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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ten Prepping Habits You Should Be Working On!


Habits can be good or bad. They can be a wonderful thing or a curse. However, I believe in having good habits as a prepper. We need to be diligent in our personal growth as preppers and habits do this for us. Habits keep us accountable and help us to become better preppers.

Some of these habits may seem a little different, but I see prepping as a personal thing to improve us as well as make us better people in general.

Ten Prepping Habits You Should Be Working On!

1. Organization. Being organized is only for your advantage in prepping. In an emergency or crisis, you will know where everything is. That is key for good emergency management, good response time, and good decisions. You will be able to see what you have and what you need to replace. You won't have to guess where everything is. You can tell someone where to find a key item and get the item quickly. I can not stress being organized enough.

2. Being Proactive. You want to be a proactive prepper. You want to see problems before they occur. You want to take care of problems before they happen. Need more water in your storage? Buy it now instead of waiting until a crisis is looming. A window needs to be fixed? Take care of it now before a storm blows it out or a thief finds a way in. You can scale this down to simple everyday things. Dishes need to be done? Do them now before the power may go out or the well pump quits. Laundry piling up? Put a load in the washer every day so you don't have to worry about it later. Taking care of things now will save you a major headache later.


3. Good Health. Your health is key in prepping. If you are too unwell to respond to a crisis or emergency, you might end up dead. Every prepper should be working on good eating habits, being in good physical condition, living in moderation, and working on/quitting bad habits like smoking and chewing.

4. Skill Building. Always Be Learning. You are never done learning as a prepper. There are new skills to learn and to hone. There is always new information to learn, process, and/or implement. As a prepper, you need to keep up to date on the current news, new trends, new information, and new threats that may be on the horizon. You may need to learn new skills to adjust to the new information you have learned. As a tip, I know preppers that learn a new skill every month. They learn about that skill and start practicing the skill. This is something we all should be doing.

5. Good Communication. Being able to effectively communicate is key. You don't want to have misunderstandings in times of crisis. You need to be able to listen well and talk clearly.

6. Becoming Debt Free. Life is better when you are debt free. There are times in life where debt is unavoidable, but trying not to accrue more debts is key. If you are in debt, try to find ways to get out of debt. I personally like Dave Ramsey's system, but that may not be for everyone. However, you should be finding new ways to make extra money and putting in the overtime now so you can have financial peace later.


7. Establishing Routines. Do you have good routines? Do you check the house every night to make sure the doors are locked and windows are secured? Do you have your clothes laid out the night before so you can get dressed quickly in the morning or during the night if you need to? Doing the same thing every day and every night is good for you. You established routines so you stay proactive about what needs to be done, what gets done everyday, and what problems need to be addressed. Routines keep your mind calm and reassured that everything was done and checked. Establish routines now to keep the chaos in check later.


8. Practice. Always keep practicing. Whether that includes your skills, your routines, your talents, etc. Most things you learn should not be learned once and thought to be done with them. You should always make time to practice what you need to know.

9. Conservation and Sustainability. Recycling. Reusing. Live somewhat minimally. Reduce our wants and focus on our needs. We really need to learn to quit being wasteful. When times of crisis come, we need to learn to reuse what we have and focus on just what we need to survive.


10. Learning To Live Without. This may be the hardest habit for anyone, not just preppers. We rely on our comforts so much and can get really cranky without them. We expect instant access to information instead of having to look it up in a book. We expect to be entertained when we want to be entertained. We expect to have air conditioning at our fingertips. We really need to learn to live without. If you learn this now, that habit will serve you later when the power is out or you are stranded somewhere for any length of time.


I consider these the top ten prepping habits that every good prepper should be working on! I am curious, however. What habits would you add to the list?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"If You Haven't Got Your Health, You Haven't Got Anything"


Yes, that is a direct quote from "The Princess Bride". It is one of my favorite movies of all time. I could quote most of that movie easily, but it has been that quote that has been on mind lately.

We really do take our health for granted. We live in this bubble for a long time and believe that we are invincible until one day we aren't. It seems like, all of a sudden, we can't walk as much as we used to. We get tired a lot more easily. We can't breath as well as we used to. An extra 30-100 pounds have creeped onto our bodies. We are wiped out after a half day of work.

I decided some time, with some encouragement, to want better for myself. I wasn't the only one. I had one friend get a wake-up call about her health. I have had more than one friend and relative find out they had Type 2 Diabetes and/or have significant thyroid issues. We have all talked about how hard it is to lose the weight now, eat healthier, and get the right treatment.

I finally decided to get my breathing fixed and get my allergies under control. I have been complaining for years to the doctor that I cannot breath through my nose. I have been told it was congestion, allergies, swelling from both those things, and possibly a deviated septum. I have been taking allergy medicine year round for almost six years and seasonally before that.

My regular doctor did not want to pursue this. I find that very disturbing since this has been impacting my life. I don't sleep well. I am out of breath a lot because I am not a natural mouth breather. I always have a lot of sinus pressure. I believe it has had an effect on my weight gain/loss. However, since the allergy medicine was working on some of the symptoms, they were fine with that. I even pursued a sleep study, but I passed the preliminary test (a pulse oxygen machine overnight) with flying colors.

I finally called in May to get into an allergy/ear, nose and throat doctor. I couldn't get into testing until yesterday. I self-referred to a doctor. I haven't done that except one other time for one of my children. I wanted answers and thank goodness I did!

You know what I found out? I don't have allergies. Not one allergy. I went through the allergy testing and found out I was unnecessarily taking these medicines for years! This doctor listened to me and he knew right away what was probably wrong with me. All he had to do was look in my nose to know. He also gave the very uncomfortable experience of having a camera up my nose to make sure nothing else was wrong.

What was wrong? The turbinates in my nose are enlarged and swollen blocking off airflow. I haven't been able to breath through my nose for over ten years (at least) because of this. This can be fixed and rather easily! I am using a combination of two nose sprays and, if that doesn't work, a simple ten minute in-office procedure will fix it.

This is minor compared to what a lot of people have wrong with them. I realize that, but it was starting to really impact my quality of life. I have a few more health issues I would like to pursue, but this one seemed to me the most important. I have wanted to work out, sleep better, and lose weight. Not being able to breath through my nose was impacting all of that!

The point of all of this is to get your health taken care of. Do not be afraid to ask for a specialist. If your regular doctor doesn't seem to be listening to you, ask for another doctor. Otherwise, self-refer yourself to a specialist who can give you answers. Most people are not hypochondriacs. They know something is wrong with them and it needs to be fixed. It is just a matter of finding that doctor who will listen to them.

I have several things to say about the health industry, but this is the most important. There are good, mediocre, and bad doctors. Their hands are tied by a lot of things like policies and insurance. The good doctors will continue to find solutions and do the best they can by you. The mediocre doctors will just look at your symptoms and give blanket treatments/responses. The bad doctors will just not care because they are being paid by more than the hospital. The good doctors will be hard to see because they are well-liked and their schedule is full. However, a good doctor for you may not be a good doctor for someone else.

I still believe in home remedies, natural cures, and a holistic approach to medicine. I will probably never stray from that. However, sometimes you do need a conventional doctor. This is one of those times.

It is easy to put your health off until tomorrow. We often put ourselves last and we can pay the consequences for it. If some major crisis happens and we can't get access to medical care, we are too late and we will probably pay for that. If you find yourself without help, can you do all the work or are you too unhealthy to do that?

I know what my answer would be which is why I am trying to lose weight now, eat healthier now, and getting any health issues addressed now. We don't know what tomorrow may bring, but we need to be ready to face it.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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


Printfriendly

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...