorrow easier.

Those that prep think about tomorrow, but sometimes life is so chaotic that we forget to stay ahead of the game. We want to prep harder and do more, but we find we don't have the time. However, you are prepping. Every day. We don't always think about being ready for tomorrow as prepping, but it is. We get ready for tomorrow to make that day easier.

Here are 20 Common Sense Things You Can Do TODAY To Prepare For Tomorrow:

1. Fill the car with gas. Every two days, make a habit of looking at your gas gauge and fill it when it is half empty. Grab your gas cans and fill them too.

2. Fill some extra containers with water. Have some pitchers of water in the fridge or an bucket with a lid full of water in the basement.

3. Do the dishes every night.

4. Do the laundry.

5. Set your keys, phone, shoes, purse/wallet, and coat by the door you use the most.

6. Take a shower at night.

7. Keep a running grocery list so you can get everything you need on your next trip to the store. This includes your food pantry.

8. Get some cash. Having some cash on hand is never a bad thing, especially if ATMs and credit cards machines are not working.

9. Sell off things you don't need. First of all, it is a great money maker, aka more cash on hand. Secondly, it is less stuff you have to protect or move if that becomes necessary.

10. Pick up some extra food and pet food to have in storage.

11. Pick up a couple of cases of water to have in storage too.

12. Make sure your vehicle is loaded and ready for emergencies. Check your fluids in your vehicle. Get some food and water stashed in a protected spot in the car.

13. Write a to-do and to-remember list with the day's activities written down.

14. Write out your meal plan for the week and post it on the fridge. If you can't make dinner, some one can or at least get it started.

15. Fill out or update your In Case of Emergency (ICE) numbers on your phone. List them in order of importance.

16. Fill out or update your Family Preparedness Planner and you Family Personal Information sheets. Make copies of the personal information sheets and keep close by.

17. Have everything ready for the next day the night before. Have clothes laid out, bags packed. lunches ready, and #5 done the next before. If you have an emergency, everything will be ready to go for you to get out the door faster.

18. Plug your electronics in every night. No matter what, your electronics will be fully charged in the morning. A fully charged phone and laptop could be a lifesaver.

19. Take a walk or workout. The better shape you can get into today will only benefit you for tomorrow. Being in shape and working on your endurance will help make that walk home when your car is unusable.

20. Do not put off for tomorrow what you can do today. I mean that for everything and anything. If you have a project that you can tackle today, do that instead of vegging in front of the television. If you need to tidy up your house, get it done. If you need to respond to texts and emails, do it now.

If you aren't doing these things almost every day, you will wish you had. Think about this:

  • You wake up in the morning and the power is out.
  • A boil water order is announced because of contamination that has happened.
  • You haven't been watching the gas gauge and you are on empty.
  • A blizzard is happening tomorrow, but you haven't done anything about it.
  • An ice storm has hit unexpectedly and you are stranded away from home.
  • Your checking account has been compromised and you can't use your debit card for a week.
  • You end up in the hospital and your family is left to cope while you are gone.
  • The power goes out while you are at work.

Do you want to be caught in those situations without being prepared? I don't think so.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday Monthly Update From The Homestead - October Edition


Since we are close to the end of October, I thought I would update y'all on what we have been doing this last month. There has been a lot of activity and projects getting done around the place!

But first, some really sad news. The chickens are gone.

Their last day at the farm - snacking on their favorite, kale.

I actually found another home for them that is only three miles away. I didn't really want to butcher them. My heart wasn't into that. However, they needed to be dealt with so we could get rid of the rat problem in the barn. We also want to move the chicken coop out of the barn and into its own building. We have two cement pads we can choose from and I will look at plans over the winter. Early next Spring, we will start over with baby chicks.

We, however, added a mama cat and her four kittens to the homestead! The kittens are adorable and I hope to get pictures of them soon. They don't sit still very long! Keep an eye on my Instagram account for pictures of them!

The garden is wrapping up. I am canning the last of the tomatoes. Paige and I picked what we thought were the tomatoes that were ready or were going to ripen before the big freeze a week ago (?). The plants were killed by the frost, but several more tomatoes survived. Dane and I picked those last night to finish ripening in the house. I have canned close to 50-55 pints of salsa, 36 pints of pizza sauce, and 17 quarts of spaghetti sauce. The last tomatoes will become crushed tomatoes by the end of the week.


I still have peppers to freeze that were not used in canning, but they might get eaten before that happens! I froze eight bags of shredded zucchini. I have four zucchini left and that might just happen them too. I dug up the beets and they are sitting in a cooler in the basement. I need to get them used up soon before they go soft.

I still have pumpkins to finish picking. The potatoes need to finish being dug up. The kale is still going strong. Everything else is dead. I need to get a spot cleared to plant garlic. Otherwise, the garden needs to be cleaned up, the rather ineffective tomato cages need to be put away, and hopefully get the transplanting of the strawberries and lilies done.

The new sump pump and plumbing is in the pit and being used. We never shut that one off, but the plumbing needed to be replaced and a different style of sump pump had to be put in. Hopefully now, the basement will stay much drier with the new set-up.

We had to put a new toilet in. Unfortunately, we both dislike plumbing. However, we like to save money and this wasn't too bad. We couldn't find a tank to toilet gasket that would work with our old toilet. Since the toilet was leaking pretty badly, we bought a new one and got that installed. We did eventually find a gasket online that will work and this winter we will replace the upstairs toilet that nobody likes to use.

Rob has the walls and ceiling painted in the shop. He replaced the breaker box in the shop with a bigger one and will take the old one from the shop to replace the old fuse box in the garage. His skills amaze me and how much he can accomplish amazes me too! I think next on the list is running more electrical for outlets and lights and building shelves and cabinets for his things.

The kids are staying busy. Dane started basketball last week and has practices for another couple of weeks until league play starts. Paige is finished up with marching band, cross country, and all-state choir auditions. She is starting jazz choir this week, working on the set for the fall play, and enjoying a little down time before large group speech starts.


And before I forget, I started my YouTube channel! Sometimes it is just easier for me to talk to a camera than to sit down and type a blog post. However, I will be doing both as much as I can now! You can check out my YouTube channel here! Please subscribe for updates there too!

Let me know what you have been doing this last month!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tired of the Election Chaos? A Guide on How To Vote American!

I'm tired of the elections, the politics (and I love politics), the saying something and meaning nothing of this current batch of candidates. They sure can promise a lot of things that may or may not happen. They can throw a lot of smoke to cover up their past deeds and mistakes. This year, they sure can throw a lot of mud and not be bothered with telling the American people what they really need to know. This is the first election that I don't want to vote in. I want nothing to do with it even though it is my American duty to vote. Women fought very hard for my right to vote and that effort should not be wasted even 97 years later. However, my gut feeling tells me nothing good will come out of this election no matter who gets elected. I don't ignore my gut feelings. Ever. So I won't be posting who I am voting for or endorsing. I don't know who I am voting for. I don't know if I am going to vote, but I probably will. Don't ask me or give me kind suggestions either. I am well aware of who is out there. I am well aware there is third party candidates who are not being given a fair chance in a rigged two-party electoral process. Just as I am aware that women are voting for Hillary just because she is a woman and people are voting for Trump because he is brash and bold. None of those reasons are legit, you know. How about where they stand on education, gun control, Agenda 21 (or the newest version of it), war, foreign relations, domestic relations, state vs. federal rights, national healthcare, EPA, water rights, eminent domain, agriculture, subsidies to big oil, jobs being kept in America, supporting American manufacturers, tax breaks for small businesses, and so on? How about those issues? Voting for someone should not be about how much you are getting for free, what gender they are, their personality, or their religion. It should be about their past actions, accomplishments, achievements, and somewhat their experience. How have these candidates lived their lives? Were they honest and fair in their dealings with others? How have they handled failure and still continued on their careers? How have they represented America in the past? It should not be about getting free weed, marriage freedom, or where they stand on abortion. Those issues have absolutely nothing to do with running a government or being one of the most powerful leaders in the world. They are smokescreen issues designed to take away from the real issues at hand like keeping us out of war with Russia or Syria. It should not be about how the government is going to take care of you. The government was never designed to take care of you. Until 1913, when income tax was imposed upon American citizens, the government never had the money to take care of you. With the Great Depression came programs that were never meant to be permanent. With the anti-poverty laws created in the 1960s came programs that were never meant to be a permanent lifestyle. Supporting a candidate who will make sure you don't lose your benefits is not a legitimate choice. Choosing a candidate should be about who is going to uphold the laws of our land, support the Constitution, not going to trample all over the rights and freedoms we have already been given, and be an American to the core. A candidate is someone who is not going to sell America to the United Nations, become an puppet state for ISIS, suppress our international power in order to not offend other countries, and not deliberately going to anger other countries who could give us a heck of a fight. A candidate is someone who is going to tell all immigrants and refugees that we have rules about coming into this country, you wanted to come here, and you will obey them in order to have the rights and privilege that we enjoy now. A candidate should be someone who is going to say that when you are in America, you are in the greatest country in the world. A candidate should be someone is going to stand for America in all ways and look at the presidency as a public servant would. A potential POTUS should not look at this job as a way to become a new world order or to conquer the world. They would respect our privacy, not want to be Big Brother, and not spy on us - in essence abolish that part of the NSA. A potential POTUS should look at this job as a way to make America great again. Because that is what their constituents want - an America that is great again. Thanks for reading, Erica

Friday, September 2, 2016

Are You Prepared To Lose Instant Gratification When The SHTF Happens?


Remember growing up with only three channels on your TV? You might have been able to get five channels if you could adjust the antennae just right. If you got to see your favorite teams on TV, that was a special treat! You had to watch what the rest of the family was watching or you did something else. Now we have multiple televisions with several receivers and digital recorders that ensures we do not miss our favorite shows.

Remember when eating out was considered special and reserved for only special things like birthdays and celebrations? Now people eat out whenever they feel like it. 

Remember having to wait to go to the store until your parents had their weekly shopping trip to get anything new? You might not have been able to get something new and you certainly did not get a treat every time you went either. Now people buy whatever they want, whenever they want, and buy things so their kids will not pitch a fit in the store. 

Remember when the only time you got new anything was for birthdays and select holidays? Maybe if your parents or grandparents were feeling generous, you might get something new then, but otherwise you had to wait. Now we get new things all the time unless we consciously buy used stuff. 

In today's society, we expect things now. Nothing is special anymore unless we were too broke to pay for it until payday. We get what we want when we want it. We want a new shirt? Bam, we go to the store and get it now. We want a candy bar? Stop at the convenience store and get one. Kids start begging? We get them anything to keep them quiet!

Very few people stop themselves from buying whatever they want. I know I really like my Amazon Prime. I have to wait two whole days for things to get here, but I can click and order right at my fingertips. Super convenient! However, my life would not be over with if I didn't have it anymore. However, other people might go through withdrawals. Remember when you had to go to the big city to get the special items you were looking for? With online ordering, people have forgotten about that. 

The media gives us all the news we want to hear (and don't want to hear) at a moment's notice. Remember waiting until the newspaper came in the morning or the news to come on at noon, 6:00 pm, or 10:00 pm to know what was happening? Remember having save up money, drive to the local music store, and buy the cassette/CD/record/ 8 track you wanted? Now you can download it immediately and listen whenever you want.

What happens when people lose their instant gratification? We are definitely a "want it now, get it now" society. People will go crazy when they can't get their expensive coffee at the local coffee place. People will get very cranky when they can't buy their cigarettes or alcohol. 

Nothing will even compare to a mother whose kids are hungry and want food now! We don't tell our kids "no" often enough and kids almost always want things now. Just wait until McDonald's is not available or sugar laden snacks are not affordable. Some mothers will not be able to handle their kids' suffering. 

Things could and will get ugly fast. Sure, there might be a black market for the more addictive things like soda, cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, but many people are not going to be able to afford that. Many people will do anything it takes to get those things like steal, murder, and/or sell themselves. Is that what you are willing to do?

How will people amuse themselves? They are used to having a device in their hands or on their desk that instantly connects them to the world and shows funny videos. What happens when those devices are useless? Cranky might be a rather mild word to describe the withdrawal people will have when those devices are usable 24/7.

Now is the time to practice self-denial! Now is the time to set limits for yourself and your kids. You can't always have what you want when you want it. You need to make certain things special again and treat them as treats. You need to limit your time on the electronic devices as well as your kids' time. You need to realize that not everything is going to be available to you all the time!

Now is the time to break the addiction to sugar and caffeine. You will feel better and be more productive without them. Now is the time to quit smoking. You will be better off quitting now than when you are forced to because you cannot find them or afford them anymore. 

I believe most people will be able to adjust quickly when they can't have what they want instantly. However, some people will not be able to adjust very well. Some people will not be able to adjust at all. Life for them will get ugly and they will be very hard to deal with. You don't want to be one of them. 

What are you going to do when you can't have the things you enjoy anymore? Will you be able to handle it or are you going to go a bit crazy for awhile?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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