Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Prepper's Total Grid Failure Handbook: Book Review


One of the topics that come up for discussion at our house is living off-grid or what we will be doing if the grid fails. Our whole house is electric which causes stress and anxiety because we are so dependent on the grid. To alleviate that stress and anxiety, we have been looking at ways to become less dependent on the grid.

When this book came in the mail, I was ready for it. We have needed the information that Prepper's Total Grid Failure Handbook provided.

First of all, I love their focus on renewable energy and using renewable resources. One of the many flaws I see in prepper's off grid plans is that there is a heavy dependence on fuels (gas, diesel, and propane). Those supplies will eventually run out even though you hope to not be without power for that long in those situations. I would rather spend the money on renewable resources that will not increase our dependence on the grid and on the supply.

Second of all, I really, really appreciate the technical information that the Fiebigs provided. Everything was broke down to understand the different off-grid energy power sources. They had recommendations for items and systems they used.

We didn't know what system would fit our future and present needs. We didn't know the technical information behind a solar panel system. We didn't know what could handle the wattage we could be using and what appliances we can not use on a solar panel system. The Fiebigs provided the information in a way that we can understand it.

We were lost on generators too. While we still see generators as a back-up solution and not a permanent one, it was good to know the pros and cons between different types of generators. We didn't know which one was best. Now we have a better idea of what generator would be best for our needs.

Third and last, I liked that they talked about their trials and errors too. They have lived this off-grid life for five years. They started out small with a 15 watt solar panel and kerosene lamps. They have come a long ways from that first day they went off-grid. I liked how they shared this information and what worked best for them.

The Prepper's Total Grid Failure Handbook: Alternative Power, Energy Storage, Low-Voltage Appliances and Other Lifesaving Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living by Alan and Arlene Fiebig has a permanent spot in my reference library. I have a feeling we will be using it often! I hope you take a look at this book and add it to your reference library too!


Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Prepper's Canning Guide Book Review & Giveaway!


Disclaimer: I was given a copy and asked to review this book. The opinions of this review are mine.

The Prepper's Canning Guide: Affordably Stockpile a Lifesaving Supply of Nutritious, Delicious, Shelf-Stable Foods by Daisy Luther was a book I was looking forward to buying and using for this upcoming gardening season. I have almost every book by Daisy so I knew this would be a book I would want to get. 

Do you know who Daisy Luther is? If you don't, please check her out at The Organic Prepper and DaisyLuther.com. She also runs Prepper's Market which is a food storage company with delicious tasting food for your food storage! She is also co-founder of Prepper's University which helps new and current preppers get started in prepping and keep their prepping in good shape!

This book did not disappoint! I will be canning almost every recipe she supplies in the book. They look delicious. Some of the canning recipes are a little out of the box with recipes that can be canned any time of the year as well as recipes for main dish meals and soups in a jar. She also has canning recipes for condiments, leftovers, and canning your own recipes. 

She also takes a lot of time to focus on traditional canning, how to can, and canning safely. She is an experienced canner so she knows how to can correctly and safely. That is something I can definitely appreciate! 

What I like most about this book (besides the recipes!)? I love that this is canning book geared towards preppers. She gives valuable advice about how to can in a grid down situation. She lets you know what works and what doesn't work. As a prepper, while I like to figure some things out for myself, I don't have time to figure it all out. Daisy cuts through the guessing process and lets you know that it may be harder than you think to can over a wood fire!

I like this book so much that I can going to do my very first giveaway! That's right! I am going to give one of these books away to one of you! Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, February 10, 2017

10 Lessons Learned From The Victorians, The Pioneers, and The 1800's


The Victorian age in Britain was a fascinating time. Many changes were made from the beginning of the century to the end. Britain experienced a massive industrial upheaval becoming more mechanized and more advanced as the century went on.

In the United States, we went through many upheavals resulting in the Industrial Age at the end of the century. We were exploring the West as pioneers, experiencing mass immigration from other countries, went through the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish American War.

Many similarities were experienced between both countries.The daily life of people were essentially the same. A lot of people nowadays think they want to go back to this time, but they don't always realize the work that was involved.

I just got done reading How To Be A Victorian: A Dawn-To-Dusk Guide To Victorian Life by Ruth Goodman. What an eye opening book! I also have read a lot of pioneer books, industrial age books, and immigrant life in America books from the same time period as Ms. Goodman's book.

We do not realize how good we have it and how hard our lives would be if we had to go back to those times. I am focusing on the poor mostly in these lessons because most of us would be considered poor then. We would be working in factories, mines, or farms. We would be living in tenements, small houses, or in one rented room. We would have a lot to learn. 

10 Lessons Learned From The Victorians, The Pioneers, and The 1800s

1. Life was hard unless you were rich. Everyone including the children had to work. Money was scarce, food was expensive, and city living was not cheap. Working conditions were often dangerous and harsh. Many people worked 12-14 hours a day, six days a week. Chores were often back-breaking and labor-intensive.

2. Everyone was expected to contribute including the children. Everyone had to work including the children. Without the children working, families often could not afford rent and food. By the end of the 19th century, goods became cheaper as the ability to transport them became easier.

3. Being a stay at home mother was rare. You hear more about stay at home mothers from pioneers and the well-off families. However, with the poor, the immigrants, and the servants, mothers needed to work as soon as they could. There are testimonials of women bringing their babies to work with them or leaving them home with older children.

4. Medical science was far from good and reliable. People often died from diseases like cholera, diphtheria, typhoid fever, small pox, etc. People often died from the so-called cures too. Anyone could make a "cure" and sell it from door-to-door. These cures may contain laudanum, cocaine, opium, mercury, and other dangerous substances. Although medical schools existed, many doctors did not have the tools to perform surgeries successfully or safely. People would often rather suffer or die than to have a doctor treat them.

5. Schooling was a luxury. Many children either went to a country school or a city school from ages 5-12. After that, many children started working in factories or were needed at home. However, quite a number of children did not go to school in the poorer classes until reforms were made in Britain and America in the middle to end of the 19th century. These reforms included children going to school at a certain age, being in school at least part time, being in school until 12 years of age, and knowing the basics of reading and math. Very few children pursued schooling beyond age 12 unless they were in the upper middle class or upper class. Very, very few girls pursued or were allowed to pursue higher than elementary education.

6. Meals were much, much simpler. Meat was not eaten at every meal. It was too expensive to eat every day unless you could hunt or raise your own. If any meat was served during a meal, the first and biggest serving went to breadwinner of the house. He needed his strength to keep working long hours. Most noon meals were bread, potatoes, butter, maybe a piece of bacon for flavoring, a sort of savory pudding, and/or a savory pie. Vegetables were not easy to acquire in the cities nor were they affordable to most poor people until the end of the century. Sunday meals may have a more meat based meal, but only if they could afford it.

7. Daily chores were not easy. Many innovations were made in the 19th century to help women in the home, but everything still had to be done by hand. From cleaning out the wood stove or coal stove to getting water for dishes and laundry, many tasks were grueling, dirty, and back-breaking. Laundry was a multiple day process with stain removal, soaking, heating the water, the actual plunging and scrubbing, wringing the water out, hanging to dry, starching and ironing. Some people were lucky to have water indoors which made laundry, dishes, and cooking a little easier.

8. Pioneering and homesteading was dangerous ordeal. After a man or woman found land to buy or discover, he had to get there in good time to claim that land. It took money to initially purchase land or you could "prove" a homestead claim with ownership after five years. If you had a homestead claim, you had five years to "prove" the claim. You had to live on the land, build a house, till the land, plant crops, plant trees, and improve the land you were trying to claim. A person had to do this all by himself or with the help of neighbors. You brought only what you could carry in your wagon and you hoped you could purchase the rest when you got to your claim. If you were lucky, you might have a new town within a few hours walking or horse-riding distance to purchase supplies including food. You took the risk of claim jumpers, robbers, Native Americans, and greedy land agents stealing your land and maybe taking your life.

9. Even in the 1800's, very few people were living exclusively off the land. Many pioneers, homesteaders, and farmers did the best they could, but still had to go to town for flour, sugar, salt, nails, and material for clothing. Neighbors helped each other. They did as much as they could themselves, but even people living in the country still needed trading posts and general stores. They sold eggs and fresh vegetables to earn money or to trade for needed goods. Yes, they did as much as they could for themselves, but they couldn't always grow wheat for flour or produce their own goods for building houses and barns.

10. Living to old age was a rarity in the 19th century. The average age of males was 40-45. The average age of women was 42-50. People could and did die from so many things then. Life threatening illnesses, workplace accidents, unsafe equipment, unsafe medications, child birth, and many more things than what we have to worry about now. Now we live longer due to advances in safety for the workplace and medical advancements, but we have our own killers that were rare in the 19th century. Advances in personal hygiene and workplace safety helped increase the chances of living longer as the century went on, but the average still seems like a very short period of time.

Many people think now a days that they could easily go back and live in these times. While having the knowledge we have now would make a big difference, most of us simply could not handle the amount of work and labor that our predecessors had to do. We are not conditioned for a hard life, hard labor, working long hours, and being physically fit enough to do it.

Do you think you could live in the 1800s? Do you think your families could handle this?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, February 9, 2017

How An Online Book Store Will Work For Me After The Collapse


As I have mentioned before, I have an online book store through Ebay. At any given time, I have at least 400 books and magazines listed with more always ready to be listed. I don't just sell books and magazines, but that is my main focus. I really like selling on Ebay so I keep going.

I believe in first, second, and third streams of income. I have a regular 7:30-4:30 job that provides me with insurance, 401K, and income to pay the bills. I have this blog, another new blog, and an often neglected YouTube channel. Then I have the online book store. The rest of these provide supplemental income. I have never intended them to be more than that, but would never mind if they became more than that.

What has been on my mind lately is what will I do if we have a collapse of any sort. All my current streams of income rely on a steady internet connection and electricity. How will I survive in a collapse situation? Can I reasonably do any of these jobs without internet and electricity? Can I convert any of these into other income streams?

The answer is yes. My everyday job might be harder to do because of the twelve miles I drive to work. We would also need a good-sized generator to run the pumps. Everything that is on computer would have to be done by hand accounting. I would need access to fuel to drive to work, but depending on the situation that can happen.

The blogging and vlogging would be harder to do or would not happen at all. However, I could apply my writing skills in other areas to keep people informed. 

However, I have a plan for the online book store. If the collapse happens, the online book store would become a regular, walk in the door book store. I would keep it in a separate building away from the house. I have more than 400 books, magazines, and other goods to sell or trade as of right now. I am continually growing the online store so I keep increasing the inventory.

There is questions and situations that will need to be dealt with. 

What about currency? That will be a tough one. Of course, I will always consider gold or silver as currency. If the current currency is still in place, that will work too. As I mentioned before, I will also trade for items that I need or others may want. 

This book store may become more of a trading post after awhile. I am good with that. I see books being necessary for reference materials, for knowledge, and for escaping reality for a bit. I would also put out items that we no longer use or need in the store too. Good used clothing will be necessary to people and worth the time to sell. 

I am not sure what I would use as a pricing scale yet for trading, but I think keeping prices low will help the business. I despise it when I hear people talking about jacking up the prices after a crisis. Taking advantage of desperate people is wrong and I plan on keeping that philosophy in my business. 

I would also consider turning the book store into a sort of consignment store if the conditions were good for it. If currency is not a problem, then I may allow other people to bring good, used items to sell. In this case, we will all need any money we can get. Selling for others allows me to make money as well as them. 

I hope, over time, to pick up for more skills and ways to make a living after the collapse. I know a lot of the living done after the collapse will be for survival, but we will need to also start working on rebuilding an economy. We need to start rebuilding cities and towns. 

Someone will need to provide the goods and have the ability to trade for other goods. I think flexibility will be key for running any business after the collapse which is why I discussed expanding the book selling and turning it into more. Keeping the options open will mean a better business for me. 

What are your plans after a collapse? Do you plan to run a business? How do you plan to stay employed?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Survival Savvy Family: A Book Review



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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Happens When The Computers Suddenly Don't Work Anymore?



Back in 2011, I wrote an article about being without a computer for three weeks because the computer died suddenly. I have been thinking more about that lately. So much has changed with computers and technology in general in the last four years.  

Our phones can do dang near anything we want them to. We have so much more social media options now. We now have notebooks and pads that function as mini computers. Four years ago, I had a Kindle that did nothing, but download books without graphics. Now Kindles are all that and more. 

The point is we all depend on computers and relevant technology way too much anymore.

Need proof? 

We "pin" every thing on Pinterest to remember it for later. 

We "google" almost every topic we could possibly interested in.

We look up videos on YouTube to find out how to do just about anything. 

We save links on Facebook to remember them for later reading or for super cool ideas.

We bookmark pages, posts, and anything else we might want to remember for later on the web.

We get updates by email that we can put into a folder and save for later. 

I am not saying these are not great tools to use and have because I am just as guilty as you all are. If you have managed to avoid these traps, kudos to you. However, most people have not which then begs the question:

What happens when the computers suddenly don't work anymore?

Step back and think about all the things you use in a day that requires a computer. That alone might scare you! Would your life as you know it be over with? 

I know mine would take a hit. 

Here is what you need in order to survive without technology:

Print off the materials you need. You found a great reference site on the net. You love that one blog post so full of great information. Awesome. Now hit print so you aren't lost without that information later. Better yet? Put that into a binder marked with the topic it pertains to so you can find it even easier later.

Start buying and using the reference you need to live without computers. Shop the thrift stores and garage sales to pick up cheap reference materials. Make a list before you go for the books you want. Keep an open mind though. Also check out Ebay and Amazon. They have a lot of used books for cheap prices. Read the books and make yourself a reference library. 

Start learning the skills you think you need to live a life without technology. Here is the thing. Having all those books are great. Reference materials are invaluable. However, you need to actually learn the skills that those books talk about. Do you have books on hunting? Great. Start learning how to hunt then. Get your hunting license and start aiming/shooting. 

Practice everyday living without computers. Put down the phones. Find something to do that doesn't involve having technology. Build a garden box and start a garden. Use a hand saw and trim some trees. Get use to some hard, satisfying work. Go for a walk and pay attention to the flora and fauna around you. You might need that information later.

Develop some hobbies that do not rely on technology. Some people are caught up in technology. Their phones are their hobby. That needs to change. Start reading those aforementioned books. Take up needlework and hand sewing. Practice whittling on sticks. Buy your kids toys that don't need technology to run them like blocks and Legos. Go camping. 

Learn to live without technology altogether. If we don't have computers anymore, we will lose a lot of other services too. Like almost single one. Make a plan to deal with loss of garbage, electricity, sewer, water, gas, and transportation services. Start to live a life without the need of those services. They might come back after awhile when they learn work without technology. 

What would you do without technology?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, May 29, 2015

How My Favorite Books Have Influenced My Homesteading Life


I grew up in love with the Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables books. I still love them. I still read them all the time. I love the adventures of Anne, Laura, and the people they loved and encountered. I love how they dealt with the situations they found themselves in and their daily lives.

What I loved most was the lives they led. I realize that Anne was a fictional character, but she was based upon a life that Lucy Maud Montgomery knew and lived. I also realize that while Laura was not a fictional character, some of her stories was a bit embellished. That really does not matter to me.

What I took away from those books was the principles, ethics, and morals of those stories. I love how work was valued and laziness was considered an abhorrence. Even when they appeared to be relaxing, they mending or knitting in their hands. Sunday was their day of rest and they treated as such for the work they knew they had to do in the coming week.

I love how everyone was expected to help, everyone had their chores, women were in charge of their homes, and opportunity was not to be wasted. The girls were taught to how to keep a house and housekeeping skills at an early age. Laura was given a chance to become a teacher and took it so Mary could stay in school and have the things she needed. Anne was given the chance to go to Queens and to college so she could support herself as a teacher. She never expected any of that, she took the opportunity, and she graduated at the top of her class.

Work could be hard, but work was never shunned. They either had the skills or learned the skills to do whatever was needed. Work was very rarely ever hired out although a hired man may be needed to keep up with the work. Sometimes Pa had to work away from home to pay the bills, but he did it knowing it was necessary. Neighbors helped each other out by lending tools, putting up the harvest, and building homes.

They all experienced hard times. Anne was very graceful about her time before she came to the Cuthberts, but life was very hard for her as an orphan and a hired girl. The Ingalls family lived a pioneer life, uprooting several times before settling down, and always starting over on new ground. Both had babies pass away just hours/days after being born. Anne dealt with her sons serving their country by joining the army and going to war. Laura and Almanzo's house burned down. They both reacted to difficult situations with dignity and grace, not complaining or playing victim, but by doing what they could to make the situation better.

Being frugal was a way of life. Neither of them had any choice. However, thrift and frugality was concerned a great thing. They didn't have closets stuffed full of clothes. Often they had just 2-4 dresses. Dresses were made, made over, taken apart so the material could be used for a smaller dress, and made into quilts. Dresses were made with extra material so the hems could be let down when children grew taller. Clothes were carefully stored away so they could be used again in some way. Clothes were hand sewn for the most part. Ma was thrilled when she got a sewing machine so she could get her sewing done faster.

Many things were fixed until they could not be fixed again. Nothing was replaced unless it was wore out. Many things were hand made. Everything was carefully taken care of so it could be still be nice and last longer. While general stores were available, money was carefully spent there. Shopping was not a daily thing. They took pride in making their own things and hand made items were treasured keepsakes.

Food was not wasted. Meals were simple and made from simple ingredients. For the Ingalls, Sunday meals were beans and cornbread because they could get the ingredients easily and beans could cook overnight. Holidays and birthdays were for special dishes. Anne's Susan would make everyone their favorite dish on their birthday or when they came home from being gone a long time. Candy was a treat reserved for special occasions. Meals and snacks were almost always eaten at home and were definitely home made.

Vacations were never heard of until later in both of their lives. A trip to see family was very occasional. Dates were rare, but Anne and Laura went to socials, lectures, readings, and church. Courting was "going for a drive" in the horse and buggy. I love the sweetness of that! Anne and Laura were not "boy crazy", although they knew girls who were. School, family, friends, and their duties were the focus of their lives.

Children were expected to behave and taught early on to behave. They were expected to be seen and not be heard. They were not allowed to be disruptive, rude, dishonest, or a nuisance in any way. They were given a "talking to" or firmly reminded how to behave. Often Ma would point out how the girls should be behaving and making sure they were not "loud" or "boisterous". Marilla would tell Anne she was talking too much and to pay attention to her chores.

In my mind, life seemed simpler for them in that time. The work was harder than we could imagine and thrift was a necessity. However, they were not bombarded with technology, activities outside the home, and other things that take us away from being home and doing what needs to be ourselves. Too many people don't take pride in caring for their homes, having a meal on the table, and being content with what they have.

I am not perfect either. My house is a controlled chaos most of the time. But every time I read those books (which is often!), I remember how I want to be and what I want to strive for.

Except for wearing dresses.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Book Review: Countdown to Preparedness by Jim Cobb


Countdown to Preparedness: The Prepper's 52-Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness written by Jim Cobb is a comprehensive guide to setting up and organizing your preps, gaining skills, and becoming knowledgable over the course of a year. Jim is a preparedness expert having written five books on the subject of preparedness, writes for Survival Weekly, and is the owner and lead trainer for Disaster Prep Consultants.

What I liked about this book is that Jim broke down what you need to be prepared in an easy-to-follow, weekly plan. He tells you what you should get, what you need, and why. I like that he doesn't tell you why you should prepare, but how you should prepare. I also like and agree with him that prepping takes time. Most people do not have the money or time to be prepared in a month or two.

Being prepared, having the skills, and gathering the goods you need takes time. He also tells you that some of the weeks may take longer than a week to do or to acquire the equipment needed. He is conscious about the fact that not everybody can afford the items he suggests at the time he recommends getting them. He recommends that you put away money every week so that you can afford those items when you find them at a good deal.

What I like the most about this book is that he emphasizes skills and knowledge. Having skills and knowledge will keep you alive longer than just having things.

I feel guilty that I should have had this review out six months ago, but I actually started following the book myself. Jim gave me a few things to think about and exposed some of the holes in my own preps. I also knew that I need to increase the amount of food I needed in storage and started following his recommendations on that too.

I love this book. It will be a permanent fixture in my preparedness library. I will also be giving it out as Christmas presents this year to some people on my list that I know are interested in prepping, but aren't sure where to start. I will also be sure that my kids have a copy when they move out of the house. And I highly recommend this book to all of you!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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