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

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


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 9, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - August 8 (Garden, Life, Bathroom, and Being Frugal!)


This last week has been busy! Again. Surprised, aren't you? 

I promise the winter updates will not be nearly as exciting as these summer ones. The weather is nice, hot, humid, and we are just trying to get everything done outside that we can. Except...



We ended up doing an impromptu remodel on our downstairs bathroom. You know, toliets leak once in a while. A new ring, some chalk, and new vinyl flooring will make it better. The walls need to be painted too, but I need to read up about how to paint over wallpaper. I don't have any desire to take wallpaper off of plaster.

We weeded about half of the garden. The garden and produce remaining probably thanks me, but it just seems like a lot of work. We are getting zucchini, summer squash, a few tomatoes, and a lot of green beans! I think I got all the onions dug out. They were a little on the small side, but still good. The shallots are just about reading to be dug out too. 

I haven't done a lot of canning this summer yet. As much as I believe in putting up as much produce as I can, I am trying to make sure it is produce we will eat in canned form. I can't wait for the tomatoes to take off. I will make a ton of tomato sauce, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and salsa. We eat a lot of those things. I did get eleven quarts of green beans canned though. I love green beans!

We have been really trying hard to be more frugal. I am pretty frugal naturally. I would be even more frugal if I could remember to make snacks for myself and take them to work! We have a couple of short trips we want to take in the next few months. So we are really buckling down on spending money. We have only eaten out once in the last month. We are really trying hard to make sure no food goes to waste. We are generally just being more creative about fixing things and not spending money if we can help it.

Another reason I am buckling down on being frugal and being more aware of money going out is that school starts in two weeks. I seem to spend a lot of money on a lot of things when school starts. Today I paid our school fees and that was $110. Ouch! I still have to pay band and choir uniform fees for Paige. Dane will not have those until next year. 

We also did not qualify for free or reduced lunch program at school because I make just enough money to not qualify. I figured out the rates of lunch per day ($2.40 for high school, $2.35 for middle school) and took that times twenty days for the month. That would be almost $100 a month for just school lunches! Owww!!!

The kids have been informed they will be eating more cold lunches than hot lunches and no more breakfast ($1.55 each per day) at school. They actually seem to be fine with it. I am doing more research on cold lunch ideas so we don't get bored. 



Our local county fair was last week. Paige got three blue and one red ribbon on her art projects. Dane got two blue ribbons on his picture frame and Lego project. They were happy and I was happy that we got there in one piece. Fair time can be rather stressful!



How did your week go? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - July 18


Another week gone by in a blur...

I have an observation to make though. I am sure you all probably know this, but there is nothing like having company or family coming over to make sure you get a lot of cleaning up to do in a very short amount of time!

Mowing had to be done after getting some much needed rain. We trimmed around everything. We hauled a load of broken appliances and junk that didn't fit in the dumpster to the landfill. We even took a magnetic roller around the buildings to get the nails and screws that had been dropped. We tidied up a lot and got a lot of little piddly projects done. I weeded as much as possible, but that chore is never done. 

I picked my first crop of peas of the year! Yeah! 



Family came and we had a great time! We talked a lot. We ate a lot. We watched the dogs play. We shot off fireworks and had a big bonfire.

Then Saturday night brought this:







We got a fierce wind, two inches of rain, and a bit of hail. The garden fence had to be repaired. The potatoes were flattened, but I think they will be fine. The tomatoes and their cages need to be fixed. The rest of the garden is looking a bit flat too. We have a lot of branches and trees to clean up. It could have been a lot worse, but so disheartening to look at when we just had everything cleaned up!

On tap for this next week is cleaning up the yard again, working on the shop some more, weeding some more, picking our first crop of zucchini and hopefully green beans. I am hoping to plant more beets and maybe spinach for the fall. Paige will be done with Driver's Ed at the end of this week. Dane will be finishing his projects for the county fair as he will be at camp the following week. 

That is it for us! What is going on at your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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